“The Princess Diaries” stars Anne Hathaway. It’s a movie about Mia, an average 15 year old , growing up in San Francisco. Life for Mia is pretty normal, filled with the usual teenage struggles. Until one day she discovers she’s actually A PRINCESS. The heir apparent of the small European country of Genovia. Her grandmother, the Queen of Genovia, comes to America to tell her about her inheritance. Her father, who left before Mia was born, has just died, and Mia’s next in line for the throne. More wealth, power, and influence than she could ever imagine. And it’s all hers. Actually, it was all hers BEFORE HER GRANDMA ARRIVED. But she just didn’t KNOW about it. Once she had THE KNOWLEDGE, she was able to ACCESS that wealth. Begin to live the life she was BORN to.
And it’s that sort of message Peter’s bringing in his letter. He’s written the letter because there are false teachers around promising all sorts of things. We’ll find out more about them in Ch 2. But for the moment, it’s enough to know that they’re dragging Christians away, tempting them to look for something BIGGER AND BETTER.
And Peter’s answer to the challenge is simple. Christians don’t NEED something bigger and better. Because they ALREADY HAVE everything they need to live a godly life. They just need to KNOW about it.
KNOWLEDGE is the key. Look there in verse 2.
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through THE KNOWLEDGE of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Same thing again in v3. Have a look at it.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness THROUGH OUR KNOWLEDGE of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Whatever you need for a godly life comes through your KNOWLEDGE of Jesus. You’ll be thoroughly equipped. Fully spec’ed.
Which says something firstly to you if you’re NOT a Christian. A full and complete and satisfying life – the life God intended you to live – doesn’t come ANY OTHER WAY than through KNOWING JESUS.
It doesn’t come through having a hot boyfriend. Or blitzing the HSC. It doesn’t come from a top job, plenty of money or friends. It doesn’t come from sporting success, or a great car. It doesn’t come from an overseas gap year, or getting into the best Uni course.
So, if you’re LOOKING for satisfaction, or contentment, or fulfilment, in any of those areas. If that’s the SOLE objective of your life at the moment. Then GIVE UP. It WON’T WORK.
God MADE you. And he knows how you work BEST. Get to KNOW Jesus instead.
And you’re in the right place this weekend to DO that.
But v3 also has something to say to those of you who ARE Christians.
You can be completely decked out as a Christian simply by GETTING TO KNOW JESUS BETTER. There’s no secret NEXT LEVEL. No inside info on becoming that super-Christian.
Which is a great thing to be reassured of. Because it’s tempting sometimes, to think you’re MISSING OUT. That there has to be something MORE.
Perhaps you look at your non-Christian friends. And you’re just that little bit jealous. Just occasionally. They seem to have such a good life. A COMPLETE life. They have the best PARTIES, the best Fun, the most FRIENDS. They DRINK what they want, smoke what they want. Sleep with whoever they want.
They get to download the latest pirated movies or X-Box games, or burned music CD’s. They never miss out on sport on Sundays. No rules, no restrictions, nothing holding them back from enjoying EVERYTHING life has to offer.
And you feel like you’re missing out.
Well, Peter’s antidote is simple – It’s KNOWLEDGE.
3 His divine power has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED for life and godliness THROUGH OUR KNOWLEDGE OF HIM WHO CALLED US BY HIS OWN GLORY AND GOODNESS.
And that’s what Peter’s letter goes on to DO. Fill us in with knowledge about Jesus.
1. Knowing what Jesus has done (1-4a)
And first up, knowing what Jesus has DONE.
V3. We’ve already looked at it. Jesus is described as the one who’s CALLED US by his own glory and goodness. He has a PLAN and a PURPOSE for us.
If you’re a Christian, you’ve been Chosen for a REASON. That means you’re SIGNIFICANT. You’re not IRRELEVANT and POINTLESS. You have VALUE and MEANING.
Even if you don’t know what that IS yet. Even if you’re not sure how you fit into the world. Jesus does. Keep getting to know him better. And you’ll get to know your place in his world as you do.
But THAT’S not all. There’s more. Jesus doesn’t just CALL you. He EQUIPS you for the task as well. His divine power has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED FOR A GODLY LIFE. He’s the king who’s chosen you for a royal mission. He’s knighted you, commissioned you with a quest. The mission of living a godly life.
Then he’s given you to the key to the royal armoury. The divine arsenal of the heavenly king placed at your disposal. The power of God himself. So you’re THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED.
No wonder Peter says we’ve got EVERYTHING WE NEED!
2. Knowing what we must do
And you can see what the mission IS there in the NEXT part of v4. Why has Jesus called us?
(2 Pet 1:4 NIV) …so that through them (his great and precious promises) you may PARTICIPATE IN THE DIVINE NATURE and ESCAPE THE CORRUPTION IN THE WORLD CAUSED BY EVIL DESIRES.
Which is the second section in the outline. Knowing what WE MUST DO.
But what does it MEAN? Sounds a bit WEIRD, doesn’t it. Your purpose in life is to PARTICIPATE in THE DIVINE NATURE. It’s really just another way of saying becoming like Jesus. Or to live a godly life (like v3 says).
But there’s a hard-edged element to what Peter’s talking about. Participation in the divine nature. It SOUNDS soft and wimpy. It SOUNDS like it’s about meditating, wearing a long white robe, doing YOGA.
But look at how he describes it. Participating in the divine nature is about ESCAPING THE CORRUPTION OF THE WORLD CAUSED BY EVIL DESIRES.
For your character to become like Jesus, you have to make some TOUGH DECISIONS. Do something ACTIVE.
Notice he doesn’t say escape the WORLD. You can’t do that. You still have to LIVE in the world. And that’s a GOOD thing. To work, and socialise, and play sport, and relax. Hang out with non-Christians.
Don’t escape the WORLD. Escape the CORRUPTION of the world caused by EVIL DESIRES.
The world is full of things you need to RUN AWAY FROM. Things that will entice you to participate in them, rather than participating in a divine nature. Things that are the ENEMY of a godly life.
There’s the OBVIOUS things. Things that are EASY to identify. And not TOO hard for most people to run away from.
But there’s also a lot of LESS obvious things. The evil desires that are just as much IN YOU, as they are in the world. And they can be HARDER to get on top of.
The desire to fit in. To be liked. The desire to be comfortable. And to take it easy. To be successful and influential. The desire to avoid conflict, and to please people.
Participating in the divine nature means FLEEING THOSE sorts of desires TOO. Because they SEEM pretty harmless, but they can end up leading you into all sorts of trouble.
Turn the TV off, throw the catalogues in the bin. DON’T buy the latest fashions. Be content. Give it up.
Don’t DO what everyone else DOES, GO where everyone else GOES, or TALK AND THINK about what everyone else TALKS and THINKS about.
WALK AWAY, SWITCH OFF, TURN AROUND, TURN THE PAGE, RE-PRIORITISE, RE-EVALUATE, RE-FOCUS.
That’s what it will LOOK LIKE to ESCAPE the corruption in the world.
And it won’t be EASY. Which is what Peter goes on to talk about in the next paragraph. V5. MAKE EVERY EFFORT.
And then we get a bit of MATHS. Which always takes EFFORT. A bit of DIVINE ARITHMETIC. I bet you thought you’d escaped maths for the weekend. But see it there in v5? ADD to your faith. The word literally means “to bring in alongside.”
We’re planning to paint our bedroom ceiling. And we’ve got to scrape away all the old flaking paint. And to DO that we need to set up two ladders, and run a nice thick plank between the two, so we can STAND on it.
But the problem is/ I don’t HAVE any nice thick planks. I’ve got some THIN ones. The problem is when I stand on THOSE it feels like a trampoline. So I need to BRING IN ALONGSIDE ANOTHER plank. To SUPPORT the FIRST. One ADDED to the ANOTHER makes it STRONGER.
Peter says to ADD things to your faith.
It starts with FAITH. Trusting Jesus as your SAVIOUR and your LORD. Trusting his GOODNESS. Trusting his PROMISES.
But don’t just stay with faith. If you’ve got REAL faith. Then it will work itself out in PRACTICAL ways in your life. ADD to it.
Add GOODNESS to your faith. Don’t be someone who’s just RELIGIOUS. There’s enough of those sorts of people around. Dry and strict and judgmental. Who look like they’ve just sucked on a lemon. Add GOODNESS to your faith. A simple, attractive, admirable and gentle quality of character. Show your faith’s GENUINE.
And people will NOTICE.
One of our Youth Group leaders radiates goodness. Not what you’d expect when you first meet him. He’s muscly, he’s a builder. He loves his sport. His baseball and his rockclimbing and his fishing and his surfing.
But he’s gentle and generous and caring. He’s got a reputation for shedding a few tears if a song we’re singing grabs him. And he gets teased when he lets out his worst expletive when something goes wrong, “Oh, goodness!!!”
I don’t know what they make of that on the building site. Probably never heard that one!
But don’t leave it at goodness. Add KNOWLEDGE to your goodness. It’s not enough to just be GOOD. Add knowledge of right and wrong. Appropriate and inappropriate, useful and hurtful, becoming and unbecoming. Otherwise you’ll be naïve. And people will take advantage of you. If you’re WISE in the way you show you’re goodness, then it will be more USE. More benefit to people.
But don’t just leave it with KNOWLEDGE. Add SELF-CONTROL to knowledge. Knowledge by itself can puff up. Can make you proud – a know-it-all. Knowledge about people and situations can mean you EXPLOIT them. Take ADVANTAGE of them.
There’s a side of knowledge that’s cunning, and sneaky. And devious. That knows how to find what it wants. And know how to GET it. But if you add SELF-CONTROL to your knowledge, then you’ll always have the ability to say NO. To STOP before you go too far.
Fairly obvious that if the corruption of the world is caused by evil desires. Then having the self-control to say NO to evil desires is fairly important. The world says “if it feels good DO IT”. So FLEE anything you find hard to resist. Burn it, flush it, switch it off.
Share your struggle with a Christian. Get them to keep you accountable. It might need some DRASTIC ACTION. Jesus says if your eye causes you to sin POKE IT OUT. MAKE EVERY EFFORT to develop self-control.
And while you’re working on self-control. Add PERSEVERANCE to it. Self-control isn’t too hard for a SHORT TIME. But it’s the ability, time after time to keep saying NO. To keep a handle on your tongue, or your emotions, or your anger, or your wants. That will show fruit in the long-term.
Perseverance means sticking at a ministry that seems thankless, hopeless and useless. Stick with a friend whose hard work, but who needs you. Stick with HONESTY and INTEGRITY when everyone else around you is cheating. Stick with PRAYER even when it feels like you’re talking to yourself. Stick with Jesus when it seems easier to fall away.
Let me tell you about perseverance. Barry was my youth Group leader growing up. He had stickability. For about 30 years, every Sunday morning he taught senior Sunday school. Every Sunday night was Yth Group then church. Every Fri night was an outreach youth group in another suburb. While he worked a full-time job as an excavator, saving to build a Christian youth camp.
He wasn’t the most gifted, or charismatic youth worker around. But he STUCK AT IT. And there’s probably hundreds of people who, humanly speaking, have Barry to thank for being Christians today.
But perseverance would be no good if you were doing it for the wrong reasons. Or with the wrong ATTITUDE. If you’re sticking at something to please yourself, or build your own empire, or in your own strength. So add GODLINESS to your perseverance. A God-centred, God-focussed, God-pleasing, all-consuming passion for his glory.
Every day, commit your day to God. Hand it over to him. For HIS purposes, in HIS strength. For HIS glory.
When I first started teaching High School. I was 20 years old. Straight out of Uni. Green as they come. Rick was my Subject Coordinator. And every morning the staff would pray together. And every morning Rick would pray pretty much the same thing. “God, this is YOUR day. We can’t be part of your plans in our own strength. Without you, we’re nothing. Be WITH us. In our words and thoughts and actions.”
I figured if Rick still needed to do that after 20 years teaching, then it was probably a good thing for me to do too. And so, I’m still doing it. Every morning. “This is YOUR day. Without you, I’m NOTHING. I’m YOURS. For YOUR purposes. In YOUR strength. For YOUR glory.”
It’s not enough to just stick it out for the long term. But to stick it out with God as your focus and your model and your King. Add godliness to perseverance.
But don’t leave it at THAT. Add BROTHERLY KINDNESS to your godliness. A GENUINE other person centredness. Without it, focussing on God can lead to forgetting people, and self-righteousness. In finger-pointing, and rigid accusation.
And finally add LOVE to brotherly kindness. Love that’s more than FEELINGS. But a decision of the will. A decision that puts the needs of SOMEONE ELSE ahead of yours. Choose to LOVE, even when that means doing, or saying, the DIFFICULT thing. Perhaps even the thing that risks losing the friendship, but which is the LOVING thing.
That’s Peter’s list. What it means to participate in the divine nature.
But he goes on, v8. If you work on those things more and more, then they’ll keep you from being INEFFECTIVE AND UNPRODUCTIVE in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just think about the LOGIC of that phrase for a moment.
In other words, it’s possible to KNOW Jesus. To have your sins forgiven, to be one of God’s children, to be going to heaven. But you’re ineffective and unproductive and insignificant. Doing nothing more than occupying a pew. You’re WASTED SPACE. You’re paddling in the babies pool, when you should be swimming laps. You’re eating pureed veges, when you should be eating roast beef.
Is that what you WANT for your life?
You’re at a crucial point in your life. The decisions you make NOW can go a long way to setting up how your life will look for the future. The choices and priorities you put in place NOW will impact how your life turns out.
What ON EARTH are you doing FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE? If you want to be SIGNIFICANT, if you want to get to the end of your life, and to have MADE A DIFFERENCE for the BETTER, then you better be getting these qualities into your life.
Jesus has done everything you need to SAVE you. And he’s given you everything you need for A GODLY LIFE. Fully equipped.
Now, he wants YOU to do YOUR BIT. To MAKE EVERY EFFORT to add to your faith the things that reflect Jesus. In terms of these qualities, it’s a PARTNERSHIP between You and Jesus. Look at how Peter describes it in v10.
be all the more eager TO MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE.
Jesus has CHOSEN and CALLED you. He’s WON you, and EQUIPPED you. Now, make SURE of that by making every effort.
Don’t simply take what Jesus has done FOR GRANTED. Sticking it out as a Christian is a PARTNERSHIP. Between what God HAS done and IS doing. And what YOU do. So make every effort. Don’t give up. Stick it out. Make SURE of what you have.
Let me tell you something I’ve seen after 25 years of Youth Work. People fall away. They give up on Jesus. They don’t last the distance. They start strong, seem full of enthusiasm. But they get distracted. Caught in snares. Or just drifted away. I’ve seen it time and time again. Dozens and dozens of people who are LOOKING like Christians, but two, three, five, ten years later are living completely AWAY from Christ. They never STARTED with that intention. But they didn’t heed the warning. They didn’t MAEK EVERY EFFORT.
And the chances are that will be the case with some of you HERE.
I hope NOT. My prayer is that every one of you takes this warning SERIOUSLY. And every single one of you who calls himself a Christian TODAY keeps powering on.
And when I see you again in 10 years, and I ask you how you’re going as a Christian, you can answer me, “I’m still going. I’m not there yet. But I’m making every effort. And I’m plugging away. And I’m growing like Jesus. And I’m looking forward to heaven.”
Which is Peter’s final encouragement in this section to stick at it. The promise of Jesus’ rich welcome. It’s the third point on the outline – knowing what Jesus WILL do.
For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
3. Knowing what Jesus will do (11)
It’s the promise of a warm welcome that keeps you making every effort when it’s easier to give up.
Let me tell you about Florence Chadwick. She was born in 1918, and by the time she was ten years old, she was famous as A LONG DISTANCE SWIMMER. She was the first child to swim the San Diego Bay Channel.
From there she went on to break the women’s record for swimming the English Channel. 32 kilometers in 13 hours and 20 minutes.
Then, in 1952, in what was to be her victorious homecoming, Florence Chadwick, with much publicity and fanfare, set out to be the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel; 34 kilometers, from Catalina Island, just off Los Angeles; to Long Beach.
Compared with some of her other swims, it should have been easy. Besides which, she had the home crowd advantage.
But after 15 hours swimming, on a swirling foggy morning, Florence Chadwick was pulled out of the water, exhausted; just 800 metres short of her goal. After 33.2 kilometres of swimming against the tough seas, she gave up. Just 800 metres short of the beach.
800m short of a victorious homecoming. Of the cheers and applause of the crowd. 800 m short of the warm blankets, and the hot, sweet drinks. The rewards for the finishers. Of a triumphant rest.
Why didn’t she make it? She stepped out of the support boat to face the crowds and the media. She said, It wasn’t the waves. And it wasn’t the freezing cold. She said, it was the fog. She said, the thing that stopped me was that I COULDN’T SEE THE SHORELINE. IF I’D KNOWN HOW CLOSE I WAS, I COULD HAVE MADE IT.
If only I’d known. If only I’d known where the finish was… I could have kept going. (And to PROVE it, she repeated the swim a of months later, in FINE weather. And did it EASILY)
But don’t let that be YOU. The finish line is THERE. It’s CLOSE. Don’t GIVE UP. Make sure you MAKE IT. Jesus promises us a rich welcome for those he knows. Way better than a warm blanket and a hot drink. A welcome where he wraps his arms around you, and envelops you with his love and his glory and his goodness. “I’m SO GLAD you’ve MADE it. I’ve prepared a place for you. You’ve followed me WELL, and you’ve been productive and effective. I’m SO PROUD of you. Well done, good and faithful servant.”
That welcome’s OURS if we MAKE EVERY EFFORT.
Make sure you KNOW him. And if you KNOW him, then make sure you don’t give up, and FALL SHORT.