Tag: Obedience

Guarding, Growing, Glorifying

2 Peter 3:17-18 

Large portions of God’s word that deal with living righteously – what God provides for us, what God expects of us, but that’s not all. Many times in NT that deal with finishing well – living well is important, essential if we are to finish well. Peter, closing his final letter before death, has done all he can to equip his beloved for both. Exhorts them here to take what he has given by way of warning and instruction, use it so they will persevere in the faith. Is not his desire to frighten people away from following Christ, rather is instruction that helps stay aware of the dangers and avoid devil’s traps and seductions.

One of Satan’s favorite lines – “It’s no big deal.” Whatever he offers that carries risk of drawing away from God, tries to encourage Christian it’s not a big deal. Peter knew better, in part from personal experience. Had his own rounds with Satan that turned out badly. Gives final reminder, it is a big deal so you need to guard yourself… iow don’t give in to overconfidence. And make sure you are growing in grace so you will be able to glorify God in everything.

A. guard yourself  v.17

forewarned is forearmed

since you know this – “this” pretty indefinite but… reasonable to take it as referring back to all Peter had just written, esp. warnings against false teaching

know what to look for – Peter hadn’t pulled punches, neither had Paul; and… Peter made clear in both epistles his letters built on what was already written

and what to avoid – primary errors in view those relating to last days: false teaching about what to expect, how to be living

be on guard – did not expect readers to say “yeah, ok, whatever” and keep going; intended they should take full account of instruction, factor in to thinking and doing

maintain your grip

truth can slide away – deceiver injects tiny bit of error, get accustomed to that, inject a little more, pretty soon more error than truth

should have firm grasp of truth – postmods say not possible, don’t really believe it but don’t like truth; God’s word says otherwise

absolute objective truth does exist and it can be objectively known – “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 14:6; 8:32), words of Jesus himself

never reach a point of relaxing – God is only one who never changes, we are continually changing – never assimilate truth so completely and firmly we can take it for granted

stay on the narrow road

is an exclusive one – many outraged by that concept… Christian response: “so what if there is only one way? There is one and we know what it is!”

others may parallel… but only briefly – many religious systems contain some elements of truth, it’s the errors that are problem

is truth that identifies the right road – cannot be content to simply keep it in sight, must keep ourselves in the center of it

you all know that yet… are countless temptations and pressures that would move us away – you know enough to recognize and resist; when in doubt phone a friend, check the Book

B. grow in grace  v.18a

growth takes calories

“failure to thrive” signals a problem – frequent problem in very young or old… part of solution often food w/ highly concentrated nutrition

requires continuous intake – 1 Pet. 2:2 “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” – healthy infant not satisfied for long, keeps coming back for more

healthy growth consumes calories – hint: that means exercise!  if Christ is to send grace our way, ought to be using it for own good and good of others

grace comes by means

Peter tells the origin: “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” – not simply grace in general, is particular grace from Lord Jesus because we are his, in him, redeemed by him, heirs with him

has to get from him to us – don’t pick it up in Christian supply house, comes through the conduits he has ordained… like preaching of the Word and ordinances for starters, applied and made effectual by Holy Spirit

requires we open valve, flip switch – water in the pipe, electricity in the wire not useful – must be present and active in life of church to receive grace through appointed means

right knowledge has a source

only one that is infallible – written Word – God never changes, his Word never changes, as God is truth, so is his word

only one Interpreter, Holy Spirit – he is the one who directed its writing, is the one who directs us to both understanding and application of its truth

to be useful it must be used – our knowledge of Christ and the Word not to be limited to collecting facts – once we are informed by God’s word we must be transformed… and measure everything else by it

C. glorify God  v.18b

now

worship, giving God the glory he deserves, doesn’t wait until we see him – is something created order does naturally, all people would too if not for sin’s entry into world

should be way of life from conversion onward – starting with God’s glory displayed in new life, all we say and do should be cause for praise to God – “whether you eat or drink…” 1 Cor. 10:31 

remember who he is: Lord and Savior – Christians quickly and easily acknowledge Jesus as Savior, give lip service to him as Lord – his Lordship needs to be evident in present life

forever

“on the day of eternity” – diff. from εἰς τοὺς αἰω̂νας (“to the ages”, forever) – has had much to say about the here and now, how here and now ends, not neglecting to draw attention to what comes after

has just promised them “the day of the Lord” – in spite of necessary delay, it will come at time of God’s choosing

will be the beginning of eternal day – new existence in new world where night of sin no longer present, light of Christ always present, continuous praise w/o hindrance of sin… forever

in all things

includes the hard things.. Peter soon headed for martyrdom – not telling them to do something he won’t… all the way to the end

and all he just mentioned… persevering and growing only possible because of Christ – easier to do some times than others, right and necessary esp. in good times when dependence not so obvious

remember who he will be: Heb. 1:8 But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.”

glorified and glorious King on his eternal throne, all honor and dignity that goes with it, never-ending source of delight and cause for praise to his people

One of strongest statements possible about who Jesus really is: he is our Lord, he is our Savior, he is our God to whom be the glory both now and forever. And he stooped all the way down to become one of us, taking on human form and weakness that he might redeem us. He will do everything we need to stay true to him – has given us his Word, his Spirit, his life. He asks in return that we give him the glory due him…, as his people who know him and love him and want to know him more. Grow in grace, grow in knowledge, grow in love, and give him the glory.

Beloved, Be Diligent

2 Peter 3:14-16 

Number of years ago, Pew Research, poll, professed Christians – 4 out of 5 believed Jesus is coming back. Only 1 out of 5 believed would happen during their lifetime. And only 1 of 4 believe people or nations can affect timing of Second Coming. Major disconnect between Peter exhorted those he called “beloved” and ones responding to Pew survey. Is good they believe it will happen, far better if had strong influence on how they lived life. Seems as if they think faith in Christ gets them seat on Gospel plane – sit back, relax, watch in-flight movie, let the pilot do driving, get off when arrive in heaven.

Is not how any of Bible writers or Lord Jesus describe Christian life. Peter in text continues theme of ongoing activity and effort: “​Therefore, beloved, [since you] looking forward to these things, be diligent”. Jesus’ return is on the radar, are to be doing right kind of things so it stays on the radar… in the middle. Confidence in it based on unshakable promise made by God himself. On purpose did not give date, did give clues help us know getting closer every day. Lots of indicators make it reasonable to think might actually come during our lifetime!

But here’s the thing – whether Jesus actually comes back that soon or not, Bible makes clear we should be living like we genuinely expect it. And… if signs point to Return sooner than later, cranks up the incentive to be even more diligent – “constant in effort or exertion to accomplish what is undertaken; not careless or negligent.” Webster Remember: God by “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3) Everything we need to live pleasing to God is available to us, he is ready by Word and Spirit to equip us for every good work he has laid out for us to do.

A. standing  v.14

in peace

something in pretty short supply in world today, should be character of Christian’s life… and all of his relationships, vert / horiz

peace believer possesses not subject to external circumstances – are at peace with God, have peace from God, should be living in peace with fellow-believers

given all that, add to it what is on the radar, plenty of reason to be found in peace – only one thing should mess with our calm: how many lost people still need Jesus

without spot

this another facet of our standing before God – standing before him at / in peace, “unspotted from the world”, living sacrifices acceptable to God

remember… he can come any time – gotta keep short accounts with God, making sure are on good terms, nothing unresolved

only one standard that counts… God’s word – tells us accurately what we should do, what we shouldn’t do, what we should do when we do what we shouldn’t

blameless

what kind of reputation we have before others – known a few professed Christians, didn’t have good reputation in community

should bother us, not for practical reasons but because reflects badly on Christ – best thing to do… pray for them that they would live up to their profession

while you’re praying, seek wisdom and strength to live up to your profession, show power of Christ at work in daily life, dealings

iow, in Christ

you know this: standing on own merit before God, situation is hopeless – only standing on merits of Lord Jesus can we have hope

only blood of Christ that removes spots that defile, only when one with Christ through faith that can expect God to hear/answer prayer for help and forgiveness

absolutely every bit of our hope for the future is wrapped up in Jesus, the one we confess when we say:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”

B. serving  v.15a

evangelizing

understanding priceless treasure we have in Christ and redemption through him fuels desire for others to share in same treasure

every child of God must be involved in some way in evangelizing… and should want to be – distributing gospel tracts, Bibles, hosting / teaching Bible club, talking about Jesus to friends and family

is important, is why Jesus hasn’t come back yet – are people here in world today who still need to hear and respond to Gospel

encouraging

every believer has privilege of being involved in spiritual life of other believers – is why more than 40 uses of “one another” in NT

God has put us together in human families, church families – provide invaluable help to others when help them keep Second Coming on the radar

is vital part of serving to work together in building the kingdom – is more rewarding, more effective, besides way God designed it

edifying

one of things we don’t think about as much – encouraging the development and display of Christian character in another person

inspiring fellow Christians to be more deeply committed and involved in cause of Christ… which will hasten “the coming of the day of God” and add to population of heaven

is enough bad news around without us adding to it, ought to be spreading good news wherever we are, with both saved and lost

C. striving  v.15b-16

learning

check it out, Peter and Paul saying same things, reinforcing one another’s instruction about Christian life… no contradictions there

some of it will take effort to understand, at least Peter thought so – God has given Spirit, sent teachers to help make it plain

living

Peter no different from other Bible authors, expects that learning will be reflected in living – not to be simply adding to knowledge

requires diligent effort to apply things learned from God’s word to daily life Monday thru Saturday… and Sunday afternoon, too

loving

we know what is expected, know where to find all resources necessary to make it happen, motivation just as important

needs to start with love for God and his word – pretty simple, really, more time you spend with them, more you will love God, love his word, want to do what it says

next step from there… loving others, both saved and lost… because God loves them and he wants us to love them, too

Like a muscle, learned skill – take break from using it, doesn’t work so well next time. Take a few days off from gym and see what happens! Pursuit of “holy conduct and godliness” same way – requires diligent effort, daily doing what fuels love for God, love for neighbor, hope in future he has planned for us. Bible study, prayer, fellowship with believers, regular gathering for worship and ordinances all necessary and helpful contributors. Not along for the ride, must be pressing on day by day “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)

 

What Sort of People Must We Be?

2 Peter 3:10-13 

What you believe governs how you behave. If you believe you have natural immunity to common side effects of consuming Christmas treats, you will enjoy them with abandon. If you believe moms have second pair of eyes in back of head, will pursue mischief in different part of house or barn. What you believe about the future determines how you live today. Is major point Peter has in mind as he fleshes out application in our text: if you truly believe what Peter has described here in chapter 3, that should have recognizable effect on your day-to-day life – preferences, priorities, plans.

In just few verses here Peter capsulizes all of human history from Creation to New Creation:

“long ago the heavens and the earth existed out of water and through water by the word of God.” (2Pe 3:5) – CREATION

“Through these the world of that time perished when it was flooded by water.”  (2Pe 3:6) – THE FLOOD.

“But by the same word the present heavens and earth are held in store for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men — But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.” (2Pe 3:7; 2Pe 3:10-11) – THE COMING FIRE.

“But based on His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.” (2Pe 3:13) – THE NEW CREATION.

We are somewhere between Flood and Fire, that coming “day of the Lord” followed by new creation. Many who believe day is probably coming when disaster will strike – someone pushes the wrong button, reach tipping point for planet’s ability to support life just a couple possibilities. Not talking about that sort of thing – Peter has in view day when everyone without exception will know God is about to turn the page, begin a new chapter. Peter wants his readers to take good hard look at what will happen on that day, what will follow that day, begin living now in light of that day.

Since that day will come and this will be the result, What Sort of People Must We then Be?

A. lives of holiness and godliness  v.10-11

day will come without warning

But the day of the Lord will come.This has been added, that the faithful might be always watching, and not promise to-morrow to themselves. For we all labor under two very different evils — too much haste, and slothfulness. We are seized with impatience for the day of Christ already expected; at the same time we securely regard it as afar off. As, then, the Apostle has before reproved an unreasonable ardor, so he now shakes off our sleepiness, so that we may attentively expect Christ at all times, lest we should become idle and negligent, as it is usually the case. For whence is it that flesh indulges itself except that there is no thought of the near coming of Christ?” Calvin

thief does not announce intentions, neither will God – has already said all he needs to, next thing is he shows up… and won’t be quiet

have been told he will come, have been told to live like we expect it, shouldn’t need more information from God about his plans

no opportunity for course-correction

Christ’s coming will be kinda like when you see the blue lights – what’s done is done, no way to back up and do it over again differently

should be a difference, though – most times we don’t want to see the blues, should be looking for / anticipating Jesus appearing… w/ joy

need to be doing our part all along the way to live pleasing to God – not case of looking over shoulder to avoid trouble, rather just intentionally habitually doing right

right actions as well as words

easy to say the right things, insiders especially good at Christian-ese – claim to be Christian, say “Amen” strategically, publicly call for Second Coming, may even sincerely think is what they believe

need holy conduct along with the words – “Pilgrims Living Counter-Culturally”, living in way that contrasts with culture… in a godly way

“Godliness is the attitude which gives God the place he ought to occupy in life and in thought and in devotion.” William Barclay

 Peter used this word back in 2 Pet. 1:3-4 “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises”

B. waiting for and hastening the day  v.12

does NOT mean things don’t matter

“Jesus is coming back, it’s all gonna burn, come on rapture and get me outta here” is wrong attitude, one displeasing to God

is what cult followers do when sell all their possessions, go sit on the mountain, wait for sky bus to come by and pick them up

not really living in holy and godly way if what we are doing really doesn’t matter – every believer has God-given vocation, Holy Spirit given and directed gifts that God intends us to use for his glory and good of others

actions with results that will “survive”

Peter, Paul (1 Cor. 3) both make clear not all that people do, not everything here on earth will survive coming day of the Lord

everything we do or make that adds to size / health / strength of Christ’s kingdom will survive – Jesus called it storing or laying up “treasures in heaven”

actions that hurry up the day

Peter already indicated reason for delay – “the Lord is …not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”… including saved and unsaved

want Jesus to come back sooner? be busy with things that encourage people to repentance – evangelism, missions, personal witness, godly hope-filled living in sight of others in all of life

actions that clearly express our beliefs

if we believe God has our future and that of universe under his sovereign control, if we believe “what is done for Christ will last”, actions should demonstrate that belief

if God occupies the place rightly belonging to him in thoughts and emotions, will directly influence choices and our reasons for them

C. looking for NEW heavens and a NEW earth  v.13

a promise, not pie in the sky

is a rock-solid guarantee of the future, comes from the one who “Declar[es] the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure” Isa. 46:10 

should / does inspire confidence that carries past ridicule, supports through tribulation and persecution, puts smile on face, spring in step

living this life to the fullest

putting most into living this life in way that invests most in next life – great and wise God includes us in his plan, amazing, allowing even expecting us to have part in bringing others to heaven

looking for the blessings of the next life

that part just adds to blessings we anticipate – those God uses us to influence for good share in our experience of next life

should be sufficient reason / encouragement to prioritize things that aren’t limited to this world/life only, ones that make eternal difference in our own lives and others

Wise men didn’t make it to Bethlehem on Christmas night, took them a while to get there. Brought with them the best gifts they could, presented to the one they recognized as a King. What can we bring with us and present to Jesus? The fruit of a life well-lived, all we do for the glory of God and good of fellow man. Investing ourselves and our resources in other believers – helping, encouraging, guiding; helping others become believers whether through own efforts or those we support in various ways. Jesus is coming back… guaranteed. He will come without warning… that’s guaranteed, too. Let’s make sure we have a good offering to give him when he appears.

 

Why Doesn’t He Return?

2 Peter 3:8-9 

Have been times in past when angels were really busy… delivering messages. To significant people in OT, to key figures leading up to Jesus’ birth – Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men. Might think angels would have hard time competing with email / twitter / instant messaging / postal service. Yet messages they delivered never got lost, went to wrong address, got corrupted along the way. No other messaging service has that kind of record: 100% accuracy and on-time delivery to right recipient.

Work for angelic messengers didn’t end with Jesus’ birth – were present at empty tomb, giving God’s message to ladies who showed up at break of day. Were present also 7 weeks later when baby then grown to man had completed that part of his mission and returned to his Father’s right hand. Messages they were tasked with delivering had immense significance for millions of people:

Luke 1:13, 17 “…your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. …He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah”

Luke 1:35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Matt. 1:21 “she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Luke 2:11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Matt. 28:6 “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

Ac 1:11 “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

All of that drama took place in two bursts over periods of time measured in weeks or months. Is coming up on two thousand years since angel declared so plainly God’s intent for Lord Jesus to return. And still we wait… impatiently, wondering when it will happen… if it will happen. Then we remember, not just the angel who made that declaration. Lord Jesus himself had something to say:

John 14:3 “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory”

And we ask “what is taking so long? Why hasn’t Jesus come back already? When is he going to return?” Then are others who take as given… hasn’t happened by now, not going to happen at all. They say with those who believe “the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Cor. 15:32) Therein lies part of our problem, one of perspective. Too many lack God’s perspective, they doubt his promise, wonder and complain about his patience, struggle with embracing his purpose.

A. perspective

feet

highly focused on feet… things of earth – things we have / do not have that relate to this life… iow, interpret things in light of our circumstances, esp. our USofA stuff

easily recognize so much that is wrong with the world, our country – fail to see what God is doing, how Christ’s church is advancing in other places… b/c of what media feeds us

watch

conditioned from young age to watch the clock – bells that regulate school day, lost w/o watch or smartphone and reminders and calendar whether paper or electronic – 11 clocks in this building 

The world’s oldest living couple celebrated another major milestone when their senior living community in Austin, Texas, threw them a party for their 80th wedding anniversary.

John and Charlotte Henderson have an aggregate age of 211 years and 175 days, and a love story that has quite literally stood the test of time.

To celebrate their 80th year together, 106-year-old John picked up 105-year-old Charlotte in a 1920s Roadster — much like he did on their first date — with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. (https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/08/us/oldest-living-couple-trnd/index.html)

up

Peter says “beloved, look up, look at things from heaven’s perspective” – remember who invented this thing we call time

God has entirely different relationship with time – not confined by it even though he works within it – God’s use of time language an accommodation to us, our limitations

God has never been in hurry, never will be – not in rush to give son to Abraham and Sarah, to give Savior to world in need

B. promise

made

very first promise made in Garden of Eden, followed by many more with increasing detail and clarity – not always easy to sort

communicated to the world directly by God, through angelic messengers, eventually made by Son of God himself

repeated

some promises simply provided more information – other times, promise was repeated to later generations… that they might not forget… or think God had forgotten

every time was repeated, as if God were saying this promise still on the table – not waiting because God lacks strength/interest/resources

kept

Peter’s audience and everyone after have it easier – can see that many promises were kept / fulfilled during Jesus’ first advent

also obvious much of what God has promised is yet to be fulfilled – requires second advent, something we wait for… impatiently

C. patience

our lack

is part of fruit of the Spirit, could use much larger helping of fruit – have hard time waiting for God to get on with next thing

lot of good things we want – cures for diseases, salvation for loved ones, comfort for grieving – all good, especially right now!

often ask how can God see what’s going on in world and not do something? – he is, just not exactly what we want/expect

God’s supply

(Psa. 103:8) “The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.”, Peter reinforces in our text

patience not needed to build character in God but to bring about changes / growth in his people according to his plan/timeline

D. purpose

repentance

God has that point in his plan when Lord Jesus will return, is defined by relationship not simply passage of time

knows all those who according to eternal purpose are destined for salvation – only happen after all of them come to repentance

redemption

this the governing principle in God’s plan, that he would be glorified in the redemption of his people, all of them, not one missing

Rev. 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation”

So here we are, between competing desires – celebrating birth of Christ-child while impatiently waiting his return; anxious to see our Savior face to face while praying for the lost to come to repentance. Take courage in this: will not be a single soul – man, woman, boy or girl – whom God intends to save who will be overlooked. It matters not their country of origin, economic or social status, age or any other thing, God will achieve his purpose.

And he uses frail instruments like you and me to bring his purpose about – confidently declaring same message as angels did: “Unto you is born …a Savior who is Christ the Lord; …this same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” If he were to come today, would you be ready to welcome him?

 

Beloved, Be Mindful

2 Peter 3:1-7 

Peter is one of Twelve we find easy to relate to. Didn’t need to wonder what Peter was thinking about, where you stood with him. Said most everything with outside voice, often acted impulsively. Shake our heads at some of scrapes he got into but we really understand and like him! Kinda rough around the edges, not one would think of as being teddy bear at heart. May be took most of his life for that to develop, pretty close to end of the road for Peter here in second epistle.

Chapter 2 sounds like typical Peter, calling like he sees it, using plain speech to denounce those who would harm his Christian brothers and sisters. Then Peter turns attention to those he’s so concerned about, tone of voice dramatically changes, speaks to them using language more like that of Apostle John. Verse 1 of our text is first of four times Peter addresses recipients of his letters as “beloved” (2Pet 3:1; 8; 14; 17). Is because of his deep love for God’s people and what he perceived their danger to be that he has written strongly and repeatedly.

Is not Peter’s intent to nag, he understands the value of repetition. Still works today – is why you hear same ads over and over, same arguments from talking heads and politicians. Even the most obvious lie, if repeated often enough, will begin to sound like truth. And for real truth, need to keep repeating it, reminding ourselves and others of it, keeping truth fresh and in front of minds.

Was not only for benefit of neighbors that shepherds “made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child” (Luk. 2:17). Every time they repeated those words, made seem more real to them, helping that truth take deep root in own minds. Is in part why Peter again takes their attention and ours back to familiar pages of God’s word the Bible, life-giving truths found there.

A. remember what was said  v.1-2

the prophets

may take effort on our part to recognize all the places reference made to Jesus in OT – Jesus himself showed disciples on Emmaus Road

all of that persuasive and repetitive enough to convince even cultural Jews something big would happen during time of Herod the Great

prophets had plenty to say about Messiah’s first advent… starting with Garden of Eden, had more to say about Second Coming

the apostles

take Peter, e.g., how he approached crowd on Pentecost – started out with words of prophet Joel to explain what was happening

all the apostles and writers of NT assumed prophets had spoken truth and God had indeed kept his promises to send Savior to world

building from there, take it as given God would keep rest of promises – what prophets foretold about Second Coming just waiting for right time

the foundation – Eph. 2:20 

yes, the Church has chief cornerstone, the Lord Jesus, but what about rest of foundation? we are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets”

the integrity of the building depends on the integrity of the foundation – must have sound foundation to have promising future

for us, means we need all of God’s word… witness of prophets, apostles, Jesus himself – must keep going back to it, refreshing minds of its truth

B. remember who is coming  v.3-4

scoffers

using same old trick as Satan in Garden – ridicule truth, those who believe / defend it – since devil has not reached his goal, still sending scoffers to harass believers and harm the church

as end gets closer, scoffers more numerous and louder and more in-your-face – all adds up to making more difficult to resist

stakes are incredibly high – young people today in increasing numbers believe things like virgin birth, sinlessness of Christ not necessary for him to be Savior

is eternal destinies of family and friends, old and young that Satan has in his sights – will do all he can to cause doubt, appeal to human desires

the Promised One

even if not said out loud, at least privately ridicule idea that Jesus is coming back – remember how many live, 2nd Coming not good!

common way to deal with fear… ridicule whatever is that causes fear – helps to cut it down to size, make less threatening

what that means for the Church: if Jesus not who we believe he is according to God’s word the Bible, might as well go home

the end

according to Bible, everything except God had beginning, is heading for an end – just as important, have been times when God has already changed order of things… dramatically

according to their worldview, everything just going along according to same rules / at same rate as always… unless man messes it up

C. remember what they “forget”  v.5-9

Creation

willfully / deliberately “forget” / overlook some inescapable facts… like all the evidence that points to beginning as in Bible

Bible from beginning to end assumes Creation as fact, and that God did it just like he said, and macroevolution not part of it

if no act of creation, then no need for creator – no God-ordained definitions of gender and family and need for a Savior

Flood

if starting with no creator, then opens up possibility for alternative explanation of fossil record and all that scientific stuff

more important piece: no creator, no judge, no accountability, especially if no flood – no worldwide judgment in past, no reason to fear one in future

sad part is more evidence of God’s hand will not convince scoffers – are compelled to come up with explanation apart from God – they know where truth / data leads and refuse to approach their sworn enemy, God

Consummation

if one day follows the next in same boring repetitive way with no change like has for millions of years, will keep on that way

no reason to expect God to shake things up with another judgment – and if he ever did, would be millions of years away

all of that means they can continue to live the way they please without fear of consequences, even though that fear never fully goes away – is always under the surface eating at them, making anxious

Picture Peter paints here is not one of ignorance. He concurs with Paul and statement in Romans 1 that people, especially scoffers know the truth, fear the truth, labor to suppress the truth so they won’t have to deal with it. Why do you think such efforts to keep evolutionary science in schools and the Bible out?! Peter does not say to lock up the scoffers, he encourages his audience to go back to God’s word, read it, understand it, believe it, have confidence in it.

Shepherds were convinced by crowd of angels and what they experienced in stable that God had kept his promise, had sent his Son to be Savior of the world. They didn’t have all the facts / understanding we do now… we know more of rest of the story. They responded by disturbing the peace of that winter night in Bethlehem. Their world needed to hear the news of a Savior, our world needs to hear it just as much.

If we are convinced of truth of this: God – Man – Sin – Death – Christ – Cross – Faith – Life… that there is heaven to gain and hell to shun, need to be making sure others hear those things. God has kept his promise to send Messiah, can count on him to keep promise to send him back, the next time to judge the world. Need not fear Second Coming if have right response to First Coming – if believe what God’s word the Bible says about our need and God’s provision, trust in Christ for salvation, can then be confident we have no cause to worry about the end. Do need to be busy telling the world that “God sent us salvation That blessed Christmas morn.”

Light Under Threat

2 Peter 2:10-22

Advent season one of great excitement, anticipation. Words like merry, joyous, blessed, happy common and essential fixtures in holiday greetings – seen on signs and decorations, included in cards, in ones personally spoken. Repeated theme in our music of joyfulness, celebration, praise to God and warm feelings toward one another. All that is true and right and proper – is a time to rejoice and celebrate what God has done in past, what he will do in future.

Sang about angels in two carols already, they have part in our closing carol. Familiar words: “Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation; O sing, all ye bright hosts of heaven above!” Two Sundays hence will light Angel candle on Advent wreath, commonly think of angels as the choir providing mood music for newborn baby. Was not their only reason for being present there over Bethlehem – hosts of heaven were on guard duty, ensuring the Light which had just come into world wasn’t snuffed out. Remember action Herod took as soon as he found out some important details about Savior’s birth!

Danger didn’t go away when Jesus did, it persisted and Christians have been in line of fire ever since. Peter had seen the Light, wrote about that in chapter 1. Had seen the Light in another way, too – the spiritual light of truth that shined in darkness of his heart. Had been his mission for thirty years or more to bring that light to all who would listen, first fellow Jews and then others. Based on what he saw / heard from Asia Minor, light of true Gospel at risk of being extinguished. No way Peter was going to stand idly by and watch it happen. He proceeded to call out those attacking the Gospel and then turned attention of readers back to truth. We need to do same today… whether false teachers who have crept into the church or those of similar tactics who seduce from outside.

A. do not live in the light  v.10-14

no respect for authority

stated right out by Peter: despise authority – speaking, of course, about authority of others; hold own authority in very high regard

displayed in several ways: self-willed/arrogant/insolent/audacious, make strong statements without knowledge or understanding, expect to be believed and followed

act as if they have authority

they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones” ESV – need to look at next verse for explanation: dignitaries, glorious ones probably reference to Satan and his angels

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

false teachers act (and encourage others to act) as if they have authority over Satan/demons… to bind and command

perform works of darkness in broad daylight

pursue pleasure at all times, seek to acquire more and more for themselves – entice others to follow same licentious lifestyle

in today’s setting: readily speak for God – tell people “God wants you to…” have this, go there, be that, and here’s the formula

are skilled at making the kind of pitch that seduces the weak – just one example, not wealthy who go to Foxwoods, Atlantic City

saddest of all: in spite of respectable outward appearance, are in reality behaving as lowest of brute beasts… living for pleasure of moment, no more valuable to mankind than Ham and Bacon, Steak and Stew

B. not ignorant of the light  v.15-16

were once on the right way

didn’t ignore the right path, they forsook it – means they traveled on it for a while, picked up enough Christian code to sound native

makes them even more dangerous – insiders always sound more authentic – is easier to persuade less discerning to follow

prefer the ways of darkness

weren’t kicked off the path, didn’t get lost in the dark, they made the choice to go a different way intentionally

placed a higher value, had a greater desire for material gain than spiritual wealth – had an understanding of the light, had walked in the light for a time, chose to leave the light for darkness

even dumb animals are smarter

God uses all sorts of instruments – dumb donkey restrained the prophet’s madness; another donkey likely provided transport for Mary; yet another carried Son of David into Jerusalem; will be a white horse that brings him back – each animal willingly follows God’s instructions

false teachers follow example of Balaam rather than the donkey – rushing blindly to destruction when even the donkey could see better

C. attempt to quench the light  v.17-19

have one appearance

things Peter describes here are ones that, when genuine, give great hope – these individuals outwardly appear to have it all together, be able to supply what they promise

is even possible they are themselves deceived – if tell yourself a lie long enough, loud enough, will eventually come to believe it

but are actually the opposite

these false teachers wells without water, clouds without rain, darkness without light, tables without food – could not quench thirst, nourish crops, provide safety, satisfy hunger

Savior was born in Bethlehem – house of bread; the One who called himself the bread of life, who actually delivered what he promised

intentionally draw others away from the light

promise freedom while they are enslaved – everyone who follows their teaching / example will become just as enslaved, hopeless

even if they cannot put the light out in the world, do their best to put it out in individual lives – and here’s what probably got Peter most exercised:

For by speaking high-sounding but empty words they are able to entice …people who have just escaped from those who reside in error. NET, v.18

those who managed to escape getting sucked back in, who had some hope of coming to light suddenly back in darkness

D. no hope of recovering the light  v.20-22

had some understanding of the truth

speaking of those who get enticed – once enslaved to the world, had managed to escape through knowing Jesus, then “fall back”

take an example: Teen Challenge does not have 100% success rate – some complete program (walk the walk, talk the talk) then go back to their addiction

better to have none

as general proposition, would have less bleak future if had never gone through the program – are less sensitive to Gospel, have greater responsibility for knowledge gained and rejected

unlikely to be restored

are in a worse state… but not without hope – false teaching makes it significantly more difficult yet God can and does overrule

cannot take it for granted that God will overrule in particular cases – better if we act up front like he won’t, be bold like Peter against false teaching

Peter was furious with false teachers because everything they did was designed to make Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection of no use. Jesus came to provide light, they work to put it out. Jesus came to give life and nourishment, they work to starve and kill.

Phil. 2:8-10 …He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

False teachers exalt themselves and not Jesus. Jesus is the one who has the words of life, who not only promises freedom but actually sets captives free and heals brokenhearted. Don’t need big words, extravagant lifestyle, any of things people see as attractive and desirable – only need Jesus as he is revealed to us in his word and by his Spirit.

Come and adore Him. Come and trust Him. Come and find hope and healing and joy and peace in Him. Tell your friends, tell your family, hold the light high so all can see.

 

Judgment and Mercy

2 Peter 2:4-10 

This portion of 2 Peter not comfortable to read, especially when considering what author is describing. It gets personal and painful for all of us – Peter describing people close to us and certain doom that awaits them… apart from God’s mercy. That bothers us, don’t like to hear even though know is true. Remember who Peter wrote to, what his purpose in writing was – first audience the people of God suffering and oppressed because of their faith. Intended his letter to comfort and encourage, was not trying to add to their already sizable burden.

Were persuasive people then as now trying to challenge and change core beliefs of God’s people, convince them to live for the moment since was little hope for future. Has already made case that God’s word can be trusted – God has spoken by his prophets, promised certain things. Many fulfilled already, can safely be confident God will do the rest. And don’t forget, same Enemy present in Eden and ancient world and Sodom and Gomorrah and Bethlehem and Gorham.

Peter repeatedly turns attention to God and his word – does not intend focus to remain on evil and circumstances and all that is wrong with world and our lives without full consideration of God and what he is doing. Would be way better if we spent more time reading the Bible and less time reading the newspaper. God’s word the Bible makes plain God has the power and the plan to carry out his good purpose – judgment on his enemies and mercy toward his people.

A. if God… then God…

refutes the Enemy’s argument

God is not involved – if he were, why so much evil, injustice, poverty – how can God of love put up with drug dealers and sexual predators and… must be another reason why it’s all happening

God has not intervened in the past and God will not intervene in the future – what happened just freaks of nature, bad guys like Herod and Hitler and Hussein

the righteous would suffer along with the wicked if God acted – they are now, would be same if God sent lightning strike

with a valid logical argument

based on witness of prophets, human explanation not adequate – was indeed God acting in affairs of men and angels

if God has acted this way in history, then he will act this way in present and future – according to prophets, acted too many times to be accidental

also based on another if…then – if immutability is an attribute of God, can expect him to not change, different in future than past

that leads to a correct conclusion

not every if…then statement does – if conclusion to be correct based on original premise, must be logical connection between

no logical fallacies here – happens often in current culture, something asserted as true when available evidence does not support

Peter did his homework – stays close to beginning, treating Genesis as historical fact not myth and Moses as true prophet

B. three examples

the angels

sinned against God, perhaps mankind too – specific circumstances not identified… God apparently had other point most in view

preserved the righteous angels – know this from numerous places in Bible, some identified by name who retained original position and purpose as God’s messengers

did not spare the angels who sinned – God’s power and authority extends over unseen spiritual world throughout all creation

the ancient world

vast majority sinned against God and against one another – nearly entire population so corrupt and rebellious God had to act

yet God preserved (saved) Noah – went to great lengths to ensure Noah’s safety… way simpler to wipe all out and start over!

and did not spare the ancient world – worldwide catastrophe yet those delivered according to plan – when God acts in big way, can still be particular and save whom he chooses

the corrupt cities

sinned against God – despised his commands, lived by own rules… which weren’t many, turned God’s order of things on its head

and against the righteous – enough they complained so God heard – profoundly immoral, arrogant, harsh toward poor and needy

God turned them to ashes – justly punished them and made them example for rest of humanity: whether whole world or small %

and delivered righteous Lot – yet another method, this time put messengers at some risk of harm – delivered Lot, wife, daughters… until wife turned back

C. a powerful message

hope for the righteous redeemed

God knows the righteous – not only is able to distinguish, he does so in every sphere of his creation from very large to very small

righteous messengers, righteous preacher, righteous sufferer – hope reserved for righteous, those viewed that way by God

God acts particularly – see it by examples Peter gave, hear it said in words by Abraham: Gen 18:25-26 

“Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty (40, 30, 20, 10) righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

God has a plan for the righteous – loves them, uses all experiences for their good, has wonderful outcome stored up for them

warning for the rebellious lost

God has a plan for the lost, too… and is not bright future – all of these historical acts of judgment serve as warning to rebellious

God knows who they are – Santa may know naughty/nice, more important that God knows and will reward accordingly

God will act particularly – no need to worry, bottom line at very end will be this: perfect justice has been carried out

full and just penalty for sin will be paid for all mankind without exception – one trusting in own righteousness will individually satisfy God; one trusting in Christ’s righteousness rejoice Lord Jesus has already satisfied God

desire for the future

those who are oppressed desire Christ’s return – are different sources/kinds of oppression… economic, political, social, religious

v.7, “righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked” – tempting to look at lost, God’s plan for them, rejoice because they’ll get what they deserve

not how Lot is remembered – 2x called “righteous”, “oppressed” by conduct of friends and neighbors, greatly distressed and “tormented” in his soul by their sinful behavior

the righteous desire to see Christ glorified – should be our #1 desire, to see / hear him glorified in every way possible

glorified in conversion of sinners, in deliverance of his people from enemies, “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30) 

and desire to be present with him forever – deliverance from oppression of enemies good, from oppression of sin both in and around us far better

Peter’s conclusion: if all this is true about God in the past, then he knows how to deliver us and deal with his enemies

since prophets have foretold not only first coming but also his return in power and great glory, can/should anticipate with confidence his sure return

Advent season / celebration rightly looks in two directions – behind us to anticipation of increasing light and hope leading up to first coming of Messiah promised by prophets and ahead of us in anticipation of glorious coming again of conquering King, the Lion of Judah. We anticipate, not dread, his second coming because of his first coming, our faith in what he achieved for us by his life, death, burial, resurrection. The better we understand that, the more we will desire Him and his return.