"I Will Not Be Negligent"
2Peter 1:12-15 kjv
Of Servant and Apostle
The Christian saint is very much in need of the advice and wisdom of this "servant and apostle of Jesus Christ" Simon Peter today. The world is increasing its attack on the Christian faith from every direction. Prophecy tells of extreme times ahead.
This is a much older Apostle Peter towards the end of his service here on Earth that we read from today. He has seen a lot of things since the first day his brother Andrew introduced him to Jesus. At this point it might be better to ask what hasn't Peter now seen? He, too, has known and counseled saints that were under attack. Who better than Peter to go to for wise and experienced advice like this?
Imagine for a moment that like Peter, you were coming to the end of your ministry. The audience that you are preparing to direct this discourse toward are all already Christian. They know the foundations of salvation. Now they need to know how to carry that faith forward into their new life and continuing times. One more time, before your departure, they need to be reminded the foundations of this 'like precious faith'. So you take your pen to hand.
Knowing what you know, having seen what you've seen, being familiar with the types of problems they are likely to come up against, anticipating what you are anticipating ahead for future generations of the church, the extreme forces mounting up against it; what would your counsel to present and future saints be?
It is an interesting question to consider; isn't it? In the space of one letter you wouldn't be able to cover too much in any great detail. You would have to boil it all down to essentials, trust in the work already written and accomplished, put this to them again as succinctly and deliberately as one short letter would allow. In other words, you'd need to bring it down to the core foundations, but in a style that draws a top down schematic or picture. The busy saint of today could benefit from such concise apostolic brevity.
The first concern that you would have to consider in such an effort no doubt is the human tendency of all future generations to get too comfortable with what they already know. We tend to become too established in what we know, what we think that we know. We settle into what becomes established as present truth.
It is a danger, I say, because present truth fades into convention, convention into bureaucracy, bureaucracy into the older ways, the older ways into the archaic, the archaic only to be revived every several generations when the desperation arises.
It is a danger, I say, because future generations will tend to know what they know for no other reason than they just know it. They feel it either consistent or else superior to what the previous generation knew before them. Much of what they will be basing their knowledge on will rely upon that which we based ours upon, and I am not so sure that we have the knowledge of how to carry the faith forward corect either. You see my concern.
Of The Author's Intent
"To stir you up by putting you in remembrance" is how this apostle puts it. That is his intent. That is his writing style. We would likely tell him "we already know and do this". Do we? Why then would he set the rest of his earthly walk stirring what is missing in us back up?
The plain fact is that we know our Lord and Savior only because of these apostles ( kjv@Romans:10:14-15). The further we get from the words of apostles like Peter, the further we get from the true person of Jesus Christ. It is the person of Christ to whom we have surrendered our lives and devotion to, not mere religion and whatever we ourselves think to make out of it.
Oh, we think we already know and do faith correct. Look though at what we have made of it of late. This my friend is human nature. It would take a man so acquainted with Jesus as SimonPeter to be able to sense this awkward and inevitable settling of our faith, be able to stir back up the remembrance of a faith like and precious, on equal standing with his own.
The very next thing Peter writes after this might be the thing that best describes why an apostolic task such as this would be required and undertaken. It describes the future generation's "know it all" tendencies:
2Peter 1:16 kjv
The Apostles were eye-witnesses. It was not anything but real life historical fact to them. Jesus was and is a real person. This was not a story to them, it was the continuance of a very real and enduring relationship. To us, these are words handed down from generation to generation, with each generation there is an entropy towards let's call it fictionalization.
You see, the eventual point that the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ begins to devolve and not have the same influence or make the same impact is the point where it starts to become like a fiction. A sizable portion of the recent Church came to that point when it adopted the intellectual mindset of theological liberalism and modernism or post modernism. The Word of God became "literature" and not "literal", "relative" to whatever anybody wanted to make out of it instead of "infallible". Jesus became only a good teacher, a good servant, a good martyr, or worse: a theatrical character in an ancient morality play.
It is not that this downward spiral of faith hasn't happened before. It happens all the time. This eventual fictionalization is a well proven human tendency. Follow the generations presented in the Old Testament. What one generation had experienced of God's strength first hand, say a great deliverance or national victory, has little meaning or impact to the next. Often times the experience is depleted and vacant of substance even within the same generation, even within hours or days. How can such a glorious event or vibrant experience with God come to mean so little? It becomes for them a story or legend or fable, else it is completely forgotten. Entropy.
I have no doubt that in Peter's time he had already begun to see this same human tendency take hold within his congregations in various shapes and sizes. A pastor of this caliber would diagnose it from the way his congregants sought and approached things, what they were set about to do, how they were depending more upon him than Jesus, the fruit of their faith abiding else the lack thereof. What is a good counselor to do? It is always to stir the drifting back into remembrance.
Think of how far beneath that level of faith and relationship to Jesus experienced by the Apostles our generation has now fallen. Yet, in his words "having obtained like preious faith with us" we can sense there being a much greater faith and calling needing to be stirred back into remembrance.
Of The Apostle's Own Wellspring
The Apostle draws from two separate sources in order to stir this remembrance back up:
- The Apostolic Witness:
- The Prophetic Witness:
2Peter 1:17-18 kjv
2Peter 1:19-21 kjv
- The two witnesses Peter draws upon to stir us are very important:
- One witness involves us accepting the word of those who best knew Jesus, those whom Jesus had discipled and taught. Who better to testify to the accounts and descriptions of the teachings and miracles and death and resurrection of Jesus.
- The second involves us accepting the words of the Old Testament prophets; searching the connections between what they said was going to happen and what then did happen in the life and ascension of Jesus Christ. Remember, Jesus after His resurrection spent quite a bit of time with His disciples reviewing all that had been written about Him in the "Law and prophets" (see: kjv@Luke:24:44-48).
God, in HIS unsearchable wisdom, has placed the unique first-hand experiences afforded those apostles down to the simple matter of our acceptance and living trust. His only-begotten Son only need suffer upon that cross and raise to the right-hand throne once, not for the more skeptical of us repeatedly. It is not a weakness that we are not offered these same experiences. It rather is a blessing that the same Holy Spirit that worked in them continues to work in us, aided by the Apostles grounding witness and testimony.
So then we come to Peter's initial statement about there being a "like precious faith", faith on equal standing to the Apostles. It does not mean that all faith is on equal standing; that would mean relativism. If true, the fact that we all believe in something then becomes the apex of faith, not the specific Christ in whom our faith is in.
Scripture teaches that all faith is man made except for one: the faith revealed/given by the Father:
"Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven". kjv@Matthew:16:17
God reveals HIS righteousness through the person of Jesus Christ deep into the caverns of the unregenerate sinner's soul. From this implanting of said righteousness swells the seedlings of "like precious" faith. This is how it happened among the Disciples in the scriptures. This is how it will happen to us. Like. Precious. Equal.
For three entire years those disciples were with Jesus night and day, plenty of opportunity for each of them to come to a comforting faith all their own. Yet even with all that, their faith failed when ultimately tested. God still needed to give them something much more spiritual than they could obtain for themselves.
For three entire years Judah and Samaria and Galilee experienced Jesus, saw what they saw, believed whatever they wanted. Even after reports of His resurrection, it made little believable sense to them; not until the righteousness of God and Christ was revealed and implanted within them.
Revelation is gifted. That which has to be gifted to man is above and beyond his powers of intellect and deduction, his formative personal environment and experience. This gifting is that which in this series we will call "the like precious faith". It is all about God's righteousness having been revealed, and once obtained believed and depended upon.
Of Here and Now
The saints are under considerable attack today. They are being attacked from without. They are being attacked from within. The very core of their most substantial doctrines are being questioned. However, as of yet, the saints are not able to put up much of any fight. In the Foundations of the Like Precious Faith series I am asking for the Holy Spirit through this writing of Simon Peter to stir us up once again as in times past by putting us back into remembrance of these mighty and essential things.
2Peter 1:1 kjv