After having looked at what Paul meant by having “learned Christ,” and discussing the mystery of godliness–or knowing God according to how He has revealed Himself in Christ, we move now to spend a few weeks walking through 1 and 2 Peter, keeping in mind that Peter and Paul are among those Jesus designated for us to listen to. We will listen, specifically looking for how to continue learning, and how that relates to “the mystery of godliness.”
True, proven true, trustworthy, unchanging; as opposed to what the culture around these dispersed Christians were holding up as ‘true’ which always turns out to be ‘the latest fleeting fad’ or a one-off path that leads astray and leaves us feeling depleted.
True, Restorative, Redemptive Grace
And Peter, who tasted of the true grace, after having denied Jesus, knows the value of this true grace. He knows it empirically and experientially. He heard–he seized upon the words of Jesus and held them close. Though he also let his own tongue run in the opposite direction and faced the shame of wrongly trying to correct Jesus, and of having denied Jesus.
“As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant.”Mark 9:9-10
Peter later, when Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, realized the fulness of the hesed offered to us in the gospel. Jesus led him to understand what it means to love God and be loved by God, with an unchanging love, a love that corrects, directs, and gives life and hope.
This is why grace, love, and hope are so frequently brought forth in Peter’s epistles. He learned Christ, and kept on learning, abiding, and delighting. And he directs us to learn and grow continuously.
So Peter ends his first epistle with his reason for writing–to exhort these believers towards standing firm in the grace of God. We know Jesus told His disciples that false prophets would mislead many, and that because of lawlessness the love of many would grow cold. (see here, and Matthew 24) Peter did not want their love to grow cold–he wants rather to exhort toward stability. He wants them to stand firm.
To the Fullest Measure
We ought to share this desire for our local church, for our brothers and sisters in Christ; and having this grace alive and active in us means we too will feel compelled to exhort. This grace is not like the ring for Gollum/Smeagol; a treasure that twists us and keeps us separate, keeps us in the dark and dreading the light. This grace has us dancing, and singing, and drawing others into the dance.
Peter opens his letter with an invigorating reminder of the Triune God at work in them from before the foundation of the world, and a blessing that they would have grace and peace in the fullest measure. Full, overflowing–the fulness of which Peter heard Jesus pray for:
“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” John 15:5 “I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you…These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.” John 16:22, 33 “Father, keep them in Your name…these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world…They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth…the glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, so that they may be perfected in unity…” John 17 various.
So, that true grace of God is not intuitively defined, we must be brought into it, shown it, taught from those who stand in it. Into a culture like the one these early church believers lived in, filled with “the wheel of Fortune” and the licentious worship of Aphrodite, could anything be more counterintuitive?!
True grace of God. Stand firm in it!
Written about briefly–in other words, Peter could go on and on and on…and we, in our true fellowship under the Word in our own local church must find those friends with whom we can could go on and on and on… We need to partake of the events in which those of us who love Him discuss His Word, and go on and on and on… We need to prioritize time with those who are testifying and discussing and delighting in and encouraging and exhorting one another towards standing firm in the true grace of God.
I leave you now with three passages to meditate on this weekend, as you rest in Him. What do these remind you about His grace, and your place in it? What does it remind you of concerning the fellowship of those who share in this grace? Think a bit about “being devoted” and how the Spirit draws us into joyful obedience, into persevering, into rejoicing in hope.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on urging them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all the believers were together and had all things in common; 45 and they would sell their property and possessions and share them with all, to the extent that anyone had need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor, 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.