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The Day of the Lord - It's About Time

Notes & Transcripts

Bulletin Insert - August 13, 1995

2 Peter 3:3-14

The Day of the Lord - It's About Time

 

Sermon Outline:  Thinking rightly about Christ's return means we must consider the present as:

I.       A time to  r  _  _  _  _  _  the past.

          (vv. 3-6)

II.      A time to  r  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  the future (in light of the past).

          (v. 7)

III.    A time to  r  _  _  _  _  _  .

          (vv. 8-9)

IV.    A time to  r  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  the certainty of God's sovereign          control on the day of the Lord.

          (v. 10)

V.      A time to  r  _  _  _  _  _  holiness.

          (v. 11-12)

VI.    A time to  r  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  hope.

          (v. 13)

VII.   A time to  r  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  our relationship to God.

          (v. 14)

Timeless Truth:  Right thinking about Christ's return reassures us of its       c  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  and promotes our  p  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  .


Sermon Functional Outline

2 Peter 3:3-14

The Day of the Lord - It's About Time

 

Passage Subject:  How can believers think rightly about Christ's return?

Passage Complement:  They can realize that God is in control of time.

Passage Idea:  Believers can think rightly about Christ's return by realizing that God is in control of time.

Why is this passage here? (FCF)

Because believers can easily stray from the truth that God is in sovereign control of time, they are being reminded to remain consistent in Christ considering the certainty of Christ's return.                                            THEREFORE---

Theological Subject:  Since God is in sovereign control of time, how must we respond to the time he gives us?

Theological Complement:  We must think rightly about Christ's return.

Theological Idea:  Since God is in sovereign control of time, we must respond to the time he gives us by thinking rightly about Christ's return.

(Peter's functional question---Explanation:  Explain it.  What does this mean?)

In what ways must we think rightly about Christ's return?

Theological Outline:  Thinking rightly about Christ's return means we must consider the present as:

I.          A time to recall the past.

            (vv. 3-6)

II.        A time to reconsider the future (in light of the past).

            (v. 7)

III.       A time to repent.

            (vv. 8-9)

IV.       A time to recognize the certainty of God's sovereign control on the day of the       Lord.  (v. 10)

V.        A time to revive holiness.

            (v. 11-12)

VI.       A time to rekindle hope.

            (v. 13)

VII.     A time to reassure our relationship to God.

            (v. 14)

Timeless Truth:  Right thinking about Christ's return reassures us of its certainty and promotes our participation.


Prayer                                                                                               Tim Glover

Sermon Introduction

2 Peter 3:3-14

The Day of the Lord - It's About Time

(Please stand for the reading of our portion from God's Word this morning.)

I.       Illustration

          What time is it?  This is a question we frequently get asked, perhaps several times a day.  We wonder ourselves what time it is and look at the clock on the wall or the watch on our wrist - and we tick off the answer.

          But what time is it, really?  Isn't our answer only according to our own frame of reference?  It is not the same time everywhere.  Ohio is one hour later that here.  Western South Dakota is one hour earlier.  We had some missionaries from Portugal visiting with us for the last two weeks and it is seven hours later there than here.  They told us that the twelve countries in the European federation have all agreed to be on the same time as each other, but it puts high noon by the sun in Portugal at two in the afternoon by the clock.  Time is relative because it depends on whose timetable we are on.

          You know, that's a serious statement - that time is relative.  It can be either friend or foe depending on whether we have a restored relationship to God through Christ because the ultimate frame of reference for time belongs to God alone.  God is both sovereign and eternal.

II.  Need

          Ecclesiastes 7:14 brings this home to us.  Is God in control of time?  Of course he is, he is eternal (Ps. 90:2).  God has no beginning.  He has always existed.  But what about your time and my time?  How much do we have?  And whose frame of reference are we on?  Are we living for ourselves or for God?  Are we living only for the present or are we convinced of an eternal future that can be either good or bad depending on where we stand with God through Christ.  God is Spirit (Jn. 4:24).  Man is made in God's image (Gen. 1:27) as a being created by God.  So man has both a soul and a body (Mt. 10:28).  Because of sin, man's body will die (Heb. 9:27; Rom. 6:23a) and his soul will be separated from God forever unless he has come to Christ in faith (Rom. 8:10-11; 6:23b).

          God's purpose in all this through Christ is that we might be set free from sin and make peace with holy God who hates sin.  Christ took our sin upon himself (1Pet. 3:14; 2Cor. 5:21) but we must receive it by faith (Rom. 3:21-22; 5:1).  This freedom from sin is not just positional with God but also carries an obligation to live according to God's Spirit and not according to our sinful nature (Rom. 8:12-14).  Christ will return to hold us accountable and to receive his own unto himself - he promised (Mt. 24:30-31) and the angels confirmed it to the apostles (Acts 1:11).  But Christ also affirmed that only God the Father controlled the agenda (Mt. 24:36, 42).  But he also promised to help us in his absence (Jn. 14:26) which the apostles also believed and prayed (1Thes. 5:23-24).

III.  Transition

          It is the whole issue of Christ's return that Peter addresses to believers both then and now in today's text.  In 1 Peter he instructs believers how to deal with persecution from outside the church.  In 2 Peter he teaches believers how to deal with false teachers who have come into the church.  And in the 3rd chapter reminds us all to think rightly about Christ's return both as a warning to the false teachers and as an encouragement to the believers.  In fact the whole chapter is "about time" and the fact that God is in sovereign control of it:  past, present, and future.  The challenge to us as believers is to make a proper response to this overriding truth in the way we live and believe.

          The present becomes a time to recognize God's timetable.  Recalling the past compels us to reconsider the future as good reason for present repentance through which holiness will be revived, hope will be rekindled and our relationship to God will be reassured.  The day of the Lord is a certain commodity.

          Are there scoffers and false teachers in the church today who think the delay in Christ's return is a free license to sin until he gets here?  You better believe it.  Are there some who think he may not be returning at all to hold us accountable for our time?  Let us see what Peter says about it.


2 Peter 3:3-14

The Day of the Lord - It's About Time

 

(Peter gives us seven ways in which we must think rightly about Christ's return in the present time.)

The first way in which we must think rightly about Christ's return is to consider the present as:

I.       A time to recall the past.

(vv. 3-6) - read

(Functional Question:  Why must we consider the present as a time to recall the past?)  because:

          A.      Scoffers during these last days will attempt to discredit God's                  historical involvement in his creation.

1.  "Last days" refers to the time between Christ's 1st coming and his 2nd; the Christian era, the age of grace, and also of opposition to this decisive event in human history which has been opened but not yet completed.  "Last days" implies God has a program of events.

2.  Scoffers argue a uniformity of natural process that rules out divine intervention in history.  They mock not only the delay but the very idea of judgment it implies - the idea of ultimate standards and a final division between saved and lost - the claim that the relative will be ended by the absolute.  They forget that the laws of nature are God's laws and that their predictability springs from his faithfulness.

3.  The scoffers take advantage our disappointment at Christ's delay to destroy faith.  One can cause a lot of doubt by asking questions, ie. Satan in the Garden of Eden.

4.  Christ predicted these scoffers (Mt. 24:23-25).

5.  "Our Fathers" are the O.T. patriarchs who fell asleep, a statement of confidence in the face of death through the victory of Christ over death.

          B.      Recollection of God's acts of creation and judgment certify his                 historical involvement in his creation and justify his sovereignty.

1.  The deliberate forgetfulness of the scoffers is blind neglect of obvious truth.

2.  If both creation and the flood are facts, then not all is as it always was.

3.  God's word created the earth out of water and destroyed it the same way by the same means and material with which he created it.  The world contains the material for its own ruin whenever it may so please God.  The world exists only because God commanded it and does not even remain without his sustaining power.  Man would divorce God from his creation by evolutionary theory but the world does not run on its own intelligence.

4.  The world at that time we cannot even reconstruct.  God destroyed its ordered form and continuity, and judged its inhabitants even though he didn't destroy the globe itself.  God said "time out" to the world of Noah's time.  We've been running on overtime ever since.

(Transitional Statement:  If the past supports a record of God's creation involvement, then the future must support similar consideration.)

The second way in which we must think rightly about Christ's return is to consider the present as:

II.      A time to reconsider the future (in light of the past).

(v. 7) - read

(Functional Question:  Why must we consider the present as a time to reconsider the future?)  because:

          A.      This present creation's fallen condition will not change.

1.  God is consistent, it will be his same word of judgment.

2.  Ungodly men have not changed, are the reason for creation's fall, and the reason for judgment.

          B.      This fallen condition cries out for judgment from a holy,                          sovereign God.

1.  This judgment will be by fire (Dt. 32:22).  This is a concept found all through the O.T.  God himself is spoken of as a consuming fire (Dt. 4:24) who will consume wickedness and refine goodness.  John Baptist said Christ would baptize with fire in which he will destroy the chaff (Mt. 3:11-12).

2.  Remember Sodom and Gomorrah.

3.  God is in divine control as justification for retaining hope in a crazy world.

(Transitional Statement:  If the consistency of creation's fallenness requires judgment, then the present becomes the only certain opportunity for repentance.)

The third way in which we must think rightly about Christ's return is to consider the present as:

III.    A time to repent.

(vv. 8-9) - read

(Functional Question:  Why must we consider the present as a time to repent?)  because:

          A.      God is in sovereign control of time.

1.  Peter now turns his attention to the faithful by reminding them not to forget in contrast with the deliberate forgetfulness of the scoffers.

2.  The relativity of time, it is not the same to God as it is to man.  He sees time with a perspective we lack (1000 to 1) due to his eternity, and he sees time with an intensity we lack (1 to 1000) due to his patience.

3.  2Peter contrasts the eternity of God with the impatience of human speculations.  Faith orients man to eternity, whereas scoffers remain children of time.  Delay was their objection, but time is no element in the counsels of God.

4.  Recall the story about the tortoise and the hare?  The slow tortoise made a long journey by losing no time.

          B.      The present is our only assurance of his patience.

1.  It is the loving forbearance of God.  The delay only seems long because of our time perspective but it provides further opportunities for unbelievers (even scoffers) to repent and be saved, and for believers to be working out their salvation.  God's plan is influenced by his patience.  His delay is not caused by inability, indifference, or impotence but by mercy.  1Peter speaks of God's patience in regard to the flood, here it is in regard to future judgment by fire.  But his delay is not non-fulfillment.

2.  God has made provision for all to be saved but some will exercise their God-given free will to exclude God.  He chooses to allow this freedom that marks us as men.  Some will perish.  This is not his desire but it is his decree.  This should inspire gospel proclamation about the Christ who ushered in the last days and whose return will seal them.

3.  We have the Lord's promise that Christ will return (Num. 23:19).

(Transitional Statement:  If God is in sovereign control of time, then he is also in sovereign control of its events.)

The fourth way in which we must think rightly about Christ's return is to consider the present as:

IV.    A time to recognize the certainty of God's sovereign control on the day of the           Lord.

(v. 10) - read

 

(Functional Question:  Why must we consider the present as a time to recognize the certainty of God's sovereign control on the day of the Lord?)  because:

          A.      Only God knows when it will occur.

1.  Like a thief - a nocturnal burglary with suddenness and decisiveness.

          B.      Its occurrence will be certain testimony of God's sovereign             control.  (When it happens, we shall know that it was God who                   did it.)

1.  It will come with a roar - the noise made by something passing swiftly through the air - the earth and sky will flee from the presence of God.

2.  Here as in the flood, the earth contains the seeds of its own destruction - this time by fire.  A slight change in the atmosphere brought the flood.  Another slight change could bring the fire.  Science finds the elements of final dissolution in the relations of the earth and sun.

3.  This is more than the refinement of gold by fire because even the elements will be destroyed.  All the earth's works - the deeds of men - will be laid bare in destruction and judgment.  Only what will survive will be works of the Holy Spirit more precious than gold.

4.  Remember the fiery furnace (Dan. 3).

(Transitional Statement:  If God is in absolute control of all things, then his demand upon us is to conform to his requirements.)

The fifth way in which we must think rightly about Christ's return is to consider the present as:

V.      A time to revive holiness.

(v. 11-12) - read

 

(Functional Question:  Why must we consider the present as a time to revive holiness?)  because:

 

          A.      Only that which is holy will remain.

1.  The expectation of the Lord's return must inspire us to live holy and godly lives - the moral imperative that follows the eschatological indicative.  Holiness entails separation from evil and dedication to God, godliness relates to piety and worship.  Our conviction concerning the Lord's return should also convict our conduct.

2.  The scoffers were not convicted of anything.  Only apathy and despair remain for those who do not believe that creation has a goal, a climax.  Without this truth embodied in the second coming - that life is going somewhere - there is nothing left to live for.  We are reminded that people matter more than things, that a man's character is the only thing he can take out of this life with him.

          B.      Only holiness will beget holiness to complete the purpose of                    God's patience.

 

1.  Some may think his coming will be in response to evil and this is partly true.  But more correctly it will be in response to a polarization of good and evil as God's people hasten the day of God by holy lives of service to distinguish the kingdom of God from the kingdom of this world.

2.  It will be a day of fear for sinners - a day of glory for saints.  There will varying degrees of punishment for sinners - varying degrees of reward for saints.  The first issue is whether you are over the dividing line - the second is how far over the line you are.

3.  The positive significance of our time on earth is to participate with God in his harvest of holiness during this time of grace.  He will decide when his harvest is full (Rom. 11:25).  This fullness represents a number known only to God.

4.  The timing of his Day is to some extent dependent upon the state of the church and of society.  We are called upon to cooperate with God in this redemption..  We do this through evangelism, prayer, and holy living through repentance and obedience that cannot help but effect the lives of others.  God does not choose to do anything in men that he does not also choose to use men in the doing.  He requires that we have a sense of our own responsibility as the race of mankind for the mess of sin we are in.  There is such a thing as human solidarity, alike in creation, in fallenness, and in restoration.

5.  God may delay Christ's coming for benefit of grace and repentance, but as we participate in his work of grace we accelerate Christ's coming.  It is Christian listlessness, disobedience and lovelessness which wrongfully delay the coming of the day of God, which is the return of Christ, by hindering the fullness of his harvest.

6.  This is the 3rd time in this passage that Peter mentions the coming destruction by fire - God's "smoke test".  This must surely be reason enough to take notice of it.  The Christian who is living in touch with Christ can face the dissolution of all things without dismay - even with joy.

(Transitional Statement:  If only holiness will remain, then holiness is our only hope.)

 

The sixth way in which we must think rightly about Christ's return is to consider the present as:

VI.    A time to rekindle hope.

(v. 13) - read

(Functional Question:  Why must we consider the present as a time to rekindle hope?)  because:

          A.      God promised to renew his creation.  (We have hope because                 God promised.)

1.  The promise of Christ's return is a necessary event in the continuum of God's program that will ultimately result in the fulfillment of his promise to also renew his creation (Rev. 21:1-5).  The "Day of the Lord" can be used to refer to the entire period from the beginning of the tribulation to the end of the millennium at which point this total renewal will take place.

          B.      This renewed creation will be the home of righteousness for           God's holy people.  (We have hope because of what that promise                   contains.)

1.  We look forward to a home in which only righteousness dwells.  Righteousness is not at home in this present world.  Sin, which has marred God's creation, will not be permitted to have the final say.  Creation will be renewed, not abolished.  Paradise Lost becomes Paradise Regained and God's will shall eventually be done alike in earth and heaven - permanently.

2.  We have no concept of what this restored universe will be like, much less our resurrection bodies.  God has a future not only for our souls but for our bodies, not only for redeemed individuals but for a redeemed society.

3.  This is a profound reason for a profound hope.

(Transitional Statement:  If our hope is with God for eternity, then we must be assured of our relationship to him in order to realize that hope.)

The seventh way in which we must think rightly about Christ's return is to consider the present as:

VII.   A time to reassure our relationship to God.

(v. 14) - read

(Functional Question:  Why must we consider the present as a time to reassure our relationship to God?)  because:

          A.      God desires our fellowship.

1.  But only what is holy can be in fellowship with holy God.  Only righteousness will survive in the new heaven and new earth.  The words, "So then," puts the ball squarely in our court, making the transition from our hope to our conduct which hastens the day of that hope.  The look of hope must produce the life of holiness.  God has done everything possible for us to come into fellowship with him through the righteousness of Christ Jesus in whom we must remain hungering and thirsting for righteousness in order to be filled with the fellowship of God.

2.  It was this link between belief and behavior that the scoffers had broken.

          B.      This fellowship is only possible if we are at peace with God.

1.  Those who are at peace with God have put out of their lives the things he hates.  But it is not God who has hated us - it is we who have hated God and have been at war with him.  God took the first step of peace in a war he didn't cause when he offered Christ for our reconciliation.

2.  It is Christ who has made our peace but he will also confront us with the fruits of our occupation.  And how will he find us either in death or his coming?  Will we be able to stand?  Our relationship to Christ is both the initial and final thing in our Christian pilgrimage.  Confrontation with Christ will be our test, conformity with Christ will be our standard.  All through the ages, those who have their hope set on the returning Christ have lived holy, attractive lives.

3.  By allowing our minds to dwell on the return of Christ we will regain a sense of balance and proportion, however difficult our present circumstances, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will take root deeply in our hearts.

4.  The Christian life is like riding a bicycle.  Unless you keep moving, you fall off.  The scoffers stopped pedaling and fell off, thinking they had arrived.  The Christian life is a developing life, for it consists in getting to know at ever greater depth an inexhaustible Lord and Savior.

Conclusion

Repeat - Review - Restate

Timeless Truth:  Right thinking about Christ's return reassures us of its certainty and promotes our participation.

(1)     We are directed to recall the past.

(2)     We are directed to reconsider the future.

(3)     We are directed to repent.

(4)     We are directed to recognize the certainty of God's control.

(5)     We are directed to revive holiness.

(6)     We are directed to rekindle hope.

(7)     We are directed to reassure our relationship to God.

When should we get concerned about all of this?  The time is NOW!  The present is the only time we can redeem.  Christ bought it for us and he has chosen to share it with us.  James 4:14 compares our lives to a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Will we stand firm believing God that Christ will return, and will this prompt us to serve Christ with the time we have as if he were already here?  This certain fact of glory must surely enlist our participation with him to hasten the day through evangelism, prayer, and holy living.  As it says in 2Cor. 6:1-2;

          As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in          vain.  For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day     of salvation I helped you."  I tell you, now is the time of God's favor,          now is the day of salvation.

David and the Bethlehem Well

          In 2Sam. 23:13-17, David was holed up in the cave of Adullam while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.  The Philistine garrison held Bethlehem.  David longed for a drink of water from the well near the Bethlehem gate and spoke his wish out loud.  Three of his chief men, acting on their own, broke through the Philistine lines to bring him back his wish.  But he refused to drink it and poured it out as a drink offering before the Lord.  He realized it would not be right to selfishly partake of such a sacrifice bought at the risk of the blood of his men.

          It is Christ who more than risked but shed his blood on our behalf that we might drink deeply the sweet waters of salvation to satisfy our longing.  How shall we invest so great and precious a gift of love?  Shall we pour our lives out before him as a drink offering for the time he has bought us?  This time of eternity is a never ending supply and shall run as long as his provision is deep.  We fear not pouring ourselves out before him for as we empty he refills us to overflowing.  Let us spend our lives for him now and hasten his return for the joy of our lives.

          This story of David was told at the end of his account in 2Samuel even though it occurred early in his career.  Perhaps the reason for this was to show that his own life had indeed been poured out over his allotted time for the joy and expectation of his God.

Benediction

Titus 2:11-13


Sayings on Time

Time has been called a seamstress specializing in alterations.

When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.

Wisdom walks before it (time), opportunity with it, and repentance behind it.

Time may be a present ally but ultimately the future conqueror through death.

Time is so short to do something and so long to do nothing.

The "present" time is so called because it is a gift.

A stitch in time saves nine.  Present action has lasting impact.  We are to redeem time.

**Jesus Christ has bought us some time.  Perhaps we should use it (invest it) wisely.  Pour this investment out before the Lord as David did with the water his men brought him from Bethlehem with the endangerment of their own blood.  Jesus bought our time with his own blood.  We too must pour it out before him.

Plato says that time is a movable image of eternity, or the interval of the world's motion.  Time is an image on the continuum of God's plan.

As soon as time ends, eternity takes place.  The stream of time delivers souls daily into the boundless ocean of eternity.  We are now measured by time, hereafter by eternity.

Seneca said that time is the only thing that we can innocently be covetous of, and yet there is nothing of which we are more lavishly and profusely prodigal.

*Time is the cradle of hope, but the grave of ambition, is the stern corrector of fools, but the salutory counsellor of the wise; bringing all they dread to the one, and all they desire to the other.

An ancient custom put an hour-glass into the coffin of the dead to show their time had run out.  But what a useless notification!  Better to put it in the hands of the living.

The wealth of time is like gold in the mine, the gem in the pebble, the diamond in the deep.  The mine must be worked, the pebble ground and polished, the deep fathomed and searched.

The loss of time is like a jewelry hemorrhage - pearls from a necklace broken and slipping one by one into the deep.

*God is exceedingly frugal in dispensing time.  He never gives us two moments together nor grants us a second until he has withdrawn the first, still keeping the third in his hands so we are perfectly uncertain whether or not we shall have it.  To prepare for the last moment we must spend the others well - never expecting the next.  We dote upon this world as if it will never end and neglect the next as if it will never begin.

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