2 Peter 3:14-18

Read the text – 2 Peter 3:14-18

Think about the word grace. What does it mean? In our church setting, we may define grace as God’s mercy, patience, and forgiveness. When we think about our Lord we may define grace as his sovereign authority. When we think of our sinfulness and his majesty, as in the old familiar tune Amazing Grace, we may define grace as a second chance and salvation.

Yet, grace has another familiar definition. Imagine that you are watching a gymnastics competition. Now what does grace mean? Imagine you are watching a dance recital, now what does grace mean? Imagine you are watching a football game and you see the running back move to catch the pass and dodge tackles to score a touchdown; now what does grace mean? In that context grace has to do with our ability to move and perform. It has to do with excellence and experience in action.

One simple word, grace, with two different definitions. However, in describing our relationship with God the two meanings of grace may not be all that different and distinct. In fact, God’s mercy, patience, and sovereign authority does have some connection with the way we move, perform, and grow as Christians. Peter recognizes that grace involves a cooperation of God’s saving power and his sure promises and our opportunity to participate in his divine nature. Thus, our two concepts of grace combine.

In the final words of Peter’s last word, he calls us to dwell in God’s grace. One way he describes it is to be found at peace with God.

Found at Peace with God - while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish

  1. God is at work and his purpose is to bring about the new heaven and earth – the home of righteousness. The day of the Lord is coming and everything will be laid bare – it will be "found" by God. God is acting in grace as he both holds back and ushers in this change by his sovereign authority.
  2. In the meantime, we live in anticipation of what God is going to do. His grace empowers our maturity as we move from faith to love. We live without spot and blemish because, by God’s grace, we strive to be more like him and to be what we shall be in the home of righteousness (participation in the divine nature).
  3. This Peace with God is all about Relationship. We cannot make too much distinction between our part and God’s part in salvation. Our part in salvation puts no claim on God - our part is staying the course so we might grow in grace and knowledge. And salvation is entirely through God’s power and promise. There is a combining of God’s will and our life so that we will not make too much of a distinction between God’s grace and our actions. We are stable and secure when we understand that they have to do with one another.

We lose that stability when the relationship between God’s grace and our ability to live gracefully are separated. Separating these concepts creates a distortion.

The Distortion of Grace - There are some things in [Paul’s writings] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

  1. Paul uses the wisdom God gave him – as did the prophets and the apostles. Paul speaks from a truth and power greater than himself.
  2. But Paul’s teaching (like all biblical teaching) can be twisted by those interested only in justifying their self-centered interests:

Common Distortion 1 – God is merciful and gracious, but we act as if that grace has no implication for how we live.
Mistaking God’s Grace for License: D.A. Carson, professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School used to meet with a man from French West Africa to practice German. He got to know the man and learned that his wife was in London training to be a doctor. He was a student in engineering and needed to learn German to pursue studies in Germany. Once a week the man visited the red-light district and paid for a relationship with a woman. Carson asked the man what he would do if his wife did something like that. "I’d kill her," he replied. Isn’t that a bit of a double standard?" asked Carson. The man said, "In my culture, the man has the right to sleep with many women, but the unfaithful wife is killed." Carson replied, "You told me you were raised in a mission school – you know the God of the Bible does not have double standards." The man smiled and said "Ah, God is good. He’s bound to forgive us; that’s His job."

Common Distortion 2 – We feel the burden of living without spot and blemish, but have no hope or trust in God’s grace and his empowerment of that life. So we act in fear and resentment. We become religious people who act spiteful and bitter. There is no joy in Christian living

Stability - since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter began his message by reminding the church of God’s Power for godly living and the promises God gives that confirms righteousness. This encourages us to walk the certain path of godly living ...

Grace as God’s power and authority and as our ability to walk rightly is stability. We grow in this grace ...
Grace- the hope of doing well and becoming more. What we might become depends on his Amazing Grace because it is greater than our greatness and it is greater than our sin.

To Him belongs Glory (the transfiguration) = He is king and judge.
Both now - He is already glorified this is past tense.
And on the Day of eternity - it is a hope for the future; He is coming back.
So in the meantime grow - in His grace and knowledge.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 5 September 2004

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