Friday, October 24, 2014

P2 - Seeing Eternity Beyond this life - The realities of a Christian Relationship and Heaven - 2 Peter 1

2 Peter 1:3 "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence."

Today I want us to begin delving further into the actual argument of Peter in his 2nd letter. This little letter of Peter's is quite significant in understanding how we see eternity beyond this life. Far from portraying Heaven and Hell as abstract ideas that do not concern us in this life, Peter clearly draws the connecting points between how we relate to the God of eternity in this life and our eternal destination in the next life. We will sketch out the first two main points of eternity beyond this life as we find it in 2 Peter. 

1. Physical and spiritual life are rooted in God. 2 Peter 1:3-9

2. Eternity in Heaven follows from your relationship with God. 2 Peter 1:10-12

Physical and spiritual life are rooted in God. 2 Peter 1:3-9 
We will comment briefly on this first thought, being that it leads us straight to the main point of these posts: seeing eternity beyond this life. As Peter begins his short letter, he first of all talks about how all physical life and spiritual life are resourced in God. After making a remark about how God's Divine  power supplies everything we need for both life and godliness in verse 3, we then see these words in 2 Peter 1:4 "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." The question we could inert at this point would be: "who then lives the Christian life?" It sounds like here that it is the Lord Himself living the life through us. However we discover a second and equally correct answer in 2 Peter 1:5-9, namely that we are the ones responsibile to live the life through Him. Peter instructs us to "add" to our faith. Without a doubt we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, however following conversion, our faith must never be alone. 2 Peter 1:5-9 is but an expansion of passages such as Galatians 2:20 and this verse in Philippians 2:12-13 "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." All physical life and spiritual life are resourced in God. He is the One who called everything into existence and it is He who calls forth the Christian life in to existence. (2 Corinthians 4:6) 2 Peter 1:5-9 summarizes what the Christian life ought to be like in this world, but now how about what lies beyond this world? This is Peter's next point....

Eternity in Heaven follows from your relationship with God. 2 Peter 1:10-12
Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:10-12 "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will neverstumble; 11 for in this way the entrance intothe eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." If you will recall, the existence of God is the reason why we have moral absolutes in this world. Moral laws of any kind include the notion of consequences. Moral absolutes, being rooted in the Eternal God Himself, are by nature not just confined to this world. Thus it follows then that consequences, as they relate to God, exist both in this life and in the next. How we are related to God in the here and now will determined where we spend eternity. As Peter spells out the believer's relationship with God, the wonderful promise of a Heavenly destination is promised to those who are in right relationship with Him. We can note two realities spoken of by Peter in these verses that pertain to what he has to say about heaven and the child of God.

First we see the reality of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:1, 10.  That relationship includes in its description God's loving choice of each believer in eternity, or what the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 calls God's elective purpose of grace. That elective purpose of grace stands behind the call issued forth by the Holy Spirit in the Gospel to believe, repent and be saved. (see Acts 3:19; Romans 10:9) So we could say then that a relationship with God is grounded in His Sovereign choice, followed by the Spirit's call. God's choice and call is spelled out in 2 Peter 1:10 and urged upon Peter's readers as to what they need to be making certain of in their lives. Then we see a third component necessary for a relationship with God, namely a specific response of faith in Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:1 is after all addressed to those who have "received a same precious faith as ours". It is at the moment of saving faith in the new birth that one's relationship begins with God. God's Sovereignty and human responsibility in salvation are not in contradiction with one another, but function together as a total definition of the reality of a relationship with God. 

Second we see the reality of heaven, the eternal destination of a person in relationship with God. 2 Peter 1:11
Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:11 "for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." When you have been brought into relationship with God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the reality of heaven itself is your destination. Whenever we survey this verses and others, we note several truths about the reality of heaven. 

a. Place called Heaven. Here we see Peter making mention of an "entrance" and Jesus in John 14:1-3 states He is going to prepare a "place". 

b. Prepared place for believers. Peter here in 1:11 notes how it will be a place "abundantly supplied" and Jesus echoes this to his disciples in John 14 by the words "I go to prepare a place for you."

c. Richly prepared place for believers. Notice, Peter does not just say "supplied" but "abundantly supplied" in 1:11. Jesus notes in John 14 how in His Father's house are many rooms or as the KJV puts it, mansions. Revelation 21-22 describes the even greater reality of the New Heavens as containing streets of gold, gemstone foundations and endless supply of God's glorious light.

d. Jesus richly prepares the place called Heaven for believers. Into whose Kingdom is this heavenly entrance? Jesus' of course! He told the thief on the cross; "today you will be with me in paradise". Wherever Jesus is, heaven is. As a little girl on an airplane flight responded to her grandmother one time who told the little girl: "look out the window Suzy, the clouds look like heaven". The little girl simply said: "But where is Jesus?" Just as a wedding would not be a wedding without a bride and a groom, Heaven would not be heaven without our heavenly bridegroom. Will there be streets of gold to tread - yes! Will there be dwelling places or mansions? Absolutely! But what makes Heaven Heaven is Jesus Himself. All who make it to Heaven can take no credit. All credit goes to Jesus Christ and the Father's purposes of grace and the Spirit's calling of them to believe and be saved. 

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