2 Peter #15
The Relevance of the Future
2 Peter 3:11-15a
April 29, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
“Father, we’re grateful for this evening, grateful for Your church, grateful for Your Word that does not return void. I just ask that the Holy Spirit would take Your truth this evening as we seek to teach it here and edify Your people.
If someone is listening who does not know Jesus personally, I pray that tonight’s teaching through Your Word, claiming Your promise that Your Word does not return void, would convict them of their need for salvation. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.” And God’s people said? “Amen.”
I can hear you all heartily through the camera saying, “Amen!” Thank you for that. Welcome to Sugar Land Bible Church live stream. This is our Wednesday evening study here at Sugar Land Bible Church. We’re continuing on in our midweek study through the Book of 2 Peter.
Take your Bible and open it to 2 Peter 3:11. Believe it or not, we’re reaching the very end of the book. We may even finish the book tonight. I’m not entirely sure, but we’ll see how it goes.
2 Peter, you’ll remember, is a book written by the Apostle Peter from Babylon, or modern-day Iraq, seeking to warn his Hebrew Christian audience in the north central Turkey area of coming false teaching. That’s really what the book is about. It’s a book which is a warning, if you will, against false teaching.
The book has three basic parts to it. Part one is in chapter 1, which is basically a call to growth—spiritual growth—or spiritual maturity. There was our outline of chapter 1 that we worked through, and the dominant theme in chapter 1 is to mature as a Christian. And the reason for that is in chapter 2 verse 14 where we have learned that the false teachers prey on the unstable.
If a Christian is no longer unstable but properly developing, it’s very difficult to deceive them. So that’s why Peter spends this introductory chapter on a book on false teaching telling his audience to grow up spiritually. Chapter 1 is everything you’d want to know about spiritual growth—what it looks like, what the resources are for growth, etc.
Then, from there, we moved into part two, chapter 2, where Peter lays out—other than the Book of Jude, I can’t think of any other single chapter of the Bible that lays this out so well—the general characteristics of false teachers. So, in general, what are false teachers like? You can take Peter’s list—we’ve worked through that list—and apply it, really, to false teachers in any age. It’s a tremendous way to study and ascertain what false teachers are like.
Then, from there, we moved into part three, which is chapter 3, where now Peter is no longer dealing with the general or generic characteristics of false teachers; rather, he’s describing their doctrine. What doctrine are they going to introduce? I’ve entitled this message The Relevance of the Future because Peter explains that one of the doctrines these false teachers are going to attack is the idea that Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth. They’re going to say (verses 3-4), “‘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.’” They’re going to employ an attitude of mockery related to the particular doctrine of the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.
Peter also, in those verses, explains why they’re going to teach this. They’re living in lusts. And if you’re living in lusts, you’re basically a person who’s living in denial. As they say, “Da Nile is not just a river in Egypt”; but it’s a state of mind where you deny reality. You deny that Jesus Christ is ever coming back to this earth because you’re very comfortable with your life in this world and you don’t want God interrupting it.
They are going to believe in a doctrine that today has captivated the minds of probably your grandchildren, and probably your children, and probably you yourself if you went through the public school system. It’s a doctrine called uniformitarianism. It’s the basis for evolutionary thought, and it’s basically the idea that you evaluate what happened in the past and what will happen in the future by a slow, gradual process that you can see in the present.
We’ve already gone through these verses (verses 5-10) where Peter’s basically offered a rebuttal to this attack on the doctrine of the Second Coming even before it shows up. Peter has reason from history (verses 5 to 7). You can’t evaluate the past or the future by what you can see in the present because there’s some miracles that took place in the past that don’t really fit into a slow, gradual process that we can see today. And there’s where Peter called our attention to two events: the ex nihilo creation of God—God spoke and the heavens and the earth leapt into existence; and then God spoke again and the global deluge (or Flood) happened.
From there Peter reasoned from Scripture, where he was referencing Psalm 90:4 to describe that God is outside of time. You know, a delay in God is not a denial; in God’s mind the Second Advent has already happened because He’s outside of time. And the weakness of being locked into time—as a finite, time-bound creature—is that we have a tendency to think that our perception of things is how things work completely. And that’s not how it works at all, because God is outside of time. So, “Don’t be shocked,” Peter says, “with the sudden intervention of God in the future through His return to the earth, because for God tomorrow is already today and today is already tomorrow. Because God is outside of time.”
From there Peter began to reason from God’s character (verse 9). That’s where he said,
“There’s a reason God delays His coming!” And that’s to give as many people an opportunity to trust Christ as possible. Because God is not willing that any should perish, but He desires all to come to repentance and to a knowledge of Him. Again, don’t confuse a delay with a denial.
Then, finally (verse 10), Peter reasoned from divine promise and said, “Look just as the floodwaters finally broke on that ancient civilization and judgment came, the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night in which the heavens and the earth will be dissolved with fire and replaced with a new heavens and new earth.
Peter has just done a magnificent job, as he is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, refuting uniformitarianism. And I get the feeling that Peter graduated from a pretty good preaching school because he really follows a tremendous sermonic outline here. After he gives his doctrine—as the Lord has given it to him—he begins to move into application. Here he is no longer answering the “What” question, but he is answering “How does it apply to me today?”
In other words, you might be reading some of these things Peter says (his response to uniformitarianism). It’s possible that as we’ve been talking about these things your eyes have rolled over into your back of your head because you’re wondering how all of this theology relates to you specifically. But what you discover with Peter (verses 11-15) is that he tells us exactly how it applies. This would be the “So what?” question.
Whenever you hear a preacher, if they’re any good, they’re not just going to tell you what the Bible says (which is important in and of itself) but they’re going to explain what it means to you personally. And if you look at verse 11 very carefully, it’s very clear that Peter has moved into that section because he asks the following question. “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way…” Now, what way? What he said in verse 10—that the heavens and the earth are going to be dissolved by fire. So, since this is going to happen, since this is a prophetic and eschatological certainty…
“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be…” In other words, what a tragedy it is to learn Bible doctrine and tremendous theology but never really to walk away with, “Gosh—this should be changing my life! I mean, if I have a knowledge that the Titanic is going to sink, maybe that should give me an incentive to get myself off the boat, get other people off the boat, warn other people!”
You have a knowledge that the Titanic is going to sink—and then you just sit down and live in denial. You sit down in the cruise restaurant there and finish your meal, you know. I mean, what good is the knowledge of the future if it doesn’t create some kind of immediacy or some kind of urgency in the present? It’s just data!
So, Bible prophecy is that way! God expects us to learn these truths, but then He expects us to apply these truths. What Peter does here in verses 11-15 is that he gives four points of application. But, you see, this is why this application and how Bible prophecy is supposed to change our lives. It explains why so much of the Bible was prophetic at the time it was written.
One of the things that distinguishes the Bible from all the other alleged “holy” books out there is the Bible reveals history in advance. No other alleged “holy book” out there does this other than the Bible, because the Bible was written by an omniscient God Who is not bound by time and knows the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end! So, that’s why the Bible will reveal history in advance.
There was a man named J. Barton Payne. I have his book Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy on my bookshelf in my library. It’s a fairly thick book. By the way, he would not agree with our version of end time events that we preach here. But he just wanted to go through the Bible and make a study: “How much of the Bible predicts the future?”
Now some of the prophecies that he brings up have been fulfilled, like the prophecies related to the first coming of Christ. But his question was, “At the time those prophecies were given initially, how much of the Bible relates to the future?” And what you discover—what the research of J. Barton Payne revealed—is that 27% of the Bible was prophetic at the time it was written.
You run into a lot of people—particularly pastors, and preachers, and church growth consultants. Go to these pastors’ conferences in some circles and you’ll hear them say, “You shouldn’t bring up prophecy in your church because that’s going to scare people. That’s going to divide the church.” So there are many, many preachers and teachers today who will just skip over Bible prophecy!
And I’ve run into pastors who have blatantly told me, “I don’t teach Bible prophecy.” In fact, one pastor I heard of recently says he will never teach a sermon series—ever—in his church on the Book of Revelation. And my response to such a mindset is simply this: “Oh, so you leave out over a quarter of the Bible in your ministry.” And that’s a far cry from what we’re called to do.
We’re called to preach the whole counsel of God’s Word; Paul says that in Acts 20:26-27. And if you’re dedicated to teaching the full counsel of God’s Word, at some point you have to talk about Bible prophecy. I don’t believe, necessarily, in hobby horsing on Bible prophecy; just like I don’t believe in hobby horsing on any specific area of the Bible. What I do believe in, though, is just teaching the Bible.
And if you just systematically teach the Bible, what you’ll discover is you have to engage Bible prophecy. Because 27% of the Bible was prophetic at the time it was written. And the reason God has given 27% of His Word to Bible prophecy is: if you understand it, it’ll change the way you live.
- Dwight Pentecost, my professor, in his book Prophecy for Today says the following. I actually heard him in class make this identical statement. He says, “A short time ago, I took occasion to go through the New Testament to mark each reference to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and to observe the use made of that teaching about His coming. I was struck anew with the fact that almost without exception, when the coming of Christ is mentioned in the New Testament, it is followed by an exhortation to godliness and holy living.”
In fact, when he made that statement, I really didn’t believe it; so I started to make a habit myself. Every time I saw the Second Coming, particularly in the New Testament, I tried to observe, “Is it linked to daily life?” Notice what Peter has done here. Verse 10 is an end time statement; in verse 11 he starts talking about daily life by way of application.
So, as you go through the Bible, what you’ll see is that the return of Christ is linked over and over again to holiness, patience under trial, prayerfulness, joy in the midst of adversity. All of that to say that God has not given us prophecy just to fill our heads with interesting information; it’s supposed to change the way we live. Because what we discover in prophecy is God’s priorities—the things that are actually going to last.
We just learned in verse 10 that this world is going to be dissolved by fire. And if that’s true, then why am I so worldly? Why do I hang on so tightly to the things of this world? What we discover in the pages of God’s prophetic Word is that only two things are going to last and survive this burning. One is the souls of people. Ecclesiastes 3:11 talks about how God has placed eternity into the hearts of men. And the other is what we’re doing right now in His Word. “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” So, when you make an investment on a Wednesday evening like this (when you could be watching or viewing 20,000 other things), when you make a decision to spend an hour studying the Word of God, you’re making an eternal investment. When you invest in a person you’re making an eternal investment. And I would have no knowledge concerning what investments are wise and safe and which ones are foolish unless I gave my mind to Bible prophecy.
Bible prophecy, Peter describes earlier in this book, is like a light shining in a dark place that we would do well to pay attention to it (2 Peter 1:19). And here’s where we’re discovering why we would do well to pay attention to it. Because if you understand it, it shapes our priorities in the present. We stop living for foolish things that are going to burn anyway, and we invest what little time, talent, and treasure we have left on this earth to invest in the things that are actually going to last and actually going to matter.
So this is why prophecy is that “more sure” witness—even than eyewitness testimony. It’s a lamp shining in a dark place. The world today is in a dark place. You look at what’s going on with self-quarantine and social distancing and the lockdown going on all over the world, and I think it’s easy to make the case that the world is going through great difficulty. The fact of the matter is we may recover from this; maybe we won’t. But I prophetically don’t see things dramatically improving around the world. They won’t dramatically improve in the United States.
So, we’re slipping into a very dark time in national history and human history. And what is the only thing that keeps you sane during this difficulty? It’s the prophetic Word. It’s a lamp shining in a dark place. It’s a reminder that there’s a better world coming, and God has everything under control.
With all that being said, let’s move to the application that Peter has for us in verses 11-15. We have here four points of application. What should prophecy do for me personally?
- It should create within me an incentive for holy living.
Look again at verse 11. “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be…” So, there’s the application. Then he says, “…in holy conduct and godliness…” Look at verse 14 which says, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless…”
What he is saying here is, as a Christian, let your practice, your daily life, your daily motives, our daily speech, our daily communication—let those things catch up with your position. Let your practice catch up with your position. God has already declared us to be holy as we believe in Jesus Christ, and His holiness is transferred to us at the point of faith alone in Christ alone. And if that’s a positional reality, Peter is saying, “Live like it!” And this is what prophecy does: it creates in us a natural desire to be holy.
John, in his little epistle of 1 John, says in verses 2-3, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him…” What does that mean? Everyone who is thinking about the return of Jesus. “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
In other words, you’re thinking about the return of Jesus. You’re thinking about the day of accountability. And God has already declared us to be pure. So what John says here is, “You purify yourself just as you already are positionally pure, just as Jesus is—and always has been—positionally pure.”
So, this is what Bible prophecy does. Because when you think about the Second Coming, you think about accountability, you think about the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ—a doctrine that we’ve taught on many times here at this church. And the more you think about those things, the more you say, “I’m going to try to get my act together in this area of my life or that area of my life,” etc. It’s like understanding that you’re working in an office and your boss is coming back from vacation. I mean, you want to get your act together because the boss could walk into the office at any minute and examine things and hold you to accountability.
So Peter says, “Prophecy produces holiness.” The problem is that if you cut off prophecy from the church’s diet and you cut off origins (Genesis 1-11) from the church’s diet, the only thing you’re left with is daily living now. That’s why so many sermons today are emphasizing relevance and practicality; they really don’t have anything to say about the future because they don’t teach Bible prophecy. And yet, the fact of the matter is if you taught people Bible prophecy, it would automatically change the way people live in the present. That’s why God gave Bible prophecy.
One of the things you find about the Apostle Peter in his two letters (1 Peter and 2 Peter) is Peter was really big on the subject of holiness. Not just in position—which we already have—but in daily conduct. In his first letter he writes this in 1 Peter 1:15-16. He says, “…but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior…” So he’s not just talking about position; he’s talking about how we live. “…because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”
So, the God Who created us and redeemed us is holy! In fact, that’s what the seraphim say (Isaiah 6) around-the-clock as they’re worshiping the Lord. They’re saying, “‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts…’” And if God is holy and if our position as we find ourselves in Christ by way of faith is holiness, then why would I think as a Christian that one of the things I should do is take sinful excursions into unholiness?
One of the things that is troubling about the evangelical church today—Christianity today—as it’s practiced particularly in North America, is that people have the idea that God is here to make them happy, to make them fulfilled. Now, I’m not against any of those things. But the reality of the situation is that God’s primary objective for our lives is not necessarily happiness—it’s holiness!
Think about this for minute. When was the last sermon you heard in a Bible teaching evangelical church, across the denominational spectrum, on the holiness of God? I mean, it’s just a subject we don’t get into quite frequently—even though that’s what the angels are saying as I’m speaking. The seraphim (Isaiah 6) are saying, “‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts…’” You’ll also see that there in Revelation 4:8, “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty…’”
So, this is a big subject for Peter.
- First point of application: Bible prophecy produces holiness.
- Second point of application (verse 12): Bible prophecy produces evangelism.
Look at verse 12, “looking for and hastening…” Now, if you’re an underliner, you might think about underlining that word “hastening.” “…looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”
Now, we already learned about that in verse 10; that Day is coming. So that’s not front page news, verse 12. What is front-page news is little old me and little old you can do something to speed up the calendar. Look again at 2 Peter 3:12, “looking for and hastening…”
Now, “hastening” is a participle; it comes from that verb SPEUDO. Obviously, the word that we get from that is the word “speed.” So what Peter is revealing here is that we can actually do something to speed up God’s end time program which will culminate in the destruction of the heavens and earth that we’re living in by fire.
Now, what could I possibly do to speed up the program of God? Well, you don’t have to look far to see what that is because back in verse 9 he said, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” In other words, God deliberately holds up judgment to give as many people an opportunity to trust in the provision of the Savior as is possible.
So the more I make Christ public, the more I do personal evangelism, the more I support or get behind world evangelization or world missions, the more I spread the gospel, that means more and more people are getting the opportunity to respond to the message. And since God is holding things up to give people a chance to respond, the more people that get that opportunity the faster the end times program of God can take place.
Now, there is a parallel passage over in Romans 11:25. Paul says, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” In other words, God hasn’t forgotten about Israel. God has a program for Israel, but Israel’s program is not taking place right now because of Israel nationally rejecting their own Messiah. (Not that individual Jews can’t be saved today—they are.)
Israel nationally is in a state not of hardening but partial hardening. Partial hardening means God is not through with Israel—contrary to what a lot of theologians will tell you. God still has an end time program in store for Israel! So, what’s holding everything up? Paul tells us right here in Romans 11:25, “…that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until [very important word] the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
I understand that to mean when the very last Gentile that’s destined to be reached with the gospel in the age of the church has been reached—and that’s a number known only to God—the body of Christ will be made complete. The bride of Christ will be made complete. The church, at that moment, will be translated to heaven in what we call the Rapture. And then God, Who has not forgotten about the nation of Israel, will put His hand back on the nation of Israel during the final seven years of human history before the Second Advent of Jesus and fulfill His program through the nation of Israel.
So, what is preventing God doing His end time work through Israel right now? Well, the Gentiles in the church have not been yet made complete. So the more the Gentiles come in through faith… And they can’t come in through faith unless they hear the gospel. Because Paul, a chapter earlier, in Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” In other words, the more the Word of Christ is shared, the more people have an opportunity to believe, the more the church numbers grow to their allotted number, the faster the Rapture will happen. Then, the faster the Rapture happens, the faster God’s end time program through Israel will happen.
Now, this here is a perspective on why personal evangelism is so difficult. I mean, why is it that when the Holy Spirit places a burden on your heart and my heart to share our faith with a lost person (coworker, family member), why is it that we’re so afraid of that? Why is it that we’re so easily distracted from that? The simple answer is that it’s part of the angelic conflict. Satan would have you do anything, really, other than personal evangelism. Because the more the church gets involved in personal evangelism, the more there is the potentiality of the bride made complete, the faster the end times program can come forward, and the faster Satan will be bound during the Kingdom and then ultimately thrown into the Lake of Fire.
God has given us a lot of abilities related to what we do in terms of our time and our choices as Christians, and many of the choices that we make relate to specifically how fast the end times can occur. Right now, as I speak, we know a lot about China and Iran in terms of the diabolical regimes that sadly govern those parts of the world. We know about that from our newspapers.
We know about Iran as a Shiite Islamic dictatorship. We know about China as a communist government. What we don’t hear a lot about is the conversions that are happening right now in those two parts of the world. There are mass conversions happening right now in China and in Iran. The so-called “underground church” is growing exponentially as I speak.
By the way, if you’re part of that underground church and you’re thinking about doing missions work, we think some of you ought to come here to the United States of America. We could use a little missions work here in Houston, Texas, quite frankly. It used to be the United States of America that sent missionaries out all over the world, and now our country has become so backslidden and pagan that we think the ultimate purpose of America is the achievement of the American dream.
We’ve forgotten all about evangelism, our churches are in a state of deterioration, and what we need is some on-fire Christians and missionaries to come from those places on the earth that we used to evangelize. They need to come back and evangelize here. And I think this, perhaps, is part of the reason why the Rapture hasn’t happened yet; because God, in these underground movements, is giving all of these people an opportunity to trust in Him.
So, end times prophecy motivates evangelism just like it motivates holy living.
- Now, there’s a third point of application here, and that has to do with hope.
And you see it there in verse 13. Peter says, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” In other words, we’re told (verse 13, verse 10) that God is going to take this world and He’s going to dissolve it by fire. Why is God going to dissolve it by fire? Because original sin contaminated everything.
Romans 8:19-23 talks about how the world that we’re living in is in a state of travail; it’s in a state of groaning. And the only way God can deal with the sin problem is to completely dissolve it by fire and replace it with a new heavens and new earth. But after He does dissolve it by fire, here (in verse 13) and in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation (in what is called the eternal state, describing the new Jerusalem) we learn that there is a better world coming.
Aren’t you glad about that? Aren’t you glad that this world is not all there is—with its Covid-19 issues and pandemics? Maybe this pandemic is what one teacher called a “plandemic”; you know, maybe the whole thing is planned. Or maybe it’s some kind of spontaneous thing. I don’t know enough about the issue to know; I think both options are possibilities.
But we’re living in a world with death. We’re living in a world with cancer, we’re living in a world with crime and drive-by shootings, and death is a reality. I mean, the mortality rate is still 100%; people die all the time. And it’s wonderful to learn that we’re going to enter into a new world where the curse of sin is totally repealed. It hasn’t contaminated it. It is not a world in travail. It’s not a world that’s groaning anymore. It’s a completely brand-new world!
Now, think if you did not have the light of Bible prophecy. The only thing you’d really be stuck with is the nasty now and now. I mean, you would think that this world is all there is! And if you think that this world—with all its problems, all of its setbacks, all of its layoffs, all of its economic problems, all of its stock market fluctuations, all of the inflation and deflation, and everything that can go wrong in the world—is all there is, you’re a person that is living without hope.
Which is why, when the stock market crashed back in 1929, it is fact that many, many people jumped out of buildings and committed suicide and things of that nature. Why would they do that? They did that because the only thing they were focused on is here and now. So, this world with all of its problems and hiccups is their only hope. Which is fine, I guess, if everything is going well. But when things go south—which they do in a fallen world—you lose hope. And it’s so wonderful to learn from the pages of God’s Word that there’s a better world coming.
And because there’s a better world coming, a lot of things can go wrong in my life. But you know what? I might be disappointed, but hope is not gone. Because my hope comes from the pages of God’s Word, which doesn’t promise me that everything in this world is going to get better; it promises me a brand-new world in which dwells righteousness. It promises me—and it promises you—a world where, according to Revelation 21:4, “…He will wipe away every tear [not 80% of our tears!] from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And this is what prophecy does for us: it gives us hope of a better world coming.
You know the word “hope” is kind of tricky. Because when we use the word “hope” in English, we think it means, “Gosh! I hope I’m going to get that new job. I hope that business deal comes through. I hope I get a good report from my doctor.” So hope, when we use it, has the idea of certainty and uncertainty—mostly uncertainty; it’s more of a probability. And that’s not what the Bible means when it uses this word “hope.
“Hope” is not a “I hope so” thing. It’s what we would call an “I know so” thing. It’s an ironclad promise from God of a better world. And what does that mean? It means you can go through all kinds of problems in this life and you never run out of hope. Because God has promised a better world coming and a better world on the horizon.
We have all these youth today that can’t find themselves. They’re depressed. A lot of them are marking themselves up—sometimes causing damage to their skin. They’re involved with all of this counseling, involved with drugs, involved with the use of alcohol. And we wonder, “What is wrong with our young people? Why can’t they just get their act together?”
Well, let me tell you what’s wrong with our young people. They don’t have any hope! “Why don’t they have any hope?” Well, we kicked God out everything a long time ago! “Can’t have the Bible in school anymore—that gives people hope!” In fact, in a lot of cases you can’t even have prophetic truth being taught in the church—which gives people hope—because it runs counter to somebody’s business consultant or business marketing model.
So we throw hope out of everything in the church. We throw hope out of everything in the culture. And we say, “What’s wrong with the young people?!” What do you think is wrong with them??? What’s wrong with the young people is the same thing that would be wrong with me and the same thing that would be wrong with you if I didn’t have Bible prophecy! I would have no hope whatsoever! I would go through life very detached, despondent, depressed, because this is all there is. Uniformitarianism: you evaluate the past and the future by what you can see in the present.
But how different it is when you actually study—and not just study but take to heart—what God reveals concerning the future. You learn very fast that there is another world coming, a better world coming, in which dwells righteousness, and hope comes back!
It was this world that was coming that Abraham was looking for. Hebrews 11:10 says of Abram (or Abraham), “for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Is that what you’re looking for? That’s what I’m looking for! I’m not looking for some political party to rise to power and rescue us. I’m not looking for another city made by man. I’m looking for a city of God; God is the builder and the architect of that city. That is the only city that’s going to last. That is the only city that’s going to be significant and meaningful.
So, when we have a knowledge of this world dissolved by fire, replaced by a new heavens and new earth, we walk through life with hope.
- Then there’s a fourth point of application, and it has to do with patience.
So, we’ve done holiness (verse 11, 14). We’ve done evangelism (verse 12). We’ve done hope (verse 13). The only verse we haven’t looked at yet in this application section of Peter’s letter is verse 15. Notice what he says here, “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…” I’m going to stop reading there, because we’re going to be going into that more next week in terms of three concluding exhortations.
But I just want to make the point here, midway through verse 15, that Peter tells us to regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. What he’s telling us to do is, “I want you to consider—I want you to behold—the patience of God.” And in this chapter has not God displayed a lot of patience?
Verse 9 we’ve already read in prior studies, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” God is amazingly patient! He holds up the whole end time program to give as many people an opportunity to believe the gospel as is possible.
God waits for us. In fact, prior to the global deluge (which is referenced in verses 6-7) God, according to Genesis 6:3, waited 120 years for those people to repent. One hundred and 20 years is a long time! That’s about half the length of the United States of America—going back to our Declaration of Independence in 1776. God waited half the duration of the United States for those people to repent prior to the Flood. And when you study Genesis 6, they were involved in about every sin that you could get involved in—violence, corruption.
Then, later on in biblical history, God told Abram that his descendants would go into Egypt. They would be in Egypt for 400 years. They would come out with great possessions, and they would come back into the land of Canaan. And we know that happened in the days of Joshua.
And you say, “Why did God wait 400 years?” He says in Genesis 15:16 that “the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” The Amorites were one of those Canaanite people groups who were involved in gross sin—not for 120 years, not for 240 years, but for 400 years!
And if you want to see what those people were doing, just read Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20. It’s far beyond mere sexual sin and adultery and even homosexuality; you get into bestiality, incest, child sacrifice. And God is waiting on these people for 400 years to repent and get their act together and to trust in His provision. And finally, the wickedness had been made so complete that it even exhausted the patience of God.
You know from the Book of Joshua that God sent Joshua in there and slaughtered the Canaanites. But God did not bring judgment on the Canaanites until a prolonged period of patience had elapsed! And that’s what Peter is saying in verse 15 when he says, “…regard the patience of our Lord…” Now, how is this an application? If God is that patient with people, why are we so impatient with people?
There are a lot of people in my life—and I’m embarrassed to say this—I just gave up on praying for them! Sometimes they are even extended family members, and I just think, “Well, such and such a person will never get saved.” So you just forget about them, and you don’t pray for them anymore. Here’s the application, “regard the patience of God.”
I other words, if God is as patient as He is towards us, why do we give up on people so quick? Why don’t we exercise a little bit of patience towards other people? That’s the point of application. This is a lesson we all need to learn, because we want to move right into the judgment of God. But God doesn’t want to move into judgment. God is reluctant to judge; God is desiring all people be given an opportunity to avoid judgment.
I’m reminded of this story, and this is my final set of Scripture for this evening. “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.” Luke 9:51-56 (NKJV)
Now, you have to understand something. Going back 700 years, the Jews hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews. It’s a long-standing racial conflict in the land of Israel spanning seven centuries. There was nothing more than for Jesus’ Jewish disciples to see the judgment of God wipe the Samaritans off the face of the earth.
“But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’” I can relate to these guys! You know, “Burn them up!”
“But He turned and rebuked them [James and John, the sons of Zebedee], and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.”
These are a couple of the Lord’s disciples. They are called the “Sons of Thunder” for a reason. They just had no interest in the patience of God; they had no awareness of the patience of God. You know, it’s interesting that the grace that we receive from Jesus we don’t want to apply to other people. Isn’t that interesting?
The Lord doesn’t treat us with justice; He treats us with grace. And we’re the first type of people to turn around and treat someone else with justice. You know, to really give them a piece of our mind—rather than to be forbearing and patient towards them! So, they needed to learn this lesson.
It’s sort of encouraging because one of these guys is named John. What did John become? He became known as the “love apostle.” He’s the one who wrote the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and ultimately the Book of Revelation.
But what is the dominant theme in John’s Gospel, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John? It’s all about love! In fact, it’s in John’s Gospel, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”
So, the Lord was able to change the heart of John. And I don’t know exactly how the Lord did it, other than this. John keeps referring to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” All the way through John’s Gospel he says, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He said that over and over again.
So, I get the impression that John was such a recipient of the unconditional love of God that he became loving towards other people. That’s what Peter wants us to do here—verse 15—when he says, “regard the patience of God.” “…regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…” Don’t be so quick to give up on somebody because that’s not how God operates. Back to verse 9, He is not willing that any should perish.
So, is it not somewhat amazing—the applications that we gain from Peter’s teaching against uniformitarianism? We hear all this and we say, “So what?” Well, here’s the “so what,” four points of application.
- It results in holy living.
- It results in evangelism because you have a desire to speed these things up.
- It results in hope because you know there’s a better world coming.
- It also results in patience towards other people—not giving up on people so quickly.
The next time we’re together, we’re going to be looking at three concluding exhortations—the rest of verse 15 into verse 18. Of course, we believe that there are a lot of people that are probably watching this that normally wouldn’t watch something like this. And it could be very possible that someone is watching who is not a Christian; they’re just checking this out, this live stream. And God has given us an amazing ability to speak to people we’ve never seen before, to speak truth into other countries. And so we would be derelict in our responsibilities here if we didn’t share the gospel.
The gospel is simply “good news.” We call it good news because Jesus did all of the work necessary to bridge the gap between fallen humanity and a holy God through His sacrificial death, burial, resurrection, and ascension 2000 years ago. And He says to us, “I don’t want you to think that you can do your own work to make yourself right before God. What I want you to do is to believe (which is another way of saying “trust”) in the work that I did for you 2000 years ago.”
When a person ceases from their own religious works and trusts in the work of Jesus Christ, that’s what makes them a Christian. That’s what saves the soul!
And our exhortation to anybody listening is simply to trust in what Jesus has done for them 2000 years ago. If it’s something that you’re confused about or you need more information on, I hope you’ll email us or put a comment there on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter—or wherever it is your watching this—either live or on the archive later—so we can get ministry moving back in your direction. Because that’s what it’s all about, right? The gospel of Jesus Christ!
And those of us who are Christians, let’s give ourselves to the light of God’s prophetic truth and Word so that we can see these points of application realized in our own life. Let’s pray.
“Father we’re grateful for this ancient book. It was written all the way back in A.D. 64, and yet it speaks a powerful Word about the future, telling us to align our priorities with Yours. Help us to do that as we walk with You.
We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.” And God’s people said, “Amen.”