What to Do Until the Lord Comes Back - Part 1
2 Peter 3:1-9
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - April 21, 2013
*Have you thought about the Lord coming back lately? -- We really should, you know, and not just because of what's going on in our world. We should be thinking about Jesus coming back, because He wants us to think about it.
*And one of the most important questions we can ask is this: "What should we do until the Lord comes back?" Tonight let's look at four answers from the Word of God.
1. First: We should stir-up our minds with Scripture.
*In vs. 1&2 Peter stressed this great purpose for his letters:
1. Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),
2. that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior,
*In vs. 1, Peter tells us that he wrote these letters to "stir up" our minds. This purpose was important to Peter, and we know this because he said basically the same thing back in chapter 1.
*The original word for "stir up" primarily means "to fully wake somebody from a sound sleep." It's the same word translated "awoke" in Mark 4:37-38. In that Scripture, Jesus was asleep in the boat with His disciples.
37. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.
38. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?''
*How do you think they woke Jesus up? Do you think they whispered, "Pssst, Jesus? It's time to wake up."? -- No! -- They cried out, "Jesus! Master! Teacher! Wake up! Don't you care? We are about to die!"
*This same passion was in Peter's heart when he tried to wake us up with God's Word. Peter knew how profitable God's Word is for our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
*Alton Coleman gave us a good summary of how God's Word is profitable for us:
-In James 1:22-25, the Bible is profitable as a mirror to see our spiritual lives.
-In Ephesians 6:17, it's the sword we can use to fight spiritual battles.
-In Psalm 119:105, it's a lamp to guide and direct us.
-In Matthew 4:4, God's Word is spiritual bread to strengthen and nourish us.
-And in 1 Peter 2:2, it's spiritual milk for growth and development.
*The Word of God is also profitable because:
-In 1 Peter 1:23, we are born again by the Word.
-In John 15:3, we are cleansed by the Word.
-In Psalm 19:7, we are made wise by the Word.
-In Psalm 19:11, we are warned by the Word.
-And in Psalm 119:103, we are satisfied by the Word. There the Bible says, "How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (1)
*What should we do until the Lord comes back? Stir-up our minds with Scripture.
2. And don't be sidetracked by scoffers.
*In vs. 3-6 Peter said we should be:
3. knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
4. and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.''
5. For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
6. by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
*Here Peter is warning us not to get side-tracked by the scoffers in our world. The scoffers of Peter's day at least acknowledged that God created the universe. Their great error was in denying God's judgment on the world by the great flood.
*The scoffers today have gone much farther, even denying that the world was created by God. Atheism has certainly been on the rise in our country over the last few years. Some of the best-selling books of recent years were written to promote atheism.
*Some of the titles include:
-"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins
-God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" by Christopher Hitchens
-"Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason" by Seth Andrews
-And "Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists" by Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins (2)
*James Merritt gives us this insight on the scoffers: "The last days are going to see people who will laugh and mock at those of us who take seriously the Word of God. They will make fun and call us 'flaming fundamentalists,' and 'Bible thumpers' who live our lives according to the fairy tale of a book that is out of date, old fashion, and obsolete."
*One reason why the scoffers refuse to believe in Christ's second coming is because they deny the fact of creation. James Merritt explained that "this world has concocted all types of elaborate evolutionary theories, replete with big bangs, primordial explosions, and even invasions from outer space to try to explain this world. But the Bible says very simply God spoke and this world came into existence." Hebrews 11:3 puts it this way: "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."
*But the scoffers refuse to believe. And James Merritt shows us "something very interesting about these people who would prefer to believe the fable of evolution, rather than the fact of creation. Peter makes it plain in vs. 5 that they 'WILLFULLY forget' that God created this world. In other words, theirs is not primarily a problem of the head. -- It is a problem primarily of the heart. . .
*You see, if this world is a created world, then there must be a Creator. If there is a Creator, then there must be an absolute standard of what is right and what is wrong, and therefore you cannot 'walk according to your own lusts,' you must walk according to His righteousness.
*And that is exactly what people do not want to do. (They deny God), because as one great philosopher once said: 'Without God, anything is permissible.'" (3)
*Stephen Hawking is a brilliant theoretical physicist, and one of the most famous scientists of our day. Sadly, he has been severely crippled by Lou Gehrig's disease for 50 years. But infinitely sadder is the fact that Stephen Hawking has rejected the reality that the universe was created by God.
*Last Tuesday, Hawking explained his atheistic view of the universe at Caltech. People lined up for a quarter mile to hear him speak. But no matter how popular their false ideas become. We must not be sidetracked by these scoffers. (4)
*There are a couple of ways scoffers could side-track our walk with the Lord. One is they could get us to buy-in to their disbelief.
*This is a big danger for our young people as they are saturated with the false science of evolution, not only in school, but also through virtually every science-related show they will ever see on TV. And the greatest danger seems to be when they run into the ultra-left professors who hold so many teaching positions in our colleges.
*If the scoffers could only see how blind they are to the truth. Famous unbeliever Robert Ingersol once visited Henry Ward Beecher and there saw a beautiful globe picturing the constellations and stars of the heavens. "This is just what I'm looking for," the skeptic said after examining it. "Who made it?"
*"Who made it?" replied Beecher in pretend astonishment. "Why Colonel, nobody made it, it just happened." (5)
*We must never buy-in to the scoffers' disbelief. And we must not be overly discouraged by their disbelief. These scoffers are tragic beyond measure, and the influence they have over our young people is abominable. But God is in control, and He always will be.
-The Lord is coming back! -- So don't be sidetracked by scoffers.
3. Instead, let's count on God's control.
 Remember that God's day of judgment is definite.
*As Peter said in vs. 5-7:
5. For this they (i.e. the scoffers) willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
6. by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
7. But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
*"Perdition" is spiritual, eternal ruin, or loss. "Perdition" is utter destruction. God surely judged the world with the Flood during Noah's day. And He will surely judge the world again with fire. James Merritt said: "This world that was created by God in the beginning, will be cremated by God in the end. This world did not come in with a big bang, but it is going out with one." (3)
*The Lord is coming back! -- So remember that God's day of judgment is definite.
 And remember that the clock is in God's control.
*Time is completely in God's hands. As Peter said in vs. 8: "Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
*What does this verse mean? One thing it certainly means is that God is in control of time. God created time. God is bigger than time! As Moses said in Psalm 90:4: "For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night."
*But what did Peter mean when he said, "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."? I agree with the Bible teachers who believe that this is a literal comparison that God designed the age of the world to correspond with the Biblical week of creation. So 6,000 years or six days would pass until the Lord returned. Then Jesus will reign for 1,000 years or one day on earth before the final rebellion and final victory over all sin.
*This view corresponds with God's Word in Revelation 20. Listen to vs. 1-6:
1. Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
3. and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
4. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
*So if the earth only 6,000 years old, how can we explain the apparent age of the earth? One way of explaining it is that the earth was created with the appearance of age, just as Adam and Eve were created with the appearance of age. But the important thing to remember here is that God is bigger than time.
*And the Lord is coming back! So count on God's control.
4. And keep sharing the good news of salvation.
*Peter gives us some amazing good news in vs. 9: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
 Good news church! Our Lord will perform every promise He has made to us.
*"The Lord is not slack" about His promise to return. The word picture is someone loitering, just hanging around, not taking care of business, always dragging in late. The Lord is not slack about His promise to return.
*For that matter the Lord is not slack about anything! He is always taking care of business, always on the job. And He will always keep His Word.
-Good News church! Our Lord will perform every promise He has made to us.
 And He has perfect patience.
*Peter also tells us this in vs. 9: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is LONGSUFFERING toward us."
*Now some of us are not very patient. We are reminded of this truth in a tongue-in-cheek prayer from a young wife named Jennifer. Here is Jennifer's prayer:
-"I pray for wisdom to understand my man.
-Love to forgive him.
-Patience for his moods.
-Because, Lord, if I pray for strength, -- I'll beat him to death." (6)
*Some of us are not very patient. And all of us could use some more patience. But the good news is that God can give us more patience! And we know that because He has perfect patience. That's what Peter is talking about in vs. 9, when he said the Lord "is longsuffering toward us." He is patient toward us. He doesn't lose heart. He is slow to anger.
*I often have thought back to the professor who told us about the word picture in the Old Testament for God's longsuffering. It's the picture of a long nostril or a long nose. And it seems silly to think of God walking around with this big, long nose. But the idea is that it takes a long, long time for the stench of our sin to go all the way up.
*Good News church! Our Lord has perfect patience. But we have got to be careful, because even God's patience has an end. We see this truth back up in vs. 7, where Peter said: "But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
*God's patience has an end, so the time to repent is now. The time to live for Jesus Christ is right now.
 But more Good News church! Our Lord has wants to save every soul.
*God's Word makes this absolutely clear in vs. 9, where Peter said: The Lord is "not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance."
*God wants everybody to go to Heaven by seeing themselves as sinners, and then by turning to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.
*How much does God want us to go to Heaven?
-So much that the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world to die for us.
-So much that Jesus, the Son of God left His throne in Heaven, and humbled Himself to become a man. He even humbled Himself to the cruel death of the cross. Jesus Christ took our guilt. And the Risen Savior will give us His righteousness, if we will receive it.
*How much does God want us to go to Heaven?
-So much that the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ is in the world today. And He comes to us, witnessing to us, convincing us that we need Jesus, convincing us that Jesus Christ will save our souls.
*Christians: That's how much God wants all people to go to Heaven.
-But how much do WE want other people to go to Heaven?
*This afternoon I had the privilege of taking part in the ordination service for Luther Sanson. And let me tell you, we all need the passion I saw in Luther's heart this afternoon.
*I saw it best when Luther mentioned the Boston Bombing this past Monday. Of course, most of us were glued to the news all week, and the bombing was on everyone's minds. On Wednesday, Luther didn't have time to eat lunch, so he went into a gas station to get a bite. Luther struck up a conversation with the man behind the register. He was obviously from another country, and told Luther that he was Muslim.
*Luther asked the young man what he thought about the bombing, and he replied that it was a terrible thing. (Most Muslims would agree.) Luther then began to talk to the young man about Jesus, and planted the gospel seed the best that he could. But as Luther recounted this conversation to us, his voice broke and he began to weep as he said, "I asked him if anyone else had ever talked to him about Jesus. And he said, "'No.'"
*What an indictment of us all, -- even more so, considering that this conversation took place in the shadow of a Baptist College. We all need the passion I saw this afternoon in Luther Sanson.
*The same Jesus who died on the cross for us rose again and returned to Heaven. And the same Jesus is certainly going to come back!
*What should we do until then?
-Stir-up our minds with Scripture.
-Don't be sidetracked by scoffers.
-Count on God's control.
-And keep sharing God's good news of salvation.
*Let's go to the Lord in prayer.
(1) SermonCentral sermon "God's Word Is Profitable" by Alton Coleman - Psalms 19:1-11
(3) Sermons.com sermon "You Can Take It to the Bank" by James Merritt - 2 Peter 3:1-10
(4) Stephen Hawking lays out case for Big Bang without God - By Rod Pyle - Space.com - http://science.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/17/17797756-stephen-hawking-lays-out-case-for-big-bang-without-god?lite
(5) Cross & Crown sermon "The Pre-eminence of Christ" by James McCullen - Col 1:15-17
(6) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Russell Brownworth