Remember Your Calling – 2 Peter 1:1-11 Sermon

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-New series

Lombardi: gentlemen, this is a football. John Wooden: “Please take off your shoes and socks. I’m going to show you the proper way to put them back on.”

-The fundamentals make a huge difference in life. Russel Westbrook, UNC/Baylor

-In 2 Peter, Peter goes back to the fundamentals to remind Christians what we need to keep as the focus in our lives.

-Can almost guarantee that at some point/points I’ll refer to Peter as Paul, just warning you now!


  1. God Has Provided (1-4)

-Simeon – Hebrew spelling of Simon. Peter – most well known name.

-2 Peter is Peter’s last will and testament that we have recorded.

-Most of you know/remember who Peter is: one of the first 12 disciples, one of Jesus closest 3, saw the transfigured Jesus, and still disowned him on the last night. Often spoke far quicker than his brain could keep up.

-Quickly became a leader in the early church (I would think anyone who preaches their first sermon and has 3,000 conversions would pretty quickly become the leader)

-We know he wasn’t perfect, Galatians tells the story of Peter’s slide back into ethnocentrism. And that should encourage all of us! No one has arrived, no one is perfect (this side of heaven), even when we fall back into old habits/patterns of sin we still can be restored and reconciled.

-Think of all the things Peter has been a witness to: a few miraculous catches, walking on the water, Transfiguration, betrayal and crucifixion, an empty tomb, the ascension, the explosive growth of the early church spreading across the entire Roman empire, this persecutor Saul being miraculously converted, and now he’s imprisoned in Rome counting down the days to his death: the day that he’ll see his Savior once again. If you were in Peter’s shoes, what is the last message you’d give? Peter begins the same way the great coaches have: the fundamentals. 

-Notice his description of himself: servant first, apostle second. Common way of starting epistles (Romans and Titus begin the same way). Peter is very intentional to begin by reminding everyone their place in their faith: a servant of Jesus. We’re all serving someone or something, the best person to be serving is Jesus. Only when he mentions the servant does he then go on to the apostle part.

-We have the author of the letter, then he shares who he’s writing to: those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours.

-This should blow your minds! Peter, the early Apostles are no better off than we are today! We’re saved by the same means (faith in Jesus Christ as our atoning sacrifice), we’re indwelled by the same Spirit, we have access to the same Father. The only difference is what year we’re living in.

-That’s why Peter goes on to say this equal standing comes from the same place: God’s righteousness. Because God is perfectly righteous (morally perfect) The death, burial, and resurrection of His Son provides the way for everyone else to be made righteous too. This righteousness is freely given to anyone who believes. 

-Introductions out of the way, now onto the customary greeting: grace and peace.

-Combination of Greek and Hebrew greeting became the normal greeting in the early church. Grace from Greek, peace (shalom) from Hebrew (Jewish).

The order matters greatly, because you don’t have Christianity if those 2 words are reversed. Think of how most (every?) other world religion operates: if you can get somehow attain peace either through a specific set of practices, or emptying yourself THEN you can get favor/grace. I think we have a tendency to act the same, don’t we? We try to get our lives in order, we try to fix ourselves, try to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, THEN God will bless us! But that is literally the opposite of what the gospel says! The gospel says you can’t ever get grace, you could work for eternity and still not get enough peace to merit God’s grace. That’s why the gospel flips that idea on its head (and I think another reason Christianity couldn’t have been invented by mere humans). Even today’s text begins with grace and then moves to peace. God calls us, God has made us partakers of His divine nature, God has given us all the grace we need, and because of that grace, we can now “make every effort,” which we’ll see in the next section.

-Notice how this grace and peace are multiplied: through knowledge. Knowledge isn’t salvific (demons believe James 2:19) but it’s how we grow. Knowledge throughout the Bible isn’t merely mental ascent (as if we just have to reach a certain level of theological understanding and then we’re done). Instead, what we’re supposed to be doing is applying/living out the knowledge that we learn. James 2 reminds us that if we don’t have works with our faith, then our faith is dead. BUT in order to know how we should be acting, we need to grow in our knowledge, think of them as 2 wings to a plane. What happens if you only have 1 wing? Not good things! In order to grow more like Jesus, we need knowledge and applying that knowledge (faith and works). What knowledge do we need? Look at vs. 3

-His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

-Seems like a weird phrase, doesn’t it? Why doesn’t he just say GOD has given us everything we need? Peter is reminding us the source of growth. We can’t do these things in our own power (just as we can’t get more grace from God). Everything we do and are comes from Him!

-Notice too how much He has given to us: ALL things! When God makes deals, he’s all in, there’s no half and half in Christianity! EVERYTHING we need related to life and godliness. 

-If you (like me) have ever shopped at Ikea first thing you gotta do is check to make sure all the parts arrived! Don’t want to get halfway through and find out you’re missing a screw. However, if you’re also like me you have a tendency to just jump in instead of wasting the time counting screws! With God, you don’t need to worry if all the parts are there, it’s guaranteed!

-Notice that Peter repeats himself, this comes about through KNOWLEDGE

-God has given us grace, He has called us, given us everything we need, in order for us to be glorious and excellent.

-No excuse to not live a godly life (we’ll get to that)

-Partakers of divine nature. God’s promises (seen throughout the whole Bible) are the means by which we get to join with his divine nature. 2 things:

1-relates to our last series: we are being remade into the image of God. Remember, the fall tainted our image bearing like a carnival mirror, God now is working to refine us and correct us so that we can accurately image Him to the world. And we can do that because we’ve escaped the corruption of the world.

2-We no longer need to sin! We are new creatures, we don’t need to give into the sin nature of everyone else. God has provided everything we need to say no!

Think of it like this: when kids come into your life they suddenly have dibs on all your stuff. You no longer have any possessions. (me taking Lucy’s pacifier, her laughing and grabbing it back) Similarly, when God adopts us into His family, we now have access to everything that’s His (that’s a lot!) But it also comes with specific expectations: living a certain way.

-This is everything God does. Our faith, our righteousness begins with His initiative. But then we have work to do, at least as long as we’re still on this side of heaven!

  • We Make Every Effort (5-11)

-We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.

-Spurgeon: how do you reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility? “I never have to reconcile friends. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility have never had a falling out with each other. I do not need to reconcile what God has joined together.”

  1. Increase in These Ways (5-7)

-Make every effort.

-This doesn’t just happen. It takes time, work, intentionality, just like anything else in life! How do you get batter at something? You’ve gotta commit to working your tail off to improve! Just as we saw at the beginning of the message, you don’t ever assume! You need to be reminded of the basics regularly and then build off of them. Spend HOURS working, practicing, fine tuning

Carson: “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, and obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

-Peter commands us make EVERY effort. This isn’t like the Matrix, where something gets downloaded to Neo’s brain and suddenly “I know kung fu” There’s something in all of us to want an easy Christianity (what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”) but what Christ calls us to do isn’t easy. It is impossible. It is daily dying to yourself. It is so hard, but the rewards are worth every pain. And don’t forget, all of it begins with what God has provided. We already have everything we need!

-Peter then moves on to a list of character traits that should be evident in our lives.

-Faith: the starting point. Most of the time I fear that all our efforts are aimed at conversion as if that’s the finish line. Conversion is just the beginning!

-Virtue: Same word in vs. 3 “excellence” Another reminder that this is only because of God at work in us! 

-Knowledge: there’s that word again! Need to continue growing in knowledge of God, who He is, what He’s done, what He expects of us.

-Self-control: not easily prone to give into selfish impulses, the corruption of the world.

-Steadfastness: not giving up, remaining faithful

-Godliness: better reflecting God’s image, looking/becoming more and more like Jesus

-Brotherly affection: first of the horizontal implications, ties into Jesus’ words in John 14

-Love: the final apologetic! Love binds everything together in perfect harmony

-Not comprehensive (look at Gal. 5 or Rom. 5)

  • To Remain Effective & Fruitful (8-9)

-IF – qualifier. These are meant to be descriptive of us, and not just now, we need to get better, stronger, deeper at them as we continue to grow. That’s why Peter says: increasing: We need to continue growing, don’t give up! If you’re still alive, still on this side of heaven, you still have growth to do! Because if we continue growing, it prevents:

-Ineffective, unfruitful.

-I think all of us would say we aim to be effective in all areas of our lives (I had a season where I was obsessed with lifehacks, like the 4 hour work week) But this is reminding us that we cannot neglect being effective in our spiritual lives as well. Just as it takes work/effort to grow more physically fit, it takes work/effort to grow more spiritually fit.

-Similarly, our goal is fruitfulness, literally bearing fruit (Gal. 5) think of the cursed fig tree who wasn’t producing fruit (parable for the temple)

-So in order to be effective/fruitful, it comes from having your foundation rooted in “the knowledge” (there it is again!) of our Lord Jesus Christ

-But what if we forget to do this? Peter says you’re so nearsighted you’re blind!

-The word nearsighted is squinting in order to see, so think of someone squinting so hard they shut their eyes

-What Peter is saying is: our gaze is meant to be always forward looking, always looking for heaven, instead of dropping our eyes down to the here and now

-We have a tendency today to become so nearsighted that all we can see is our own issues, problems, ideas. Think of some of the pictures you may have seen of people staying at their phones. You could walk a kangaroo through and people would miss it! But that’s become so normal! I’ve found 1 good thing to come out of Twitter:

-This is Peter’s point, if we neglect to continue growing like Jesus, if we neglect refining our image, we’re as faithful as someone staring at their phone, forgetting both their past and their future! Past, forgetting that we’ve been cleansed from our sins, and future that we have heaven to look forward to!

-So instead of being near sighted, lift up your gaze, and start to practice.

  • Practice! (10-11)

-Summarizing this section (therefore) everything has been building up to this final exhortation.

-confirm calling and election. How do you confirm your calling and election?

-These 2 words are very similar in meaning, and this doesn’t diminish anything that God does, remember the first part of this section is what God has done, this half is emphasizing our proper response. We confirm our calling and election by actively living out the character traits in vs. 5-7

-One commentator said “Those who live ungodly lives show no evidence that they truly belong to God, that they have genuinely received forgiveness.” THAT is how we confirm our calling and election: by living holy lives. 

-We have to admit, that is an impossible goal! We’ll never fully arrive, that’s why Peter says we:

-Practice: virtue list

-What does it mean that we’ll never fall? Because I sense that as I grow in holiness I’m just made more aware of all the areas I fail/fall! In this case, Peter is saying you won’t fall away from your salvation.

-You will continue to stumble/fall, but still moving forward. I love the name of one of the books on the history of the EFCA: “Stumbling Toward Maturity” We only get to maturity by stumbling. But look what happens at the end of our stumbling:

-Rich entrance

-Seen a cross country race? People stumble, collapse. You’re taught to continue running THROUGH the finish line. This is those who continue running through to a beautiful ceremony.

-The saints are cheering us on (Heb. 12) in this race, keep pushing! We need to be cheering each other on to keep practicing these things!

-Ladies and gentlemen: this is the Word of the Lord! Let’s get busy practicing it!

BENE (Heb. 12:1-2):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

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