Reading Through The New Testament in 2016 - November 17th, 2016 - 2 Peter 2
This chapter scared the hell out of me (I chose the word “hell” purposefully, as you’ll see).
Peter talks about false teachers. These are people that say they are speaking for God, but they aren’t. They are leading people out of greed, they are manipulative, and they exploit the naive. Their punishment will be great, Peter says.
Here is a verse that had my head spinning, it’s not easy to get my head around:
“For God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell… If he rescued Lot, a righteous man… then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgement.”
Every time Jesus says “Hell” the word is “Gehenna” which was a garbage dump outside the city where dead bodies were disposed of. Gehenna was also understood as a metaphor for hell — a place of punishment in the after life.
Peter uses the word “Tartarus” here — the only time in the Bible. It is greek mythology, a word used to describe the dark abyss where Titans would be punished.
So, many have thought there is a hell for people: “Gehenna”; and a hell for angels: “Tartarus”. That just doesn’t sound right to me — no matter what word, Jesus and Peter speak of a place of punishment for the un-righteous.
This is why it scares me. Peter speaks of this place being a fate for those who use the teachings of Christ for their own gains and to exploit others.
As someone who teaches and leads people, I NEVER want to be found as someone using Christ for my own gain.
Every disciple of Christ suffered for Him. Not a single one benefitted financially because they were preaching about Christ.
So, I want to warn you of something. In this world right now we have access to all kinds of teachings. We can find preachers that preach exactly what we like and what we want to hear. You can read books from a wide range of opinions. How will we know which ones are leading us to Christ and which ones aren’t?
Look out for those who make millions of dollars off the message of Christ. Look out for those who always speak about buying something to receive a blessing from God. Look out for those who have made Jesus their way to live a life of luxury.
At the same rate, look for those who are suffering for Jesus. Look for those who have forsaken millions to follow Him. Look for those who preach the truth even when it gets them into trouble. Look for the teachers that do more than talk.
Peter gives us this advice too: look our for those like Baalam, a man who enticed Israel with prostitutes in the book of Numbers. Anyone who is telling you it is ok to indulge in lusts and greed.
Today I’m asking myself: Am I willing to always speak the truth even if it means the crowds get thinner? Am I willing to preach Christ crucified in a world wanting teachers to give them permission to indulge in sin? Am I willing to lead people to Jesus and not to myself?
Sometimes the truth isn’t being preached in the stadiums (and sometimes it is) but in the small groups, in the humble places, in the basements and back rooms. Sometimes it’s not the crowds that we should follow but we should look for the teachers who are willing to suffer for the truth.
What do you think?