Author Topic: Sabbath School Lesson 13--2nd Quarter 2017--Major Themes in 1 and 2 Peter  (Read 3019 times)

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 Lesson 13 June 17-23

Major Themes in 1 and 2 Peter

Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

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Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Isa. 53:5, 6, 9; Lev. 16:16-19; Lev. 11:44; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Cor. 14:40; 2 Tim. 3:16.

Memory Text: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18

First and Second Peter were written for practical purposes. In 1 Peter, the big issue Peter confronted was the persecution that Christians were facing. In 2 Peter, the great issue was false teachers. Peter wrote forcefully and authoritatively as he sought to encourage his readers as well as warn them in regard to the challenges before them.

Why is it necessary to spend a whole book warning the church about false teachers? What is Satan attempting to do through false teachers? Towards the end of His ministry, Jesus did the same. What did Jesus say about the false teachers (leaders in Israel)? Has Satan been successful today?

What is significant is that Peter responds to both issues in theological terms. The sufferings caused by persecution led Peter to meditate on the sufferings and death of Jesus, which had resulted in our salvation. The false teachers are going to face the judgment. This judgment will take place after Jesus returns to this earth with the saved after the thousand years in heaven have ended. These are some of the themes that Peter deals with in his two letters.

Yes, the false teachers will be judged severely, but they will take many with them to perdition. Can you identify a few of the significant false teachings within the church today?

This final week’s lesson will look in more detail at five of the themes Peter wrote about: the suffering of Jesus that led to our salvation; our practical response to the knowledge that God will judge our actions at the last judgment; the hope we have in the soon return of Jesus; order in society and in the church; and the role Scripture has in providing guidance in our lives.

All good subjects to close this quarter's study. Peter gives us a good idea as to what we need to do in order to be saved, and the consequence of not responding to the grace of God as seen in the suffering and death of His innocent Son, the righteous for the sinner. Peter opens to view the truth seen in these verses that close the Book of Jude: "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen." Verses 21-25.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Sunday June 18

Suffering, Jesus, and Salvation

Read the following passages, and note what each reveals about salvation:

1 Pet. 1:2, 1:8, 9,18, 19,  2:22-25,  3:18

 1:2   Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 
 1:8   Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 
 1:9   Receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls. 
 1:18   Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; 
 1:19   But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 
 2:22   Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 
 2:23   Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously: 
 2:24   Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 
 2:25   For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 
 3:18   For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 

When Peter mentions salvation, it is usually in the context of Jesus’ suffering as a Substitute for sinners. For example, in 1 Peter 2:22-24, when Peter writes about the suffering of Jesus, he is using language that reflects Isaiah 53:5, 6, 9. “[Jesus] bore our sins in His own body” on the cross and “by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24), reveal the ideas of substitution and sacrifice.

Amen, but even more, it reveals that the religion of Christ ils salvation by the power of grace. It is by beholding the sufferings of our Savior that the heart is purified. When we understand and allow into our hearts the truth, that we are healed by the stripes received by Jesus, it transforms the character and purifies the heart.

In many of the sacrifices described in the Hebrew Bible, sinners brought their offerings to the temple and laid their hands on them. This act symbolically transferred the sin from the sinner to the animal, which then died in the sinner’s place (Lev. 4:29, 30, 33, 34; 14:10-13). The uncleanness of sin that accumulated on the altar was cleansed and removed on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:16-19).

The blood of the sacrifice played an important role in atoning for sin. Christians have been ransomed by the precious blood of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:18, 19). Paul, too, expressed the same idea of substitution: Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). As 1 Peter 3:18 states, Christ suffered for sins, the righteous (Jesus) for the unrighteous (us).

Like Paul (Rom. 3:21, 22), Peter emphasizes the need for faith. As he says to his readers: “Although you have not seen him, you love him . . . for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8, 9, NRSV). Salvation is not earned by godly behavior, but it is granted when we believe in what Jesus has done for us and accept Him as our personal Savior. Our assurance is found in Him, not in ourselves. If it were in ourselves, what real assurance would we have?

Yes, this is all true, but where is grace and the power of grace to transform the life? Where is the truth that by His stripes we are "healed", transformed. We are not saved by our character, but the character is changed by His stripes. If we leave this out, then we are in great danger of believing we are saved in sin, not from sin.

Why is Jesus, as your Substitute, the Great Hope of salvation? What comfort can you draw from this wonderful truth?

Jesus intercedes in  behalf of all sinners whose probation has not yet closed. He paid the price for our sins. That is He suffered for every sin that we will not have to suffer if we will allow the Holy Spirit to take possession of the heart, if we will die to self and live unto Christ. This intercession will soon cease and there will be no more forgiveness of sin. This is contrary to the teaching of many standing in the pulpits of God's church today. I am not speaking of Babylon,  but of God's church. Much of Babylon has long since given up the gospel of grace. Theirs is a false gospel that says one is saved in sin. Sadly, this has come into God's church also. Many today believe one may sin a known sin and retain salvation. This means that one could be saved when self is not dead, and saved when Jesus does not have possession of the heart. In other words, we are saved when we are separated from Jesus. Such a deception!

Are you ready for the close of probation? For many, probation closed yesterday. For many the suffering and death of Christ will not bring salvation. Today we may choose to behold Jesus lifted upon the cross, the bleeding Lamb of God, and by beholding become transformed in character and be fit for heaven (2 Cor. 3:18).

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Monday June 19

How Should We Live?

A theme that Peter returns to more often than any other is posed by the question he asked in 2 Peter 3:11: “[Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness?”

Why did God inspire Peter to continually speak of this subject? Because it is necessary to contest Satan's lies on the subject. He says we will not die if we disobey God. We hear this over and over in the church from her pulpits and printed on her presses. 

Read the following texts. What does Peter say about Christian behavior? 1 Pet. 1:15-17, 22; 1 Pet. 2:1; 1 Pet. 3:8, 9; 1 Pet. 4:7-11; 2 Pet. 3:11.

 1:15   But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 
 1:16   Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 
 1:17   And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning [here] in fear: 
1:22   Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: 

2:1   Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

  3:8   Finally, [be ye] all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, [be] pitiful, [be] courteous: 
  3:9   Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 

 4:7   But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 
 4:8   And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 
 4:9   Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 
 4:10   As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 
 4:11   If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 

 3:11   [Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness.

Peter considers Christian behavior at many points in his two letters, and a number of themes keep recurring. First, Peter twice emphasizes the link between the judgment of God and Christian behavior (1 Pet. 1:17 and 2 Pet. 3:11). God will judge everyone’s actions. Thus, a Christian should live a life of holiness.

He will if he has given the whole heart to Jesus. If we have not done so, and continue to do so, then the Holy Spirit will not be in the heart. What does the Bible say about this? "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Romans 8:9. One cannot be holy unless one is filled with the Spirit. Read Romans 8:1-14 to see the verse in its context. Many blind eyes will opened if they want to know the truth if they will prayerfully study these verses.

Second, several times Peter mentions that Christians should be holy. In the Hebrew Bible, things that are holy are set aside for use in the temple (Exod. 26:34; 28:36; 29:6, 37) or for God’s purposes (for example, the Sabbath in Genesis 2:3). In fact, God’s plan was that His people should be holy, just as He is holy, a theme Peter touched on, too (Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16). The process of setting something aside as holy is called “sanctification,” and Peter’s desire is that his readers become sanctified by the Spirit and be obedient to Jesus (1 Pet. 1:2).

Until one is sanctified, he is not "holy". Here we can see the great deception that many professing Christians have come under. They do not believe they have to be "holy" in order to have salvation. This is not restricted to the fallen denominations, it has come into God's church also. Are you holy? How can you tell? Are you keeping the commands of God? If not, then you are not holy. One is "holy", "sanctified" when he surrenders the whole heart to Jesus. You may better understand this truth by studying the life of Peter. There were times before the death of Christ that Peter was sanctified. When Jesus washed his feet in the upper room, Peter was cleansed from sin. He heart was fully given to Christ. But, one is not sanctified when he sins a known sin. Peter later that night lost his hold on Jesus and denied him. He was not sanctified. He was not holy when he sinned. But, when he gave his whole heart to Christ again, Jesus cleansed it, and Peter was once again "holy", as the lesson is pointing out.

This is a difficult subject for many  because they have eaten of the forbidden fruit and now believe one may have salvation when they sin a known sin. Like Eve, they have believed the great lie Satan has foisted upon the church. The truth is very pointed. There is a way to heaven, but the path is narrow and few find it. "Man could be saved only through obedience to its precepts." source Man is not saved by obedience to the law, but he will not be saved if he does not obey the law. We are saved by grace, not by obedience. But, when the heart is fully surrendered to Christ, then obedience will be the result. If one sins a known sin, it reveals there is a separation between God and man. Being separate from God there is no eternal life.

Third, Peter has provided some specifics as to the kind of behavior appropriate to those who are sanctified. They should rid themselves of malice, guile, insincerity, envy, and slander (1 Pet. 2:1). They should have unity in spirit, love for one another, and a humble mind (1 Pet. 3:8, 9). They should have goodness, godliness, and love (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Indeed, they must maintain constant love (1 Pet. 4:7-11). Finally, Peter urges his listeners to cast their anxiety upon Jesus (1 Pet. 5:7).

All who are truly converted are sanctified, made holy. They will have love not only for one another, but for those who despitefully use them. All of the fruits of the Spirit are seen in the life, not one is missing. When we fully surrender to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, His representative, comes into the heart. He brings with Him, every one of the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance which is self control (Galatians 5:22,23) . "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Galatians 5:24.

How can we learn to encourage one another in ways that are not judgmental, to live the kind of life that Peter is calling for in his epistles?

We can set an example as did Jesus. We can love the unlovable. We can teach the truth that there is omnipotent power in God's grace. When the church does her appointed work. then Jesus will come. When we proclaim the three angels message, which begins with the real gospel, then the world will know there is a God is heaven. They will see a reflection of Him in His people because they are holy. "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Rev. 14:12.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Tuesday June 20

Hope in the Second Coming

Read the following texts, and note what is said about future events:

1 Pet. 1:4: "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you."

1 Pet. 1:17: "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning [here] in fear."

1 Pet. 4:5, 6: "Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." 

1 Pet. 4:17: "For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God? 

2 Pet. 3:1-10:

 3:1   This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 
 3:2   That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 
 3:3   Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 
 3:4   And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation. 
 3:5   For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 
 3:6   Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 
 3:7   But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 
 3:8   But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 
 3:9   The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 
 3:10   But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 

One of the crucial issues facing those who first read and heard 1 Peter was persecution. Peter comforts his readers with the thought that, even though their lives may be hampered by persecution, there is a future reward waiting for them in heaven, a reward that cannot be taken away. Very early in 1 Peter, he mentions that Christians have an imperishable inheritance kept in heaven for them (1 Pet. 1:4).

Peter highlights two things that will take place in the future: the last judgment and the fiery destruction of evil. In other words, he shows that although there is persecution now, justice and judgment will be done, and believers will receive their eternal reward.

Yes, there is a great reward for all who live a holy life in Christ Jesus. But, it is not possible to live a holy life motivated by the reward of heaven. It is not possible to go through great persecutions hoping for a reward at the end. Only one thing can empower a sinner to become a saint or to endure the persecutions that are coming, the grace of God. It must be taken in day by day. We must be born again daily by the Holy Spirit. We must continually be feeding upon Jesus. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Jesus is the Manna which came down from heaven. It only as we are vitally connected with Christ that we can escape the lust within and the corruption in the world. We must become partakers of God's divine nature in order to do any good thing, much less resist the persecution which is coming. In Christ we will not be allowed to be tempted beyond what we can bear. Are these things true?

Peter mentions judgment on three separate occasions (1 Pet. 1:17; 4:5, 6, 17). He says that God the Father judges all humans impartially according to their deeds (1 Pet. 1:17). He notes that Jesus Himself stands ready to judge the living and the dead (1 Pet. 4:5). He also makes the intriguing observation that judgment starts with the household of God (1 Pet. 4:17).

Peter also emphasizes that “the godless” will be destroyed in a worldwide firestorm (2 Pet. 3:7).

Peter spends some time dealing with problems that arose about whether or not Jesus is indeed coming back (2 Pet. 3:1-10). He points out that the “delay” of Jesus’ second coming is to allow more people to repent and be saved. He also points out that the certainty of a future reckoning should convince everyone to live a holy and blameless life.

It is helpful to understand that there is more to life than the reward of heaven or the fear of a burning suffering judgment. Jesus will not come until He has a people who can stand through the time of trouble without a Mediator. When we understand this truth, then we will seek to understand how this can be. Many have been taught it is impossible to live without sinning while still living in sinful flesh. But, to believe this heresy would mean to deny the Words Peter has penned in these two Books we have been studying this quarter. What truths has Peter given to us that reveal when we are converted we have been given power that keeps us from sinning?

Thus, however focused Peter is on the here and now and on practical Christian living, he still keeps before his readers the future hope that awaits them. In short, whatever the circumstances at the moment, they need to press on ahead in faith and obedience.

Amen! In our trials, if we will be looking unto Jesus, we shall glory. If we are not abiding in Christ, then we shall not be able to praise God when bad things happen. "And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Romans 5:3-5.

Why, too, must you press on ahead in faith and obedience, regardless of your circumstances? What other option is there?

There are only two options in this world. Either we serve God or we serve Satan and sin. When we come into the world, we are in need of a Savior. We are given a period of temporal life that we might learn of our need and of the power of God unto salvation. It is made more difficult to learn these things because there is a spiritual battle raging all around us. It is bad enough to be born sinners, but on top of that we have an arch enemy who seeks our destruction. We are aligned with him and sin by nature, but at the very beginning just after the fall, God made a promise to Adam and his posterity (us). That promise provides the opportunity to turn from sin and Satan. It promises to all who will be born again, "enmity" between us and Satan and sin. This only possible if we will be born again of the Spirit.

Here is the promise which we know as the everlasting covenant. "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Gen. 3: 15. We also see in this promise that Jesus will suffer, but Satan will be crushed. It is through the sufferings and death of Jesus that we can be born again. It is this grace that transforms the sinner into a saint. Where do we see this promise worded differently in the writings of Peter?

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4).

This promise shares the assurance that by receiving God's promises by full heart surrender in faith, we are enabled to be partakers of the divine nature--which gives us a supernatural hatred for sin!! Praise the Lord!!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Amen, Pastor Sean! What a promise! God will live in the heart of all who will allow Him to take possession of it. Jesus says we must be born again of the Spirit in order to have eternal life. When the Spirit comes into the heart, we are then partakers of God's divine nature and do not sin even though we still live in vile fallen flesh.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Wednesday June 21

Order in Society and in the Church

Read the following passages. What does Peter say in these texts about the importance of both government and church leadership, and how Christians should respond to both? How should his words be applied to our situations today, regardless of where we live?

1 Pet. 2:11-21

1 Pet. 5:1-5

Peter lived at a time when Christians occasionally were persecuted by government and by religious authorities. This makes all the more significant what he and Paul have to say about the proper role of government authorities(1 Pet. 2:13-17, Rom. 13:1-7). For both Peter and Paul, government authorities have been put in place by God Himself to act as a check against those who would do evil. Of course, there are times that ruling powers can be the problem. Christians faced this in Peter’s time, and it would only get worse for many years.

But, generally, the idea is that good government would preserve law and order and safety. Even today there are examples in which law and order have broken down, and one can see the desperate need for reasonable government. It is true; good government is one of the blessings of God that He has given to humanity.

In our day the Bible says " And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he [that] departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw [it], and it displeased him that [there was] no judgment." Isaiah 59:14,15. If there is justice in the world today, it is because God made it so. We live in a day just before the coming of Christ. Jesus told us what the world would be like. "But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark." Matt. 24:37,38.

We are to obey the laws of the land as they are in harmony with the Bible.

Peter would no doubt share Paul’s conviction that good church governance is important, too. Paul insists, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40), in church worship services. Peter likewise asks the church leaders to “feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;” (1 Pet. 5:2). They are to do so with humility and care. Local churches need to be led well. Good leaders provide vision and coherence, and enable others to exercise their spiritual gifts for the glory of God.

Good leaders are those who are fully surrendered to Christ and have experience in the things of God. They ought to be feeding upon "meat", not "milk".

First Peter 5:5 says that you should clothe yourself with humility toward one another. How can we learn to do that? What can you do, yourself, to apply this in your own interaction with others?

We cannot clothe ourselves with humility or any good thing, but we can ask Jesus to take our heart and cleanse it from all sin. If we are willing to be made willing, Jesus will bring us to a point of full surrender (conversion). And, if we will cling to Jesus, we can remain in a converted state. Then we will have all of the fruits of the Spirit, not one will be missing (Desire of Ages, pg 676). Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance will be in the life of all who love Jesus supremely with the "whole heart."

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Thursday June 22

The Primacy of Scripture

Read the following passages. What do they say about the Bible that could help us to understand today what its role should be in our lives and faith?

1 Pet. 1:10-12

2 Pet. 1:16-20

2 Pet. 3:2:  That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 

2 Pet. 3:16

In his second letter, Peter confronts false teachers. He directs his readers to two sources of authority when he says, “That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.” (2 Pet. 3:2). Today we have the same recourse to the words of “holy prophets”-that is, the Old Testament. The living apostles are no longer available to us, of course, but in a sense we have something better: their inspired testimony, as revealed in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John left us the definitive story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In the Acts of the Apostles, we have been left accounts of the apostles’ activities. And indeed we can read the inspired words of the apostles themselves. Paul writes strongly about the authority of God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16). Peter, then, is directing his readers to Scripture as the source of doctrinal and moral authority.

In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter warns his readers and listeners that even though Scripture is the source of truth, without careful attention to the message that the Holy Spirit would have us understand, the source of truth itself can be misunderstood, and this can lead to terrible consequences.

His words should be a good reminder to us now about basic principles for studying the Bible. We should read a passage of Scripture prayerfully. We should read it with regard to its contexts within the chapter, the book and the whole Bible itself. What was the author specifically talking about when he wrote? We should read it in light of the historical circumstances in which it was written. (In the case of 1 and 2 Peter, this would be the Roman Empire of the first century.) We should read it seeking spiritual insight and with the knowledge that the salvation brought about by the sacrificial death of Christ is the center of the biblical message (1 Pet. 1:10-12). Finally, we should read it in the context of our own lives. What truth does God wish us to receive? How can we apply the Written Word to our own lives in a way that will make a positive contribution to the kingdom of God?

Very good points to consider. All may get something from Scripture if they are looking for truth. But, spiritual things are spiritually discerned. So, if we want to understand more than some very basics, we must be converted. We must have a new "spiritual" heart and mind. We must be born of the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and manifesting the fruits of the Spirit. Then we shall more fully understand the truth revealed in the Bible.

Today, Jesus speaks a special message to His church. It remains in a Laodicean condition. All who are so labeled, believe they are rich and increased with goods, but in fact Jesus says they are "miserable, wretched, and poor, and blind, and naked." Rev 3:17. It is not easy to discern even this truth when one is blind and thinks he is in a saved condition. Has Satan had a hand in deceiving God's people today as he did Israel of Old? Yes, he has. He knows that if he deceives on this truth, he is well able to damage God's work through His church.

False teachers are convincing many they are just fine when they sin a known sin. Well....maybe not just fine, but in a saved state. That is good enough to keep many from fleeing to Jesus for power to overcome the sin in their lives. Many believe Jesus stands in their place even though they have not given the whole heart to Christ. In order to have salvation, we must love God with the whole heart, not a part of it. "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." Matt. 22:37,38. If we do not surrender the whole heart, then we remain dead in our sins and apart from God. And when we surrender the whole heart, the Holy Spirit takes possession of it and cleanses it from all sin. "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John 1:7. If we have not His Spirit, we are none if His. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Romans 8:9. 
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Friday June 23

Further Thought: Even amid the heavy theology, Peter’s letters put a strong emphasis on Christian life and how we should treat one another.

Yes, the Bible if full of deep spiritual truths. But, it is the simplicity of the gospel that we need to know today in the church. What is this? It is just what the author of our lesson says:

In other words, yes, we need to know the truth as it is in Jesus. But even more important, we need to live the truth, too. Early on, we get these grand words: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (1 Pet. 1:22). Notice how he links the purifying of our souls with obedience to the truth. The truth changes us, making us into people who love one another fervently and with “a pure heart.” Obedience, purity of heart, and love-all three are related to one another. This is the ideal we should be striving for.

No, it is not an "ideal" we are to strive for. We are to  behold Jesus daily and be converted, then we will have a "pure heart" and "love one another" as Jesus loves us. "Obedience, purity of heart, and love" all come when we are in a converted state, partakers of God's divine nature, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Striving for obedience does not work unless we are first fully surrendered to Jesus, then we are promised we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear. We will love not only are fellow church members, but will love those who despitefully use us.

Can you imagine how different our lives and our churches would be were we to follow this charge? Think what it would do for the sense of church unity, if nothing else. “Brethren, will you carry the spirit of Christ with you as you return to your homes and churches? Will you put away unbelief and criticism? We are coming to a time when, more than ever before, we shall need to press together, to labor unitedly. In union there is strength. In discord and disunion there is only weakness.” - Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 373, 374.

Discussion Questions:

    In 2 Peter 3:12, the apostle wrote that we should be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat” (NKJV). What does he mean that we should be “hastening” the day of God? How can we hasten the day of God, that is, the Second Coming?

What must happen before Jesus can return? Unless we know this, how can we hasten His soon coming?

    We say that nature is God’s “second book.” Unfortunately, as with God’s first book (the Bible), this second book can be misinterpreted, as well. For example, for many people the message of design and purpose has been expunged from nature, replaced by the Darwinian notion of random mutation and natural selection. The world, we are told, isn’t really designed; rather, it just looks that way to us. How, then, are we to read and interpret this second book in the right way? What are the limits of what the second book can teach us about God? What help can we get from the first book that can aid us in understanding the second one correctly? What happens when our interpretation of nature, the second book, contradicts our interpretation of the first one, the Bible? Where is the problem?

It is a revelation that the one doing such a thing does not place his trust in the Bible, but in those who falsely interpret the truth seen in nature. There are simple truths that even the unconverted who want to know truth can see in nature. "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:    Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." Romans 1:20-25.

Sadly, we have some in God's church who have placed their wisdom above that given to us in Scripture. They lead many, especially the young astray.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.