II Peter: Living the Christian Life, Part 1
“God wants you to be happy!” Sadly, this phrase is being shouted in the Christian world these days. But what if God doesn’t want us to simply be happy? What if His will for us is to live fully abundant, Spirit-led lives? What if that means suffering for Jesus’ name? These questions can seem very scary but if we trust the One who is holding our lives in His hands then instead of fear we can have peace.
This week we begin a three week series on the book of 2 Peter. As we read the Gospels and the book of Acts we see a transformation in Peter’s life that can only be explained as a work of the Holy Spirit. In Acts we see the cowering man that hid in the shadows while Jesus was being crucified gone and in his place, a bold man proclaiming the good news of his Savior, Jesus Christ.
2 Peter is all about how Christians can live a life honoring to God in a world that is very, very broken. Chris will show us this week how we should be living by the power of the Holy Spirit. And we’ll learn how the growing of our faith as believers comes from being guided by God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.
As believers in Christ, we should not settle for happiness! Happiness is fleeting. When we are fully surrendered to God’s will there may be hardships but they are worth it—because Jesus is worth it. We hope you are as blessed by this series as we are!
If you’d like to listen to Part 2 of this series, Click Here
Steve Conover: Jesus said in John chapter 10, verse 10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and may have it abundantly." Jesus promised us an abundant life today, even in a world that is dark and murky, so the questions we should be asking are, what does Jesus mean when he says we can have an abundant life? And how do we pursue it? Let me ask you, do you feel like you're living an abundant life?
This is The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover.
Chris Katulka: Hi. I'm Chris Katulka, and today on the program, we're going to begin a series on 2 Peter. 2 Peter is all about how Christians can live a life that is honoring to God in a world that is breaking apart at the seams. 2 Peter is all about how we are living our lives now in light of the return of Jesus. And let me be honest, life isn't easy. It was never intended to be easy, but God wants us to have an abundant life now, and 2 Peter sets our feet on the rock of God's word to know how to live in a world that shuns the name of Jesus.
Steve Conover: Chris, we're looking forward to that, but first in the news, Palestinian leadership filed a complaint to the International Court of Justice against the United States, citing that the U.S. Government's placement of its Israeli embassy in Jerusalem violates an international treaty and it should be removed.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. Steve, that treaty that they're talking about, is referring to the 1961 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations, which requires a country to place its embassy on the land of the host state, which is normal. Palestinians believe they are the host state of Jerusalem, and as a result, the U.S. put its Israeli embassy on Palestinian territory. Well, here's my take. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. You know, it's been the capital of Israel since the state was founded. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have no claim to Jerusalem, so citing an international treaty in the ICJ provides no reason for the U.S. to move its embassy out of Jerusalem. But I want to add one more thing. You know, America has every right to move its embassy and doesn't need permission from an international court that would seek to usurp the sovereignty of our nation.
You know, there's a common thread that runs through the New Testament that I don't think should be overlooked, especially in the world that we live in today. The common thread that appears is suffering, pain, heartache, persecution and tribulation. God never promised us a perfect life today. And these are all things that I'm sure that you've experienced maybe now in your life or you've experienced at some point in your Christian life. Jesus and the New Testament writers never lied to us. They never painted the Christian life as something that's supposed to be easy. Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew chapter 10, verse 22, "And you will be hated by everyone because of my name, but the one who endures to the end will be saved."
The disciples in the Book of Acts in chapter 5, verse 41 endured persecution with joy, and just listen to what Luke says about them, "So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name." Even Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12 says this, "Now, in fact, all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." It's inevitable, friends. If you stand up for the truth of God's word, we will face persecution. We will face heartache. We will face pain, and even apart from persecution, life is just full of pain and heartache and confusion.
We find ourselves dealing with issues of health or loved ones who are suffering from illness, or we lose jobs or we have prodigal sons and daughters who have walked away from the Lord. You name it, we all have stories. The truth of the matter is that Jesus never said that in this life we would find happiness, the good and perfect life, but I will tell you what God left us. He left us His Word so that we might have abundant life now, that we can have the wisdom of God through His Spirit to make sense of the persecution and suffering we're dealing with right now.
That's why we're going to begin a series on 2 Peter. 2 Peter is all about how Christians can live a life that is honoring to God in a world that really does seem to be breaking apart. 2 Peter is all about how we're living our lives in light of the return of Jesus Christ. 2 Peter opens with a prayer that the readers of his letters would recognize that the faith we have in Christ is a gift that we don't deserve. We didn't earn it. And he prays that they would grow in the knowledge of God, and Peter continues by saying this in 2 Peter, chapter 1, verse 3. He says this, "I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these things he has bestowed on us His precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised to you may become partakers of the divine nature after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire."
Listen, Peter is setting us up right away with the heart of the entire message of his second letter. He's giving you and me the answer to living a life that's pleasing to God today, before you even read the next three chapters, and he's saying this, you have to be indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God. You are a partaker of the divine nature of God. Friends, if you believe in Jesus, everything that you need for a life that's pleasing to the Lord today is in you right now because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
I often hear the phrase from Christians, Lord, fill me up with your holy spirit. Fill me up. Let me ask you something. Are you a leaky vessel? Did God indwell you with his Holy Spirit only so that it could leak out of you and now you have to ask him to fill you up again? No. Friends, that same Holy Spirit that came into your life when you believed is the same Holy Spirit that's there today. It's not an issue of filling up. That's not what Paul is communicating in the book of Ephesians when he says, "Being filled up by the Holy Spirit." That's not the issue of being filled up.
The issue that Paul is dealing with when he talks about being filled up by the Holy Spirit is the issue of control. Don't ask God to fill you up. Ask God to give you self-control to yield to the Holy Spirit's calling in your life. The divine nature of God is already in you, and it's calling you. It's teaching you. It's challenging you. It's convicting you. The question is, are you listening? Are you responding to Him? And Peter says, "If you're aware of the divine nature of God that's acting in your life right now, you will be able to withstand the pressures of this world and you will be effective." he says, "in serving God."
Listen, Peter doesn't want to stop there either. He wants to make sure the readers of this letter know that what he's teaching doesn't come from fairy tales and myths, but that they are real. Peter understands that the way Christians grow is through the deepening of their knowledge of God, and this doesn't happen unless Christians are hearing and reading the Word of God, and upon the hearing and reading of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit that's in you, works to reveal the rich knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord, which in turn, think about this, transforms us into the image of Christ and gives us the confidence to live a godly life in a very ungodly world.
Peter wants to take us back to remind us that everything that he is sharing with us was not something he conjured up in his mind, but was revealed to him by Jesus Christ. Friends, let me tell you something about an apostle. Whenever you hear apostle, Apostle Peter, Apostle Paul, Apostle John, when you hear about these apostles, you have to understand what that title means. An apostle can only be an apostle if they encountered or received direct revelation from Jesus. All of the 12 saw Jesus and heard Jesus in their flesh. Paul the Apostle saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. Remember it, Jesus knocked him off his horse. I love this. Listen to what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:16, "For we did not follow cleverly concocted fables when we made known to you the power and the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. No, we were eye witnesses of his grandeur."
Peter is saying, "Trust our words." Why? "Because we saw Jesus," and when he's talking about seeing Jesus, he's actually going back to the transfiguration. He's saying, "We saw Jesus in all of His glory, for He received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to Him by the majestic glory, 'This is my dear Son, in whom I am delighted.' When this voice was conveyed from heaven, we ourselves heard it, for we were with Him on that holy mountain." Peter is harkening back to the Mount of Transfiguration, where Jesus was transfigured right in front of him. He's saying, "I saw it happen. Every word Jesus said is something that I heard myself, so the stories I'm telling you are not stories that I made up in my mind, but these come from God's revelation through His Son Jesus."
But even more than just seeing Jesus in person, Peter wants us to know that the very word of God that we read can be trusted and is reliable even 2,000 years after the fact. Listen to what Peter says in 2 Peter, 1:19, "Moreover, we possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing. You do well if you pay attention to this as you would a light shining in a murky place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart." I want you to listen how one commentator puts it here. He says this, "In an exhortation, Peter told how to derive meaning from God's Word. Pay attention to it. As a light, God's written word has validity and authority. In today's experience-oriented societies, many people, including some Christians, seek to determine or assess truth by the particular way God has worked in their lives, but for Peter, the splendor of his experience with Christ at his transfiguration faded as he spoke of the surety of the written revelation of the prophets."
Friends, Peter wants us to know the world is a murky, dark place. The Word of God is a light shining in the dark place. I love this, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Peter is saying Jesus is that morning star. He is the Son that will bring light to all the dark places. Now listen, when we return, we're going to continue our study on 2 Peter and how trusting in God's Word is the only way to find footing in a murky, dark world.
Steve Conover: 2 Peter's three chapters embody virtually everything we as believers need to know about how to live like Christ today. In the book Standing Fast in the Last Days, Dr. Elwood McQuaid walks you through the letter of 2 Peter, encouraging believers to live a godly life in light of Christ's second coming.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, listen to what Elwood McQuaid says in the book, "2 Peter unveils great vistas of optimism and expectation of what lies ahead for those who know him. Food for the soul, enlightenment for the mind, and the eternal triumph of the redeemed are all here for the taking as we fulfill his heart's desire that we do what 2 Peter 3:18 says, 'Grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.'"
Steve Conover: To learn how you can purchase your copy of Standing Fast in the Last Days by Dr. Elwood McQuaid, go to foiradio.org. That's foiradio.O-R-G, or call our listener line at 888-343-6940. Again, that's 888-343-6940.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everyone. We just started a three-part series on 2 Peter, and 2 Peter is all about living the Christian life in a world that is murky and dark, as Peter says, and in 2 Peter, chapter 1, the Apostle Paul is sharing with us that everything that we need to live the Christian life today is found within us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit coupled with the hearing and the reading of God's word. When the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are working together in a believer's life, that's when real change happens, and that transformation into the image of God is what enables us to live godly lives in a world that abhors God.
And at the end of 2 Peter, the Apostle shares an incredibly significant verse, one that scholars debate over all the time. Listen to what he says here in 2 Peter l, verses 20 and 21. He says this, "Above all, you do well if you recognize this. No prophecy of Scripture ever comes about by the prophet's own imagination. For no prophecy was ever born of human impulse, rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoken from God."
Peter is talking about the Old Testament prophets and I believe can carry over to the New Testament writings as well, but I want you to hear what Peter is saying. Why is it that God's Word is sufficient for living the Christian life today? Well, he's saying that the prophets didn't make up these stories. These weren't figments of their imagination. They didn't write these prophecies like novelists write their stories under human impulse. Rather, Peter says, "Men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." If you ever wonder how the Word of God came to be, it's an act of God's grace as he took sinful men, placed his Holy Spirit in them and gave them the words to say from Himself. It's no wonder that Peter would place such a heavy emphasis on the Scriptures right up front in his letter. They're God’s nurturing words to us.
God is speaking directly to us through His Word as it interacts with the Holy Spirit in our lives. Friends, if you want to have an abundant life today in a world that is just clawing to pull you in every direction but God's direction, then I want to encourage you to carve out time in your day to hear from God by reading His Word, and maybe that starts with just one verse a day, but make that one verse a habit. Maybe you're a habitual Bible reader and you're saying, "Chris, I still feel lost in the world, and I do read the Bible." Friend, ask yourself, are you yielding to the calling of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you giving control to Him?
Peter says this in 2 Peter 1:12, "Therefore, I intend to remind you constantly of these things, even though you know them and are well established in the truth that you now have." Peter knows his readers have heard this already, but he knows how important it is to be rooted, to be reading, to be connecting, to be relating, to be studying, to be praying, to be engaging, to be standing on the Word of God. Folks, this is God's very voice to us, nothing that was concocted by men. This wasn't a made-up story. This is God's very Word, and as that very Word interacts with the Holy Spirit that's in your life, that's where true change, that's where true transformation is found.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: "Recently, I was in the army again. Usually, when we are on watch, nights are long, since there is nothing to do and we're not allowed to sleep. One night I was on watch with some religious Jews, who had many stories to tell, so the hours slipped by quickly. The first story was about a 90-year-old blind man. In a dream, an angel asked why he did not read the psalms. The man told the angel he could not read because he was blind. When the angel asked him what he wanted, the blind man requested sight so he could read the psalms. Each soldier told a story. When they had all finished, they looked at me and asked, 'Have you anything to say?' I knew this was a special opportunity for the Lord. I told them all those stories were merely dreams. What I will now read for you is true, I said.
"'Where is this written?' one demanded. I opened my small Bible and read from Matthew 20, where two blind men cried out, 'Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David, and Jesus caused them to see.' This was not a dream, I told them. I then read Acts 3:6, where Peter said to the lame man, 'In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. The lame man arose and walked.' When I finished, one declared, 'You have gone too far. How can you say the name of Jesus in our presence? You speak about him as if he were holy.' He is holy, I replied, and he always will be. He is everlasting. 'If you continue to speak of him, you will have trouble from us,' someone warned. I'm not afraid of you, I replied. You are afraid of the truth. So you speak of dreams and make them seem like facts.
"When I read the Scripture, you all trembled with fear. I told you facts, not dreams. 'Why do you not believe what our rabbis have written?' one asked. Because they are stories from their dreams, I replied. I believe in one God and what is written in His Bible because it was written to the Holy Spirit, not by people who took their stories from dreams. Show me where the rabbi stories are written in the Bible? 'Hah, now we are equal,' one said, 'because there's nothing written about Jesus in the Bible either.' So, I turned to Proverbs 30, verse 4, 'Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name and what is his Son's name, if you know.' And then I read Daniel 3:25, 'Look, I see four men walking in the midst of the fire. They are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.'
"This was all new to these soldiers. They had been in darkness for so long, but now they were beginning to see the light. I thank the Lord that he uses every situation to glorify Himself. Out of their stories came my opportunity to testify for the Lord. He can accomplish that which is impossible for us. I pray for these soldiers as they have been confronted with the truth."
Chris Katulka: The impact of Zvi's life and ministry in Israel continues to inspire. Zvi's ministry in Israel lives on through his family today and really has encouraged many of our Friends of Israel workers around the world to continue ministering to the Jewish community. When you give to the Friends of Israel, your donation allows us to advance the gospel of our Messiah, Jesus. You can give online by visiting foiradio.org, and it's there that you can click on our donate link. Also, be sure to let us know where you're listening when you contact us.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us today. Chris, any closing thoughts?
Chris Katulka: As I'm thinking about, as we're wrapping up 2 Peter, chapter 1, this is all about how the Spirit of God that's dwelling within us interacts with the Word that we can rely on, and I really think that that's when people's lives are changed. When the Word of God is interacting with the Holy Spirit in us, that's when we become more Christ-like because, really, to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ means that you have to know who God is. When you know who He is, and it's coupled with the Spirit, that's when you become more like Him.
Steve Conover: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry has been sharing the love of the Messiah and supporting Israel and the Jewish people since 1938. You can financially support the Friends of Israel Today Radio Ministry. Visit foiradio.org. That's foiradio.O-R-G. Call our listener line at 888-343-6940. Again, that's 888-343-6940. You can write to us at FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Please let us know where you're listening when you call or write.
Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry, communicating Biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
II Peter: Standing Fast in the Last Days
By Elwood McQuaid
Second Peter’s three chapters embody virtually everything we as believers need to know about how to live like Christ today. In the book, Standing Fast in the Last Days, Dr. Elwood McQuaid walks you through the letter of Second Peter, encouraging believers to live a godly life in light of Christ’s second coming.
Apples of Gold: No Dreams—Just Facts
While Zvi was serving in the Israeli Defense Force, he was on night duty with some religious soldiers. Nighttime watch can be very boring, however these men got into a spirited conversation about Jesus. They were all amazed to see that Jesus was not only found in the New Testament Scriptures but also the Old Testament. Listen how Zvi boldly but gently spoke to these curious soldiers.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.