A Helpful Reminder
“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have” (2 Peter 1:12).- 2 Peter 1:12
The presence of false teachers among the earliest Christians in what is now northern Turkey prompted the apostle Peter to send them a second epistle shortly before his death. Lest they be led astray by those denying the second coming of the Lord (2 Peter 3:4) or by those who presumed upon the grace of God by doing evil (2:18–19), the one whom Jesus called “the rock” takes another opportunity in his second epistle to ground them (and us) in apostolic teaching.
Instead of launching immediately into a description and refutation of these teachers, Peter concentrates on the necessity of godly living and perseverance in the first eleven verses of this letter. We have seen that all true Christians have been given all that is needed for life and godliness (1:3–4). Because of this fact, we must then make every effort to grow in holiness by adding things like virtue, self-control, knowledge, and steadfastness to our faith (vv. 5–7). These qualities, among several others, make us into fruitful Christians. If we do not increasingly desire and practice them, we have not really taken into account the full import of what Christ has done on the cross, and thus we are found to be lacking true faith (vv. 8–9). The practice of such things helps contribute to our assurance and leads to perseverance so that we might enter the kingdom of God (vv. 10–11).
All of this is not to undermine the sovereignty of God in salvation. Peter was well aware that only God’s election and monergistic work of regeneration can guarantee our final salvation (1 Peter 1:1–5). However, he also knew that God’s sovereign grace always reveals itself in that those whom He has elected seek after holiness. His sovereign work of redemption does not nullify human responsibility or free us from the need to fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).
Our efforts do not merit God’s grace, but neither does God’s gift of grace mean that we can abandon His standards with impunity (see Rom. 6:1–2). Both of these points make up sound doctrine, and so Peter reminds of these qualities, so that we can be established in the truth and not fall prey to false teaching (2 Peter 1:12).
Scripture emphasizes both the importance of remembering basic Christian doctrines (1 Peter 2:2–3) as well as the need to build upon them (Heb. 6:1–2). We must continually seek to grow in our knowledge of the Savior but never in a way that deprecates the basic Gospel message. We must remind ourselves of the basics of the faith, always doing so in a way that affects mind and action. Meditate on God’s grace today and let this basic truth motivate you to live virtuously.
Passages for Further Study