(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
I would title 2 Peter, “Faith and Falsehood.” One of the additions that this particular letter makes, this particular book of the Bible makes, to our understanding of the gospel, how to know the gospel, how to preserve the gospel, how to live out of the gospel, is that it reminds us, listen carefully here, that the greatest dangers to the church and the church’s allegiance to the gospel are never found outside the church. They’re always found inside the church. The greatest danger to the people of God is found inside of the people of God. The greatest danger to the gospel is found inside of the company of people who say they've gathered around the gospel.
So, in 1 Peter, you see external hostility to the gospel; in 2 Peter, you see internal hostility to the gospel. And that hostility is really addressed by Peter in a personal way. The summary passage in 2 Peter is exactly like 1 Peter. 1 Peter is, 1 Peter 1:3 through 9; and 2 Peter is, 2 Peter 1: 3 through 9.
And Peter proposes a shocking thing, it’s a diagnostic passage that there are people who really do know the Lord, but whose lives are ineffective and unproductive. Their lives are not producing the expected harvest of the fruit of faith. Now, when you read that kind of diagnosis in Scripture, you ought to ask yourself, “Why?” Well, Peter says because they lack certain qualities of Christian character.
Well, if I have been redeemed by God's blood, if the Holy Spirit is now living within me, why would I lack character? Well, Peter answers that question too. And he says, “They lack these qualities,” listen now, “because they are nearsighted and blind and having forgotten that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”
Peter is arguing that the greatest dangers to the gospel are not first philosophical; they’re personal. The greatest danger to the gospel is identity amnesia. It's that I would forget who I am and what I've been given in Christ. And you see when I forget who I am in Christ, I then start looking horizontally for what I've already been given vertically, and I begin to move away from the gospel. Maybe the gospel isn't the answer, maybe it doesn't have everything that I need, and you're just steps away from falsehood.
Peter argues we’ve got to hold on to the fact that we have already been given everything we need for life and godliness. He uses two words there because he wants us to understand that it's not eternal life that he’s talking about, but godliness, a God honoring life between the time I’ve come to Christ and the time I go home to be with Him. And so, there's a call to persevere even in the face of this false teaching, “knowing that the day of the Lord will come.” The rub in Peter is he reminds us that God is patient, more patient than we are, so we will be called to wait. God is patient because, as the God of mercy, He leaves room for more people to repent.
And so, Peter says this, here’s his sort of final encouragement to the people he’s writing to, “Commit yourselves to grow in His grace,” to grow in God's grace. It is important for us to humbly admit that we’re never grace graduates, that there's always room to grow in the faith and to unpack what it means to be in Christ, this new identity and this new potential that we've been given. What does it mean to live out of all that has been provided for us right here, right now, and make every effort to continue to grow in those qualities of Christian character that are ours in Christ?