is Returning Soon
2 Peter 3:1-13
church was packed and the preacher was wound up to a fever pitch speaking on the
2nd coming of Jesus. Quoting Jesus’ promise, he shouted out “I am coming soon!’”
He preached some more and said even more loudly “I am coming soon!!” He preached
a little longer and threw his arms up in the air and cried out “I am coming soon!”
At this point, he lost his balance and tumbled off the podium into the lap of
a gentleman in the 1st row. The preacher got up and apologized to the man, but
the man replied: “Oh, that’s ok, you warned me three times.” If
you were writing a letter to people who were suffering, what is the one thing
above all others that you would want to say to them? It would probably be something
like this: "What you’re going through will not be in vain. When this terrible
ordeal is over, you’ll be able to look back and see that your faithfulness was
worth it all."
That reassuring message was given repeatedly to the early Christians. As they faced trials of every sort, the message of God to them was to the effect that their faithfulness in these situations would be fully rewarded.
Peter was writing his epistles to Christians who found out first-hand what it meant to be persecuted for their faith. The early church came under intense social persecution even before Rome began its official efforts at getting rid of Christians. So Christians often lost their jobs, had their property confiscated, were denied access to public markets, and suffered many other indignities. Many were false accused and landed in prison because of their beliefs. Eventually, of course, many would lose their lives because of their faith.
If you were writing to encourage the Christians who faced this sort of opposition, would it not make sense to talk about what the future holds for us? So Peter spends much of his second epistle doing just that -- talking about the eventual destruction of the world and the second coming of Christ.
To Christians who were faced with hardship and difficulty, the message of the end of time was a much needed doctrine. They needed to look beyond the pain and difficulties of their present day to the future certainty that justice and judgment were coming. They needed to live in the present with a view toward the endtime. They needed to know that Jesus meant what he said, and he’ll be back.
those are all truths that we need to be reminded of as well. While our situation
is not one of oppressive persecution, we’re still very much tempted to live with
our eyes focused only on the present. And we can’t live like that. As Christians,
our eyes have to be focused on the future. Like the persecuted Christians of the
first century, we need to see Peter’s message of the endtime. We need to look
back at our Lord Jesus and know that he was telling the truth when he said, "I’ll
1. The Assurance of Scripture (2 Peter 3:1-2)
“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.” (2 Peter 3:1-2)
The Bible Is a Perfect Book - It is God breathed. It contains God’s will. You can count on the Word of God! The Bible is a perfect book.
The Bible Is a Prophetic Book - Throughout the Bible, there are prophecies presented and fulfilled, over and over again. In fact, there were over 300 prophecies given in connection with the first advent of Jesus, and all of those 300+ prophecies were literally fulfilled. (i.e. His virgin birth - Isa. 7:14; His birth in Bethlehem - Micah 5:2; His humiliation and death - Isa. 53; His resurrection - Psalm 16:10, etc.) The Bible is a prophetic book.
The Bible Is a Preserved Book - every word in this Book will literally come to pass. Jesus made several statements about his return. We can be assured that they will come true. Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). The Bible is a preserved book.
The Assurance of the Scriptures. A perfect book, a prophetic book, a preserved book.
2. The Ignorance of the Scoffers (2 Peter 3:3-7)
“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:3-7)
Their Doubt - They deny the reality of Christ's coming. Their reasoning? Nothing has changed! Spring still follows winter, summer spring and fall summer. All things continue as they have for ages. They fail to realize that God is not bound by time as men are. In truth, Jesus has only been gone about 2 days. If you dare to declare that you believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible you had better be prepared for ridicule. Others believe that we are a dangerous element. Some would like nothing better for all Bible believers to be locked away from the rest of "normal" society. Someone once said “I may be a nut, but at least I am screwed onto the right bolt.” Their doubt.
Their Denial - These scoffers base their doubt on their denial of God's revealed truth. It begins with something so basic as creation. People deny creation, which is testified to by the Scriptures, then from there, it is easy to deny everything else God says. Every important truth found in the Bible finds its origin or roots in the book of Genesis. Without it was cannot explain the origin of life, the origin of gender, or of marriage, or the purpose of work, or the origin of evil and its cure. These doctrines which the bible assumes remain a mystery without the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Their doubt, their denial.
The Discovery - Why are people so quick to deny the plain teachings of the Scriptures? Why do they seem so eager to invent fables to explain away truths that are so clearly taught in the pages of Scripture? Simple! The problem is not one of the head, but it is one of the heart. It isn't that they can't understand, it is that they do not wish to.
Notice verse 5, "deliberately forget", verse 3, "following their own evil desires." If man admits that there really is a God and that this God has given us a perfect revelation of Himself in the bible, then he will have to bow before God, repent of His sins and submit to God or be eternally damned! You see, if you can dispense with "Thus says the Lord", then there are no absolutes, there are no standards of right and wrong and nothing is off limits! Because, if we admit that there is a God, then verse 10 must be dealt with.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” (2 Peter 3:10)
“The Elements” - literally, "the elementum" the "smallest part." In modern terms: the atom! Atomic power is all around us this evening. Even the very breaths we take are filled with highly flammable and explosive gases. The water, which covers 75% of this earth's surface is composed of gases so explosive and volatile that any molecular change would result in the total destruction of the planet.
Oxygen - Oxygen is required for all combustion. It is what fire feeds on. Take away the oxygen and the fire dies, turn it on and the fire flares. Yet, with every breath, we pull this highly explosive material into our bodies.
Nitrogen - Nitrogen is the component that makes dynamite, TNT and nitroglycerin explosive. Yet, every day we gulp massive quantities of nitrogen in the air we breath. Cannot the same God who made these elements and combined them in such a way that they do not explode, also change the mixture and cause them to explode? Of course He can!
Table Salt - It is 1/3 Sodium. Sodium by itself is a gray, putty like substance. It must be kept in kerosene or it will explode. If a drop is placed in water, it will result in a violent fire. Yet, we eat it every day!
Water - It is composed of Oxygen and Hydrogen. Both extremely explosive, yet combined in a manner that makes them safe. All God has to do is speak the Word and the chemical arrangement is altered and the world a huge fuel dump. Yet, we drink this life giving substance every day.
The Atom - When the atom is split, a change reaction is set in motion that has the power to level cities and vaporize men. Yet, we are all made up of atoms.
The Earth - The earth has been compared to a globular egg with a hard crust covering a semi-liquid center. In scale, the earth's crust is the same thickness of a egg's shell when compared to the vast sea of lava under it. There have been times when this lava has burst forth and killed thousands. Yet, we walk on this thin crust every day and trust in the safety of the earth.
“By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7)
"reserved for fire". In the very building blocks of creation God placed the elements essential to bring about a fiery end to this world.
The world was created in the beginning and it will be cremated in the end! In that day, all that will matter is your personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Back in May of 1969 a national magazine told the story of Port Royal, Jamaica…. “Cities have been smothered with volcanic ash, leveled by hurricanes, shaken apart by earthquakes. But no disaster quite matches the one that struck Port Royal, Jamaica, at 11:43 a.m., on June 7, 1692. In the space of less then 10 minutes, the thriving pirate port, reputedly the wickedest city on earth, sank convulsively into the Caribbean. An eyewitness described the scene: "The earth heaved and swelled like the rolling billows, and in many places the earth crack’d open - open’d and shut - with a motion quick and fast. In some of these people were swallowed up, in others they were caught by the middle, and pressed to death. The whole was attended with the noise of falling mountains at a distance, while the sky was turned dull and reddish, like a glowing oven." Upward of 2000 people perished in the chaos. Even today, many Jamaicans believe that Port Royal’s destruction was the price exacted by an angry God for its sins. Their doubt, their denial, the discovery. The Assurance of the Scriptures. The Ignorance of the Scoffers.
3. The Patience of the Saviour (2 Peter 3:8-9)
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)
God Is Punctual - He isn't slack. God is a God of order and of punctuality. He will come when the time is exactly right for doing so. People look at the delay and wonder why Jesus hasn't come. The answer is easy! It simply isn't time. When it is time, He will come. God always shows up exactly when He is supposed to. God is punctual.
God Is Patient - The reason God is patient is because He is giving lost men and women time to repent and to turn to Him. God doesn't want anyone to die lost and to go to Hell. He wants all men to be saved so that they can spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Therefore, He waits and He loves and He calls and He gives mankind opportunity after opportunity to get right with Him.
God Has Promised - He will come again, just as He said He would. God is punctual. God is patient. God has promised.
The Assurance of the Scriptures. The Ignorance of the Scoffers. The Patience of the Saviour. How should we then live? Peter leaves us in no doubt.
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 14So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Peter 3:11-13)
Do you follow what Peter is saying here? He’s saying that if you are convinced that Jesus Christ is going to return, then it will make a difference in the way you’re living because you’ll want to live right. If we’re looking forward to his return, we’ll naturally concentrate on spiritual matters. Peter lists a couple of actions that Christians will take as a result of their absolute certainty of Christ’s return.
Develop holy and godly lives
First of all, they’ll seek to develop personal holiness and godliness. The word "holy" in the New Testament means to be separated. So a Christian is someone who is unwilling to live as others normally do. He makes an effort to live apart from sin, not to wallow in it.
Look forward to the day of God
Second, those who believe in the second coming of Christ have an attitude of eager anticipation. It’s the same word that was used to describe Cornelius when he sent for Peter and was waiting on his front doorstep to greet the one who would tell him what to do to be saved. We should be eager for Christ to come. And the knowledge that he is coming should make a difference in the way we live.
One time when 20th Century Fox advertised in the New York papers to fill a vacancy in its sales team, one applicant replied: "I am at present selling furniture at the address below. You may judge my ability as a salesman if you will stop in to see me at anytime, pretending that you are interested in buying furniture. When you come in, you can identify me by my red hair. And I will have no way of identifying you. Such salesmanship as I exhibit during your visit, therefore, will be no more than my usual workday approach and not a special effort to impress a prospective employer." From among more than 1500 applicants, this guy got the job. Would you?
sermon draws with grateful thanks on ideas and content from sermons by Jeff Strite
and Guy Caley posted on www.sermoncentral.com
and Alan Carr, Pastor
of Calvary Baptist Church in Lenoir, NC. http://www.sermonnotebook.org/index.htm
No claims of absolute originality are made for this material. As one man said, "I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter."