Good Friday Service: 6:30 p.m. & Easter Sunday Service Times: 8:00, 9:45, and 11:30 a.m.

Please, Don’t Forget

Play Video


Please, Don’t Forget


Peter Hubbard


January 29, 2023


2 Peter


Welcome, y’all, as we begin 2 Peter, both online and here.

Last month, Michael Clary tweeted a very long tweet. The thread goes like this.

“There once was a certain kind of evangelical Christian I felt free to make fun of. I was pastoring a fast-growing church in an urban environment, and a spirit of elitism had infected us. No one would correct me on it because they made fun of them, too.

“The people we felt free to mock were conservative, uneducated, backwoods fundies who still read the KJV. They lacked the theological sophistication and cultural insight I had acquired while doing campus ministry and studying at seminary.

“I came from the hills of WV. Appalachian, born and bred. I knew these people well because I grew up around them. But I had moved on. I was better than them. I was more learned and culture. I had ‘seen the world,’ and they hadn’t.

“I was a successful church planner in an urban cultural context in Cincinnati. My sending organization flew me around the country to share my success stories and train younger planners in the ‘way it’s done.’

“I would not have admitted this at the time, but deep down, I felt superior to my hometown people and their country religion. My ministry’s ‘success’ was at least partly driven by a desire to separate myself from them and prove that ‘I’m not one of those fundie Christians.’

“But then it began to dawn on me: I was standing on the shoulders of giants. My grandfather was one of those country preachers. He provided for his family by working a physically demanding job in a steel mill his whole life. His family was poor, but he did what needed to be done.

“He had only received a 6th grade education. He didn’t know how to read very well. He listened to the KJV Bible on audio cassette on his 45-minute commutes to work. Up and back, every day, listening to the Bible. King James! Scripture got under his skin.

“My great-grandfather was the same way. He only received a 3rd grade education. He planted a church deep in the hills of WV and built a church building for it on his property….

“He lived to be 102 years old and was healthy and energetic up to the very end. In his 90s he would take fruit baskets to the ‘shut ins’ of his church, who were much younger than him. He married his wife when she was 14. He remained faithful to her, and they enjoyed 74 years together….

“He stayed true to the Lord and to his calling for 80 years. EIGHTY years! And here I was, three or four years into my new church plant, attracting a few hundred people, feeling like I’d accomplished something, feeling superior to men like my grandfather and great-grandfather.

“So I repented. I repented of my arrogance. I repented of my self-righteous attitude to ‘that old time religion’ that sustained my grandparents who had so much less than me. I repented of looking down on faithful, older Christians who had passed on a legacy to me.”

There’s a good kind of remembering. This is one of those. There are also bad kinds of remembering. There is a kind of nostalgia that air brushes the past and struggles to be honest about the weaknesses and failures of the past. There is a kind of sentimentality toward history that fossilizes itself in a layer of time, unwilling to change or embrace God’s fresh work today or tomorrow. These are bad kinds of remembering. But there is also a social amnesia that is so blinded by its own moment that it can’t see any previous ones without looking down on them.

The little letter of 2 Peter is a call to a healthy kind of remembering. There’s no airbrushed nostalgia. There’s no archaic sentimentality, but a rich, healthy, communal call to remember.

Today I want to introduce the series. So, if you’re visiting, it’ll be a little different today. We’re not actually going to be in a section of the book. We’re going to introduce the whole letter of 2 Peter. And I want us to do it in four ways. Number 1, we’re going to talk about the title, the theme of 2 Peter. What is that all about? Number 2, we’re going to talk about our approach. What are some things we’re going to do to help us remember? And number 3, we’re going to do a quick overview of this massive letter. It’s only three chapters. And then number 4, we’re going to listen to the whole letter.

So, let’s start with the title. “Please don’t forget” — the theme of 2 Peter. Let’s talk about that “please.” Where does that come from? Remember, Peter is an apostle. He could have approached his readers from a high level of authority, condescendingly rebuking them for being forgetful fools. He doesn’t do that at all. As a matter of fact, look at verse 1,

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours.”

That’s crazy! Think about who Peter was and what he did. He not only walked with Jesus, he walked on water, at least for a little while, with Jesus. He saw all the miracles. He was the leader of the leaders, the leader of The Twelve, who went on to transform the world. He could have easily pulled rank, but he says, “No, your faith is of equal standing as ours. You don’t have anything we don’t have. You have everything we have.”

But also, the words of affection throughout the letter actually increase in chapter 4. The word “beloved” appears four times. I’m sorry, chapter 3, the word “beloved” appears four times — 3:1, 3:8, 3:14-17. So, Peter is appealing, rather than demanding. That’s where that word “please” comes from.

“Please don’t forget.” 2 Peter 1:3 tells us

“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.”

If we have everything we need for life and godliness, why do we need to remember? Perhaps we forget. Perhaps we forget what we have. And so, Peter goes on to say, after describing these qualities, we are to add (verse 8)

“for these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

Peter goes on in verse 12,

“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.”

So, Peter is saying the letter I’m writing to you is a perpetual post-it note. He knows he’s going to die. He’s writing this letter around AD 66, and we know he was martyred by AD 68. It may have been earlier. So, somewhere in those months, up to two years, the Lord called him home and he knew it was coming. And so, he is saying, “I’m writing this letter so that after I’m gone, you will perpetually remember what I’m saying.” How do you think that worked? Two thousand years later, we’re being reminded. Stunning!

And you can hear his earnestness here. 2 Peter 3:1, he goes on to say,

“this is now the second letter that I’m writing to you, [we studied the first last fall] beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.”

Please, don’t forget! And I’m writing you, inspired by the Spirit so that you won’t. That is the theme, the title, of our study of 2 Peter.

Now, let’s talk about our approach. The first one is prayer. I was reading this morning in Psalm 29, verse 3 —

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters.”

It’s such an interesting image. The waters in the ancient world symbolized chaos. The voice of the Lord is over the chaos. All of us come in today with certain amounts of chaos in our lives, things we can’t control or don’t know or fear or are anxious about, and we come under the Word of the Lord. So, the voice of the Lord is speaking into our chaos as he did over the creation waters. “Peace be still,” bringing clarity, authority to our chaos.

For that to happen, a miracle must happen. And this is why prayer is so vital. As we sit under the Word of God, we’re saying God, please, soften our hearts, open our ears, help us to hear your voice so that you bring clarity to our chaos, both personally and collectively, even as we penetrate this culture. Prayer. Personal Prayer. Family Prayer. Life Group prayer. This is why a group of us gather every Saturday night and pray for every one of these services and all the other ministries that are happening all over this campus this morning all day that God’s voice would be heard. And apart from his work, we accomplish nothing. Prayer.

Second, emails. Rather mundane, but if you haven’t subscribed to our church emails or downloaded our app, there are ways that you can get news each week about what are we going to be studying. How can I be preparing and praying? You can go to our website homepage and scroll to the bottom and sign up for the email or download the app.

Outlines. Each week my assistant produces paper copies, electronic copies you can get through the weekly email or on the church center app. But the goal there is to help us remember.

Fourth are the memory moments. You heard Caleb a few minutes ago describe his memory moment, and each week we’re going to have a memory moment. If Caleb’s in town, he’ll do it; if he’s out of town, someone else. But it’s just a way to help us review for a moment what did we learn last week, and then teach us something about why remembering is such a big thing for God and our need and help provide some tips as well.

Fifth is sermons. We will preach verse by verse through the letter of 2 Peter. And you can hopefully be here for each week, and if you’re sick or you’re out of town, we have livestream.

Sixth is cafe lobby. And this may seem like “what does that have to do with the sermon series?” I think the time right before the service and the time after the service in the auditorium, in the lobbies, in the cafes, in the parking lot is really important, not that you’re only allowed to talk about the sermon, although I would love to make that rule. I’m kidding. I’m kidding. But just to have time to interact together. What is God doing in your life? Is there a way I can pray for you? What are your concerns? To be transparent and honest so that we’re not just running in and running out but having time to marinate on what God is saying to us greatly increases the chance of remembering. If you had coffee and a Danish, it goes way up. First world.

Number seven — AfterWord. This is something new. I field tested it last fall with the Life Group leaders. And this is a short sermon recap that I record every Monday morning. It’s just an audio. It’s less than ten minutes, and it will go out now to everyone. But its purpose is to summarize what we learned on Sunday and then press a little further into maybe a particular way we can apply that, and then possibly number 3, address some questions that might have come up. Sometimes on Sunday’s before and after the service, I get questions, or whoever spoke gets questions about a particular sermon or passage, and that will give us an opportunity to address some of those questions when they are significant and might be helpful. So, the intention of the sermon recap, this AfterWord, is to make it short and simple. You’re driving to work, you can catch your sermon recap for the week, or you’re exercising, and you can listen to it. It’s very short and hopefully will help us remember.

Number eight — online sermon and transcript. So, sermons are posted each Monday, audio and video. Transcripts are posted each Wednesday by 5 pm. And the purpose of this is to help us remember. I was talking to a man in our church last fall who was telling me he’d just finished listening to a particular sermon for the fourth time. As he’s exercising, he was listening to it over and over again, really trying to wrestle with both understanding and applying that. And this … I do the same thing. If God speaks to me about something, I rarely get it the first time, get it in a way that sticks. I have to review. So, we are blessed in this culture to have technology to where you can actually re-listen and ask the Spirit to drive that in a little bit deeper, which increases the chance of really hearing what God is saying.

Number nine — life Group discussion and prayer. Each week, John Cruice develops discussion questions for Life Group leaders. This is an important time to remember, to discuss, to apply, to pray together.

Now there are many more I could list. I haven’t even mentioned the big one, the Lord’s Supper. “Do this in” what? Remembrance. Or singing when we gather, and maybe we don’t feel like singing on a particular day, but we need to hear these truths sung over us. There’s something powerful about gathering with a lot of your brothers and sisters and ministering to God and one another through song. I haven’t mentioned scripture memory, which is huge when God speaks to you from a passage to review and meditate and memorize. So, our goal is to use all of our senses, or at least as many as possible, to remember.

Now, some of you may remember a year and a half ago we were in Mark 4. Jesus talked about two kinds of hearers, actually four kinds, but a bad kind and a good kind. The bad kind were the first three — the defensive hearer, represented by the hard soil, where Satan just immediately takes away the Word; the discouraged hearer, represented by the shallow soil, receives it with joy, and then, as soon as things get hard during the week, falls away; the distracted hearer, represented by the thorny soil, hears the Word but then it’s choked — cares and lies, that is deceitfulness of riches and other desires. And then the fourth is the dynamic hearer, represented by the good soil, who hears, receives, and bears fruit. Some of you may remember Jesus uses the word “hear” four times in there. And in the Greek, the first three are in the aorist tense, which is represented by a dot, a moment. They hear, and that’s it — a dot.

The fourth kind of hearer, the fourth time the word “hear” appears, it’s in the present tense, which is not a dot. It’s a line. It’s ongoing. So, it’s not a moment of hearing, it’s a momentum of hearing. It’s not that you can remember everything from a sermon, but it sends you on this direction, this momentum that goes longer than the dot. And therefore, Jesus says, “that hearer bears fruit, thirty-, sixty-, hundred-fold.” So, what 2 Peter is doing is discipling our memories so that our hearing of the Word will not just be a moment, but a momentum that leads to a harvest. So, this is our approach to this series of 2 Peter.

Let’s do a quick overview. Peter packs in a lot of rich doctrine and practical application to this very short letter. But the remembering he is describing could come in three forms, seems to come in three forms. First one is growing, growing, chapter 1:3-18. Look at verse 3, as we have been

“granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, [we’ve been set free from our bondage to] sinful desire. [Verse 5,] For this reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

There’s so much there we’re going to work through, but don’t miss this one thing. The opposite of forgetting is not just recalling but increasing in this passage. The opposite of forgetting is not just recalling or remembering information, but it’s actually growing, increasing. So, one of the key distinctions between a spectator Christian and a real Christian is memory, not that real Christians don’t struggle with memory problems … Hello! … have memory lapses or experience things like amnesia or dementia. But real Christians remember in such a way that stimulates spiritual growth. So, when Peter says in verse 4 that we’re remembering his precious and very great promises and that through them we have become partakers of the divine nature, that’s stunning! What is he talking about? He’s talking about the fact that the image of God, which we were made in and was marred by sin, is now being renewed and redeemed in us. And along with that, our memory of who we really are is restored.

Have you ever watched the Bourne films? Jason Bourne? I know that’s old, but they describe this CIA officer Jason Bourne, who doesn’t really know who he is until he realizes he’s actually David Webb. So, there’s this huge tension in figuring out “who am I?” And what Peter is describing here is a journey that all of us are on where we have lost a sense of who we really are, and it’s not just individual, it’s a collective amnesia where we don’t know that we’ve been made in the image of God to be partakers of the divine nature. And yet we’re living as though we are not who we really are. And the reason this is so important and why Peter is emphasizing remember, remember, remember, is because we live in a culture that intentionally forgets.

Let just give you one illustration. Last March a Supreme Court justice was asked the question, “what is a woman?” Remember that? I’m not trying to pick on her. But her answer was very interesting. She couldn’t define a woman. So, here’s a very highly intellectual, highly educated woman, who was chosen because she’s a woman, but can’t define what a woman is. And you stop and you think, okay, what’s going on there? And I understand the political side. I’m not interested in that. One side of the aisle is trying to trap her. The other side of the aisle is feeling like you’re interjecting, you know, gender politics into this. Okay, I don’t care about that. I’m interested in what is beneath that. Why is that question controversial? Do we think about that? What is happening in a culture when it’s controversial to answer, “what is a woman”? We’re talking emperor-has-no-clothes stuff, where the little boy is off on the side saying, “Hey, he’s naked.” “Don’t say that!” “I know what a mommy and daddy are.” ‘Don’t say that!” You’re not allowed to say who you are. You can’t define what is. And it’s not accidental! It’s a culture purposely forgetting, becoming socially demented. That’s just one little example of this huge cultural current we talked about last week — “A wind has wrapped them in its wings.”

But what Peter is saying is this is why it’s so important for the people of God to remember. It’s not a political statement. It’s a life-or-death statement. Remember. And the antidote is not just Bible trivia, but spiritual growth. Add to your faith virtue, virtue knowledge, knowledge self-control, and the remembering results in an increased confidence, as Peter says to you, you’re calling and election is sure. In other words, you know who you are. You don’t forget who you are. And it creates this positive feedback loop. The more you grow, the more you know. And the more you know who you are, the more you grow, and the more you know who he is … And this positive feedback.

And the opposite is also true. A negative feedback loop, where you forget, and you shrivel up. And so, when professing Christians fail to remember whether because of skepticism about the promises of God or an assumption that “I’ve done that. I’ve checked that box. I prayed that prayer. I went through that study. I’m good.” And Peter is warning against the danger of that because it leads you to forget who you are and what God’s done. So, in a sense, Peter is saying memory is by faith acting on who you are and what you know, and the result is that you grow in remembering; therefore, it is transforming. So, the first form that remembering takes in 2 Peter is growing.

The second is discerning. 2 Peter 1:16. The bulk of the letter consists of a striking contrast between the clever myths and the prophetic words. Let’s talk about the true words, the prophetic words first. 1:16,

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

Verse 19,

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

So, Peter views his letter as Spirit-spoken, prophetic words written to remind his readers (verse 19) “to which you would do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place,” the true words.

And then he turns to the false words. The false words. Chapter 2, verse 1,

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed, they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle and their destruction is not asleep.”

So, Peter desires for the followers of Jesus to live morally beautiful lives. And so, he spends a lot of time in chapter 2, painting a picture of how morally and spiritually grotesque these false words lead, the kind of life they lead to. And in a very real way, he’s training our memories because we tend to glamorize new teaching and yawn at or despise what feels antiquated. Peter is training the memories of his readers to discern the difference between true words and false myths. The two were not immediately obvious as he said in verse 19 — the false myths promise freedom, but they result in, verse 22 uses two graphic images, they result in vomit and filth. He is vividly portraying the grotesque end of false words. Remembering equals discerning.

And then number 3, waiting. Chapter 3:1-18. Delay has a way of challenging memory. You know, when you’re waiting, you start to question — Did I hear that right? Did he speak right? Why am I waiting? And so, Peter anticipates this and also acknowledges that false teachers are questioning the coming of the Lord and the future of judgment. And so, chapter 3, verse 3, he writes “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say,

“Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’”

So, Peter addresses this skepticism and then calls us to a kind of remembering that takes the shape of waiting. [2 Peter] 3:13,

“But according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish.”

You notice the waiting is not like sitting at a bus stop because he said, “since you’re waiting, be diligent.” You’re not passive. You are waiting. What does that mean? We’ll talk about that.

We’re going to talk a lot about memory. Neurologists are coming out with some fascinating stuff about how we remember and why we don’t. But beneath that all, we’re going to focus on why is remembering so big with God throughout his Word. And how do we all become more healthy rememberers? (Is that a word? Temporarily it is. Can’t remember.)

So, three things we want to keep in mind as we listen to 2 Peter now — Growing, the whole beginning, and then Discerning true prophetic words from myth, and then Waiting. Ben Drexler is going to read 2 Peter. Let’s all actively listen.