Be Who You Are

Be Who You Are

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:5-7, 2 Peter 1:1-15, Ephesians 2:8
Date: 05/27/2017  Lesson: 9
"How 'like Christ' are you? In what areas can you do better?"
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. We want to welcome you all here to our Sabbath School Study Hour this morning. Whether you're joining us online or from the various television networks, we want to especially welcome you this morning to the Sabbath School Study Hour. We also want to welcome our online members that join us each and every Sabbath morning, as well as our local members here at the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church. As you all know, or may not know, we've been studying through the epistles of Peter - and 2 Peter, to be exact - and this morning's lesson is lesson #9 in the quarterly, entitled be who you are.

Now, if you don't have a quarterly, you can just go to amazingfacts.org and click on the Sabbath School Study Hour and there you'll find a link entitled quarterly. Just click on that and you can download the lesson and join right in with us this morning. Now, each and every Sabbath morning we have a free offer. And so, our offer this morning is assurance: justification made simple. You can find that at 1-866-788-3966.

To receive this free offer, just call 1-866-788-3966 - it's offer #727 - assurance: justification made simple. Now, before we just jump right in to our lesson each and every Sabbath morning, we love to sing praises to our God. And so, at this time, I'd like to encourage our singers to come out - lead us in some praise hymns as we sing to our God and his honor and glory. (A capella) o, when shall I see Jesus and reign with him above, and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning? And from the flowing fountain drink everlasting love, and shall hear the trumpet sound in the that morning. O, shout, glory! For I shall mount above the skies, when I hear the trumpet sound in that morning.

Gird on the Gospel armor of faith and hope and love, and you'll hear the trumpet sound in that morning. And when the combat's ended he'll carry you above, and you'll hear the trumpet sound in that morning. O, shout, glory! For I shall mount above the skies, when I hear the trumpet sound in that morning. Our ears shall hear with transport the host of heaven sing, and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning. Our tongues shall chant the glories of our immortal king.

And shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning. O, shout, glory! For I shall mount above the skies, when I hear that trumpet sound in that morning. O, glory halleluia, I shall reign with him on high, when I hear that trumpet sound in that morning. What a day that will be, right? When Jesus comes in the clouds of glory. You know, he's preparing a people for that day and he's doing a work all over the world.

And, as we do, every once in a while, from time to time, we love to have a little mission story here, during our Sabbath school study hour. And so, ostap is going to share with us some of the things he's been doing and how the Lord has been blessing in Mexico, as they've been preparing for the Lord's return and doing a special work. So, ostap, thank you for sharing. Thank you. Good morning, church family.

Excited to be here with you and we want to share a small glimpse of the project that we just had in Mexico; it's the city of hermosillo. We had the privilege to travel there and respond to a call that came because, you see, just a few months ago there was a group of believers in Mexico, praying that God would send someone to help them finish their church building. And so, we received this call - we began to plan - began to organize the volunteers - and I have here with me, sue, and she was one of the volunteers that came with us. And I'll let her explain to us how she made the decision to come with us. Praise the Lord.

When ostap asked me the first time he said, 'hey sue, do you want to go with me to the mission trip to Mexico?' And I said, 'okay, let me go pray about it. I'm not going to tell you 'yes' or 'no', but give me times to pray about it, because everything I have to ask God for his permission.' So I went and prayed about that whole week, and then I come back and tell ostap, 'yes, I'm going'. So I praise God for that. Amen. And so, as we're in Mexico, we're building, we're, you know, acquiring materials - we have the tractor on site to help us with the landscaping and moving the dirt, so we're excited.

But we ran into a challenge and the challenge wasn't very easy, and so, there was something that we needed to do. Sue, do you remember what happened? Yes, I do remember. One day, when we was working so hard and then the water stopped - no water come. One of our brothers came to me and he said, 'hey sue, we need to pray. There's no more water.

' And I said, 'okay, let's pray. And we have to trust and believing in God that he send us here to do this work'. And he said, 'okay'. And then I prayed - four of us - we're praying on the other side of the building. And when I pray, I believe in my heart that God will send the water again.

So, after I pray - and then I say, 'okay, go back to your position. Do your work and that God will bring the water later.' So in about three hours passed and then the same brother came to me and he said, 'sue, we have the water'. And I said, 'praise God he answers our prayer and praise God for the miracles.' So we had the water to do the work that day. Amen. And so, in the morning - throughout the day, we were working and building and constructing this church.

In the afternoons we would take time to clean everything up and we headed back to this place where we were staying. And part of the work that we wanted to do there was to do some evangelism training with the church members. And so, here on your screen you'll see a picture of us doing some of the training. Our volunteer, uri, that came with us, this was his first time doing something like this, and so he was excited to be able to share and, not only to share, but to share his faith with those people there and to encourage them to also go out into the community and share with those people that are there. And I know that many are there in Mexico watching our presentations and, as sue and I were there, they were telling us that they have seen our church services there in Mexico.

And so, we wanted to say hello to them and I know that they're watching as well. And we want to encourage the church members here, as well, to get involved - to sign up. We have a few different projects scheduled this year. We'll be going up to redwood camp to help out - establish the camp before summer and other places like that. And so, we encourage our members to sign up and to join us on future trips.

We have seen, again and again, how the Lord was blessing, how he was providing, how he was answering the prayers, as the project was still moving forward. Currently, they're finishing up the roof and they've done the plastering of the walls and they're going to start painting the church probably next week or the week after. And so, we're excited to see the progress there because this church family has grown so much, they no longer fit into the small house that they're renting. And so, we're grateful for that, that now they have the opportunity to be able to worship very soon in their own church building - and to also invite the communities there. We thank each and every one of you that's been supporting our projects, praying for our projects - I know that many of you have come and approached me and said, 'we continue to pray for you day and day out as you guys travel, as you guys do these projects', and so, for myself and sue, we're also very excited to share this update with you on the mission project and we hope to see you with us on future projects.

Amen. Amen. Before we jump into our lesson this morning, let's have a word of prayer. Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for this opportunity that we have to just hear of the things that you're doing around the world, in preparation for your soon return. Lord, as we take this time, we just ask that your spirit lead and guide our thoughts and open our ears - as we study Your Word - as we jump into this lesson.

May you be glorified through all of it. May we be changed. May we become more and more like Jesus. For we just thank you and praise you. In Jesus' Name we pray, amen.

Our lesson is brought to us this morning by Pastor Doug. Thank you, pastor marshall. I enjoyed that mission report, how about you? And I'm glad that we have a church here that's involved in doing ministry and going different places. If I'm not mistaken, as I speak right now, Pastor Ross is in serbia. You guys have something to do with that? We've got a couple members with connections in serbia, here.

And, anyway, good to see everybody. I want to welcome our friends that are part of our regular class and, of course we've got some of our extended Granite Bay members that are joining us for our Sabbath School Study Hour. We are continuing our study dealing with the first and second books of Peter and today's lesson, really, begins diving into the first few verses of the first chapter of 2 Peter. And so, we'll get to that in a minute. I think you've already heard that we have a special offer that's been mentioned - assurance: justification made simple - and we have a memory verse.

And the memory verse is from Peter chapter 1, verses 5 through 7. If you'd like to say this with me - 2 Peter 1:5 through 7 - now, I'm reading it from the lesson, which is the niv version. You ready? "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, Godliness; and to Godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love." That's - we're going to get to that there in just a minute. That's called 'Peter's ladder' and - but, to start with, let's just look at the first five verses. As we get into section 1 in our study today, I want to read to you the first five verses.

We'll take that and talk about it; we'll back up and we'll continue to work our way through this lesson. "Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ," - alright, let's stop right there. Did you notice something happening here you don't see very often in the new testament? Peter is often called Peter, or he's called Simon. Sometimes he's called cephas, which is another word for Peter, but here, he's called Simon Peter. Now, what's happening is he's giving you the name that was given to him by his parents, and then he's giving you the name that was given to him by his Lord, and then he's giving you what his title is that was given to him by Jesus and recognized by the church.

So he's got his family, his Lord, and his church that are being mentioned in this - an apostle of Jesus Christ. Now, i, you know, I was wondering whether or not to even mention this, but probably it's good for you, since this is a class to be informed, I don't know that - you may or may not be aware that the early church fathers, when they were putting together the books of the canon of the new testament - the old testament was pretty well established and nailed in stone by the Jewish scribes, but as they were developing the canon in the first century, there was some question about 2 Peter. And there were a few people, like origen and some of the early fathers 'we're not sure that this was written by Peter,' but I just wanted you to know that that was a debate that came up, and - but the other scholars and The Fathers, they traced it back and they said it - it fits - there were some stylistic differences - and, finally, the argument was that since these books come from the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit can impress a person based on the subject, with a little different style, in one book from another. You can see that in the books of Moses. The style between Genesis is a little different than Exodus, which is a little different - Genesis is more of a story form, which is very different from Leviticus - is very much the priestly ceremonies, and you get to Numbers and it's a whole lot of Numbers and Chronicles in there and, and so, you can see even one writer takes on a little different style, depending on the subject matter.

But I just wanted you to know that argument did come up in the early church, but it was squelched pretty quick and everybody has widely accepted that this is authentic, inspired teachings of the apostle Peter. And then he goes on to say he writing to whom? Now this is addressed to the same group that is in the first book - "to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:" - now you've heard the expression before, 'righteousness by faith' - is that something that should have a special interest to God's people in the last days? Just now or always? How does anybody get to heaven? We are saved by grace through faith. Through that faith, a trans - transaction is made. We get righteousness that we don't deserve, that really belongs to Jesus. We receive that righteousness by faith.

And so Peter, here, is really talking about righteousness by faith - that here we receive these exceeding great and precious promises through faith. - "To those who have obtained like precious faith with us" - it says 'you have it; we have it' - "by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:" - then he goes on and he says, "grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord," - so he talks about Jesus Christ, Jesus our Lord, and God. Now, is he saying that Jesus is not God? Or is he just specifying God the father and Jesus, who is God the son, so you can make a distinction when you're explaining that? So yes, he did believe that Christ was God - God The Son. Matter of fact, Jesus - Peter's the one who made that great declaration. So here you heard - you read 'righteousness', you read 'faith', and you read 'grace' - and he's talking about this.

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge" - now, I want to emphasize - how are we saved? What does Jesus say in John chapter 17, the first three verses? "...this is eternal life that they might know thee, the only true God..." What will the Lord say to those who are lost? 'I know thee not'. Does what you know make a difference? You know, they say in hollywood, 'it's not what you know, it's who you know.' And it is true that in Christianity it's not only what you know, it's who you know. It - but notice the emphasis on knowledge here. I want to read this to you again - verse 2 - 2 Peter, chapter 1, "grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and Godliness," - how? - "Through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue," - Peter makes a pretty strong emphasis on 'you've got to know something'. You need to know him - this is - also things that you need to know, and he specifies what those things are in your book.

Now, if you know anything, how does that happen? If you wake up in the morning and decide you don't like the day and you roll over and put the pillow over your head, how are you going to grow in the Lord that day? So how do you grow in knowledge? If you're going to know something - you're going to graduate college and you're going to know something, what do you need to do? You've got to go to class, you've got to listen, you've got to open the books, you've got to study. If you're going to know somebody, what do you need to do? You've got to take time listening to them, communicating with them, drawing them out. I had a pretty neat experience this week. I've been trying to control myself in not sending out the picture to everybody, but how many of you know who general chuck yeager is? First man to break the sound barrier - very famous pilot - he's like 95 now and the physician who does my third-class medical - a friend - also comes to church here - also did his third-class medical for aviation and I heard that and said, 'oh, I'd love to meet general yeager.' The guy's a legend - a hero - a war hero, pilot, broke the sound barrier and all these things, and so she arranged, this week, where I got to be with him. And I thought of a thousand things I wanted to ask him to get to know him better, but when I was sitting there with him, I just went blank.

I couldn't think of anything. And after I left I thought, 'oh, I wish I would have asked this' and 'I wish I would have asked this' and 'I wanted to ask this' and I thought, 'oh what a' - here I was in his presence - he fought in world war ii, fought in the vietnam war, was one of these famous test pilots, all these - crashed several times. Someone asked him once, 'did you crash?' He said, 'I crashed a lot'. Just incredible experiences. But I thought - I couldn't think of anything to say.

It was all just sort of light conversation. But if you could sit down with Jesus and ask him something, what would you ask him? Well, do you know, you can? He says, 'I'll never leave you or forsake you.' He's with you every day. He says, 'I'll be with you wherever you go.' So do you pray? Do you talk to him? Do you ask him for information? He'll reveal things to you. the Lord says, 'come now, let us reason together.' What a privilege that we get to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Can you say, 'amen'? Amen.

That's wonderful. Alright, so he says - but it's this precious knowledge that we need of God - we need to have a knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord. As his divine - so there's things about theology and the knowledge of God, because God's invisible, but there's also the relationship and the knowledge of Jesus. God became a man in Christ that we might know him. Jesus said, 'if you've seen me, you've seen The Father.

' And then he wants to give us grace and he says 'grace be multiplied to you.' What does multiplied mean? What do you do when you multiply something? You grow it exponentially. You're going to get more when you do 2x4 than you do when you do 1x1. Does God continue to give us more grace and multiply faith and knowledge to us as we walk with him? And our knowledge should grow - I was telling someone this week that - you know, I'm preaching today on absalom and, in preparation, I do a lot of things - study and go to commentaries - and one of the things I thought I'd do is I preached about absalom years ago at Sacramento central and they recorded it. Matter of fact, I saw some of you in the audience. And it was so long ago my hair was dark, thicker, and I had no glasses.

And so I listened and, as I'm listening to myself preach - 15 years ago - 20 years ago, I don't know what it was - I'm going, 'man, I'm such a poor preacher.' I said, 'and people listen to that?' I thought I'd get something out of my old sermon - sometimes I do - I say, 'oh yeah, that's a good point. I forgot about that.' John wesley used to say, 'every five years I throw away all my sermons because if I'm not a better preacher now than I was five years ago, I ought to quit.' Are you growing in your knowledge of the Lord? Are you the same today as you were five years ago? Or are you getting deeper? Is it multiplying? So, Peter is talking about you've got to grow. Okay? God is going to multiply grace to you. You need to have an expanding knowledge. the Spirit of prophecy also talks about we need a fresh experience with the Lord.

Some people are just constantly living off something that happened long ago and their manna has gotten worms and it stinks. You need to have a fresh experience. And he goes on to say, 'through the knowledge of him who has called us' - we've all been called by the Lord - 'by glory and virtue, which has been given to us - by which has been given to us exceeding great and precious promises that through these you might be partakers of the divine nature.' What is the purpose of salvation? The devil came along, in the Garden of Eden - man was made in the image of God - the devil came along and he erased the image of God from man. He wants to restore the image of God to man. And it says that through - what is it that we become partakers of? The divine nature.

God wants to give us a divine nature. Have you ever slapped someone on the back and said, 'you know, I just wanted to tell you, you've got a divine nature'? Wouldn't you like to have the character of Christ? How do we get that? Now here's the most important part of this section: 'he's given us exceeding great and precious promises.' Where do we find these promises? In His Word. Do you think about and memorize the promises of God? Let's talk about a few of the promises of God. I'll give you a few of mine and then I might ask you for a few of yours. I just grabbed a few.

There are hundreds - there are many exceeding great and precious promises in the Bible. The Bible's a big book. God gives us a lot of promises there. Do you know them? Do you claim them? When I sign a book I often sign Jeremiah chapter 29:13. The reason I sign the caveman book that way is because I was searching for God and it says, 'you will search for me and you'll find me when you search for me with all of your heart.

' But Jeremiah 29:11 is also very valuable. I don't often sign that because that's more writing and I'm lazy, but Jeremiah 29:11 says, "for I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." - 'I've got plans for you to have a good future and hope.' How did God make man? Everything was good, good - God's plans for man were good plans. Why did Jesus come? To bring that good. Yeah, that's a great promise right there in His Word. That's an exceeding great and precious promise.

Jesus - Matthew 11 - you all know what that says - verses 28 and 29 - "come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Another exceeding great - and, you know, these promises are exceeding great and precious when you need them. I remember, one time, I was in a restaurant, hitchhiking with a girlfriend, hungry - nothing to eat - we just sat there waiting for the sun to come up because it was a dangerous part of town. And I just sat there and drank one cup of coffee after another because you had to kind of act like you were doing something. Coffee was ten cents back then, in this restaurant - a cup - for a cup of coffee - all you could drink for ten cents.

And so we thought, 'well, we'll just stay here and drink coffee all night.' And I was a baby Christian and I started getting cramps in my stomach because coffee can do that to you - no food - and we were just reading the new testament back and forth - that's back when I was living in the cave - and I read that promise where it said, 'if your son is hungry, wouldn't you give him food? How much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those that ask?' And so I went into the restroom, which happens a lot after 18 cups of coffee, and I prayed - I remember I prayed and I said, 'Lord, you say in Your Word - you've got a promise here that if you're hungry that you'll feed us.' - I said - 'it's the middle of the night' - it's two in the morning in this empty restaurant and I said,' I don't know how it's going to happen' - I was going to panhandle out front but there's nobody to panhandle, it's empty - I said, 'Lord, we're hungry.' So I walked back out and my girlfriend's smiling. I said, 'why are you smiling?' She said, 'while you were in the bathroom the waitress came up and said, 'would you like to order some food?' And I told her 'no' - because we have no money - 'and she said, 'I'll buy your dinner tonight.' Now how often do you go to the restaurant and the waitress offers to buy your food? Right after I claimed that promise God gave us food - in the most amazing way. And that's happened several times. This is how the promises of God work. You - it's not just they sit in the Bible on your shelf and you don't get any benefit, you've got to read them, point to them, believe in them, and say, 'Lord, please, here you said this.

I believe it.' And things happen. But you've got to know where they are. It's like - I heard about this man that his - in his old age he struggled and, through his life he had struggled financially and wanted to get along and finally, when he was getting old, his kids came along and they said, 'pop, you know, we want to clean out the attic. You're going to have to come. We've got a home we're going to move you into.

' And they found this Bible that his parents had given him, in his home, and he remembered that his mother said, 'make sure and read that book. It is full of rich promises'. - Or she said, 'it's full of promises that'll make you rich.' And he never opened the Bible. He kind of drifted from God. And so he finally took down his parents' Bible and said, 'you know, I'm thinking about keeping this.

' And he opened it up and began to flip through it and all scattered throughout the book was money. She had put bills - large bills - all through the book to encourage him to read, but the sad thing was he had been poor all his life because he had never opened it until the end. All those years those riches were there in the Bible and you wonder how many times have we missed the promises of God that God's put in His Word to save us with our issues to bring us encouragement or comfort or whatever we need - and we forget it's there because we don't look. You've got to look for them. Alright, somebody's going to read one of these promises for me in just a minute.

You're going to have that? I'm going to give you another promise - John 6:37 - Christ said, "all that The Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out." Isn't that a wonderful promise? If you come to him 'I will not cast you out'. Come to me. Go ahead, read that other one for us in Hebrews 13:5. "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For he himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.

" Now isn't that a promise? 'I will never leave you' - Paul says that - 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' Where is Paul quoting from? This is in Hebrews - he says, 'God had said 'I will never leave you nor forsake you' - where does Jesus say that? When he goes to heaven, doesn't he say, 'I am with you always'? And didn't God also tell Joshua, 'I'll be with you wherever you go'? And didn't he tell Jacob, 'I'll be with you'? So, scattered through the Bible you find that promise repeated many times. So I think Paul actually says it different. He bunches a few of them together, where God promises his heroes through the Bible, 'I will not leave you' - another time he says, 'I will not forsake you' - and he puts it all together - 'I will not leave you and I will not forsake you.' Alright, you've just got to give me a real quick answer because I'm going to repeat it because we're not going to pass around the microphone. What is your favorite promise? No hesitation - vicky? Isaiah 40 - starting at 28 and on. Isaiah 40:28 - "have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the ear, neither faints nor is weary.

" God never faints nor is weary - have you not heard? That's another good promise. Anyone else? Isaiah 49:15-17, "can a woman forget her suckling child"? If a wo - "can a woman forget her nursing child," - 'if these cannot forget, neither will I forget you. I have graven you on the palms of my hands' - in Isaiah. Another one - anyone else? God won't forget us. I see one way in the back.

'And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'behold, the tabernacle of God' - 'God was with men and he himself will be their God and he will be with them. "And God shall wipe away every tear" - 'all tears from their eyes' - "there shall be no more death, no sorrow, nor crying; there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Yeah, he'll wipe away all tears from the eyes - no more sorrow, no more pain. Old things are passed away. All things are made new. What a wonderful promise.

And so, you know, you're hearing some of the other people's precious promises and you're probably thinking, 'oh, that's a good one too. Can I borrow your promise?' So Peter's telling us right in the beginning, we've got these exceeding great - anyone else, before I close that off - you got a promise? Hi jen, how you doin'? Good. Yeah? Proverbs 3:5 and 6, "trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he..." - 'And he will direct your paths' - yep. 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

..in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.' What another beautiful promise. And so, he promises, 'if you claim these I'll guide you' - especially if you're looking for - say, 'Lord, I don't know what decision to make, but look here, you've made a promise - you're going to direct my paths. I'm committing my way to you.' Will he answer that then? Yeah, if God keeps His Word - and I believe he does. Alright, we're going to move along here - and, you know, another one? Philippians 4:19, 'and this same God who will take care of me will supply all of your needs from his glorious riches that have been given to us in Christ Jesus.' God will supply all your needs. Isaiah 40 says, 'those who trust in the Lord will find strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they'll run and not be weary, they'll walk and not faint.

' That's verse 31. There's just so many promises. Now, when we read this here, and we talk about the promises of God, he goes on then, in verse , and I'm going to read verses 5 to 7 here - I'm in 2 Peter :5-7 - "but also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge," - now, have you noticed that word 'knowledge' keeps appearing? You want to know something as a Christian. But here's where you find Peter's ladder: "giving all diligence," - that means work at this - be zealous - make it a priority - "add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance Godliness, to Godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love." This is called 'Peter's ladder' - there's a sequence of growth that's happening here. You know, you find a number of lists in the Bible and a lot of the lists actually end with the quintessence of the list being love.

When you get to Revelation - sorry, uh - 1 Corinthians chapter 13 - what's the - what's the greatest of these? Love. Love. And when you go through the fruits of the Spirit - who's going to read that for me? You'll have that katrina? I'll give a camera just a minute - to get ready - I'll give you another list - Romans 5, [verse] , "and not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." - You've got another list here - "now hope does not disappoint, because of the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Go ahead, read the list that Paul gives in Galatians 5:22, 23. "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

" So here he puts love at the top of the list and he tells us the greatest of these is love. And what does the apostle John say, again, as a quintessence of the evidence that you know God? If you love God - if you love each other - for God is love. You'll notice that - sometimes when a person gives a top ten list, they start out with the lowest and the greatest is going to be the tenth. And this is what Peter is doing, is he's giving the most important part of the list at the end. James has another list you can read in James 1, verses 3 and 4, "knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." And then Moses asked God - he said, 'show me your character' - and what does he reveal to him? This is Exodus 34:5, "now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, 'the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin," - talks about the love and the mercy and the patience of God. And so these are the things that we're to study and we know and we say, 'Lord, help me to remodel - reproduce these things through your spirit - in my life. And so Peter's list, one more time, 'give all diligence, faith' - begins with faith - 'virtue, knowledge, continue to grow, self-control, perseverance, Godliness, brotherly kindness, love.' You know, there's an interesting statement in the book maranatha - how many of you have seen or you've got that devotional called maranatha? That's a classic. It's one, you know, some years - every year our church has a daily devotional.

We have friends who are watching that are not part of the adventist church, but we provide a devotional to encourage individuals and families to read a special devotional along with your Bible. It begins with a verse and then it gives some inspirational thoughts. And they can be from the Bible or other inspired writers, and some are good and they help. Some are standards and they stick around year after year. And one of them that has endured the test of time was that devotional called maranatha.

I think it's still in print. It talks about the second coming and promises about the second coming. This is a quote from page 84 in that devotional and it talks about Peter's ladder - how we grow in grace to prepare for the coming of the Lord. "Point the youth to Peter's ladder, or those eight rounds, and place their feet, not on the highest round, but on the lowest" - you ever start climbing a ladder by going to the top round? So there's a progression in the Christian life. Some people aren't satisfied because they're not at the top instantly.

That's called sanctification - you develop growth - "and place their feet" - especially when you're working with the young - "not on the highest round, but on the lowest, and with earnest solicitation, urge them to climb to the very top. Christ is the ladder. The base is planted firmly on the earth in his humanity. The topmost round reaches to the throne of God in his divinity." - We start as human, we try to be like Christ, who's divine - "the humanity of Christ embraces fallen humanity, while his divinity lays hold upon the throne of God." By the way, people have wondered about the nature of Christ - she says there, "the humanity of Christ embraces fallen humanity, while his divinity lays hold upon the throne of God. We are saved by climbing round after round looking to Christ" - that's in faith - "clinging to Christ, mounting step by step to the heights of Christ so that he is made, unto us, wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, Godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity are the rounds of this ladder. All these graces are to be manifested in the Christian character. And, if you do these things, you will never fail, for an entrance will be ministered unto you abundantly in the everlasting knowledge" - I'm sorry - "in the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You're not to think that you must wait until you have perfected one grace before cultivating another. No, they are to grow up together.

Every day that you live you can be perfecting the blessed attributes fully revealed in the character of Christ. Do not become overwhelmed with the great amount of" - this is an important quote - don't become overwhelmed with the great amount of work that you must do in your lifetime. How many of you have looked at Christ, you look at yourself, and you get overwhelmed? You look at his character and you look at yours and you get overwhelmed. She says, 'don't get overwhelmed.' You know, Paul, at one point, he says, 'I do not count myself to have apprehended or to have obtained.' And then later Paul says, 'I've fought the good fight; I've finished my course.' So even in the writings of Paul you see that he, at times, said, 'I've got a ways to go'. But you also see a victory at the end.

"For you're not required to do it all at once." - Did you catch that? Don't expect to get to the top rung of the ladder in Christian sanctification all at once. You all with me? This is good stuff. I'm excited. Because sometimes I get discouraged. I think, 'oh, you're never - you're making the same mistakes you made 20 years ago - it says, "let every power of your being go into each day's work.

Improve each precious opportunity. Appreciate the helps that God gives you and make advancement." - Those helps are the exceeding precious promises of God - "and make advancement up the ladder of progress step by step. Remember that you are to live one day at a time - that God has given you one day and heaven's records will show how you have valued its privileges and opportunities. May you so improve every day given you of God that you may, at last, hear the master say, 'well done, good and faithful servant." I thought that was really good. So, the Lord has these lists of growth in the Bible.

I like - you know, I like the simple ones like Micah, 'he's show thee o man what is good and what does the Lord require of thee but to do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.' Do those things. There's another good list you'll find in Psalms 15, where it talks about who will dwell in the presence of God. And so, Peter, he gives us this list of brotherly kindness and then he goes on to say - going back to - I lost my place in Peter while I was looking for your promises. It's all your fault. Going back to 2 Peter and we're reading through these - the first few verses here - "and to Godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful" - now did Peter ever talk to Jesus - or did Jesus ever talk to Peter about being fruitful? Jesus, deliberately cursed one thing. What was it? It was a fig tree. Why did he curse a fig tree? Because he was hungry and there was no fruit on it and he had low blood sugar and so he lost his temper because he was irritable. Is that why he cursed the fig tree? Or did the fig tree - it had a pretense of having fruit - you see, usually, figs are unlike some trees, when the leaves are in full bloom the fruit is appearing at the same time. And this fig tree had the pretense of fruit, but there was no fruit.

And so he cursed it. It's like the nation of Israel had the rounds of religion and the sacrifices and the ceremonies but they did not have the fruits of the Spirit. And you wonder how many churches are in the world today that have all of the trappings of religion, but they don't have the fruits of the Spirit. So Peter said, 'if you continue to evaluate your life by the character of Christ and grow in the grace of these steps, you will be fruitful.' And not being fruitful is fatal. The Bible tells us that any branch in me that does not bear fruit is going to be pruned off and burned.

Isn't that what it says? He wants us to have the fruits of the Spirit in our lives. Okay, so we talked about climbing Peter's ladder. Alright, be who you are - you know, one of the most common crimes in the world today is called 'identity theft'. And you've got to be very careful with your identity. How many of you have a few passwords in your life? How many of you have multiple passwords? How many of you forget your passwords so you've got them all written down somewhere? How many of you have hidden that list of passwords? And you have a password to get into your list of passwords? (Laughter) come on - isn't that right? Because someone could steal our identity.

(Laughs) yeah, I've - I've forgotten passwords before and I didn't have my list and I was trying to like log into something - like on united airlines, I'm trying to find this password so I can get online and I just start going through all of my passwords where all these Bible names and Numbers - 'no, not that one!' - All these verses and things - 'no, not that one. No' - and then you've got to remember - but some of them I capitalized this and I didn't cap - now I've got to go through the whole list again and say, 'oh, I forgot to capitalize.' And you know why we do all that? Because someone's going to steal all our information, take our identity, pretend to be us, and spend all our money. The devil is in the business of identity theft. He tries to take our identity and he tries to distort God's identity about who he is. Peter goes on to say - we're going to read 2 Peter 1:8-11 here, "for if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure," - we've got to just pauses on that for a second. How many of you have heard of Christians that believe in predestination? Once saved always saved - and they talk about election and they say God has elected some to be saved and, if they're elected to be saved, they're saved, and if they're not, too bad, you're lost and you're going to be punished and go to hell and burn forever and God chose ahead of time that you would be lost. Almost makes the Lord an accomplice in our sin, if he's choosing that. Here, Paul is saying that you could be elect, but you've got to take care to preserve your salvation - make your calling and election sure, because it is possible for some to stumble and to be short-sided to blindness and to forget and to be unfruitful.

And so he's warning those who have responded to God's call, to make it sure that you do not stumble so that - notice - "so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom" - if you do not make your calling and election sure, you will not have that abundant entrance into his kingdom. Is that distorting what he's saying or isn't that what he's saying? He's being pretty clear, I think, that you've got to be careful. You could forget. In your lesson, there's a quote from the book faith and works, page 50, and here, e.g. White says, "we hear a great deal about faith, but we need to hear a great deal more about works.

Many are deceiving their own souls by living an easygoing, accommodating, crossless religion." If you have faith you will take up your cross and deny yourself. And a lot of people are talking about faith and there's no cross - there's no self-denial - and the Bible says we are saved by grace through faith, but you read in the next few verses, you know what it says? We are saved for good works. If you have that faith there will be a difference in your works. Isn't that right? Romans 6:11, "likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God..." - It's through faith that we do this - "...alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Now Peter talks about shedding the tent, and I'm going to read to you 2 Peter 1:12 - Peter goes on to say, "for this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things," - why do we need to be reminded? Is there a commandment that talks about reminding? Remember the Sabbath day. What does the fourth commandment say? Why does God say 'remember the Sabbath'? Would you say 'remember' to somebody unless there was a possibility they'd forget? Why does Peter say, 'I want to put you in remembrance of these things always'? Because we quickly forget.

Why do you need to have daily devotions? You read the Bible once, you're done - you got it. I've met people before that said, 'oh yeah, I read the Bible.' 'How long ago?' 'Thirty years ago.' 'Can you repeat any of it to me?' 'Uh, John 3:16.' You've got to continue to read it because we forget. It's like the hymn says, we are prone to wander. And Peter realized that we need to be reminded. And someone's going to read for me now, Romans 15:15 - you have a Bible here? Get ready - I'll give you a minute to find it - Romans 15:15.

I'm going to read Jude 5 - there are no chapters in Jude - Jude's one chapter - "but I want to remind you, though you once knew this," - look at what the angels said to the disciples when they come to the tomb - Luke 24:6, "he is not here, but is risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.' And they remembered His Words." Did they get in trouble because they forgot what Jesus said? They were so discouraged because he said, 'I told you, and you forgot.' So we need to be reminded. You got that, ron? "Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God." You're going to find this is a common theme all through the Bible writers. They're saying, 'I'm reminding you'. Peter 1:12 he says, 'I want to remind you.' 1 Peter he says, 'I want to remind you' because he knew that they would forget these things. And then he's going on and he says, 'I want to tell you these things because I think it's right, as long as I am in this tent,' - what does Peter mean by 'in this tent'? His body.

The word 'tent' there is 'tabernacle'. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit - this is familiar Bible metaphors. Peter said, 'this tent, it's temporary. I'm dwelling in this tent of clay right now, I'm going to have to put it off. I'm not going to be in my body anymore'.

"Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, know that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me." Where did Jesus show him that? Look in John 21:18, "most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger," - Jesus told Peter - "'you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.' This he spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he said to him, 'follow me.'" How was Peter going to glorify God? He would be crucified as Jesus was. He shared in Christ's sufferings and tradition tells us that Peter, when he was crucified, he didn't feel worthy to die like Jesus and so he said, 'please crucify me with my head down, because I denied the Lord.' And they did. They actually sped up his demise so it turned out being merciful. But not only there did Jesus tell Peter how he would die, look in John 13:36, "Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus answered him, 'where I am going you cannot follow me now,'" - but he looks at Peter and he says, "but you shall follow me afterward.

" You notice that Jesus said, 'when you're old you'll stretch out your hands' and then he says to Peter, 'follow me'. So doesn't Jesus tell us all to do the same thing? 'Whoever would follow me, let him take up his cross.' And so, it wasn't just Peter, but following Jesus involves us, like Peter, saying we're going to deny ourselves. And he knew that he was going to die soon. He was crucified by nero during the same persecution that ultimately killed Paul. Paul was beheaded because he was a roman citizen.

Peter was not, so he was crucified. And you can read where Paul says - 1 Corinthians 15:52 - Paul knew his day was coming too. He says, 'I know that the time of my departure is at hand - you can read in 1 Corinthians 15:52, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible" - these tents that we've got will put on the glorious body - ".

..incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." And so Peter said, 'as long as I'm in my body - I've got a little while left to try to stir you up and remind you.' It's like parents giving their last words to their children to remind them of what the priorities are and that's what Peter is doing in this book. Well, we pretty much covered up through verse 15 and that's our assignment for today. We're out of time. We look forward to studying God's Word with our class together again next Sabbath. Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Actually, I know they can't hear me because there's no cell phone reception here.

We're, right now, standing in what is known as 'a quiet zone' and there's a very good reason for that. Hidden, nestled among the jungle mountains of puerto rico, is a giant sentinel, an aluminum ear 1,000 feet across. Located ten miles south of the coastal city of arecibo, this enormous space-age parabolic dish is aimed at the sky, listening. Built in 1963 by cornell university, the arecibo observatory dish is one of the largest curved focusing antennae on earth. The dish surface is made of nearly 40,000 perforated aluminum panels, each measuring about 3-feet by 6-feet and supported by a mesh of steel cables.

The vast antennae surface covers acres, or about the same size as 26 football fields. When the huge telescope switches to radar mode, it beams out a powerful signal of 1 million watts, towards the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. The faint echo of the signal bouncing off its astronomical targets is collected by the huge dish and then amplified, allowing scientists to create scanner-like images and maps of the object. But another primary purpose for the arecibo observatory is seti. Seti's an acronym for search for extra terrestrial intelligence - they're listening for messages from above.

For over 50 years, radio astronomers have used the world's largest radio telescope to study the radio signals emanating from the cosmos. While listening to the strange songs buried in the heart of the distant stars and quasars, they're also listening and analyzing every signal for signs of intelligent life. It's really astonishing, when you think about it, for more than 50 years now the arecibo observatory has been scanning the heavens, spending millions of dollars, wondering if there's intelligent life out there. Yet, in more than half a century of listening, seti has not identified a single radio signal that seems to come from extra terrestrial intelligence. Perhaps they're missing the forest because the trees are in the way.

Some messages have actually already come from space. You know, the Bible tells us, in the book of Romans, 'faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God.' It seems, often when God wants to talk to us, he has to take us where we can actually hear his voice. When God wanted to speak to Elijah, he ended up down in the deserts of Mount Sinai. There was a fire, and earthquake, and a wind, but God was not in the earthquake or the fire or the wind, but God spoke through a still small voice. Jesus wants to talk to you.

He has a plan for your life, but you need to have a quiet place where you can hear him. (Phone ringing) oh, it's for you. Let's face it, it's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible. With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straightforward answers call in to Bible answers live - a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions.

For times and stations in your area, or to listen to answers online, visit bal.amazingfacts.org.

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