************ Sermon on 2 Peter 3:14-18 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 7, 2021
2 Peter 3:14-18
"Anticipating Christ's Return (2)"
Our Bible reading starts with, "So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this ..." Looking forward to what? To the Day of God, the Day of Eternity, a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, the Second Coming.
"Make every effort." We have come across this phrase two other times in 2 Peter. Back in chapter1 we were told to make every effort to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, etc to our faith (2 Pet 1:5-7). Also in chapter 1 Peter says he will make every effort for the churches to remember what he preached and taught (2 Pet 1:15). "Make every effort." That's a strong word in the Greek. It means do one’s best, try as hard as possible, make maximum effort. No half-hearted effort. No on-again, off-again effort. Rather it is whole-hearted, zealous effort.
"To be found." When the Lord Jesus comes back, He will be looking us over. Nothing will be hidden or secret that day. Nothing will be overlooked that day. Everything will be brought into the light that day. He is coming and He will look us over. So, what is He going to find? In your life? In my life?
"Make every effort to be found ..." For what? Go back to what we looked at last week. Make every effort to be found "to live holy and godly lives" (2 Pet 3:11). What does this mean? What exactly is in mind? Today, Peter tells us five ways we are to live holy and godly lives as we anticipate Christ's return.
I Spotless and Blameless
A First, since Christ is coming again make every effort to be found "spotless, blameless" (2 Pet 3:14). Peter is NOT saying we can save ourselves. Peter is writing to Christians, to saints, to people who are already spotless and blameless in God's sight. It is Christ who makes us spotless and blameless. It is the blood of the Lamb that purifies us. Alongside what God has done, we are to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless. Here is another picture of divine providence and human responsibility working side-by-side. Just because it is God who saves us, this doesn't mean we can sit around in our Pjs all day waiting for Christ's return. We have the responsibility to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless.
Christians are not to be like the false teachers. Back in chapter 2 Peter said they are "blots and blemishes" (2 Pet 2:13). Blots are spots or stains on a piece of cloth. Blemishes are a mark or flaw on a person's body -- like scabs, sores, leprosy. As we anticipate the return of Christ we are to be spotless and blameless, not blots and blemishes, not stains and flaws. Spotless has to do with character. Blameless concerns reputation.
B Spotless and blameless. That's what Jesus should find but is that what Jesus will find when He returns and looks you over? Bear with me as I tell you the four different possibilities of what the Lord may find: namely, He may find you to be hypocritical, scandalous, sinful, or holy. Let me explain the four possibilities:
-Hypocritical -- you have fooled people into thinking you are spotless
-Scandalous -- you are spotless now but what people remember is some disgraceful event from your past
-Sinful -- so full of sin you are neither spotless nor blameless
-Holy -- that is, pure, spotless and blameless
Which of these four will the Lord find in your life?
C Spotless and blameless. If we are one of those who are hypocritical, scandalous, or just plain sinful, how do we become spotless and blameless? You know! Discern what is sinful in your life. Hate that sin. Confess that sin. Desire the holy life. Avoid sinful situations. Be faithful in Bible reading and prayer. Put yourself under the preaching of the Word. Feed and strengthen your soul in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. If you do this, when the Lord comes He will find you to be spotless and blameless.
The point? As we anticipate the return of Christ, we need to deal with the sin in our life. Because when the Lord returns, He wants to find us pure.
A Second, when He comes again Jesus also looks for peace: "make every effort to be found ... at peace with him" (2 Pet 3:14). Now, remember, Peter is writing to Christians, to saints, to people who are already saved. Which means they already have peace with God. So what is this peace?
The peace Peter has in mind is the same peace Paul talks of in his letter to the Philippians.
Philippians 4:5–7 (NIV84) — 5 The Lord is near. [Notice how Paul starts.] 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
What is this peace Peter and Paul are talking about? Paul mentions its opposite: worry or anxiety. What is anxiety? The Greek word translated as "anxious" in Philippians 4:6 means "to be pulled in different directions." Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us the opposite direction; and we are pulled apart! The Old English root from which we get our word "worry" means "to strangle" If you have ever really worried, you know how it strangles a person! In fact, worry has definite physical consequences: headaches, neck pains, ulcers, even back pains. Worry affects our thinking, our digestion, our sleep, our coordination, our relationships. Worry robs us of joy and peace.
B As we await Christ's return, God wants us to live without fear, without worry, without anxiety. God wants us to live at peace. Which means what? God wants us to have no fear about the future. No fear about the Day of the Lord. No fear about the judgment of Christ. No fear about our salvation. No fear about our short-time planet in a disposable universe. No fear about who is in charge politically. No fear about COVID-19. No fear because we have the peace of God with transcends all understanding.
God wants us to be at peace as we await the coming of Christ. He doesn't want us pulled in two different directions. As Paul puts it, He wants to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Paul wrote these words as a prisoner. In Rome. Chained to a Roman soldier. Guarded day and night. Using the same image here, Paul states that "the peace of God" stands guard over the two areas that create worry -- the heart and the mind. This does not mean the absence of trials on the outside, but it does mean a quiet confidence within, regardless of circumstances, people, or things.
Is this peace yours? If you knew Jesus was coming tomorrow night, what would your next 24 hours be like? Would you be living in peace, knowing you are right with God? Would you be certain things are well with your soul?
C How do we get this peace? Notice how Paul starts: "The Lord is near." Meaning what? He is near in time. He is near in space.
The Lord, the King and Ruler of the universe, He Who redeems us, is near in time. Peter tells us He is coming soon. So, "do not be anxious." So, be at peace.
But the Lord is also near in space. He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deut 31:6,8; Heb 13:5). He promises to always be with us (Mt 28:20). He promises that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ (Rom 8:35).
This is the path towards peace. This is the path that takes away anxiety. Focus on Jesus. Focus on Jesus Who is "God with us" (Mt 1:23). Focus on Jesus Who is near -- in time and space -- and you have peace!
Third, when He comes again Jesus also looks for missions, evangelism, witnessing. Look at verse 15:
2 Peter 3:15 (NIV84) — 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation ...
See this in the light of what we looked at last time. Remember how some people wondered why the Second Coming was taking so long? Peter gave a couple of answers. One answer is that the Lord does not count time the same way we do. Another answer is that the Lord is patient; He doesn't want any of the elect to perish, but rather to come to repentance and faith. The Lord will not allow the Second Coming and its judgment to happen until all the elect have been gathered in.
Like God, we need to be patient. Like God, we are to be patient so the elect can be saved. Like God, we want the church to be complete, with no one missing. Meaning what? Meaning that in these last days the Lord has given the church a mission: to evangelize the lost and enfold the elect. Since Christ is coming again make every effort to be found as His witnesses.
IV Be on Your Guard
A Our fourth point: since Christ is coming again "make every effort to be found ... on your guard so that you may not be carried away" (2 Pet 3:14,17). As you await the Second Coming, be on your guard. Stand watch. Observe closely. Why? Because of Satan and his false teachers.
By the way, these false teachers are to be found today as well. Turn on the radio, go on the internet, listen to different podcasts, read through blogs and you will hear all sorts of confusing and conflicting things about the Second Coming and the Final Judgment. Lots of people try to bewilder us and rob us of our comfort. They twist and distort the Scriptures and sow confusion.
What sorts of things do these false teachers say? They want a future that doesn't hold them accountable for their sins. They want a future where sin is not condemned and judged. So they twist teaching on judgment -- God will overlook some sins. They twist teaching on the Law of God -- some laws don't apply to us anymore. They twist teaching on holiness -- you are basically a good person. They twist teaching on righteousness -- you are righteous in and of yourself. They twist the need for repentance.
B Peter explains how they do this with Paul. Paul has wisdom from God. What he writes to the churches is Scripture. And, Paul's letters contain some things that are hard to understand. Ignorant and unstable people distort what Paul writes. In other words, they distort God's wisdom, they distort Scripture. What they do with Paul, they do with all of Scripture.
C Be on your guard as you await the Second Coming. Anytime you listen to false teachers who distort the Scriptures, you run the risk of being led astray.
You can't be part of a church where false doctrine is being taught without the risk of being led astray. You can't sit in a college or seminary classroom and listen to people distort Scripture without the risk of being led astray. You can't be part of a Bible Study whose material comes from heretics without the risk of being led astray. You can't use devotional books filled with error without the risk of being led astray. Your children can't be taught Sunday School or Catechism by a false teacher without the risk of being led astray. So, you need to make every effort to be found on your guard. Be discerning about who you listen to, what you read and watch, so the false teachers don't lead you astray.
D "Don't be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position." Be on guard. How? What can you do? "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 3:14,18). Grow instead of being carried away.
How do we do that? By the Word, Scripture. Peter tells us this in 1 Peter 2:2. I just love these words:
1 Peter 2:2 (NIV84) — 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation ...What is the pure spiritual milk? At least two translations identify it as "the pure milk of the word." Like a baby craves its mother's milk, so we are to crave the milk of the Word. Think of how quickly a baby grows and develops on this milk. It comes into the world completely helpless. By the end of the first year it is crawling, maybe even walking, beginning to make talking sounds, recognizes people. Similarly, we grow and develop when we are nourished by the Word of God.
Through the Word we come to know Jesus better and better. We grow in fellowship with Him. We come to realize He is not just Savior but also Lord.
V His Glory
Fifth, when He comes again Jesus also looks for His glory, praise, and adoration in our life. Peter says, "To him be glory both now and forever! Amen" (2 Pet 3:18). Give Him the glory now. And give Him the glory in the Day of Eternity. Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
We are to make every effort to be found to live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the Second Coming. This means that when He comes again Jesus wants to find the following in our lives:
1. Spotless and blameless
4. Be on Guard
5. His glory
Will He find this?
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