Waiting for the Return
One of the things I have learned in life is the hardest times in life are often the wait between knowing what you want and getting it.
Engagement was probably the hardest time. You love this person and want to spend the rest of your life with her, but you are not there yet.
There are other ways we have to wait for the Lord too. The past year we had to wait for our house to sell. We knew we wanted to sell it but we had to live the in between where were constantly keeping the house clean, hearing from realtor and waiting for the right person to come along. We had that when we felt God calling us here to Bridgeway. We wanted to come, you wanted us to be here, but we had to wait… forever to get here. Kids, you might think of this when you get a Christmas present, you know what it is and you want to have it right now, but you have to wait for everyone else to open their present before you get your.
We are in week 8 of our discovering Christianity series, and have talked about how God is working to redeem the world. That work culminates in Jesus Christ. Jesus lives a perfect life, dies for our sin, and promises to make all things right in the world. He promises those who trust in him will spend eternity in a new heaven and earth. But we’re not there yet.
Next week we take a closer look at the new heavens and earth. This week we look at the inbetween time we are living, where something has been promised but not yet realized.
This text this week is 2 peter 3:1-11. Peter was one of the original 12 disciples and an eyewitness to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Peter was so afraid when Jesus was arrested that he three times denied that he even knew Jesus. He wept bitterly and when Jesus had risen from the dead, Jesus forgave and restored Peter, commissioning him to be the leader of the disciples. Peter – the same frightened Peter who had denied Jesus – now boldly preached about Jesus and his resurrection.
Toward the end of Peter’s life he wrote letters to strengthen and encourage the churches that had been started. Today we’re going to read from his 2nd letter. Peter likely wrote this from a Roman prison around 67 or 68 AD, shortly before his death.
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:1-18 ESV)
There are a few ways this passage instructs us to live now. Right now we...
- Faithfully Endure Hardship
We learned in week 2 that we are not in paradise any more. Nothing like a committed follower of Christ, writing from a prison cell to prepare you to endure hardship! We live in a time when people do wrong. V 17 mentions lawless people, those who do wrong and hurt others.
There is a curse for sin. There is much rebellion and rejection. You might think that coming back to God means that life will be easy. Serve God and he will make things go well for you. Give God his and he will give you yours. That is not the life Jesus lived. It is not the life he called us to.
There are going to be hardships and sacrifices in this life. Do you want a promise of God to live by. There you go. Life will be hard. I find that promise almost but not quite as comforting as knowing “his grace is sufficient.” It's helpful because if you don't expect life to be hard you are devastated when it comes. You feel like, “Whoa, what happened to me. What did i do wrong!?” Life will be hard. Scoffers will come.
Some hardships come in the form of scoffers (3:3). Scoffers do not just reject the truth but they ridicule those who accept it. They are on the attack. Scoffers are those who make fun of others. They are not concerned with truth or other people, but themselves. You hear this in many different ways.
-When is Jesus going to return? People been waiti’n for him for 2,000 years and aint nothin happened.
-Why won’t you have sex outside of marriage? Everyone else is doing it.
-You just do whatever it takes to get that promotion and don’t worry about what happens to others? It just business.
I was talking to a guy recently and he was telling me about a point in his career when his boss told him that his team would be meeting at an adult club. He told the boss he would not be attending and that it was a bad idea it was to go there. His comments were not appreciated and refused to go. I asked him if it hindered his work and career. He said it absolutely did, but I don’t care. I wasn’t about to give in. His boss scoffed at his devotion.
Last week senator Bernie Sanders brought harsh criticism to the potential deputy White House budget director, Russell Vought, who is an evangelical Christian. Sanders questioned Vought on his beliefs in the exclusive claims of Christianity. Sanders concluded saying Vought’s “ beliefs are indefensibly hateful and insulting, and not what this country is supposed to be about.” Sanders scoffs at the biblical teaching and shows how intolerant the demand for tolerance is today.Sanders believes the world needs to be saved from theists.
There will be scoffers and we need to give a response to them. Indefensibly hateful because we believe there is more than what this world has to offer, indefensibly hateful because we believe the one and only Son of God came to show the way, indefensibly hateful because we believe in conquering unbelievers not with force but with the love of God.
In this time there are scoffers and also false teachers (2:1). These twist what the word of God says. They teach things that are not true. Many of these will come in the guise of God’s people. There have always been false teachers and false prophets, speaking what they want to hear and believe rather than what God has said. They also follow sensual desires (v2). They want what feels good in the flesh. They follow in the footsteps of Satan who distorted God’s word to Adam and Eve in the garden. It has always been this way and it continues on, until Christ returns.
Fathers teach your kids to endure hardships. Give them an example of enduring. Let them know the challenges you face. Let them know you worry about but that you are also trusting. Don’t let them think that if something goes poorly then they must have done something wrong. Show them how your faith prepares you for hardship and propels you to keep going. Even when it is hard! Give them an example of one who doesn’t give up!
We live by …
- Devotedly Waiting for the Lord.
AS we endure we wait… We live by faith in the Lordship of christ and his coming salvation and judgment. We have to wait for that, and we have to wait for the Lord in many other ways. Waiting for the Lord is one of my least favorite things to do. Waiting requires a posture of dependence. Waiting for the Lord is that frustrating, even agonizing time, that lies between the moment we first desire something and the moment we actually receive it.
In his first coming Jesus made a way for people to be reconciled to God. It is in his second coming he brings all things to account. His second coming is referred to in the Bible as the day of the Lord. This is when he will judge the world, judgment and destruction of the ungodly. He will bring evil down and uphold those who do right. As you endure hardship and evil people you may wonder where is God.
"Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespected hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. " Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Don’t open the fruit before it is ready! We have to learn to wait for things, and learning to wait produces something good in us. We have to embrace this time. Don’t question God’s activity or his pace. Sometimes we think God needs to get there quicker.
WE wait for him. We wait for his judgment. As we endure hardship we want wrongs righted right away. We have to wait. And we will all have reasons to struggle with waiting. For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.v4
v7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. Now is the time we have to wait for him to make things right. It doesn’t always happen in this life. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
When it takes someone a long time to show up, or when you see people do wrong and not suffer, you start to lighten up on your devotion and commitment.
Ill: Boss, teacher.
Don't grow weary. Don’t give up. Don’t think it doesn’t matter.
Remember God’s past judgment (v6) speaks of God’s judgment during the flood with Noah. God said he was going to destroy the world because of sin. He decided to rescue of few through Noah. People ridiculed Noah for believing what God had said right up to the day of judgment. The same will happen with Christ’s return.
How then shall we live? V11 says lives of holiness and godliness.
We remember that we were created to serve God and we live for that purpose. We were created to glorify him, not ourselves. We live everyday in preparation for that final test.
Our devotion leads to a commitment to live how God calls us to live. Holiness(1) of things set apart for God's purpose dedicated, sacred, holy ( MT 4.5), opposite koino,j (not consecrated, common); We do not live for just any old common purpose. We do not follow the ways of the world. (2) of persons holy, pure, consecrated to God. Godliness v11. appropriate beliefs and devout practice of obligations relating to supernatural persons and powers.
The great reformation preacher Martin Luther said this in reference to God’s judgment, “There are two days in my calendar: This day and that Day.”
If you have a test coming up you prepare for that test. You do what the teachers has said. So also as we wait for a day of judgment.
Dad’s teach your kids what it means to faithfully wait on the Lord. To live each day for God and not for other people, committed to a life of holiness and faithfulness. Pastor Robert Murray McCheyne said the “ "The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” What’s true for pastors is true for any leader, and for any parent. They don’t most need your money. They need your example. Teach them what it means to wait, to trust, to hope, to be holy.
- Diligently Study His Word.
Peter writes to exhort his readers to remember. (v1-2) He wants this to be bright in their minds. Usually, someone will tell us to remember something because the listener is likely to forget. The same is true with us. Peter wants us to remember something because we are likely to forget.
I hear Remember and I remember my dad telling me to remember things. Remember your homework. Remember your assignments. Remember what you are supposed to do. When something is important and we are prone to forget.
What does he want us to remember? “… the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles…” What does this mean?
A simple way to understand this is the whole word of God. This is how we know God, his promises, and what he requires.
Good friends, true friends, the best of friends remind you of things like reading your Bible! Great small groups do things like this.
Stats on the Bible. 4 billion copies printed and sold globally in the last five decades. Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-tung was No. 2 (820 million copies), followed by The Harry Potter series (400 million copies), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (103 million) and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist (65 million).The Bible is the most popular book in the world… and likely the most neglected book in the world.
So many people have Bible in their homes and on the shelf, but we need the Bible in our heart. The only way it gets their is by reading and marinating in it.
This also gets at how to prepare for the day of the Lord. We are to live holy lives. We are to live without blemish. The only way to do this is by keeping God’s word in front of you.
As the puritan William a’ Brakel said, “Continually hold this law before you as being the will of God; approve of it, obediently subject yourself to it… and keep it in view as a carpenter does his blueprint.”
Architect and his blue prints. Legos.
This is as basic as it gets to walking with God. You need to be in his Word. You need to know what he has spoken. Prioritize it. Don’t drift from it. Don’t let lesser things interfere.
Father’s teach your kids to be in the word. It starts with you valuing it yourself. Put it first in your life! If it is not important to you they will see it. You can’t fake it with those around you.
Peter’s main goal in this passage is to get people to look at a coming day that they will stand before God and give an account of all they have done. They are to prepare and live for that day.
Yes we have a good and great God. Yes, he has promised a life in heavenly bliss. No, we are not there yet. Now is the time to live for him by enduring hardship, waiting patiently, and diligently pursuing his word. It is not easy, but we also know that when we get there, all the hardship will have been worth it. What we do today determines what we hear on that day.
- What hardships did Jesus say would come to his followers? Which of these are hardest for you?
- How are Christians to wait for Christ’s second coming?
- How important is it to be in God’s word? How are you doing in this area? How can you grow?