Bible Study from 2 Peter 3:15-18
A final warning and a final plea!
by I Gordon
2 Pet 3:15-18 'Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen .'
The last verses of 2 Peter chapter 3 are, in many ways, a recap of the two main themes from chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 1, I'm sure you will recall, deals with Christian growth - growing in grace. Chapter 2 is about being on guard against false teachers. And it is these two thoughts that Peter wants to drive home just one more time before closing his letter. Now if Peter considered these two themes important enough to state them again in his closing, who am I to disagree? As he wanted to close his letter with one final warning and one final plea, then I will do the same.
Things that go together...
Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
There are people that distort the scriptures, just as Peter says above. Having recently been in a brief debate with an atheist, I was directed to one of the web sites that list the so-called 'contradictions' in the Bible. Let me tell you that it was an absolute eye opener into the lengths some will go to, to try and escape from the reality of God.  Talk about distorting the word of God. Now, we should expect ignorance from an atheist when it comes to the Bible because they generally approach it with an agenda of manipulating what it says instead of genuinely wanting to meet its author. So we can expect ignorance there. But in its context, Peter isn't talking about atheists or those that oppose the Bible when they distort it. Nope. In its context, Peter is writing about those that teach from the Bible. He is not talking about those outside the church, but some who find themselves on the inside and right up the front in the pulpit. This is why things get a little scarier. And it is also why there is a need to heed Peter's final warning and final plea.
Now there are some things that always go together.  Peter tells us about these people saying that they are untaught and unstable. These two things go together. If you are untaught in the true ways of God, you will be unstable in your Christian life. You will always be chasing the next fad going from one thing to another. Untaught and unstable. This of course, is the same thought that Paul had in Ephesians 4:13 where he instructs us to grow into maturity in our Christian life so that we will
'...no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.'
The final warning - Be on guard!
'Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.'
The final warning of 2 Peter is this - be on your guard! Be careful and watchful for there are forces at work that would like nothing more than for you to be drawn away from the truth of the word of God. Friends, we live in a dangerous time. When the disciples asked Jesus about the signs of the end time, the very first thing He replied with is 'watch out that no one deceives you.' (Matt 24:4) Today, more so than in any time, you need to follow the advice of Paul in 1 Thes 5:21-22 where he says 'Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.'
So how do you test things? Well, good question and that will be addressed in this next section.
The final plea - Grow in grace and knowledge
2 Pet 3:18 'But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen'
But!... But grow Peter tells us. Peter's final plea is that you would grow both in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.  There is a way to avoid the problems and traps of the false teachers and deception mentioned above. Grow! Now, in the natural, growing taller is pretty normal for most people. I'm sure you've been successful to some degree! Given the right environment of food, water, light and interaction we all seem to grow physically without too much strain and effort on our part. Well, growing spiritually is exactly the same. Given the right environment, growth will take place automatically and naturally. There is a saying concerning the health of your body that 'you are what you eat'. Well, you are spiritually what you feed on as well. You need to feed your spirit just as you feed your body for 'man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.' (Deut 8:3)
Here is where the Christian church faces one of its biggest challenges in this age. People are entertained, not fed. But Jesus, in re-commissioning Peter, didn't tell him to 'entertain my sheep'. No, He told Peter to 'feed His sheep.' (John 21:15-17) Every Shepherd of God's people has the same commission. But it's not just the responsibility of the Shepherds! Listen again to the word of the Lord -
'Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat ! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare .' (Isa 55:1-3)
The food that the Lord offers is without cost financially... but it will cost you in time. You need to spend time in His word, in His presence, to truly 'eat what is good'. This isn't fast food or take-away food! No, it will take some meditating...You will have to chew God's word over spiritually, and not just gulp it down! It does take time. But as you do so, the promise of God to you is that you will 'delight in the richest of fare.'
Post Study Article:
I said above that we live in a difficult time. In many churches you don't really even need to bring your Bible anymore. With this in mind, the following (tongue in cheek!) article has been used with permission from 'The Sacred Sandwich' website. It is very funny... well, it would be if it wasn't so relevant.
RARE SIGHTING NEAR OHIO CHURCH
Eerily reminiscent of the famous 1967 Bigfoot picture (inset), a blurred figure carrying a Bible was recently caught on film in a church parking lot in Ohio. Anthropologists are hopeful that this proves that the supposedly extinct species has survived the Church Growth Movement and will soon repopulate the Midwest.
The scientific community was rocked this month when new photographic evidence was presented which appears to confirm the existence of a homonid species long considered extinct by most experts: the elusive Bible-carrying churchgoer. The photograph, taken by Clem Pilsner, is the first known sighting of the creature in twenty years which anthropologists have officially named 'Homo biblia sacra' or 'Suburban Bible Man.' If the photo is authentic, it would be the first verification of the existence of this Bible-toting species since the beginning of the Church Growth era.
Pilsner, a window washer from Ripley, Ohio, took the photo on Sunday morning, January 16th, with his new Sprint picture phone. 'I was driving my truck to get another six-pack before the (football) game when something caught my eye,' he told The Sacred Sandwich in an exclusive interview. 'At first glance it was just a dark figure walking across First Church's parking lot. But when I seen it carrying a Bible, I about dropped my breakfast burrito.' Fortunately, Pilsner was able to take a quick snapshot with his cell phone before the creature disappeared into the church building. 'I'm just thankful my horrified screams didn't shake the camera too much,' he added.
Deacon Horatio Boomer, an official spokesman for First Church of Ripley, refused to comment on the sighting. 'We don't feel comfortable speculating on such fanciful tales of fiction,' Boomer sternly announced before heading toward the church building. 'Now if you'll excuse me I have to get the church ready for our Left Behind reader's group.'
In stark contrast to the church's apparent skepticism, the townspeople at Harry's Diner were not surprised at Pilsner's shocking discovery. 'We've been hearing about this critter off and on for years,' waitress Gloria Philpot explained. 'Last year, when Stu Murray claimed he'd seen it over at the Catholic Church we laughed him out of the diner. But when Clem interrupts his Sunday beer run to snap a picture of the thing, you gotta take it seriously. We're just glad he didn't have his gun at the time.'
While specialists who have examined the photograph generally agree that the Pilsner photo is not doctored, they cannot verify that the object in the creature's hand is actually a Bible. An FBI document analyst, Harold Tucker, has his doubts. 'We've had hundreds of sightings over the past three years,' Tucker explained, 'and inevitably they always turn out to be holding copies of The Purpose Driven Life or The Prayer of Jabez.' Tucker's conclusions so far? 'Considering the lack of suit and tie on the creature, my gut tells me we're possibly looking at an Xtreme Teen Bible, and not a King James.'
When asked if this could be evidence of a new, evolved species of Homo biblia sacra, Tucker replied, 'Don't be stupid. Christians don't believe in evolution.'
 ↩ As Ray Comfort says 'An atheist can't find God for the same reason that a thief can't find a policeman' - They don't want to!
 ↩ Like, if I said bread, you'd say butter. If I said knife, you'd say fork. If I'd say Fred, you'd say Wilma. If I said fish, you'd say chips. If I'd say salt, you'd say pepper. You get the story. Well I hope you do 'cos I was running out of examples. Anyway, Peter gives us a pair above. He says that these people are untaught and unstable, and the two are very definitely linked together.
 ↩ These two things are different. You may grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus by say going to church, but it is doubtful that you will grow in grace in this way. You grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus as you put into practise the things that you read and hear in the word of God and step out in faith and reliance upon Him. When you see your weakness and your utter dependence and need of His ability, then you will start to grow in grace. Growth in knowledge is largely mental. Growth in grace is practical.