Finding Precious Faith
2 Peter 1:1-2
I wonder what the response from this room would be if I asked what is the most precious thing you own? Most of us would attribute the most precious thing we own to be something we cannot stand to lose; and that is why it would probably be a person close to us.
The thing about precious things is that they are honoured and protected. Why because they are rare, or irreplaceable, or of immense value.
Tonight I want to start a two part series I have titled “Precious Faith”
I have titled it this because that is exactly what Peter describes it as in his second letter to the church in 2 Peter. It is an interesting way to describe faith; precious. For in that statement is conveyed the idea of worth and value.
But before we get there and read 2 Peter 1:1-2 I would like to give a little bit of context:
Peter writing to the entire church and in this letter he addressing the coming problems that face the church.
Peter is preparing the church for the possibility of false teachers. Peter was writing to Gentile believers. This letter was addressing the gnostic and antinomian heresies which were gaining ground in church as the church grew in the world.
Gnostics (or Gnosticism) taught you must believe in Christ and esoteric (or higher) knowledge (gnosis). This higher knowledge is mysterious and hidden and you had to be spiritually inclined to fully get this knowledge. At the heart of Gnosticism was a pursuit to make yourself glorious and more Spiritual through secret wisdom or knowledge.
Antinomians believed that the moral law was irrelevant because all that matted was the forgiveness of God. They believed that sin didn’t matter because God is a forgiving God. One man put it this way; “God likes to forgive, I like to sin; therefore a perfect relationship.
But this is not the teaching of the church nor of Scripture; you cannot have Jesus as saviour without Him being Lord of your life. Jesus not only forgives our sins, but puts a new nature in us. therefore we are free not to sin, but to follow God.
The Antinomian heretics taught that You could do whatever you wanted because God would forgive you anyway.
This is what Peter was writing into when he wrote his second letter to the church in 2 Peter. It is in this context that Peter address what I want to look at tonight; this idea of our precious faith.
Peter brings about the idea of a precious faith. Lets start by asking a question; what is faith?
Well faith biblically is
“… confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what
we do not see.”(Heb 11:1)
But what does that mean? Faith is confident trust. That defines all faith. But Peter says that we have a precious.
Why a precious faith, well it is a faith that is rare and valuable.
Which is my first point this evening;
1. Faith is unique
Faith in itself is not a unique thing to the church, there are hundreds if not thousands of faiths around the world. What makes our faith precious is the fact that it is unique.
It is unique because our faith is not a product of what we can muster up and force into existence, our faith is in the trustworthiness of a person (Jesus Christ) and His ability to bring us to a glorious salvation that he has promised by his death on the cross.
Our faith is unique because it is all about what God can do in us and not what we can do for ourselves if we believe enough.
The problem we face with our faith is that we all want to be powerful in some way. To wield influence by something we possess. As children we have dreams of being heroes or having magical powers. Something that gives us worth because we are secretly powerful.
The problem with this idea is that it is enticing, and in fact prolific in the faiths of the world. And it was one of the beliefs that was sneaking its way into early Christianity and I dare say it is sneaking its way back into Christianity today.
The idea that we are secretly powerful and we are on a journey to discover that power! (this is what the Gnostics were teaching in Peter’s day).
The truth is (and the unique aspect of our faith is) that we are not powerful, our God is! We are dependant! We are helpless and He is mighty enough to save us!
This doesn’t bode well with our secret arrogance, and so is easily abandoned. But in abandoning it we lose that which is unique about our faith.
It is like having an amazing family heirloom and selling it because you want something that is common so that you can fit it.
Our faith stands in great contrast to what the world is selling because our faith is about what God can do in us and not what we can do in us. Yet we are so eager to by the worlds lie over the truth of God.
Our faith is precious because it is unique
2. Faith is treasured
“This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour.”
Our faith is precious because it came at huge cost; a cost that we cannot begin to fathom. And because of the immense cost of this faith it should be treasured as something precious.
Why are we saved? It is not because we are good enough, it is because Jesus died in our stead. He took our place and died our death. Therefore our faith is precious because it is a gift to us.
We have heard this all before, however, let me remind you of the significance of this!
Through our faith we are given the very righteousness of Christ and our sin is remembered no more.
There is no condemnation, there is no more enmity between us and God. We are united with Christ in His death and united with Him in his life.
This is to be treasured! Our faith is precious to us because it is worth more than anything in this world!
What can this world offer you that can compare to eternal peace and a forgiveness of all your sins?
The thing is that the things of this world and the desires of life can look more enticing than our precious faith because they are immediate. And if we lose sight of the great treasure that we have we will lose that which is truly of worth.
It’s like those scams where the scammer says I have this rare jewel but I’m in a rush to leave the country, so they offer you a “Killer” deal for this jewel. But you find out its worthless at the end of the day.
The treasure of our faith is priceless and yet so often we allow temporal and worthless things to rob us of our treasure.
Jesus illustrated the worth of our faith with the parable of the treasure and the pearl. Both of these parables something of immense worth is found and both times the finder sells all they have to possess this great treasure.
Barry shared this with us this morning we must hold loosely to the things of this world cause we are heaven bound and our true treasure lies there.
I wonder if our faith is so precious that we are truly willing to give up everything for it? I wonder if Christ is worth more to us that everything we have!
I believe that if you truly know Christ, and discovered his goodness, then you could answer that question easily as yes.
You see our faith is precious because it is of immense worth it is treasured.
3. Faith is intellectual
Peter says in verse 2
“2May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.”
Our faith is reasonable and connected to knowledge. This is why I am so passionate about teaching and especially teaching theology.
I am convinced that as we know God more our life is more and more secure. As we study God’s word more and more we discover who he really is and in this we find our security and peace.
This is why Peter writes and says may grace and peace grow as your knowledge of God and Jesus grows.
It is as we stretch ourselves with understanding who God is so that understanding gives way to life and peace.
The intellectual pursuit of God, when done from a heart that is hungry to know Him and love Him is one of the most rewarding pursuits we can go on. It is an adventure that simply never ends.
I love the fact that as I learn more about God I wish to learn more about Him. And as I answer deep questions so many more come up.
The pursuit of God must be one that engages our minds!
Our faith is precious because it is not pie in the sky, it is real and powerful and reasonable and intellectual. It encompasses all aspects of life and brings life to all that encompass it.
I love the fact that there are so many in this church that are so hungry for more knowledge of God your pursuits will be rewards with grace and peace!
The reality is as we pursue God and desire to know more about Him, his greatness secures us, the fact that he directs us humbles us and His majesty calms our spirit; and this is why as our knowledge of God grows so does grace and peace in our lives.
This pursuit of knowledge is not a secret knowledge that the Gnostics would have claimed. But a knowledge that was plain and taught throughout the church and was clear in the teachings of the Apostles as well as the OT and NT letters.
Ultimately it was a knowledge grounded in reality because God was the author of reality: Jesus really lived, died and really rose from the dead! Jesus really did die for us our sins. These are things that we can all see and understand.
Therefore Our faith is precious because it engages our minds and is reasonable and sets our minds free. It heals our thinking and gives us peace and grace.
So I hope that it is clear to you that you share in a precious faith, and faith that is unique and special, a faith that is worth more than all the treasures of the world and a faith that connects you to God’s peace because it calms your minds and stimulates your thoughts to good things.
But in all this what do we walk away with from all this? Well…
It is because of our precious faith, we trust that Jesus has rescued us and giving us peace with God. This peace gives us hope and it is this hope sustains us!
I hope you realise that your faith does not rest in fiction but truth.
We have a faith that is unique and to be treasured, and is full of truth and power.
And so I challenge us to see the truth, knowing that the truth will set us free!