************ Sermon on 2 Peter 3:11-13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 31, 2021
2 Peter 3:11-13
"Anticipating Christ's Return (1)"
The key word or phrase in our text this morning is "look forward to" in verse 12. As Christians, we wait for, look for, expect, and anticipate. As we look at our text, it becomes clear that even as we look forward to certain events, there are also events we don't look forward to. I want to raise three points: first, what we don't anticipate; second, what we do anticipate; third, how we anticipate.
I What We Don't Anticipate
A What don't you look forward to? Children don't look forward to a visit with the doctor to get a needle. Few people look forward to tests and exams whether it is at school or the DMV. Most people don't look forward to a visit with the dentist. None of us look forward to a visit with the IRS. We don't look forward to a court date. We don't look forward to surgery. Some people don't look forward to organizing the house. We don't look forward to the death of a parent. We don't look forward to various kinds of medical exams to check for cancer. None of us look forward to another election and political phone calls, emails, and texts. Many dread the empty-nest syndrome when the children move out of the house.
As Christians, there is also another event we don't look forward to. We don't look forward to what Peter calls "the day of the Lord" (2 Peter 3:10). Remember what we learned from the Old Testament prophets last week? We learned from them that the Day of the Lord is a day of darkness and destruction. Peter says,
2 Peter 3:11-12 (NIV84) — 11 ... everything will be destroyed ... 12 ... That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.The Day of the Lord is a scary day because that is the day Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead. It is a day of destruction and damnation for the unbelieving. It is the day the unbelieving are punished for their sins and thrown into the fires of hell.
We don't look forward to that day. Rather, we grieve that this universe, on account of sin, will be destroyed. We further grieve that those who reject the Savior and refuse to repent and believe will face destruction. We do not long for God to come in fiery judgment upon family members and neighbors and co-workers who don't acknowledge the Lord. We know it is coming but we don't look forward to the Day of the Lord!
B Look, again, at Peter's description of what happens on the Day of the Lord:
2 Peter 3:11-12 (NIV84) — 11 ... everything will be destroyed ... 12 ... That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.What will be destroyed? Everything. This earth. The heavens. The sun, moon, and stars. The mighty galaxies swirling around.
For the last thirty years we have heard a lot about global warming, climate change, carbon footprints, ozone depletion, and so on. International treaties have been signed. Conferences have been held. Studies have been done. Our new president vows to get rid of coal-burning electricity generating plants. California wants solar panels on every home and electric cars in every garage. We sort our garbage into yard waste, household waste, and recyclable waste. We can burn only on certain days. Dust levels need to be kept down. Nothing wrong with all of these efforts. We do need to be good caretakers and stewards of this earth. We want to preserve this earth while we live and work here. In the name of Christ, we do want to be able to use this earth for the benefit of people and to the glory of God.
I want to give you the Bible's perspective on all this: namely, all this effort and money and time is being spent on an earth that someday will be destroyed. Don't say, don't think, we are preserving it for all generations and all time. Because we aren't and we can't. Remember that this is a short-time planet in a disposable universe. Remember, someday everything will be destroyed by God. Therefore, we should not tie ourselves to something so temporary.
C There is also a good side to the Day of the Lord. It means an end to all the wickedness we see in the world. It means an end to abortion, prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, child and elderly abuse. It means an end to war, hunger, greed. It means an end to corrupt government officials. It means an end to God's name being taken in vain. It means an end to idols and idol worship. It means an end to disobedience, adultery, murder, theft, and the spreading of lies and fake news. It means an end to COVID, AIDS, colds, flu, cancer, heart attack, and hospital stays. On the Day of the Lord all of this evil -- gone! Even the unregenerate should be thankful for this. Yet, we are saddened that it happens only by judgment and destruction.
II What We Anticipate
A Now the opposite question: What do you look forward to? My grand-daughter, Adriana, is already looking forward to her birthday on March 4. Maybe you are looking forward to Disneyland or LegoLand, Six Flags Magic Mountain, the Fresno Zoo, graduation, college, a wedding, the birth of a baby, a wedding anniversary, a vacation, a new home, a camping or fishing trip, visiting family, your COVID-19 vaccination, dinner and a movie outside of the home. Nothing wrong with any of these. All of these are worthy events to anticipate.
As Christians, there is also another event we anticipate. Peter tells us we "look forward to the day of God" (2 Pet 2:12). The Greek of verse 18 calls it the "day of eternity."
B Why do Christians anticipate the day of God, the day of eternity?
2 Peter 3:13 (NIV84) — 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
Remember, "everything will be destroyed." What takes its place? "A new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness." The Greek word for "new" is very instructive. Peter had a choice between two Greek words. The first word means new in time or origin -- as in, a new tooth, a new pair of eyeglasses, a new car, a new baby. The second word means new in nature or quality. Peter used the second word therefore telling us the new universe will be new in nature or quality.
So what is new about the new heaven and new earth as compared to the first heaven and first earth? What is new, different, about its nature or quality? Let me answer that by reminding you of what happened in the first heaven and first earth. What happened was sin, evil, wickedness. Satan first rebelled against God in heaven. And, it was on earth that Adam and Eve sinned against God and nothing was ever again the same. The new heaven and new earth will be without sin and the possibility of sin. The new heaven and new earth will be "the home [of what?] of righteousness" (2 Pet 3:13).
Can you imagine living in a universe without sin and without the effects of sin?! How awesome that will be. As Revelation puts it: no more tears, no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, no more pain (Rev 21:4). Let me read to you three of Isaiah's wonderful images of the new heaven and new earth:
Isaiah 2:4 (NIV84) — 4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.That's new. That's different. In nature and quality. From our present universe.
Isaiah 35:5–6 (NIV84) — 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
Isaiah 65:25 (NIV84) — 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.
As Christians, we wait for, look for, expect, and anticipate the Day of God. Looking into the future we see no more sin, the perfection of the soul, the end of death, life with Christ. The thought of this overcomes the darkness of the past and the gloom of the present. The joys that await us certainly compensates for the sorrows of this earth.
I've told you that before and after the election I laid awake at night and prayed for our country and our leaders. I was concerned about where we were going on. I was concerned about what might face our children and grand-children in the future. I was concerned about the place of the church and the Gospel in our culture. Here is a reminder that what we wait for does not come from government or political parties or politicians or science. What we wait for comes from the hand of God.
III How We Anticipate
A This brings us to our third point: how we anticipate. I already mentioned that my grand-daughter is looking forward to her birthday on March 4. You know what she did? She made a paper chain. Everyday she tears off one of the links. As the necklace gets shorter and shorter she sees how soon it is to her birthday.
So, how do we anticipate the end of all sin and evil? How do we anticipate the righteousness of the Day of God? Listen to how Peter asks this question in verse 11:
2 Peter 3:11 (NIV84) — 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?Peter doesn't actually ask a question. Rather, he makes a statement of what is expected. In the Greek, the phrase, "what kind of people," implies quality, excellence, superiority, high caliber. Since Jesus is coming again it is expected you will be of the highest possible quality.
What kind of excellent people should we be now? We know we do not live for this temporary, disposable, short-time world. We are aliens, strangers, exiles, pilgrims on this earth (1 Pet 1:1; 2:11). We don't love the world or the things of the world. We belong to a heavenly place. We look forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb 11:10).
B So what kind of excellent people should we be now? Peter tells us at the end of verse 11: "You ought to live holy and godly lives."
Since Jesus is coming again to take you into the home of righteousness, then it is expected you already live righteously. What you are going to be on the new earth is what you should be now -- holy and godly. How you are going to live on the new earth is how you should live now -- holy and godly.
Holy and godly. Holy refers to action. Godly refers to attitude. Holy refers to the way I live my life. Godly refers to a spirit of reverence. Holy refers to what rules my life. Godly refers to what rules my heart. Since Jesus is coming again, Peter tells us what kind of people we need to be in life and heart, in action and motive, in duty and attitude.
Holy and godly. Something that is not at all obvious in the English, but both terms are plural. Lots of holiness and godliness. Spread throughout all of life, spread over every part of life.
C As people leaving this temporary world, as people headed to the home of righteousness, we are to live excellent lives of holiness and godliness. We do so before God. We also do so before our unbelieving neighbors. Let's go back to how Peter describes this in his first letter:
1 Peter 2:12 (NIV84) — 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.We are to live "good lives" -- that is, lives of holiness and godliness -- before the unbelieving.
D I mentioned earlier that what we wait for does not come from government or political parties or politicians or science. Yet, we pray for those over us. Do you know why? For the sake of godliness and holiness. Listen to what was written to Timothy:
1 Timothy 2:1–2 (NIV84) — 1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.Pray for the governing authorities. Pray for federal, state, and local authorities. Pray for Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chairmen, and First Secretaries. Why? So that we may live in all godliness and holiness. So that on this temporary, disposable, short-time world we may live already as citizens of Christ's eternal Kingdom.
E One more point about how we anticipate the Day of God. Peter says, "as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" (2 Pet 3:12). Doesn't that sound somewhat incredible? How can we as Christians speed up the coming of the Day of God? For one thing, we can pray as Jesus taught us, "Your kingdom come" (Mt 6:10).
Last week I said the Second Coming is delayed as God patiently waits for all the elect to be saved. We speed up the Second Coming when we call people to repent and believe. The sooner the church is completed, the sooner our Lord will return.
This earth and our life here is temporary. So we don't put our hopes on this life. Instead, we look forward to the home of righteousness.
In the meantime, live now as you will be living in the life to come. While on this earth, already live as people living in the new heaven and new earth. Because Jesus is coming live holy and godly lives.
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