************ Sermon on 2 Peter 3:11-12 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 12, 2003
2 Peter 3
2 Peter 3:11-12a
"Live Holy and Godly Lives"
This morning we celebrated the Lord's Supper. This evening we look at the Second Coming of Christ.
What's the connection?
In our celebration of the Lord's Supper this morning we were reminded of redemption. And, I said full redemption has to wait until the Day of Redemption when Christ returns and makes all things perfect. Also, don't forget what one of the Lord's Supper forms that we use says:
... the remembrance of our Lord's death revives in us the hope of his return. Since he commanded us to do this until he comes, the Lord assures us that he will come again to take us to himself. So, as we commune with him now under the veil of these earthly elements, we are assured that we shall sometime behold him face to face and rejoice in the glory of his appearing.
Our celebration of the Lord's Supper, then, points us to Christ's return.
I The Day of the Lord is Coming
A Peter reminds us that the Lord Jesus is coming again. He says, "the day of the Lord will come like a thief" (vs 10). Even though some people doubt this, even though some people scoff at this, the Lord Jesus is coming again (cf vs 3-7). From our human, temporal, earthly point-of-view, the day may be delayed – don't forget, with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (cf vs 8) – yet, the Lord Jesus someday will come again.
B In talking about the day of the Lord, Peter emphasizes three things.
First, he tells us about the judgment. Now, you need to realize that one of Peter's biggest concerns is false teachers. He emphasizes that he, with the other apostles – in contrast to the false teachers – "did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 1:16). He says, "there will be false prophets among you" (2 Pet 2:1). He calls them scoffers; they mock the teaching of the second coming and follow "their own evil desires" (2 Pet 3:3-4). Peter tells us that these false teachers with get their due, they will get their just desserts, in the judgment: "Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping" (2 Pet 2:3). "They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done" (2 Pet 2:13). In fact, says Peter, if God did not spare the angels that sinned, if He did not spare the ancient world when it became corrupt in the days of Noah, if He did not spare Sodom and Gomorrah, then He will not spare the false teachers either (2 Pet 2:4-10). And, He will not spare you and me either if we have not repented and believed!
C Second, in talking about the day of the Lord, Peter emphasizes the complete transformation of the present fallen universe. Listen to how Peter describes this:
(2 Pet 3:10-13) 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 ... 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.On the day of the Lord, the present universe will be renewed and purified.
You need to realize that the Bible does not teach here – nor anywhere else – the complete destruction or annihilation of the present universe. Rather, it speaks of its renewal and purification; as Peter puts it in verse 13, "we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth." There are two Greek words for "new." One means new in time or origin (neos); the other means new in nature or quality (kainos). Peter uses the word for new in nature or quality – in other words, the heavens and the earth will be renewed and purified.
D Third, Peter also wants us to recognize that the delay of the day of the Lord – something the scoffers scoff about – is a sign of God's grace and patience. Right now, the time between the two comings of Jesus Christ, is a time of repentance. Right now, it is God's fervent desire that every person on earth fall down before Him in shame and confess their sins and turn their lives around. Peter says,
(2 Pet 3:9) The Lord is ... patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.Right now is a time of grace. But it will not always be this way. God's time of patience runs out the day Jesus returns. God's time of waiting ends on the day of the Lord. So now – not an hour from now, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year – now is the time to repent and believe. As Paul puts it, "now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2). We celebrated this grace and favor of God in the Lord's Supper this morning; but when the Lord returns, there will no longer be an opportunity to take the Lord's Supper – don't forget, we celebrate the Lord's Supper until He comes again.
(2 Pet 3:15) Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation ...
II The Ethical and Moral Implications
A The Lord Jesus is coming again, says the Lord's Supper. The Lord Jesus is coming again, says Peter. Therefore, "what kind of people ought you to be?" (verse 11).
We see here what is found throughout the New Testament: faith must express itself in works, conviction leads to conduct, the privilege of the Lord's Table becomes the responsibility of Christian living, the belief in Christ's return requires a life of obedience.
Take the opposite viewpoint for a moment. You will quickly realize that disbelief in the Lord and His return all too often produces indifferent or even wicked behavior. Why live a righteous and holy life if there is no Lord returning in judgment? Why live a righteous and holy life if there is no King of the universe to whom someday you will have to give an accounting? Why live a righteous and holy life if neither righteousness nor wickedness have any consequences?
Topic: Second Coming of ChristIf you don't think the President is coming, you won't get ready. And, if you don't think the Lord of the universe is coming, you also won't get ready.
Subtopic: Warnings Concerning
When Dwight David Eisenhower was President of the United States he visited family in Denver over a weekend. His wife was from there. He went to a Presbyterian church on Sunday morning, and then set off on a special errand. He had been told about a little guy by the name of Paul Hanley, Jr. who was dying of cancer.
Imagine the scene as President Eisenhower in his limousine arrived unannounced on a Sunday afternoon at the modest little home of the Hanleys. When Paul Hanley, Sr. answered the knock at the door, imagine his surprise at finding President and Mrs. Eisenhower standing there. He had not shaved that morning, nor combed his hair. He was wearing a faded, old pair of blue jeans, and a dirty T-shirt.
Eisenhower, pretending to ignore his appearance, said kindly, "I heard that little Paul is sick. I stopped by to see him. Is it all right if I come in. I have a little something for him."
The whole visit took only twenty minutes. But in that short time a crowd had gathered.
When Eisenhower was gone, everybody in the neighborhood was talking about how exciting it was to have the President of the United States drop by. Everybody, that is, except Paul Hanley, Sr. All he could say was, "Think of it. The President of the United States -- and here I am without my hair combed, unshaved, wearing a grubby T-shirt, and this pair of old, faded jeans."
B The Lord Jesus is coming again, says the Lord's Supper. The Lord Jesus is coming again, says Peter. Therefore, "what kind of people ought you to be?" (verse 11).
I want you to consider that too often we place more importance on things than on people. We think we have the right to defend what is ours even to the point of killing or injuring an intruder who wants to take them from us. Consider the neutron bomb – it kills people while leaving buildings and things intact, ready for the next inhabitants. Consider those inner city thugs who will kill for a pair of running shoes. But Peter reminds us that in the eternal scheme of things, people matter more than things. Too often and too easily we forget this. Look at what Peter tells us. He tells us the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements of this world will melt in the heat – that includes all our possessions and things: our bank accounts, our farms and dairies, our SUVs, our homes, our bikes and computers and toys. All of this will be gone. Do you know what will be left? People! The earth and everything in it will be destroyed but people and their works will endure. So, "what kind of people ought you to be?" You, not your stuff, will last for an eternity – so, "what kind of people ought you to be?" You should be seeking treasure in heaven rather than treasure on earth. You should be thinking of the future life and not just of the present life.
C The Lord Jesus is coming again, says the Lord's Supper. The Lord Jesus is coming again, says Peter. Therefore, "what kind of people ought you to be?" (verse 11).
Our text answers this question for us. It says, "you ought to live holy and godly lives."
We are to live holy lives. The word "holy" means to be set apart, to be consecrated to God's service. As a sign of their holiness, the Nazarites – like John the Baptist, Samuel, Samson, or Paul for a while – did not cut their hair, did not drink any alcoholic beverages, and did not have any contact with the dead. They were set apart as being holy unto the Lord. The Lord's Supper and the second coming of our Lord calls us to also be set apart, to be separate, to be holy.
We, of course, are to be separate from the world and the ways of the world. Paul can say, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world" (Rom 12:2). He is talking about holiness, about being separate and different from the world. According to one author, many Christians don't listen to this call for holiness:
Topic: SeparationIsn't this sad? Isn't it sad that people in the church look down upon someone who tries to live for Christ? Isn't it sad that Christian young people will pick on and poke fun of another young person who tries to be holy? And, isn't it sad that too often there is no difference between the Christian and the pagan?
Title: What's the Difference?
The standard of practical holy living has been so low among Christians that very often the person who tries to practice spiritual disciplines in everyday life is looked upon with disapproval by a large portion of the Church. And for the most part, the followers of Jesus Christ are satisfied with a life so conformed to the world, and so like it in almost every respect, that to a casual observer, there is no difference between the Christian and the pagan.
-- Hannah Whitall Smith in The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life. Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 11.
How do we go about this business of being holy – separate and different from the world? And, how do we get our young people to be holy? How do we get them to realize that some music, movies, books, and magazines are not acceptable when it comes to holy living? One parent came up with an original idea that is hard to refute.
Topic: SeparationTo be holy – to be separate and different – requires us to have nothing to do with the works of darkness (Eph 5:11). Unlike the world, we are to keep ourselves morally and sexually pure. Unlike the world, we are not to glorify violence. Unlike the world, we are not to climb over others on our way to the top. Unlike the world, we are to show mercy rather than seek revenge.
Title: Brownies with a Difference
The father listened to all the reasons his children gave for wanting to see a particular PG-13 movie. It had their favorite actors. Everyone else was seeing it. Even church members said it was great. It was only rated PG-13 because of the suggestion of sex--they never really showed it. The language was pretty good--the Lord's name was only used in vain three times in the whole movie.
The teens did admit there was a scene where a building and a bunch of people were blown up, but the violence was just the normal stuff. It wasn't too bad. And, even if there were a few minor things, the special effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed.
However, even with all the justifications the teens made for the PG-13 rating, the father still wouldn't give in. He didn't even give his children a reason for saying, "No." He just said, "No!"
A little later on that evening the father asked his teens if they would like some brownies he had baked. He explained that he'd taken the family's favorite recipe and added a little something new. The children asked what it was.
The father calmly replied that he had added dog droppings. However, he quickly assured them, it was only a little bit. All other ingredients were gourmet quality and he had taken great care to bake the brownies at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was sure the brownies would be superb.
Even with their father's promise that the brownies were of almost perfect quality, the teens would not take any. The father acted surprised. After all, it was only one small part that was causing them to be so stubborn. He was certain they would hardly notice it. Still the teens held firm and would not try the brownies.
The father then told his children how the movie they wanted to see was just like the brownies. Our minds fool us into believing that just a little bit of evil won't matter. But, the truth is even a little bit of droppings makes the difference between a great treat and something disgusting and totally unacceptable.
The father went on to explain that even though the movie industry would have us believe that most of today's movies are acceptable fare for adults and youth, they are not.
Now, when this father's children want to see something that is of questionable material, the father merely asks them if they would like some of his special dog droppings brownies. That closes the subject.
D The Lord Jesus is coming again, says the Lord's Supper. The Lord Jesus is coming again, says Peter. Therefore, "what kind of people ought you to be?" (verse 11).
Our text says we are also to live godly lives. A godly life is one that is lived for God and the honor of His name. A godly life is marked by Bible reading and prayer, worship, Bible study, and all the other elements of a pious life. The godly person spends time with God – each and every single day.
The Lord Jesus is coming again, says the Lord's Supper. The Lord Jesus is coming again, says Peter. And, don't forget, He is coming in judgment and He is going to destroy the present universe with fire and make a new heaven and a new earth. Therefore, "what kind of people ought you to be?" (verse 11).
"You ought to live holy and godly lives."
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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