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Final Instruction to the Beloved (2 Peter 3:14-18) – Mark Ottaway

Guarded Christian Living: A Strong Faith at the Right Time

Final Instructions to the Beloved

2 Peter 3:14-18


Turn to 2 Peter 3. This is our last week in the Peters. And Peter is going to give his last bit of instructions. Peter began his First Letter which was addressed to those who were chosen. And then he began his Second Letter to those who are of the same faith. And here in our passage today, (vs 14) he addresses them as the Beloved. And this is significant for if you know Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Though we are not the original audience, we are recipients of these letters. And also important for us to ponder in our own minds to be certain that we are part of this group that Peter is addressing. The (1 Pet 1:1) chosen, (2 Pet 1:1) those of the same faith, and (2 Pet 3:14) the Beloved. And what a blessing that all true believers enjoy. That we are included with these believers in the early church, with all those who trusted in Christ down through history, and those who live presently today around the world. That throughout time and in all parts of the world, the union of the chosen, those of the same faith, and the Beloved.


And also significant as these last instructions given by Peter are believed to have been written very close to his death. As Christian tradition tells us that Peter died as a martyr, being crucified upside down. So, what we are hearing from is not a Christian “jogger” that is not giving his all for Christ. But we are hearing from someone such as Peter, one who like the Apostle Paul, ran to win the Christian race. In fact, Peter is going to mention Paul in our text this morning. Good to focus on those who run well. Much easier to look to those who fail, who mislead, who pretend. Not too difficult to reach that bar. But much more challenging to be motivated by those who run well. I am challenged by this myself. To look to those pastors who retire and enjoy their retirement. And I am sure there are many who do this well. But then there are others that just continue to work hard in ministry. The MacArthur’s, the Piper’s, the Begg’s that don’t retire, that just keep going. And some of you here who will continue to serve long after retirement until your dying day. So challenging to others!


So, this morning Peter is going to challenge us. And not as one that has done everything right. For Peter had his own shortcomings in life. But from one who allowed the Lord over time to become the man of God that he was. One who learned from his sin, and learned to trust Christ in a deeper way. It is easy to get cynical, for we will always have those around us who might be focused on criticizing others. There are certainly those who will spend considerable energy criticizing the church, maybe some who may criticize Elim. But that is not how we want to live our Christian lives. So, let’s look to someone this morning who ran the race well, so that we might be challenged by his life. So, let’s pray before we begin. Lord, we come before you again this morning. As again we have an opportunity to hear from You. Lord, we are a people who are without excuse, for we have been chosen by You, we have been given the same faith as these New Testament believers, and we are Your Beloved, and now You wish to instruct us. So, give us attentive hearts that we would grow this morning, for we ask this in the name of Christ, amen.


Let’s look at our text. Verse 14 “therefore beloved.” If you have received Christ as Saviour and Lord, this is directly to you. Beloved [agapētos] esteemed, dear, favourite, worthy of love. Certainly a position not earned by us, but a position given to us by grace because of the work of Christ. Think for a moment of someone in the Christian community that you look up to. Someone who has been a champion of faith, who writes to you and begins by saying dear or favourite. Well this is coming from Peter. And this is exactly what we are being called here, esteemed, worthy of love. Verse 14, “since you are looking for these things.” This is referring back to last week’s message. Verse 12, “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” Verse 13, “we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”


Peter’s assumption for the Beloved, since you are desiring to be with Christ. That the true believer, the Beloved, is anticipating the Lord’s return, and rejoicing in the fact that he will someday live under Christ’s rule on a new earth. The importance of this statement is critical, as the instructions that Peter is going to give assumes that we are looking forward to the return of Christ and His kingdom. Sort of like going for a job interview and the interviewer is going to tell you what are the instructions for the job. The assumption, of course, is that you want the job. For if you did not, why would you have applied and why did you show up for the interview? Peter’s assumption for the Beloved is that you are desiring to be with Christ.


When my friend Mike and I were around 19, we tried out for a Junior C hockey team. And we went to the first practice. And this was in August for we had not skated for a few months. And I remember sitting in his car after that first practice completely exhausted, we laughed! Now we had already somewhat decided that we were going to play for St. Clair College where we both attended, and we had no intention of being on the team. But we also wanted to see if we could make the team. So, we went to the first few practices. And the coach called both of us over to the bench and offered to sign us. In fact, Mike and I were the first two guys he asked to sign. Now looking back, I realize now that this was sort of a bonehead move, seeing the frustration on his face when we both said, we did not really want to be on the team. His assumption of course was that we were wanting to be on the team. The assumption made by Peter is that the Beloved has this great desire to be with Christ. This is an essential part of our faith that is often missed in our me-centred, now-focused Christianity; that the desire of the Christian is to be with Christ in His eternal kingdom. This is the assumption. Are you desiring to be with Christ? If so, here are Peter’s instructions, don’t miss these.


14 “Therefore, beloved, since you are looking for these things, be diligent [Peter describes the Beloved as someone who is #1 working] to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,


15 and consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, [consider … Peter describes the Beloved as someone who is #2 thinking] just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,

16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.


17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest you, having been carried away by the error of unprincipled men, fall from your own steadfastness [be on your guard … Peter describes the Beloved as someone who is #3 guarding],


18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen [Peter describes the Beloved as someone who is #4 growing].


Verse 14, be diligent. Verse 15, consider the patience of the Lord. Verse 17, be on your guard. Verse 18, grow in grace. Now do not forget the assumption Peter has made that the Beloved is desiring to be with Christ. And now his description of the Beloved: working, thinking, guarding, and growing.

“Therefore, beloved, since you are looking for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”

2 Pet 3:14 (LSB)


  1. The Beloved is Working (vs 14)


Interesting wording here by Peter, diligent to be “found by Him” in peace, spotless, and blameless. The word diligent can have the meaning of “labour” or “be forward.” I love that expression to “be forward” or we could say “working toward.” The insinuation here is that there is some aggressiveness. And the reason this is so important as our quest for these things that Peter has mentioned, peace, spotlessness, blamelessness; insinuates that without hard work we will not attain these things. So, what are these things that Peter is saying that the Beloved must work, labour, be aggressive about attaining?

“To be found in Him in peace.” Literally to find rest and peace with Christ. Now being at peace with God has a few elements. For there is a positional peace with God. For if you truly know Jesus Christ, you have peace with God. In other words, you are no longer an enemy of God. And part of what Peter is saying could be that make sure that we are found by Christ, in other words, that when Christ returns, you are at peace with Him. In other words, don’t have Christ return as your enemy. But because Peter has said Beloved, it would seem that he is speaking to the true Christian. And I know in my own life there is a difference between an eternal peace with God, and finding peace and rest with Him on a daily basis. Peace, what does that indicate? Lord, I know You care. I know You will provide. I know that Your eyes are upon me. I know that I am to be anxious for nothing. John MacArthur wrote:

“Peter is speaking about the kind of peace that banishes both earthly worries and cosmic fears—a peace that comes from knowing for certain that one’s sins are forgiven. No matter how terrible things become as human history moves toward final destruction, believers who live in hope have the settled peace sustained by what the Lord has planned for those who love Him.”

John MacArthur, 2 Peter & Jude 132


Imagine a church where each of us to this extent had this kind of peace. Assurance of God’s watch-care and love. This kind of peace magnifies time with God, for He becomes your rest. In other words, being with Him in prayer, being with His people, singing His praises, and listening to the instruction from His Word. That this is where my heart is. Yet, Peter warns that this will take great effort.


Spotless.” The Greek word used here can mean “free from vices.” This is not talking about sinless perfection here, but referring to the lifestyle that does not encourage or fall into wrong living or sin. There is a great difference between the Christian life that battles with sin, and the Christian life that has “vices” enable sin. The vice is the magnet that pulls you in. Therefore, to be free of vises, means that the Christian must rid from his life those things that draw him into sin. In other words, if this phone or computer draws me into sin, then, I must place every safeguard around to keep that from happening. If going somewhere or hanging out with a particular crowd does a disservice to my Christian walk, then the proper response of the Christian is to get out of there. The insinuation here brothers and sisters is that if I am not aggressively working to rid those temptations, that without a carefulness in how I live, sin will have its way.


Blameless.” Again, not sinless perfection, but a life that is sincere. It is not a life where things are hidden, or that we appear or pretend to be something we are not. So, the picture we have here under this challenge of being blameless, is that the Beloved must be a person of honesty. And we said last week, that this is not the Christian who throws his hands in the air and says, oh well I am a sinner. No, the picture here by Peter is the Christian who bears down, who admits his shortcomings, yet is determined to be conformed to the image of Christ. In other words, the Beloved is to be found diligent in working hard towards these things: peace, spotlessness, and blamelessness. And know that we are not alone in this, as the Holy Spirit is working in us. Yes, we work hard, but God Himself has such an investment in us.

“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; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Phil 2:12-13 (LSB)


The Beloved is working.

“and consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

2 Pet 3:15-16 (LSB)


  1. The Beloved is Thinking


There is a great insinuation in the Scriptures that the Beloved is to be a thinker. Peter is quick to state here that Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand. And I am afraid that this passage has been used to approve the Christian to sort of raise his hands and say, oh well, that discussion or that theology is for the theologians. Yet Peter does not say that at all. For notice what he says in verse 15, “and consider” Meaning to think over or can mean to “count.” Sort of that methodically to figure something out. In other words, to go over what is being said, so that we know what it means. “And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.” This literally says, the patience of our Lord salvation. This is almost a warning to us to consider the great patience it took for the Lord to wait for you to come to Christ. I have been learning during our Sunday evening series on, What is the Gospel?, is that after becoming a Christian, to look back and realize and be grateful for the transformation from death to life that the Lord has done. Yes, from my perspective I heard the gospel and believed, but then realized it must have been a miraculous work of God to ever bring me to that place, as I would have never believed without the “quickening” of God, that when I was still dead, He made me alive with Christ.


Now, we might have the attitude that I don’t care about the theology. That I am just thankful that I am saved. But we cannot have that attitude. For look what Peter says, “just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand.” Okay, here we have it, Paul was hard to understand. So, I will just leave it at that. No, no for Peter goes on, “which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Do you see what Peter is saying here? What is the danger of sort of thinking I have little interest in theology? Well, Peter will tell you, in fact, he names you here. You, the untaught, will distort, twist or pervert the truth.


Folks, not every one of you is a teacher. James 3:1, “not many of you should become teachers.’ True, but all of you must be studiers. The Bible places a restriction on those who should teach, but never a restriction on those who should learn. Why?

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest you, having been carried away by the error of unprincipled men, fall from your own steadfastness.”

2 Pet 3:17 (LSB)


Why? Because we are all accountable to “be on our guard” or to “defend the truth.” The Beloved is to be working, thinking:


  1. The Beloved is Guarding


In other words, to keep safe the truth. Protect it from error. Even from those within the church. And it is true, some things are hard to understand. Sunday evenings we had some good discussions. And some great questions, to try to work through some hard theology. And some of our thoughts will be off the mark at times. I am sure that mine will be. But this should never keep us from looking deeper, from studying more. And we have a great responsibility as a church family to respond well to the culture, to our children, and to each other in the church. More than just “I believe what my church believes.” Well, what does your church believe? “Well, they believe pretty much what I believe!”


In these past two weeks, as culture verses church belief continues to escalate. A handful of NHL hockey players refused to do the pre-game skate to celebrate the gay-pride movement. And when asked why they did not skate with the rest of their team, a couple responded:

“After many thoughts, prayers and discussions we have chosen not to wear a Pride Night jersey tonight … We carry no judgment on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey. Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a Pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs.”


Now this needs to be applauded, as these hockey players are going against teammates, friends, coaches, management, and the league from whom they receive large salaries. So much easier to cower and say nothing and just quietly go along with it. They did say, “we carry no judgment on how people choose to live their lives.” That is not completely true, as we do carry judgment. Not our own, for we are not judging others, for we too are sinners. But the judgment we do carry and the reason that they were unable to participate, is not that we are judging others, but we have the responsibility to declare what God has already judged. In other words, I do not have to judge many of these things in our culture: abortion, premarital sex, homosexuality, or lying. For God has already done that. But this is part of the guarding, isn’t it? And it is easy to make a statement on Facebook or comment on someone’s blog, but far more courageous to confront someone in person when your job is on the line, or your popularity at school might be at stake because you love Christ. But Peter using the term “guarding” implies a risk. For when you are a guard, you place yourself at risk. We are not sitting in the park taking a survey of what everyone believes. No, we are listening, and correcting with gentleness those who come with error, because God has already declared His judgment. Finally,

“but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

2 Pet 3:18 (LSB)


  1. The Beloved is Growing


Now this is one of those endings in a letter that we could easily pass over, “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But what does that mean? I believe there are two things going on here. One, there is much for me to learn about myself, “to grow in grace.” Two, there is much for me to learn about God, “grow in your knowledge.” Part of the growing in grace is gaining a better understanding of myself, which includes knowing how dependent I am on the Lord’s work to grow deeper spiritually. I do not believe anyone wants to come to church every Sunday and hear someone tell them that they need to do better. As Alistair Begg says that every Sunday we hear, “You better pull up your socks, so try harder!” But growing in grace means a better understanding of my own inabilities, and of my natural humanness to want to fight against God’s work. And this is why it is so difficult. And you might be thinking that if the pastor himself would start to grow spiritually, then I will, and I would agree with you! And sometimes we might think of those who appear to do well spiritually as those who have it all together, but this is not necessarily true.


The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). Not always, but often it is the one who understands his own weaknesses, who realizes his need of other believers, who needs the study of God’s Word, who needs the fellowship of the saints, and who needs to pray. As all of these things are the graces of God. Yes, there may be some who view church and attendance and a daily Bible time as something as methodical, and sort of in a legalistic way of trying to impress God or others. Yet, that is not the intent of any of these things, as these things reveal a dependence upon God. As the Beloved growing in grace realizes his need for God, of others, of God’s Word, and of the power of prayer. Whereas the one who shies away from these things may be saying, I do not need them. And secondly, growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is gaining a deeper understanding of God and His tremendous love and investment toward the sinner. And therefore, the growing knowledge is not about facts and information, but a fascination for who God is and what He has done! Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a Welsh pastor who was greatly used of God. He said this near the end of his life:

“When you come to where I am, there is only one thing that matters, that is your relationship to [Christ] and your knowledge of him. Nothing else matters. All our righteousness is as filthy rags. Our best works are tainted. We are sinners saved by grace. We are debtors to mercy alone.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Ian H. Murray 455


None of us grows in grace until we know this. A dependence that calls us to seek Him more and more. A dependence that realizes I need the graces of God in my life. For look how Peter closes (vs 18b), “To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.” So, Beloved [agapētos] esteemed, dear, favourite, and worthy of love. The assumption, you are desiring to be with Christ. So, be working, thinking, guarding, and growing. And all God’s people said, amen.