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We don’t need to spend much time watching the twenty-four-hour news channels or scrolling through social media to be discouraged about the bad shape that our world is in. Unfortunately, it is not hard to find things to be discouraged about in the church at large and, in some cases, even in our own local churches. This is not a surprise to those of us who follow Jesus. He told us that we should expect as much when He said that we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33).

This was especially true for those to whom Peter wrote his epistles. He wrote two letters: one to warn and then encourage believers about the persecution they may face from the world (1 Peter) and the other to warn and then encourage believers about the false teachers who may move in and be among them (2 Peter). It is primarily this second challenge that he is addressing in his opening words in 2 Peter 1. In this section, Peter says something remarkable about what God has done for His people in Christ:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 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. (1 Peter 1:3–4)

Peter wants to encourage his readers that we have been equipped to defend the truth and even beat back the false teachers and the heresy they are promoting. God has prepared believers for such a time as this—that is Peter’s encouragement.

In our Christian lives, as we are continually filled up with knowing God and Jesus, the divine power is made manifest in the new people we’ve been made to be.

God’s people’s having knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus Christ figures prominently as Peter opens his second letter (2 Peter 1:1–3). This is not a removed or passive “knowing about” God and His Son. Peter is impressing on his audience that those who have been “filled up” in knowing God and Jesus are transformed by their knowledge: in knowing grace and peace (v. 2), in understanding life and godliness (v. 3), and in grasping God’s great and precious promises (v. 4). Knowing God and Jesus in this active, transformative way is the ground that Peter has us stand on as we look up at the next two mind-blowing truths that build on that knowledge.

First, Peter tells us that a new power is given to God’s people (v. 3). This is divine power. The believer now has, from God, the power of God, a divine, explosive power that enables us to experience new life in Jesus and godliness.

Just as remarkable, if not more so, is the second claim that Peter makes in showing God’s people how they have been equipped to withstand persecution from outside the church and false teaching from within the covenant community. We see in verse 4 that not only are we given new power, but we have become new people. We “partake” of the divine nature. We have become something that we were not by virtue of God the Father’s uniting us to God the Son through God the Holy Spirit.

This is not simply a renovation of a person but is a complete rebuild, Peter is noting. In our Christian lives, as we are continually filled up with knowing God and Jesus, the divine power is made manifest in the new people we’ve been made to be.

The implications of this, Peter says, are stunning. Before partaking of this divine nature, we were all bent toward the corruption of the world due to our sinful desire (v. 4). Sin is what we wanted and what we pursued. But now, having partaken of this divine nature, being made new people, we are bent toward Christlikeness, bearing the fruit of steadfastness, virtue, and brotherly love (vv. 5–7).

In Christ, we have been given new power as we’ve been made new people. Ironically, heresy has been drawn from this very passage. The heresy suggests that Peter is teaching that all of us have a “bit of god” in us. Or we can actualize the deified part in us, as though human beings had a “god potential.” Heresy always undersells the truth of God. What Peter teaches is that God has allowed His people to partake of His power and His nature. This far exceeds the heretical teaching that we are divine in some way. We are finite, fallen human creatures. It is a testimony to the grace and mercy of God in Christ that we share His power and have been made partakers of His nature as we are united to Jesus and grow into His likeness. Second Peter 1:1–4 expresses the miraculous work of sanctification of God’s people, the goal of all discipleship.

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From the July 2023 Issue
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