June 17, 2010 David Balzer

2 Peter 3: Coming Soon!!

Surprises. We all love surprises. Except perhaps for 40 year old, Christine Mawson that is. In June 1999, she turned up at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield England with stomach pains after a night at the pub. Perhaps a hangover, food poisoning, or bad indigestion she thought. When she arrived, doctors told her the pains were in fact CONTRACTIONS.

Christine is quoted as saying, “When the doctor told me I was pregnant I yelled at her not to be stupid and demanded a second opinion,”

Fifty minutes later, Amy-Jane was born, weighing 4lb 13oz.

Christine said she never suspected she was pregnant because she only put on a small amount of weight, and a nurse had told her last December that her menopause had started.

“We might not have been READY for her/ but we’d never send her back. Obviously, we didn’t have a single thing, not a nappy, a bib or a bootee to our names.

As for the new father, Mr Mawson said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked. “We hadn’t planned on having children. But we’re absolutely thrilled and love Amy-Jayne to bits.”

Talk about surprises! THAT really WOULD be/ family dropping in unannounced!

Then there’s Dean and Di. They DEFINITELY know they’re going to have a baby. Di feels it every morning. No mistake!

They don’t know exactly WHEN, or WHERE. But they definitely know they’re having a baby.

And so they’re getting ready. Fixing up the house, organizing the new room. Working out what baby clothes they’ve got. Organising the furniture. Unpacking the nappies. Getting Lara used to the idea.

Di’s catching up on sleep, watching what she eats and drinks, and looking after herself.

They’re looking forward to it. Every day is coloured by the birth getting closer. They don’t know exactly WHEN, or WHERE. But they definitely know they’re having a baby.

And they may get surprised EXACTLY when. But they’ll be READY.

And it’s the same with Jesus coming back. He’s PROMISED it. We know it WILL HAPPEN. Even if we don’t know exactly when.

And so we need to make sure we’re READY. To make sure we’re like Dean and Di, rather than like Christine Mawson. Because it’s not just an irrelevancy. What you think about Jesus’ return makes a REAL DIFFERENCE in the way you live TODAY.

Scoffers – just like today (3-4)

To MAKE SURE YOU’RE READY. That’s the call Peter gives to his readers. It’s of FIRST IMPORTANCE – there in v3. Top priority. You see, in Peter’s time, the false teachers from chapter 2 had given up on the idea. And they were influencing the Christians to forget about it TOO.

Look at v3.

(2 Pet 3:3-4 NIV)  First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. {4} They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything GOES ON AS IT HAS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF CREATION.”

Their argument is/ things are just the way they’ve always been. They were basically just scientific rationalists. Just like today. They said, “I’ve got the world worked out. Cause and effect. Everything happens because of the forces of physics, or chemistry. If I can’t SEE it, it can’t be REAL. Everything just keeps going like it always has.

There’s no such thing as a super event. It’s never happened BEFORE. It won’t happen NOW.”

Today, scientists say “The world’s just running down. The sun’s losing energy. The universe is ing out. Eventually the world will just slows down, go cold, and die. And that’ll be the end. They even try to put a time on it. “WE’VE got it all worked out,” they reckon. God’s nowhere to be found. It’s just NATURE.

2. Peter’s reply:

But look at Peter’s reply.

a) God’s creation (5)

Verse 5. Those same observations about NATURE / are evidence that God’s in control. They’ve said it themselves.

everything GOES ON AS IT HAS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF CREATION

And then in v5 he says that God MADE the world by his word. And it keeps going in a consistent, regular-as-clockwork way/ because that’s the way God created it.

The very heavens the scoffers look to as evidence that God’s NOT active, is evidence that he IS. Rain falls because God says so. Planets orbit. The earth rotates. Gravity works because God says so. Electrons hold together because God says so. That’s the way he MADE things.

Some people used to think it strange that I could be a Christian, AND a Science teacher. That somehow, the two didn’t go together. But I reckon the opposite is true. The more you get to know God’s universe, the more you can see his hand. His intelligent design. His power. His purposes. His careful and caring SUSTAINING of his world.

b) God’s flood (6)

And Peter goes on. It’s not like he’s only good at the “creating” bits, but not too good at the “cleaning up”. That’s a bit like some people when they get in the kitchen. They like the cooking, but they’re not so keen on the cleaning up.

But that’s not a charge you can level against God. Because he’s done THAT already, too. (the cleaning up) Verse 6.

(2 Pet 3:6 NIV)  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

Peter’s talking about Noah’s flood. The scoffers forget that God’s already destroyed the world once. Why wouldn’t he do it again?

c) God’s delay (7-9)

Next, Peter turns his attention to God’s DELAY. The scoffers see the delay in Christ’s return/ as because God’s POWERLESS. He CAN’T do it.

But Peter turns their argument on its head. God KEEPS THE WORLD GOING by his powerful word. He’s reserving it, sustaining it, nursing it along. By the same word he used to CREATE it. Look at v7.

(2 Pet 3:7 NIV)  By the same word the present heavens and earth are RESERVED / FOR FIRE, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

The scoffers think Jesus isn’t coming back because God CAN’T do it. Or WON’T do it. Or that he doesn’t CARE.

When THE OPPOSITE is true. The delay’s FOR A REASON. God’s reserving his creation for HIS PURPOSES. For JUDGEMENT. He’s cleaned up the mess once before, so he’ll do it again.

The scoffers are like Pinky the pet pig. Pinky was so pleased with his owners who kept feeding him and feeding him. Spoiling him silly. Month after month. As he got fatter and fatter. With no sign that they wanted to eat him. He got more and more comfortable. More and more disrespectful of their authority. He thought he had them wrapped around his curly little tail.

But of course they had ANOTHER reason in mind. They were fattening him up FOR THE TABLE. For roast pork, and bacon, and Christmas ham.

Poor old Pinky couldn’t see the writing on the wall. Just like the scoffers. Thinking Jesus hadn’t returned YET, and therefore he wouldn’t return AT ALL.

But Peter’s argument about that day is like that ad for the Pantene Pro-V “It won’t happen overnight, but it WILL happen” God will wrap things up SOMEday. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

So, like Pinky the pet pig, don’t make the mistake of thinking the DELAY of your Master means it’s not going to HAPPEN.

But why DOES God take so long? If people in PETER’S time thought God was slow, what would they say TODAY? If God’s judgment is so SURE, if that’s his PURPOSE in wrapping up this world. Why HASN’T it happened yet?

Peter goes on to say that, rather than the delay being because of God’s LACK OF POWER, it’s because of his PATIENCE. Verse 8.

(2 Pet 3:8-9 NIV)  But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. {9} The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

I lose patience if I’m in a traffic jam for 5 minutes. But God’s so patient that a thousand years seems like a snap of your fingers. He’s not going to be hurried along by some impatient little scoffer. He’s patient with his world. He’s moving it along at just the right speed. Everything according to HIS timetable, not OURS.

And look at WHY he’s patient. He’s delaying things so that more people can repent, and turn to him. Verse 9

(2 Pet 3:9 NIV)  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

That’s YOU. If you’re not a Christian, one of the reasons God hasn’t sent Jesus back to judge the world is he’s waiting for YOU to REPENT.

He’s PATIENT with you. He doesn’t want YOU to perish.

How does that make you FEEL? And what are you going to DO about it? Because, one day, God’s patience will RUN OUT.

d) God’s day (10, 12-13)

Finally Peter gets to discussing THE DAY ITSELF. He’s talked about CREATION, and the FLOOD, and why God’s taken so long to get AROUND to it. But then in v10, he gets to THAT day. The day of the Lord. God’s day. Judgment Day.

(2 Pet 3:10 NIV)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

And the point is/ no-one will be expecting it. Like a thief. When my car was stolen from outside our house, it was the LAST thing I thought would happen.

And that says something to certain Christians who spend their time trying to analyse obscure prophecies in Revelation, or the Old Testament. Trying to find out exactly when Jesus will return.

The problem is/ NO ONE WILL KNOW. It will come like a thief. Jesus says that even HE doesn’t know when it is!

Peter goes into a bit more detail about the Day of the Lord in v12.

(2 Pet 3:12-13 NIV)  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. {13} But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The OLD will be done away with in some way. And there’ll be a new heaven and a new earth. A whole new creation for God’s NEW HUMANITY.

And not just something he’s decided RECENTLY. It’s ALWAYS been part of the plan. “in KEEPING WITH HIS PROMISE, we’re looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth”.

And God DOES promise it. Like in Isaiah 65 v17. Israel’s in exile in Babylon. And God speaks to encourage them. About a day that’s coming when things’ll be better.

(Isa 65:17-20 NIV)  “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. {18} But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. {19} I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.

And so it goes on. In the short term, Isaiah’s talking about a return from exile. But he’s also talking about a FINAL return from exile. When God’s people go back to the home they were created for. As the NEW Jerusalem. Where God dwells with his people.

There’s a lot more I COULD say about exactly what will happen. But the problem is, no one’s really sure. Other parts of the bible fill in some other details. But ALL WE NEED TO KNOW is here.

God’s got everything planned. We don’t know WHEN, but we can be confident that it WILL happen.

And when it does, he’ll FIX UP everything that’s wrong about this world. There’ll be judgement. And he’ll bring in a NEW EARTH. And that’s something worth looking forward to.

e) God’s people (11, 14-18)

Well, just like any good teacher, Peter doesn’t just give us INFORMATION. He tells us what we should DO with it. What our RESPONSE should be to the coming of God’s day. Verse 11

(2 Pet 3:11-12 NIV)  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives {12} as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

The prospect of a future judgement day should affect what kind of people we are TODAY. A bit like Dean and Di. The prospect of “that day” influences the decisions they make TODAY. About nutrition, and finances. About work and housing and furniture.

Christine Mawson had apparently been drinking alcohol and smoking all through her pregnancy because she DIDN’T KNOW the day was approaching. If she’d KNOWN, things probably would have been DIFFERENT. “Since the day is coming, what sort of people ought you to be? That’s the QUESTION.

i) Be holy

And Peter lists 5 characteristics of God’s people. The first is in v11. “You ought to live holy and godly lives”. The most obvious thing to do if you know that judgement is coming, is to make sure you’re ready for it.

Like the fixed speed camera on the M4 at the Cumberland Highway. You know it’s coming, so you make sure you don’t speed. Obvious.

Live holy lives. Find out what God requires. And do it. Read his word. Follow the example of Jesus. Follow the example of Christians. Encourage each other to do it. Obvious!

In v14 Peter says to MAKE EVERY EFFORT to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with God. Work HARD at it, it will be worth it.

ii) Look forward to the day

Secondly, in v12, Peter encourages us to LOOK FORWARD to the day. When you know you’re on the right side of the law, justice is a wonderful thing.

People who know they’re right CAN’T WAIT for the court case. So justice can be done.

And that’s what we need to do. To be SO CONFIDENT of our standing in Christ that we’re hanging out for that day.

And to be so fed up with the mess that this world’s in, that we can’t wait for the new one. The one we were made for.

Do you look forward to that day?

iii) Speed its coming

Thirdly, Peter says we’re not just to look forward to it (in a passive way), but we’re to “speed its coming”. To do what we can/ to actively encourage that day to come.

Well, how can we do that?

Let me suggest two ways. Peter says that God is waiting for people to turn to him. He’s chosen them, and he’s waiting for them to come. That’s what he wants more than anything. You can tell from the DELAY. See it there down in v15. The Lord’s PAITENCE means SALVATION. For every day he holds off judgment. Every day he puts up with the pain and the mess and the sin. He wants to see PEOPLE IN HEAVEN BECAUSE of it.

So we need to get on board with what GOD wants. we can speed things along by introducing people to God. And the sooner they come to him, the sooner we can all go home.

Like tidying up after Youth Group. The kids are playing with a ball, or eating lollies. They’d stay there all night. But it’s the LEADERS who are scurrying around at the end. Cleaning things up. Putting chairs away. Wiping down tables. Turning off lights. Speeding the end of Youth Group.

The second way we can speed Jesus’ coming/ is by PRAYING. In the Lord’s prayer, we pray that God’s kingdom will come “Your kingdom come, your will be done”.

In a sense it’s already here, but it will only come COMPLETELY when Jesus returns. So we can pray that that will happen.

iv) Be on your guard against false teachers

The fourth area Peter mentions is that of GETTING OFF THE TRACK. He warns us against following false teachers. Look at v16. He’s talking about Paul.

(2 Pet 3:16-17 NIV)  He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, WHICH IGNORANT AND UNSTABLE PEOPLE DISTORT, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. {17} Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, BE ON YOUR GUARD SO THAT YOU MAY NOT BE CARRIED AWAY BY THE ERROR OF LAWLESS MEN AND FALL FROM YOUR SECURE POSITION.

It occasionally happens that a Year 12 English class studies the wrong novel for their HSC. The teachers read the wrong syllabus, or something. And the kids can’t finish their exam.

That’s a pretty big mistake to make. With big consequences. The day when Jesus comes back is a MUCH more important day. So it’s crucial that we be on our guard against people who don’t teach the bible. Because there’s a much greater examination coming than the HSC.

Don’t take people’s word for it! Check what they say! Check what I say! Check if it’s in the SYLLABUS! This is ONE time when it’s GOOD to ask “Sir, will this be in the exam?”

And if you don’t think I’m being true to the bible, ASK ME! I won’t mind! I don’t want to be wrong EITHER! It’s too important a day to get things wrong.

In a traditional Presbyterian church I used to go to, at the end of every service, one of the elders would walk to the front of the aisle, and shake the hand of the preacher.

The idea was/ that it was a checking mechanism. A handshake was a sign that the guy agreed with what had been said. And that it was true to the Bible. And that’s what we always need to be doing. To be on our guard.

v) Grow in grace (lifestyle) and knowledge (learning)

Finally, we’ve got the NEGATIVE. Then Peter gives us the POSITIVE. The other side of the coin. Verse 18. (Don’t be carried away) BUT

…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Grow in grace and knowledge. Learn more ABOUT Jesus – grow in knowledge. But don’t just leave it at that. Grow in grace as well. Grow more LIKE him in your behaviour, and your attitudes. It’s easy to LEARN more STUFF, but it’s harder to actually change who we are.

But that’s what we need to be doing, because Jesus IS coming back, and we need to be ready. Are YOU ready?

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