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What to Do Until the Lord Comes Back - Part 3

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What to Do Until the Lord Comes Back - Part 3

2 Peter 3:14-18

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - May 5, 2013

BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION:

*Do you believe that Jesus Christ is coming again? If we believe what the Bible says about Jesus, then we know that the Lord is coming back. What should we do until then?

[1] Last week we talked about helping people avoid the horrible judgment coming on the world.

*In vs. 10 Peter said:

10. The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

*Then in vs. 12 Peter said we should be:

12. looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

*Judgment Day is coming, but God wants people to escape. As we saw in vs. 9:

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.

*Until the Lord comes back, God wants us to do everything we can to help people repent and come to Jesus for salvation.

[2] Then in vs. 10&11, we saw that God wants all believers to commit to live in holiness.

*Peter put it as a question in vs. 11: "Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?" God wants all of us to live godly, holy, Christ-like lives. He wants us to live by His holy standards.

[3] We closed last week by seeing that God wants us to keep looking forward with God's sure hope.

*Three times in vs. 11-14, Peter told us to be "looking forward." And Christians, we can look forward with sure hope, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

*Tonight we will see 4 more things to do while we wait for Jesus to return. Let's begin by reading vs. 14-18:

14. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;

15. and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,

16. as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

17. You therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;

18. but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

*What should we do until the Lord comes back?

1. First: Rush toward righteousness.

*This is the message for us in vs. 14, where Peter said: "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, BE DILIGENT to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless."

*When Peter tells us to be found by Jesus "in peace, without spot and blameless," he is calling us to our best behavior. This is one of God's greatest desires for our Christian life.

*And there is urgency in those words "be diligent." The original word conveys the idea of using speed, not lollygagging around, but rushing to do something with intense eagerness.

*Abraham is a great example for us in rushing to do the right thing. In Genesis 22, God commanded Abraham to do the hardest thing he would ever have to do: Sacrifice his only promised son Isaac.

*Most men would have found every excuse in the book not to obey God's command. Most men would have delayed that heart-breaking task every way they could. But Genesis 22 says:

1. Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!'' And he said, "Here I am.''

2. And He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.''

3. So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

*Of course, the Lord God provided a ram in the thicket caught by his horns. It was always God's plan to provide the sacrifice we so desperately needed. And John 1:29 tells us that Jesus Christ is "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

*But back in Genesis 22, Abraham rushed to do what the Lord had commanded him to do. And Peter urges us to rush to do the right thing.

-What should we do until the Lord comes back? Rush toward righteousness.

2. And consider the longsuffering of the Lord.

*Always take into account the glorious truth in vs. 15 that "the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation."

*Christians: There is no doubt that God wants us to be on our best behavior. And this is one of God's greatest desires for our lives. Again, as Peter said in vs. 14: "Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless."

*Our good behavior is very important. But it is only the result of our salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10 says this to all Christians:

8. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

9. not of works, lest anyone should boast.

10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

*Good behavior is the fruit of our salvation. The root of our salvation is God's amazing grace. And God's amazing grace is best seen in the cross of Jesus Christ. As Hebrews 2:9 tells believers: "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, might taste death for everyone.

*The root of our salvation is God's amazing grace. This is why Peter was able to say in vs. 15 that "the longsuffering (or patience) of our Lord is salvation."

*In the Believers' Bible Commentary, William McDonald explains that God's "delay in judgment is to give men full opportunity to be saved. As we consider the multiplying wickedness of men, we often wonder how the Lord can put up with it any longer. His forbearance is astonishing. But there is a reason for it. He does not desire the death of the wicked. He longs to see people turn from their wicked ways and be saved." (1)

*"The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation." But in vs. 15 it's important to see that we should "ACCOUNT that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation."

*The original word translated "account" is found 28 times in the New Testament. Sometimes it is translated as "think," "count," or "suppose," but the idea behind this word is "leading, ruling, commanding, or controlling."

*Speaking of the prophecy that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, Matthew 2:6 says: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel." That word "RULER" in Matthew 2:6 is the same word Peter used when he said, "ACCOUNT that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation."

*The point is that with all of the evil, hardship, stress and pain in our world, it's easy for us to get distracted and discouraged. How are we going to keep from getting overwhelmed by all of the heartache in life? -- Let the truth of God's salvation control your thoughts.

*On October 8, 1871, Horatio Spafford was totally wiped out by the great Chicago Fire. Several months before that, his only son had died. Horatio was a successful attorney and a very godly man. He loved the Lord. He loved his wife. And he loved his four daughters: Maggie, Tanetta, Annie and Bessie.

*Horatio was also a close friend of the great evangelist D.L. Moody. Two years after the fire, Horatio planned a trip to Europe with his family. The trip was to coincide with one of Moody's crusades. But at the last minute, some important business delayed Horatio, so he put his wife and four daughters on the French liner Ville de Havre. Horatio planned to catch up with them 3 or 4 weeks later.

*The trip started out beautifully. But on the evening of November 21, 1873, the ship was suddenly struck by another vessel. It sank in two short hours. The four girls were swept from their mother's arms. And Mrs. Spafford was found nearly unconscious, clinging to a piece of the wreckage. Nine days later when the survivors landed in Cardiff, Wales, she cabled these two words to her husband: "Saved Alone."

*Horatio immediately booked passage to join his wife. On the way over, on a cold December night, the captain called him aside and said, "I believe we are now passing over the place where the Ville du Havre went down." Spafford went to his cabin, and in that sleepless night he found God's peace that passes understanding. Then he said to himself, "It is well; the will of God be done."

*Out of that experience Horatio Spafford wrote one of our favorite hymns: "It Is Well with My Soul." The second verse says:

-"Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

-Let this blest assurance control,

-That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

-And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

-It is well, it is well with my soul." (2)

*"Let this blest assurance control." -- That is exactly what Peter was trying to get us to do when he said "account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation."

*What should we do until the Lord comes back? Always take into account the longsuffering of the Lord.

3. And watch out where you walk.

*In vs. 15-17, Peter strongly confirmed the reliability of Paul's letters to the churches. But Peter also gave a strong warning about getting off the right path in life. Listen again to vs. 15&16, where Peter said:

15. and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,

16. as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

*Peter made a very important point in vs. 16 that parts of God's Word are hard to understand. So we don't need to feel bad when we don't understand things in God's Word. Parts of it were hard for Peter to understand too.

*The good news is that we don't have to understand it all!

-The good news is that God will help us understand more, when we study His Word and seek His guidance.

-The good news is that we can understand every part of God's Word we need to understand.

*In fact, the most important truths are easy enough for a child to understand. That's why in vs. 17 Peter could warn us about being led away from God's will for our lives. Here Peter said: "You therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked."

*Beware, watch out, be on guard so you won't "fall from your own steadfastness." Peter doesn't want us to fall off the right path in life. He doesn't want us to be led astray by people who want to lead us away from God.

*In vs. 17 from the NLT, Peter says: "I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends, so that you can watch out and not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people. I don't want you to lose your own secure footing."

*We need to make sure we are going God's way in life. And Peter warns us here, because sometimes it's easy to head off in the wrong direction.

*Todd Allen told about a school bus driver from Massachusetts. This poor lady got in a lot of trouble some years ago. It was the first day of her new job as a school bus driver. She took some wrong turns and before long that lady got so lost that she wound up in the state of Connecticut.

*Because she had already picked up ten kids on her route, an all-points bulletin was issued for her on charges of kidnapping. And, since she had crossed the state line, the FBI was called in. After finally locating the lady and questioning her, the police and FBI agents concluded that she had simply lost her way. So they released her.

*King Duncan compared that situation to life and said: "A few wrong turns, it happens in life. It happens to good people. A few bad judgments and suddenly you are lost and entangled. You are 'trapped in the weeds,' a golfer might say. Sometimes much is at stake: A marriage, your health, the safety of others." Make sure you keep going God's way. (3)

*What should we do until the Lord comes back? Watch out where you walk.

4. And keep growing in the grace of Jesus Christ.

*As Peter said in vs. 18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen."

-When is a Christian supposed to stop growing? -- Never.

-When is a Christian supposed to start growing? -- Right now.

*God wants us to start growing in grace from the moment we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. And sometimes we need to pick up the pace! I know I do.

[1] But how can we grow in grace? -- Surely one way is through the Word of God.

*That's why back in 1 Peter 2:1-3, the Apostle said:

1. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,

2. as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

3. if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

*How can we grow in grace? One way is through the Word of God, and there are other ways no doubt.

[2] But the unexpected truth on my heart today is how God can use hardship in our lives to help us grow in grace.

*That's why God's Word contains some Scriptures that may seem strange to us at first. For example, in Romans 5:3-4, Paul says that Christians:

3. . . also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;

4. and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

*And James 1:2-3 says:

2. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

3. knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

*How can we grow in grace? Certainly through the Word of God, but even through the trials we face in life.

*Maxie Dunham gave this testimony about a friend who was growing in grace. Maxie began by saying: "Grace comes to us in all sorts of ways. I had a marvelous visit this past week with Ernie Felts, a member of this congregation. Ernie has had a tough time of it, malignancy and extensive treatment for that, interrupted by back surgery.

*Ernie came to see me on Labor Day. In our conversation Ernie talked about all the people he had met during these months of suffering and illness, in the doctor's office, in the hospital, waiting for radiation treatment -- black, white, rich, poor. 'Our problems and sufferings,' Ernie said, 'is the common denominator that brings us together.' Then he added, 'the ground around the cross is always level.'

*Ernie has experienced grace extraordinaire. He brought me a letter which I didn't read until after our delightful hour's visit. Let me read you a part of Ernie's letter. 'When the world gets sorta heavy on me, God directs my mind to my cupboard of miracles and memories. There I receive sustenance for the present and nourishment for the future.

*What is in my cupboard? The Word of God, the Bible, and miracles, miracles of God that I have seen happen to others that I know personally, and miracles that have taken place in my life.'" (4)

*Church: These are just some of the things that can help us keep growing "in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

CONCLUSION:

*So, what should we do until the Lord comes back?

-Rush toward righteousness.

-Always take into account the longsuffering of the Lord.

-Watch out where you walk.

-And keep growing in the grace of Jesus Christ.

*"To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen!"

*Let's go to the Lord in prayer.

(1) "Believer's Bible Commentary" by William McDonald - Edited by Arthur Farstad - Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Copyright 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald - 2 Peter 3:1-18 - "The Rise of Scoffers Predicted"

(2) James S. Hewett, "Illustrations Unlimited" - Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988 - pp. 243-244 - Source: "Bible Illustrator for Windows" - Topic: Love - Subtopic: Of God - Index: 2206 - Other Topic: Adversity2902 - Date: 71996.776 - Title: "Saved Alone" - Other source: SermonCentral illustration contributed by Adam Cruse

(3) Pastor Todd W. Allen - www.firstpcavillarica.org/Sermon Notes/THE LAMP WITHIN.htm - Source: Sermons.com sermon "Pulling Weeds" by King Duncan - Matt 13:24-30, 36-43 - 2008

(4) Adapted from Sermons.com sermon "Through God's Breathed Word" by Maxie Dunnam - 2 Timothy 3:10

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