On Sabbath we concluded our series on 2 Peter with his final appeal for a stronger perseverance and hope in the Day of the Lord. Peter opens the final part of his letter with an admonition to remember the words of the Old Testament prophets and the commands of Jesus. (See 2 Peter 3:1-2.) This was a warning to wake up and remember what is important. Repetition deepens the impression. We need to remember what we know because of how easily we forget.
In addition to forgetfulness, we sometimes crave for something new or novel. Our problem isn’t that we’ve heard the same things too much, it’s that we’ve done too little with the things we’ve heard. Those who are constantly seeking for something novel and unique often end up like the scoffers Peter warns about, who twist the scriptures to their own destruction.
Rewind to 2 Peter 3:3-4 and Heb. 1:2. The “last days” Peter refers to takes in the entire Messianic Age that began with Christ’s first coming, inaugurating the Kingdom of Grace, and ending with Christ’s second coming, bringing in the Kingdom of Glory. The time elapsing between the two kingdoms is called “the last days.”
The scoffers had two arguments: 1) the promise had been delayed so long it was safe to say it would never be fulfilled; 2) Their “fathers” (or ancestors the OT prophets) had long-since died and the world was stable as always. Catastrophes like the second coming didn’t happen in a stable universe.
Peter tackles the second argument first in verses 5-7. First, they “deliberately forget” an important fact about creation—by God’s word the world was created (Psa. 33:6); and by His word, it was destroyed by the flood. If God’s word can create, it can also destroy. A stronger hope in Christ’s coming depends on stronger trust in God’s Word—not in time.
Human beings are bound by time; God is not. To that point, Peter references Psalm 90:4: “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.” The scoffers are making their case based on what they themselves are limited by. Jesus is not limited by time, space, or death, and He is always on time. Jesus never stated the exact time He’d return. (See Acts 1:7; Matt. 24:36.) You can’t be late if a time was never given.
The reason God waits is because of love (see 2 Peter 3:9). The Lord has not returned for one simple reason—God loves sinners and wants to save as many as He can. God is in the saving business, which is to be our business. A stronger hope in Christ’s coming will create in you a stronger love for the lost. If the Lord we follow doesn’t want anyone to perish, we shouldn’t either.
Having dealt with the theological issues, Peter gets to the practical implications of the Day of the Lord. “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (2 Peter 3:11, 12)
Here’s the “So What” to our belief in the 2nd coming. Jesus is coming back and everything’s going to burn—so what? How then should you live? How does this hope in Christ’s coming affect how you live today? Peter says, “live holy and godly lives.” A stronger hope means living like you’re leaving! What does that look like? Verse 14: “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” This takes in everything Peter has written in both of his letters. Rewind to 1 Peter 1:1, 2, 13, 15, 22; 2:1, 5, 9, 12 17, 21; 3:8, 9, 10-11, 14, 15; 4:10, 19; 5:7, 9; 2 Peter 1:10, 4; 5-7; 2:1-22.
This is how we’re to live “as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” Can we really speed Christ’s coming, given what Peter said in verses 8, 9? Yes. If God wants everyone to come to repentance, then His coming can be hastened by repentance. And Holy living is the fruit of repentance.
A stronger hope should create in you a stronger desire to repent and open the door to Jesus. Sin will not be rescued when Christ comes again, only faith will. And that faith will be rewarded. “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” (vs. 13) Jesus is coming again. There’s no doubt. He’s not slow in keeping his promise, but He’s waiting for us to open the door all the way. But He won’t wait forever.
Peter ends his letter with three final admonitions for those who wait.
- Remember what you know (vs. 17)
- Be careful against error and falling from your secure position.
- Keep Growing. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)
Never stop growing in Jesus. Why? Because He alone is “able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24) Growing in Jesus is how Hope Wins, and how, in these last days, we grow stronger. –Pastor Randy