The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
June 19, 2011


1) 2 Peter 1:3,4 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


2 Peter 1:3,4
by Tom Edwards

After addressing his readership as those who had "received a faith of the same kind as ours," Peter then states in 2 Peter 1:3, "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence."

In view of this passage, when we hear today of the Mormon's alleged "latter-day revelations" in their "Book of Mormon," "Doctrines and Covenants," and "Pearl of Great Price" (which are books that contain teachings contrary to God's word), we can already know that these books do not contain any information that we need to know in addition to the gospel.  For the complete gospel message was to be revealed during the time of the apostles, and that was done in fulfillment of the Lord's promise in John 16:7-15 that it was to the apostles' advantage that He would soon be ascending back to heaven because He would then send to them the comforter (the Holy Spirit) who would lead them "into all the truth."  So now Peter is referring to the gospel as that which contains "everything pertaining to life and godliness." He does not say that the Lord gave "just some of the things that pertain to life and godliness," and the world would have to wait about 1,800 years until the "latter-day revelations" would be revealed to complete the gospel.  For we can think, too, of what Jude writes in Jude 1:3, "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith [the gospel] which was ONCE FOR ALL handed down to the saints" (emphasis mine).  

Another inference toward the completeness of the New Testament can be made on the basis of these following passages: 1 Corinthians 13:8-10; James 1:25; and 2 Timothy 3:16,17.  In this first passage, Paul shows that the miraculous gifts were to last until "the perfect comes."  For he says that "...if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away."  Speaking in "tongues" was one of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit in the early church, along with the "word of knowledge." These and the gift of prophecy are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, and they are also representing all the miraculous gifts with regard to when they would cease in 1 Corinthians 13.  Paul says that would happen "when the perfect comes" (v. 10).  This "perfect" is referring to the completion of what they then had "in part."  For God's word was being revealed little by little through the miraculous gifts, such as through the gift of prophecy.  But when they would have the complete revelation there would then be no more need for the miraculous gifts.  James speaks of the gospel as being "the perfect law of liberty" (Jms. 1:25), and Paul shows that it contains all that is necessary so that "the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."  So the completeness of God's word had been totally delivered centuries before there was ever any of the "latter-day revelations" of the Mormons.      

The importance of the gospel in its entirety can also be seen in 2 Peter 2:20.  For it was by "the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" that these Christians had "escaped the defilements of the world."  Unfortunately, however, they did not continue in that knowledge; but went back into the world of sin -- thus, falling away from God.  But the point is, the knowledge of God's word is a way of escape from the bondage and consequence of sin for those who submit to it.  This is also what Peter goes on to show in 2 Peter 1:4, "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." 

We are told by the Mormons that not all of God's "precious and magnificent promises" are made known in the gospel; and that is the reason for their "latter-day revelations."  But would God have left the world with an incomplete message for 1,800 years, so that, during that time, people would not be able to escape "the corruption that is in the world by lust," nor "become partakers of the divine nature"?  Could no one be saved and live holy lives during that time?

To become a partaker of the divine nature is to be holy, to be godly, to have the fruit of the Spirit -- and without that holiness, no one will see the Lord (cf. Heb. 12:14).  Paul says of godliness, in 1 Timothy 4:7,8, that it is "...profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."  Therefore, godliness is also mentioned among a list of things that Paul exhorted Timothy to pursue in 1 Timothy 6:11.  

"Godliness" comes from the Greek word "eusebia," which Thayer shows two definitions for: 1) "reverence, respect," and 2) "piety towards God, godliness."  Vincent Word Studies breaks this word down, by saying, "It is from 'eu,' well, and 'sebomai,' to worship, so that the radical idea is worship rightly directed. Worship, however, is to be understood in its etymological sense, worth-ship, or reverence paid to worth...."  This Greek word is translated primarily as "godliness" in the NASB, with the one exception of "piety" in Acts 3:12.   

Bullinger makes an interesting distinction between godliness and religion in his Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament.  He states: "Eusebeia relates to real, true, vital, and spiritual revelation with God: while threskeia [religion] relates to the outward acts of religious observances or ceremonies, which can be performed by the flesh.  Our English word 'religion' was never used in the sense of true godliness.  It always meant the outward forms of worship."  So it is this true godliness that we are to strive for -- rather than merely being religious. For anyone can go through the motions of religion, but true godliness emanates from a heart filled with and directed by God's word, which is what the Lord also indicates in John 4:23, where He shows that it is to be "in spirit and in truth" that we worship God (Jn. 4:23).  The "spirit" pertains to the proper attitude in our hearts, such as the reverence we have toward the Lord in worship; and the "truth" implies that our worship is to be according to the New Testament.   

We also realize that though a Christian is religious, not every religious person is a Christian.  So being right with God involves more than merely being religious.  And, sad to say, there are many religious souls today -- and some who are fanatically so -- who are still lost in their sins and, therefore, without God's saving grace.  

In 2 Peter 1:4, the Lord's promises are described as being "precious" and "magnificent" (or "great," as other versions render it).  "Precious" is used in the sense of being of great worth or value.  It is from the Greek word "timios," which Thayer defines as "1) as of great price, precious 2) held in honour, esteemed, especially dear." The same Greek word is often used in the Scriptures to refer to "precious stones," which would be like emeralds of great value.  It is used in Revelation 21:11, where John describes the holy city coming down out of heaven to have had a "brilliance...like a VERY COSTLY stone."  But even more precious than that is when we think of this word being used to describe our Savior's atonement for us in 1 Peter 1:18,19: "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with PRECIOUS blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."  It is because of Christ's "precious blood," His willing and atoning sacrifice, that we can have these precious promises -- and what great value they should be to each one of us!    

The Greek word rendered as "Magnificent" or "great" is "megistos," which Strong defines as "greatest or very great."  This is the only place in the Bible where this word is used.  But what promises could even come close to being as great as those which the Lord gives?  

Commenting on these terms, E.M. Zerr writes, "The things promised are great because no one but the Lord can grant such favors, and they are precious because all the wealth of the universe could not purchase them."

Through the gospel, we can become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4); and striving to develop God's nature in ourselves should be what we daily do. Paul had a concern toward seeing that type of development in his brethren.  Compare, for example, Galatians 4:19: "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you."  This is also the idea Paul teaches in Philippians 2:5, to "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."  The NASB renders "mind" as "attitude."  From the context, that mind or attitude is a spiritual one that is willing to humbly serve others and to think of them as being more important than self.  So as we come to learn more about Jesus and strive to be like Him, incorporating His commandments, we are then conforming even more to that divine nature, which is one of the purposes of the gospel. For the Christian is to "lay aside the old self...and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph. 4:21-24); and the New Testament shows what all that involves.  Being a partaker of that divine nature is also what Hebrews 12:10 indicates: God "...disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness" (Heb. 12:10); and one reason for that can be seen in 1 Peter 1:14-16: the Lord says, "...You shall be holy, for I am holy."

Christians, therefore, are those who have "escaped from the corruption that is in the world" (2 Pet. 1:4).  This reminds us, too, of the verse we saw earlier in 2 Peter 2:20, where Peter speaks of those who had "escaped the defilements of the world" and shows that they had done so "through the knowledge of the Lord...."  As had been pointed out at the beginning of 2 Peter, "knowledge" is a keynote to this epistle.  For the only way to guard oneself against false teaching is to be filled with the knowledge of God's word, which is "the sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17) and what Jesus used in defeating Satan's temptations (Matt. 4:1-11).  

Sadly, though, many people today do not realize the bondage they are in -- and it takes only one sin to put one there -- because they have not taken the time to even look into God's word.  The Bible mentions many specific sins, and it also shows that every accountable person has transgressed God's law and has brought himself into bondage, as a result.  For instance, Paul writes, "as it is written, 'THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE'" (Rom. 3:10) -- "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (v. 23).  Therefore, helping others to learn the truth that leads to salvation is the most important thing that any Christian can do for another.

Peter speaks of the corruption in the world as being there because of lust (2 Pet. 1:4).   This also parallels with what James teaches in James 1:14-16: "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."  John also speaks of the dangers of lust in 1 John 2:16,17: "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever."

God certainly is not the one who made the world corrupt.  Rather, He "made men upright, but they have sought out many devices" (Eccl. 7:29).  Some other translations render "devices" as "schemes."  The implication being "evil" devices or "evil" schemes -- and that which the Lord would be totally opposed to.  We can also say that the Lord doesn't even tempt man to do wrong, according to James 1:13: "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone."   So people, following after their own lusts, go astray of their own accord.  We are reminded, too, of what James states in James 4:2, "You lust and do not have; so you commit murder.  And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel...."  Down through time, how often has this point been exemplified?  We think, for example, of the corruption in the heart of Ahab who coveted Naboth's vineyard.  He wanted to obtain that even if it would cost an innocent man his life.  For though it was Jezebel who came up with the evil scheme that led to Naboth's death, God's message to Ahab, through the prophet Elijah, shows him as being equally guilty: "Have you murdered and also taken possession?" "In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours" (1 Kings 21:19).  

But even in a world in which sin abounds, there is hope for the one who will submit his life to the Lord, through obedience to the gospel.  So we can be thankful that God has made available, for every person, all that pertains to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him, if we will just avail ourselves of it.  And if we do, we will then also have the precious and magnificent promises, be able to be a partaker of the divine nature, and escape the corruption in the world that lust has brought about, as Peter sets forth in 2 Peter 1:3,4.   You will probably receive many offers during this life -- for various things -- but none can even come close to what the Lord is offering you.  If you haven't already, why not meet His conditions to begin as a child of God, then grow in the grace and knowlege of Jesus, making His word an active part of your life, and striving for that eternal home in heaven?  You'll never regret having done this in the judgment day! 


News & Notes

For those of us who are Christians, let us be praying for the following:

Danny Holton, who has pancreatic cancer in the 4th stage.

R.J. Evans, who had been on a second kind of antibiotic to lower his PSA level (which can be indicative toward prostate cancer) will now try another type of antibiotic for his PSA level has increased.  Still, the doctor thinks it is probably just an infection, which we also hope to be so -- but that R.J. will soon be healed of that. 

Anthony Branton, Ken Robertson's nephew, will be having surgery in New Orleans this Friday for Crohn's disease.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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