Faithlife Sermons

The Heart of the Matter

Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →
John Parke’s Warning…
In the late 1800s a bunch of wealthy industrial barons … purchased a dam and lake that had been built in the early 1800s as a reservoir on the Conemaugh River near Johnstown Pennsylvania and created the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. They called their lake “Lake Conemaugh” and though the dam that created it had originally been well-built, over the years, due to poor maintenance and alterations, it had become more and more unstable. … they mostly made patches using clay and straw whenever it sprung a leak, which it did quite often.
On May 31, 1889, a storm struck the Johnstown-South Fork area creating one of the worst downpours ever recorded in Pennsylvania history. Six to ten inches of rain fell in a 24-hour span and the local streams burst their banks, pouring water into the already unstable Lake Conemaugh. …Multiple attempts to correct this were made in haste, none successful.
Fearing the dam would collapse at any moment, Unger ordered John Parke, an engineer for the South Fork Club, to ride on horseback to the nearby town of South Fork to the telegraph office to send warnings to South Fork and Johnstown. Parke made it and telegraphed not one but two warnings, both of which were never passed along to South Fork and Johnstown officials who could have acted and evacuated the towns. Over the years there had been so many false alarms of the dam breaking (because of the frequent leaks and repairs) that no one believed Parke when he told them the dam would not hold.
At around 3:10pm, the dam finally gave way. Its contents, an estimated 20 million tons of Lake Conemaugh water, rushed down the Little Conemaugh River. The water reached the little town of South Fork first. Fortunately, most of the inhabitants heard the roar of the water coming and were able to scamper up the side of the mountain to high ground and only four people were killed. The people of Johnstown were not as fortunate. The wave of water, moving at 40 miles per hour and reaching a height of 60 feet, carrying houses, telephone poles, rocks, trees, railroad cars, and everything else in its path, slammed into the town. An estimated 2,209 people were killed making it the worst disaster in the history of the US at that time.
There is a real danger as we come to our passage today for you to sit there and listen, and not heed the warnings or mandate that Peter is giving...
Peter in this short letter has...
From the start challenging his readers to “KNOW
Stateing that all we need to know and how we need to be prepared is found in the scriptures...
He warns of false teachers, he reminds them of the promise of Christ return
YET… there is a real danger that we can hear the message given in this letter, we can read the words mandated here, and grow dull and not heed the warning given
This reaction or response could lead to your demise
Peter offers up a very powerful and straight to the point closing to his letter… 2 Peter 3:17-18
2 Peter 3:17–18 NASB95
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Beloved… This is the 5th time Peter has used this term for his readers in this 3rd chapter.
Peter cares deeply for these people
These are brothers and sisters in Christ he writes this to… Peter understands what Christ wrote in John 13:35
John 13:35 NASB95
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
There is a relationship and true concern and desire for their well-being
Keep this in mind as we look at this closing sentence of this letter and final mandate...

IF… YOU KNOW THIS: The things expressed in this letter...

Therefore… summarizing his thoughts, concerns, and direction given and expressed
Knowing this beforehand” … There is knowledge given to use to prevent a certain outcome! (The dam is about to break!)
Peter has been pointing them to the scriptures as their authority for life… 2 Peter 1:3 (VBS)
2 Peter 1:3 NASB95
seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
Paul tells Timothy one who was pastoring and shepherding the people of God in 2 Timothy 3:16
2 Timothy 3:16 NASB95
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
Peter here makes the assumption that they have and will continue to heed his mandate to know the scriptures… NOT just relying on the leadership, pastor, teachers to know.
SINCE YOU KNOW THIS… (God’s Words)...


This is military in its meaning… to watch for something closely for something that IS coming, to be alert...
The better we KNOW His Word, the more we KNOW Him the better our watchfulness is
If you don’t know someone, you will let anyone in, However… you know someone, who they are, what they stand for, … there is a less likely chance of an intruder being able to get in.
Peter explains why we need to be on our guard… (verse 17b)
Peter may have been thinking back to Galatia… Peter was led astray by other Jews, possibly charismatic in their approach and passion, YET passionately WRONG! Galatians 2:11-13
Galatians 2:11–13 NASB95
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
Paul calls Peter out, corrects him publicly… and Peter listened.
No doubt some receiving this letter Peter is writing would look back and remember this too
Peter knows that no one is beyond being “carried away”
Peter was steadfast but he fell… we can too!
Peter stresses… KNOW THE SCRIPTURES!
Since you know this… BE ON YOUR GUARD, and then GROW!


This is an IMPERATIVE STATEMENT!!! This is not only do this, BUT keep on doing this!
Our growth is to be in our Knowledge, that is the primary subject of this action, BUT it is preceded by GRACE!
In Grace… we loose this and we become calloused intellects.
We can point to every belief that is wrong in another person without the heart to see them come to repentance in Christ
We can quote scriptures and passages to show our learning, but fail to share them in a way to attract people to Christ
Grace is unmerited favor, without growing in Grace, we can come to a place we think we deserve something because of our knowledge
In Knowledge (KEY GROWTH)
This is not just speaking of an intellect… it is based in the content of what is known
Lord and Savior… Jesus Christ
Lord = His authority and majesty in our lives
Savior = The extent of His love and power!
This is all wrapped up in Jesus Christ!
This is a maturing process… when one matures it impacts and changes how one THINKS, how one RESPONDS, how one LIVES his or her life
Consider Peter’s growth… we often remember him for some of his antics young in his faith, BUT NOW a leader of the church, an apostle writing the Words of God
We see a man who has matured in his growth, in his knowledge, grown closer to his Savior even more so than when he walked with Jesus!
Both of these take time and effort to grow in. We need to nurture the growth of both, not separate from the other but in unison allow both to grow and develop in our lives.
GLORY… honor, praise, worship of Him. As we close this let me not just encourage but with the authority and power of God’s Word command you to live a life that is continually bringing Glory to God by your growing knowledge of Him and be on guard. The message has been given, delivered, and heard… will you heed it?
Related Media
Related Sermons