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A Letter That Rattles Our Cage, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
July 19, 2023 7:05 am

A Letter That Rattles Our Cage, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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Today, Chuck Swindoll describes a shocking letter written by Peter the Apostle. Some letters are designed to rattle our cages. Some letters come and say, Wake up! Open this up! Pay attention! This demands action.

This will require of you something. This is the letter of 2 Peter. Chuck Swindoll presents his opening message in our study of 2 Peter.

If you missed any portion of our last program, we'll begin with a helpful summary. Chuck refers to 2 Peter as, A letter that rattles our cage. First three verses of chapter 1 are introductory. Simon tells us who he is. He's the one that wrote the letter. A bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ. By the way, don't forget, every time you read Peter's letters, this is the man who failed his Lord. This is the man who learned through the shame and humiliation while the Savior was under arrest. This is the man who denied knowing Christ. This is the one who was forgiven fully. This man who had failed, who was humiliated, is brought back into the mainstream of the work of ministry. He becomes the pillar of the early church until Paul takes over midway through the book of Acts. But for 12 solid chapters, it's Peter, Peter, Peter. The same one whom we smile at in his days of training as a disciple, but a man whom we admire who finished his life.

At least tradition tells us crucified upside down because he didn't feel he was worthy to be put to death as his Savior was. Remarkable man. The kind of practical mind who sees himself as a bondservant and also apostle. Those two words go beautifully together. Isn't it wonderful to meet one who has an authority, like the authority of an apostle, but is still a servant heart?

A beautiful blend. May we never forget the importance of that balance. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God, of Jesus and of Jesus our Lord. Now, in the balance of chapter 1 verses 4 through 21, Peter addresses moral corruption. He is concerned about the growing moral corruption of the last days.

And in doing so, he answers this question. How can I, how can we avoid the defilement? How can we avoid the corruption that has become a part of our society?

Corruption has been dumped into our society. How can you keep from having it cover you and kill you? Suffocate your interest in spiritual growth. He tells us in chapter 1, by way of warning, be pure. By way of reminder, verses 12 and 13. I've read those verses.

And by way of promise. Brethren, verse 10, be all the more diligent to make certain for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble. We'll get into chapter 1, and I promise you a chart before we're through with this study, and you will be able to see how I'm viewing this book. When you get to chapter 2, he gets even more specific. Chapter 1 is moral corruption in general. Chapter 2, here he is concerned about doctrinal compromise. And he shifts from moral corruption to a major issue of last day's lifestyle, and that is the presence of those who are so-called prophets, who come into this earth's scene and present themselves as representatives of a religious lifestyle, when in fact they are voices from hell.

And their hope is to take you there with them. Once again, it doesn't come in a brash and bold manner. False prophets are known for their counterfeiting the truth. I don't pass a $5 bill by running off in my private press a yellow piece of paper in the shape of a triangle with my picture on it. That fools nobody.

A counterfeit $5 bill looks exactly like a real $5 bill, unless you have the trained eye or the equipment to detect it as counterfeit. And that's the concern of Peter in the second chapter. He hopes to help us see that they are here and the truth of what they are doing, which is a pack of lies. Look at the first three verses. False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false prophets among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality and because of them the way of truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their judgment from long ago is not idle and their destruction is not asleep.

Isn't that picturesque? Let me leave with you four characteristics of a false prophet. May I do that? No extra charge for this, but it occurred to me that it might help you detect when you are listening to or reading a false prophet. Takes a while because they're very bright, they're very suave, they're very capable in the realm of the lies where they live.

And this might alert you to what you're observing. First, false prophets are more interested in gaining popularity than declaring the truth. You know you are in the presence of a false prophet when you are around an individual whose desire for popularity eclipses the desire to declare the truth. Second, they are more interested in receiving than in giving. Whether it's money or fame or power or glory, they want to take, they don't want to give. They are consuming, they are siphoning, they are interested more in receiving than in giving. Third, their personal lives model a seduction toward evil rather than attraction toward good.

And I think the fourth is rather obvious. Ultimately, they lead people from God, not to God. Oh, they will bring you to themselves.

They will get you into their organization. They will supply you with an enormous amount of attractive literature and logical reading and mind-boggling, stimulating literature. But it will ultimately not draw you to God. It will draw you deeper into their teachings and their style and their message. But they will not draw you toward God. True prophets have a great interest in and they model this desire to be eclipsed by the work of the Spirit. They wish to be forgotten.

They wish to be set aside. Let the Spirit of God take what has been presented and let that stand as significant to you. They will stand on the Word of God, not on their own persuasive style. And you will observe that it takes time, I repeat, but God has given you the mental equipment and as you grow older in the Lord, as you grow up in him, you begin to spot phony baloney. You begin to see there's something missing in this. A little tip, and I've said it for years, pay attention to what isn't said as well as to what is said. Notice what is being left out as well as what is being put into the message.

Pay attention to that. We'll get into more of that when we're in chapter 2. When you get to chapter 3, it is not moral corruption, chapter 1.

It is not the concern about false teaching, chapter 2, and doctrinal compromise. Here in chapter 3, Peter has prophetic concerns. You'll always be able to find new fads, exciting movements, new and clever things, but Peter's words stay with the orthodox stuff. Let me read several verses, chapter 3. This is now, beloved, the second letter I'm writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets. Notice where he's sending them back to the scripture. And you should remember the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

So you'll never go wrong when you stay with the orthodox stuff. When you go back to the word of God, the teachings of the prophets, the statements of the apostles, the commands of the Lord Jesus, spoken to all of us just as directly as spoken to the people in his day. Now, his concern about the future, know this first of all, that in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking following after their own lusts, and they will just ask questions like, where is the promise of his coming? I mean, just look around. How long are you going to keep believing that? In fact, look at how they think. He tells us. They will say, where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.

I mean, aren't you aware of uniformitarianism? It's all going on. Nothing has changed. It's moving toward an end. Things are evolving. It came from nothing. It's moving to nothing.

There is a fatal sense of living. There's no purpose and direction and plan and all of this. Peter says there's no such thing as what they're saying.

In fact, he uses a wonderful illustration. Verse 5, when they maintain this, that things haven't changed since the beginning, it escapes their notice that by the word of God, the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. In other words, they're forgetting there was a universal flood, and that interrupted everything. Point being, if God could interrupt it, then he will certainly interrupt it again.

Then he, while remembering the flood, steps into another realm as he pictures God standing alone. God has a unique timetable. Look at verse 8. Don't let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. He said recently that God is in no hurry.

That's his timetable. Don't try to make that verse say more than it says. He's describing the uniqueness of God's timetable. He's not giving you a dating system on finding out when Christ comes back. God operates from a different chronology. Verse 9, he has a different strategy. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.

I call that unlimited. Even the false prophets are denying the very one who died for them. Chapter 2, verse 1. There's a different strategy in God's plan.

There's an unusual plan and purpose. That's verse 10. The day of the Lord will come like a thief. Now watch this, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. You talk about a verse to memorize if you have struggles with materialism.

There is your verse. It is all going to be burned up. All will be burned up. And he promises that right here in the middle of this great letter. You talk about hope.

Look at 11 through 13. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness? Now this is a true prophet. He's pressing for righteousness. People who teach on the second coming and use prophetic themes as their guide and do not teach godly living with it have missed the mark of scripture.

Almost without exception, when the theme of Christ's return is brought up, the godly apostles talk about living holy lives. Since all these things are going to happen, what holy people you ought to be. Verse 12, looking for, hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat.

Imagine that. The melting of the elements. But according to his promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

And then he goes back and pounds the same drum. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent. That's the shaft of the arrow. Be diligent. That will give you hope. That will keep you on target.

Now, let me give you three or four tips on living a more alert life, and they will not be at all complicated. In fact, I'd like to spell out the word hope to help you remember. H-O-P-E.

Here we go. Number one, H. Heed what you already know. Most of us know enough truth to live on it for the rest of our lives. Heed what you already know. Let me caution you about this insatiable desire to learn truth just for the sake of learning more truth. As valuable as intelligence is and as valuable as biblical truth is, take time, give yourself time to put into action the truth you're learning. It'll help you. It'll make a difference. Heed what you already know.

The letter O. Open your eyes and your ears. Just because religious music is being played, just because verses of scripture are being used, just because people look nice and clean and polite and carry themselves with kindness and courtesy, in no way guarantees that you're hearing or you're reading truth. Open your eyes, open your ears, and like those of Berea, go home and compare what you're hearing with what scripture says. And if it doesn't wash, doubt it. And if it continues to contradict, reject it.

As you open your eyes and ears, you will be given a wonderful filtering system. It's called the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, whom you have within you. And he will help you discern truth from error.

Just because a teacher is persuasive, doesn't mean the teacher speaks from God. Be careful. Don't mix charisma with orthodoxy. Don't confuse them.

They may or may not go together. P. Pursue a godly lifestyle. That's what we just read in the last chapter of Peter's letter. Chapter 3 verses 11 and 14. Throughout the New Testament, I repeat, whenever the subject of Christ's return comes up, godly living accompanies it. Pursue a godly lifestyle.

Fourth E. Expect Christ's return. That does something to my day. Just remember through the day, this could be it.

This could be the day he returns. Live in the light of it. Begin with a reminder each morning. Today, Lord, I'm yours.

If you choose to come today, I'm ready. Some letters are designed to rattle our cages. You know that?

Some today are. Draft board letters do that. They did back in those IRS letters. You look up in the top left-hand corner and it's amazing. You don't say, well, I'll open that one of these days.

I mean, you rip that baby open immediately. Attorney's letterheads, that's another one. I have an attorney friend and he was telling me the other day he decided to write so and so and he said, I just decided to put it on my letterhead just to get his attention.

That dirty dog. And it does it when you get a letter from, how about from the bank or from the county courthouse? How about from the DMV, Department of Motor Vehicles, and it says urgent.

How about from the tax collector's office? You don't set that aside and look at it tomorrow evening when you have a chance after the news. Some letters come and say, wake up. Open this up. Pay attention. This demands action. This will require of you something. That's the letter of 2 Peter.

And frankly, I am anticipating learning with you what it's all about. May we bow together. If he were to return today, would he find you ready? Not perfect, of course, but forgiven. Would he find you anticipating and welcoming his arrival? Would he find in you a heart cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ? Would he meet you and find you smiling, open arms, ready to be taken swiftly from this earth to his eternal presence? Only if you are in Christ, only if that is firm and sure.

Take care of that right now, will you? In a simple prayer like, Lord God, I come to you as a sinner, lost and afraid, without hope and nothing in myself to give me favor in your eyes. I believe your son died for me and I acknowledge his death on my behalf. As the cleansing agent for my sin, I claim his blood and I take your gift of eternal life.

Do that now. Heavenly Father, how grateful we are for the presence of the written word of God. Thank you for the stability and the assurance it gives, for the confidence it brings, for the hope it creates, for the strong measure of encouragement that is allowed to come into our lives in a day of uncertainty and vague knowledge. Thank you for bringing strength deep within, for giving us a filter system so that we're able to detect truth from error. May these days of study in 2 Peter strengthen our understanding of truth, make us alert and aware of false teaching, and may it in turn give us a lifestyle that is marked by righteousness, servanthood, and truth, like your son, Jesus Christ. In his name we pray. And everybody said, Amen. . And with Chuck Swindoll's closing prayer, we officially kick off our verse-by-verse study through the book of 2 Peter.

Chuck refers to this as a letter that rattles our cage. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at At Insight for Living, we make it our mission to supply your library with study tools that enhance your personal study of the Bible. With more than six decades of personal study and preaching, Chuck has amassed an arsenal of helpful tools, all written with you in mind. Today let me draw your attention to the commentary that Chuck wrote that covers 2 Peter. In fact, the book includes his commentary on James and 1 Peter as well. It's called Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament Commentary. In one volume, you'll gain access to Chuck's interpretation of these books. To purchase a copy of Chuck's commentary on James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter, give us a call.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or go online to slash store. And then let me take a moment to thank those who have given generously to Insight for Living. Perhaps you have no idea of the impact of your generosity, but we do. A day never passes without hearing from someone whose life has been touched because of the Bible teaching they receive through Insight for Living. And those sacred moments are made possible through the voluntary gifts from people like you.

Recently we received a note from Edmonds, Washington. This listener said, You don't know me, but you've been my pastor for more than a decade now. Your dedication and passion have drawn me into the word. I just wanted to say thank you.

Well, we hope this brief story encourages you to keep up the good work. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or you can give online at I'm Bill Meyer. Join Chuck Swindoll when he continues our study in 2 Peter called Conquering Through Conflict.

That's next time on Insight for Living. The preceding message, a letter that rattles our cage, was copyrighted in 1989, 1990, and 2011. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-18 14:14:00 / 2023-07-18 14:22:29 / 8

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