In my last three sermons on II Peter I have highlighted Peter’s emphasis on the importance of the knowledge of God. Through the knowledge of God grace and peace are multiplied to us. Through the knowledge of God His power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness. Through the knowledge of God we supplement our faith so we are not ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see how important this knowledge is and what a difference it makes in our lives in the deaths of two famous men in the past month. Contrast Billy Graham to Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking was said to be a genius, a brilliant mind, a theoretical physicist working in the realm of cosmology and quantum mechanics. He studied the universe and yet he didn’t know the creator of the universe, being a self-avowed atheist. Is there anything more tragic than to never acknowledged the God who went to such lengths to make Himself known (Romans 1:19-23)? Give thanks to God who has revealed Himself to us in the person and Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Would you be willing to agree that what we think about God is the very highest hill on which we should be willing to die? In other words, our view of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the most important battle we should ever fight? Every other battle or debate or dispute is secondary to who God is and what He is like and what He does. History seems to bear this out because the biggest battles waged in the early church centered around the nature of God and the divinity and humanity of the Son of God. There were other battles but none this big and none that had two major creeds written almost exclusively about them, the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. While we don’t like conflict and battles in the church there are some battles that must be fought and far from hurting the church, they actually protect the church and make it stronger. They are like a refiner’s fire, that purifies and clarifies and unities the church around the truth. When humans take up the battle of clarifying who God is and what He is like we have to admit we are jumping into the deep end of the pool and we have to be careful and humble about what we are doing. God as He is in Himself is a holy mystery. We are creatures and God is the Creator. His ways and His thoughts are as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth. God in His essence is utterly and absolutely incomprehensible and beyond all human senses and wisdom. When we try to talk about the Trinity, our human language stains on the edges to explain this very great mystery. It is hard enough to grasp, and even harder to explain. We understand and know in part, but not in whole. We cannot know Him fully and eternity will not be long enough to fathom the depths or scale the heights of God. But while we cannot know Him fully or in His fullness, we can know Him and we can know Him truly. We can because God desires for us to know Him and He has gone to great lengths to make Himself known in creation and in the special revelation of Himself in His Son and in His Word. From Scripture we can learn that God is one God in divine essence and three distinct persons. Furthermore we can learn that God in the three persons of His being is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and that the Father is unbegotten; the Son is begotten and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Our texts and many like them are some of the most difficult in Scripture. Let’s see what we can take away from them.
Every Sunday we gather here for worship with our minds and hearts filled with the concerns and challenges of the past week and the week ahead. We live our days filled with temporal concerns. Our daily bread and daily needs consume our thoughts and our time and our energies. But how are we different from non-Christians? Are they not also anxious about their days and their lives and livelihoods? As Christians we are called to a higher calling, we are called to live in two worlds at once, to have a foot in two countries, to have one eye on temporal things and one eye on eternal things. The challenge, the goal, is to attend to the temporal things of our lives our eyes and minds fixed on eternal things. Jesus did this while He took on human form and walked this earth.
Now I know how Donald Trump feels after giving a speech and all the fact checkers come along. Yes, I do know its 2018. I hope that doesn’t make me a false teacher, just a fallible pastor. Actually the people who corrected me were doing a good thing. If pastor’s can’t be corrected then the church is in danger. No less an apostle than Paul submitted to being corrected by the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who examined the Scriptures daily to see if the things Paul said were true. A few years later Paul was in Ephesus speaking to the elders of the church he planted there.
II Peter 1:3-4 is a mouthful. This is one of the most dense passages in Scripture. One sentence, 69 words, five powerful propositions, one staggering reality, the power of God in us. Remember, Peter is an uneducated, Galilean fisherman. How did he write something like this? Where did he get this level of spiritual insight? John 16:13a When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. Two weeks ago, we said we have a faith of equal standing with the apostles themselves. We have the same Gospel is grounded in and rests on the foundation of Christ’s righteousness. Last week I said that having this faith, we are called to multiply it, grow it, or actually to look to God to multiply it, to give us greater grace and peace through knowledge of God. So, the result of believing in the Gospel is greater grace and peace. Verses 3-8 explain how this happens, how our faith grows and increases. There are two parts. What God does for us and what we do in response.