Tuesday, December 7

Reader: “By his divine power, God has given us”

Response: “everything we need for living a godly life.”

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:2-15

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.

Some thoughts:

What do you know about Peter? What comes to my mind immediately is all the episodes of “The Chosen” (television series). If you haven’t seen this series, I HIGHLY recommend you start with season one, episode one and go from there. You can find the DVD’s at Walmart or on youtube (free). The best place is through “The Chosen” app. It’s all free.

Back to Simon Peter. He was a simple Jewish Galilean fisherman. Galilee was the “backwoods” of Israel and the area from which Jesus chose Simon as a disciple. Interestingly, no disciples were from Jerusalem. Simon travelled by Jesus’ side for three years learning, observing and asking questions. As evidenced by the profound depth of today’s passage, Peter’s understanding of the practical side of living out the Christian faith grew tremendously. 

In wanting to underscore the most important things as he neared the end of his life, like Moses, Joshua, David, Paul and Jesus before him, Peter is giving advice to fellow believers in a popular literary Jewish genre called a testament. In the second sentence he writes something that is relatively rare in the New Testament, with the phrase where he calls “Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.” While Christ’s deity is expressed throughout the Scriptures, he is often referred to as “the Son of God” or as Jesus referred to himself, “the Son of Man.” Peter makes it plain to his readers, Jesus is God.

The divine power of God has been given to us so that we have everything we need to live godly lives. We have no excuse. “I’m only human” doesn’t cut it. “I can’t help myself”―nope! “I’m not that strong” you are right, you’re not, but God has given you and me his divine power! The promises he made to us enable us to SHARE his divine nature making it possible for us to overcome our fallen human nature! This truth does not mean we share in the essence of God, we are not co-equals, but rather participate in God’s energy expressing his virtue, love and power in and through our lives. What flows out of us is God’s doing. He is the battery supplying the current. We are the flashlight being empowered.

Then Peter builds on what he has just said. Good theology is always designed to be practical and lived out. In contrast, bad theology remains theoretical. Peter’s words “make every effort” reminds us of Paul’s letter to the Philippians “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for God is at work in you to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12,13) Peter makes the application side of this Christian theology so clear. How does the process go?

On the farm we grew dairy calves to be milking cows, to be productive. As they were growing into maturity, we gave them supplements, nutrients to make them stronger and healthier. Peter is saying the same thing here. Add to your faith, moral excellence. The word in Greek is actually “virtue.” To your virtue add “knowledge.” This kind of knowledge is ginosko. Remember this word from a few days ago? (A knowledge that is progressing, a growing knowledge about something.) 

This structure of building qualities step by step is not meant to be a sequence in which one must master one before moving on, but they are interrelated. For example, accumulating much knowledge could lead to a desire to be overly aggressive in “sharing what you know.” The next virtue Peter lists is self-control followed by patient endurance, a quality that challenges self-control! This patient endurance, when fully realized, reflects godliness and this godliness through God living in us shows up as love for the brothers and sisters. Notice, we’ve moved from the factual side of knowledge to carrying that ginosko all the way to caring about the people, in other words, the theoretical shows up in practical actions. God’s word challenges us to live this way continually as we grow in the knowledge of our Lord each day we are on this earth. We never fully arrive which is another reason to encounter the Lord each day in the Scriptures. While living the way we’ve described above is evidence that we are among those called and chosen by God, our work simply confirms our zeal. Our having been called and chosen is solely by God’s grace and not the result of our endeavors. 

Peter concludes this portion with the promise that he will continue to remind them of these truths again and again. What this tells me is that we need to hear again and again what it means to live out our faith. Peter’s actual comment is that he is about to leave his “earthly tent, his tabernacle,” I.e. he is about to die. It is the same phrase John used in writing about the Incarnation. “The word became flesh and ‘tabernacled’ among us” (Jn 1:14). The Tabernacle in the First Testament was the dwelling place of God among the people. Peter alludes to the truth that our “tabernacles” are likewise indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the source of the “divine power” with which he began this pericope. And all of this truth from a salt of the earth Galilean fisherman. It pays to spend time with the living Jesus, then and now.

Music: “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”   Here are three very different settings of this ancient and beautiful Advent hymn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJ_-AW4nZnk    Luther College  arr. Terre Johnson  You can see the actual music they are playing and follow along.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42_9vcMMlxo   APU Men’s Chorale  

Paul affirms Peter’s message today in the dialogue at the end of this rendition.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chLMSiozhL8   ChurchFolk


O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give. Holy Father, keep us in your truth; Holy Son, protect us under the wings of your cross; Holy Spirit, make us temples and dwelling places for your glory; grant us your peace all the days of our lives, O Lord. Amen.   ―adapted from Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and Office of Complines, Maronite Church, The Oxford Book of Prayer, p. 187-188  Daniel Sharp