“The Real Danger for the Church”

1 Peter

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

2 Peter

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Peter writes the first Epistle approximately 64 AD and the second one about 3 years later. He was to be martyred soon after he penned his last letter. Nero was about 25 years of age when he became Emporer and he was to rule for a brief 5 years. Historians record that he committed suicide when he was 30. Nero wanted to build a huge palace for himself and some say that he deliberately started a fire in Rome to make way for his new palace. He blamed the Christians and punished them terribly. He used the corpses of Christians as lamps to burn at night.

Nero was a real danger to the Church. Through him, many brethren suffered great persecution and many were martyred. It is said that Peter and Paul were executed during his reign.

As dangerous as tyrants like Nero were to the Church there was a much bigger danger. Indeed, the danger from without caused much stess and pain to God’s people. In Peter’s first letter he is full of comfort and encouragement regarding this danger attacking them from the outside.

But in Peter’s second letter he addresses something far more sinister for Christians – the attack from within. In chapter 2 the first 22 verses, he deals specifically with the rise of false teachers through which the “way of truth would be evil spoken of”. This danger for the church was far more pernicious than the danger from persecutors like Nero. It is still true today.

Our real enemy is from within. Yes, Satan loves attacking Christians from without and making life miserable for them. But that is bearable and Christians can still bear good testimony to the Lord Jesus.

One of these dangers from within is the lack of unity among brethren. Think of the Reformation. God did a marvellous work but it was harmed by disunity from among the Reformation leaders. Great works of God, revivals, are often spoiled by Christians’ lack of unity among themselves. In John 17 we read of the prayer that Jesus made to the Father. In Jn 17:21 He prays for the unity of His children. And what a prayer! “That they may be one; as thou, Father, are in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

What prevents the world from believing that the Father sent Jesus? Lack of unity among brethren – not attacks from outside. The real danger is among Christians. What tremendous unity Jesus prays for – as the Father was in Him so too He would be in us! And, more than that, He gives us His glory (vs 22) How is this accomplished? “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me,…”. His living in us makes us truly one and this is the only living testimony to the world. Our sermons will not convince them – only our God-given unity.

Also, the love among the brethren is more convincing than anything we might say. In John 13:34 we read of the “new commandment” to love one another. Unity among the brethren is only possible when we love one another. And this is only made possible by Jesus living within us.

No wonder the devil seeks to destroy from within the church. Yes, satan’s attacks from without are awful but that does not destroy the testimony of the church. The lack of loving unity is the real danger to the church. Are you part of the problem?

How will you stand before the judgement seat of Christ if you are part of the disunity in His church? Repent today!