Dan, Dave, and Channing Preaching
Swift Cantrel Witnessing - esp. Linda
Lucas in Indonesia
Text – 2 Peter 3:1-15
I had planned to spend some more time in Second Peter 2, but I think for the most part we’ve covered the important parts of that chapter, and I know how tedious it can get when the teacher teaches on the same topic multiple weeks in a row, so we’ll just do a quick review and move onto the fun part, which is in chapter 3.
If there is one thing I dislike most about our modern Bible it is the chapter and verse break-ups, this is especially evident today as we look at one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. As I researched this passage I couldn’t find a single person who looked at the thought of Second Peter 3, but only people that looked at single verses, which is utterly dumb.
It is important that we see Second Peter as one book and not as three chapters or sixty-one verses, because if there is any book in the New Testament that is so pointed at where it is going, it is Second Peter. Another book like it is Romans, which really is masterfully written to give you an exceptional theological lesson in chapters 1-11, then gives you a perfect application in chapters 12-16. First Corinthians is also a good example, that we see how utterly wrecked that church is in chapters 1-14, that they’re having sexual immorality problems, money problems, communion parties, cliques are forming, people are speaking in gibberish, everybody talks at once in the church services, and marriages are falling apart, and it all comes to a head in chapter 15 to show that the reason for all of the other problems was a denial of the resurrection of both Christ from the dead, and the believer after death.
Second Peter has a gorgeous progression to make four major points really well so that they are memorable for you. Does anyone remember what those four points are? How to know you’re a Christian, how to grow in knowledge by reading your Bible, the danger of listening to men instead of the Bible, and Christ’s return and the sureness of his victory.
We’re going to see that in Christ’s return is also a definite proof that God will save his saints, just as we saw last week that though God crushed Sodom and Gomorrah he saved Lot. One thing I forgot to mention last week requires approaching that topic again. First, when Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned in books other than Genesis, what are they normally used to demonstrate? God’s ability to make a complete end, even extinction, of the wicked. But which was the sin that the Bible says they were partaking in which showed their complete depravity? Homosexuality. After praying about last week’s lesson I really think it’s important that I share one last point which we missed last week.
Romans 1:27 the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
I have to share that the life expectancy of a homosexual man is two-decades less than the life-expectancy of a heterosexual man. There is both a temporal and eternal penalty for this sin, there are many diseases and infections which are only spread through promiscuity, especially within the homosexual lifestyle. I want to make sure you see that this is not just a sin which God picked out at random to pick on, but there are many reasons for it. Who could possibly dislike the guys on Will & Grace? They seem so nice, and definitely have a lot of love, but we need to remember the dangers of this sin and realize that it is really a horrible sin against God and humanity, and we must not give approval to those who practice it.
But just as we saw that God was willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of the righteous, so are we going to see today that God has a patience which has a purpose, and unfortunately one which many mistake for inaction or nonexistence.
2 Peter 3:1-15 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation…
In verse 1, Peter affirms that this is the second letter he has written, which is the first letter he wrote? First Peter…that’s a crazy coincidence that his first letter is called the first and his second letter is called the second! Does anybody know which is the third letter he wrote? I believe quite surely that he cowrote Hebrews with Paul, with Luke as the amanuensis. Which Gospel did Peter heavily influence? Definitely Mark and probably Luke as well.
The important part here is that Peter is pointing us back to his first letter, do you remember what the major theme is in First Peter? It’s the resurrection; added into that is a surety of Judgment Day, that this life is not all there is, but that we live a life of godliness looking forward to eternity.
1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Peter reminds us in verse 1 that he is speaking to believers, by using the term, “beloved”, which references Christ’s beloved and the brotherly bond within the church. This is hugely important as we look through his passage that it is to believers.
In the last days scoffers will arise, and the reason they will scoff is in verse 3 for their sinful desires. Let’s let Paul tell us which these desires are:
2 Timothy 3:1-5 Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
v.3 They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation."
This is what is known as “uniformitarianism” or the belief that God does not intercede or cause massive changes to the world, that natural processes have been going on since the beginning, which here clearly references the future religion of Darwinism with the idea of the Big Bang. Paul gives a similar warning about avoid science falsely so called. In order to believe in uniformitarianism a person has to deny the Flood, which is exactly what Peter is going to say they will do.
v.4-7 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
Peter’s favorite Old Testament event, without a doubt, is Noah’s flood. He references it three times making three major points with it. Here he is comparing the effective end of that world to the total end of this world, and the fact that the unbelievers will overlook that fact. Do you know how long Noah was building the ark? 120 years, it was over a century between when God said he would deluge the earth and when he actually did, and during that time no doubt Noah was ridiculed and God was blasphemed. I wonder if they had celebrations every year to make fun of Noah’s boat that he wasn’t using because there was no flood. But they mistook God’s patience for inaction.
v.8-9 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God is willing to wait, he is outside of time, he has a plan and a purpose to accomplish before he will pour out his wrath. His patience is amazing and meant to lead us to repentance.
Romans 2:4-5 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
God is waiting for something very specific to happen before Christ returns to judge the world and for the whole world to be burned up in wrath. Before we look at what that is, let’s look at what God was waiting for before he deluged the world in Noah’s day. When we look at the genealogies in Genesis 4 and 5 we something interesting, that Cain’s genealogy is quite wicked, and Seth’s is quite godly. Cain killed his brother, then went out from God’s presence, Lamech was the first one to say, “If one wife is good, then two wives must be extra good.” On the other side we have Seth who led his family to follow God, he had a grandson named Enoch who walked so closely with God that he never died, Enoch had a son named Methusaleh, and Methusaleh had a grandson whose name was Noah who God found favor with. Without a doubt this is my favorite verse in the Bible, it doesn’t add much to our lesson today but I really want to read it:
Genesis 6:5,8 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
What is special about Methusaleh? He’s the oldest man who ever lived, how old did he live to? 969. What is special about when he died? It’s when the flood started. The Bible isn’t clear to exactly when the flood started, only an approximate time, but I wouldn’t be surprised that when Methusaleh breathed his last, the first raindrop fell. The Methodist church believes Methusaleh died in the flood, but it’s hugely important for Peter’s lesson that we see that he died and then the flood.
So what was God waiting for to send the flood? The last righteous man on earth besides Noah to die. So now what is God waiting for to send Christ back to earth? The last of his elect to become a saint, to reach repentance. What would have happened if Christ had returned fifteen years ago? None of you would have even existed, let alone reached repentance! God knows exactly how many will believe and Christ will come back at the exact moment that the last of his saints reaches repentance.
He doesn’t want all people to reach repentance and he certainly is willing that some perish, because many do perish, and what God wills will come to fruition, else he wouldn’t be sovereign and omnipotent.
Romans 9:22-23 God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory…
v.10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
So we see a world prepared for destruction, when with a tremendously loud sound the sky will roll back, Christ will be seen, and he will wage war on his enemies. Let’s read my all time favorite verse:
Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
At that precise moment we will have his heavenly host of angels gather his saints from all corners of the globe and save them from the destruction to come, at which time it is described that Christ will trample out the winepress of his enemies and he will be covered head to toe in the blood of those who stand against him.
So then we are faced with what we will set our affections on, will it be things of this world, a nice house, a nice car, the body we are currently wearing? Peter tells us exactly where to set our affections.
v.11-13 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
If this world will pass away, then we ought to set our affections on the new heavens and new earth, on the Righteous and Resurrected Christ, growing in holiness and godliness and calling everyone to repentance. Here is what is neat for us that Noah couldn’t do anything about. What needed to happen for the flood to start? Noah needed the Ark, which he had, and every righteous person had to die. Methusaleh’s son, Lamech (not the same Lamech of Cain’s side) had died some five years earlier, and so only Noah and Methusaleh remained. Peter tells us not just to wait for every saint to reach repentance, but also to hasten that day, to hurry that day up. How do we do that? By preaching the gospel! If you witness to someone and they repent and they are the last saint, you could see the heavens opened! Then for all eternity you can bear the crown of calling the last saint to salvation.
v.14-15 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation…
The Father knows what he is doing, and so we continue to grow in grace, being sanctified, living as exiles in this world seeking the welfare of the city we are sojourners in, calling everyone to repentance, and we’re not mad at God for failing to send Christ back, rather we rejoice in his great patience which will result in every single one of his saints reaching repentance, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Oswald J. Smith has a fantastic quote which says, “We speak of the second coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” Robert Moffat said on his missionary journeys to India, “I have sometimes seen in the morning sun the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been.”
And finally, this prophecy and surety of return is not given for us to stand looking towards Heaven, it is to motivate us to action. William Varner, a professor at the Seminary where I want to pursue my doctorate, put it this way, “Prophecy is not given to form a calendar, but to form a character; a character of prayerfulness, watchfulness, honesty, and holiness.”