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The Scriptorium

Salvation by Works

2 Peter 1.1, 2

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord…

The Story: Peter begins his second epistle to the churches in northern Asia Minor by reminding them that, contrary to what we often hear, salvation isby works – only not ours. We enter the salvation that God offers through faith, which is a gift of God (Eph. 2.8, 9). But it is the righteousness of Christ alone that makes faith an effective means of attaining to God’s salvation. The righteousness of Christ works for our salvation in two ways. First, Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of God’s Law, perfectly, exhaustively, and without fail or intermission. All the righteousness any of us could ever require to have a good standing before the Lord is to be found in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. As His grace is multiplied toward us day by day (Jn. 1.16), we increase in righteousness, but not our own. Sanctification is by grace as much as is justification, and the righteousness we express is that of Christ, worked out in us by the Spirit of God. Second, Jesus bore all the wrath of God’s Law against unrighteous sinners – wrath sufficientto pay the debt of every human being (1 Jn. 2.2) but efficient only for the salvation of all who believe (cf. 1 Tim. 4.10, note that word, “especially”). We are saved by the works of Jesus, by grace through faith.

The Structure: In this period of history, when the Spirit of God is working restoration by advancing the rule of King Jesus, God’s people should think of themselves as Peter did. We are, first, servants of one another and of the sinful world. We are not here for ourselves, but, in the name of Jesus, for others. Second, we are all apostles in that we have been sent to the world as Jesus was sent, and as He sent His apostles with the Good News of the Kingdom of God (Jn. 20.21). Our objective, in our mission of serving others for Jesus’ sake, is to cause grace and peace to be multiplied wherever we go. But this can only come to pass as people acquire and then increase in the knowledge of Jesus our Lord. Peter will end this epistle in precisely the same place, making an inclusio out of his book as a whole. Nice touch for an unschooled fisherman – carried along by the Holy Spirit (1.19-21).

Do you see your life as a mission of service to others in Jesus’ name? What will that mean for you today?

Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Getting on with the Life of Faith: 2 Peter 1,” simply click here.

T. M. Moore

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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