Musing on 2 Peter & Jude, Part 1:
This summer Peter and then Jude gripped me about the shoulders, pointed into the gaping black of the Abyss, and clutched my head tight so I had to stare in horror upon the anguish. They wouldn’t let me squeeze my eyes shut, and they didn’t allow me to avert my gaze.
Both described in awful detail the eternal destruction awaiting the hard-hearted false believer. This fire and brimstone was written to people like me, well-taught believers who know their theology and who may have become sunk in their Churchianity.
They didn’t write hellfire to unbelievers. People who don’t take God seriously laugh about the possibility of hell. They say they want to go there with their friends. But people who know their bibles? We care. These letters are to us, warnings to confirm that our faith is genuine.
We cannot take this for granted. Only in Christ are we kept secure.
Peter drafted his second letter as he awaited death. This is what he thought most important to proclaim to the church before the Romans whisked him out to kill him. Jude only weighed in scripturally once. He aimed his warnings at the church.
These words are to me. They are to you. Do we really belong to God? Is there evidence?
We can’t skip the parts of God’s Word that make us uncomfortable. We have to examine the whole to see God clearly. God is as just and holy as he is merciful and compassionate. A just God requires justice.
In excruciating detail, I’ve spent the summer examining exactly what happens to a person who veers from faith in Christ. This is not the norm for me. Mostly I speak and teach on the love of God, his mercy, and his desire that we come into relationship with him. My focus is on returning to God, putting down roots in Christ, and the transformation of beauty from ashes.
But the destruction, condemnation, and judgment of pseudo-believers fill these letters.
Death would be less ominous if everyone went to heaven, especially those of us who think we’re going there. But that idea is squashed by these letters and everything the bible says about the necessity of belief, trust, faith, and proof of growth. These men want us to make certain.
God desires us to place all our faith in the sacrifice of his Son, not in ourselves or our religious efforts. Without Christ’s bloody purchase, we would be eternally separated from a holy God, and that separation means eternal destruction.
As a daily habit, God wants us to repent and yield to Christ as Savior and Lord. God’s plan is for us to love his Son with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. His Holy Spirit causes us to grow, and we cooperate. Love and knowledge of Christ produce fruit.
If we’re not growing, are we truly saved?
Eternal separation from God means the everlasting anguish of destruction of our cognizant spirit. Being shut out from the joy and bliss of God’s presence and of Jesus’ nearness eternally slays the immaterial part of humans. He is life. Apart from him is eternal death. We absolutely do not want to die without attaching ourselves in reliance upon Christ. We do not want to be slain forever.
Both letters highlight the proof of God’s divine power within us:
- Peter listed growth in character and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 1:5-9; 3:14, 17-18).
- Jude emphasized mercy, God’s love, and contending for the faith (Jude 2-3, 20-23).
- Both point to the evidence of God changing, transforming, and keeping us (2 Peter 1:1-4; Jude 20-21, 24-25).
This is important. We don’t want to be the goats in the parable. They thought heaven was secure. They were doing Christian deeds, going to church, and learning theology, but Jesus said he never knew them. These men urge us to make every effort to ascertain if we truly belong to Christ.
Am I saved, or am I just going through the motions? Are you? What is the proof?
Bottom photo: Free Digital Photos, smallest format in public domain.