2 Peter 3:3-14
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." 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, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 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. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.
Sermon for The Second-Last Sunday in the Church Year 11/13/22
It Just Goes to Show You
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I once drove – briefly – in a "white-out". I was driving my brother to catch a bus at the depot the next town over, when, as I drove out of town, I drove into the white-out. It looked like someone had painted the outside of my windows white. I stopped the car, and then realized that someone could just drive right into me without ever seeing me, so I turned around and carefully and slowly drove a few hundred yards back into town. As I drove into the town, past the wind-break, the windows cleared and I could see outside of my car again. As I think about it, it seems to me that my experience in the white-out is a great image for how we live life.
We cannot see much of life. We cannot see the future – very quickly our vision fails when we try to forecast or foresee what is going to happen. We cannot keep the past in clear view – it fades quickly and everything about it is very transient. We often remember it as it seemed to us rather than how it actually was. We cannot see the realities around us, except for a very few and very close to us. Not even the immediate area around my car was visible. Just the interior, the things closest to me. Similarly, only the things right around us in life are really clear.
If I had decided to stop my car and get out on that road, I could see no reason not to. I could imagine them, but I could not see anything. I could have turned circles where I was, or walked down the road, or done all sorts of things that I wouldn't normally do on the road. As far as I could see, there was no reason not to do so. Of course, I couldn't see very far – and there could have been dangers coming from any direction, and any decision to stop or get out and walk could have presented tragic consequences that I could not see coming from where I was.
Life is like that. I cannot see very far. If I make my decisions just on the basis of the moment, and how it feels or how it seems without taking into account what may be coming, or of realities that I cannot see right now, I could be setting myself up for real pains and problems down the line. It just goes to show you – you never know, until its too late, sometimes.
Peter writes to the church as an old man. He was approaching the end of his life in this world, and he was fully conscious of that fact. He was writing to warn and awaken and prepare the Church for the future. God showed him a little bit about the future, and Peter knew that he needed to warn us. He could see how little we knew or understood about reality because we can each just see our own little piece of it. Peter wanted to give us more so that we would not make long term trouble for ourselves by making short-term decisions. He wrote about the future. He was writing about now.
In the last days, Peter says, 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." 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, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.
Peter was describing our days. We are in the Last Days. We have been in the Last Days since Jesus ascended – the very end of the world! It is just taking longer than anyone imagined, because with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day, so even many of the last days are last only from God's perspective and plan. We would like to know just how many "last days" there are left to us, but God has chosen not to reveal that to us. He clearly wants us to be ready at all times. He says so explicitly in some places in the Bible.
But we are living in a world that fits Peter's description. Mockers are telling us that there will be no end – that the world is self-existing and self-sustaining and eternal, more or less. We call that proclamation of the world ‘the theory of evolution'. The so-called "experts" tell us that the world is billions of years old, and has billions of years to go. Just as Peter prophesies, it escapes their notice that the heavens exist by the Word of God, and that the earth was formed out of water and by water – and they deny the flood of Noah, just as Peter said they would! Their understanding of how things came into existence is hot and dry – not cool and wet, as the Bible tells us it was – and out of fire and explosions – the big bang. They scoff at the idea of a catastrophic, world-wide flood. That can only happen, they say, if we cause global warming and melt the polar ice-caps. The days described in Peter's prophecy are these days, the days when people try to quench our expectation of the coming of Christ, and try to seduce us into believing that there is no end coming, no judgment to fear, no God above to call on. It just goes to show you how clearly Peter saw that coming day – and that day is now.
The fact that these things are happening just goes to show you that you should be careful to believe all that Peter writes here. He says, "Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved." The world lives in that "white-out", but you should not – you cannot, because if you do, you may do things that will have far-reaching consequences that you don't foresee or intend. So you have to keep the truth in your mind as you walk among those blinded by the blizzard of unbelief.
The first truth you need to keep in mind is that God is not delaying or slow – He is patient. He is patient toward you and me, that all to come to repentance. The end of all things is at hand, but God holds it back so that you and I have time enough to discover our sinfulness and repent – and time to learn and believe the grace of God in Jesus Christ. This world is ending because of sin. This world is going to be destroyed by God with tremendous heat and all that is of sin and all that is evil will be burned up with this world. Only those whose sins have been forgiven, who have been cleansed by the salvation won by Jesus on the cross will be spared.
The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. He is patient for you to repent and for you to share this truth with others. The day is coming, and coming soon, when God will judge all mankind, and destroy the earth, and ungodly men with it, in eternal flames. We have this window of opportunity to spread the Word and to show forth His glory by holy conduct and godly lives. We have this patience of God to use for rescuing our loved ones and our neighbors before the day when the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. How do we know for sure that these thing will happen? How can we be positive? Because God says so, in His Word.. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Peter describes our day to a "T" and then tells us that the only reason it is taking so long to come to the end is so that we have time to repent, and to call others to repentance. The truth of the one – of the patience of God – just goes to show the truth of the other – the end is coming. And since the coming end is so true, and the promise of salvation is so sweet, we need to respond. Peter asks, Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
What sort indeed? We need to be men and women of repentance. That much is clear – and that means that we know what is right and wrong, and that we confess with humility our failures and our sins. We are often guilty of living our lives like this world is not coming to an end. But it is! We are often guilty of living as though we are permanent and we are worthwhile, and others maybe are not. But that isn't true! We live as though there is time and more to spare – but, according to God through Peter, we are living on borrowed time, and we have a purpose, and it is God's purpose, to call men to repentance and hold out to them the sweet hope of resurrection and life everlasting with Jesus Christ.
What sort of people ought you to be? Diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless. We ought to be diligent and deliberate about being Christians. Peter called it "holy conduct and godliness." That isn't to be our behavior in order to win a prize, but our behavior that comes from knowing the truth – and having been promised the prize already. Evil burns. Ungodly men and women are reserved for fire and judgment and destruction. We want to be spotless and blameless in Jesus Christ.
We ought to be people of peace. That means confidence in God, trust in His promises and His love, and the daily expectation of His blessings: in other words, that means people who live by faith. It also suggests people who create peace around us by spreading the good news of the wonderful promise and the cause for certainty that it is true. We should each one of us, be evangelists – missionaries to Verndale and Bartlett Township, Bertha and Hewitt and wherever else we might go or live. It also means that we must live in peace with one another. No anger. No grudges. Forgiveness is how we get to be at peace with God – He forgives us – and forgiveness is how we get to be at peace with one another. You need to ask for forgiveness where you cause offense, and give forgiveness where you are given offense.
We aren't there yet. We are not fully the sort of people we ought to be in holy conduct and godliness. Thank God He is as patient as He is, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. Just goes to show you how good it is that God hasn't ended everything yet. As we approach the end of the church year, our Epistle reminds us of the patience of God. It is clear that Peter meant these words for us. Some days, the Bible speaks right to us personally. It just goes to show you.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
(Let the people say Amen)
Sunday, November 13, 2022
It Just Goes to Show You
2 Peter 3:3-14