Understanding the Gift of Faith in 2 Peter

Today, we embark on a new series focusing on the second epistle of Peter, which addresses the critical issue of internal apostasy within the church. Apostasy, a falling away from faith, was not just about people leaving the church but about people within the church losing their faith. This phenomenon is as relevant today as it was in Peter’s time, with false prophets and teachers spreading heresies and denying the Lord.

Reflecting on a recent visit to the John and Charles Wesley Museum in Bristol, it was evident how the Methodist Church, founded on reformation doctrine, significantly impacted Britain and America. However, contemporary heresies concerning human sexuality and biblical orthodoxy threaten to erode the foundation of many denominations, similar to the challenges faced in Peter’s day.

Peter’s letter, written during a tumultuous time politically and socially, aimed to strengthen and refresh the faith of Christians. Amidst economic crises, social unrest, and spiritual oppression, Peter reminded believers that they couldn’t avoid the storm but had to go through it, fortified by their faith.

In the opening of his epistle, Peter emphasizes the gift of faith. He addresses his audience, “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.” This highlights that faith is not something we generate ourselves; it is a gift received from God. Different translations underscore this point: the NIV, NASB, and NLV use “received,” while the NLT says “given to you.”

Faith is activated when we repent and follow Jesus, distinguishing between works righteousness and gift righteousness. Peter explains that through justification, we receive a new legal standing, and through regeneration, we are imparted with righteousness and faith by the Spirit. This means that as Christians, we share an equal standing with Peter and the apostles, which is remarkable considering Peter’s prominent role in the early church.

The analogy of receiving a new phone helps illustrate this concept. Just as a new phone comes with all necessary settings, our faith is a complete package. However, just as we need to explore and understand the settings of our phone to use it fully, we need to delve into our faith to live a godly life. Peter elaborates on this by mentioning the divine power within us, giving us everything we need for life and godliness, and the great and precious promises that enable us to participate in the divine nature.

Peter encourages us to get our faith “out of the box” and activate it, learning to live above our natural instincts and escape worldly corruption caused by evil desires. This transformation means our new nature in Christ leads us to hate what we once loved and love what we once despised. As we grow closer to Jesus, the world loses its allure, and those without the Spirit may not understand us.

In conclusion, Peter’s message in 2 Peter 1:1-4 is a powerful reminder of the gift of faith we have received. It is a precious gift that places us on equal footing with the apostles, equipped with everything we need for a godly life. To live out this faith fully, we must explore and activate our faith settings, embracing our new nature and participating in the divine life God has called us to.

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