Renewal

Lessons from 2 Peter: Unembarrassed Christianity

Renewal

Lessons from 2 Peter: Unembarrassed Christianity

By September 11, 2023September 16th, 2023No Comments
.

The epistle of 2 Peter is written for a skeptical world, one that belittles God. 

Such skepticism challenges our faith in two ways. First, it attacks Christian belief, making us question the most marvelous things about Jesus: Did His miracles really happen? Is He truly the Creator of all things? Secondly, skepticism attacks Christian behavior. If Jesus didn’t do miracles, what gives Him the right to say how we should live? 

If you live among skeptics, you’ve heard these questions or may even be wrestling with them for yourself. The beauty of it all is that the Bible anticipates these very doubts and addresses them.

Right from the outset, the Bible encourages us to have unwavering confidence in Jesus as both our Creator and our Judge. He is returning in miraculous ways, and our lives too are moving steadily toward the day when we will meet Jesus, and He will liberate us from all corruption that taints us and allow us to experience the everlasting joy of our God.

Even if you don’t openly scoff at this future, it can be hard to live each day as if it’s about to happen. But Peter’s letter shows us how we can follow Jesus into the hardest places as we keep eternity in focus.

Throughout his letter, Peter goes straight to parts of the Bible we might tend to avoidthe ones that make people go, “How can you really believe that?”  

He brings up accounts we find tricky to explain or even embarrassing in many cultures today. Creation in six days by the word of God? That’s not what science says. 

A worldwide flood of judgment? It must be an embellished tale about a local event—the fable about the boat won’t float. Fire and sulfur on a whole city that was perverting God’s design for sex and marriage? That might sound hateful. A talking donkey? Ridiculous.

So, we sometimes decide not to open these “cans of worms.” Let’s not give the skeptics and mockers more fuel. Or add to the doubts of doubting Christians. We resolve to stay on topic: just focus on Jesus!

But what kind of Jesus do we have if He is not the world’s Creator and the worldwide Judge? 

If Christ is not the God who created all things with just a word, how can we expect He will return to re-create the cursed world we live in now? If Christ didn’t shape the first man from dust, how can we expect He will raise our bodies from the dead after they have turned to dust? And if Christ didn’t flood the whole world in judgment, covering the highest mountaintops, can we reasonably expect Him to return and eradicate every trace of evil in the coming life? 

You see, we keep looking back to the beginning because it provides assurance for the ending. 

And our beliefs about that ending profoundly influence how we live today. 

So when Peter confronts skepticism about Jesus’ return and coming judgment, he takes us back to creation and the flood. Skeptics wonder where Jesus is if He hasn’t shown up yet. Their underlying assumption is that God cannot or will not intervene in the world because nothing has changed since the beginning. 

But they deliberately “forget” that the beginning itself contains the very historical facts they claim to seek.

First, there’s creation. God spoke, and the waters separated. Then, by His word again, He spoke, and the waters gathered (Genesis 1:6–10). That’s how the earth was formed—supernaturally. God created everything from nothing and then lovingly shaped and filled His world. He was intimately involved in His creation.

Second, there’s the flood. Again, God used water, this time to judge the world. And, once again, it was God’s spoken word that made it happen: “For behold, I will bring flood waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh” (Genesis 6:17). The Bible emphasizes the worldwide totality of this event, with water covering even the highest mountain (Genesis 7:17–24). That’s how the Earth was destroyed—supernaturally

There are other examples in the Old Testament of God’s water-and-word judgments, like the Egyptians at the Red Sea. But Peter highlights the flood because it’s a universal event. It’s a de-creation of the entire world, followed by a re-creation.

For Peter, creation and the flood are key points in the Bible’s narrative. They both serve as evidence that massive divine intervention has indeed taken place in the world. God stepped in once to create the world and then a second time to destroy and re-create it.

This means He can step in a third time to destroy the world—this time by fire—and usher in a new heavens and a new earth. God will keep His word.

Now, let’s apply this to the skepticism we encounter today. Theologian B. B. Warfield reportedly stated, “Christianity is unembarrassed supernaturalism.” Note the adjective: unembarrassed. 

If we’re honest with ourselves, how many of us get a bit embarrassed when the supernatural aspect of the Bible gets brought up at work, at school, or with friends? 

Maybe it’s the flood or Jesus walking on water—well, Peter was not the least bit embarrassed by any of it. He personally witnessed Jesus’ miracles, experienced the transfiguration, walked on water to meet Jesus, and talked with Jesus after His resurrection. 

The supernatural was tangibly real for Peter; he encountered it firsthand and knew the divine source behind it. 

And this is what the church of Jesus Christ needs to recover in our day. We need unembarrassed confidence in the supernaturalism of Christianity.

If we are to make an impact on the world amid increasing pressure and questions from our culture, we need to regain our theological courage. To present to the world, and particularly, our skeptical friends and neighbors, a Savior who can truly transform their lives, we must embrace the Bible’s entire supernatural storyline. 

And isn’t this what our skeptical friends and neighbors ultimately want? 

Deep down, they yearn for someone to be honest with them about what the future holds and where their lives are heading. Engaging with them on pivotal moments in the Bible narrative, such as creation and the flood, can provide them with a clear perspective on how God’s past actions foreshadow his future plans.

Remember, we will only know as Christians how to live in the present if we are clear and confident about the future.

As we reflect on these thoughts, let’s ponder a few questions:

How at ease do you feel discussing the Bible’s supernatural elements, especially when interacting with unbelievers in your community?

Where are you currently living in a manner that reflects your belief in Jesus as the coming Creator and Judge, and where are you not?

What steps can you take to deepen your belief in these truths?


This is an adapted excerpt from 2 Peter: Living with the End in Mind © 2023 by Jonathan Gibson. Used with permission from New Growth Press.

2 Peter: Living with the End in Mind

by Jonathan Gibson

If you’re on the lookout for a small group resource or just want to dive into 2 Peter by yourself, this study guide uncovers why this letter matters today and encourages us all to walk the path with Christ more faithfully.

Learn More
Share this story:
Serge

Serge

Serge is an international missions organization with more than 300 missionaries in 26 countries. We send and care for missionaries, mentor and train ministry leaders, and develop resources for continuous gospel renewal.