The Greatest Motivation (2 Peter 1:1a, part 1)


Sermon Manuscript . . .

The Greatest Motivation

The Source of Salvation creates the greatest Motivation

2 Peter 1:1a–part 1

What motivates you? Some of you are motivated by success–you want to achieve your goal, rise to the top. So your life is filled with effort, dedication and sacrifice for that goal. Others are motivated by fear of danger, of loss, of difficulty and of death–so your life is filled with avoidance, protection, caution and self-imposed limitation. A few of you are motivated by pleasure, ease and comfort–so the choices of your life are to avoid the difficult and unpleasant and pursue what feels good.

Some others are driven by finding love–life is spent in pursuit of relationships which will satisfy the need of the heart. And there are a few here who are driven by guilt, bitterness, even anger–you want your guilt taken away, the hurt to be removed and others to suffer for what they’ve done. Each of you are motivated, but once you’re born again, your motivations change–as a believer, you’re not the same person you were!

Second Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Part of true salvation transformation is to have and develop new motivations. Instead of worldly, you will grow heavenly. Instead of fear, you will grow in faith. Instead of pleasure, you will grow in the pursuit of Christ. Instead of success, there will be an increase of sacrifice. Instead of drift, there will be decisiveness. Instead of an emptiness of heart, there will be fullness.

What is the source of these motivations? Genuine salvation found only in Christ. As you turn in your Bibles to 2 Peter 1:1, the great apostle will begin with salvation. Peter wants to strengthen several churches against false teachers, and the first foundational truth Peter lays on them is genuine salvation. Peter wants Christians to become immovable rocks in the midst of a current of error. But to do that, they must first be immersed in the truths of soteriology. They must understand the doctrine of salvation–Christians must know what they have become.

And Peter will focus not so much on what Christians do in this hostile world, but what Christians are. Peter will focus more on what you have become internally, than what you do externally. He will highlight internal transformation over external actions. Peter will remind you how different you have become inside. Peter will make you realize you have everything you need once you are in Christ. Peter will tell you that once the Spirit gives you the faith to believe, once God causes you to be born again, once Christ covers you with His righteousness, you have it all–you are complete. When you put a seed in the ground, everything it needs to grow into a plant and produce fruit is already contained in that seed. Every believer is a complete seed.

In honor of the Word of God, let’s stand and read together verses 1 to 4 from your outline. Peter says it this way. “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:1 to 4).

Let’s pray. Use your Word today to glorify yourself, to know the love of the Son, and our need of the Holy Spirit.  And use your Word to encourage the weary Christian, convict the sinning Christian, build up the weak Christian, draw the phony Christian and save the non-Christian. Your Word alone saves and sanctifies. Accomplish your will today. Amen.

Be seated. I have a confession to make–I might have worked too hard on 2 Peter, as I am pretty sure we will not finish verse 1 today. Be warned, these coming weeks are full of theology, profound Scripture and truths you and I desperately need. And you and I continually need a reminder of the source of salvation.

Salvation comes from God–God gave you salvation. Peter makes it clear that Christ had to be your substitute, take your punishment, bear God’s wrath for sin in your place and die for you. But Peter also makes it clear–in order for you to gain salvation because you were dead in your sins, blind to your need, deaf to God’s Word . . . God had to chase you down, change your heart and give you faith so you could embrace forgiveness, gain Heaven and enjoy a genuine relationship with God Himself. And when you remember that, it changes your motivations and the way you live. So as Peter introduces himself in verse 1, he reminds his readers that even as an apostle, he is also indebted to Christ as his Lord. He, like all believers, is also the slave of Christ.

#1  The INCONGRUOUS tension true leadership faces in Salvation

Verse 1a, “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” This introduction is a convicting reminder for anyone in spiritual leadership. Do you notice the distance between being a bond-servant and an apostle? That tension exists in Peter. We sign our letters at the end (and have to hunt for the author), but according to the custom of his day, the apostle opens his epistle by identifying himself as the author.

First  SIMON Simon Peter

Simon is a common Hebrew name, the Greek form of the Hebrew–“Simeon” points to the father of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Greek word Peter means rock. Plus Cephas is the Aramaic word for rock, or Peter. Names and how we use them are funny and unique. My oldest son is Matthew, but when he was in trouble it was, “Matthew John!” My youngest son is Marc Daniel, but we called him Daniel unless he was in trouble. Yet for each, the name John and the name Marc pointed them to godly models in case I died young.

In our culture, people go by nicknames, like Woody–or shortened names, like Sam. Or initials, LJ. But in biblical culture, names and their meaning were often powerful descriptors. Simon Peter is a perfect example. The name Simon is connected to this great disciple almost as a reminder of his human weakness and failures. Simon is a tribute to his humility by joining it to his signature here. Simon Peter always seems mindful of his own human fallibility, even as he ministers to the failings of others. Here is God’s man about to warn others about the dangers of denying the faith, when he himself once denied the Lord.

But the apostle was also known as Peter–Jesus gave him this name, Peter the rock. If you had the choice to keep the name you were given or the name the Lord gave you, which one would you choose? John 1:42, “Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter)”–the rock.

As Peter, he was in the front rank of the apostles. Peter always heads the list whenever the apostles are named in the Scriptures. Peter was the apostle who opened the door of the Church to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. And he was the apostle who opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles in Caesarea, in the Gentile home of the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10–Peter the rock.

The combination name Simon Peter occurs numerous times in all four gospels and Acts. Of the 22 times John mentions the apostle Peter, 17 are in the combination form. The other five name references were used to introduce Simon early in the gospel or were used after Peter’s denial, repentance and reinstatement as an apostle. Jesus refrained from calling him Peter, the rock, at that moment, because it was inappropriate–as with his denial, he was not a rock.

But both his deep failures and incredible fruitfulness made his double name the norm in the Early Church–he was and is, Simon Peter. Now remember the context–the attacks of the false teachers was intense, and they would be the first to call this letter into question, since this letter exposes their false character and lies. So the apostle used both names, Simon Peter, Hebrew and Greek, to ensure that those receiving this letter, the churches in Turkey, knew exactly who it was from. So who is this Peter? Verse 1, “a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.”

Second  SLAVE A bond-servant

Identifying himself as a bond-servant, Peter humbly placed himself in the position of submission, duty, and obedience. The word bond-servant is somewhat misleading–the word is doulos, meaning slave. Some of the greatest spiritual leaders in biblical history owned the title servant–Moses, Joshua, David, Paul, James and Jude. It’s so important to be Christ’s slave, to be His servant, that the title servant has became a designation for every believer. In Peter’s day, to willingly call oneself a slave was to severely lower oneself in a culture where slaves were considered no better than animals. To be a slave was demeaning socially, but it was an honor spiritually, and Peter would be thankful to be Christ’s slave–to obey your master, no matter what the cost.

Matthew 20:25 to 28, “But Jesus … said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Galatians 5:13, “… through love serve one another.” First Corinthians 9:19, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.” All genuine born again Christians are slaves–you are Christ’s slave. But what does that mean biblically and practically? William Barclay describes you as a slave in four ways.

ONE  As a believer, for you to be the doulos of God means you are possessed by God–He owns you. In the ancient world, a master possessed his slaves in the same sense as he possesses his tools. A servant can change his master, but a slave cannot. The true Christian belongs to God.

TWO  To call a Christian the slave/doulos of God means he is unqualified at the disposal of His God. In the ancient world, the master could do what he liked with his slave–he had the same power over his slave as he had over his inanimate possessions. He had the power of life and death over his slave. The Christian belongs to God in the same manner–God can send him where He will and do with him what He will. The Christian is a man or woman who has no rights of their own, for all rights are surrendered to God.

THREE  To call the Christian the doulos of God means the Christian owes unquestioning obedience to God. Ancient law stated a master’s command was a slave’s only law. Even if a slave was told to do something which actually broke the law, he could not protest–for as far as he was concerned, his master’s command was the law. In any situation, each Christian has but one question to ask–“Lord, what will You have me to do?” The command of God is his only law.

FOUR  To call the Christian the doulos of God means he must be constantly in the service of God. In the ancient world, the slave had literally no time of his own, no holidays, no time off, no working hours, no leisure–all his time belonged to the master.

Never forget, sweet Christians, you are a slave, but not just any slave–the slave of Christ. Christ freed you from being the slave of Satan, a hateful murderer and father of lies. Christ freed you from being a slave of sin, that which will condemn and destroy you. Christ’s yoke is easy and Christ’s burden is light.

So a Christian slave is not a distasteful servitude to escape from–being a slave of Christ portrays the spiritual yieldedness of a person totally devoted to his loving Lord. Peter is expressing his awareness that, like all believers in Christ, he is no longer his own, but has been bought at a great price–therefore Peter must do his Master’s will. As Peter began with Christ, he was pretty impetuous and filled with self-will. But as he has grown, Peter now gladly acknowledges Christ’s ownership and lordship over his life. Peter delights in owning the title slave of Christ. But Peter is also . . .

Third  SENT as an Apostle

Verse 1, “a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” Although Peter viewed himself humbly as a slave, he also represented himself nobly as an apostle of Jesus Christ. An apostle is the highest office a human being can hold. An apostle is one officially sent forth by Christ Himself as a divinely commissioned witness of the resurrected Lord, with divine authority and power to proclaim His truth and do His works.

An apostle is more than an ambassador, and more than a representative. An apostle is a proxy, meaning an apostle said the actual words of Christ and did the actual works of Christ, as if it were Christ Himself. They didn’t just represent Christ, they taught His words. The apostles were exclusively chosen to write the New Testament Scriptures. The apostles were uniquely gifted to do His amazing miracles.

They were even given sign gifts to prove what they said came was from Christ–they were the first to speak in tongues in Acts 2 and laid their hands on others so they could. They were the first to use the gift of prophesy, before the Scriptures were completed and collected into our New Testament Bible–they supernaturally spoke God’s Word. The New Testament tells us those sign gifts belonged to the apostles in Hebrews 2, because they were the ones speaking the actual words of Christ and doing the actual works and miracles of Christ.

Apostle is the highest office a human being on Earth could hold–higher than president. Peter is reminding his “abused by false teachers” readers that he is an apostle. Peter was specially called and commissioned by Christ, the Lord of all, and His Master. Apostle literally means one sent forth (apo–“from” and stellō–“to send”). Apostle means send forth. The word was sometimes used in the New Testament as a messenger or delegate sent with instructions. But here in verse 1, apostle has its usual specific meaning describing one of the twelve disciples, whom Jesus chose, trained, commissioned and empowered as His proxies with the full authority and power of Christ Himself.

Peter writes this second epistle on behalf of Christ, who confers His authority upon this letter. Peter is, verse 1, “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” So Peter writes 2 Peter in his capacity as an apostle of Jesus Christ–and Peter expects its recipients and all readers to acknowledge 2 Peter as an apostolic document with all authority over their lives.

And don’t you love the tension and the contrast of the titles? Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ–Peter, the slave with no authority and the apostle with all authority. Peter the slave with no power and the apostle with great power. Peter is presenting himself in these terms for you and for me. This is the pattern for all in spiritual leadership–from CG leader to jr high staff.

All healthy spiritual leadership is a constant tension between the submissive, sacrificial anonymity of a slave, combined with the dignity, significance, and authority of an apostle. All healthy spiritual leadership never forget their relationship with Christ as slave Master and as one sent by Christ with the Bible as his authority. All healthy spiritual leadership never forget we’re a slave ministering to slaves, but we are also called and sent by Christ as a messenger to the world.

Together, both terms slave and apostle combine a deep sense of personal humility and a keen sense of delegated authority.  People need to see both in spiritual leaders. Peter’s readers need to hear his humility because he is correcting them, and they need to hear of his apostolic authority in order to obey the truth of this letter. So . . . Simon, Slave, Sent, and now the readers back then needed to be reminded that Peter’s authority came from a . . .

Fourth  SAVIOR Jesus Christ

A bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” Peter’s authority in writing flowed from his relationship to Jesus Christ, the incarnate Messiah–the God who became man, your best friend and your authority to be feared. The second person of the Trinity, the judge of all mankind, your Creator and your only hope to ever be forgiven of your sins and made right with God.

Jesus is His human name–He received it before His birth as an indication of His saving work through the incarnation. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, Joshua, meaning “Jehovah is salvation.” The only way to satisfy God’s wrath for your sin was for God to take the punishment in your place–Christ was God who died for you. The only way you could be rescued from your sins was for a human being to suffer in your place–Christ was fully man and died on your behalf. Jesus was His human name.

Christ is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew title Messiah–both terms mean “the anointed one”. For Peter and the Early Church, the designation “Jesus Christ” embodied their faith that the man Jesus was the promised Messiah–the God man. Peter reminds his readers and you, his authority came from God Himself, Jesus Christ, who provided . . .

#2  The INCREDIBLE gift of faith for Salvation

Verse 1b, “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Peter introduces himself, establishes his humility and authority from Christ, and now focuses on those he writes, centering on what Christ has done for them–the group and the gift.

First  The GROUP

To those who have received a faith.” The apostle sent this letter “to those” same believers who received his first one. First Peter 1:1 tells us they were part of God’s elect scattered in the Gentile regions of “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia”–that’s modern day Turkey, and one of the apostle Paul’s most fertile mission fields. Just a side thought–Peter writes 2 Peter shortly after Paul’s death and may have also been motivated to encourage those churches who were founded by Paul himself in that region.

At the very mention of that region, names of churches spring up like clover in a lawn–Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Colossae are all in that region. Those believers were predominantly Gentiles, but like most places in the first century world, they certainly had some Jewish Christians among them. Peter wrote in AD 67 or 68, about one year after writing his first epistle–and the first thing he reminds his readers is that they have received a mighty . . .

Second  The GIFT

Who have received a faith.” To those who have received a faith. God gives you the faith you need to depend on Christ for salvation. Of course Calvin put it this way, “This is a commendation of the grace which God had indiscriminately showed to all his elect people.” Hendrickson says, “The clear implication is this: it was not an attainment because of personal merit or effort, but an allotment as a free gift.” MacArthur says, “Clearly received a faith refers to something not obtained by human effort nor based on personal worthiness but issued from God’s sovereign purpose.”

The manner in which Peter describes his readers here is theologically rich and describes the divine source of salvation as a powerful motivation. The verb have received implies a believer’s salvation as a gift. The verb means “to gain by divine will” or “given by an allotment”. The meaning is given by God. A faith here is from God in accordance with God’s will. This verb, rare in the New Testament, is used in a similar manner in Acts, speaking of God’s bestowal of the Spirit upon the Gentiles as a gift–a gift.

Your faith was given by God. Peter’s readers received faith because God graciously willed to give it to them. Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Paul teaches here that all Christians are granted to believe in Christ. A faith here could mean the objective faith, referring to the doctrines of the Christian faith, or a faith could refer to subjective belief. Since there is no article–the faith, which makes it refer to objective doctrine, and since the only other use of faith in 2 Peter is subjective. And because “a faith” is followed by God’s righteousness in verse 1, Peter is describing the belief, the dependence, and the trust to rely on Christ alone for salvation, subjectively.

A faith here means “the God-given ability to respond to His grace by personal commitment and trust–grounded in God’s truth.” “Those who have received a faith” is describing the Christian’s power to believe the Gospel for salvation. The human side of salvation demands a belief in the Gospel. God commands you to believe in his provision provided by the death of Christ for sin and His resurrection from the dead. Everyone is commanded to believe, so that everyone is responsible for their obedience or disobedience to that command. That’s the human side of salvation.

Yet from the divine side of salvation, God still must supernaturally grant sinners the ability and power to believe salvation. Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” First Corinthians 2:5, “So that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

Peter began his first epistle writing about divine choice and election in salvation. And now in 2 Peter, he refers to the human response of faith. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility form the essential elements of salvation. Only when the Holy Spirit awakens someone’s dead soul in response to hearing or reading the Gospel is saving faith initiated so the sinner can embrace redemption.

The Bible makes this clear–listen carefully to God’s Word in Acts. Acts 13:48, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Those chosen in eternity will be called in time and then will believe. Acts 16:14, “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” The Lord must first open her heart, then she can respond to the Gospel message and believe.

In Acts 18:10, God wants Paul to stay in Corinth to proclaim the Gospel–why? “For I have many people in this city.” They have not responded yet to the Gospel, but they will–they are God’s prechosen people who must hear the truth. You, Christian–you were appointed to eternal life so you could believe. The Lord opened your heart to respond to the Gospel message. In whatever city you came from, you were one of Christ’s in that city. You were one of those who has received a faith–the greatest gift ever given to humankind. Think about it–you were dead, blind, enslaved, deceived and unable to respond. Then you were caused to be born again, given faith, and now have eternal life.

Read verse 1a, “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith.” That was this week–next week, verses 1b and verse 2.

#3  The IMPORTANT continuity of true Salvation, “received a faith of the same kind as ours

#4  The IMPOSSIBLE requirement of genuine Salvation, “by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ

#5  The INCONCEIVABLE blessing of God-given Salvation, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you

#6  The INTIMACY with God in true Salvation, “in the knowledge of God

#7  The IMPACT of Christ in Salvation, “and of Jesus our Lord

TAKE THIS HOME
A  Be Motivated to be SERVING because Christ is your Master

Christ bought you, and He now owns you. You have no rights of your own. Christ is the law you obey, the person you must please, the boss you work for in all you do. You are now in the constant service of the Lord and Master Jesus Christ–why? You were enslaved to a liar and murderer, but now Christ has freed you. You were chained to a thousand evil sins, but now Christ delivered you. You were poor, blind, naked, deaf and dead, but now made alive. Be motivated to be serving Christ, not only to the Church, but as a way of life.

B  Be Motivated to be DEPENDING on God’s Word, because the Bible is God’s authority

All spiritual influence–from parenting, discipleship, teaching or shepherding today must demonstrate the humility of a slave, with the authority of God’s Word. Titles or offices do not have authority, but God’s Word is His will over all. Your life is under God’s Word and your ministry is by God’s Word–therefore read, memorize, meditate, depend and obey God’s Word alone.

C  Be Motivated to be KNOWING Christ, since He alone can satisfy your soul

To know Christ, you must have an intellectual knowledge of Him and an experiential knowledge of Him. You must know the facts about his birth, ministry, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and the promise of His return found in the Scriptures. But you must also know Christ through the personal experiences of answered prayer, trials strengthening faith, enjoying His blessings, and the assurance you are living the will of God by the Word of God.

You walk and talk with Jesus because He is your friend, your brother, your adviser, counselor, Savior, Creator, Lord and Master. Like Enoch who daily walked with God, you confide in Christ and practice His presence, thus growing intimate with Him. John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

D  Be Motivated to be REJOICING, because you have been given FAITH

You didn’t work for your salvation. You were not good enough. You don’t attend church enough for God to accept you. You don’t give enough in the offering for God to be impressed. You are not kind enough to your family for the Lord to allow you into Heaven. No, you could not get there on your own. God had to step in in two main ways.

ONE  God had to do all the redemptive work. God had to become a man–He had to be both God and man to satisfy God and be a substitute for man. God had to suffer and die, bearing the wrath and torture you deserve for your sins upon Himself. But there is more God had to do.

TWO  God had to choose you, then call you. God had to give you a new heart, cause you to be born again, so you could turn to him. God had to give you faith so you could believe. God had to resurrect the dead, you, before you could come alive in repentance and faith. Be warned, my friends–you can accept Jesus in your heart in your own strength and become a make-believer, a phony Christian, a lost churchgoer–why? Because salvation is not only what God accomplished through Christ, but salvation is also something God must do in you in order for you to respond and be saved.

If you are His child, rejoice today that He gave you faith. If you are not His child, cry out to God to give you a new heart and make you right with Him. Let’s pray.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.

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