Lesson 1 ... Being an Authentic Christian

(2 Peter 1:1-4)

Are you an authentic Christian? A study of 2 Peter and Jude is essential to answering this question because there is so much deception today about what it means to be a Christian. Christianity has been and is still being perverted into a Gospel that spiritualizes selfishness and greed. In this study, we will learn how to become authentic Christians. The key verse is 2 Peter 3:18a. Write it below:

 
 

Growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ is authentic Christianity. Being an authentic Christian has at least three requirements.

Believe exclusively (1:1)

We must exclusively believe the original, authentic Gospel. This is very important because cults and other false teachers are adding to the original Gospel. Where do we find out about the authentic Gospel? From the inspired writing of the New Testament! That’s why the author of this epistle is so important. It is Simon Peter (1:1a), one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. We know he was the leader of the Twelve because his name always appears first in the lists of the disciples. This is the last epistle this great saint wrote, for soon after writing it, he was martyred. As Peter writes this letter, he knows his time is short (1:13-14). Peter introduces himself as Simon Peter. Simon is his Jewish name. But where did he get the name Peter? Read Mark 3:16 and explain. (See also Matthew 16:17-18.)

 
 

The word translated Peter (petros, pet´-ros) means “a stone or rock.” “Cephas” is the Aramaic equivalent. He is called by four names in the New Testament: Simon, Cephas, Peter, and Simon Peter. Before becoming a disciple, Peter was a fisherman who lived in Capernaum. We know he had a wife because he had a mother-in-law (Mk 1:30). Also, he sometimes took his wife with him on teaching tours (1 Cor. 9:5).

Simon Peter calls himself a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ (1:1b–c). The word translated servant (doulos, doo´-los) literally means “slave” and refers to total subjection to Christ. The word order reveals Peter considers himself a servant first and an apostle second.

He is writing to them that have obtained like precious faith with us (1:1d). The word us refers to Peter and the other apostles. This means their faith was the same kind of faith as that of the apostles. In other words, it was authentic. The phrase through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (1:1e) reveals Peter and the apostles believe God and Jesus are one, not two. Jesus is God who came to earth in flesh and blood. That’s why Jesus said, I and my Father are one (Jn 10:30). Authentic Christians, unlike cult followers today, declare Jesus is God in flesh and blood and not just a creation of God. Authentic Christians also know Jesus is God’s final Word to the world (Heb. 1:2).

Our salvation is only available because the righteousness of God was made accessible through the death on the cross of our Saviour Jesus Christ. How does 2 Corinthians 5:21 explain this truth?

 
 

That is the original Gospel. To be an authentic Christian, believe exclusively the original faith, or Gospel. But also ...

Perceive properly (1:2)

Peter knows our faith can only remain sound and steadfast if we have a proper perception of God’s grace and peace. Therefore, he writes: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord (1:2). A biblical perception of God’s grace and peace can only be accomplished through the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is. We can only know God’s peace if we have first experienced His grace. How does Romans 5:1 express this fact?

 
 

In verse two, grace refers to more than God’s unmerited favor (which is saving grace) because Peter’s readers have already experienced that once and for all. There are at least five kinds of grace in the New Testament: saving grace (Eph. 2:8), empowering/strengthening grace (Acts 4:33, 1 Cor. 3:10), equipping/gifting grace (Rom. 12:6), sustaining grace (2 Cor. 12:9), and refining grace (Col. 4:6).

The word translated knowledge refers to knowing from personal experience. This knowledge not only imparts information into our lives but also leads to transformation, which is the result of knowing Jesus personally. This kind of knowledge lets us experience God’s grace and peace in abundance, or multiplied.

To be an authentic Christian, believe exclusively the original Gospel. Then, perceive properly God’s grace and peace that come only through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Next ...

Achieve divinely (1:3-4)

Our ability to live an authentic Christian life can only be achieved by his divine power (1:3a). People who are considering becoming Christians often hesitate because they think or say, “I can’t live the Christian life.” That’s true because living the Christian life under our own power is not difficult; it is impossible. That’s the bad news. However, the good news is we don’t have to live the Christian life on our own; we live it by God’s divine power. How does Ephesians 1:19a describe this divine power?

 
 

Although we cannot adequately describe God’s power, it is only through this incomparable power that we can live the Christian life. This is because He hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (1:3b). God gives us everything we need to live the Christian life. The word godliness means we devote ourselves to doing only what is pleasing to God. God has given us all things we need to please Him. This includes the Bible (which enlightens us so we know what to do), the church (which encourages us to do it), and the Holy Spirit (who empowers us to do what pleases God). That’s everything we need!

As Christians, we should never doubt God’s ability to give us everything we need to live for Him. The problem with many Christians today is found in 2 Timothy 3:5a–b. Explain below:

 
 

There are many once strong, missionary-minded denominations in America that today are dwindling and dying. The reason is they no longer have a godliness they believe has the power to win and change the world. Therefore, they are lowering their standards of morality, specifically sexual morality. They don’t believe the godliness contained in the Gospel has the power to bring people up to God’s standards. So, we see many churches preaching and teaching what has a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.

Peter continues: through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue (1:3c). The word translated glory (doxa, dox´-ah) is the word from which we get the English word “doxology,” which means “to ascribe praise and honor.” God wants us to share in His glory in heaven.

God also calls us to His virtue, which refers to moral excellence. We can’t achieve moral excellence on our own, but we can with God’s divine power. This is because of what truth found in 1 John 4:4c?

 
 

The One who is in us is the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). The one who is in the world is Satan (Jn 12:31; 1 Jn 5:19).

Christ has also given us exceeding great and precious promises (2 Pet. 1:4a), which include the promise of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:14-17a). The fulfillment of these promises makes it possible for us to be partakers of Christ’s divine nature (1:4b). Therefore, we can participate in Christ’s moral excellence, or victory over sin. In Christ, we have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (1:4c). This is true because our nature determines our desires, or appetites. For example, a hog has a desire to wallow in mud and mire. How does Proverbs 26:11 express this principle?

 
 

Our nature determines our behavior. If we have a new, divine nature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), we will become more and more like Him. That is what it means to be an authentic Christian.

To be an authentic Christian, believe exclusively the original Gospel. Next, perceive properly God’s grace and peace that come only through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord. Then, you can achieve divinely through God’s awesome, indwelling power—the Holy Spirit.