Sermon Manuscript . . .
The Greatest Motivation, part two
Salvation by God through Christ motivates the believer
2 Peter 1:1b-2, part 2
What makes a great coach is his ability to motivate. He can not only direct his players, but he can also inspire them. Many of you have witnessed your favorite football team play like they ate too much, didn’t sleep enough, and perform on the field like they have weights on their ankles and boxing gloves on their hands. You hold your breath at halftime when they’re 30 points down. Then something almost miraculous happens.
They come flying out of the tunnel after the half and you’re convinced they’re a different team. They are fast, hitting hard, completing passes, pushing every play an extra three yards and you wonder what happened. As they win the game by a wide margin, you suspect (and you’d be right) that the coach had some things to say to his players that influenced their passion to play. Those men were motivated.
Bear Bryant, the coach of Alabama for many years, was very motivating. After his quarterback was injured, he told his second-string quarterback not to pass the ball in the next four downs–no matter what. Alabama was ahead and they needed to merely hold on to their lead to win the game. But on the fourth down, a bumbled hand-off and a receiver open in the end zone tempted the second-string quarterback to pass.
Sadly, he didn’t see the fastest man in college that year read the play, then intercept the pass. What happened next was shocking. The typically slow quarterback actually caught up to the fastest collegian, tackled him, and saved the game. After the game, Coach Bryant was asked by the opposing coach how in the world did his slow back-up quarterback run down and tackle the fastest man in college football? Bryant said, “It is very simple. Your man was running for a touchdown. My man was running for his life.” That’s motivation.
As a believer, Christ motivates his followers differently. The primary motivation of a loving Savior is, those who deserve God’s wrath and eternal torment in Hell for rebellious sins receive an amazing salvation through undeserved love, shocking grace and tender mercy. Christ rescued hopeless, helpless, detestable sinners from Hell and gave them a totally new life. That is why Peter begins his second letter with the incredible sacrifice of Christ and the shocking pursuit of God to awaken, then give eternal life to His children.
Turn in your Bibles to 2 Peter 1. Peter wants to strengthen several churches in Turkey against false teachers and the first wave of motivation is to immerse those churches and Christians in the truths of soteriology. When you realize what God did for you through Christ, when you understand how God chased you down in order to give you eternal life–you will be motivated to follow Christ and obey His Word. Read verses 1 to 2 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: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:1 and 2). This introduction is powerful. Did you see it? Did you hear it? Look carefully!
Peter is very personal and shouts at his readers to rely only upon Jesus Christ. In the first two small verses of 2 Peter, Jesus Christ is listed three times! Peter is also very soteriological in this tiny introduction. In these two verses, Peter mentions God twice, then faith, righteousness, Savior, grace and peace once each. From the very outset, Peter wants them to be motivated by their salvation.
Last week, as we worked through verse 1a, Peter began with the extremes. As Peter introduces himself in verse 1, he reminds his readers even as an apostle, he is so indebted to Christ. This “sent” apostle is also a “slave” of Christ–points all beginning with the letter “I”.
#1 The INCONGRUOUS tension true leadership faces in Salvation
Verse 1a, “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” This writer is both Simon and Peter–humanly weak Simon, and Peter the rock. He is also both slave and sent one–the lowest office, to the highest office on earth. Peter is dependent on Christ and a powerful messenger of Christ in both words and action, speech and miracles, the written word and all authority. And Peter is reminding his readers, this is what salvation does to us–salvation gives us great purpose, privileged ministry, but also a desperate need to live as a continually dependent and obedient slave of Christ. But that is not a burden at all because of . . .
#2 The INCREDIBLE gift of faith of Salvation
Peter writes a group of primarily Gentile churches who are filled with believers who have received an incredible gift. Verse 1b, “To those who have received a faith.” The verb “have received” means to gain by divine will or given by an allotment–clearly here, a faith given by God. This faith here is from God, in accordance with God’s will as a gift. Your Creator is giving you a gift.
A faith is not referring to the faith–the objective doctrinal truths of our faith. But here it means the subjective meaning of faith–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. You and I needed God to give us the faith to believe in Christ. Only when the Holy Spirit awakens someone’s dead soul in response to hearing or reading the Gospel is saving faith initiated–so any sinner can embrace redemption.
Acts 13:48, “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 16:14, “And the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” You were appointed to eternal life so you could believe. The Lord opened your heart to respond to the Gospel message. And now you have faith to rely, trust, depend and believe Christ enough to now obey His Word.
Faith is a common denominator of life on Earth. We exercise faith every day. Every time we put money in the bank, we exercise faith in the soundness and integrity of that bank. Every time we enter a building, we exercise faith in its architect and its builder. Every time we take the passenger seat in a car, we exercise faith in the vehicle, its designer, manufacturer, and in the driver. We exercise faith in our doctor, that he has made a correct diagnosis and prescribed the right treatment. We rarely think about these things until our trust is betrayed.
Saving faith is similar to everyday faith, except our trust in God must be given to us–because you and I are unable and unwilling to turn from our sin and dependently rely on Christ and His work on the cross on our own. We’re dead, blind, and rebellious sinners. Therefore we can’t exercise faith in Christ for salvation. Now for today, is this salvation faith the same as the apostles’? Is it the same saving faith that saved the saints in the Old Testament and birthed the Early Church?
#3 The IMPORTANT continuity of true Salvation
Verse 1c, “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours.” Some versions call it a “like precious faith“–but the pronoun ours is in the Greek text. The faith we’ve been given is the same kind of ours. This phrase is challenging to interpret–not because of the meaning of the Greek words, but because of the context. When Peter says we have “a faith of the same kind of ours”–who is the ours referring to?
Some say ours means it is the same faith as ours as Jews. Your Gentile faith in Christ is the same as our Jewish faith in Christ–no difference. Others think ours means it is the same faith as ours as the apostles. Your faith in Christ is the same as the original apostolic faith in Christ–no difference.
Some of my favorite interpreters lean towards the ours meaning our Jewish faith. But they admit 2 Peter does not raise the issue of Jew or Gentile at all–that’s not the focus. Maybe the false teachers were coming out of Judaism and making an errant distinction between Gentile faith and the Jewish faith, but the letter of 2 Peter doesn’t indicate that at all.
I lean towards the pronoun ours referring to the apostles. The reason is, Peter just referred to himself as an apostle, right? Verse 1, “apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours.” So the clearest antecedent of ours would be apostles. Plus, in order to stand for truth against the false teachers, the readers need to know their faith is the original faith, the same faith as the apostles’ faith–the same faith as ours.
Your faith is the same faith which was taught by the apostles, which introduced New Testament salvation. And verse 1c, “the same kind of ours,” lifts the regular believer to the same level of privilege as the original teachers of the Gospel, the apostle–the same faith as ours. Peter makes it clear the faith they’ve been given is the same since Acts 2 and the birth of the Church.
First ALIKE of the same kind
The Greek word rendered “of the same kind” means equally valuable or of equal privilege. It designates that what was equal in rank, position, honor, standing, price, or value. Each believer has received faith as a personal gift, a faith that’s the same in nature, bringing equal spiritual privileges of salvation to all who are chosen. All the elect have received, as a gift, the faith that saves. Ephesians 2:8 to 9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Faith is nothing that we do in our own power or by our own resources. In the first place, we do not have adequate power or resources. More than that, God would not want us to rely on them, even if we had them. Otherwise, salvation would be in part by our own works and we would have some ground to boast in ourselves. So even faith is not from us, apart from God giving it. When we accept the finished work of Christ on our behalf, we act by the faith supplied by God’s grace.
Imagine Gary here choking to the point of not breathing–there is nothing he can do. If he will ever breath again, it will be because someone else starts him breathing. A person who is spiritually dead, cannot even make a decision of faith unless God first breathes into him the breath of spiritual life. Faith is simply breathing the breath that God’s grace supplies. And the paradox is that we must exercise faith and bear the responsibility.
Peter is informing his readers who are being assaulted by false teachers and a corrupted gospel, their faith is the same as his–it’s of equal honor and equal value. Peter is stressing that they and you have equal privileges in the Kingdom of God. Their faith in Christ is of equal value and validity–it is “of the same kind as ours.” Spurgeon and I believe the pronoun ours refers to the apostles. Your faith is a part of something bigger than you–it’s a gift from God and it’s the same as the apostles. Like playing for the winning team–Alabama or the Packers or not owning a cat.
Second APOSTOLIC FAITH which is a faith of the same kind as ours
In other words, Christians today are on the same spiritual level as the apostles. Spurgeon says, “These epistles are not written to everybody. This one is written, ‘to those who have obtained a faith equal in value to ours.’ ” The faith of the weakest believer in Jesus is the same kind of faith that was found in Simon Peter. The same faith that saved Peter can save you. Why the reassurance? Because of . . .
#4 The IMPOSSIBLE requirement of genuine Salvation
Verse 1d, “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” You are not perfect–since the first day you screamed as a baby when you didn’t get your way, you showed you’re sinful, rebellious, proud, even hateful to the core. You’re guilty of wrong thoughts, sinful speech, hateful attitudes, a heart of pleasure. So if you ever desire to stand in God’s presence, you must be perfect–like Christ, you must be righteous. And that’s impossible.
First The REQUIREMENT by the righteousness OF GOD
Saving faith is only available because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Sinners are given eternal life because the Savior imputes His perfect righteousness to them, covering their sins with His perfection, which renders sinners acceptable to God. Second Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Philippians 3:8 and 9, “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”
First Peter 2:24, “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” The doctrine of imputed righteousness is at the very heart of the true Gospel. Salvation is a gift from God at every point. Both the righteousness to satisfy God’s holiness and even your faith to believe come from God Himself. On the cross, Christ bore the full wrath of God against all the sins of those who would ever believe. Those sins were imputed to Christ so God could impute to believers all the righteousness that was His. His righteousness fully covers the redeemed.
Jean and I come from humble roots–poor and lower middle class, regular education. Sometimes for fun, I introduce myself as a 3.8 GPA, blue-collar, son of a teamster. Anyway, the first time we went to a resort, we were shocked that they provided robes to wear–one for her and one for me . . . giant, big, white, cushy, plushy, bath-robes. We wore them 24/7 (out to dinner). Robes were an unfamiliar, yet delightful, act of luxury. Sometimes with the robes, they include cushy white slippers. For us, it was special. You put those robes on and you’re different–you talk different (“Lovey”). It’s a new you. You can be dirty, dusty, worn out from travel–but a wash and a white robe and all is new.
The white robe is much like what Christ does–He washes you internally, then covers you in His white robe of righteousness, making you a new person. You can stand in the King’s presence now, because you have no stain of sin upon you. You are covered in his perfect white robe of righteousness. Isaiah paints this beautiful picture in 61:10, “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
To stand in God’s presence, you must be covered in God’s righteousness. I meet a lot of people working their way to heaven by self-righteousness–they sacrifice for social causes, seek to save the planet, try to make a difference. Others I know are working their way to heaven by religious righteousness–they attempt to please God by following His laws or making up their own rules.
But no one will make it to Heaven unless, as Martin Luther declared, the great exchange is made. Jesus takes your sin and gives you His righteousness. The impossible requirement to be right with God is perfect righteousness–and the righteousness of God is a gift from God in opposition to any effort by you. John Calvin adds, “Readers must know they did not obtain the faith for salvation through their own efforts, but through God’s favor alone. Righteousness originates with God, then, through Christ, righteousness flows down to us.” The righteousness needed to be saved can’t come from you, but only from . . .
Second The REDEEMER by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ
Because of an unbreakable rule of Greek grammar, this phrase does not speak of God the Father, and the Savior Jesus Christ–but is describing Jesus Christ as God and Savior. All people need God’s righteousness to be saved. And Peter wants to make it really clear, their Savior, Jesus Christ, is God. Only Christ can give faith and only Christ can provide you with righteousness.
God’s righteousness reaches every true believer through the Son, Jesus. Again, in Philippians 3:9, Paul desires to “be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”
As Peter begins this epistle, before he even finishes verse one, the great apostle emphasizes the deity of Christ, because only God can provide salvation. Only God can save you. Now calling Jesus “our God” is not unusual–one week after Jesus’ resurrection, in John 20:28, Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” The New Testament writers continually stressed the divinity of Christ. Paul writes in Colossians 2:9, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”
Verse 1 says Jesus Christ is both God and Savior. His name, Jesus, signifies salvation. The angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:21 to give Mary’s son the name Jesus, because “He will save His people from their sins.” And Jesus is both God and Savior.
Interestingly, the Greek word Savior does not occur in Peter’s first epistle, but in his second the title Savior appears five times. And except for this first instance in verse 1, all the 2 Peter verses list the familiar expression, Lord and Savior. As your rescue, you must know Christ as your Savior, and as your Lord and Master to be forgiven. Because Jesus is God and Lord, He’s able to set us free from sin and make us righteous–give us the faith to believe and restore us to our perfect and sinless Creator. Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God is the author and agent of salvation.
But be warned, friends–to merely believe Jesus is God will not save you. You must trust that God was born a man, the God-man lived a sinless life, then bore the wrath of God for sins by suffering and dying on a cross for your sins. On the cross Christ died for sin, then Jesus rose from the dead. Spurgeon says, “Jesus Christ is our Savior because He became a substitute for guilty man.” You must believe in the person and work of Christ, while God must cause you to be born again. How could Christ do this? Why would Christ do this?
#5 The INCONCEIVABLE blessing of God-given Salvation
Verse 2a says, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you.” This 2 Peter greeting is similar to his 1 Peter greeting. Grace is God’s provision for our every need while we live down here in enemy territory. Grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Grace is all of the infinite resources of God at our disposal, to enable us to face each situation and meet every demand. Come heresies from within the Church, or hatred from without–God’s grace is sufficient.
Peace is God’s provision for our inner need. Calvin says “Peace is the beginning of our happiness. Peace is when God receives us into His favor.” Peace declares, you are now God’s friend and no longer God’s enemy. Do you remember Abner, the commander-in-chief of the armies of Israel in the days of King Saul? He spent most of his life fighting David. In the end, he stopped rebelling against God’s plan and came over to David. David immediately extended grace toward Abner, made a feast for him, and then 2 Samuel 3:20 to 21, “sent him away—in peace.” Peace means the war is over! Abner went away that day with the peace of David reigning in his heart. That’s what our Lord, does for us–Jesus receives us with grace and sends us away in peace. We are no longer enemies, but friends.
But Peter desires in this unique greeting that grace and peace be multiplied. Spurgeon comments, “When we go to the multiplication table, we not only multiply by two and by three, but we can multiply by a hundred, we can multiply by ten thousand.” This is what a gracious God does for His children. Multiply is to become bigger and greater in amount–greater grace and bigger peace. Peter prays God would multiply to you the grace and peace He’s already given to you.
The apostle Peter desires for your new life in Christ be healthy–so he prays “grace and peace be multiplied.” You need grace and you need peace and only Christ can give it. Divine power is the engine of the Christian life, grace is the fuel that runs it, and peace is the oil which keeps it running healthy. But the motivation to serve, grow, and worship is . . .
#6 The INTIMACY with God in true Salvation
Verse 2b, “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Grace and peace energizing your walk with God is motivated by the knowledge of God–not factual knowledge that Christ was God, died for sin or rose from the dead. The knowledge here is personal, intimate, relational–friendship knowledge of God.
Living under His daily detailed providence in every event, trusting in His faithful love, resting in His abundant grace, calming under his steady peace, obeying His lordship, following His example, smiling over His everywhere presence, relying on His all-knowing wisdom, drawing from His universe-creating power, fleeing sin for His just holiness, serving diligently, pursuing His pre-chosen design. You and I are motivated by knowing God.
Your heavenly father wants you to know Him–more than making sacrifices, Christ desires you to grow intimate with Him. Speaking to the northern tribes living in rebellion, Hosea is pointed in Hosea 6:6, “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Even as Judah in the south is about to be taken captive by Babylon, Jeremiah 9:23 and 24, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.”
Our very salvation is defined by Jesus as knowing God and knowing Christ in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Peters’ verse 2 greeting is focused upon the most important–personally knowing God. Do you walk intimately with Christ–at school? at work? at home? at play? in ministry? Spurgeon reminds you and I, “The more we know of God and of Jesus our Lord, the more grace and peace will be multiplied to us.” Who makes it all happen?
#7 The IMPACT of Christ in Salvation
Verse 2c, “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” The genitives “of God and of Jesus our Lord” define the objects of your knowledge. The double object is clear–“God” with the article points to the one true God, whom the readers have come to know intimately through the Gospel. If you’re saved, you know God personally–and that knowledge came from Jesus. This personal knowledge is inseparably linked to the second person of the Trinity–the person of the Godhead who reveals God, who manifests God. It is Jesus who makes God known.
But did you observe something unusual? The expression “Jesus our Lord” occurs only twice in the New Testament–so it’s rare. And now the full, personal and official name “Jesus Christ”, which was used twice in verse 1, is now at the end of verse 2, shortened to merely “Jesus”. This shorter name points to a sweet familiar knowledge Peter enjoys with Jesus, and points to the necessary humanity of Jesus in order to be our substitute and die on our behalf. This is Jesus, Peter says–I knew Him on Earth, I know Him as Savior, and now I know Him as Lord. And you readers can too. In fact, Peter concludes this greeting by devoutly acclaiming Jesus as “our Lord”–“Jesus our Lord.”
All true believers depend on Jesus as “Savior”–and all true believers submit to Christ as Lord. Christ is the heavenly Master all Christians yield to in full obedience. Stop buying it, friends–if a professor doesn’t desire obedience by following Christ as Lord, then they or you are not a Christian. Jesus is clear, Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
Peter makes certain the readers and we know, following Christ as Lord applies to all. Peter says, “Jesus our Lord“.Our links Peter with his readers–“our Lord“. Peter follows Christ as Lord, and they should too–and you should too. Doing so is crucial for what follows in verses 3 to 4. What does Peter say? You have to come back next week.
Grow in becoming a doer of the Word, not merely a hearer. To do that, allow me to ask you three key questions . . .
A Are you COVERED in the righteousness of Christ?
As Isaiah describes the fashion of the righteous, “He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness“–Are you wrapped in the robes of righteousness? Do you look righteous? Can people determine you’ve been made new? Can they see you are forgiven? Can others notice you don’t have the weight of guilt they still carry?
If you’ve been made righteous, you will live righteous. If you have met Christ the righteous, you will live like Christ the righteous. First John 2:29, “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” Are you wearing Christ’s robe of righteousness? Cry out to Christ to save you.
B What aspect of your life demonstrates Christ as Lord? and what doesn’t?
Jesus is clear in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” And then John 14:21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
This morning, the Holy Spirit is pointing out an area where you need to repent. In many ways, you are following Christ as Lord, but in some specific area, in one area of your life, you are being disobedient. It’s a sin which violates Scripture, or a sin you are not obeying–but you know you should. Repent and follow Christ as Lord. First John 2:4, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Be warned, those who accept Jesus in their heart but do not follow Christ in life, or they live in continual disobedience to the Word of God are make-believers–they are lost.
C Are you pursuing KNOWING Christ more intimately?
Whatever is keeping you from enjoying intimacy with Christ, by gathering together, studying His Word, prayer, fellowship, discipleship, memorizing scripture–whatever it is that is keeping you from intimate, experiential knowledge of Christ who is your Lord, Savior and friend is evil. Hosea 6:6, “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Walk with Christ.
Practice His presence and practice His providence. Don’t love Christianity more than Christ. Don’t follow routine, enjoy relationship. Don’t learn principles, apart from the person. To live is Christ and to die is gain. Be like Paul in Philippians 4:8, “and count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Let’s pray.