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PARTICIPATE IN THE DIVINE NATURE

2 Peter 1:1-1:11
Key Verse: 1:4

Thank God for helping us to have the direction in 2017 to be rooted and built up in Christ. Thank God for teaching us the importance of the fear of God, which is the key to all his spiritual blessings. Thank God that he granted us an opportunity to study 2 Peter at the beginning of this year. We ask God for his rich blessing upon this study.

1 Peter is written for those who were scattered under the fiery persecution. It was to help them to be refined in faith through all the trials in life and so stand firm and positively participate in the sufferings of Christ. 2 Peter is written for the believers to watch out against false teachers. And the way to fight against false teachers and false teachings is to grow in Christ Jesus. In that we can secure our faith and our position for the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our time is flooded with various kinds of human teachings and ideas that can deceptively affect believers and make them fall. But no one should fall in this spiritual battle, but stand firm until each one is welcomed into the glorious kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. So this study of 2 Peter is very relevant to us. Apostle Peter wrote entirely about false teachers in chapter 2. In chapter 1 he presents the picture of the wholesome Christian life. We will study today’s passage, 1:1-10, with the title “participate in the divine nature.”

First, how to participate in the divine nature (1-4). Look at verse 1. “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.” Here Apostle Peter identifies himself as Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, showing who he was and who he has become. In John 1:42, when he came to Jesus through his brother Andrew, Jesus said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). He was a weak and fragile person although he looked strong as a fisherman, but in Jesus he has become like rock as a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. He is speaking to those who have received a precious faith through the righteousness of Jesus. He greets them with these words, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

Then he says in verse 3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Here certainly divine power is distinguished from demoniac power or any other magic power. Peter sad, “His divine power has given us everything…” Paul said in Ephesians 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” and in Colossians 2:9-10, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” When we think of what God has given us in Christ Jesus, it is amazing. He has given us redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7; Col 2:13-15), the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12), that is the Spirit of sonship to call God “Abba, Father” (Ro 8:15; Gal 4:6), and the kingdom of God as the inheritance of God’s children, which is our living hope (Ro 8:17; Gal 4:7; 1 Pe 1:3; Lk 12:32; 22:29). And he gave us the Holy Spirit, a seal of God’s children (Eph 1:13, Gal 3:2,14) so that we can live by the Spirit (Gal 5:18). The world cannot offer these things, never, but God gave us all these things through his Son Jesus Christ. It is true that he has given us everything we need for life and godliness, and it is to his own glory and goodness.

Then in verse 4 it is written, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” It is notable that Peter used the word “promise” sparingly in his books. The word “promise” is not written at all in 1 Peter, while in 2 Peter 5 times (1:4, 2:19; 3:4, 9, 13). False teachers promise false freedom (2:19). The promise God gave us is the promise of the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Although Peter did not use the word “promise” to describe Jesus’ coming again in 1 Peter, he wrote about it. He said in 5:4, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” While on earth the Lord Jesus told his disciples about his coming again more often than about his death and resurrection. On the Mount of Olives before entering Jerusalem, as he talked about the signs of the end of the age, he said, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Mt 24:30-31; Mk 13:26-27; Lk 21:27). Even at the time of trial he said before those who tried him, “But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62. And in Acts (1:11) at the very moment of his ascending, two angels suddenly stood before his disciples (surely Peter was there) and said, “‘Men of Galilee,’ why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

We know that all the promises of God have been fulfilled in history including Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection except the promises concerning his coming again. Here Peter wrote, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises…” The phrase, “very great and precious” is a rare expression in the Bible. In other translations are “exceedingly great and precious” (NKJV), “precious and most magnificent” (NET). The promise of Jesus’ coming again is history-breaking and world-shaking and all nations-shaking (Hag 2:7). Yet, this is hidden to the eyes of the people of the world. No human can give such promise but God. Jesus spoke of the sureness and certainly of the fulfillment of the promise of his second coming this way, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mt 24:34-35; Mk 13:30-31; Lk 21:32-33).

Peter said in verse 4, “...so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” This verse indicates that the divine nature and corruption in the world are mutually exclusive. Either we belong to and participate in one or the other. We are living in the world. We are exposed to the corruption in the world and still evil desires are in our hearts. We cannot escape the corruption in the world by our own strength and wisdom. But when we keep the very great and precious promise of God in our heart, the word of God’s promise motivates and empowers us to participate in the divine nature and so escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. God’s promises are the anchor of our soul (Heb 6:19) and our future hope which influence our present living. In the classic, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” John Bunyan illustrates this. Whenever the main character, Christian, was tempted to go astray, Evangelist or Shepherd reminded him of God’s promises. As Christian held on to God’s promises he could escape the corruption in the world and enter the heavenly city.

Of course we have other personal promises along with the promise of our Lord Jesus’ coming again. How important the words of Jesus’ promise, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men” (Lk 5:10), must have been to Peter! God gave us his words of promise very personally, such as “You will be a blessing” (Ge 12:10), “I have made you a father of many nations” (Ge 17:5), “She will be the mother of nations” (Ge 17:16), “you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex 19:6), “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (Mal 4:2), “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33). As we hold to the words of promise given to us personally and strive to live accordingly, we can participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world, overcoming our evil desires.

In this part we thank and praise God for giving us the very great and precious promises. In this world people participate in many things and many events which they think are important. But what can be greater than the participation in his divine nature! Our God wants us to be partakers of the divine nature by keeping his very great and precious promises in our hearts.

Second, possessing Christian virtues/qualities (5-11). In verse 5-7 Peter says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindliness; and to brotherly kindliness, love.” Here Apostle Peter tells us further how we can participate in the divine nature. It is through our spiritual growth. Faith is given as God’s gift (Eph. 2:8). But God wants us to make every effort to add the Christian virtues/qualities to faith. Add to faith goodness. Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone” (Mk 10:18; Lk 18:19). God is good, and all he does is good, and his purpose in all things is good. Goodness originates from God. At each time we need to turn from evil and evil desire to God who alone is good. This is repentance. In this struggle we can grow in the virtue of goodness and do really good (Titus 2:14). We also remember that goodness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22). Certainly, our effort and the Holy Spirit’s work can go together. In Acts Barnabas was introduced as a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith (11:24).

And add to goodness, knowledge. Faith does not contradict knowledge. In our life of faith knowledge is very important. In 2 Peter the word “knowledge” is written 6 times, and in chapter 1 5 times including 2 times regarding the qualities: in verse 2 “the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”, in verse 3 “our knowledge of him who called us” and in verse 8 “in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And the last verse of 2 Peter is, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” God said in Hoses 4:6, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” We are living in a world flooded with various kinds of knowledge. Surely in this case knowledge indicates correct and true knowledge related to the fear of the Lord, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge as we studied in Proverbs 1:7. So it is notable that we need to add knowledge to goodness. With a good and noble heart we need to study the Bible throughout our lives going deeper in to the words of God with deeper understanding of his heart and will.

And add to knowledge self-control. Self-control is often written in 1 Peter: in 1:13, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled;…”, in 4:7, “The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray”, and in 5:8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Self-control is absolutely necessary in our Christian life. It is related to Jesus’ teaching, “deny yourself.” Self-control is also one of the fruits of the Spirit, and is meaningfully listed last—probably to indicate, among other things, that it affects all those fruits of the Spirit listed beforehand. Apostle Paul said in Romans 14:21, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” Proverbs 25:17 says, “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house— too much of you, and they will hate you.” In speaking we need self-control. So Proverbs 11:13 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” And Proverbs 17:27 says, “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” And Proverbs 22:24, 25 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” In brief, self-control means to do what we should do instead of what we like to do.

And add to self-control perseverance. We also know the importance of perseverance in life. Perseverance is related to self-control. Proverbs 16:32 says, “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” And we need perseverance to receive what God has promise to us (James 1:12). We also need perseverance to receive God’s answer for what we have prayed for. And we need perseverance in our race of faith. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Also we should know that perseverance is not just passive endurance; it is the voluntary, daily suffering of hard and difficult things in order to serve God.

And add to perseverance godliness. The meaning for the Greek word for this is “piety toward God.” Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:7, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather train yourself to be godly.” Apostle Peter used the word “godly” or “godliness” several times in 2 Peter: in 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness…”, in 2:9 “…the Lord knows who to rescue godly men from trials…” and 3:11 “…you ought to live holy and godly lives.” Godly lives include godly talk and conversation.

And add to godliness brotherly kindness/affection. It is in Greek “Philadelphia.” 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” And Paul said in Romans 12:9, 10, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.”

Finally add to brotherly kindness love. This love is agape. Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” And Galatians 5:14 says, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Colossians 3:14 says, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Verses 5-7 show us a picture of the wholesome Christian life.

Look at verse 8. “For it you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is a dreadful thing to be ineffective and unproductive in knowing our Lord Jesus Christ, more dreadful than being ineffective and unproductive in life. It is like knowing and believing in Jesus in vain. However, we can be kept from such a dreadful state when these equalities are ours and are increasing in us.

Then in verse 9 Peter says, “But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” When one is nearsighted and becomes blind to see his true self and blind to see the living God and his eternal kingdom, forgetting the wonderful saving grace of our Lord Jesus through the cleansing of our sins, it is a pitiful, miserable Christian life. That should not happen to anyone of us. God wants us to have the whole view of life with eternal perspective.

Then in verse 10 is written, “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.” To make our calling and election sure is to be sure of who chose and called me and why and how. It is to be assured of who we were and who we are and who we will be. Apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 2:10, “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” And about who we are he had written clearly in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Ultimately God chose and called us so that we might participate in the divine nature to be like his Son Jesus (2 Peter 3:14; Ro 8:28-29; Eph 1:4-5). However, we cannot make our calling and election sure naturally. It requires more eagerness and more diligence and every effort of us.

Then he says in verse 10b-11, “For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” What an assurance! What a blessing! What a glorious day it will be!

In this study we thank God for his very great and precious promise of our Lord Jesus’ coming again. May we keep his promises in our hearts very personally and through them participate in the divine nature, making every effort to possess Christian qualities to be like his Son Jesus until we receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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