FOR WE DID NOT FOLLOW CUNNINGLY DEVISED FABLES WHEN WE MADE KNOW UNTO YOU THE POWER AND COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, BUT WERE EYEWITNESSES OF HIS MAJESTY. (2 Peter 1:16)
The Apostle Peter wanted the recipients of this letter and us, to be stirred up and to remember the things Jesus had said. The Lord Jesus Christ had shown him that His death would occur shortly thereafter. And Peter wanted to be careful to ensure that the recipients and we always had a reminder of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word here translated, coming, is from the Greek word parousia, which is nearly always associated with Christ's second coming in glory in the New Testament. The word power, also found in the 16th verse of the First Chapter of Peter's second letter, is associated with Christ's return and glorious appearing at His second coming. This epistle focuses on and stresses the great Truth of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and distinguishes it from the false teachers of that time who were apparently focusing on the precursor of gnosticism.
This heresy, or, combination of heretical theories, essentially states that Christian liberty was a license to sin and especially to commit sexual immorality. In modern society, there are many leaders, so-called, professing these same old heresies. Gnosticism and antinomianism, which means against law, all substantially manifest themselves in the idea or concept that Christians do not have to obey the law! They miss the mark. The fact is that Christians are indeed not under the law as the way of salvation. However, the Apostle Paul, by God's Holy Spirit, instructs us in his letter to the church and emphasizes that “… The God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him…." (Ephesians 1:3 and 4a).
God's Word instructs us here and in every other place, that we have been saved by Grace alone. Salvation is all of God! We have just as much input into our own salvation as we did into our birth to our parents. He also tells us why we have been saved. We are saved to be holy and to be without blame before Him in love. When Paul wrote to the Church at Rome, he also instructed them that salvation is of God. By the works of the flesh shall no flesh be saved. In other words, one cannot save oneself! Indeed, in the very first chapter of his letter to the Church at Rome, Paul instructs the Church for all time that it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God unto salvation. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone that allows us to escape the coming wrath of God on the children of disobedience.
In this second letter, the Apostle Peter warns the church for all time that there will be false teachers among the Church who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, “even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1) Peter, in spite of his pending death, wants the Church to know that there are destructive heresies, but he also wants them to know how to avoid these destructive heresies. In verse 9 of Chapter Two of 2 Peter, he informs the church of the fact that “… The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to preserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.” (2 Peter 9 and 10) He describes those who walk after the lust of uncleanness and despise authority as being “presumptuous, and self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord." (2 Peter 10 and 11) My goodness, Peter could be describing persons alive today!
Peter is thus telling the Church for all times to be aware of what is going on around them. Listen, and be like those who were in Berea who searched the scriptures daily to see if the things that were being spoken of by Paul were true. (Acts 17:11)
The culmination of Peter's 2nd epistle to the Church (Chapter 3) concludes with Peter's instructions in how to live in a pagan society. There are many leaders in the Christian Church today who are stating that America is in a “post Christian society" and is becoming increasingly pagan. Even the past president of the United States, Barak Obama, has stated publicly that “we are no longer a Christian nation". We have become timid and sometimes seemingly afraid of proclaiming the Gospel Truth. We, like Israel of old, have allowed the ungodly and unrighteous Philistines, Amalekites, and other pagans to come into the camp. This epistle, written to the Church for all times, describes particularly the conditions immediately preceding the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus described the events that will occur prior to his return as being like “birth pangs". These things increase in intensity and in frequency as His return draws nearer. In view of the fact that our Messiah, Jesus, tells us that we will not know of the day and the hour of His return, but states that that is only for the Father to know, it is important for us to know how we are to conduct ourselves in this increasingly pagan society as we await His second coming. A brief look at the third Chapter of second Peter gives us instruction in how we are to live.
I. The Fact of the Existence of Scoffers In the Last Days
In the third verse of the third Chapter of 2nd Peter, Peter says, “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lust, and saying, ‘where is the promise of His coming?’" We see these scoffers all over the place in American society today. They tell us that the earth and the universe are 14 billion years old. Billions of years seem to mean nothing to these scoffers. They tell us that there is no such thing as Noah’s flood. They tell us that there has never been a judgment on the earth. They tell us that therefore, there will be no second coming. They are sadly and woefully wrong!
The great Charles Hadden Spurgeon who preached in London, England, more than 150 years ago stated regarding scoffers, “one need not go far to find them… Like locusts, they fill the air and hide the light of the sun.” “Walking after their own lusts those who scoff according to the lust of their intellect are very likely to live according to the lust of their flesh." Of course, the Apostle Paul described all of those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ, or more importantly, those whom the Lord Jesus Christ does not know, and has not made a alive, to be “dead in their trespasses and sins." All who are dead in their trespasses and sins “walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the Sons of disobedience, among whom also we all had our manner of life in times past in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as others."! (Ephesians 2:1 – 3) That is the condition of everyone who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the condition of all atheists. That is the condition of anyone and everyone who is not a Christian, for the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the way the truth and the life and no man comes unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6)
While some have said that all are going to heaven and others have said that good atheists, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and others who are sincere are all going to heaven, they defy scripture. They even deny the Lord who bought them, and the results are that they bring on themselves swift destruction!
II. The Fact That The Day of The Lord Will Come
Peter, in his desire to stir up the Church for all times, who had been told of his imminent death, in the 10th verse of the 3rd Chapter emphatically states, “but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat: both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." Thus, there is no doubt that the day of the Lord will come! In looking at this passage of scripture once again, the great Charles Spurgeon stated that we should “admire the power of God's Word… By the Word of God… The heavens were made, by the Word of God… The earth was drowned, by the Word of God… It has been preserved… And will be preserved until, by the same Word, “the heavens will pass away with the great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat and both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. All the works of men shall be devoured." The day of the Lord will come! There will be a new heaven and a new earth!
III. How Then Shall Christian’s Conduct Themselves?
The Apostle Peter, in his earnest fervent desire to stir up the Church for holy living, tells the Church for all time that the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. It is the Word of God preached and taught truthfully and faithfully that produces repentance. Repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia, meaning a change of mindset. We surrender our will to the Lord's will and no longer live in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. We pursue holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Peter wanted the Church to know that he had not followed any “cunningly devised fables" in telling them God's Holy Truth of the events that he had witnessed while the Lord Jesus Christ was teaching His holy Apostles. Peter emphasizes that he was an eyewitness to the things about which he speaks. Peter emphasizes that he heard the voice of God saying, "this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Peter, recognizing the urgency of the hour, and the truthfulness of which he speaks, informs the church that their conduct should be holy! We should pursue holiness, even as a hungry man pursues food! We are to live in godliness, which is reverence and awe towards God. The great expository preacher of the 20th century, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, said, “we are to live always as if we are living in the presence of God, thinking of standing before Him." Peter also states that the Church is to be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God”. Some have translated this to mean that we are to be “eagerly awaiting the coming of the day of God”. Of course, we are to realize that the delay in Christ's second coming is not based on slackness, nor forgetfulness, but on God's long-suffering because he does not want anyone to perish, but that all should come to repentance. All will not come, as we see from the Holy Scriptures. For example,Jesus said in John Chapter 5 that “you will not come unto Me that you might have life." (John 5:40) Jesus also said to Bethsaida and Chorazin that it would actually be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for Bethsaida and Chorazin “for if the mighty works that had been done in Bethsaida and Chorazin had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matthew 11:21)
Therefore, Peter is urging the Church in 2nd Peter 3 to be diligent to be found by the Lord Jesus Christ in peace without spot and without blame knowing that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation. Indeed, in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Church at Rome, he informs them, “and do you think this, oh man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:3-4) The long-suffering of the Lord is salvation! Therefore, we are to remain steadfast rejoicing - rejoicing in the Lord always. We are to be steadfast and not be led astray with the error of the wicked. We should not be influenced or persuaded that “well everybody's doing it" it must be okay. We cannot be taken in by those who say that sexual promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, same-sex marriages, murder of innocent children in their mother's womb, and all such things are really okay. We must not allow that. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and stand steadfast in Him holding fast the profession of our faith in holy conduct and godliness looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God. We are to be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and blameless. Don't be led astray by scoffers, false prophets, and those who carouse in the daytime. Don't be led astray by the deception of false teachers and false preachers. But you remain steadfast, holding fast the profession of our faith, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.
Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with the exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty an dominion and power both now and forever more. Amen!
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