Life Based on Faith News – 2 Peter 1:12–21 – Chris Wu
Humans love to manipulate news in order to guarantee, or at least attempt to solidify, a certain kind of outcome. People want to understand what has happened, how it impacts you and people you care about, and what you can expect for the future. However, the daily task of sorting through information is exhausting. Everyone seems to have an angle.
The prospect that you might be basing important matters of life on fake news is overwhelming. This reality is not all that different from the concerns Peter had for the church. Peter was convinced it was critically important that he prepare the church for false prophets by reiterating one thing as central and reliable: the good news, the life-changing, cosmically important news of Jesus the Messiah. His concern was to protect his loved ones from a life based on fake news by pointing them to a life based on faith news. He does this by reminding the church of who she is because of the past, who she must be in the present, and what promises she can trust in for the future.
1) In Christ, SECURED by the past. (v.12, looking back to vv.3-4) A life that’s based on faith news is, in Christ, secured by the past. Peter points out, “The qualities I just spoke about – they’re so important that I’m making it my mission to remind you of them, even though you already know them and they are part of the foundation you already stand on.”
In Christ, God has granted to us everything we need for a godly life. Because of Jesus Christ’s righteousness, we’re brought into glorious fellowship with Him. By faith, our fundamental identity has changed. We used to be aligned with the world – our life was tied up with corruption and sin. Now we are aligned with the very Son of God, the One who is life, light and glory.
In the past tense – “His divine power has granted to us” all these things. It’s not a call to change your destiny or pull yourself up. It’s announcing the seismic shift that’s already happened because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Christ, we are secured by what He’s done in the past, who we are is bound up with what He has already done.
The Lord knows the necessity of reminders as we tend to forget the past. We take them for granted or put them to the side, while our attention is drawn to the “new” things that come along every day. Worse yet, we replace foundational truth with lies that we tell ourselves, or ideas that come from the world around us. The truth of the gospel is the very thing we need front and center. The news we need tells us where we’ve been and who we are. The past is the crucial context for our today.
2) In Christ, STRENGTHENED in the present. (vv. 13-15, looking back to vv. 5-11) A life based on faith news is, in Christ, strengthened in the present. Peter is dead set on reminding the church, but not just for the sake of bringing facts to mind. He means to “stir [them] up by way of reminder.” His reminder is meant to get the church out of bed and living life because of what they know to be true. He wants to stir us up to bear fruit in keeping with who we are.
Peter again brings us back to what he has said in the previous paragraph, purposefully calling to mind the qualities of a godly life in verses 5–11. He will “make every effort” to help us remember these things, just as he encouraged the church to “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”
These are the fruits of what God has given us in Christ. “The knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” tells us that we've already been granted everything. It’s back to verses 3–4 again. Don't just remember who you are, be who you are. Be faithful, virtuous, wise and understanding, temperate, persevering, godly, caring and loving. Be those things because that is who you are. Never get it twisted the other way around. We are not brought into life eternal with God by being self-controlled and loving. We’re self-controlled and loving because that’s the very life God has brought us into. God has made you new. It’s His new life in you that gives you the power to love right now…” Remember who you are, and be who you are. Be stirred up by reminder. A life based on faith news is, in Christ, SECURED by the past, and is STRENGTHENED in the present.
3) In Christ, SURE of the future. (vv. 16-21) A life based on faith news is, in Christ, SURE of the future. It’s so sure, Peter wants the church to know, that it’s a God-guaranteed light to look toward every day. For Peter, the bottom line was something like this: “All the promises of the gospel, past, present or future, are really trustworthy – it’s not fake news (cleverly devised myths), I witnessed the proof myself!”
In Matthew 17:1-8, Peter, James, and John witnessed something truly incredible: Old Testament prophecy fulfilled before their very eyes. The Messiah was revealed in divine glory to them, standing beside the figureheads of the law and the prophets: Moses and Elijah. Peter recalls for us that they heard the voice from heaven declare “This is My beloved Son,” and His glory was revealed as they were with Him “on the holy mountain.” That mountain-top experience proved something key for Peter and now for us, something that unlocks it all: Jesus really is the Messiah.
Jesus truly being the Messiah is the reason Peter can say any of the things he’s said so far. It’s why he’s so keen to remind us of what we’ve been given and who we are, why he’s insistent we live a life that matches our calling and election, and it’s why he’s confident of the future. For Peter, this is way more than a nice feeling or warm hunch. It’s not a rumor he heard. “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty,” he says. Therefore, he tells us, “Pay attention to Scripture! Pay attention to God’s word! For one, I saw it proved true with my own two eyes; and for another, we know that God’s prophetic word isn’t like other news – it’s not based on people’s interpretations or opinions. It’s not based on prognosticators and advisors and gurus. It doesn’t depend on government agencies or journalists or bloggers or social media influencers. It’s God Himself who has carried men along by the Holy Spirit to write down His own words.” We have a light in the darkness, the lamp of God’s own word which told us Jesus would come, and now tells us to look forward to the day when He returns.
The promises of scripture are precious, and they are guaranteed by God Himself and confirmed by witnesses like Peter. Maybe today more than ever, we need that reminder to look to the light of God’s word, to remember the very precious promises we have in Christ, paying attention to His word that is truly like a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Our light in the darkness is not like the light that news outlets try to bring to our world.
Our hope is in the Messiah. The One who secured our past present and future by His blood, forever changing and cementing the course of our lives from death to life. The One who was and is and is to come. Peter had experienced himself how a life based on God’s word, a life based on fulfilled prophecy, a life based on divine promises, was a life SECURED by God’s action in the past, STRENGTHED by the reality of the present, and given reason to be SURE of the future to come because of all of the above.
Praise Songs: Lord I Lift Your Name on High, Speak O Lord, The Solid Rock, Doxology
Pastor Eric posed the question, “What does it mean to be on ‘God’s Team.’” There are many great teams like the US Women’s Soccer, the Golden State Warriors, or the Oakland Athletics (’89) to name a few. There are also your own family and the SanLo community! 2 Peter 1:12-15 reminds us of things we can be in order to be good team members: be diligent, virtuous, have knowledge, temperance (self-control), patience, godliness, demonstrate brotherly kindness and charity, to be fruitful. Why should we do this? Because God loves us. You are on God’s team, so let’s go out and play like it!