2 Peter 1
1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Peter writes to believers as an Apostle and servant of Jesus Christ and who wouldn’t want to get a letter from an Apostle? Just try to get your head around that. One who walked with Jesus, who knew Him intimately, not just by faith, but as a friend, a travelling companion, a close personal friend. To have this one write you would be quite an event. At least for us it would. We get worked up when a movie or sports or singing star passes within a few feet of us or who agrees to sign an autograph or perhaps even stops and says “hello”. Hard to imagine what getting a letter from one who had been given power to heal by Jesus Himself. (We won’t even start about those who say Jesus shows up in their rooms on a frequent basis.)
Did the people who Peter was writing think like that? I don’t know. We know that whenever they were involved in something spectacular it produced some talk and following. Were they celebrities in the way that we think of the term? I tend to think not, but who knows? The human heart hasn’t changed and it just may be that some considered them “stars” (Consider I Corinthians 1:12).
Regardless of whether they did or not, Peter says an incredible thing here when he begins this letter. Notice what he calls his recipients – “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours”. First of all Peter acknowledges that the faith he has is a gift from God. No one can come to God on his own. By nature we rebel against the whole concept of grace. People with spectacular gifts get spectacular praise. We do not believe that those empowered to heal or teach or preach have a gift. We really think that they are wonderful people who have what they have because of some special trait or attitude or behaviour. We think they are holier, godlier. They know the voice of God better. Well some of them might, but their abilities are gifts. The fact that they believe in Jesus Christ is because the received, as an undeserved gift, faith itself. We naturally writhe against such conclusions I think because if it is true then the fact that we are believers at all has nothing to do with us. He gave us faith? This means that the fact that we believe is God’s doing and not ours? Yes, it does. This is the story of the whole Bible. Abraham is not on a quest for God when God calls him. He is an idol worshipping idolater whom God chooses to be the father of a great nation – the nation of those with faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:7). Moses is a murderer herding sheep on the backside of the desert and tries with all his might to wiggle out of the call of God upon him. The Apostle Paul is a murderer of believers when God calls him to be the greatest evangelist the church has ever had. Faith is a gift. Then Peter says “of equal standing with ours”.
The faith that the Apostle Peter, who wrote two New Testament books, was a companion of Jesus Christ, the spokesman for the Twelve, a miracle worker, a writer of divinely inspired letters, has a faith of equal standing with you and me? Yes. That is what he said and that is what he meant.
Faith is not valuable because of who has it. Faith is valuable because of where it is directed. It is valuable because of where it came from. Because it is a gift from God. We, and the Apostles, have faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is pleasing to God because it honours His Son. Faith in Jesus Christ saves from sin. Faith in Jesus Christ will bring all who have it to an eternity with Him. We do not understand grace. We lean toward thinking that the faith of the Apostles is on a different plane than ours. It is not. It is on the same plane as ours. It has to do with its object, not its possessor.
God does not love the Apostles because of their exploits and He does not love me less because of a lack of exploits. He gives faith as a gift to all He chooses, for the honour of His Son, and does not differentiate between the great and the small, the famous and the obscure, the successful and the insignificant. To trust Christ is a work of grace whether I trust Him through a life of obscurity or one of fame to the whole world.
We can take that truth and think “Wow. I am as great as the Apostles” and show that we simply don’t get it at all, or we can contemplate it and conclude that we, the Apostles and us, are the recipients of a great grace from a great loving God, for the purpose of living for and directing attention to – Him. The fact that we have a faith on an equal standing with the Apostles is not meant to give us healthy self esteem. It is not meant to bring us up or bring them down. It is meant to exalt a great grace and remember that the Christian faith is always, always, always, about Him. He has done an unimaginably great thing for all who believe in Him. Give Him glory.