by Roland W. Keith
The apostle Peter’s second letter, which he penned sometime between A.D. 64 and 67, was and is an open letter to all Christians, everywhere. It has been described as something of a treatise on knowledge, but more specifically it is a study of the importance of distinguishing between truth and error, and those who are true teachers of God’s word as opposed to false teachers or prophets who would deceive us.
Regarding his own trustworthiness Peter wrote, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:16-21).
In comparison to his own credentials as an apostle he described false teachers as “irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing” (II Peter 2:12-13). These are those who twist the word of God to deceive themselves and others to draw them away from the promises of God in which they hope. Peter’s desire in writing this letter was to encourage us to be diligent in our Christian pursuit (II Peter 3:14), and to help us be aware of the dangers of those who oppose the truth, warning his readers, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability” (II Peter 3:17).
Jesus stressed the importance of being watchful, observant of the times and their signs, and being prepared for the master’s return (Matthew 25:13; 24:32; Luke 12:46). Later, Peter would remind his fellow Christians that any delay in Christ’s return was not due to slowness, but rather a desire to provide as many as possible with the opportunity to repent; nonetheless the day will come when He will return, and we must be ready, remembering the promises He has made (II Peter 3:9-13). In like manner Paul described the relief and wonder that awaited Christ’s followers upon His return, in contrast to the vengeance to be inflicted on “those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (II Thessalonians 1:5-10).
In detailing His return Jesus told His disciples, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.'
"Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and His angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'
Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46).
What of those who are enlightened but later wander away from the truth? Is there any hope for one who has become misguided? In answer to that James wrote, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). As Christians we should have each other’s back. If we see a brother or sister going astray we should take action to bring them back to God, knowing the dangers that await those who turn from the truth, as James also taught, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4; see also I John 2:15). On the other hand, as John noted, if we remain in the light the blood of Jesus perpetually cleanses us of our shortcomings (I John 1:7).
Someone once asked, “If Jesus had returned yesterday, where would you be today?” A sobering thought for many of us. Are we truly pursuing the life that God has intended for us? Are we at peace with God, rejoicing in the hope before us? (Romans 5:1-2), or are we knee deep in the concerns of the world, paying only nominal attention to God? If so, perhaps we should turn back to God and lay those concerns at His feet, as Paul encouraged the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
There are many in the world today who think of themselves as religious, but in the end, what is their religion worth (James 1:26-27)? The litmus test for our religious standing is the Bible. Since becoming a Christian how stable has your religious life been? How much have you grown as a servant of God? How many of us have become stagnate or regressed in our spiritual lives, instead of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Savior as Peter spoke of (II Peter 3:17-18)? After making a list of Christian qualities in II Peter 1:5-9, the writer stated, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:10-11).
In addition to these qualities do we spend adequate time in the study of God’s word and in prayer? Do we observe the world and make a distinction between its ways and the way of God? Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” That’s life. We often come to the point of decision without knowing enough to make the right one, so many of us just “flip a coin” and proceed. However, when it comes to our eternal destination shouldn’t we want to know where the two paths lead? The Bible is our roadmap to heaven; moreover, it is our guide that warns us of all the forks in the road and pitfalls along the way and how to avoid them, by making informed decisions. That includes how to avoid false teachers— those who would lead us off the path into the wilderness of life.
If we have been misguided there is still time to turn back and find the true path. If we have been lax in our own efforts, we can change our ways. And, that time is now. Today. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.