2 Peter #12
2 Peter 3:1-7
April 8, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
We continue to move through the Book of 2 Peter. If you have your Bible with you, you might open it up to 2 Peter 3. Usually, I like to title each message that we do. Assuming we get that far, tonight’s title is, “Refuting Evolution.” And you say, “Is that really in the Book of 2 Peter?” Yes, it is. It’s in 2 Peter 3—big time—because it refutes the philosophy that evolution is based on. And we’ll talk more about that in just a little bit.
Just to remind you where we’ve been, we’ve been teaching our series through 2 Peter. Second Peter is a book written by the Apostle Peter from Babylon. He’s writing to some folks there in the north central Turkey area, modern-day Turkey—Hebrew Christians. And he’s warning them of false teaching that’s coming their direction. In fact, in our passage this evening he’ll say, “False teachers will come,” and that’s primarily what he is speaking of.
You’ll notice this three-part outline to the book. Part one is chapter 1. Part two is chapter 2. Part three is chapter 3. So, in part one he called his audience to growth. He gave them everything they needed in terms of how to grow as a Christian, because a growing Christian is harder to deceive than an infant Christian or an immature Christian. So how do we leave infancy and move on to maturity? You have an explanation for that and how that happens and what it looks like in chapter 1.
Then, in chapter 2, which is part two of the book, he gives (and this is where we found ourselves the last few weeks) the generic descriptions of false teachers. It’s one of the greatest treatments of false teachers found anywhere in the Bible. And you can take Peter’s list and apply it to any generation of false teaching and false teachers. We saw the outline of chapter 2: the false teachers and their predicted arrival, devices, doom, depravity, emptiness, and regression. We left off last time at the end of chapter 2—their regression—having completed chapter 2.
Now we’re moving into chapter 3, part three of our outline here on 2 Peter. Chapter 3 is leaving the discussion of the generic characteristics of false teachers, and now he’s going to focus on their doctrine. He focuses in like a laser beam—not so much on their characteristics anymore, as he did in chapter 2. But as the Spirit of God is giving him insight, he’s revealing the specific doctrine that they’re going to bring. And it’s a doctrine called uniformitarianism.
Uniformitarianism is a doctrine that really is dominant. It’s probably the most dominant philosophy of the day in the 20th century and in the 21st century, and you yourself could be a prisoner of this philosophy. Your children, if you have them in humanistic education—public schools, etc.—are no doubt hostage to this doctrine as well. And Peter reveals it 2000 years in advance. So, chapter 3 is a discussion of that doctrine. It’s actually a refutation of that doctrine before that doctrine even came into existence.
But before we get into chapter 3, you’ll notice that Peter gives here, in 2 Peter 3:1-2, his second purpose statement. He briefly interrupts his train of thought and reminds his audience why he’s writing. You might recall he did this in 1:12-15—sort of interrupted his train of thought and gave his purpose statement for writing.
You might remember what it said back there in 1:12-15. Peter says, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.”
What Peter wants to do in this letter is to prepare his audience for false teaching by giving them a reminder before he dies. The Lord told him back in John 21, roughly three decades earlier, “‘… when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’” Speaking of the manner of death in which Peter would glorify the Lord.
This is a prediction of Peter’s martyrdom. Peter knew that that martyrdom was close, and he didn’t want to leave this earth without penning this brief letter so that he could remind his audience of the basics. He’s not giving them profound new thoughts but the basics of Christianity so that they would not be swept away by false teachers.
Here in 3:1-2 he gives his second purpose statement. Notice what he says there. “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”
What he is saying here is, “I want you to get back to the basics. I want you to get back to the foundational truths of Christianity. I don’t want you to be swayed by people who are going to appeal to your pride and teach you that the basics of the Bible really aren’t enough, that you need to go into ‘secret knowledge’.” And if his audience is grounded in the fundamentals, then they are less likely to be swayed by false teachers.
One of the things we pointed out when we started this book is how frequently Peter mentions the concept of the need to remind. And sometimes, as teachers or pastors or preachers, we think that we need to come up with something novel or new. We need to come up with something that the people have never heard before.
The reality of the situation is that’s really not what people need. Praise the Lord when people get a new insight, or they learn something new—and there’s nothing wrong with that. But generally what people need is they need to be reminded of what they already know, and then they need to be exhorted to live according to what they already know. And that’s the spirit in which Peter makes his remarks here in his second purpose statement.
He says, “This is my second letter.” So, obviously, the first letter would be 1 Peter, where he was preparing his audience for trials and suffering and tribulation: suffering for the cause of Christ in the hope of future glory. Here, in the second book, 2nd Peter, that’s not so much his theme; it’s preparation for withstanding the onslaught of false teaching that they are about to experience.
And where do you discover these basics of Christianity? Do you go to some conference and sit under the teaching of a guru, after you pay a certain fee? No. It’s much simpler than that. Peter tells us where we find these basics in verse 2, “…that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”
He says, “Here’s where you get the truth: you get the truth through the prophets!” And I think, by “prophets,” he is speaking of the Old Testament. And then you get the truth through the apostles. And when he mentions the apostles, “your apostles,” he is speaking of the 27 New Testament books that we have—all of which were written by one of the original 12 apostles or by someone who was closely affiliated with one of the original 12 (so they could give up authenticity to what was being written).
The Gnostics would come in and say, “You need secret knowledge, you need special knowledge, and what you have in your Bible is really not enough.” And Peter says, “That’s nonsense. There is no necessity to go into the secret knowledge. All you have to do is get back into these 66 books.” The Hebrew Bible, 39 books, already a closed cannon, and the 27 New Testament books that we have today, which were basically in the process of being compiled as Peter writes these words.
It is interesting here that he, in verse 2, puts the apostles and the prophets on the same level in terms of inspiration. In other words, the apostles are inspired by God and so are the Old Testament prophets. I find that very interesting, because it’s very easy in the Bible to find New Testament passages affirming the inspiration and inerrancy of the Old Testament—there are many, many passages like that, but it’s harder to find New Testament passages affirming New Testament writings as equally inspired as well.
And the reason that’s difficult to find is that by the time the New Testament started coming into existence, you had a completed Old Testament canon and the New Testament was just being developed. So, it’s easy to find the New Testament affirming the Old Testament; it’s harder to find the New Testament affirming books in the New Testament that are just as inspired as the Old Testament. And yet, Peter does that here. He puts the apostles (New Testament) and prophets (Old Testament) on the exact same level in terms of divine inspiration.
In fact, slip down to verse 15—same chapter. Peter does this not once in this chapter but twice here in 2 Peter 3 when he says, “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you…” Peter is going to say that some things Paul says are difficult to understand (more on that down the road).
We know Paul wrote 13 New Testament books. He wrote the Book of Galatians. He wrote the two Corinthian letters. He wrote the Book of Romans. He wrote the four prison letters: Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians. He wrote the two Timothy letters. He wrote 1 Timothy, he wrote Titus, then he wrote 2 Timothy. Thirteen books total. And Peter says of Paul’s writings, as Paul’s writings were coming into existence, that Paul wrote with divine inspiration.
Now, Paul was not one of the original 12, as you know. Peter was. But here Peter is closely connected with Paul, and he gives approval to the 13 books that Paul was writing that were being compiled.
So here’s an example where you have the New Testament, two times, not just affirming the Old Testament but the New Testament. Two times (verse 2 and verse 15) not just affirming the Old Testament but affirming the New Testament as well.
And let me show you one other interesting place where this happens. It’s 1 Timothy 5:18. These things are always interesting to me, because it’s rare to find these in the New Testament. It says in 1 Timothy 5:18, concerning how things are supposed to work in the local church, “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’”
It is speaking there of pastors—not interfering in their work, providing for them, and all that kind of thing. But in the process, Paul quotes two Scriptures. One of them is the Old Testament, “‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing…’” That’s a quote from the Deuteronomy 25:4. Then Paul, in the same verse, says, “‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’” Now he’s not quoting the Old Testament anymore; he is quoting the New Testament. He is quoting Luke 10:7. And it’s interesting how Paul takes both verses—Old Testament and New Testament—puts them together and says, “Both are Scripture.” In other words, what’s written in the Book of Deuteronomy is Scripture, and what’s written in Luke’s Gospel in the New Testament is Scripture as well.
The Apostle Peter here wants to remind his audience to get back to the basics. And the true source of knowledge that they’re to rely on, so they won’t be swept into the secret knowledge of the Gnostics that’s coming, is the inspiration of both the prophets and the apostles—the Old Testament and the New Testament. And that’s basically what you need to develop into full stature as a Christian.
In fact, you’ll member Peter, back in 2 Peter 1:3-4, made the tremendous statement about the sufficiency of Scripture. Within the promises of God are everything we need for all matters of faith and godliness. So, that would constitute Peter’s second and final purpose statement in the book.
Now we move on. After he has interrupted his train of thought, momentarily, to give us his second purpose statement, now he focuses like a laser beam not on the characteristics of false teachers but on what they are going to teach. I’ve had the opportunity to teach this chapter many, many times to different groups (conferences). When I get a chance to teach this, I usually title it, “The Relevance of the Future.” Is a knowledge of the future really that big a deal? I mean, is a really important for the Christian to study God’s design and God’s blueprint for the future?
That takes us to verses 3-15, which I don’t think we’ll complete this evening. What we don’t complete this evening, we’ll complete next week. But what you see there is an overview of 2 Peter 3:3-15.
- Peter describes the heresy of the false teachers that’s coming. This is where he describes, interestingly enough, the philosophical basis for evolutionary thought in the 20th and the 21st century.
- Also in those same verses (verses 3-4), he describes the motive of these false teachers. Why are they going to teach what they’re going to teach?
- In verses 5-10 he gives a rebuttal to their false teaching. There’s a four point rebuttal there in verses 5-10. And he’s teaching all of these things before the false teachers had ever come on the scene.
- Then, when you get down to verses 11-15, he gives four points of application.
He’ll say in verse 11, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be…” So he doesn’t just give knowledge, but he gives application based on knowledge. So, that’s a brief outline, if you will, of 2 Peter chapter 3:3-15.
Notice verses 3 and 4. What is the heresy of these false teachers? What exactly are they going to teach (both these coming Gnostics and also false teachers by way of application into the 19th, 20th, and 21st century)? It’s all laid out there in verses 3 and 4.
Notice what he says. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’” Peter says, “When these false teachers show up, they’re going to take aim at a particular doctrine.”
And the particular doctrine they’re going to attack—over and over again—is the return of Jesus Christ. They’re going to say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” They’re going to deny that Jesus is coming back to this earth. The oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job, tells us in Job 19:25, “‘As for me, I know that my Redeemer [GOEL] lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.’”
Zechariah 14:4 tells us that when the Lord comes back, His feet are going to touch the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Olives is going to split. The Bible—over and over again—tells us that Jesus is coming back to this earth. And these false teachers are going to tear down that doctrine. They’re going to try to attack it, marginalize it, minimalize it.
It’s interesting. He says, “They are not going to attack the virgin birth, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the bodily atonement of Christ.” Now, we know from experience that liberals attack all those things anyway. But the real doctrine that they don’t like—that really gets under the skin of these false teachers—is the Second Advent, the bodily return of Jesus Christ to the earth.
The Gnostics, of course, would attack this, because the Gnostics believed in Gnostic dualism (that the spiritual world is good, and the physical world is bad). If the physical world is bad, then Jesus could not have had a body. So, many of them taught docetism [from the Greek word DOKEO] that Jesus only seemed—or appeared—to have a body, but He didn’t actually have a body. That’s why there’s so much in John’s writings about how “We touched, we saw, we felt the Son of God.” You’ll see John trying to refute docetism in 1 John 4:2-3.
And if this physical world is bad, not only did Jesus not have a body but how could God come back to this earth? Why would God want to come back to this earth? Because, after all, the physical world is evil. And this gave rise to a terrible doctrine that came into Christendom beginning around the fourth century, the doctrine of amillennialism. “A” is a negation; “millennium” means the thousand year Kingdom in Latin, and they denied that there was going to be an earthly Kingdom.
How could there be a physical, earthly Kingdom of God on planet Earth when the physical world is bad? Here Peter is revealing that they’re going to attack the event which launches that thousand year Kingdom, which is the physical return of Jesus Christ. And Peter actually tells us how they’re going to do it. It’s interesting. He says, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking…” So, they’re not going to level a three point or five point intellectual attack on the doctrine of the Second Coming. Basically, what they’re going to do is put anybody who believes that doctrine under derision or ridicule.
Now, I think we have a tendency to underestimate the power of ridicule. Nobody likes to be made fun of; nobody likes to be made to feel like they’re stupid; nobody likes to be made to feel like they don’t fit in with others. So, when we come under ridicule for believing something, we have a tendency to shy away from whatever it is that is subjecting us to ridicule.
And that’s exactly what Peter says; that’s what these false teachers are going to do. They are going to malign; they are going to make fun of; they are going to deride people who believe that Jesus Christ is coming back physically to this earth.
Second Chronicles 36:16 describes what the unbelievers were doing to God’s prophets just before the demise of the Southern Kingdom of Judah on the eve of the Babylonian captivity. It says in 2 Chronicles 36:16, “but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy.”
So, right to the eve of the Babylonian captivity, the unbelievers in the land of Israel didn’t just mock the messengers of God; they continually mocked them. They continually scoffed at them— same idea, identically, of what Peter is describing. And that’s how you know that that particular civilization was ripe for discipline—how they were treating the prophets.
And can I just ask you a simple question? How are people today in the United States treating God’s prophets? By the word “prophet” I’m talking about people that want to stand and proclaim what these 66 books teach. They are continually maligned—particularly the more they talk about the end times, particularly the more they talk about the Second Coming. And that’s how you know—based on how people are treating God’s prophets—that we’re at the very end of American civilization. Just like the unbelievers mistreating God’s prophets was an indicator that the Southern Kingdom, prior to the Babylonian captivity, had its days numbered.
Peter says, “Know this: they will come, and it’ll be in the last days.” Notice that Peter says, “They’re coming.” And that’s different than what Jude is going to say about 4 to 6 years later. Jude is going to say, “They’re here.” “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…” That’s one of the main reasons that we put Jude after 2 Peter.
But how hard is it today to find people deriding other Christians for simply believing in the return of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to look any further than the runaway best-selling book by Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life. On pages 285 to 286, what you’ll discover is ridicule of people who believe in the return of Jesus.
Rick Warren builds all kinds of strawman arguments here. I don’t have time to read this whole quote, but you can pick up the book yourself. Many people probably have this book on their bookshelf; it was a runaway bestseller a few years ago.
It’s interesting that this criticism of people that believe in the Second Coming is not coming just from the humanists, from the outside; it’s coming from professing evangelicals from within. Rick Warren said, “When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism.” No, He did not. Read Matthew 24 and 25, and you’ll see Jesus did no such thing. Quoting Rick Warren, “He [Jesus] said in essence, ‘The details of my return are none of your business.’” No. Jesus did not say that. Read Matthew 24 and 25, and you’ll see that that’s not true.
Here Rick Warren builds this straw argument that if you’re interested in the return of Christ, you’re a date setter. You are speculating on the exact timing of Christ’s return. No, we’re not. We will never assign any date for the Lord’s return—at this church or in any broadcast you hear from us—because the Bible doesn’t and forbids that kind of practice. But you’ll notice anybody that has an interest in the subject of eschatology (the study of the end) is somehow lumped in with being some kind of Harold Camping type of date setter.
Rick Warren goes on and he says that if you’re interested in prophecy, then Satan has distracted you from your mission—Satan. You’re not serious about your mission, and you’re not even fit for the Kingdom of God (paraphrase). That’s coming from what some have called “America’s pastor,” just ridiculing people who believe in the return of Christ.
Here is a citation from Mark Dever, who is pretty big in the Gospel Coalition and similar type groups. He basically makes the statement in one of his sermons that, “So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin…” Dever says “sin”; Rick Warren says “Satan.” I mean, they’re pulling out the worst descriptors you can think of about people who are interested in the return of Christ.
“So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view.” If you come out in your church website and say, “We’re premillennial, which is what our church does… (We go further than that. We don’t just say, “We’re premillennial.” We say, “We’re pretribulational.”) …then, according to Mark Dever, you’re actually in sin for doing that.
Now, these are quotes from people within professing evangelicalism making these comments. It’s the outworking of what Peter said here. He said, “Know this. This will come about in the last days. Mockers are going to come, and they’re going to deride people that hold to a literal interpretation of Bible prophecy.”
It’s interesting that in these same verses (verses 3-4), he not only reveals the heresy of these coming false teachers, but he goes a step further. He doesn’t just tell you what they’re going to say; he explains why they’re going to say it. Essentially, what he does here is gives two reasons: one in verse 3; the second in verse 4.
Again, notice verse 3. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking [now watch this], following after their own lusts…” A person who is following their own lusts is someone that basically is following the desires and the impulses of the sin nature. If someone is living for the sin nature—and not the new nature—let me tell you something: the very last doctrine they ever want to think about is the Second Coming!
Because the whole concept of the Second Coming implies accountability, and if someone is living a sinful lifestyle—in any way, shape, or form—they’re not interested in the Second Coming. Because the Second Coming is a reminder to them of their future accountability. And that becomes one of the reasons why these false teachers are going to attack the doctrine of the Second Coming. It has more to do with their own sinful state than it does anything else.
Now Peter, in verse 4, gives a second reason (or motive) for this coming false teaching. Notice what he says in verse 4, “and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues [you should underline “continues” in your Bible] just as it was from the beginning of creation.’” In other words, these false teachers are going to believe in a closed system.
They’re going to believe in an idea that God does not intervene in His creation. And what they’re going to say is, “Gosh! Look around the world today. I don’t see any pattern of God intervening in His creation. I didn’t see that today; I didn’t see that yesterday; I probably won’t see that tomorrow.” So watch this, now: “Therefore, it’s never happened in the past, and therefore it’s never going to happen in the future.”
In other words, the past and the future. How do we know anything about the past and the future? I wasn’t there in the ancient past, and I’m not yet there in the coming future. The only way I have any knowledge of those two things, therefore, not being an eyewitness, is that I’m completely and totally dependent upon what God has revealed. I either accept what God has revealed in those areas, or I reject it. And if I reject it, what am I left with? I’m left with my five senses.
My five senses tell me what’s around me today. And uniformitarianism is the idea… You’ll notice the word “uniform,” meaning consistent. Uniformitarianism is the idea that you make a philosophical guess as to what happened in the past and what will happen in the future—two things that you weren’t there to see—by what you can see right now. And you just pretend that what you can see right now has always been and will always be. And that’s called uniformitarianism: things will always be as they are now.
Another way of saying this is: naturalism. Another way of saying this is: evolution. Now, why is it that people believe that this earth is billions and billions and billions of years old—and the solar system that we’re in is billions and billions and billions of years old—when the Bible indicates that it’s probably thousands of years old—not billions of years old?
For example, in the moon landing, when you study that out, one of the great shocks that the astronauts discovered was space dust on the moon was very, very thin. They thought that they were going to land on the moon and sink in layer after layer of dust. Why did they think that? Because they thought the moon has been there for billions of years. Given the present rate of dust entering the moon’s atmosphere and settling on the moon’s surface, if that’s been going on for billions of years then there ought to be multiple level feet of dust.
And those astronauts were astonished as anybody to discover that the surface of the moon was solid; there was just a few millimeters of dust on the moon’s surface. Why? Because the moon has not been there for billions of years—as everybody thought; it’s only been there for thousands of years!
Uniformitarianism, basically, is the idea that you take a present rate of decay. How long does it take for rocks to form in the Grand Canyon? Well, it takes a slow, long time. And you pretend that that rate has always been and will always be. And if the process that’s happening before our eyes is what has always been, and will always be, then you start to develop a mindset that it took billions of years for all these things to develop. And you completely remove from your mind—or you push out of your mind—what Scripture reveals concerning a sudden catastrophe called the Flood that you were not there to see. And the only way you know it happened is because God tells you it happened.
So Peter here is describing uniformitarianism. And he’s essentially describing what became the philosophical basis for the theory of evolution in the 19th century, the 20th century, and right into the 21st century. It probably is the most dominant philosophy of our time period. And isn’t it interesting how Peter—as a fisherman, untrained and uneducated, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as he is warning about false teachers—could see these things coming. He is seeing uniformitarianism develop not only in Gnostic thought, but actually holding the human race philosophically hostage in the 19th, 20th, and 21st century.
So, most people today believe we’re in a world that’s billions of years old. Of course, evolution needs billions of years to work. Just as we Christians have a holy Trinity; evolutionists have a holy trinity. Three things they have to accept by faith; their holy trinity is time, randomness, and matter. Given enough randomness and matter through vast ages of time, eventually you could get things to develop to the way they are now.
But if you take time away from the equation, the whole theory of evolution collapses. It’s like scrambling a deck of cards. You put them in a paper bag, shake them up, and you throw them on the carpet. What are the chances of those cards coming out of that bag randomly and forming a card house? What are the chances of those cards coming out of that bag and all landing in a straight line—right side up? And let’s say you numbered them, 1 to 52, all coming out lined up 1 to 52? I mean, the chances of that happening are just statistically improbable, if not impossible.
And you say to the evolutionist, “Well, if that can’t happen with cards, how could it happen with the DNA molecule and the complexities of the world that we know?” And they say, “Given enough time, it could happen.” If you just sat there for a billion years and kept throwing the cards out of the bag, eventually they would form a card house. Or they would line up in a straight line, correct side up, sequentially numbered 1 to 52. So, if you don’t have time in the equation, evolution itself collapses.
Uniformitarianism is the basis for putting time into the equation. The rate of decay that you see today is slow and gradual. How long does it take for rocks or fossils or whatever to appear? It takes a long time! “And if that rate of decay has always been and always will be, then the Grand Canyon must be very, very old.” [They are] ruling out the idea of sudden catastrophe—first through Creation, then through the Fall, then through Flood. So, you can’t have evolution without the right philosophical underpinnings.
It’s interesting here that Peter is seeing a connection between protology, the doctrine of beginnings, and eschatology, the doctrine of the end. Look again at verse 4. “And saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’” That’s the future; that’s eschatology. “…‘For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’” That’s protology: “proto,” meaning first; “ology,” the study of. Eschatology: “eschat,” meaning last; “ology,” the study of.
Show me your protology, and I’ll be able to pretty much figure out what your eschatology is. Show me what your eschatology is, and I’ll be able to pretty much figure out what your protology is. You see, the fact of the matter is, I have no problem believing that God is going a return to this earth; Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth, and this world that we’re living in is going to experience a miraculous termination.
In fact, verse 10 and verse 13 say that it’s going to be destroyed by fire. Now, why do I have no problem believing that? It has to do with my beliefs in early Genesis. God miraculously started this world. God brought judgment upon this world. If God has already done that, then how hard is it for God to do it again in the future? But if you have this idea that everything kind of assembled itself over billions of years, you are going to have a very difficult time believing in a sudden, catastrophic, miraculous ending to our world and our universe—just like it started.
So, Peter connects the dots. And that’s why I like to use the slide of dominoes in a row. That’s what this is; that’s what theology is: you knock over one domino, and the others will start to fall. You start to play games with your protology (your doctrine of origins) and it’s going to impact your eschatology. You start to play games with your eschatology, and it’s going to impact your protology.
People say, “Why are you guys at Sugar Land Bible Church so uptight about certain doctrines?” Part of it is we understand that theology is a seamless garment; whatever you’re doing in one area of theology is going to impact another area of theology. And most people can’t see how the whole picture connects. But Peter here is connecting the two together.
What he does here in verses 3-4 is reveals the heresy of these coming false teachers, the fact that they’re going to take aim at the doctrine of the Second Coming through ridicule. They are going to try to malign it.
Then he goes on and gives the reasons why they’re doing this.
- They’re stuck in their own lusts, living for their own sin nature. They don’t like the idea of accountability inherent in the doctrine of the Second Coming anyway.
- Beyond that, they’ve bought into this closed system concept. “I don’t see any miracles today; therefore, they’ve never occurred in the past and will never occur in the future. And I evaluate what happened in the past (that I wasn’t there to see) or what’s going to happen in the future (that I’m not there yet to see) by slow, gradual processes that I can see through my five senses—uniformitarianism and the philosophical basis for evolution.”
By the way, I hope you haven’t been deceived into thinking that somehow evolution is a scientific fact. It is not a scientific fact because how can you ever determine what happened billions of years ago through the scientific method? Any first year student in science… Believe me, I was no stellar science student in junior high school and high school (probably because my major was basketball at the time). But even I remember what the scientific method is.
For something to constitute as science it has got to be observable, testable, and repeatable. If something is not observable, testable, and repeatable, you can’t call it a scientific fact. For example, the law of gravity is a scientific fact. Objects fall at 32 ft./s because we can test it. Here’s my pencil. I can drop it. And I can test it, and repeat it, and observe it over and over again; that’s a scientific fact.
But if you’re telling me something that happened a billion years ago—that I wasn’t there to see, and I can’t test or repeat—you’re no longer in the realm of scientific fact. You are in the realm of philosophical extrapolation. And the extrapolation is uniformitarianism, pretending that what you can see in front of you has always been and will always be—ruling out miracles, ruling out catastrophe. So, evolution is not a scientific fact; evolution is a philosophy.
You say, “Do you think it’s okay to teach kids evolution?” I’m completely in favor of teaching kids evolution if you teach it to them correctly. You should never tell them the way it was rammed down my throat, “That it’s a scientific fact and if you don’t believe it, you’re not a true scientist.”
You should tell them, “This is what people do and this is what people believe, but they’re philosophizing when they come up with their beliefs. And they have reasons for getting into philosophy; they don’t like accountability. Obviously, a knowledge of God as Creator and Judge would up the game in terms of accountability. And if you’re walking in your own lusts and you love your sin, you’re not going to want to deal with things biblically.” So, that’s what Peter is doing there in verses 3-4.
Now we move into verses 5-10, where he begins to give a rebuttal to this uniformitarianism thinking that’s on the horizon. He argues from history (verses 5-7). He argues from Scripture (verse 8). He argues from God’s character (verse 9). And he argues from divine promise (verse 10). What he is doing is saying, “Uniformitarianism is coming, and here’s how you refute it before it even shows up. Here’s how you demonstrate that it is a nonbiblical approach, using history, Scripture, God’s character, and divine promise.
In other words, “Why can’t you evaluate things by what you can see in front of you? Why can’t you develop a belief about how things started and how things will end based on slow processes that you can see in front of you?” Peter gives a historical argument against that, a scriptural argument against that, a divine character argument against that, and a divine promise argument against that.
We just have a few minutes left, but let’s see if we can at least touch on his historical argument. Look, if you will, at verses 5-7. He reminds his audience of two events. Verses 5-7. He says, “For when they maintain this…” What is “this”? It’s uniformitarianism, that all things continue ever since the fathers fell asleep from the beginning.
“For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice…” I’m reading out of the New American Standard Bible. “Escapes their notice” is a very poor translation. I think the King James is much better here where it says, “For this they willingly are ignorant of…”
They are willfully ignorant. Because when you look this up in Greek, it’s the Greek verb THELO, which means “wish or desire.” In other words, people don’t believe in Creation and they don’t believe in a global Flood not because of insufficient evidence, but they push these things deliberately out of their minds. Why are they doing that? Because they are living in their own lusts, and a reminder of Creation and Flood is a reminder of divine accountability.
Today, when they want to throw creationism out of the schools and all these things, they stand on their misinterpretation of the United States Constitution. They try to make some grand philosophical argument; they pretend like they’re objective and neutral. Peter says that they are not objective about anything! In fact, neutrality is a myth; the human heart has an agenda.
You start teaching creation science in school? We can’t have that! Because that reminds me of accountability—divine accountability. God created this world and has already judged this world through the global Flood. And He is going to judge the world again! I mean, if He did it in the Flood, He could do it again, couldn’t He? So that becomes the basis—not the Constitution—not science—for pushing it all out of the schools.
So, Peter says they’re actually willfully ignorant about these things, verse 5. “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water…” How did this world come into existence? Latin, ex nihilo: something out of nothing. God spoke and it instantaneously came into existence.
He goes on in verse 6, now talking about the second historical event, “…through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” So, the God that spoke the heavens and earth into existence is the same God that spoke again and judged creation through the global deluge during the days of Noah.
Verse 7, “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” You want to refute uniformitarianism and pretend like a slow process that you can see in front of you has always been and will always be and there will be no miraculous termination to this world?
Peter says, “The reason they think that is they’ve (THELO) pushed out of their mind two historical events. Number one, Creation, and number two, the Flood. And what do both have in common? What they have in common is God speaks and the event happens! God spoke and Creation happens. God spoke again and judgment took place, demonstrating God is sovereign over His creation and interferes with His creation, contrary to what uniformitarianism teaches.
And Peter’s point, as you get down to verse 7, is one of these days God is going to speak again! And the same word that brought everything into existence (Genesis 1), the same word that judged everything (global deluge) is the same word that will come forth from God’s mouth that will take this world and melt it down by fire. And if God has done it twice in history—Creation, Flood—is hard for God to do it a second time?
It’s interesting how Peter keeps connecting Creation with eschatology. Protology relates to eschatology. Eschatology relates to protology. And I would just say to you that as you look at the evangelical church today, those are the two areas under greatest assault. I mean, churches say, “We can’t take a position on Creation, because that would be divisive! We can’t post our eschatology on our website, because that would be divisive!” So, they take an allegorical view of what God says happened and will happen.
If you’re literal, you wind up in the camp of young-earth creationism—that we’ve been here for thousands of years, not billions of years. And you also wind up in the camp of dispensational pretribulational premillennialism. Both of those belief systems arise out of a commitment to taking God at His word, applying the literal method of interpretation that you use to decipher any other part of the Bible to Genesis 1-11 and the prophecies related to the end times.
But, you see, what people are saying is, “We can’t take a position on those things.” So they’re denying the history that’s necessary to come out correctly in the subject of eschatology. So, Peter connects the dots for us here. And it’s very interesting to note that those are the two areas where evangelicals are getting very, very weak and very, very soft.
It’s so important to take God at His word at the beginning of the Bible because that will dictate whether you’re going to take God at His word at the end of the Bible! So, Genesis 1-11 actually is a big deal! Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” You chop out Genesis 1-11, and you have no Garden of Eden and you have no constant sin terminated by death. And if there is no constant sin terminated by death, there is no need for a Savior; and suddenly your Christology (or your doctrine of Christ) becomes challenged.
So, that’s why I so appreciate what Peter is doing here. And we’ve just scratched the surface with this history lesson. The next time I’m with you, we’ll take a closer look at verse 5 (Creation), a closer look at verses 6-7 (the Flood). Then we’ll move into Peter’s scriptural argument (divine character argument and divine promise argument) as he is teaching us how to refute what’s imprisoning the mind of your grandchildren right now.
When your grandchildren or your children come to you and they say, “The teacher at the school says it’s from the goo to the zoo to you over billions of years,” are you equipped to defuse those arguments and to set your children and your grandchildren, whom you love so much, on the right path? That’s where we’re going with this, and that’s why what Peter says is very important.
Let me close in prayer.
“Father, we’re grateful for what You’ve revealed to us here in 2 Peter 3. I just pray we’ll continue to understand these things so we can understand the times in which we live. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.” God’s people said, “Amen.”