2 PETER 3:3-11.
THE CERTAINTY OF THE LORD’S COMING.
Have you ever been ridiculed for your Christian beliefs? Have you ever had people mock-scoff-make fun of Christianity?
What do you do in those situations? Do you ignore it? Do you just walk away? Or do you make some kind of response?
There is no easy answer to that. It all depends on the situation. In the Bible reading for today we see how the Apostle Peter responded when people were ridiculing his faith. This letter of Peter could well have been written today instead of almost 2,000 years ago. We can see from this letter that people haven’t really changed all that much over the centuries. People who scoff-mock Christianity are saying much the same kind of thing today as they said centuries ago. So that makes this letter from Peter very relevant for us today. Scoffing at –mocking-making fun of Christian teaching is not unique to today. It is not something that only happens today. There always have been and always will be those who ridicule Christianity and its teachings. That is what makes this passage relevant for us today.
Two kinds of sermons-fish and chips –easily digested; and steak and vegies-you have to chew on- because of the particular topic-this is a steak sermon- you are going to have chew/digest this sermon.
How long is soon? How soon is soon? Song, “Soon and very soon we are going to see the Lord” . So how soon is soon? Can you remember when you were a child and you asked your parents for something and they would say “soon”. Or perhaps you used that response to your own children when they wanted something.
So how “soon is soon”. That is basically what the early Christians were being asked about the Return of Jesus. The mocking question they were being asked was, ‘Where is this coming he promised? What they meant was, “You Christians say that Jesus promised to return, so then, where is he? What the mockers were implying was that Jesus wasn’t coming back.
Now this kind of mocking question wasn’t anything new. It was the kind of question that unbelievers have taunted God’s people down the centuries.
“Where is your God? “ they demanded of the Psalmist.
“ Where is the God of Judgement? They asked the prophet Malachi.
“Where is the Word of the Lord”, the prophet Jeremiah’s enemies asked him.
Now in asking that question they were implying that there was NO GOD and therefore no Word of God and that believers were just deluding themselves. This of course has been the standard tactic of non- believers down the centuries. Not very original.
Let’s have a closer look at what the sceptics were saying and how the Apostle responded to their claim that Jesus was not coming back.
1.Vs4:Their first argument was that the promise had been so long delayed that tt was safe to assume that it would never be fulfilled. In other words because it hadn’t happened, it wasn’t going to happen. So you might as well forget about it.-poor logic.
2.Their second argument 4b the world is going on precisely as it always has. They claimed that the world was stable and such an event as the Return of Jesus and the end of the world simply won’t happen.
The Apostle has a two fold answer. And he deals with their second argument first- ie that the world is stable and such upheavals just don’t happen on earth.
Peter refutes that claim by pointing out that the world has not always been stable- vs6-he reminds them of the great flood that destroyed the world at the time of Noah. And then he adds that a second great destruction- this time by fire- was on its way. He is arguing that since God had the power to create the world he also has the power to destroy it. The great flood showed what God was capable of doing. If he caused a great catastrophe in the past he could certainly do so in the future.
Vs8-9. here the Apostle tackles the first argument. The sceptics refer to the slowness of God to act-the long delay and claim that they can safely assume that Jesus is not going to return- that the Second Coming is not going to happen.
Well the Apostle has a two fold answer to that argument.
1.Wemust look at time from God’s perspective. Time is not the same for God as it is for us. He quotes psalm 90,”Wit God a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day”. We have a short term view of time whereas God has a long term view. Have you watched Dr Who? God is the original Time Lord because he is the Lord of time. So God’s plans are not affected by time as ours are. We only have a human life time to carry out our plans. But God has all eternity to carry out his.
So when it comes to how God works –we must forget our ideas of time. For Time does not limit God like it does you and me. God is not limited by time. He stands outside of time and sets the limits of time.
2. The Apostle Peter points out (verse 9) that there is a good reason for God’s apparent slowness to act- one that is for our benefit. God acts slowly because he is merciful. He withholds his hand of judgement to give unbelievers more opportunity to repent. So God’s delay is not because of his inability to act –BUT to give people more opportunity to come to their senses and repent-to give people more time to prepare for Christ’s Return.
What this means then is that we are to look on the extension of time that God gives
us as an opportunity to share or faith-the Good News of what Jesus has done for us. After all the Bible tells us that God wants all to be saved. So every day that we live- every day that we draw breath-is an opportunity to share the Good News about Jesus and his Return.
So “How Long is Soon?”. It may be SOONER than we think.
Finally we come to the Apostle’s conclusion. Read vs 11. “SINCE” –no doubt about it. It is a foregone conclusion.
The question is, “What kind of people should we be?” .
Peter also gives us the answer. “You ought to live holy and Godly lives. Lives that are committed/dedicated to serving God, We need to assess our values – to check that the values by which we live are Christian values and that we have not blindly taken on the values of this world. By this I mean the values that assume that this world is all that there is. And it is so easy to get caught up with and adopt those views.
Advent reminds us that we live in a world to which Jesus is returning-a world that has a limited shelf life. It reminds us that we want to make sure that we are ready to meet our Lord when he returns.
And if his Return is delayed, , remember that this is because God wants all people to have the opportunity to come to know him-to repent of their sins and enter into a new relationship with him. So that when -not if- but when our Lord finally returns
We may all go with him into the joy of eternal life.