At the Sinners Table

The teachers of the law couldn’t believe it. As they were passing by Levi’s house, they noticed a crowd had gathered inside and were sharing a meal together. It was a crowd of “those people” – tax collectors, thieves, prostitutes and the like. Habitual sinners who had abandoned loyalty to the nation of Israel and were ignorant of the religious laws. The teachers of the law shook their heads in disapproval and were about to continue on their way when they noticed some of Jesus’ disciples mixed in among those crowded around Levi’s table. When they did a double take, they caught sight of Jesus himself, sitting next to the tax collector. Their eyes grew as wide as dinner plates and they looked at one another in disbelief. What was Rabbi Jesus doing in the company of sinners? Didn’t he care about his reputation? Didn’t he realize these people were spiritually unclean?

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Why Is Jesus Taking So Long?

I’d rather not wait for the return of Jesus Christ. When Christ returns, he promises to make all things new – perfect and without defect. That means I’ll never have to fight against my own sin ever again. I’ll have a new, perfectly functioning body. It means there will be no more poverty, no more abuse, no more weapons of war, no more pollution, no more sin. I don’t want to wait for that.

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The Coming Flood

In his second letter, Peter spends considerable time refuting false teachings within the church. Peter is concerned for the health of the church and wants to see Christians growing in faith and godliness. False teachers are a threat because they distort the truth, which in turn leads to faulty thinking and ungodly behavior. One of the lies the false teachers were propagating was the thinking that Christ would not return as he had promised. They pointed out that Christ had said he was coming soon, and soon had already passed.

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Destructive Untruth

The gospel story of which Pete is writing about is true – it’s based on historical facts, eyewitness accounts, and fulfilled prophecies. Peter wants his readers to be firmly planted in this truth and understand why it is true. This is so because he knows people will come into the church with lies and made-up stories. Their teachings will contradict the truth of the gospel and threaten to destroy the unity and witness of God’s people. With this in mind, Peter gives his readers a clear and urgent warning against these false teachings.

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Eyewitnesses of His Majesty

Peter’s passion for the gospel is evident as he begins his letter and explains the power and love we possess in Jesus Christ to live transformed lives. He uses strong, bold language (e.g. “make every effort” or “be all the more eager”) and emphasizes how he wants his readers to remember all that he is teaching them. But passion and sincerity do not equal the truth, and Peter knows that. Later in his letter he will speak about false teachers who are bold in their preaching and make grand promises, but who are empty and vile. They have passion, but for all the wrong reasons. So, before Peter continues, he gives reasons why his passionate words are also true. Consider what he says in verse 16:

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Reminders

We are by nature sinners. That’s why the apostle Paul writes to the church at Ephesus that we are “by nature children of wrath.” Our hearts are bent towards the desires of the flesh, not the will of God. Without any correction, our hearts will always default to sin – doing the opposite of what God has commanded.

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Adding to Faith

The beginning of Peter’s second letter makes it clear that in God we lack nothing. Through Christ, we are given “everything we need for life and godliness.” Because of this reality we are called to mature and increase in faith and the fruit of the Spirit. As it is sometimes put: God has made you holy, so go and be holy. Or as Peter might phrase it: God has chosen you, so go and “make your calling and election sure.”

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From Called to Glorified

You may be familiar with the “golden chain of salvation” as Paul lays it out in Romans 8:28-30 – foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. It is a helpful way think about how God actually works out salvation in our lives. Romans 8 is certainly not the only place in Scripture where we find a “chain of salvation”. Another helpful passage is 2 Peter 1:1-11. Peter doesn’t neatly lay out all the steps in one compact verse, but if we spend a bit of time with these verses, we can identify at least six steps. First, take a minute to read the passage for yourself:

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