Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 55
The Believer’s Virtue – Part 2
II Peter 1:1 – 2:8
We’d like to thank you for joining with us today as we continue on with our study of II Peter. In the last lesson we got all the way through verse 8, so jump in at verse 9.
II Peter 1:9
“But he that lacketh these things (in other words, all these good things that are part and parcel of godly living) is blind, (that is spiritually blind) and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” In other words, Peter is talking to believers who have been less than spiritual and, of course, Paul deals with the same thing. And so Peter is admonishing these believers to shape up and realize that, without actually walking the Christian walk, it’s awfully easy to fall back into those old habits. All right, verse 10.
II Peter 1:10
“Wherefore the rather, (or on the other hand) brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”
Now Peter is not ascribing their salvation to doing these good things. Let’s go back and look at them. It was in the last program. Look at them in verses 5, 6, 7. These are the things he’s talking about. Don’t neglect these things because these are the manifestation of your saving faith. And Paul would say the same thing to us.
II Peter 1:5-7
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6. And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7. And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (or love.) See, all these things are part and parcel of the godly walk. Now let’s just, again for sake of comparison, come back to how Paul puts it in Galatians. Galatians chapter 5 and this is when you can see that both of these men are writing by the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit. They’re both writing Scripture. They’re both admonishing believers. But, Paul is writing to us Gentiles in this Age of Grace, whereas Peter is still addressing Jews who are, as yet, unaware of Paul’s Gospel of salvation, and they’re still associated with Gospel of the Kingdom, Christ’s earthly ministry, the believers of Pentecost of Acts chapter 2, and the Jewish economy in general. Here is how Paul addresses us in the Gentile Body of Christ. Let’s jump in at verse 16.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, (in other words, walk in the control of the Holy Spirit) and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” You see, it’s almost the exact language. Now verse 17.
“For the flesh (the old Adamic Nature) lusteth (or warreth) against the Spirit, (and His admonishing) and the Spirit (on the other hand is going to war) against (the Old Adam) the flesh: and these (these two natures) are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (without having a fight). There’s always that constant battle. Now, Paul lists all the things that Peter is warning his followers to avoid, although Peter doesn’t delineate them quite as clearly as Paul does. Here Paul tells us to avoid the following:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness. (all the sexual immorality sins; and then comes all the things of the mind) 20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions heresies. 21. (then you go into the grosser aspect) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” But then in verse 22 you have the flipside of all of that.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance:.…”
Those are almost the same words that Peter uses. Almost the same language but under two totally different economies. All right, now then, back to II Peter again and pick up how he is admonishing his followers (Jewish believers), I think still in the Kingdom economy. They’re not members of the Body of Christ; they are worshipping in synagogues as we saw back in James. All right, now then, back into II Peter chapter 1 verse 11.
II Peter 1:11
“For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Now remember Peter is not referring to the kingdom in a post-resurrection like we’re looking for it. Peter was looking for this same earthy kingdom to still come down in their lifetime, if they could survive the horrors of the Tribulation that was coming (and then they would go into the Kingdom and they would enjoy all the blessings and the ramifications of it).
Now of course, we in this Age of Grace, are now coming to the end of 1,900-and-some years since Paul began this economy. We’re not looking to go into the Tribulation – we’re looking for the escape from it as Paul promises the Gentile Body of Christ. And then after receiving our new body, we will become part and parcel, to a degree, of that glorious kingdom that is still coming. And always remember it’s an earthly kingdom. It’s going to be heaven on this earth and Christ is going to rule from Jerusalem. But of course, Peter and his followers (as I’ve said over and over these last several months), thought this was all going to happen in their lifetime.
Now verse 12, and Peter is going to begin with “Wherefore.” And never forget, it’s the Holy Spirit moving him to write every word.
II Peter 1:12
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” In other words, what they’ve had revealed to them. Now I imagine I should qualify when I keep talking about “these are Gospel of the Kingdom believers.” Come back with me all the way to Matthew. Been a long time since we’ve done it on the program. We did in some of our seminars in Ohio and Indiana last week, but let’s come back to Matthew chapter 9, so that you’ll see where I pick up my terminology, some of the words that I use over and over. Here in Matthew chapter 9, Christ is just beginning His earthly ministry. And let’s begin with verse 35.
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages,…” (that is in the land of Israel.) Always remember He never went outside the borders of Israel. Even Tyre and Sidon, the cities that were Gentile on the coast of the Mediterranean, He didn’t enter into them. He only went as far as the city limits. He never went into Gentile territory. (Matthew 10:5-6)
“…teaching in their synagogues, (see that? Not their churches, their synagogues) and preaching the gospel of the kingdom,.…”
Not the Gospel of the Grace of God, but rather the Gospel of the Kingdom. Two totally different entities. Two totally different economies. This is still under the Law. This is to Israel and Jew only, and now He’s preaching the Good News of the Kingdom. Well, what’s the Good News of the Kingdom? It’s coming! It’s coming within their lifetime, it’s at hand.
“…healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”
All right, now then come over to chapter 16 and here’s where we can put feet to that Gospel of the Kingdom by Peter’s confession. Matthew 16. And I can’t repeat it often enough, because over and over someone will come up and say, “Well now, what’s the difference again between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace?” Well, the Gospel of the Kingdom is what Jesus and the Twelve preached to the Jews in view of their coming King and Kingdom. And the basis of their Faith was to believe that Jesus was that promised King. Just that simple. They were to believe Who He was.
And that doesn’t change all through Peter’s ministry. Never does Peter say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that He died for your sins and that He was buried and was risen from the dead.” Peter never preaches that. That’s Paul’s Gospel of salvation, so Peter’s confession of faith carries all the way through on these Jewish believers. This is what they had believed.
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi,…” Remember that’s up in northern Israel, headwaters of the Jordan River. And it’s at the end, now, of His three years – not at the beginning like we just read. This is three years later.
“…he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (and look what they said. Here was Israel’s unbelief again) 14. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist:, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16. And Simon Peter answered and said, (here was his profession of faith) Thou art the Christ, (you’re the Messiah, you’re the Promised One) the Son of the living God.’” Period!
Not a word about the cross, not a word about resurrection. Not a word about shed blood. But rather “Thou art the Christ.” Now I wish people could see that. That was the Good News of the Kingdom. This is what those Jews were to believe – Who He was. Now let me give you a good example. It’s been a long time since we’ve spent any time in Acts. Stop in Acts chapter 3 and this is more good evidence of the same concept. This is where Peter has healed the lame man and the Jewish leaders are all concerned and upset. How did you do this? They couldn’t remember seven weeks earlier – Jesus was doing it all the time? But just because a few weeks had elapsed and now Peter, James and John can raise him, they’re all amazed and wondering, see? Let’s begin with verse 12.
“And when Peter saw it, (that is to the wondering and amazement of the Jewish people over the healing of the lame man) he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, (see how Jewish this is, there’s no Gentiles in that statement) why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness, we made this man to walk? 13. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murder to be granted unto you; 15. And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” Now here it comes, that same profession of faith that we just saw in Matthew 16. And this is what Peter is asking of his Jewish listeners.
“And his name (the name of Jesus of Nazareth) through faith in his name….” Not in His death, burial and resurrection, but rather in His Name. They were simply to believe that Jesus was the Christ. That was the Gospel of the Kingdom. Now the Gospel of the Grace of God in Church Age, of course, is I Corinthians 15: 1-4. Maybe we’d better look at that. Jerry never gets tired of telling me, “Hey it’s been a while since you shared that beautiful Gospel of salvation.”
So let’s just stop at it. And I want you to see the difference. What a difference! Same God. Same Holy Spirit is inspiring it, but yet, here we have this difference of what we’re to believe as Gentiles and what the Jews were to believe as the children of Abraham. I Corinthians chapter 15, the first four verses. Now this is the Gospel of the Grace of God. Now there aren’t two Gospels of salvation today – there’s only one, and this is what you must believe in your heart for salvation. Today there’s only one. You can’t use the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus and Peter used. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us we must use his Gospel.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (now here comes Paul’s Gospel of salvation) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
Now that’s what we’re to believe today. Now for comparison back up once again to Acts chapter 3, I want you to see this! Acts chapter 3 again verse 16, now this is the only way we can learn. Compare Scripture with Scripture. You can’t mix them all up. You can’t just put it in a blender, turn it up on high and ladle it out without people getting sick to their stomach because it’s a whole ‘duke’s mixture’ that doesn’t fit. You’ve got to rightly divide the Word of God. Remember Paul’s letters are to us in the Body of Christ: the rest of Scripture is for our learning, but not doctrine – they were written to the Nation of Israel.
All right, so Paul says that we’re saved by believing in our hearts that Jesus died for our sins, He was buried and He rose from the dead. Peter says this man was made whole because he believed:
“And his name through faith in his name….” Not through what He had done, but Who He was. Well, it’s exactly what Peter professed in Matthew 16, “Thou art the Christ. You’re the Promised Messiah.” Not a word about what He would do for them. But Who He was. All right, now I hope I’ve made my point.
You know, as I was coming up, I couldn’t help but think that, if the Lord has given me this opportunity to teach (and that’s what I feel He has. I’m not an evangelist, I’m not a preacher, but He has given me this opportunity to teach), then it becomes my responsibility to teach in such a way that the simplest of the simple can understand it. And that’s what I try to do and that’s why I repeat and repeat. And as I was driving up, I got to thinking – I hadn’t been on television too many years and a retired English teacher from Tulsa wrote me a nice little note and commended me for not butchering the king’s English. In other words, she commended me for my good English. Well, I wrote right back and I said, “I have to give all the credit for whatever I can do with the English language to my high school English teacher up in Iowa.” Well, she wrote right back, and said, “Have you ever thanked her for it?” No! I hadn’t. It never dawned on me.
So a few months later we were on our way up to one of our Minnesota seminars and we pulled through that little town in northern Iowa and lo and behold, she was still alive, and I was kind of surprised. She said, “Les! I wasn’t that old when you were in high school!” And you know what we all know? When you’re a kid fourteen, fifteen years old, someone who’s thirty is over the hill! Isn’t that right? And so I guess that was about our age difference, if that. So, anyhow, she was very spry and alert and she was in her own apartment and so Iris and I stopped by to visit with her.
And I said, “Now you know the reason I stopped by is to thank you – thank you for teaching me English.” I had her for four years. And then she shared this with me and that is why I’m bringing it in here. I’m remembering it even as I teach Scripture. She said, “You know Les, when I first got to college, I had intended to become a Mathematics teacher because I loved math and it was so easy for me. But she said, “My counselor said, ‘No, you don’t want to teach a subject that’s easy for you; you’ll never be a good teacher.’” And doesn’t that make sense? The counselor said, “Instead, choose a field that you don’t like and that is hard for you.” “Well,” she said, “that would have to be English.” And so she said, “That’s why I went into teaching English.”
Well, I’ll tell you, she was a master teacher of English. And she could make it interesting, and she could teach it in such a way that it just stuck with me. Oh, I make an occasional error, I don’t claim to be perfect – but I think, for the most part, I have to admit that she taught me quite well. All right, now I’m going to bring that same thing into my teaching of the Scripture. I want to make it as interesting as I can. I want to make it so plain that anybody can understand it. And that’s why I will come back and forth and repeat and repeat because that’s what teaching demands. I’m not just here to preach at you for a half-an-hour and then let you go. We want you to be able to understand so that you, as Paul says, can do what?“Teach others also.”
In fact, I think maybe we’re reaching a lot more people though our television audience teaching others than are actually hearing me. And so this is the reason we do these things. All right, back to II Peter if I may, and reading on now verse 12.
II Peter 1:12-13a
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. (that is knowing Who Jesus of Nazareth was with regard to Israel) 13. Yea, I think it meet, (I think it’s appropriate) as long as I am in this tabernacle,…” Well now what’s the other word for tabernacle? Tent. And what’s the purpose of a tent? Temporary. So what’s he referring to? This body of flesh. It’s temporary, it’s not permanent. It’s only here for a little while. Paul used the same term in II Corinthians 5, when he said, “and when this earthly tabernacle (this temporary tent) is laid aside.” Now finishing verse 13.
II Peter 1:13b-14
“…to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14. Knowing that shortly (now this is where Peter suddenly realizes that he is not going to live to see the Tribulation and the Kingdom, he’s going to face martyrdom) I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” Now you know what I have to think? Come back with me to John’s Gospel, chapter 21, and let’s begin down there at verse 18. You know I’ve thought of this over the years. It would almost seem as though Peter forgot all about this for many, many years. It just never entered his mind until he is closing his second epistle. Now I’m guessing, but it would just almost seem that way.
All right, now here, this is just after the three times when Jesus asked him, “Do you love Me? Feed My sheep.” We referred to that a few programs back and Peter was always faithful that he fed the sheep of God’s pasture, which are Israel. That’s why he made the agreement in Galatians chapter 2, when he was glad enough to shake hands with Paul and say, “I will stay with Israel, you go to the Gentiles.”
All right, now look what the Lord Jesus told him after he had just said in verse 17, “Feed my sheep.” Then verse 18 and you would think it would have haunted Peter all his days, but I don’t believe it did. I believe he just almost forgot about it.
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.”
What was Jesus foretelling? Peter’s death by crucifixion. Now church legend has it (we can’t prove it from Scripture) that he refused to be crucified as his Lord was, so they crucified him upside-down, which I think would have been horrible. But nevertheless, this is what he suddenly remembers now in II Peter chapter 1 when he says that he is now ready to leave this earthly tabernacle, remembering what the Lord had said. All right, II Peter 1:15:
II Peter 1:15-16
“Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease (see he knows he’s going to die) to have these things always in remembrance. 16. For we, (he and the other apostles)have not followed cunningly devised fables, (or stories or legends) when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
In other words, Peter says, we’re not kidding. Christ is coming. He’s still going to set up His Earthly Kingdom, even though Peter’s pretty sure he’s not going to live to see it now. But he says, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Now, let’s come all the way back to Acts chapter 1. This is why I think Peter must have almost forgotten immediately what the Lord said about his demise. I just can’t see him remembering it until you get to II Peter. Acts chapter 1 verse 6. And this is just after the forty days after the resurrection, and He’s ready to ascend back to Glory from the Mount of Olives and He’s meeting there on the mountain with the Eleven. And verse 6, this is Peter speaking.
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Oh now don’t forget, they had remembered that they were going to rule the Twelve Tribes from the twelve thrones in Jerusalem. And whenever I use this verse I always point out – listen, the Lord didn’t ridicule him for talking about an earthly kingdom. The Lord didn’t say, “Peter where did you ever get such an idea?” But oh, the Lord said:
“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons,….”