2 Peter 3 brings us to the end of another book, and it encourages us to continue growing in Christ.
2Pe 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
I think that many people have an incomplete picture of what Christianity actually is. A lot of people would say that Christianity is about avoiding sin. We are supposed to not do that which is bad. That is true on some level, but as we see here, there is also a positive component to it. It is not just about avoiding the evil things, but it is also important to grow closer to God.
Think about normal development. After we are born, there is very little that we can do on our own. It is not nearly enough for our human development to not go badly. We’re supposed to develop into children and eventually adults who lead lives that praise God. It is not enough to say that we are happy with remaining as babies because at least we are not going to develop into an evil person like Adolf Hitler. Rather, we want to raise people who are taught that evil is evil, and as a result, we get adults who do not become like Adolf Hitler. They are avoiding the evil, but they are also continually growing as is natural.
I don’t know if that illustration makes sense, but growth for a Christian should be an exciting thing. After all, as we mature, we’re getting closer to the greatest being in the universe. Why would we not want to do that?
It is obviously no secret that there have been many false teachers in history of the church. In 2 Peter 2, Peter mentions that even at the early date he was writing this book, false teaching was already an issue in congregations.
2Pe 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
2Pe 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
One consequence of false teachers is that the perception of the way of truth becomes perverted. Christianity is without a doubt beautiful. When people begin to understand who God is and what God has done for us, it is attractive. However, there are false teachers who bring in heresies. As soon as we began to depart from what God has taught, we are in the realm of heresy, and the problem with that is that they are man-made.
Man-made heresies are naturally problematic because they are made by fallen people. If we are all fallen people who do evil, then it makes sense that any type of belief system that we develop on our own will consequently be evil as well.
The problem with heresies is that they claim to be Christian. Therefore, they are taking a man-made religion and claiming it is the same as that which God has given us through inspiration. Then, if people look at this heresy as representative of Christianity, it will not be beautiful because it is a perversion of that which is beautiful.
The early church had many challenges in regards to heresy, and they were very aggressive about making sure that they were still following God and not their own twists. Sometimes I don’t know that we in the church today are strong enough about opposing heresy today. They certainly still exist.
2 Peter 1 explains why teaching and discipleship were always says an important part of the Christian community.
2Pe 1:12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
2Pe 1:13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;
2Pe 1:14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.
2Pe 1:15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
2Pe 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Peter, as one of the disciples, knew Jesus before and after His resurrection. He was an eyewitness of the majesty of Christ. Therefore, he says that he would be negligent if you did not remind the people and stir them up because it is true. It is not simply a fable. It is something that is very important for them to know.
He also knows that he is going to die soon as Jesus showed him. In John 21:18, Jesus had told Peter that when he was older he would be taken some worry he did not want to go and have his arms stretched out. Clearly, this was alluding to crucifixion as John himself notes in verse 19. Because he understood that his death was imminent, he did not want the people to forget all of these important things after he was gone.
There are many religious movements or other types of cause-related messages that burnout after the first generation. Maybe those people were passionate, but they have a hard time regenerating that excitement in future generations. Peter explicitly says that he wants them to make sure that they were following the truth which he was an eyewitness of.
The implication for all of us is that we are a product of that truth. As Christians, we are still following that truth. Whatever, we ought to be grateful that Peter and the other early apostles were so dedicated to preserving the message among the brethren.