Sermon: Waiting Biblically (2 Peter 3:1-18)

Waiting Biblically

2 Peter 3:1-18 (ESV)

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,  [2] that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,  [3] knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  [4] 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.”  [5] 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,  [6] and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  [7] 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.

[8] 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.  [9] 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.  [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.

[11] Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,  [12] 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!  [13] But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

[14] Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  [15] And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,  [16] as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.  [17] You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.  [18] 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.

If there is anything that the Book of Hebrews has taught me it’s that we are to live by faith in anticipation of the final fulfillment of God’s promises.  We have been given so many examples of Old Testament people who waited patiently for the promises to be fulfilled.  They waited and waited.  In their lifetime, however, they didn’t see those promises.  When they reached the end of their lives without the promises being fulfilled, their faith was still strong.  They believed God and knew that if God made the promises they would most definitely come to pass.

It’s amazing how the Lord is tying this interlude from the Book of Hebrews to the advent.  I think the timing is amazing.

The point these verses make is the same point the Book of Hebrews has made concerning the first coming or Advent of our Lord.

Truth Taught– In the same way we saw how the Old Testament believers lived by faith waiting on the coming of Christ and the New Covenant, we should live by faith while we wait on the Lords second coming.

1.  Peter’s Purpose

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,

Peter’s mission is to help his fellow believers wait in the right frame of mind.  In other words waiting biblically is essential if we’re going to glorify the Lord in our lives.

He wrote 1 Peter and 2 Peter with one main task in mind and this was to stir up biblical thinking in the minds of his fellow believers.  He was doing exactly what Jesus had asked him to do.

John 21:15-17 (ESV)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  [16] He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  [17] He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Feeding the believers was Peter’s life-long mission.  He knew what it was like to fail and be weak and have little faith.  Who best to encourage weak brethren but one who knew firsthand what sin and failure was all about.  Peter was the man for the job.

2.  Remember the Prophets and Apostles

[2] that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,  [3] knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  [4] 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.”  [5] 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,  [6] and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  [7] 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.

In the days in which the Christians lived were and are considered the last days.  They lived in the last days and we are living in the last days.  They had two basic attitudes being given to them concerning the coming of Christ.  Christians in Peter’s day and Christians today receive mixed messages.

One message came from the prophets and the apostles and the other came from scoffers.  One account came from God’s ordained spokesmen and the other from impatient unbelievers.

I want us to get this important passage because it will help us immensely in dealing with those who would want us to not believe the truths of Scripture.

Unbiblical Thinking of the Scoffers-

They think things are exactly the same as they have always been…Notice what the scoffers were saying and will say…[4] 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.”

These unbelievers are bringing into question God’s Word and the Gospel.  Notice that at the time they were saying these things Christ had already come the first time.  He had already died for His people.  They are saying that His death is irrelevant.  They do not see the work of God in history.  Their perspective is totally wrong because they are coming at it by sinful and selfish desires.  Things have not remained as they always were.  God has spent everything changing things.  He has reconciled men to Himself through Christ.

Peter’s command is listen to the prophets and apostles not to the scoffers.

They think judgment will never come

Here’s what the scoffers are forgetting.  It is also good for us to be reminded of this as well.

[5] 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,  [6] and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  [7] 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 loving reminder is that these people who are denying that God has ever done anything are forgetting about the worldwide flood.  They’re forgetting about that thing God did.  The earth had water stored up and because of sinful mankind, God unleashed it and everyone except Noah and his family drowned.

Peter goes on to say that there is also fire stored up.  When the time is right God will unleash it and the old will be burned away and God will bring about a new heaven and earth.  All believers will be saved and all unbelievers will be destroyed.  They don’t think that their sin will ever be judged.  It’s a dangerous thing to take sin lightly.

They think God is slow…

[8] 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.  [9] 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.  [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.

Peter writes, don’t forget what Moses said…

Psalm 90:4 (ESV)

For a thousand years in your sight

are but as yesterday when it is past,

or as a watch in the night.

We must not get side tracked here.  Moses and Peter are not giving us some sort of Millennial countdown.  It is very clear that they both are speaking in metaphorical terms to prove a point.  Our dispensational friends would want us to build a theology based on a day to God is a thousand years.  However, the Scripture does not say that.  The Word says a thousand years are like a day.  In other words, time as we know it is not the issue.  The point Peter is making is that when God’s promises seem slow in coming, God is not slow where time is concerned.  Time to God is not the issue whether it is a thousand years or one day.  The reason Jesus Christ has not returned yet is not because the date hasn’t arrived but it’s because God is merciful and waiting for the last person to believe.  Because, God is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

The bottom line is that Christ hasn’t returned for His bride yet because she’s not entirely finished.  All of the elect have not been converted.  The church is not complete.  Once that happens then the second coming will happen.  You can read the introduction in 1 and 2 Peter to discover who Peter is writing to.  God does not wish any of the elect to perish but He desires all of them to come to repentance.  That’s the mark of the end of the world not some hidden date in some mystic Bible code.

Once we understand truths like this we must be very careful in handling them.  God is merciful and gracious.  He showed us undeserved favor when we were converted.  We must never speak of these great doctrines in a puffed up and proud way but very tenderly and humbly and cautiously.  I love the line in the movie Amazing Grace where John Newton exclaims after reviewing his life as a slave trader, I am a great sinner but Christ is a great Savior.

Through these verses, we should understand that just because the clock has ticked off 2000 years since Jesus promised He would return we shouldn’t think God is slow but that He’s patient and working to save all who would come to Him in repentance and faith, and since we know that this world will be judged by fire, how is it we are to act?

3.  Live by Faith

[14] Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  [15] And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,  [16] as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.  [17] You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.  [18] 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.

Since we are waiting for these things…

Work hard to be holy

be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

Work hard to think biblically…

[15] And count the patience of our Lord as salvation,

Work hard to believe truth and grow in grace…

take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

BUT…

[18] But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Those Old Testament saints no doubt heard many of the same things.  I’m sure Noah heard scoffers as He worked to build that giant ship in the middle of the dessert.  I’m sure as Abraham left his home there were those who said some things about him.  I’m sure as Moses set out in the Exodus there were some Egyptians that said, What in the world is he thinking? We’ve seen how the New Testament believers also experienced scoffers in this text and in others.  It doesn’t take long, whether you’re watching TV or reading a magazine or talking with people to understand scoffers are still here.  The Bible explains that they will always be here.

As believers, seek to live like those who the Book of Hebrews has shown us.  Seek to live as we see the Apostles living.  In the same way the Old Testament Heroes waited for the Advent of Christ so too we are to be waiting biblically for the Lord’s Second Advent.

As we come into the Advent Season may our celebration of Christ’s first coming grip our hearts and lead us to anticipate our Lord’s second coming.  May Christmas remind us that God has not just sat back and let creation go on as it always has, may it remind us that God is a God who is working to redeem fallen man.  Someday, whether it’s tomorrow or a thousand years from now Christ will return.  The heavens will split and the trumpet will sound and Christ will descend…till then may we be found not counting down the days and trying to figure out when but may we be found obedient.

May this Christmas Season remind us that Christ will come again.  God has not sat back idly as creation goes on it’s own course but has actively been involved.

Luke 2:1-20 (ESV)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  [2] This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  [3] And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  [4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  [5] to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  [6] And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  [7] And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

[8] And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  [9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  [10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  [11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  [12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  [13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

[14] “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

[15] When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  [16] And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  [17] And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  [18] And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  [19] But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  [20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

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