Bible Study with Jairus- 2 Peter 1 (Part 3)

God’s Glory and Virtue Come from the Divinity and Humanity of Christ

As we have seen in the last few studies, 2 Peter 1 is Peter’s reflection on his experience of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. Peter shares his experiences in hopes that readers will be encouraged, challenged, matured, and perfected in their spiritual lives, just like he was through the original experience. In John 21, the Lord Jesus had charged Peter three times to tend His sheep. So he shares his experiences in order to nurture other believers.

During the transfiguration, Peter was shocked to see Jesus transcend time and manifest his eternal glory. Through this experience, Peter realized that believers share the same destiny: to manifest the kingdom and glory of God on earth. To achieve this goal, believers must grow spiritually. Just like the potential for a towering oak tree lies within the acorn, the potential for God’s power and glory lies within the seed of our faith. But going from a seed to a big tree requires a growth process. During this process, believers need to constantly know God’s disposition and constantly accept God’s guidance. The work of the apostles is to help us know God’s disposition through His word. The role of the prophets is to provide guidance for specific situations, showing us how to break free from the sinful desires of the world so we can focus on God’s character and disposition. In this way, we will be continually transformed into the image of Jesus, so we can attain the glorious purpose of partaking in God’s divine nature. This is the main theme of 2 Peter 1:3-4 and the rest of the chapter.

Today, we will focus only on 2 Peter 1:3-4, which describes the seed of faith in our hearts. God’s life and glory are present in our spirits, like seeds, but we need to let those seeds develop and grow in order to reach our glorious purpose. Jesus Christ also contained God’s full glory, but it was hidden in his heart like a seed. But the moment He was transfigured on the mountain, the glory of Jesus, God incarnate, was fully revealed. This is our destiny as well as His. Currently, our life is “hidden in Christ.” But when Jesus appears in glory, “we will also appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). Peter’s mission is to help believers enter this divine glory. The Epistles of Peter, especially the three short chapters of 2 Peter, teach us how to grow spiritually so we can enter God’s glory.

The Parable of the Seed and the Salmon

 

As we have learned in a past lesson, a seed contains powerful potential for life and growth. When 2 Peter 1:3 talks about “the power of God,” it is referencing both the power of God and the power of God’s life. This power is like a seed. This spiritual seed contains not only the power of God’s life, but also the “genetic material” that produces God’s glory, which includes “glory”; “virtue,” “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” “precious and very great promises,” and “the divine nature” mentioned in 2 Peter 1:3-4. In other words, God’s glory, virtue, life, godliness, promises, and divine nature are contained in the seed of faith that God has given us. But whether or not that seed can grow depends on many external factors. Just like a seed needs sunlight, water, soil, fertilizer, and other factors, we need to nurture the seed of faith God has given us. The same concept is illustrated by salmon going upstream to spawn. They have the instinct to go upstream, but they must overcome many obstacles to do so. Similarly, although we have God’s “divine power” in the seed of our faith, we still need God’s guidance and help in every situation so we can overcome the obstacles in our path and obtain the blessing of abundant life.

By nature, salmon return to the headwaters of the river to spawn every year. They go upstream until they find the source of the river. This instinct was present when God created the salmon. However, because artificial dams have been set up, the salmons’ ability to go upriver to spawn has been obstructed. To solve this problem, ecologists have introduced several initiatives to change water levels so that salmon can go back upstream to spawn. This parable can help us understand the spiritual life. A salmon’s ability to swim upstream is like the believer’s ability to be “in the world but not of the world.” God has given us the ability to “escape from the corruption of sinful desire in the world” (2 Peter 1:4) and to be salt and light as a good testimony to the world. But just as the dam keeps the salmon from going upstream, the sin and pollution of the world often hinder our ability to “partake of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Therefore, just as ecologists use modern technology to help adjust the water level in the reservoirs so that salmon can break free from the obstruction of the dam and go back upstream, the Holy Spirit guides believers in each specific situation, helping them draw on God’s power and salvation so they are encouraged and comforted by God’s divine power, glory, virtue, and promises. He gives them “all things that pertain to life and godliness” so that the power of God’s life can come into play in their situation. God’s promises come from God’s character and the redemption accomplished in Jesus Christ, but we need the help of the Holy Spirit to live out these promises in our lives.

As I have emphasized on several occasions, there is a difference between “God’s disposition” and “God’s guidance.” Some Bible passages contain a revelation of God’s disposition while others contain God’s guidance for specific situations. Although there is some overlap between the two, there are also distinctions. God’s disposition (God’s character) never changes, but God’s guidance can vary for different people in different places at different times.

In the same way, the office of apostle and of prophet overlap but have distinct differences. Apostles help believers understand God’s disposition, while prophets help believers follow God’s guidance. Some apostles are also prophets, holding both offices at the same time. These people should help believers know God’s character and also help them understand and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in specific situations.

A survey showed that 70% of American Christians were addicted to pornographic videos. We know that God does not want us to partake in this kind of filth, but we also know that it is very difficult to break free from addictions such as alcohol, drugs, and porn. Many Christians who are addicted to pornographic videos have tried to overcome this addiction on their own. They make up their minds not to watch them anymore. They have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. What can they do?

Christians have the divine power of God to help them overcome their weaknesses and lives as children of light. If a Christian finds himself in a similar situation, he can rely on the Holy Spirit or His human under-shepherds to help him access and experience God’s “divine power” so he can overcome the sins he could not overcome on his own. These are battles we can only fight through faith.

Salvation and sanctification are obtained by faith, not through the effort and struggle of the flesh. Even Paul said he could not overcome the evil of the flesh on his own (Romans 7). Instead, he found that “the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ set him free” (Romans 8). United to the saving grace of Jesus Christ by faith, he was enabled to set his “mind on the spirit, which is life and peace, but to set the mind on the flesh is death” (Romans 8:6). Even Paul could not overcome through physical struggle, let alone us!

Similarly, we need God’s power to forgive. Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, and the Lord said “seventy times seven” times (Matthew 18:21-22). In his gospel, Luke records the disciples’ response: When Jesus said, “If he sins against you seven times in the day and turns to you seven times saying, ‘I repent’ you must forgive him,” the apostles replied, “Increase our faith!’” (Luke 17:4-5). I personally believe that the word “apostle” here refers to the disciples, including Peter and the other apostles who were praying for more faith to forgive. Peter realized that Jesus commanded him to forgive his brother, but he couldn’t do it on his own. He understood that forgiveness, salvation, and victory do not depend on human efforts and struggles, but on faith. Jesus Christ has provided salvation for all, and we obtain it through faith. So Peter and the other disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith.

Believers need to be taught how to grow in their faith. God’s divine power is released in our lives when we are united with God through faith. If you are willing to break free from your bondage to pornography or other vices, I have a prayer that will help you break free from these. Pray along with me:

“Lord, your word says, ‘He who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him’ (1 Corinthians 6:17). I know that I am joined to you in one spirit. When I look at pornography, you are watching with me because you are one spirit with me. I invite you to come and watch it with me now. If you do not want to, please remove my desire.”

If you pray like this, The Holy Spirit will remove your desires, because the Holy Spirit does not like to watch pornography. This prayer may seem disrespectful, but I can assure you it is not. In fact, it is disrespectful not to pray like this. When you continue setting your mind on the flesh and don’t invite God in, you are defiling God’s presence in you and quenching the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). However, when you pray like this, you are inviting the holy God to remove your filth, because the precious blood of Jesus is stronger than your filth. All you need to do is invite God in, unite with Him in faith, and He will surely take away your sins. If you pray like this every day, you can overcome all addictions and weaknesses! Believe me, I speak from my own victorious experience.

Many American believers have never been taught these faith exercises, so they sin and struggle with the flesh. Desiring to do right cannot help us succeed. It is our union with God through faith that gives us victory. This is the “divine power” of God spoken of by Peter.

Peter learned this lesson personally when Jesus taught him about forgiveness. Peter may have thought it was impossible to forgive people who offended him, such as James and John. But Jesus commanded him to always forgive. He had to recognize it was not through his own effort, but through faith united to the promised word of God. This is why Peter and the other apostles prayed to God to increase their faith.

Who says that Paul was the only one who knew about the principles of justification and sanctification through faith? Peter also had a high level of spiritual experience and maturity, and he knew that faith was the only way he could claim God’s divine power to forgive his brothers who offended him. He also knew that the power of God contained in the seed of our faith cannot be released except by faith.

That’s why he begins the first chapter of 2 Peter by talking about faith, as we mentioned in the first article on 2 Peter 1. Let’s emphasize it again here. 2 Peter 1:1 says, “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Every Israelite who entered the Promised Land received their own piece of land. Their pieces of land were different sizes, but they were each equally precious because they were part of God’s Promised Land. Similarly, although we each have different gifts and a different measure of faith, the nature of this faith is equally precious. This faith is the foundation of everything. It is the seed given to us by God, and it contains the “divine power” of God (2 Peter 1:3).

Glory and Virtue Are Supplied by the Divinity and Humanity of Christ

 

God’s “divine power” is contained in the seed of faith and released by the exercise of faith. How do we exercise our faith to release God’s power? We need to know God’s disposition and God’s promises. The “glory” of Jesus Christ is His divine nature expressed in all the powerful characteristics of his oneness with God. God has destined us to share in God’s glory, or divine nature, which was manifested during the Transfiguration. The “virtue” of Jesus Christ refers to his human qualities and virtues. God wants us to share in these virtues and abilities that God has prepared for us to help us overcome trials. For example, when we are unable to obey, we need to know that Jesus Christ, “although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). Since Jesus Christ lives in our hearts, His obedience can become our obedience. Because Jesus Christ is both God and man, we can partake of His divine life while also appropriating His human virtues to help us when we are weak. The Bible says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

With this understanding, let us look once more at 2 Peter 1:3: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” We are invited to enter his glory (divine nature) and virtue (human virtues). Through His glory and virtue, we have truly been given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” Once we believe in the Lord, we are “a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God’s power and virtue allow us to live like the new creation we are!

If Christians are a new creation in Christ, why can they be so addicted to sin that they cannot overcome it? Is he no longer a new creation? No, it is not that he’s no longer a new creation, but that he has not realized he is a new creation, and has not allowed the Holy Spirit to apply God’s truth to his heart. He does not realize that Christ’s divine power and human virtues have given him all things that pertain unto life and godliness. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:17 are still true in this person’s life; however, he does not know the truth of what Paul and Peter said. He does not understand these spiritual truths and is not united to these realities by faith. Instead, he lives in a state of deception. He mistakenly thinks that he still belongs to the old creation, unable to overcome these weaknesses. So he succumbs to the pressure of the flesh and Satan once again. He forgets what Paul said: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). James also said, “Submit yourselves therefore to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

How blessed we are to have access to Christ’s glory and virtue! Yet how foolishly we often live! We try to find comfort in pornography, hoping to relieve the inner pressure we feel from the difficulties of life and the pain of broken relationships. But we don’t realize that we are drinking poison to quench our thirst. It will not help at all. Instead, we should realize that God has provided everything we need through Christ. He has saved us through his blood. But we need to access this salvation through faith and persistence. Unfortunately, faith seems to be difficult and out of reach for many people, while sinful indulgence seems to be within easy reach. What a painful struggle!

Escaping the Corruption That Is in The World Through Sinful Desires

 

How can we escape from the pain and struggle mentioned above? We need to know the promises of God, through which we can partake of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4 says, “By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” This means that through his divine power and human virtues, Christ has given us countless promises—too many to mention. One such promise is that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). The word “salvation” here is SOZO in Greek, which includes eternal salvation from hell, healing of the body, and release from Satan’s bondage. It includes the salvation of the human spirit, soul, and body.

God has given us many other precious promises as well. God promises that a day is coming when our bodies will be redeemed (Romans 8:23). God promises, “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10). God’s says, “By his stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). God’s promises are too many to list.

Paul said, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Peter deeply understood the same truth. In 2 Peter, Peter shared God has called us through glory and virtue, he has granted us all things we needed through his divine power, and he has given us great promises through his glory and virtue. These promises are yes to us in Christ, and they are also amen to God. At any moment, God is willing to make good on His promises to us in Christ. He is always available to help us through the redemption accomplished by Christ. As long as we ask and act in faith, God is ready to help us escape all the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desires and make us partakers of the divine nature.

God has prepared everything that we need. All it takes on our part is faith as small as a grain of mustard seed. God values our faith, initiative, and choices—even if they are very small and weak. When we choose to believe God’s promises and set our minds on the Spirit, God gives us life. But when we choose to set our minds on the flesh, we experience death. It’s all about our hearts and the choices we make! We are beings of free will. God never forces us to trust him. If we choose to believe God’s promises, we will receive God’s salvation and constant growth and sanctification in our lives! It all depends on the choices we make!

Conclusion

 

From 2 Peter 1:3-4, we can see that Peter’s spiritual maturity and understanding were just as advanced as Paul’s. In our next episode, we will look at 2 Peter 1:5, which will help believers make the right choice so they can exercise their faith and make it stronger and stronger. Peter teaches us step by step how to know God’s disposition and follow God’s guidance so we can incrementally escape from the corruption in the world and partake in God’s divine nature.

We will compare God’s glory to the throne of God in Revelation 22:1. To reach it, we must partake in God’s divine nature (walk on the streets of gold) and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit (which reminds us of the water of the river, the tree of life on both sides of the river, and it’s twelve kinds of fruits Revelation 22:2). Like the streets of gold, the divine nature defines our boundaries, and this is the only way to the New Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit guides us like the river of life, providing the water of life and the fruits of the tree of life (the virtues of Jesus Christ) to provide us with continuous supply and support. This enables us to swim upstream like a salmon and reach The Throne of God and of The Lamb on top of the New Jerusalem. The glory John saw in the Book of Revelation mirrors the glory that Peter saw when Jesus was transfigured. Our goal (God’s glory) is hidden within the seed of faith, and as we grow in our knowledge of God’s disposition and guidance, we can grow into full-grown trees and reach our goal. We can access the throne of God and of the Lamb. Remember, we are already seated with Him on the Throne in Christ (Revelation 3:21, Ephesians 2:6, John 12:26)! This is also God’s promise!