May 9, 2018
2 Peter 3:15-18 (NLT)
15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.
17 You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.
So we’ve reached the end of Peter’s last letter before he dies, and he repeats himself. He reemphasizes the three big themes: 1) Watch out for false teachers; 2) there is going to be a final judgment, but God is patient about it; 3) keep growing in relationship knowledge of Jesus.
Forgetting and remembering seems to be the real theme of this letter. Take a look:
“[T]hose who fail to develop in this way are… forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” (1:8)
“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things.” (1:12)
“[I]t is only right that I should keep on reminding you… ” (1:13)
“I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things… ” (1:15)
“I have tried to… refresh your memory.” (3:1)
“I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded… ” (3:2)
“Most importantly, I want to remind you… ” (3:3)
“They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago… ” (3:5)
“But you must not forget this one thing… ” (3:8)
“And remember… ” (3:15)
“You already know these things, dear friends.” (3:17)
At least eleven times in his short letter Peter urges his hearers to remember or not forget. And here at the end, he says it all again just so they’ll hear it one more time, just in case it hasn’t sunk in.
Half of my job as a preacher is finding creatively redundant ways to say the same thing over and over again. But if we’re honest, the Bible is creatively redundant. It’s really trying to tell us the same thing from different angles: That sin is real. Its effects are catastrophic. But grace abounds.
I have a confession to make: This was a hard letter to daily-text through. Peter’s tone seemed to be kind of… let’s say “tense,” especially through chapter two. When I told J.D. I’d take this little letter for three weeks, I thought it would be a little easier than this.
The temptation (at least for me) when writing the Daily Text (or preaching) is to look for something unnoticed or unseen and draw it out. And isn’t that the temptation for us as readers of the Daily Text, or whenever we move from Bible study to Bible study and sermon series to sermon series? We want to find the next new idea, concept, or story.
But what if the issue is not finding the new thing we’re looking for, but the constant thing we keep forgetting: That Sin is real. Its effects are catastrophic. But grace abounds.
In his last letter Peter has found his way to say the same thing Paul, and James, and Jude, and John all said. And he says it again at the end: “And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved… You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (3:15; 17-18).
False teachers and their consequences remind us that sin is real. God’s pyrotechnic final judgment reminds us that its effects are catastrophic. But growing in the relational knowledge of Jesus and becoming like him reminds us that grace abounds.
And in case you forgot, let me remind you that I wrote essentially the same Daily Text message two weeks ago.
See what I did there?
Heavenly Father, a lot of the time I forget who you really are, what your Son is doing, and so miss the Holy Spirit at work. Keep me from looking for the “new thing” when I haven’t fully fixed my eyes on the one, true thing, which is your Son. In Jesus name. Amen.
What do you think about the idea of Scripture being redundant? Does it upset you or encourage you? Why? What is the Holy Spirit possibility for you in this? And did you notice that if you’ve kept up with us, you answered these exact same questions two weeks ago?
P.S. – Thanks for the privilege of writing the Daily Text these last three weeks. J.D. will be back tomorrow to start a new kind of Daily Text series on prayer. Pray for him.