From Jim McGuiggan... Keeping the cross at the centre

Keeping the cross at the centre

The cross is central and permanent whether or not humans see it to be so or behave in light of the truth that it is so. There is always our sinful and moral weakness to affect not only how we behave but how we see. Older theologians used to speak often of the "noetic" effect of sin (noetic, from the Greek word "nous" = mind). Romans 1:21 makes it clear that our sin affects our ability to think and see. Jesus told some people that their love of society's praise kept them from believing in him (John 5:44). It wasn't that their mental apparatus had vanished; it was that sin distorted that still-existing apparatus.
It's one thing to flatly deny a truth and it's another to suppress or sideline a truth because it's costly. These are both sinful but sidelining can be more subtle and so more destructive because in some ways we feel we can justify doing that. It isn't that this truth is untrue, we tell ourselves; it's simply that it's unimportant or less important and very often we think so because we don't want to face the consequences of that truth or go where it will lead.

To see our brothers and sisters in light of the cross may mean that we continue to bury them under criticism or think them inferior because they don't live up to the cross—as we assess them in light of how we assess the meaning of the cross. But if we can believe that Jesus thinks "Sarah" and "Harry" are worth living and dying for then however we treat them (in thought and otherwise) we dare not go below that, for that would be to take issue with the Christ and his cross. Still, we often do it, and yet, in our better moments we're glad that the cross stands in judgement on our judgements.

Our ability to take our eyes off the cross is generated by sinfulness. The above illustrates the point that to take our eyes off the cross means that we take our eyes of what the cross implies.
But it isn't only our sinfulness that leads us to take our eyes off the cross; our sheer ignorance as to its meaning also leads to that. Part of the reason for that is that (astonishly) we often think we've thoroughly understood it and it becomes a bit of a yawn; so we move on to other issues. It's perfectly true that we can't fathom the full depths of its meaning; but that's so true it's hardly worth saying, and it's certainly no excuse for our not plunging in as deep as we can go at present. If we continue to plunge in over our heads and come back up with treasure that can only be found "down there," who knows how our vision and so our behaviour will change. Maybe we'll see our fellow-Christians and ourselves in an astonishingly better way and feel less burdened when the meaning of the cross of Christ begins to blaze for us. Maybe that's why God doesn't grow weary of our shortcomings—because he so rarely thinks of them, since he has his eye on Jesus and where he's taking us in and through him. 

The cross makes it clear that God means to transform us (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) and make us like Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29) so there's no suggestion that salvation is merely about the forgiveness of sins committed—it's about life. But what we need to transform us is the truth about, the rich profound truth about Jesus and him crucified. 

To repeat over and over and over and over and over again that Jesus died for me may not be a bad thing but there must come a time when the rehearsing of the bare act grows tedious. We can't keep drumming up a tearful condition or an emotional stirring by going over the details of his suffering and abuse. This is not what we're called to. When it is reflection/study time we're encouraged to sit down and look at the cross and ask, "What exactly does that mean? What is happening there in that event?" The life and death and subsequent resurrection and exaltation of Jesus our Lord is the centre of creation's history, past, present and future. No wonder Paul told the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:1-2), "I have only one message!" No wonder he told the Galatians (6:14), "I will glory in nothing—absolutely nothing—but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!"

Our Bible study, however it progresses, should be conducted so that we can return to the cross with new tools and insights that will enable us to uncover more of the massive, cosmic-changing truths imbedded in it.

Situationism by Dave Miller, Ph.D.



by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Human beings throughout history have been susceptible to a desire to be freed from the dictates of higher authority. Most people wish to be free to do whatever they choose to do. This attitude runs rampant among the baby-boomers, whose formative years occurred during the 1960s. Expressions that were commonplace at the time included “Do your own thing” and “Let it all hang out.” These simple slogans give profound insight into what was really driving the counterculture forces at that time. Underneath the stated objectives of love, peace, and brotherhood were the actual motives of self-indulgence and freedom from restrictions. This ethical, moral, and spiritual perspective has proliferated, and now dominates the bulk of American civilization.
The Israelites at Mt. Sinai provide a good case study of this. Their unbridled lust manifested itself when they cast aside restraint. Awaiting the return of Moses, they “sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6)—“play” being used euphemistically to refer to illicit sex play (cf. Genesis 26:8) [Harris, et al., 1980, 2:763; Clarke, 1:464]. The drinking and dancing (vs. 9) apparently included lewd, even nude, party-like revelry, with the people being “naked” (KJV), “broken loose” (ASV), “unrestrained” (NKJV), or “out of control” (NASV—vs. 25). The “prodigal son” was gripped by this same “party on” mentality. He went to the far country to party, to live it up, and to “let it all hang out.” There he indulged himself in riotous, loose living—totally free and unrestrained in whatever his fleshly appetites urged him to do (Luke 15:13).
Despite all of their high and holy insistence that their actions are divinely approved, and the result of a deep desire to do Christ’s will and save souls, could it possibly be that those within Christendom who seek to relax doctrinal rigidity are, in reality, implementing their agenda of change simply to relieve themselves of Bible restrictions? Is it purely coincidental that the liberal preachers have been eager and willing to accommodate the clamor for “no negative, all positive” preaching? Is it completely accidental and unrelated that many voices are minimizing strict obedience under the guise of “legalism,” “we’re under grace, not law,” “we’re in the grip of grace” (Lucado, 1996), and we are “free to change” (e.g., Hook, 1990)?
No, these circumstances are neither coincidental nor unrelated. They are calculated and conspiratorial. The religious change agents have breathed in the same spirit that has led secular society’s psychological profession to view guilt as destructive while unselfish, personal responsibility is labeled “co-dependency.” They have embraced the same subjective, self-centered rationale that secular society offers for rejecting the plain requirements of Scripture in order to do whatever they desire to do: “God wants me to be happy!”; “It meets my needs!” The spirit of liberalism has taken deep root in the country and in the church (see Chesser, 2001).


The Bible certainly speaks of the wonderful freedom that one may enjoy in Christ. But biblical freedom is a far cry from the release from restriction, restraint, and deserved guilt touted by the antinomian agents of change. With sweeping and precise terminology, Jesus articulated the sum and substance of what it means to be free in Christ. In a context in which He defended the validity of His own testimony (John 8:12-59), He declared the only basis upon which an individual may be His disciple. To be Christ’s disciple, one must “continue” in His word (vs. 31). That is, one must live a life of obedience to the will of Christ (Warren, 1986, pp. 33-37). Genuine discipleship is gauged by one’s persistence in complying with the words of Jesus.
Freedom in Christ is integrally and inseparably linked to this emphasis upon obeying God. While it is ultimately God and Christ who bestow freedom from condemnation upon people, they do so strictly through the medium of the written words of inspiration (vs. 32). The “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) is the law that gives liberty to those who are “doers of the word” (James 1:22). These same words will function as judge at the end of time (John 12:47-48).
It thus becomes extremely essential for people to “know the truth” in order for the truth to make them free (vs. 32). What did Jesus mean by “the truth?” “The truth” is synonymous with (1) the Gospel (Galatians 2:14; Colossians 1:5-6—genitive of apposition or identification), (2) the Word (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 4:2), (3) the Faith (Acts 14:21-22; Ephesians 4:5), and (4) sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10-11). In other words, “the truth” is the content of the Christian religion. It is the New Testament—the doctrines of the one true religion (cf. James 5:19). For a person to “know” the truth, he or she must both understand it and submit to it. Christ’s teachings must become the supreme law of daily life. The servant must both know his master’s will and act in accordance with that will (Luke 12:47).
The freedom that Jesus offers through obedience to His truth is noted in His interchange with the Jews over slavery. Those who sin (i.e., transgress God’s will—1 John 3:4) are slaves who may be set free only by permitting Christ’s words to have free course within them (vs. 34-37). This kind of freedom is the only true freedom. Genuine freedom is achieved by means of “obedience to righteousness” (Romans 6:16). Freedom from sin and spiritual death is possible only by obedience to God’s words (vs. 51).
Nevertheless, these Jews—though they were believers (vs. 30-31)—were unwilling to obey Christ’s will and function in a faithful manner as Abraham had (vs. 39). Consequently, Jesus labeled them children of the devil (vs. 44). They were not “of God” because they were unwilling to “hear” God’s words, i.e., comply with them (vs. 47). Though they believed, they would not obey the truth. “Indignation and wrath” awaits those who will not “obey the truth” (Romans 2:8). J.W. McGarvey summarized the interpenetration of freedom, obedience, and knowing the truth: “Freedom consists in conformity to that which, in the realm of intellect, is called truth, and in the realm of morality, law. The only way in which we know truth is to obey it, and God’s truth gives freedom from sin and death” (n.d., p. 457).


“But what about that time when the Pharisees reprimanded Jesus’ disciples for picking grain and eating on the Sabbath? Was not that incident a clear case of Jesus advocating freedom from the ‘letter of the law’ in order to keep the ‘spirit of the law’? Was not Jesus sanctioning occasional violations of law in order to serve the higher good of human need and spiritual freedom?”
A chorus of voices within the church is insisting that the report of Jesus’ disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8) does, indeed, advocate Christian “freedom” (i.e., freedom from law) and its priority over rule-keeping (e.g., Clayton, 1991, pp. 21-22; Collier, 1987, pp. 24-28; Lucado, 1989; Woodruff, 1978, pp. 198-200). Abilene Christian University professor David Wray wrote in reference to Jesus: “He healed and allowed his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath. Jesus then used ‘theological reflection’ to help his followers understand that people take priority over rule keeping and legalism” (1992, p. 1, emp. added). Richard Rogers claimed: “Jesus taught…that people took priority over the rules” (1989, p. 14, emp. added). Compare these statements to the one made by Randy Fenter: “It is not what we follow, but who we follow; not a set of values but a Person. ...Are you committed to a set of Christian values, or are you committed to Jesus Christ who died for you?” (1993, p. 1, emp. in orig.). Frank Cox claimed that Jesus had “the power to modify or change the rules of Sabbath observance. Sabbath observance must bend to human needs” (1959, p. 41, emp. added). Another writer insisted that “there are occasions when necessity outweighs precept, as Jesus himself indicated in Matthew 12:1-5” (Scott, 1995, p. 2, emp. added). Still another writer claimed that Jesus was suggesting that “the Sabbath commandment was optional if inconvenient” (Downen, 1988, emp. added).
Interestingly enough, these remarks are insidiously reminiscent of the very ideas promoted by the most theologically liberal sources imaginable. Joseph Fletcher, the “Father of Situation Ethics,” wrote that “Christians, in any case, are commanded to love people, not principles” (1967, p. 239, emp. added). He referred specifically to Matthew 12 when he said that Jesus was “ready to ignore the Sabbath observance” and that He “put his stamp of approval on the translegality of David’s action, in the paradigm of the altar bread” (pp. 15,17, emp. added). Fort Worth First United Methodist Church minister, Barry Bailey, stated: “Instead of putting the Scriptures first we should put God first” (as quoted in Jones, 1988, 1:8). This sort of humanistic inclination constitutes a great threat to the stability of the church and the Christian religion. It undermines the authority of Scripture, and further fosters the shift to emotion, feelings, and subjective perception as the standard for decision-making (see “The Shift to Emotion” in Miller, 1996, pp. 52-63).
It never seems to dawn on those who promulgate the “love Jesus vs. love law” antithesis that they are striking directly against the Bible’s own emphasis. Their contrast is not only unbiblical, but borders on blasphemy. Was the psalmist “legalistic” when he declared to God, “Oh, how I love Your law!” (Psalm 119:97)? Was he “idolatrous” or guilty of “bibliolatry” (book-worshipping) when he declared: “How sweet are Your words to my taste; sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)? Over and over again, he affirmed his love for God’s Word: “…Your commandments, which I love” (vss. 47-48); “I love Your law” (vs. 113); “I love Your testimonies” (vs. 119); “I love Your commandments more than gold” (vs. 127); “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it” (vs. 140); “I love Your precepts” (vs. 159); “I love Your law” (vs. 163); “Great peace have those who love Your law” (vs. 165); “I love them exceedingly” (vs. 167). He claimed that God’s words were his delight (vss. 24,35,70,77,92,143,174), his hope (vss. 43,49,74,81,114,147,166), and his life (vs. 50). He even stated: “I opened my mouth and panted for, I longed for Your commandments” (vs. 131; cf. vss. 20,40).
The fact of the matter is one cannot love God or Jesus without loving and being devoted to Their teachings. That is why Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21). “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23). “He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (John 14:24). John echoed his Savior when he said: “[W]hoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:5), and “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3). How ludicrous and contrary to the essence of deity to place in contrast—to pit against each other—God and God’s laws. This is a bogus, unscriptural juxtaposition. It is not a matter of either/or; it is both/and. To minimize one is to minimize the other. Those who do so are surely in the same category as those of whom Paul spoke: “…they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10, emp. added).
It likewise does not seem to dawn on those who espouse the “rules must bend to human necessity” philosophy that they are insulting the God of heaven—He Who authored the rules. Does it even remotely begin to make sense that God would author a law, tell humans they are obligated to obey that law, but then “take it back” and tell them they do not have to obey that law if it is “inconvenient,” or if it is in conflict with “human need,” or if necessity requires it? And who, precisely, is to make the determination as to whether God’s law in a particular instance is “inconvenient”? Surely not man—since “it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). And which people in all of human history ever found conformity to God’s laws “convenient”? “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2, emp. added; cf. 16:2).
Imagine parents telling their children that it is the will of those parents that the children obey the following instructions: “Do not steal, cheat, or lie.” Then imagine those same parents additionally stating: “But kids, if any of these requirements are inconvenient, or if your friends ask you to go help them steal a car, or if you feel you must cheat on a test to insure graduation, hey, ‘people take priority over rules,’ so if you must, feel free to ignore these requirements.” Those parents who take this approach to parenting inevitably produce lawless, undisciplined, unruly, irresponsible children. In fact, those parents eventually find that their children do not love them!


Many commentators automatically assume that the charge leveled against Jesus’ disciples by the Pharisees was a scripturally valid charge. However, when the disciples picked and consumed a few heads of grain from a neighbor’s field, they were doing that which was perfectly lawful (Deuteronomy 23:25). Working would have been a violation of the Sabbath law. If they had pulled out a sickle and begun harvesting the grain, they would have been violating the Sabbath law. However, they were picking strictly for the purpose of eating immediately—an action that was in complete harmony with Mosaic legislation (“but that which everyone must eat”—Exodus 12:16). The Pharisees’ charge that the disciples were doing something “not lawful” on the Sabbath was simply an erroneous charge (cf. Matthew 15:2).
Jesus commenced to counter their accusation with masterful, penetrating logic, advancing successive rebuttals. Before He presented specific scriptural refutation of their charge, He first employed a rational device designated by logicians as argumentum ad hominem (literally “argument to the man”). He used the “circumstantial” form of this argument which enabled Him to “point out a contrast between the opponent’s lifestyle and his expressed opinions, thereby suggesting that the opponent and his statements can be dismissed as hypocritical” (Baum, 1975, p. 470, emp. added). This variety of argumentation spotlights the opponent’s inconsistency, and “charges the adversary with being so prejudiced that his alleged reasons are mere rationalizations of conclusions dictated by self-interest” (Copi, 1972, p. 76).
Observe carefully the technical sophistication inherent in Jesus’ strategy. He called attention to the case of David (vss. 3-4). When David was in exile, literally running for his life to escape the jealous, irrational rage of Saul, he and his companions arrived in Nob, tired and hungry (1 Samuel 21). He lied to the priest and conned him into giving them the showbread, or “bread of the Presence” (twelve flat cakes arranged in two rows on the table within the Tabernacle [Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 24:5-6]), to his traveling companions—bread that legally was reserved only for the priests (Leviticus 24:8-9; cf. Exodus 29:31-34; Leviticus 8:31; 22:10ff.). David clearly violated the law. Did the Pharisees condemn him? Absolutely not! They revered David. They held him in high regard. In fact, nearly a thousand years after his passing, his tomb was still being tended (Acts 2:29; cf. 1 Kings 2:10; Nehemiah 3:16; Josephus, 1974a, 13.8.4; 16.7.1; Josephus, 1974b, 1.2.5). On the one hand, they condemned the disciples of Jesus, who were innocent, but on the other hand, they upheld and revered David, who was guilty. Their inconsistency betrayed both their insincerity as well as their ineligibility to bring a charge against the disciples.
After exposing their hypocrisy and inconsistency, Jesus next turned to answer the charge pertaining to violating the Sabbath. He called their attention to the priests who worked in the temple on the Sabbath (12:5; e.g., Numbers 28:9-10). The priests were “blameless”—not guilty—of violating the Sabbath law because their work was authorized to be performed on that day. After all, the Sabbath law did not imply that everyone was to sit down and do nothing. The Law gave the right, even the obligation, to engage in several activities that did not constitute violation of the Sabbath regulation. Examples of such authorization included eating, temple service, circumcision (John 7:22), tending to the care of animals (Exodus 23:4-5; Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Matthew 12:11; Luke 13:15), and extending kindness or assistance to the needy (Matthew 12:12; Luke 13:16; 14:1-6; John 5:5-9; 7:23). The divinely authorized Sabbath activity of the priests proved that the accusation of the Pharisees brought against Jesus’ disciples was false. [The term “profane” (vs. 5) is an example of the figure of speech known as metonymy of the adjunct in which “things are spoken of according to appearance, opinions formed respecting them, or the claims made for them” (Dungan, 1888, p. 295, emp. added). By this figure, Leah was said to be the “mother” of Joseph (Genesis 37:10), Joseph was said to be the “father” of Jesus (Luke 2:48; John 6:42), God’s preached message was said to be “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:21), and angels were said to be “men” (e.g., Genesis 18:16; 19:10). Priestly activity on the Sabbath gave the appearance of violation when, in fact, it was not. Coincidentally, Bullinger classified the allusion to “profane” in this verse as an instance of catachresis, or incongruity, stating that “it expresses what was true according to the mistaken notion of the Pharisees as to manual works performed on the Sabbath” (p. 676, emp. added)].
After pointing out the obvious legality of priestly effort expended on the Sabbath, Jesus stated: “But I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple” (12:6). The underlying Greek text actually has “something” instead of “One.” If priests could carry on tabernacle/temple service on the Sabbath, surely Jesus’ own disciples were authorized to engage in service in the presence of the Son of God! After all, service directed to the person of Jesus certainly is greater than the pre-Christianity temple service conducted by Old Testament priests.
For all practical purposes, the discussion was over. Jesus had disproved the claim of the Pharisees. But He did not stop there. He took His methodical confrontation to yet another level. He penetrated beneath the surface argument that the Pharisees had posited and focused on their hearts: “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (12:7). In this verse, Jesus quoted from an Old Testament context (Hosea 6:6) in which the prophet of old struck a blow against the mere external, superficial, ritualistic observance of some laws to the neglect of heartfelt, sincere, humble attention to other laws while treating people properly. The comparison is evident. The Pharisees who confronted Jesus’ disciples were not truly interested in obeying God’s law. They were masquerading under that pretense (cf. Matthew 15:1-9; 23:3). But their problem did not lie in an attitude of desiring careful compliance with God’s law. Rather, their zest for law keeping was hypocritical and unaccompanied by their own obedience and concern for others. They possessed critical hearts and were more concerned with scrutinizing and blasting people than with honest, genuine applications of God’s directives for the good of mankind.
They had neutralized the true intent of divine regulations, making void the word of God (Matthew 15:6). They had ignored and skipped over the significant laws that enjoined justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23). Consequently, though their attention to legal detail was laudable, their misapplication of it, as well as their neglect and rejection of some aspects of it, made them inappropriate and unqualified promulgators of God’s laws. Indeed, they simply did not fathom the teaching of Hosea 6:6 (cf. Micah 6:6-8). “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” is a Hebraism (cf. Matthew 9:13) [McGarvey, 1875, pp. 82-83]. God was not saying that He did not want sacrifices offered under the Old Testament economy (notice the use of “more” in Hosea 6:6). Rather, He was saying that He did not want sacrifice alone. He wanted mercy with sacrifice. Internal motive and attitude are just as important to God as the external compliance with specifics.
Samuel addressed this same attitude shown by Saul: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). Samuel was not minimizing the essentiality of sacrifice as required by God. Rather, he was convicting Saul of the pretense of using one aspect of God’s requirements, i.e., alleged “sacrifice” of the best animals (1 Samuel 15:15), as a smoke screen for violating God’s instructions, i.e., failing to destroy all the animals (1 Samuel 15:3). If the Pharisees had understood these things, they would not have accused the disciples of breaking the law when the disciples, in fact, had not done so. They “would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7, emp. added).
While the disciples were guilty of violating an injunction that the Pharisees had made up (supposing the injunction to be a genuine implication of the Sabbath regulation), the disciples were not guilty of a technical violation of Sabbath law. The Pharisees’ propensity for enjoining their uninspired and erroneous interpretations of Sabbath law upon others was the direct result of cold, unmerciful hearts that found a kind of sadistic glee in binding burdens upon people for burdens’ sake rather than in encouraging people to obey God genuinely.
Jesus placed closure on His exchange with the Pharisees on this occasion by asserting the accuracy of His handling of this entire affair: “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (vs. 8). In other words, Jesus affirmed His deity and, therefore, His credentials and authoritative credibility for making accurate application of the Law of Moses to the issue at hand. One can trust Jesus’ exegesis and application of Sabbath law; after all, He wrote it!


Matthew 12 does not teach that Jesus sanctions occasional violation of His laws under extenuating circumstances. His laws are never optional, relative, or situational—even though people often find God’s will inconvenient and difficult (e.g., John 6:60; Matthew 11:6; 15:12; 19:22; Mark 6:3; 1 Corinthians 1:23). The truth of the matter is that if the heart is receptive to God’s will, His will is “easy” (Matthew 11:30), “not too hard” (Deuteronomy 30:11), nor “burdensome” (1 John 5:3). If, on the other hand, the heart resists His will and does not desire to conform to it, then God’s words are “offensive” (Matthew 15:12), “hard,” (John 6:60), “narrow” (Matthew 7:14), and like a hammer that breaks in pieces and grinds the resister into powder (Jeremiah 23:29; Matthew 21:44).
The mindset of today’s situationist is not new. We humans do not generally regard rules and regulations as positive phenomena. We usually perceive them as infringements on our freedom—deliberate attempts to restrict our behavior and interfere with our “happiness.” Like children, we may have a tendency to display resentment and a rebellious spirit when faced with spiritual requirements. We may feel that God is being arbitrary and merely burdening our lives with haphazard, insignificant strictures. But God would never do that. He has never placed upon anyone any requirement that was inappropriate, unnecessary, or unfair. As the Israelites were engaged in their final encampment on the plains of Moab prior to entrance into Canaan, Moses articulated a most important principle: “[T]he Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes…for our good always” (Deuteronomy 6:24, emp. added; cf. 10:13). God would never ask us to do anything that is harmful to us. He does not restrict us or exert His authority over us in order to make us unhappy. Quite the opposite! Only God knows what, in fact, will make us happy. Compliance with His wishes will make a person happy (John 13:17; James 1:25), exalted (James 4:10), righteous (Romans 6:16; 1 John 3:7), and wise (Matthew 24:45-46; 7:24).
Those who wish to relieve themselves of restriction will continue to invent ways to circumvent the intent of Scripture. They will continue to “twist” (2 Peter 3:16) and “handle the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2). They will exert pressure on everyone else to “lighten up,” loosen up, and embrace a more tolerant understanding of ethical conduct. But the “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) will “take heed how [he] hears” (vs.18). The good heart is the one who “reads...hears...and keeps those things which are written therein” (Revelation 1:3, emp. added). After all, no matter how negative they may appear to humans, no matter how difficult they may be to obey, they are given “for our good.”
The Bible simply does not countenance situation ethics. Jesus always admonished people to “keep the commandments” (e.g., Matthew 19:17). He did so Himself—perfectly (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26). And He is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9, emp. added).


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Woodruff, James (1978), in Thomas B. Warren’s “Charts You Can Use in Preaching, Teaching, Studying on Divorce and Remarriage” (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Wray, David (1992), “Future Directions for Religious Education,” Directions in Ministry, 1[4]:1, College of Biblical Studies, Abilene Christian University.

From Mark Copeland... The Foundation For Our Precious Faith (2 Peter 1:16-21)

                     "THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER"

            The Foundation For Our Precious Faith (1:16-21)


1. We saw in our first lesson that this Second Epistle of Peter was
   addressed to "those who have obtained like precious faith with us"
   - cf. 2Pe 1:1

2. We also pointed out that the "precious faith" is most likely the 
   personal conviction or trust in Jesus Christ one must have in order 
   to be pleasing to God

3. But upon what foundation does our "precious faith" in Christ rest?
   a. Is it just "blind faith", or perhaps credulity on our part?
   b. While that may be the case for some, it is certainly not what the
      apostles expected or even desired

4. Beginning with the first sermon on the Day of Pentecost, and 
   continuing throughout their preaching and teaching, the apostles 
   appealed to two lines of evidences upon which our faith is to 
   a. The testimony of apostolic eyewitnesses - e.g., Ac 2:32; 3:14-15;
      5:30-32; 10:39-43; 13:30-31
   b. The testimony of Old Testament prophecy - e.g., Ac 2:25-31;
      3:22-24; Ac 10:43; 13:32-41; 17:2-3

5. Even in this Second Epistle, we find Peter referring to these "two 
   lines of evidence" as we consider the text for our study - 2Pe 1:
   16-21 (READ)

[This passage should help to reinforce the validity of our faith in 
Jesus, as that which is based upon a solid foundation!

For example, let's consider more closely what Peter has to say 


      1. Or to put it as found in other translations:
         a. "We were not following cleverly devised legends" (Weymouth)
         b. "For they were no fictitious stories that we followed"
         c. "It was not on tales artfully spun that we relied" (NEB)
      2. But as we shall see, if what they claim did not happen, this
         is the only reasonable alternative!
         a. Either they were telling the truth...
         b. ...Or they were carefully and purposely fabricating lies!
      3. Why is this the only alternative?  Because...

      1. They claimed to be "eyewitnesses" of what they made known 
         concerning Jesus' coming and power!
      2. As "eyewitnesses" they could not have been deceived...
         a. Their interaction with Jesus was too intimate
         b. As Peter said to the household of Cornelius:  "who ate and 
            drank with Him after He arose from the dead." - Ac 10:41
         c. As John wrote in his first epistle:  "...which we have 
            heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have 
            looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the 
            Word of life" - 1Jn 1:1

      1. Peter refers to the event that occurred at "The Mount of 
         Transfiguration" - cf. Mt 17:1-9; Mk 9:2-9; Lk 9:28-36
      2. An event which depicted the power, majesty, honor and glory 
         Jesus had
      3. Why this event as a sample of their testimony?
         a. It certainly proclaims the majesty of Jesus
         b. It certainly illustrates the nature of their testimony...
            1) They "saw" Jesus transfigured before them, and joined 
               with Moses and Elijah
            2) They "heard" the voice which came from the "Excellent
               Glory" (God the Father)
      4. The fact that this event, like many others in the life of 
         Jesus, was seen by a plurality of witnesses ("we were with 
         Him") serves to strengthen the force of their testimony

      1. Peter and the rest of the apostles really leave us with only 
         two possibilities
         a. Either they are telling the truth about Jesus...
         b. ...Or they did the very thing that Peter denied in this 
            passage ("follow cunningly devised fables")!
      2. Which is more reasonable, to believe the apostles told the 
         truth, or were blatant liars, frauds, and deceivers?
         a. In the context of the lives they lived, the suffering they 
            endured, the scriptures they left behind, there is only 
            reasonable conclusion...
         b. ...They were in fact "eyewitnesses of His majesty"!

[The foundation of our precious faith, then, rests upon the testimony 
of the apostles.  Even Jesus realized this would be the case (cf. Jn 17:20).

But there is even more that serves to support our faith in Jesus 


      1. The reference here is to the prophecies of the Old Testament
         a. Which bore witness to the coming Messiah - e.g., Isa 9:6-7;
         b. To which the apostles often appealed in their efforts to 
            convince others that Jesus was the Christ - e.g., Ac 17:2-3
      2. These prophecies have been "made more sure" by their very 
         fulfillment in Jesus!
         a. Before their fulfillment, one could only hope such words 
            were really from God
         b. In their fulfillment, our faith is not only strengthened in
            the subject of such prophecies (Jesus Christ), but in the 
            origin of the prophecies themselves!
      3. It is these fulfilled prophecies which serve to support our 

      1. Though fulfilled, Christians should still carefully study the 
         Old Testament Scriptures
      2. Even as Paul commanded Timothy to do - 2Ti 3:14-15
      3. For their value is like "a light that shines in a dark place"
         a. Like apostolic testimony, they help to confirm our faith in
         b. They also help the Christian become "wise for salvation 
            through faith which is in Christ Jesus" - cf. 2Ti 3:15
         c. They are therefore a source for developing patience, 
            comfort and hope - cf. Ro 15:4
      4. And they will serve such purpose "until the day dawns and the 
         morning star rises in your hearts"
         a. A likely reference to the coming of our Lord, described by 
            John as "the Bright and Morning Star" - cf. Re 22:16
         b. Whose coming will be seen by all ("every eye will see 
            Him"), but will be appreciated most fully "in the hearts" 
            of those who anxiously await Him!

      1. To appreciate the value of prophecy in supporting our faith, 
         it is important to know how prophecy originates
      2. As Peter explains...
         a. "no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation"
            1) This phrase is difficult, and has been variously 
               a) "No prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own 
                  interpretation" (RSV; cf. KJV, NKJV, NASB, and JB)
               b) "No prophecy of Scripture ever came about by a 
                  prophet's own ideas" (SEB; cf. NIV)
            2) I believe both the immediate context (v. 21) and the 
               remote context (1Pe 1:10-12) of Peter's comments 
               support the latter translation (b)
         b. "for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men 
            of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit"
            1) This explains what Peter meant in verse 20
            2) Thus the prophecies of the Old Testament were not the 
               views or concepts of mere men, but the expressions of 
               Spirit-inspired spokesmen for God!
      3. Realizing this, their fulfilled prophecies serve to strengthen
         our faith...
         a. Our faith in the Old Testament as the inspired word of God!
         b. Our faith in Jesus as the Messiah, of Whom the inspired 
            prophets wrote!


1. Indeed, our faith is certainly "precious", because it rests upon the
   weighty testimony of...
   a. Apostolic eyewitnesses
      1) Who saw and heard the things Jesus did
      2) Who despite great suffering never recanted their testimony
   b. Divinely inspired prophecy
      1) Spoken in ages past by men moved by the Spirit of God
      2) Confirmed to be true by their fulfillment

2. Such faith is not "blind", or "credulous", but a conviction based 
   upon solid evidence!

3. Is this the sort of faith in Jesus you have?  It should be, for by
   such faith you can have...
   a. Eternal life - cf. Jn 20:30-31
   b. Remission of sins - cf. Ac 10:43

But it must also be an obedient faith (cf. Ro 1:5; 6:17; 16:26), and
the first steps of faith are clearly outlined by Jesus and His
apostles... - cf. Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:36-38

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Perspectives From An Aged Apostle (2 Peter 1:12-15)

                     "THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER"

              Perspectives From An Aged Apostle (1:12-15)


1. When a person faces impending death, their mind usually turns to 
   thinking about things most important to them

2. For example, when Jesus knew His death was imminent, His prayer in 
   John 17 reveals that the unity of believers was a great concern to 
   Him - Jn 17:20-21

3. From our text for this lesson, it is evident that the apostle Peter 
   knew his time on earth was short - 2Pe 1:12-15 (READ)

4. What sort of things were on the mind of Peter at this time?  What 
   did this apostle of our Lord consider to be of great importance?

5. There are several things we can glean from this passage in answer to
   these questions, that I call "Perspectives From An Aged Apostle"

[For example, consider...]


      1. He does not want to be negligent in reminding them - 2Pe 1:12
      2. He thinks it proper to remind them - 2Pe 1:13
      3. He is even taking steps to ensure that they are reminded after
         his death - 2Pe 1:15

      1. Peter's concern is not a reflection on their present condition
         - 2Pe 1:13
         a. It is not as though they don't know what they should know
         b. It is not as though they weren't established in what they 
      2. But there is always the need to "stir up"
         a. The Greek word is diegeiro {dee-eg-i'-ro}, and means "to 
            wake fully, i.e. arouse (lit. or fig.):--arise, awake, 
            raise, stir up"
         b. The tendency is for one to become slack in their service to
         c. Somehow we need to be constantly "aroused, awakened"
         d. Being reminded of things that are important is one way to 
            do this!

      1. Through frequent assembling with other Christians - He 10:
      2. Through daily Bible reading -- this is how Peter continues to 
         remind us after his death - cf. 2Pe 1:15

[Do we appreciate the importance of being reminded, especially of 
things pertaining to the Christian life?  May the concerns of an aged 
apostle help us to appreciate this need!

Peter also shares with us...]


      1. Peter views his body as a "tabernacle" (KJV) or "tent" (NKJV) 
         - 2Pe 1:13-14
      2. In other words, a temporary housing for his "inner man" which 
         continues after death - cf. Mt 10:28
      3. Does this not contradict the view of the "Jehovah's Witnesses"
         who claim that the body IS the soul, and not a housing for the
      4. Paul's concept of the body was the same as Peter's - cf. 2 Co 5:1-8
      1. Peter speaks of his impending death, which the Lord had showed
         him - 2Pe 1:14 (a possible reference to Jn 21:18-19?)
      2. He first describes his dying as "I must put off my tent"
         a. Again, this reflects his view of the body
         b. And the differentiation between the soul ("I") and the body
            ("my tent")
      3. In further describing his death, he uses the Greek word exodos
         {ex'-od-os} - 2Pe 1:15
         a. Which means "an exit, i.e. (fig.) death:--decease, 
         b. It is the same word used to describe the Israel's "exodus" 
            from Egyptian bondage
         c. Far from viewing death as an end, Peter sees it as a an 
            exit from one world to the next

[Our apprehension of dying can be lessened if we adopt this aged 
apostle's view of the body and death.  It can certainly help keep 
things in proper perspective!

Finally, let's try to glean from our text...]  

      1. "I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things"
         - 2Pe 1:12
      2. "I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder 
         of these things" - 2Pe 2:15
      -- What are "these things" that Peter is so concerned about?

      1. "These things" must refer to what Peter had described in 
         previous verses
      2. Which we saw in our previous lesson dealt with "Growing In The
         Knowledge Of Jesus Christ" - 2Pe 1:5-11
      3. Does this not say something about the importance of our 
         previous study?
         a. Peter knew his time on earth was short, that death was 
         b. In what little time he had left, he wanted to remind them 
            of that which was most important
         c. Even his last words in this epistle come back to this theme
            - 2Pe 3:18
         d. It is evident, then, that "growing in the knowledge of 
            Jesus Christ" as defined by Peter in verses 5-11 should be
            of utmost importance to the Christian!
            1) Other things certainly have their place (e.g., the 
               identity, organization, work, and worship of the church)
            2) But if there is to be a priority for the growing 
               Christian, let it be that which Peter was most concerned
               about during his final days on earth!


1. I have often benefited greatly from the time spent visiting with 
   aged saints, who knew that their time on earth was short...
   a. They were often prone to speak of noble themes, such as the 
      meaning of life and death, and what is really important in life
   b. Their perspective on things was sharpened, both by their
      experience and by the realization that life is but a vapor

2. What a privilege it must have been for those Christians in the first
   century who were around Peter as his end drew near!
   a. To be able to sit at his feet, and listen to his words of
      exhortation and warning
   b. To receive counsel from one who knew our Lord intimately, and
      served Him long and faithfully

3. Fortunately for us, Peter was indeed "careful to ensure that you
   always have a reminder of these things" after his decease, and we
   have that reminder in his epistles!

Will we take advantage of the "Perspectives Of An Aged Apostle", and
allow his "reminders" to stir us up?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Growing In The Knowledge Of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-11)

                     "THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER"

           Growing In The Knowledge Of Jesus Christ (1:5-11)


1. In our previous lesson ("Precious Gifts From God"), we noticed that
   a certain "knowledge" is the source of wonderful blessings...
   a. Grace and peace is multiplied "in the knowledge of God and of 
      Jesus our Lord" - 2Pe 1:2
   b. All things that pertain to life and godliness are given "through
      the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" - 2 Pe 1:3

2. Also noted was how Peter closes his epistle with this admonition:

   "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior
       Jesus Christ." - 2Pe 3:18

3. This raises several questions...
   a. What does it mean to "grow in the knowledge of our Lord and
      Savior Jesus Christ"?
   b. How can we be sure that we are growing in this "knowledge"?
   c. Why is Peter so concerned that we grow in this "knowledge"?

4. In 2Pe 1:5-11, we find the answers to these questions, and in
   this lesson we shall examine this passage closely (READ)

[First, consider...]


      1. These "graces" are listed in 2Pe 1:5-7
      2. Briefly defined...
         a. FAITH is "conviction, strong assurance"
         b. VIRTUE is "moral excellence, goodness"
         c. KNOWLEDGE is "correct insight"
         d. SELF-CONTROL is "self-discipline"
         e. PERSEVERANCE is "bearing up under trials"
         f. GODLINESS is "godly character out of devotion to God"
         g. BROTHERLY KINDNESS is "love toward brethren"
         h. LOVE is "active goodwill toward those in need"
      3. Notice carefully 2Pe 1:8
         a. We must "abound" in these eight "graces"
         b. Only then can it be said that we are "growing in the 
            knowledge of Jesus Christ"
      4. Therefore it something more than simply increasing our 
         "intellectual" knowledge of Jesus Christ!
         a. Though such knowledge has a place, it is just one of the
            graces necessary
         b. Peter is talking about growing in a FULL AND PERSONAL 
            knowledge of Jesus Christ!
            1) Which comes by developing the "Christ-like" attributes
               defined above
            2) The more we grow in these "graces", the more we really 
               "know" Jesus (for He is the perfect personification of 
               these "graces")
      5. That it involves more than intellectual knowledge is also 
         evident from the Greek word used for knowledge in 2Pe 1:2-3,8
         a. The word is epignosis {ep-ig'-no-sis}, meaning "to become
            thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly, to know
            accurately, know well" (THAYER)
         b. Such knowledge comes only as we DEMONSTRATE these "Christ-
            like graces" in our lives

      1. Notice the word "add" (or "supply") in 2Pe 1:5
         a. Before each grace mentioned, the word is implied
         b. The word in Greek is epichoregeo {ep-ee-khor-ayg-eh'-o}
            1) "Originally, to found and support a chorus, to lead a
               choir, to keep in tune"
            2) "Then, to supply or provide"
         c. This word therefore suggests the idea of "each grace 
            working in harmony with the others to produce an overall 
      2. Notice also the preposition "to" (or "in") in 2Pe 1:5-7
         a. This suggests that "each grace is to temper and make 
            perfect the grace that goes before it"
         b. To illustrate:
            1) "to knowledge (add) self-control" - the grace of 
               self-control enables one to apply properly the knowledge
               one has
            2) "to self-control (add) perseverance" - self-control in
               turn needs the quality of perseverance to be consistent
               day after day
      3. Thus each grace is necessary!
         a. They must all be developed in conjunction with each other
         b. We cannot be selective and just pick the ones we like and 
            leave others behind

      1. Notice the word "diligence" in 2Pe 1:5,10
      2. It means "earnestness, zeal, sometimes with haste"
      3. To grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ requires much effort
      4. We do not "accidentally" or "naturally" develop these graces!
      5. If we are not careful, we may be like the teacher in the
         following illustration:

         In his book Folk Psalms of Faith, Ray Stedman tells a story of
         a woman who had been a school teacher for 25 years.  When she
         heard about a job that would mean a promotion, she applied for
         the position. However, someone who had been teaching for only
         one year was hired instead.  She went to the principal and 
         asked why.  The principal responded, "I'm sorry, but you 
         haven't had 25 years of experience as you claim; you've had 
         only one year's experience 25 times." During that whole time 
         the teacher had not improved.

[We may have been Christians for a number of years.  But unless we 
continue to grow, we are simply repeating the first year over and over 

Is the effort worth it?  In the context of this passage Peter gives 
THREE reasons why we should "give all diligence" to grow in this 
knowledge of Jesus Christ...]


      AND "AMNESIA" - 2Pe 1:9
      1. Our religion is "short-sighted" if we are not growing in the 
         knowledge of Jesus Christ!
         a. For what is the ultimate objective of being a Christian?
         b. To become like Christ! - cf. Ro 8:29; Col 3:9-11
         c. As we have seen, this is what it really means to grow in
            the knowledge of Christ
      2. Failure to so grow is an indication that we forgot why we were
         redeemed by the blood of Christ in the first place!
         a. To have our sins forgiven, yes...
         b. But then, that we might present ourselves to God and become
            what He wants us to be - LIKE HIS SON!

      1. This does not mean we will never sin - cf. 1Jn 1:8,10
      2. The word "stumble" in Greek means "to fall into misery, become
         wretched; cf. the loss of salvation" (Thayer)
      3. We will never stumble so as to fall short of our ultimate 
      4. But this is true ONLY if we are "giving all diligence" to grow
         in the knowledge of Christ and thereby "making our calling and
         election sure"

      SUPPLIED - 2Pe 1:11
      1. This "everlasting kingdom" is likely the "heavenly kingdom" 
         referred to by Paul in 2 Tit 4:18
      2. In other words, the ultimate destiny of the redeemed!
      3. What is meant by the idea of an "abundant entrance"?
         a. "You may be able to enter, not as having escaped from a 
            shipwreck, or from fire,but as it were in triumph." 
         b. By possessing the eight graces, we will be able to live 
            victoriously in this life and to joyously anticipate what 
            lies ahead - cf. 2Ti 4:6-8


1. These three reasons should sufficiently motivate us to be diligent 
   in growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ

2. Give all diligence to make our calling and election sure, by making 
   every effort to add these "graces" to our lives!

3. Or have we forgotten that we were purged from our old sins?
   a. We have, if we are apathetic in our desire to grow in these 
   b. If so, we need to repent and pray for forgiveness!

Are you growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Precious Gifts From God (2 Peter 1:1-4)

                     "THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER"

                    Precious Gifts From God (1:1-4)


1. The Second Epistle of Peter is a short but significant part of the
   New Testament...
   a. It was written by Peter, who identifies himself as "a servant and
      apostle of Jesus Christ" - 2Pe 1:1
   b. It was written to those who received his first epistle - cf. 2 Pe 3:1; cf. 1Pe 1:1
   c. It was written shortly before his death - 2Pe 1:12-15

2. The "theme" of the epistle can be stated as "Beware, But Grow"
   - 2Pe 3:17-18
   a. "Beware" lest you fall, being led away with error - 17
   b. "But Grow" in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior - 18
   -- Virtually every verse of this epistle falls into one of these two

3. In this lesson, the first in a series of expository outlines based 
   upon 2nd Peter, we shall consider Peter's salutation - 2Pe 1:1-4

4. In his greeting, Peter refers to several blessings or "gifts" that 
   we have received from God and Jesus Christ

5. In describing them, I am going to use a word that was a favorite of 
   Peter:  "precious"
   a. It is found twice in this passage:  "precious faith" (1:1) and 
      "precious promises" (1:4)
   b. Peter used it six times in his earlier epistle as well - 1Pe 1:7,19; 2:4,6,7; 3:4
   c. The Greek word is timios {tim'-ee-os}, and it means:
      1) As of great price, precious
      2) Held in honor, esteemed, especially dear

[This word is most befitting the four "gifts" referred to in our text, 
the first of which Peter actually uses "precious" to describe...]


      1. Like what?  Like the faith that Peter himself has!
      2. While the "objective" sense of faith (i.e., the gospel - cf. 
         Jude 3) may be in view here, I suspect that Peter has in 
         reference the "subjective" sense of faith (the faith one has 
         in the gospel)

      1. The word is doreomai {do-reh'-om-ahee}, and is in the middle 
         voice, suggesting that "faith" is both given and received
      2. That faith is "given" is evident from:
         a. Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31 - faith comes from the Word of God;
            if God had not given His Word, saving faith would not be 
         b. 1Pe 1:20-21 - it is through Christ we believe in God; if
            God had not sent Christ, many of us would still be idol 
         c. 2Pe 1:1 - it is "by the righteousness of our God and 
            Savior Jesus Christ" that we have faith; because of Jesus' 
            Divine sacrifice, saving faith is possible!
      3. But faith "given" is not truly "obtained" unless it is also 
         faith "received"
         a. One must be willing to accept the Word with faith - cf. 
            He 4:2
         b. We must therefore be willing to receive the gift which God 
            gives (in this case, the gift of faith made possible 
            through His Word)

      1. Most certainly because of the "object" of our faith:  Jesus 
         Christ, the Son of God!
      2. But also because the "faith itself" (trust, conviction) is of 
         great value to God; consider how God viewed Abraham's faith - 
         cf. Ro 4:3; He 11:1-2
      3. And one might add, because of all the blessings enjoyed by 
         those with such faith!

[This leads us to the next "gift" described by Peter...]


      1. Grace - the greeting which requests God's unmerited favor upon
         the person addressed
      2. Peace - the greeting requesting the natural result of God's 

      1. All men experience God's favor and its result to some degree 
         - cf. Mt 5:45
      2. But only in Christ can one enjoy the "fullness" of God's favor
         and peace
         a. Only in Christ can one have "every spiritual blessing" - 
            Ep 1:3
         b. Only in Christ can have "the peace of God which surpasses 
            all understanding" - Php 4:6-7
      3. Such fullness comes "in the knowledge of God and of Jesus 
         a. This "knowledge" will be a recurring theme in this epistle 
            - 2Pe 1:3, 5-6, 8; 2:20; 3:18
         b. What this "knowledge" entails will be the focus of our next
         c. But notice for the time being that "growing in grace" must 
            go hand-in-hand with "growing in knowledge" - cf. 2Pe 3:18

[To the "multiplicity" of grace and peace, and to obtaining of "like 
precious faith", we can add a third "precious gift from God"...]


      1. "Life" in this context refers to our spiritual life and 
      2. "Godliness" refers to the pious conduct which comes out of 
         devotion to God
      3. Thus, everything we need for spiritual life and serving God 
         acceptably has been given to us!

      1. It is by the power of God that we have new life! - cf. Col 2:
         12-13; Tit 3:4-5
      2. It is by the power of God that we can live godly lives! - cf. 
         Php 2:12-13; 4:13

      1. Experiencing true "life" and "godliness" can only come through
         the "knowledge" of Him who has called us by glory and virtue 
         - i.e., the knowledge of Jesus Christ
      2. As will be seen in our next lesson, this "knowledge" is much 
         more than an academic, intellectual knowledge, it is a 
         knowledge borne of developing and experiencing life in Jesus

[Finally, consider one more "precious gift from God"...]


      1. Through them, we may be "partakers of the divine nature"
         a. We may share in things related to the nature of God!
         b. One of these has already been mentioned in our text:  His 
            divine power! - 1:3
      2. Through them, we have "escaped the corruption that is in the 
         world through lust"
         a. We cannot escape such "corruption" on our own
         b. But through these "great and precious" promises, we have 
            done so!

      1. Promises already received:
         a. The forgiveness of sins
            1) Promised by the prophets - Ac 10:43
            2) Received upon obedience to the gospel - Ac 2:38; 22:16
         b. The gift of the Holy Spirit
            1) Promised by Jesus - Jn 7:37-39
            2) Received upon obedience to the gospel - Ac 2:38; 5:32; 
               Ep 1:13-14; Ga 4:6
         c. The assurance of God's care and strength
            1) Promised by God Himself - Isa 41:10
            2) Enjoyed by those in Christ - 1Co 10:13; He 13:5-6
      2. Promises yet to be received:
         a. The redemption of our body, at the Resurrection - Ro 8:23;
            1Co 15:50-53
         b. The inheritance that is reserved in heaven - 1Pe 1:3-4
         c. The new heavens and new earth - 2Pe 3:13


1. All these promises are "exceedingly great and precious," yet Peter 
   seems to have in mind those promises already received...
   a. Such as the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit
   b. For through such promises we have already...
      1) Become "partakers of the divine nature" - e.g., Ro 5:1-2
      2) "Escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" - 
         e.g., Ro 8:1-2

2. But having received these promises does not ensure that we will 
   receive those that pertain to the future...
   a. There is the real danger of apostasy - cf. 2Pe 2:20-22
   b. Thus the need for the warning at the close of this epistle - cf. 
      2Pe 3:17

3. To remain faithful to the Lord, then, let us never forget these
   "Precious Gifts From God"...
   a. A precious faith like Peter's
   b. Grace and peace multiplied
   c. All things that pertain to life and godliness
   d. Exceedingly great and precious promises

Have you received those precious promises proclaimed on the Day of
Pentecost? - cf. Ac 2:36-39

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Be Hopeful! (1 Peter 5:10-14)

                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"

                         Be Hopeful! (5:10-14)


1. In an epistle written to Christians undergoing severe persecution, 
   Peter chooses to close on a positive note - 1Pe 5:10-14

2. For no matter how terrible the "fiery trials" may become, Christians
   can always have "hope"!

3. In these last few verses of this epistle, Peter offers...
   a. A benediction (10)
   b. A doxology (11)
   c. A summary (12)
   d. A few words of greeting (13)
   e. A final command to love one another (14a)
   f. A final prayer for peace (14b)

[Throughout this "collage" of concluding remarks, we find several 
reasons why Christians can always "Be Hopeful", even in the midst of 
terrible trials.

For example, we are reminded of the fact that...]


      1. Indeed, His grace is "manifold" - 1Pe 4:10
      2. Just as His gifts are varied, so He provides whatever we need
         in any circumstance - cf. He 4:16

      1. Our salvation is because of His grace - cf. 1Pe 1:10
      2. Those who are saved have "tasted that the Lord is gracious" 
         - 1Pe 2:3

[With the knowledge that by remaining faithful to Christ we "stand in 
the true grace of God", we can take comfort knowing that the "God of 
all grace" will be with us all the way.

Which leads to another comforting thought...]


      1. This is the purpose of our calling, to receive the glory that 
         awaits us
      2. That glory involves the "inheritance incorruptible and 
         undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for
         you" - 1Pe 1:4

      1. It is no different than what Jesus experienced - cf. Lk 24:26
      2. And we can look forward to participating in His glory, if we 
         are willing to suffer with Him - cf. 1Pe 4:13-14

[Knowing what lies ahead for those persevere can help us remain 
steadfast in the faith.  So can knowing that...]


      1. Earlier, Peter had said "a little while" - 1Pe 1:6
      2. By their very nature, physical sufferings cannot last forever

      1. Suffering is for "a while", glory is "eternal"
      2. Is not the "glory" worth the "suffering"?
      3. The apostle Paul thought so - cf. 2Co 4:16-18

[But not only can we remain hopeful knowing that suffering is 
temporary to be replaced by glory that is eternal, in the meantime we
can take consolation in knowing that...]


      1. The word used by Peter means "to equip, to adjust, to fit 
      2. God "perfects" His people using several tools...
         a. One is the Word of God - cf. 2Ti 3:16-17
         b. Gifts were given to the church toward the same end - cf. 
            Ep 4:11-16
      3. And suffering is certainly another tool - cf. Ro 5:3-4; Jm 1:
      1. This means "to fix firmly, to set fast"
      2. Christians need to be steadfast in the faith - cf. 1Pe 5:9; 
         2Pe 3:17
      3. Through persecution often comes steadfastness, for the one who
         has endured suffering for the cause of Christ is not likely to
         led away from the truth
      1. Make one stronger
      2. Which is a normal consequence of enduring trial

      1. That is, "to lay a foundation"
      2. The Lord would have us to be solid, like that house built on a
         rock - cf. Mt 7:24-27
1. Peter is confident that for those who remain faithful in suffering, 
   God will bless them in the four ways listed in verse 10

2. We too can have confidence, knowing that...
   a. We have God's grace
   b. We are going to glory
   c. Our suffering is only temporary
   d. With suffering comes blessing

3. It is with such confidence that Peter closes with:
   a. A collection of greetings, from...
      1) "Silvanus" - Silas, a traveling companion of Paul
      2) "She who is in Babylon, elect together with you" - likely a 
         a) Either in literal Babylon, located in modern day Iraq
         b) Or in figurative Babylon, which could be a reference to 
            either Rome or Jerusalem
      3) "Mark my son" - John Mark, nephew of Barnabas, and author of 
         the gospel of Mark
   b. An exhortation to love:  "Greet one another with a kiss of love"
   c. And a prayer for peace:  "Peace to all who are in Christ Jesus"

May the example of Peter's confidence and hope, as well as his actual
teaching found throughout this epistle, serve to help us remain full of
hope during our sojourn as pilgrims of God!

      "To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

                                    -- 1Pe 5:11 

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011