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                     "THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER"

                  Peter's Final Exhortations (2 Pe 3:14-18)

INTRODUCTION

1. We come to the final section of this second epistle of Peter,
   a letter in which
   a. Peter has endeavored to "stir you up by way of reminder" - 2 Pe 1:13-15; 2 Pe 3:1-2
   b. Peter has exhorted those "who have obtained like precious faith":
      1) To be diligent in abounding in spiritual growth - 2 Pe 1:5-11 
      2) To heed the prophetic word made more sure - 2 Pe 1:16-21 
      3) To beware of false teachers that will lead many astray - 2 Pe 2:1-22 
      4) To not be deterred by scoffers of the Lord's coming - 2 Pe 3:3-9
      5) To live holy lives in view of the coming Day of the Lord - 2 Pe 3:10-13 

2. As Peter draws his epistle to a close, it is evident that he is
   filled with love toward his brethren
   a. He calls them "beloved" in 2 Pe 3:1; 2 Pe 3:8
   b. And now in our text, he uses this term of endearment twice -
      2 Pe 3:14; 2 Pe 3:17

3. With such love in his heart, Peter pens his final words
   a. He knows that he will soon die - 2 Pe 1:14 
   b. As far as we know, he wrote no other epistle

4. This ought to give special significance to "Peter's Final
   Exhortations" that we find in our text
   a. Just as the final words of any dying man are significant, in that
      they reveal what is of greatest concern to that person
   b. What are the concerns of this aged apostle, who dearly loves his
      brethren?

[In verse 14, we find first of all his exhortation to]

I. BE DILIGENT TO BE FOUND IN PEACE, WITHOUT SPOT AND BLAMELESS (v 14)

   A. THIS IS YET ANOTHER CALL TO "DILIGENCE"
      1. Found twice before - cf. 2 Pe 1:5; 2 Pe 1:10
      2. The word means "earnestness, zeal, sometimes with haste"
      3. There it was applied to growing spiritually

   B. DILIGENCE IN THIS TEXT PERTAINS TO THE LORD'S COMING
      1. How will the Lord find us when He comes?
      2. Will he find us to be people of faith? -cf. Lk 18:8 

   C. PETER DESIRES THAT THE LORD FIND US "IN PEACE, WITHOUT SPOT AND
      BLAMELESS"
      1. "in peace" can refer to both
         a. Our relationship with God - Ro 5:1 
         b. Our relationship with man - 1 Pe 3:11-12 
         -- Focusing on our peace with God will help us have peace with
            man - Pr 16:7 
      2. To be found by Jesus as "without spot and blameless"?  How can
         that be?
         a. Only through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ - Eph 5:25-27
         b. Who redeems us from sin through His precious blood, as "of
            a lamb without blemish and without spot" - 1 Pe 1:18-19 
         c. If we continue to walk in the light, we continue to enjoy
            that precious blood - 2 Jn 1:7 

   D. DILIGENCE IN SUCH THINGS WILL BE DETERMINED BY WHERE WE SET OUR AIM
      1. "...looking forward to these things, be diligent...'
      2. It is only as we "look forward" can we hope to prepare for
         what is to come - cf. 1 Pe 1:13 
      3. As we look for the grace that is to come, especially in
         reference to the new heavens and a new earth (2 Pe 3:13 ), we
         will find the motivation to "be diligent"

[Are you looking forward to the new heavens and a new earth in which
righteousness dwells?  If not, you are not being diligent and will
not be found ready when the Lord comes.

If you have allowed the ways of this world to distract you because
of the delay of our Lord's coming, then Peter's exhortation in
verse 15 speaks to you]

II. REMEMBER, THE LONG-SUFFERING OF THE LORD IS SALVATION (v 15)

   A. DELAY OF THE LORD'S COMING IS NOT SLACKNESS
      1. For time is irrelevant to God - 2 Pe 3:8 
      2. Rather, the Lord is willing to suffer long so that people
         might repent - 2 Pe 3:9 

   B. GOD'S LONG-SUFFERING SHOULD BE SEEN AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO REPENT
      1. Every day, year, or century that our Lord does not return,
         should be thought of as "the day of salvation" -  2 Co 6:1-2 
         a. The day for souls to obey Christ
         b. The day for erring Christians to return to their Lord
      2. Like Peter, Paul wrote of God's longsuffering and its
         motivation to salvation - Ro 2:4 

[Peter himself certainly took advantage of God's longsuffering to
repent, not only when he denied Jesus, but also when he played the
hypocrite and had to be rebuked by Paul (Ga 2:11-21).

Peter's repentance in the latter incident is evident by his description
of Paul ("our beloved brother Paul").  He clearly held no animosity
toward Paul for what may have occurred at Antioch.

Shall we not likewise take advantage of God's longsuffering to "work
out our salvation with fear and trembling"?  As we do so, let's be
careful to heed the exhortation implied in verse 16]

III. DON'T TWIST THE SCRIPTURES TO YOUR OWN DESTRUCTION (v 16)

   A. THE SCRIPTURES CAN BE A SOURCE OF MUCH GOOD
      1. They can "save your souls" - Ja 1:21 
      2. For they are given by inspiration of God - 2 Ti 3:16-17 
      3. Because of this, they are "living and powerful, and sharper
         than any two-edged sword" - He 4:12 

   B. BUT THEY CAN ALSO BE ABUSED TO MUCH HARM
      1. Just as a sword can be misused to the harm of the one wielding it
      2. Twisted, the Scriptures can even lead one "to their own
         destruction"!
      3. Those most susceptible to misusing the Word of God are:
         a. The "untaught"
            1) Armed with a little knowledge, they believe they are
               ready to "do battle"
            2) But "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing"
            3) Unless one has studied the context (both immediate and
               remote) of a passage, it is so easy to misapply it
         b. The "unstable"
            1) This would be the "babe" in Christ, the immature
            2) Who seeks to "run" with the Scriptures before they have
               even learned to "walk", often "stumbling" as a result
      4. Thus, there is the need to heed not only Peter's warning, but Paul's
         admonition in 2 Ti 2:14-18, where he gives the example of
         Hymenaeus and Philetus

[With such warnings, perhaps we may better appreciate James'
admonition:  "...receive with meekness the implanted word." (Ja 1:21)

In passing, it is interesting to note that Peter places Paul's writings
on par with "the rest of the Scriptures", implying that Paul's writings
are to be considered as much a part of the canon as the Old Testament
scriptures.

Finally, Peter concludes his epistle with two exhortations that
summarize the content of his entire epistle]

IV. SUMMARY EXHORTATIONS (Vs 17-18)

   A. BEWARE LEST YOU FALL, BEING LED AWAY BY ERROR
      1. This verse (v 17) summarizes all that Peter was doing in
         chapters two and three
      2. Peter's concern is in view of the very real danger of apostasy
         a. He has already described those:
            1) Who were guilty of "denying the Lord who bought them"
               - 2 Pe 2:1 
            2) Who "have forsaken the right way and gone astray" - 2 Pe 2:15 
            3) Who having "escaped the pollutions of the world" are
               "again entangled in them and overcome" - 2 Pe 2:20 
         b. He has just described those:
            1) Being "untaught and unstable"
            2) "...twist the scriptures to their own destruction" -
                2 Pe 3:16 
      3. Brethren, the danger of apostasy is very real, and so Peter
         says "beware lest you also fall"!

   B. GROW IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST
      1. This verse (v18) summarizes the main points of chapter one
      2. In which Peter had described:
         a. Blessings which come by the grace and knowledge of Jesus
            Christ - 2 Pe 1:1-4 
         b. How one grows in the knowledge of Jesus Christ - 2 Pe 1:5-11
         c. The need for frequent reminder, and to heed the testimony
            of apostolic testimony and the prophetic word - 2 Pe 1:12-21
      3. In this verse, then, is the key to avoiding apostasy:  "Grow!"
         a. Grow in the grace of Jesus Christ, by appreciating and
            appropriating all of God's unmerited favor
         b. Grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as defined by Peter
            in chapter one, developing those Christ-like qualities he
            listed

CONCLUSION

1. Peter closes his second epistle with a simple yet heartfelt
   expression of praise:

   "To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen"

2. It was not long after Peter penned these words that he "put off his
   tent" (2 Pe 1:14), and joined that great multitude described by
   his fellow apostle John

   "{9} After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude
   which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and
   tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed
   with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, {10} and crying
   out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who
   sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" - Re 7:9-10 

3. Brethren, don't we desire to join that throng one day?  If so, then
   let us heed these final words of Peter to his beloved brethren
   a. Be diligent to be found in peace, without spot and blameless
   b. Remember, the longsuffering of the Lord is salvation
   c. Don't twist the Scriptures to your own destruction
   d. Beware lest you fall, being led away by error
   e. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ

Are you using the longsuffering of the Lord to apply all diligence in
growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord?  Have you even begun?

If not, then heed the words of Peter in his first gospel sermon
- cf. Ac 2:36-39 
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