So this week we are going to start with a question: what is “conversion”?
What does it mean to “convert” from another faith — or no faith — to Christianity? Is this something that happens physically, visibly, on the outside of a person, when they officially stop being a Muslim or a Buddhist or an Atheist and start being officially counted as a Christian? Or is conversion a purely spiritual thing that happens on the inside of a person?
Well, according to scripture, true conversion is both external and internal.
And we can see this very clearly in Peter’s first letter to the Christians of ancient Roman Asia when he called them God’s elect exiles, God’s chosen refugees. He told them that, as Christians, they are now a whole new kind of nation — not a political nation, not a nation with physical boundaries, but a spiritual nation, a covenant nation that is more like a family united by one blood and one Spirit. And all the way through his first letter, Peter emphasized that what converts Christians from their previous nation to their new spiritual nation is baptism.
But how does that work? Is baptism also external and internal?
Well…yes. And Peter spend a lot of his first letter describing how baptism is supposed to result in external and internal conversion of a person’s life.
First, baptism changes a person from the outside-in.
Through baptism, a person is officially marked as belonging to the community of Christ. If they are an adult, their official religious identity visibly shifts from their physical birth family to their new spiritual, covenantal family, and the structure of their life and worship begin to change as they learn from their brothers and sisters in the covenant. If they are a child when they are baptized, then they grow up with their identity visibly rooted in Christ’s community, and they grow up learning what Christian life and worship is supposed to look like. And this quite naturally begins to change a person from the outside-in.
But, second, baptism also changes a person from the inside-out.
Because baptism does not just signify a visible change of community, it also signifies a fundamental change of a person’s nature. As the Old Testament prophets pointed out, the sprinkled water of baptism is profoundly linked with the new spiritual birth that comes through the Holy Spirit. These events do not usually happen at exactly the same moment — sometimes the Holy Spirit comes first, and baptism later; sometimes baptism comes first, and the Holy Spirit comes later — but scripture tells us that the effect of new birth is a transformed heart, and the effect of a transformed heart is transformed behaviour. And this quite naturally begins to change a person from the inside-out.
So, at a most basic level, this is how Peter understands the concept of “conversion”: through baptism, a person is set apart from the nations of the world and ushered into a new spiritual covenant nation in which the Holy Spirit already lives — and this begins the process where they are gradually changed from the outside-in and from the inside-out. From Peter’s perspective, a person’s conversion is not complete if a they are not willing to be counted as a member of Christ’s community; equally: a person’s conversion is not complete if they are not willing to repent of their sinful behaviour. “Accepting Jesus into your heart” is not enough, and “being a member of a church” is not enough: both of these things must come together in a living, symbiotic relationship in order for a person’s conversion to be truly complete.
And so the major message of Peter’s first letter was this: Christians are supposed to be really different from the rest of the nations, and this difference is supposed to be external and internal. We really are supposed to live like refugees in the midst of the nations, preserving a distinct Christian identity and distinct Christian values while we wait for our eternal homeland to be revealed.
And the reason we are talking about conversion now is because, here in Peter’s 2nd letter to the churches of Roman Asia, there is a certain kind of false teacher who has begun to question Peter’s concept of conversion. These false teachers are saying that, actually, it is not God’s will for Christians to live as refugees among the nations — no, Christians should do their best to fit in with the nations.
And, by this point in Peter’s second letter, it is clear that when these false teachers say Christians should “fit in” they are not talking about superficial cultural things like clothing and music and language, they are talking about “fitting in“ on a fundamental level. They are saying that Christians should not wait for God to make everything right on Judgement Day — because there is not going to be a Judgement Day! Instead, they are saying, Christians should realize that the blessings of the Christian life are supposed to happen now, in this life. And so, they are saying, it is okay for Christians to maintain their Roman identities so they can continue to seek positions of power and influence in the Roman empire. They are saying it is okay for Christians to maintain their Roman values so they can continue to seek prosperity and greater control over their own destinies. These false teachers are saying that the Christian life is supposed to be a life of pleasure, that when Jesus is your King, his number one job is to fulfill your desires! — all you have to do is ask.
 These people, Peter says today, are springs without water and mists driven by a storm.
From a distance, these false teachers look like they are offering true conversion to a true Christianity. They look like they are offering fresh, clean, living water to a traveller dying of thirst; they look like they are bringing cool rain and refreshment to a pilgrim in the desert — but when that traveller turns aside from the certain path, the oasis turns out to be a mirage, the well turns out to be dry, the clouds pass over and leave the pilgrim lost in a false and confusing semi-conversion.
Blackest darkness is reserved for them, Peter says.  For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.
Basically, these false teachers’ are very clever marketers. They have rejected authority; they have rejected the apostles and prophets; so the product they are really selling is conversion to human wisdom. And they use three main strategies to sell this product:
First, they rely on slick advertising: they mouth empty, boastful words. They know that appearance is everything. Near the beginning of this chapter, Peter said that these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories, and now he is returning to this point: their product is actually crap, so they make sure to disguise it with shiny packaging and celebrity testimonials.
Second, they understand what motivates potential customers: they appeal to the lustful desires of the flesh. Peter has said more than once already that these teachers are experts in greed — the lust for power and prosperity and pleasure — and they are smart enough to know that actually all people would become experts in greed if they were given permission to. So these false teachers have repackaged greed as a good thing; they have set themselves up as an example of just how good greed can be; and now they are out there selling the secrets of their success. Their product is, essentially, “How To Be Like Me Though the Power of Jesus Christ.”
Third, these false teachers practice targeted marketing: they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. In other words: they target new converts. And this explains how Peter could say, near the beginning of this chapter, that these false teachers will secretly introduce destructive heresies. It is actually no secret at all that their teachings are false! — but this is not obvious to new converts. Smart false teachers avoid mature Christians and mature well-connected churches guided by mature elders and shepherds. Instead, they usually target — or even start — independent churches, preferably churches without elders or proper shepherds, and they are quick to fill those churches with young Christians who do not know any better.
Peter is saying that these false teachers are impressive on the outside…but the truth is this: blackest darkness is reserved for them. Just like the fallen angels who led mankind astray in Noah’s time, when they die these false teachers will be put in chains of darkness to be held for judgement.
But if you recall from last week, Peter has already pointed out that judgement is not just a future thing for these false teachers: their punishment begins now, in this life. The chains of darkness have already encircled them. As he goes on to say here in verse 19: They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity.
Freedom was one of the highest values in Roman culture: the ability to call yourself a “free person” affected everything from your social status to your economic status. Freedom was an identity, a source of pride — it meant the opposite of calling yourself a “refugee” or an “exile” — and this is what the false teachers are selling.
These false teachers have taken the original Gospel teaching about freedom and they have twisted it into an anti-Gospel thing:
Jesus and his original apostles also promise freedom. But their offer of freedom is to people who know they do not deserve freedom; and such people, when they receive freedom, respond with gratitude and the desire to serve the one who set them free. In other words, Jesus’ offer of freedom is an appeal to a person’s sense of helplessness.
But these false teachers’ offer of freedom is an appeal to a person’s sense of pride. Their teaching is the opposite of the Gospel: they are saying, “You deserve freedom!” As a result, when their new converts do receive freedom, they respond with gratitude to themselves and the desire to serve themselves even more than before!
But these false teachers are selling a product they themselves do not even possess, because they are not “free persons”, they are slaves of depravity.
For — as Peter goes on to say: “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”
And this phrase is the language of the battlefield. Most slaves in the Roman empire came from countries that had been conquered by Roman armies, and they would be led in chains to the slave markets.
In the same way, these false teachers have been conquered by Satan’s armies. Bold and arrogant, they have left the straight way and returned to Roman cultural values, and by doing so they wandered into Satan’s territory and got captured. Demons are now leading them through life to their final judgement, and they are wearing chains formed out of their own enslaving desires! — they have chained themselves with the power, the prosperity, the pleasures they thought were going to set them free.
But again, just like last week, we struggle a bit with this concept: because these false teachers, being such clever marketers, parade their chains with pride. They say, “Look at all this power and prosperity and pleasure God has blessed us with! Sure you don’t want to join?” As Peter has been saying: these people are careful to look impressive on the outside.
How can we tell that they are actually living in chains, being held for punishment on the day of judgement, when they look so free?
Well, Peter has been training us, teaching us how to cut through the crap and get to the truth. He told us to always check behaviour and teachings, and compare these things against our knowledge of Jesus Christ — the knowledge that we receive from the apostles and prophets.
So let’s practice right now on these false teachers Peter has been describing. We have enough detail to do this now: these are people who despise authorities, they have set themselves up as their own independent authority. They seduce the unstable — they target the weak — with fabricated stories. They promise them freedom by promoting greed as a good thing — and it sure does look like a good thing, based on the appearance of success these teachers promote.
But when we apply our knowledge of Jesus Christ, we begin to see the truth. For instance, we know that Jesus was a big fan of the Old Testament law, the 10 Commandments in particular. He said, very clearly, that “anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What kind of relationship do these false teachers have with the 10 Commandments?
Well, these false teachers despise authority, and they are teaching others to despise authority. But the 5th commandment says honor your father and your mother, and the 5th commandment is not just about respect for parental authority, it is about respect for all proper authority. So these false teachers are deliberately setting aside the 5th commandment, and teaching others to do the same.
They are also seducing the unstable with fabricated stories, mouthing empty, boastful words. But the 9th commandment says you shall not give false testimony: you shall not distort the truth. So these false teachers are deliberately setting aside the 9th commandment, and teaching others to do the same.
They promise people freedom by claiming that greed is good. But the 10th commandment says you shall not covet; in other words: greed is destructive. But these false teachers are deliberately setting aside the 10th commandment, and they are teaching others to do the same.
By deliberately rejecting God’s law, these false teachers are denying the sovereign Lord who bought them. They are not giving credit to Jesus for giving them freedom, they are giving credit to themselves. And this breaks the 1st commandment: you shall have no other gods before me.
And here is the thing about the 10 Commandments: these are not just 10 random rules that God set up as a test, so that he can wallop people who break them. These laws are actually good — they are “the perfect law that gives freedom”, according to James — which means that those who learn to love God’s law will experience greater and greater freedom in this life…while those who deliberately break them will find themselves enslaved more and more by their own desires.
These false teachers proclaim themselves free, and in many cases they look “free” from the law, but as long as they are deliberately breaking the law and teaching others to do the same, they are actually being crushed beneath it.
In other words, there is a sense in which God does not need to punish people for breaking his law, because consistently and deliberately ignoring the commandments results in its own punishment, the misery of slavery to demons and depravity. This is what Peter goes on to describe next:
 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.  It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.
It would have been better for them to have never known the 10 Commandments. It would have been better for them to have never learned about Jesus Christ. They are worse off now, as Christians who have deliberately rejected God’s Son and God’s Law, than they were when they were just ignorant pagans.
But Peter’s conclusion here just raises some more questions for us, doesn’t it? We want to know: what does Peter mean by “worse off”? And we want to know: is Peter saying that Christians can lose their salvation?
The first question is easier to answer: when Peter says they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning, he means that these false teachers are going to suffer a far greater punishment than their followers, they are even going to suffer a greater punishment than pagans who never got a chance to know Jesus and then reject him by name.
Peter is basically saying that there are different levels of judgement, just as there will be different levels of reward in God’s presence. And Peter is not making this idea up. Jesus himself said that the person who knows what they are supposed to do — but does not do it — will be punished more severely than the one who does not know what they are supposed to do, and so sins in ignorance.
My father taught me this principle when I was seven years old, and my brother was about 4. We were in Jakarta, at a guesthouse, and somehow we found our way unsupervised up onto the roof of the building. I put my foot through a skylight, and almost fell to my death in the central courtyard. And when I looked down to see where the broken tiles landed, there was my father in the courtyard looking up at me.
My brother and I both experienced punishment that day — but mine was worse, even though my brother was actually the first one who went out on that roof. I was actually following him, trying to bring him back to safety. And so when I asked my father why my punishment was worse, he said because I knew better. I was more responsible: instead of trying to save my little brother myself — and almost getting killed in the process — I should have run for help from some other higher authority.
So the basic principle makes sense. But we still struggle a bit with Peter’s conclusion here — at least, I know I do. Because Peter is basically saying that it is better to never hear the Gospel, than to believe a false gospel; it is better to never hear the name of Jesus, then to believe in a false Jesus. And it is certainly better to never preach the Gospel, than to deliberately preach a false gospel. On Judgement Day, there will be unrepentant pagans who have a lighter punishment than some people who called themselves “Christian” in this life.
This is a profound warning!
But it is not a warning to the false teachers — according to Peter, they are already a lost cause. There is no point in preaching the truth to them anymore, they are under Satan’s care now.
No: this warning is intended for the rest of the Christians of ancient Roman Asia. Peter is saying, “do not be carried away by false teaching and fall back into slavery and judgement!”
Which leads us to our second question: is Peter saying that Christians can lose their salvation? His warning here is so strong, and why would he bother to warn his friends if there really is no danger of falling away?
Ooookay…here we go:
No, it is not possible for a Christian to lose their salvation. In fact, if you remember, we asked this question right at the beginning of Peter’s letter. And we saw that Peter’s answer was very clear: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life, and if you do these things then you will never stumble, you will never fall out of the ark of Jesus’ Church. And there are many many other verses in the bible that say the same thing. Jesus himself said this: “I give my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
But at the same time, right at the beginning of this letter, Peter also pointed out that it is possible for a Christian to escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires, and then forget that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Today, Peter is saying it again: it is possible for a Christian to escape the corruption of the world — really escape! — and then somehow be entangled in it and overcome.
And how are we supposed to put these two contradictory ideas together? No, Christians cannot lose their salvation, but: yes, Christians can be overcome by corruption. How do these fit together?
Well, this is why we began today with a discussion of what true ”conversion“ means to Peter.
For Peter, it is through conversion — marked by the ritual of baptism — that a person escapes the corruption of the world and is cleansed from their past sins.
But remember, this conversion — this escape — has both an external physical component and an internal spiritual component:
When a person is converted, their earthly identity changes from their physical birth nation to their new spiritual birth nation: they become literally physically embedded in a whole new community, a whole new system of values and teachings, and this begins to transform that person from the outside-in.
But it is also true that, when a person is converted, their spiritual identity changes, their spiritual eyes and ears are opened so that they can respond more effectively to the Christian system of values and teachings — and this begins to transform them from the inside-out.
And as we noticed at the beginning, these two components of conversion do not necessarily happen at the same time: sometimes a person comes to internal faith in Jesus long before they are able to find a Christian community to be baptized into. Sometimes a person grows up as a baptized part of a Christian community long before they come to internal faith in Jesus. But ordinarily speaking, both components eventually need to come together in the same person, because — really — they depend upon one another, they are two halves of one whole. We are physical creatures and we are spiritual creatures. It really is still a mystery to us how this works, but what happens to our body affects our spirit, and what happens to our spirit affects our body, our external conversion is wrapped up in our internal conversion which feeds back into our external conversion and on and on…
And so, in Peter’s thinking, a person who is a committed member of a church — but does not have internal faith — really has escaped the corruption of the world, and will continue to escape as long as they continue to grow toward true internal faith. But if they refuse to move toward internal faith, then…they are just not going to survive: they will eventually be entangled by corruption and overcome. In other words: external conversion is not enough, it will not last without internal conversion.
In the same way, in Peter’s thinking, a person who claims to have internal faith — but is not yet a baptized member of a church — really has escaped the corruption of the world, and will continue to escape as long as they continue to move toward submission to a church community. But if they refuse to move toward submission to some kind of church authority, then…most likely they do not actually have an internal faith. If they do have some kind of internal faith, it will always remain a very weak and immature faith, easily entangled and overcome. In other words: internal conversion is not enough, it will not last without external conversion.
And this is why Peter can say, along with Jesus, that it is impossible for a Christian to lose their salvation — no one can snatch us out of our Father’s hand! — while at the same time it is possible for a Christian who is just beginning to escape to be led astray and overcome. A person who has been given the external conversion identity of “Christian” really is a Christian — but will not be for long if internal faith does not follow. A person who has the internal conversion identity of “Christian” really is a Christian — but will not be for long if they do not seek out external supports for their faith.
Basically, this what Peter is saying: 50% conversion is true conversion, true escape from corruption. But 50% conversion is not 100% conversion. And until conversion is 100%, there is still need for warnings like this, there is still a need for caution, there is still a need to make every effort to confirm our calling and election.
And that is Peter’s complaint against these false teachers: even though they began the process of genuine conversion, and got far enough to officially take on the name of ”Christian”…they did not finish the process. And the reason they did not finish the process is because, at a fundamental level, their core nature did not change. This is what he goes on to say in verse 22:
Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
We have dogs at home. I can assure you that a well-trained dog is more pleasant than a less well-trained dog — but even a well-trained dog is still a dog. A pig that is washed is still a pig. Now, apparently pigs do love to swim in clean water; but they also love to swim in mud — they personally make no distinction between these things, they love water and mud equally.
These false teachers have the same problem: they want to be Christians, and they want to be Romans — they are blind to the distinction between these things, they see no contradiction between righteousness and depravity. They want to say that external conversion is enough: it is enough to be officially baptized into a Christian identity and so to be cleansed from sins, there is no need to repent of Roman values. Or they want to say that internal conversion is enough: it is enough just to believe in Jesus in your heart, and know that you are cleansed from sins…there is no need to submit to any larger community of Christians.
As Jesus himself said: despite their appearance of freedom and success, these false teachers will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. And neither will anyone who follows them, no matter how sincere their own personal belief is.
But Peter does not want to end his letter there. And I don’t want to end this sermon there. Chapter 2 has been a long dark chapter — a necessary chapter, of course! — but still, I would rather finish today with the Gospel of hope. So let’s do that by reading the first two verses of Chapter 3:
 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.
Peter’s two letters are bound together into one unit. The first focused on threats from outside the Christian community. The second is focused on threats from within. But they both have the same purpose: to stimulate Christians to wholesome thinking. Peter wants to transform the way his friends see their place in the world: they are God’s chosen refugees, a new international nation set apart from all other nations. And the thing that identifies us is our baptism, our conversion: our external loyalty to Christ and community, along with our internal commitment to the values of our Saviour’s kingdom.
And, as Peter has said, this requires wholesome thinking. We are no longer defined by our background cultures and ethnicities, we are defined by the content of our hearts and minds. And this requires concentration. It requires repeated trips back to the true well of living water. This is why Peter goes on to say:
 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
Peter wants his friends in Roman Asia to keep their spiritual immune system strong by going back again and again to the apostles and the prophets, and especially to the command given by our Lord and Savior.
So of course we have to ask: what is this command that Peter wants his friends to recall? Clearly it is important, because he has already mentioned that the false teachers have turned their backs on this sacred command. What is it?
Well, the apostle that said it best is actually the apostle John, who is possibly the man who originally planted these churches in Roman Asia. As Peter said, he wants them to recall the command given through your apostles, and most likely he is referring to something John first taught them. And we have John’s teaching preserved for us in his first letter to the churches: This is God’s command, John said, to believe the name of his son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
That’s it. That is all Peter wants his friends to remember: one simple command with two simple parts — to believe in the name of Jesus Christ, and to love one another. This is how Jesus said it: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. In other words: the command given by our Lord and Saviour is a summary of the 10 Commandments.
And the reason Peter wants his friends to remember this command is because this is exactly what the false teachers are attacking: they are deconstructing the name of Jesus Christ, turning Jesus’ name into a false name for a false Jesus, so that people will be unable to love the Lord their God properly. And they are teaching that love for God’s law is not necessary, so that people will be unable to love their neighbors properly.
Basically, by redefining the biblical concept of conversion, these false teachers are making it impossible for their followers to complete their conversion — and thus leading them into eternal darkness.
Peter says: don’t follow them. Just…don’t. Stick close to the apostles and prophets and you will be okay!
And that is Peter’s application for us also, even 2000 years later here in Modern Asia. And this application still makes sense for us because modern Christianity is still infected with the same kinds of false teachers: people who have deliberately turned their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Some over-emphasize the external aspect of conversion: they say that, as long as you have been baptized and have publically identified yourself as Christian, you are saved — no need for a change of values. Others over-emphasize the internal aspect of conversion: they say that, as long as you are loving Jesus in your heart, there is no need to submit to any kind of Church authority. All are false, incomplete pictures of what a truly converted Christian life looks like.
But as Peter pointed out today, these false teachers are careful to disguise their false teachings behind glossy advertisement, glowing testimonials, targeted marketing, the appearance of great success.
So how can we recognize them?
Well…first, those are actually some of the marks of false teachers.
So if you are a visitor here today and normally you attend a large church, with a large glossy advertising budget, led by teachers who focus more on style than substance, filled with young people and young Christians but very few older, more mature Christians…then Peter is telling you to take a closer look at what is really going on. Because it could be that your church is being led by people who have turned their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.
Now, how can we tell if a teacher or a church has turned their backs on the sacred command?
By asking this question: what is my teachers’ relationship with the 10 Commandments? Are they teaching us to keep them or reject them?
But here, again, false teachers do not usually start out by saying that Christians should steal and murder and commit adultery! So how can we tell if their relationship with the 10 Commandments is not what it should be?
By asking this question: what is their relationship with the 10th commandment in particular? — the one that says you shall not covet.
Why is the 10th commandment the one to check? Because it is the “least” of the commandments: it is the easiest to break secretly. It is the only one of the 10 commandments that is…private, we could say. And so it is the most “socially acceptable” commandment to break.
And as such, the 10th commandment is the first one false teachers set aside themselves, and the first one they teach others to set aside. In Peter’s time, this resulted in teachers who were experts in greed. In our time, this has resulted in a movement called the Prosperity Gospel. Prosperity Gospel teachers promote prosperity. They promote greed. They are deliberately teaching people to practice covetousness. They consistently and deliberately set aside the ”least” of the 10 Commandments, and they teach others to do the same. Which means that: according to Jesus, Prosperity Gospel teachers will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
So if you are a visitor here today, and you are beginning to realize that your teachers actively promote the desire for prosperity and power as a good and godly thing, if your teachers are constantly telling you that you deserve more…then: you are following a false teacher. You are following a false church. And Peter’s advice for you is: don’t. Just…don’t.
Because they are not just leading you to hell, they are leading you to misery in this life. Because here’s the thing about covetousness: it never remains a private sin. It begins quietly in the heart…but once your teachers have convinced you that private greed is really not a sin, they will inevitably convince you that acting on that greed is not a sin. And that is how you are going to be entangled in corruption once again and overcome.
This is how it happens: those who set aside the 10th commandment by believing greed is good also set aside the 9th commandment, because they are lying about God’s Word — which means they are also setting aside the 3rd commandment: lying about God’s name. And those who set aside the 3rd and 9th commandments are also setting aside the 8th commandment: stealing the opportunity for eternal life away from those who are under their care…which means they are also setting aside the 6th commandment: murdering those under their care by leading them down into eternal death. And those who set aside the 6th and 8th commandments are also setting aside the 7th commandment, because covetousness never stops with just money and power, it always moves on to sex and personal pleasure — which means they are also setting aside the 5th commandment: despising legitimate authority…
I think you get my point: those who set aside the “least” of the commandments actually and inevitably set aside all the rest. This is why it is so common for famous celebrity teachers to be caught in terrible scandals: because no matter how good and impressive they appear to be on the outside, if they despise authority and teach people to practice greed…then their commitment to all the rest of the 10 Commandments is definitely unraveling. They are either fantasizing about breaking other commandments, or they are actually breaking other commandments and covering it up. They have been entangled in corruption and overcome, and there is no longer any hope for them.
But there is still hope for you! — if you stop following them, and turn back to the straight way, and seek out a true teacher of the true Gospel.
But what about us, here at CDPCKL? We live in a global economy that runs on discontent and greed, and we have all been infected by it. I am often covetous, and I know you are also. So we find ourselves wondering: does this mean we have also been entangled and overcome? Is there still hope for me as a teacher, for us as a church community?
Yes, there is. Because I am not teaching you that greed is good. And the Holy Spirit among us is also confirming that greed is not good. We all experience greed and discontent, the desire for things that God has not given to us — but we also recall that we are supposed to repent of our sins, not celebrate them! It is only when we begin to celebrate our sins that we are entangled and overcome.
So this is our application: we are going to continue, together, in community, to always recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through our apostles. And if we do this, if we keep on making every effort to confirm our calling and election, then we will never stumble, we will not be overcome! We will find our conversion made complete, we will find our lives transformed from the outside-in and the inside-out. By God’s grace, we will find ourselves living in freedom as the people of God’s pasture, as the sheep of his hand.
And if we are the sheep of his hand, then Jesus’ promise is meant for us: “I give my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
That is Good News.