II Peter: Living the Christian Life, Part 2
What if someone rang your doorbell today and asked for money to buy a large house or buy a private jet? It’s safe to say you would think they were crazy. Yet, you can turn your television on and see so-called pastors manipulate Bible verses to show how sending money to his or her organization or church so that they can buy a private jet or build a large home for “the ministry”, will bless you.
This week we continue our series in 2 Peter. Last week we learned about the importance of staying in God’s Word and trusting the Holy Spirit. This week in chapter 2, Peter transitions quite suddenly and warns believers of false teachers among them. We’ll learn the only way to guard ourselves from these teachers is to know God’s Word!
We hope as you listen, God will put a hunger in your heart to know His Word better and to guard yourselves and those in your watch, from false teachers that are all around us. We know that it can be scary discerning a teacher that has pure intentions and one that is manipulating for their own gain. This is where reading your Bible and praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance will help as you guard yourself against such teachers.
If you missed Part One of this series, you can Listen Here.
If you’d like to hear Part Three, Listen Now
Steve Conover: This is the Friends of Israel today. I’m Steve Conover, and with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. Did you know that 87% of American households own a Bible, and the average household has three? This sounds like an encouraging number, but you might be surprised to hear that only about half of all adults in America can even name the four gospels. Many Christians can’t identify more than two or three of the disciples, and 60% of Americans can’t even name five of the 10 commandments.
Chris Katulka: Those are some scary numbers.
Steve Conover: They really are.
Chris Katulka: These depressing statistics are the reason that we’re continuing our series on 2 Peter. You know 2 Peter is all about how Christians can live a life that is honoring to God in a world that’s breaking apart at the seams. 2 Peter is all about how we’re living our lives in the light of the return of Jesus Christ. Let’s just be honest with each other. It’s not easy and it was never intended to be. God never promised us an easy life today, but God wants us to have an abundant life now. 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. We’re entering into chapter 2 here, which is all about false teachers. The easiest way, my friends, for a false teacher to infect the church is to have a biblically illiterate congregation. As you can see from those statistics, that’s exactly what’s going on in the culture that we’re in today.
Peter has explained in his letter how to identify false teachers, and how we can guard ourselves against this epidemic that abuses God’s people and His Word.
Steve Conover: Chris, we look forward to hearing your continued teaching from 2 Peter. In the news, Trump’s Middle East envoy promised a future peace plan that will be heavily focused on Israeli security needs, but will also aim to be fair to the Palestinians. Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations said, “We have tried hard to find a good balance. Each side will find things in this plan that they don’t like. There are no perfect solutions.”
Chris Katulka: This is interesting because Israel, I believe, has constantly been flexible in what it means to create peace with the Palestinians. It’s been the Palestinians that have lacked flexibility over the years of creating peace. Here’s my take. I’m waiting to see the details of President Trump’s peace plan, but there’s one thing I know is that this peace plan will serve as a test for Trump to see how willing and how flexible the Palestinians are at making peace with Israel. If they show no flexibility, I’m pretty confident Trump will invest his energies elsewhere.
Last week we started a three-part series on the letter of 2 Peter. This letter was written to Christians living in Western Asia Minor, which today is Greece and Turkey. Peter wrote this letter for an important reason, to communicate how to live a Christian life in light of the second coming of Christ. 2 Peter is all about living a Christian life today, knowing that Christ could return at any moment.
Last week we looked at how Peter encouraged believers to stay close to God’s Word, that God’s Word isn’t something made up or concocted by men. No, instead God’s word is his revelation to us. When God’s word connects with the Spirit of God that’s living within us, that’s when true change can happen. That’s when transformation can happen. That’s when we become more like Christ even today.
Peter wants us to stay close to God’s Word and to understand that the prophets didn’t write the Old Testament on their own volition, but through the guiding of the Holy Spirit. Peter is going to make a sudden shift here in 2 Peter chapter 2, but it connects perfectly to chapter 1. As we’re talking about Christian living in light of Christ’s second coming, we need to stay close to God’s Word right now. We have to know God’s Word and understand the origin of God’s Word, because false teachers exist in the world today who can easily lead us astray.
Notice the perfect connection between chapters 1 and chapters 2. Chapter 1 ends with God saying that prophets perfectly wrote down and communicated God’s Word. They didn’t concoct it on their own. They didn’t make it up on their own. They were God’s prophets, God’s messengers, God’s communication tool to reach the people of that time and even us today, to encourage us, rebuke us, to inform us of God’s nature, character, and plan, and program. God chose prophets. They were true prophets.
Then, at the same time, it says in chapter 2, picking up in verse 1, it says, “But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.” Peter is sending out a warning signal, my friends. It’s a warning signal that’s even sounding today, to beware of false teachers. They exist. They existed during the days of Peter and they exist today. Peter says in 2 Peter 2:1, “These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master, capital “M” Master, who bought them.”
In the Old Testament, false prophets would often tell the Israelites that everything was going to be okay. You know, Peter is connecting this concept of false prophets who preached lies to false teachers today, who would abuse their position pedaling lies that will lead believers astray.
Listen to what Peter says about these false teachers. He says this, “These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies even to the point of denying the master who bought them. As a result, they will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their debauched lifestyles. Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered, and in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by. Their destruction is not asleep.”
False teachers stealthfully enter into the church because they come from within the church, just like false prophets of Israel weren’t Gentiles from other nations, false prophets were Israelites. They were Jewish people who were preaching false messages of God. These false teachers today introduce believers to destructive heresies. Just as the false prophets of the Old Testament were preaching that everything is okay, God is on your side, nothing to worry about over here, Peter is saying the same about false teachers. These destructive heresies distract Christians from knowing the truth and really knowing what’s going on around them.
Peter continues about false teachers in verse 3. Listen, he says this, “And in their greed, they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by, but their destruction is not asleep.” Folks, greed is the motivational factor for false teachers in the church. They commercialize the stories they’ve made up. That’s what Peter means when he says, “In their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words.”
Peter’s words seem to just jump right off the page when I hear about pastors who live in 15,000 square foot homes, or televangelists who encourage their listeners to give money because they received a word from the Lord that they need to buy a 50 million dollar private personal jet. Greed drives them to fabricate lies that sell.
Peter, who you could argue is functioning almost as a prophet here, like a true prophet of God, is telling it like this. It’s telling those false teachers that judgment is coming for them. God’s justice for leading His sheep astray does not sleep. It’s never late. That’s why in the following verses, Peter reminds his readers of God’s timely judgments throughout Old Testament history.
Peter doesn’t want false teachers or those being abused by false teachers to let their abuse go and power go unchecked. That’s why Peter reminds his readers of God’s timely judgments throughout Old Testament history. Peter doesn’t want false teachers, or even those who are being abused by false teachers, to think that their sin is going to go unchecked.
Peter reminds the readers of his letter that God judged the angels who sinned against him. They were cast into utter darkness. God judged the world during the days of Noah, but He decided to rescue Noah and his family. That God judged Sodom and Gomorrah but spared Lot. What Peter’s trying to communicate is that God is capable of dividing the righteous from the unrighteous, and enacting His judgment on false teachers. As the church is functioning and there are righteous people in the church that are doing the will of God, according to His Scriptures, there are also unrighteous people in the church teaching heresies. They are leading the sheep astray. God is saying, “I know how to divide the righteous from the unrighteous.” My timing, My judgment is timely. I know it’s sitting idly by. It’s going to come.
Folks, the reason this is so important to understand as Christians, is that since the days of Peter, false teachers have been pedaling un-biblical promises to make you feel like everything is just okay the way it is. Life is okay. I am okay. You are okay. And folks, the false prophets of Israel’s day did the exact same thing, and yet God still judged the nation of Israel.
Peter says false teachers in 2 Peter 2:17, “Are waterless springs, and mists driven by a storm.” When people go to find spiritual refreshment in the words of a leader of the church, a pastor, or even somebody on television, a false teacher is a waterless spring. When you go to a spring, you go in hopes of finding refreshment and rejuvenating yourself spiritually. Instead, according to Peter, with a false teacher you get nothing, emptiness. There is no return on investment with a false teacher. A false teacher is someone who looks like a biblical teacher, sounds like a biblical teacher, but still leaves you more thirsty than you were before.
Now remember, Peter places this section on false teachers here for a reason. As a Christian who is living in light of Christ’s return, Peter wants us to be diligent to know what a false teacher looks like, what a false teacher sounds like, so that we can stay away. There will be no spiritual rejuvenation at the spring of a false teacher. That’s why when we return, we’re going to look at what you need to know to identify a false teacher, so be sure to stick around.
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 F-O-I-radio.org, or call our listener line at 888-343-6940. Again, that’s 888-343-6940.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We’ve been discussing false teachers from 2 Peter chapter 2. False teachers who live in the flesh, they’re not governed by the Spirit of God. They are motivated by greed and wealth, and are willing to abuse God’s people for their own gain. I just think of those widows who are sitting behind the television at night watching televangelists tell them to give money so that they can get a private jet to do ministry. Folks, that is such a sham. Even 2 Peter says, “Greed motivates them.” I think of that poor widow who gives the little that she has to help this false teacher get something he definitely doesn’t need, that has no spiritual profitability whatsoever. Yet they abuse these people. They infiltrate the church with a different gospel, with destructive teaching.
God says they will be judged. But here’s something we should be thinking about. How can we spot a false teacher? Now there are some blatant signs of false teachers, and I believe the fragrant accumulation of wealth, as we just talked about, is a good sign of them being a false teacher. Like I said in the earlier segment, if you see a pastor or a teacher telling you to give money to buy a private jet, something is not right there.
But I believe there is another way to identify false teachers, and that’s through the reading of God’s Word. Knowing God's Word, and being able to hold God's Word up against what the speaker says. 2 Peter 1 reminds us that we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that we partake in the divine, and that God's Word isn’t something concocted by men, and that when the Word of God interacts with the Holy Spirit in our lives, real change happens. We’re transformed into the image of Christ.
But friends, we have to know and interact with God's Word. How can you identify and call out a false teacher? You hold them accountable to God's Word. Friends, you can’t do that unless you know the Bible. Steve mentioned to us up front some really depressing statistics that came out of the Barnett Group, that showed the biblical illiteracy of our nation.
Just listen to some of these polls. Number one, only about a half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians can’t even identify more than two or three of Jesus’ disciples. 60% of Americans can’t name even five of the 10 commandments. I love what George Barnett says here. He says, “No wonder people break the 10 commandments all the time. They don’t even know what they are.”
There is an increasing biblical illiteracy that is going across America, that people don’t know the Bible. Folks, can I tell you something? That’s scary, especially when 87% of American homes have a Bible in them, up to three. Talk about an open door for Satan to send an army of false teachers to lead believers astray. If people can’t even name four gospels, what’s the chance of them standing up against deeper theological or doctrinal issues? They can’t. They’ll believe anything that they hear.
You know the same can be said for those false prophets in the days of Jeremiah. God’s word said long before Jeremiah even appeared on the scene, back in the days of the Torah when Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy, that if Israel falls away from God, if Israel follows other gods, if Israel doesn’t bow down and worship the Lord as the one true God, then God is going to judge Israel by bringing in other nations to judge them. It says that in Deuteronomy chapter 28 through 30. It’s right in God's Word. God made it very, very clear. Yet somehow false prophets were able to influence the King of Israel. How is that possible? Is it maybe that the King of Israel didn’t know God’s law, didn’t know God's Word, and was just believing anything false prophets were saying?
Folks, that’s why when Jeremiah steps up and says, “That’s not what God's Word says. God is going to judge this nation for their sin.” It was truth. It wasn’t truth that Jeremiah just made up. It was truth that was coming from God's Word. Jeremiah held up God's Word as a light to those false prophets, calling them out. Yet he ended up in a pit.
Folks, people don’t like our message. Just as Jeremiah was thrown in a pit, just as he was shunned, Jesus says that we will be shunned for His Name. It’s really important to understand that people are tickled. Their ears are tickled by false teaching because it promises them something that everything is okay, and that’s not the way it is, folks.
Listen, false teachers will be judged. It’s our job to call them out by what? Reading God's Word. Stay connected to God's Word. Read God's Word. Understand God's Word. Know God's Word. When you know God's Word, you know God’s character. When you know God's Word, your life is changed and you’re able to confidently understand who a false teacher really is.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of holocaust survivor, Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: One recent morning, I went to a market in Jerusalem. I saw a long line of people in front of one of the stores. When I asked what was being sold, someone cautiously whispered, “A great righteous man is coming here. He can help people solve their problems, and he has performed many miracles.” I asked, “How much do you have to pay for such a miracle?” He replied, “Only 280 shekels.” I asked, “Who gave him the power to do the work of the devil?” The man was surprised at my question, then asked off shouting, “Wait here. I will be back.” He returned with two overly confident men. One of them fired off a series of questions, “What do you want? Why do you care what is happening here?” I answered, “If I say nothing I will be guilty. This is my obligation before God and man.”
After a long discussion, one of the men asked, “Do you want us to close this place and send everyone home on your orders?” “No, my friend,” I replied. “I have read to you the orders of God Himself. I am just his insignificant servant.” I then read the continuation of the command in Ezekiel: “Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn, he shall die in his iniquity but you have delivered your soul.”
One said, “Because you read from the Bible, we know you are a Christian. If you do not leave this place quietly, things will not go well for you.” But I was not afraid. I continued to warn others waiting in line. I told them about false teachers and read Jeremiah 23:25: “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesied lies in my Name.” I told them, “This man is prophesying lies in God’s name. If you accept his false teaching, you will not only pay with your money, you will also pay with your lives and your souls.”
Some said they were there because they had many troubles. I told them, “We’re not living in a paradise on this earth, and we never will. However, the Lord is preparing a paradise for us when we leave this earth, but we will never get there by asking wicked people, like the one coming here today, to bless us. To enter God’s paradise, we must come to Him, as he has prescribed in His Word. God alone can give us true blessings and solutions to our problems.”
Some of the people were uncertain about me. No doubt they suspected I was a Christian. One man asked, “Are you a Jew?” I replied, “I am, but we have only one God and He does not care about nationalities. He is concerned with people’s hearts and worship. I am not trying to hide anything. I believe in the Lord Jesus as my Messiah and Savior, and therefore I have to warn you against following false teachers like the one you are waiting to see now.”
Many accepted my witness graciously. Some even left the line to speak further with me about the Lord. At the end of our conversation, I gave them New Testaments. I prayed they will recall our conversation, read the New Testament, come to the knowledge of the truth. Then they will not need to seek out false teachers. They will be able to take everything to the Lord, who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think.
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 F-O-I-radio.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: I would like to thank you all for being with us today for the program. Chris, any final thoughts as we close?
Chris Katulka: Yeah, you know, I think the big message that Peter is trying to communicate to us in this second chapter is that as we are waiting for Christ’s return today, there are false teachers that are abusing and taking advantage of God’s people. One of the best ways to combat false teaching, it’s very simple, know God's Word. If you know God's Word, you can spot a false teacher from anywhere. Be invested in God's Word. Be connected to God's Word. Be studying God's Word so that you can properly understand, as an individual, where the false teachers are, and you can call them out.
Steve Conover: Thank you, Chris. We want to take a moment here at the close to mention that The Friends of Israel Today is a listener supported radio program. Would you prayerfully consider becoming a monthly supporter of this ministry? You can find out more at F-O-I-radio.org. That’s F-O-I radio.O-R-G or call and leave us a message this weekend on our listener line at 888-343-6940. Once again that’s 888-343-6940 and someone will return your call during regular business hours. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka.
Today’s program was produced by Tom Gallione, engineered by Bob Beebe, co-written by Sarah Fern, Mike Kellogg at 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: Around the Corner
While visiting a market in Jerusalem, Zvi saw a large crowd gathered. He walked up and asked someone why people were there. A bystander explained that there was a man who performed miracles inside. Zvi boldly asked who gave this man the power of the devil! The bystander left and brought back a group of men who began asking Zvi questions. Hear how Zvi stood up to these men while also sharing the Truth of God’s Word to them.
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.