Divine Power – Introduction
We’ve all heard the saying, “knowledge is power.” Today, we’ll examine God’s Divine Power and, from a Biblical standpoint, we’ll see just how true that statement is.
“Man’s ultimate destiny is to become one with the Divine Power which governs and sustains the creation and its creatures.”
~Alfred A. Montapert
The basis of our discussion of Divine Power is found in 2 Peter 1:1-4. First, listen to the entire passage:
“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ have been made equal with us in the precious faith: Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us all things that pertain to the power of God, for life and worship of God, through the knowledge of Him who has called us by His glory and excellence, whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
First, we must recognize that there is disagreement between theological scholars as to the actual authorship of this letter. Some feel the Apostle Peter actually wrote the letter and some feel that, while he didn’t actually put the words to the scroll, he authorized the writing. One school of thought is that Jude, Jesus’ brother, since his vocabulary and style more closely match 2 Peter than the content of 1 Peter, actually penned the letter. If this is the case, it’s still likely that he wrote under the authority of Peter.
Let’s begin our examination of the text with Peter’s opening – he introduces himself as a “servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” The Greek word for servant in this text is doúlos, a bond-slave. In this context, according to Strong’s Concordance, it is used with a high amount of dignity – one who willingly lives under Christ’s authority as His devoted follower. The Greek word for apostle is apostolos, and it means messenger. In ancient writing, the order of words was important. Those words used first were of higher importance than those that followed. So here, while his role as apostle allows him to speak with authority, Peter is giving more weight to his role as a servant of Christ than to his role as one of Christ’s messengers. By describing himself in this way, he demonstrates that he does not hold himself higher than his audience – he doesn’t wish to lord his authority over them.
This is in alignment with Jesus’ statement in Luke 22:24-26, “There was also a dispute among them as to who was the greatest among them. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles are also their lords, and those who rule over them are called benefactors; but not so with you; let him who is great among you be the least, and he who is a leader be like one who serves.””
In his opening, though a man of great authority, Peter remains humble. He continues a humble attitude with “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours…” This statement puts his audience on equal footing – he’s telling them they’re on the same spiritual level. Again, this is a lesson learned from Jesus. In Luke 10:19-20, Jesus taught, “Behold, I give you power…but do not rejoice in this…but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” No matter how much power authority, or power, Christ has given us, our greatest joy should be that we are saved by our faith. It is by that faith in Jesus that we are made equal. And it is His righteousness that we rely on, not our own.
So, in Peter’s opening, he shows us that, even if speaking or acting with authority, we should remain humble. No matter what position we find ourselves in, we must remember not to lord our position over others, or make ourselves out to be “better than”; but to treat others as equals, with an eagerness to serve.
Continuing our examination of the text, I’d like to share some thoughts of John Piper of the Desiring God Foundation:
In verse 2 Peter greets his readers with a benediction: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” This is not a mere introductory formula. It is a statement of what Peter really wants to see happen because of his letter. We can tell that this verse is no empty form because the letter ends on the same note (3:18): “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” He pictures grace and peace (in verse 2) as something that comes to us from God. They are not ours by nature or by right. They come to us from outside ourselves, and Peter desires that they might come in great measure.
Peter’s great longing then, and mine now, is that we all might abound in grace—that God might “multiply” it to us and we might “grow” in it, and that there might be great peace (within and without).
But probably the most important thing to notice in verse 2 is that God’s grace and peace are multiplied in or through the knowledge of God. Peter cannot get past his second sentence without exposing one of his deepest convictions: namely, that knowing God is the means by which his grace and peace become large and powerful in our lives. If you want to enjoy God’s peace and be the aroma of his grace in the world, your knowledge of him has to grow. Grace is not a mere deposit. It is a power that leads to godliness and eternal life. And where knowledge of the glory and excellence of God languishes, grace does not flow. The channel from God’s infinite reservoir of grace into and through our lives is knowledge of God. We do not study the Scripture for its own sake, but because through it comes the knowledge of God, and through that grace and peace are multiplied in your heart in the church and in the world. In the next two verses of our text Peter builds on this connection now between knowledge of God and the power of grace.”
Knowledge is Power
Moving on to verse 3: “Who has given us all things that pertain to the power of God, for life and worship of God, through the knowledge of Him who has called us by His glory and excellence”.
Peter is clearly stating that Jesus has given us everything that pertains to the power of God in order to live godly lives and worship God. How? Through our knowledge of Him. It is our knowledge of Christ, of His teachings, that we experience the power of God at work in our lives. Peter is clearly stating that Knowledge is Power – and that power comes from Christ. And this is an important point. Our Christian faith is not simply a set of rules or doctrines that must be followed. It’s a Power that is experienced.It’s not about what we believe about Jesus, it’s about how our lives are changed, how we literally experience life in whole new ways as a result of God’s power at work in our lives – when we let His power guide and direct us.
Romans 8:14 says, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” The power of God flows in our life, and by His Spirit we are led to be godly; and to be godly means that we walk in the ways of God. Peter says that God’s Divine Power is granted to us – those who, through the righteousness of Jesus, share in the faith. Again, quoting Mr. Piper:
“Power is given to those who rely on Christ’s righteousness. But how is this power experienced? How does it become active in our lives? That is the third part of verse 3: “through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” As in verse 2 grace is multiplied in the knowledge of God, so in verse 3 Divine Power is granted through the knowledge of God. This gives us a good definition of grace. God’s grace is a free power that works in us for our good. And the way it becomes active in our day-to-day life is through our knowledge of God, and one fact about God in particular: that “He called us to his glory and excellence.” But this is not a mere fact about God if you know it as applying to yourself. It is power…The knowledge that leads to life and godliness is said to be the knowledge of God’s precious and very great promises. And so we learn that the only knowledge of God that carries saving power is promising knowledge. The knowledge of the glory and excellence of God (in verse 3) gives power for godliness only if it communicates to us the happy promise that we are called and included. If after a week of rain a gloomy child wakes up on Saturday morning and sees the glorious sunshine calling him to play outdoors, new power flows into his spirit; but only if he really can go outside. If he were sick and couldn’t play, the beauty of the day and the fun of his friends outside might make him miserable. The knowledge of the glory of God must be promising if it is to carry power. We must know it and believe that we are included—that the promises are ours, that the call is to us.”
And how do we know we’re included? Ephesians 2:17-19 tell us: “So that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, And so that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling and what are the glorious riches of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power in us as a result of the things we believe, according to the skill of His mighty power.”
Finally, in verse 4, Peter reminds us that experiencing God at work in our lives, through our faith in Jesus, frees us from sin. In letting go of the things of the world, and focusing on the things of the Spirit, we strive to live more godly lives. As we experience the Divine Power of God working in our lives, we deepen our relationship with Him, and our desire for those things that would move us away from Him diminishes.
The old saying is true – knowledge is power. When we are one with God, we are one with Divine Power. We become one with God by His grace and peace. And God’s grace and peace come to us through faith and through knowledge. We deepen our faith and increase our knowledge through the study of Scripture, through prayer and meditation, and through spending time with Him. Much like a line used in many wedding ceremonies, it’s a commitment that requires and deserves daily attention. So I encourage you, make the commitment to study Scripture daily, to spend time in prayer and meditation every day, and as a result, experience His Divine Power at work in your lives. And so it is…Amen.
- 2 Peter 1:1-4
- Luke 22:24-26
- Luke 10:19-20
- Romans 8:14
- Ephesians 2:17-19
I’d like to thank and acknowledge Mr. John Piper of Desiring God Foundation for his outline and thoughts. Read his full sermon here.
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