Why_Hasn't_Jesus_Returned 030407pm _(7_of_9)
Why Hasn't Jesus Returned?
II Peter 3:1-9
Peter has moved now from that rather severe second chapter where he deals with the false prophets to consider again truths which are precious to the hearts of God's people. He begins this third chapter by saying, "This is now, beloved, the second letter…” You see the word “beloved.” He's talking about saved people.
Four times in this third chapter he uses the word "beloved." So he has now returned to the people of God. Having dealt with false teachers, he is back now talking to God's people about precious truths. He reminds us and wants us to remember why he's writing this letter.
He says to us, "I'm writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind byway of reminder.” He is saying that I want you to remember some things, and I am going to arouse you, I am going to awaken you.
God's people need to be constantly aroused and awakened especially in those places where the Word of God is consistently taught. It is possible for people who consistently hear the teachings of the Bible to develop a kind of spiritual lethargy. They can grow so accustomed to hearing the truth that they are not stirred and moved by the truth as much as they should be.
The Bible warns us that it is possible to become so accustomed to the truth that it doesn't stir you, and there is the possibility that the truth will be taken away from you.
In Amos 8:11-12, it says, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord; And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it."
If we do not value that which is precious, then God says that we run the danger of it being taken away from us. So he is saying here, "My job is to stir you up."
My job as your pastor is to never, ever let you go to sleep on the truths of God's Word. I am to arouse you. I am to awaken you, and I am to keep you stirred up.
There is probably no truth so designed to awaken and arouse God's people as the truth of the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the first truths a young Christian needs to hear is the truth that Jesus Christ is going to come again. There is nothing that will excite you and there is nothing that will keep you on fire in your faith in the Lord as the truth that one day Jesus Christ is going to come again.
So this is the theme of the verses that we have just read. It is the theme of the coming again of Jesus.
There are three primary words that are used to refer to the return of our Lord. One of the words is the word "appearing." Hebrew 9:28, says, "And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
The second word is the word "revelation." In II Thessalonians 1 it talks about when He will be revealed from heaven with fire and with His holy angels.
But it is also referred to as a "coming." That's the word that is used here in verse 4, "The promise of his coming." The word there was used to describe the coming of a king, a king who would come and make a visit. Emphasis was placed upon his personal presence, that they would get to see him in person.
The Bible talks about the return of the Lord, and it uses the word "coming." It means a personal return. We are not so much wrapped up in an event as we are wrapped up in a person.
These families when their loved ones have gone out to sea for a period of time and have gone to war for a time, they go out to port; and when the ship comes in, they are there to greet them. They don't go there and kiss the ship. They kiss their loved one who has arrived on the ship.
We are not looking for just an event, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are looking for the return of a person. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is going to come again.
That brings up a question, doesn't it? The question is, "If Jesus Christ is going to come again, then why hasn't He come?" It's been 2000 plus years now since Jesus came the first time. These writers of the New Testament, many of them surely believed that Jesus Christ was going to return in their lifetime. Yet, now 2000 years have passed, and He did not come in their lifetime. He has not come so far in our lifetime. So the question arises, "Why has Jesus not returned?" That's what I'm going to try to answer for you tonight.
I. His Coming Is Declared.
Let's talk about the coming of the Lord as we work through these verses. I want to talk to you first of all about His coming is declared. It is the teaching of the Bible that Jesus is going to come again.
Peter says in verses 1 and 2 that this coming of the Lord has been declared by the holy prophets. They predicted it. It has also been declared by the apostles. They proclaimed it. The holy prophets predicted that Jesus was going to come again. He says, "the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets."
We are in the book of Isaiah on Wednesday nights. I would encourage you to come hear these studies in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah and other prophets in the Old Testament predicted the first coming of the Lord, and they also predicted the second coming of the Lord. In fact, they many times saw those two events as one event. They talked about the first coming and the second coming virtually in the same sentence and in the same breath. So the Old Testament prophets said that He is going to come again.
Let me give you a few verses.
In Jude 14 it says, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints."
Job predicted the coming of the Lord. Job said, "For I know that my Redeemer lives and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth."
Zachariah, the Old Testament prophet, predicted He would come again. He said, "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives will cleave in the midst thereof, toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley, half of the mountain will remove from the north and half toward the south." So they predicted that Jesus was going to come again.
Then Peter says the holy apostles, he, and the other apostles predicted that Jesus was going to come again. John the beloved apostle said in I John 2:28, "And now, little children, abide in him, that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming."
The Apostle Paul predicted the coming again of Jesus. First Corinthians 1:7, says, "So that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
So the Old Testament prophets predicted He was going to come. The New Testament apostles proclaimed Jesus Christ is going to come. In fact, Jesus Himself promised that He was going to come. Look at the fourth verse of this chapter. It says, "Where is the promise of his coming?" That is, Jesus promised He was going to come.
Jesus is a man of sacred honor. He is going to do what He promised He would do. He's already done that thus far. Next Sunday morning we will celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. You may recall that when the Lord Jesus Christ was raised again from the dead, the announcement was made, "He is not here. He is risen as He said." That means that He kept His promise that He would be raised again from the dead. He did what He said He would do about His resurrection. He's going to do what He said He would do about His coming again.
I heard about a little boy who had been on a trip and came to the bus station. He was sitting and waiting for his father to come and pick him up. It became nighttime, and it was time to turn off the lights in the bus station, and the father hadn't come. So the bus manager said to the little boy, "Son, are you sure that your father is going to come again?" The little boy said, "Yes, sir, I know my daddy's coming for me. He said he would and he always keeps his word."
Jesus always keeps His Word. He's kept His Word to me. He's kept His Word to you.
So we have the prediction here, the declaration that the Lord Jesus is going to come again. His coming again is declared.
II. His Coming Is Denied.
Now we move down into the third verse, and we pick up again the theme here of the coming of the Lord, and we see His coming is denied. In fact, He said that in the last days there will be scoffers, literally scoffing after their lusts. These scoffers will say, "Where is the promise of his coming?"
A scoffer is someone who makes light of what should be taken seriously. These are not uneducated people here. These are highly intelligent people. You can almost hear the sneer in their voice. "Well, where's the promise of His coming? You Christians are all the time talking about the promise of His coming. Where is it?"
The Bible predicts those scoffers, by the way. In Matthew 24:11, Jesus said, "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many."
The Apostle Paul in Acts 20:29, said, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."
Again, Jude, verse 18, says, "How they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts."
The Bible predicted that one of the signs of the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ would be scoffers who would mock the coming of the Lord Jesus. So every time you encounter somebody who makes fun of the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ, you just know you've seen another sign that the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed going to come again.
Look at these scoffers and what they do. Why do they deny that Jesus Christ is going to come again? There are two basic reasons. One of the reasons the scoffers make fun of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is due to intellectual considerations. Some deny the coming of the Lord on the basis of intellectual matters.
It says in verse 4, "And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of the creation." What you have here is a theory of the universe. It is a theory of the universe in which we live. What they are basically saying is that since the fathers died, all things are as they are now. Everything is just like it's always been. Their logic is that He hasn't come; therefore, He's not going to come.
That doesn't make a lot of sense when you think about it. That's faulty logic. Just because something hasn't happened doesn't mean it's not going to happen. I have never broken my leg; therefore, I will never break my leg. That's not good logic.
There are some people who say, "Well, He hasn't come so He will never come." That is not good logic. But that is an intellectual view of the whole universe known as the doctrine of uniformitarianism which means that the key to the present is the past, that everything is just exactly like it has always been. It is the view that we are living in a closed universe, that our universe came into existence; and if there was a God who did it, and most of those who take this view don't even believe in that, but if there was a God, He just walked away and took His hands off of it. Now we live in a closed system that everything operates on the basis of the laws of nature and nothing ever changed. Miracles do not occur and God certainly does not intervene Himself into the flow of history and the things that take place in the natural world.
That is the view that many people hold today. That's the basis, by the way, for the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution is based on the fact that there is no divine God who intervenes.
I personally believe that when you came into existence, you came in as a direct result of the will of God who brought you into existence. God intervened in that situation. You were conceived. You are not an accident. You are not here because of the flow of natural laws or some evolutionary process. You are here because God ordained and stepped into the affair and brought you into existence.
That's why I'm against abortion. It is a failure to recognize that there is a God who is in control of His universe.
Miracles do occur. God has intervened in history. Two thousand years ago God became a man and was born into this universe and died on a cross to do something about the sin problem; and then when they buried Him in the tomb, three days later God intervened again in history, and what could not occur humanly speaking, occurred divinely speaking, and Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. But they deny all of that for intellectual reasons.
Not only do they deny it for intellectual reasons, they deny that Jesus is coming again for moral reasons. Verse 3 says, "Know this first of all, that in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts," walking after their own desires, their own passions. In other words they have moral reasons for unbelief.
Here's the way it works. If we are living in a closed universe and God has nothing to do with it, that simply means then that there are no real moral absolutes. There are no rights and there are no wrongs. If Jesus Christ is not coming again, that means that there is not going to be a day of judgment whereby we will give an account to the God of this universe; and, therefore, if there is no God, no Jesus Christ, if there is no day of judgment, there are no absolute standards of right and wrong, which means then that you are free to live according to your own lusts, according to your own passions, according to your desires. You are accountable to no one for your behavior.
This is a little tricky to understand. But this is very important for us to understand in our culture. It is the basis for much of the lack of moral standards we are experiencing in our day. We are basically being told that people just set up their own standards of right and wrong and that they become their own gods and become their own standards. They walk according to their own lusts.
When you read many of the intellectuals and philosophers and atheistic scientists of our day, you will find that they have an agenda for the things that they believe. For instance, let me just read a quotation from Huxley, who was one of the atheists along the way.
He describes and discusses why he believed the things he believed about no God and no Creator. He said, "I have motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning. For me, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political." Do you catch what he's saying? He's saying, "I had a reason not to believe that there was a Creator God. I had to get rid of God so that I could live the way I wanted to live and not be afraid I was going to have to be accountable to some god."
Every time you find a scoffer, you will find a sinner. Scoffing and sinning are Siamese twins. These people who have intellectual difficulties, supposedly, about their belief in the existence of a God, many times have that view because they want to excuse their own sinful behavior. Most of their objections to the Christian faith are bred in the filth of an immoral life. The scoffer, more often than not, has the devil's initials carved in his heart. He has a moral reason why he doesn't want to believe that Jesus is coming again.
III. His Coming Is Defended.
The coming of the Lord is declared. The coming of the Lord is denied. Now, the coming of the Lord is defended. It gets very interesting here.
In verse 5 and following Peter sets forth the reasons why Jesus Christ has not come again, and he sets forth the reasons why people should receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. He does it by two historical illustrations. Then he gives a theological consideration.
Let's look first of all at the historical reason. He says in verse 5, "For this they willingly are ignorant of this." In other words they are not ignorant because they haven't looked into it, but they have purposely not looked into it.
We are in a battle today about the whole matter of Creationism verses Evolution. There are those who do not want Creationism taught in the schools. In fact, the big battle now is going on between what's known as "Intelligent Design" and Evolution. Those who claim to be so open minded and those who claim they want all views to be presented and to let people make up their minds on the basis of the information received are so adamant in saying, "We do not want students to be taught that there is some kind of intelligent design behind the creation of the universe."
I read a Gallop Poll has said that 81 percent of the teenagers of America believe that there is a God somehow who was involved in the creation of the universe. Congratulations to the teenagers. They've got more sense than some of the professors have.
He talks about the creation here. He says in verse 5, "For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water." He's talking about the creation.
When God created the universe, it says in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form." Literally, the earth became without form and was void. So God stepped into the chaos and spoke the word and separated the waters above from the waters beneath, and the world came into existence by a direct creation of God. It was done by the Word of God.
Take your Bible and read Genesis 1 and find out how many times it says, "God said. God said. God said." This whole creation came because God said it. All God had to do was just say it.
You say, "How long did it take God to say it?" God doesn't stutter when He speaks. When God said, "Light," there was light that very instant. It didn't take 10,000 years for it happen. It happened instantly when God said it. When God says for something to happen, it happens.
God created our universe by the Word of God. Notice that he not only mentions creation, but he mentions the flood. God intervened in the creation. God also intervened in the flood.
Verse 6 says, "through which the world at that time..." Notice, in this third chapter Peter makes reference to three worlds.
- In verse 6 he talks about the world that "the world at that time." That's the past world.
- Then in verse 7, he talks about “the present heavens and earth.” The now world is the present world.
- In verse 13 he talks about the prospective world. "But according to his promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."
There was a past world. There is a present world. There's going to be a future world.
You say, "My gracious, where did a lowly Galilean fisherman get stuff like that?" God revealed it to him. That's where he got it. You would be amazed what God can do to people who surrender their minds and their hearts and their lives to Him.
He talks about the flood. He says, "through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water." The word overflowed is where we get our English word cataclysm. The flood was a cataclysm. The flood was a divine intervention. God stepped into the created order in order to judge the godlessness of Noah's day.
There were scoffers in that day. There were people who made fun. Noah said that there's going to be a flood. They said, "There's never been a flood. There's never going to be a flood. There's never been any rain; therefore, there's never going to be any rain." They made fun of the possibility of a flood.
Yet one day from the heavens there came a drop of water. Someone said, "What's that?" Rain. The Bible said that the waters above, that the floodgates of heaven, began to open up and the waters from beneath were broken up and before they realized it, the whole world was caught up in a cataclysmic flood.
There is geological evidence to support the fact that God did just exactly what the Bible said He did. If God says in it the Bible, you can just mark it down; and when science finally catches up with the Bible, they will be just exactly where the Bible is on every issue.
The flood came and it destroyed the world. But in verse 7 it says, "But by His word the present heavens and the earth are being reserved.” God spoke the world into existence, but now it says, "The present heavens and the earth are now being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men."
What he's saying is that God intervened in the past with water in the flood. Now he says there is going to be a future day when God will intervene, but this time it will be with fire. When we read down through these verses and as we move on down in the next message in II Peter, you are going to find some of the most remarkable statements you will ever find in the Bible, which approximate exactly what we know today in atomic theory.
Look at what he says. He says that this whole universe is reserved unto fire. What he's saying is that the whole universe is on fire.
The Greek word from where we get our English word atom is a word that means "nothing smaller." It was believed in the days of the Greeks that there was nothing smaller than one piece of matter. So they called it an "at tom." It couldn't be broken down.
Of course, we know now that that's not true. In 1939 two German immigrants in Denmark discovered that the nucleus of the atom is filled with fire. They discovered that if you could somehow open up that atom you could unleash unbelievable power in this world. They discovered what we now know to be true, that the whole universe is on fire.
The heavens and the earth are filled with fire. The atmosphere is filled with fire. Every material thing you see is filled with fire. That carpet is filled of fire. Those pews are filled with fire. Your garments are filled with fire. Everything is full of fire.
One of these days, the Bible says that God is going to take His hands off the lid of the universe. It's all being kept in store. It's all being reserved right now. But one day the Bible says that the Lord is going to let loose this fire, and you will see in verse 10 what's going to happen. That will be the next message. You will need to hear it.
In verse 8 he talks a little theology. He says, "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”
He's using a figure of speech here. Some people have misinterpreted passages in the Bible on the basis of this right here when they try to take a thousand years and make it equal something. He uses the language of comparison here. "One day with the Lord is as a thousand years. A thousand years with the Lord is as one day." What he's trying to say is that God is not limited to time.
Have you ever studied time? What an amazing subject is time. It's not as simple as it may sound.
It's saying here that God is in the eternal now. You say, "Do you understand that?" No, I don't understand it. But the Bible says that God is eternal. He is not restricted by time. God sees everything as one event. God sees everything as one second.
When he says this here, he is saying, "God is not restricted to time." He is above time. In heaven there are no clocks. In heaven there are no calendars. God is never late. He is always on time because the God who is above time is the God who can act in time. It's saying that it's been 2,000 years. That's to our way of thinking.
Did you know that in different parts of the universe time is measured in different ways? That's why some people get messed up with the 24 hour days of creation in Genesis 1. But you measure time in different parts of the universe in different ways.
For instance, they tell me that theoretically you could get in a rocket ship and could take a 10-year journey out into space and back. You theoretically would be 10 years older, but your wife would be 24 years older. Or if you decided to take a 20-year trip out in space and back, by the time you got back you would be 20 years older. She would be 270 years older. Or, theoretically, if you decided to go out for 40 years and come back, she would be 36,000 years older. Time is measured in different ways.
But in God's mind there are no restrictions of time. He can come in an instant, in a second, in a thousand, two thousand, three thousand years. It doesn't matter with the Lord. He can come in an instant.
The question then arises, "Why hasn't He returned then?" Look at verse 9, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
The fact that Jesus Christ has not returned is not due to the slowness of God. It is due to the goodness of God. God is saying, "I don't want anybody to be lost. I'm not willing that any should perish. It is not My will that any one perishes."
Negatively, it is not the will of God that any perish. But positively, in I Timothy 2:4, He said, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." That's what God's will is. Well, then what's the problem? The problem is not with God's will. The problem is with man's will. Your will.
If you are in this building and you are lost, it's not because God doesn't want you to be saved. One time Jesus said, "I would, but you would not." The problem is your will. You have to say, "I will arise and come to Jesus." You have to decide yourself. You make the choice.
God's giving you another opportunity. God is giving you another time to be saved.
Notice that He is not willing that any should perish, "But for all to come to repentance." The word "come" means to make room for. It's saying to get rid of the pride in your heart. Make room for repentance. That means that if you will admit to God that you are a sinner and admit to God that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and make room for repentance and turn from your sin and by faith will turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says that whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
So the days tick by. Jesus tarries His coming that you might have another opportunity. You're in this building this morning, and you are breathing and you have your right mind. God is saying, "I've given you one more opportunity to be saved."
Let's bow our heads in prayer.