Our “fellow elder,” Peter, preacher, and sheep under the chief Shepherd the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:1-4) writes to us in 2 Peter his closing charges and encouragements. Christian and non-Christian alike, are familiar with the two disciples in the New Testament who were under the teaching of Christ but who fell away: Peter and Judas Iscariot. Both of these men were told beforehand that they would fall away (John 13:25-30, 36-38) and both of them do. But, one of them (Peter) is restored and the other withered away into ruin and misery. In chapter 3, Peter has stated two warnings in these last days that scoffers will come from outside the church to pick off the sheep (3:3-4) and that there will be the “ignorant and unstable” that “twist” the Scriptures from inside the church. The god of this world is dead set against the Bride just as much now as he was when the Lamb knelt in Gethsemane, and in their own misery, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing seeking to lead some out to be slaughtered outside the shepherd’s gates.
Peter states that because unregenerate teachers will come from within the fold, that we, “knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability” (3:17b). Can you hear the tender fear in Peter’s voice? He is pleading with us, warning us, to not fall away. Our beloved Peter who knew “beforehand” by the Lord Jesus himself that he would deny his Master three times and yet was carried away by his own sin and error — he is begging with us not to do the same. Peter slipped when he was tempted, and so did Judas. There was a slip from their “own stability” (3:17c). Christian, we mustn’t be like Peter who relied on his own stability and retorted back to the Lord’s warning, “I will not…” (Matthew 26:35). On our own stability or by standing on the sinking sand of earthy logic and fleshly teaching, we will surely slip — we have been warned. The beloved parable in Matthew 7 ending the Sermon on the Mount is about one man building his house on sinking sand and another building it on the solid rock is a good example of this.
In 2 Peter 3:18, we read this exhortation from our brother and Pastor, Peter, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (3:18). Christian, you must be rooted in the grace of Jesus Christ, or you will be carried away. Just as the house built on sand is thrashed and carried away into the sea, so, too, we will be carried away if we are not rooted and growing in the grace of Jesus Christ. True knowledge of him is our only hope — and in Christ, he knows us personally (Amos 3:2). Knowledge of the Lord is found only in the Word of God.
What was the difference between Judas and Peter? Essentially, they both heard the same gospel preached by Jesus, performed mighty works, saw the miracles, walked with the same God-Man, and both sold-out Jesus. But why did Peter remain steadfast after he fell and return to the Lord whereas Judas fell into eternal misery? Jesus prayed for Peter — that he would return again and strengthen the brothers (Luke 21:31-32). We, like Peter, must rely on one means of remaining steadfast in the Lord: “the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter3:18).
We are commanded to grow in Christ. What a joy-filled command! Christian, labor over these texts and his word given to us for his commandments are sweeter than honey (Psalm 19). How sweet it is to grow in grace and in the joy of knowing him as we experience here and shall always experience in heaven. “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”