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Remember, Judgment is Coming
Embrace Biblical Prophecy
2 Peter 3:1-6
Bruce A. Hess
Please take out the word of God and turn in it, if you would, to the book of 2 Peter, and the third chapter of 2 Peter, 2 Peter, chapter number 3.
What we are going to do this morning is launch a new four-part series that is focusing on 2 Peter, chapter number 3. As you get into chapter 3 of 2 Peter, you find out the subject matter that Peter is addressing is the subject matter of Biblical prophecy. The theological term for that is eschatology, which is the study of last things, the future and final events as God has ordered them. Peter is going to be talking about the subject of the second coming of Christ and he is going to be talking about the coming future judgment on the world.
Now, Biblical prophecy has gotten a bad rap [an undeserved reputation], a bad rap even in the church. Some of that bad rap has been earned. Too often some in the church have spent time setting dates on when these events are going to occur, and Jesus said you can’t set dates [Matthew 24:36]. Too many people have become overzealous in their speculations about the End Times: they’ve become careless in what they have to say. Then, also, some of the bad rap is deserved because of the all too frequent tactic of what is called “Newspaper Exegesis,” that means when someone reads current events into the prophecies, rather than analyzing events by the prophecies.
Also, on the other hand, to some Bible prophecy seems to be cryptic and confusing. They often will say, ‘Well, there’s just too many interpretations out there. I think Biblical prophecy is above my spiritual paygrade.’ They might say that only PNT’s can understand Biblical prophecy. What is a PNT? Well, that’s a Prophecy Nerd Type. Maybe some of you are Prophecy Nerd Types, but as one of my former professors in seminary, Charles Ryrie, would say, ‘Some people just choose to be eschatological agnostics.’ That means, I don’t really know what is going to happen and since I’m unsure, no one can be sure. So why do we even bother talking about Biblical prophecy?
We also want to say that to some, Biblical prophecy seems a little too frightening; a little too negative. They might think, ‘I don’t like to even think about divine judgment.’ Or, they might even say, ‘Surely, God isn’t going to judge the world.’ So, they choose to skip over the subject matter of Biblical prophecy.
Men and women, this is where our beliefs regarding the Bible as being God’s Word to us becomes so pivotal: because if God’s word talks about it, we need to talk about it.
You know, prophecy is not merely a novelty category of Scripture. Someone has calculated that 28% of the Bible was prophetic when it was written. Someone else has also estimated that there are, in the Bible, 1,800 prophecies in the around 8,300 verses that we have in Scripture. That would mean nearly one fourth of Scripture is Biblical prophecy. Then, when you look at the prophecies regarding the First Coming of Christ and the Second Coming of Christ, the prophecies that relate to the Second Coming are eight-to-one, compared to the First Coming of Christ.
So, in the Old Testament we have Biblical prophecy regarding future events and the end of the age. Jesus gave discourses on future events and the end of the age, and the apostles also taught about future events and the end of the age, just as we see here in 2 Peter, chapter 3.
Why does the Old Testament do that? Why did Jesus teach about it? Why did the apostles teach about it? Well, I think it’s like Paul said to the Thessalonians, in 1 Thessalonian 4, he said, “I don’t want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters” (4:13). I mean, of all people we ought to be aware of God’s program and what He is about.
Now, before we actually dive into chapter 3, I want to share with you some positive aspects of Biblical prophecy and the teaching of the end of the age. These truths have positive things they bring to us. The first one I want you to see is that Biblical prophecy about the end times Breeds Confidence for us that God is Truly the Ruler of the Universe. When we see what He has to say, we realize that it’s not somebody else, some evil person or group of evil nations, but He Himself is the one who is writing history. So, that is a positive aspect to Biblical prophecy regarding the end times.
There is a second positive aspect I want us to see, Biblical prophecy about the end times Calms our Fears about the Future, because sometimes, if we don’t know any better, we might think, ‘Well, who is really going to win this whole thing? How is it really going to end at the very end? What all is going to happen?’ Biblical prophecy about the end times will Calm our Fears about the Future.
Then, there is a third positive aspect I want us to see about Biblical prophecy regarding the end times. Not only does it Breed Confidence that God is truly the Ruler of the Universe, and it Calms our Fears about the Future, but it Motivates us to Remain “on Mission.”
I am, you are, here on a mission from God when become followers of Jesus. When we look at Biblical prophecy regarding the end times, it helps to motivate us to remain on mission. We may not understand every detail about the end of the age, but much of what is involved in the end of the age and the future, Scripture makes crystal clear.
Rather than dismissing Biblical prophecy due to its misuse by some; and rather than ignoring it because we don’t understand everything about it; and rather than rejecting it because we just want to detour around any talk of future judgment—I think what Peter wants us to do, and what God wants us to do today—which is the title of my message today–is to Embrace Biblical Prophecy. To embrace it. What we need to do is do what Paul talked about in 2 Timothy 2:15: we need to handle the word of truth accurately. So, that is our goal for today, to do that very thing.
Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says to those to whom he is writing, “I have some vital information I want you to understand.” And, he is also, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, communicating to me and to you, to us today, that he has some vital information he wants us to understand. So, that is the value of looking at 2 Peter, chapter 3.
I do want to put chapter 3 into a context of the entire book. You have three different chapters.
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3
Cultivation of Caution about Confidence in
spiritual maturity false teachers Jesus’ return
emphasis emphasis emphasis
exhortation denunciation anticipation
theme theme theme
holiness heresy hope
focus focus focus
ourselves our adversaries our future
[You have chapter number 1, where he talks about cultivation of spiritual maturity.
In chapter number 2, he talks about caution about false teachers.
In chapter number 3, he talks about confidence in Jesus’ return.
In chapter number 1, the emphasis is on exhortation, the theme is holiness, and the focus is ourselves.
In chapter 2, the emphasis is on denunciation of the false teachers, the theme is heresy, and the focus is on our adversaries.
Then, in chapter 3, the emphasis is on anticipation, the theme is hope, and the focus is on our future]
Now if you missed it, we did a series on chapter 1, we did a series on chapter 2. If you missed those and you would like to go back and listen to those, or read about those, you can go to brucehess.com where we have populated a number of our messages and you can find our series on chapter 1 there at brucehess.com and also find the series on chapter 2 at brucehess.com.
So, what I want to do as we begin today is I want to read through verses 1-6 of chapter 3 and invite you to follow along in your Bible as I read what Peter communicates. He says, “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. (Verse 3) Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ (Verse 5) For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded by water.”
Now, those first six verses break into two parts. First of all, in verses 1 and 2 we have The Call to Remember and then in verses 3-6 we have The Skepticism of the World.
So, let’s begin by looking at his Call to Remember in the first couple of verses. Look at verse 1. Notice he addresses them with an interesting term there in verse 1. He addresses them as “beloved.” It is a term of endearment. He uses that word to describe them in verse 1, he uses it in verse 8, he uses it in verse 14, he uses it again in verse 17. Now, we don’t usually address people today, in our normal interchange, with that term, “beloved.” Today, we might say something like this: my dear friends, I am writing to you about this. What Peter is doing when he addresses them here as “beloved,” as his dear friends, he is leaning in with them, he wants to share his heart with them.
Notice what it says there in verse 1. He says, “I am writing to you…this is the second letter that I am writing to you to stir up your sincere mind by way of reminder.” The idea is, he had written another letter to them, probably 1Peter, and he says, “I want to stir up your sincere mind by way of reminder.” I want to refresh your memory about the right kind of thinking that we are to have as followers of Jesus. I think this is really what he is saying: he is saying, it is important for new believers to learn what the Bible teaches about the return of Jesus and the coming judgment upon the world. I think he is also saying: it is important for seasoned believers to be reminded of what the Bible teaches regarding the return of Jesus and the coming judgment.
Why is that so important? Well, at least for me, it is easy to drift into business-as- usual mode, just to go with the flow of life. And, he says, I want you to remember some things. I want to refresh your memory. I want you to have right thinking.
What does he want them to remember? Well, look at verse 2. He said, “I want you to remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets.” The words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets. That is the first thing I want you to remember. What is this referring to? It is referring to Old Testament predictions regarding the return of Jesus and the coming judgment on the world.
Now, we could spend probably a whole week looking at passages in the Old Testament that talk about this. I want to take a look at one from Isaiah, chapter 66, verses 15 and 16, where Isaiah the prophet writes this: “See, the Lord is coming with fire, and his swift chariots of destruction roar like a whirlwind. He (the Lord) will bring punishment with the fury of his anger and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke. The Lord (Yahweh) will punish the world by fire and by his sword and many will be killed by the Lord.”
He says, I want you to remember what the Old Testament prophets taught. I want you to remember what they said about Jesus’ return, the Messiah’s return in triumph. And I want you to see what they talked about regarding the coming judgment of the world. That’s the first thing I want you to remember.
The second thing I want you to remember, he says, is the commandment of the Lord and Savior. I want you to remember the statements of Jesus Himself. Again, we could look at multiple statements that Jesus gave regarding His return and the coming judgment, but I want to look at one from Matthew 24, verses 27-30. This is Jesus speaking and He says, “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Then, there’s this ominous statement, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Just a picture of the idea of judgment coming. “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” In other words, he is saying, I want us to be remembering the statements that Jesus made regarding His return and the coming judgment that is coming upon the world.
Then, I believe there is a third thing he wanted us to remember. It is not only the words spoken before by the holy prophets of the Old Testament and the discourses of the Lord, but also the testimonies of the apostles.
Now, remember, as 2 Peter is being written the content of the New Testament is also forming. Some of it had been written, some of it hadn’t yet been written. But I want to look at one passage from Paul, 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1, verses 7 and 8, where he says this: “…The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire. (What is the plan?) To deal out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
In other words, he is saying we need to remember the testimonies of the apostles, as they talked about the return of Jesus and as they talked about the coming judgment that is coming upon the world.
Right now, I just want us to “hit the pause button” for a moment. So, we are just going to pause for a moment. I am going to ask you a question and you can just think about this in your own heart before the Lord. Here is the question: how much of this truth is part of our conscious thought? How much of this truth about the second coming of Christ and the coming judgment on the world is something that we think about; That we are somewhat aware of? I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to go a week and this concept doesn’t cross my mind. It is easy to go a month; it is easy to go months detached from the reality of the return of Christ and the coming judgment upon the world.
The truth is, men and women, this world is on a divine countdown. It is easy to forget that, at least it is for me. Our unbelieving neighbors and our unbelieving friends; our unbelieving co-workers and fellow students are under an approaching appointment with the Living God. What he is saying is we just need to remember that. We need to be reminded of that. It is important that we are reminded of these truths.
So, first of all, we have this Call to Remember in the first two verses. Secondly, he wants to talk about The Skepticism of the World in verses 3-6. Notice how verse 3 begins, he says, “Know this first of all.” In other words, he is saying above all I want you to be aware of something. What are we to be aware of? Well, verse 3, he says “in the last days” …what does that refer to? That refers to the days before Jesus’ return. If you want a description of what those days are going to be like, you can go to 2 Timothy, chapter 3, in verses 1-5, it gives a description of that time.
But, he says, you need to be aware above all that in these last days before Jesus’ return, he says in verse 3 that, “Mockers will come with their mocking.” That’s the way the New American Standard translates it. We don’t really talk that way today. The phrase “mockers coming with mocking,” is really a Hebrew idiom. It comes out of the Hebrew background, where they are using a noun and the verb, and they blend them together. The idea he is communicating is emphasizing blatant mocking. It communicates blatant scoffing.
He says, in the last days, before Jesus’ return there are going to be cynics that exist in the world who will poke fun [mock, ridicule]. Why do they poke fun? Well, verse 3 says, “They are following after their own lusts.” I like the way the NET Bible translates that phrase, “They are being propelled by their own evil urges.”
Let’s go ahead and take a look at 2 Timothy, chapter 3, just a couple of the verses there where it talks about the last days. It says, describing what people will be like then, it says, “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” And that is just on social media, men and women! [Bruce making a humor point] That is what the whole world is going to be like. They are scoffing, they’re mocking.
2nd Peter 3, verse 4 tells us what they are scoffing about. In verse 4 they say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” Where is Jesus? He’s supposed to come back. It reminds me of a Newsmax magazine article, on the front cover. It says, “The Jesus Question.” You have a picture of Jesus there and the question is, Will He ever return? Will He ever return?? Is He ever coming back?? Come on!
Notice in verse 4, they say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep,” we might say today, as far back as anyone can remember, “all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” In other words, we would say: Hey, as far back as anyone can remember the world is just functioning the same as it has always functioned. We just go on. It just goes on. It goes on, and on and on it goes.
These mockers, these scoffers, have a naturalistic view of life. Basically, their belief is that God doesn’t directly intervene in this world. Either He doesn’t directly intervene because He does not exist, the scoffers would say. Or He does not intervene directly because He is fully disconnected from this world.
Many around us live their life with that kind of a naturalistic worldview. God doesn’t directly intervene in this world at all. In other words, scoffers might say to us today: Wait a minute, Bruce, let me get this straight. You believe that there is a day of reckoning coming? I mean, come on! What kind of hogwash [total nonsense] is that? It hasn’t ever happened before! It’s not going to happen now. You’re nuts… you’re nuts to believe something like that. You must be intellectually stunted to buy into that one. They would be saying: in no sense is there a coming, ultimate accountability in this world.
Now, there is a fascinating verse in verse 5. I want you to look at it with me. In the New American Standard version, it says this: “For when they maintain this,” you know, you gotta be nuts, this is hogwash, there’s no coming ultimate accountability, “when they maintain this, (it says in the New American Standard) it escapes their notice.”
I love the New American Standard Bible; I’ve used it for multiple decades. If you have one, you will notice in the margin there is a marginal optional translation to these words (i.e., it escapes their notice). It says right here for me, an optional translation is, they are willfully ignorant of. As much as I love the New American Standard, this is one of the places where I wish that the editors had taken the marginal translation option and used it as the main part of the text.
Because when you look at all the other conservative translations of the Bible, whether it is the ESV or the Christian Standard Bible or the NIV or the New Living Translation or the NET Bible or the New King James version—all of them, all of them, utilize what in the New American Standard is the marginal translation option of they are willfully ignorant of.
The idea is this: when it says they are willfully ignorant, the idea is: they deliberately overlook; they turn a blind eye to; they choose to ignore. What is it that they are willfully ignorant of, they are deliberately overlooking, that they are choosing to ignore?
Well, Peter says they are choosing to ignore two of the most significant events of the Old Testament. Two significant events of the Old Testament where God was directly involved with this world, and they choose to turn a blind eye to that. They choose to ignore it; they deliberately overlook it.
Well, what are those two significant events of the Old Testament? Well, the first one he mentions is The Work of God in Creation He talks about it there in the rest of verse 5. He talks about how, “By the word of God the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” God spoke His word and He created creation.
Now, I have often said that God is in the broadcasting business. God is broadcasting 24 hours of every day. I can give you multiple examples of that, but I want to talk about this particular one here, and that is The Work of God in Creation.
The broadcasting goes out every single day: “There is a creator.” “There is a creator.” “There is a creator.” “There is a creator.” It doesn’t make any difference if you’re talking about the macro part of creation: just the immensity of this world; the incredibleness that the sun is placed right where it is, which doesn’t fry us or freeze us, all of that just points out to the fact that “there is a creator,” “there is a creator.”
Not only the macro part of creation, but the micro part of creation. You know, just look at the complexity of the way our eye operates, and the message is, “there is a creator,” “there is a creator,” “there is a creator.” You could take the same thing with your ear and the complexity of the way that it is designed. The message is always going out, “there is a creator,” “there is a creator.” Look at our circulatory system: you can go on; and on; and on; and on. God is in the broadcasting business, and you can see it in creation. There is a creator! There is a creator! There is a creator!
Paul talks about this in Romans, chapter 1. He says, “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen.” Seen in what way? “Being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” There is a creator. There is a creator. Creation is a blinking neon sign; it never stops. There is a creator. There is a creator. It is a never-ending, non-verbal sermon that is being preached every single day.
So, the first thing that they choose to overlook and ignore is The Work of God in Creation. There is a second one though that he wants to talk about and that is The Global Flood of Noah’s Day. He talks about that in verse 6. Notice he talks about how by the Word of God the heavens existed, and the earth was formed and then he talks about, “Through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” He is talking about the global flood of Noah’s day.
There in verse 6, when he says, “The world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water,” the original verb is katakludzo, k-a-t-a-k-l-u-d-z-o, katakludzo. We get the English word cataclysm from that word. He is saying the world underwent a cataclysm, a katakludzo. It was completely inundated; it was completely deluged by water.
If you keep your finger here, just turn over one page to the left. Peter had talked about this global flood of Noah before in chapter 2, and verse 5. He says, “God did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when God brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” See, the scoffers say, Well, God has never really intervened in this world. The truth of the matter is, yes, He has: in the work of God in creation and in the global flood of Noah’s day.
Now, there are some good Bible students who would say, regarding Noah’s flood, it was only a local flood; it was only a regional flood. It wasn’t really a global flood. I wanted to share with you…because in my personal opinion Noah’s flood was a global flood…I want to share with you five reasons why I believe the flood of Noah was a global flood.
The first reason why is: The Purpose of the Flood. You can go to Genesis, chapter 6, 7, 8 and 9. When you go there you get a back-stage tour of what was going on in the flood. You go behind the scenes there. But, in particular, I want you to notice regarding the purpose of the flood, what it says in Genesis, chapter 6. In verse 5 it says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of His heart was only evil continually. (Verse 6) The Lord was sorry that He had made mankind on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
Then, notice what it says in verse 7, “The Lord said, (this is the whole idea of the purpose of the flood) “I will blot out mankind whom I have created from the face of the earth. (Verse 17, of chapter 6) I will destroy all flesh, (where?) under heaven in which is the breath of life, everything that is on the earth shall perish.” (The backdrop to all of this is the broken heart of God.) This is the purpose of the flood of Noah.
The second reason why I believe it was a global flood is The Extent of the Flood, the extent of the flood. Again, we are going to go back to Genesis. Notice what it says in chapter 7, and verse 19: It says, one remote mountain somewhere…No it doesn’t say that. It says, “…All the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered by the water.” In verse 20 of chapter 7, it says, “The water prevailed fifteen cubits (now there is maybe an inch or two difference in what a cubit was, but basically that would about be twenty-two feet) higher, covering the mountains.” You see, that is The Extent of the Flood.
Then, a third reason why I believe it was a global flood is The Duration of the Flood. If you go back and you read it, you will know that it goes on for more than a hundred days. If someone is thinking, ‘Well it was local, you know, there was a small mountain covered for a hundred days with water,’ it doesn’t work that way. I mean, water seeks its own level. You can’t cover mountains for a hundred days unless it is more of a global thing.
Then, a fourth reason why I believe it was a global flood is The Need for a Gigantic Ark. The ark was like a gigantic tanker in our day. While there can be a slight variation of what a cubit is—which is from the elbow of a man to the tip of his fingers—at a very minimum, the ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet tall.
Just to give you a little bit of a context for that, think about the size of a U.S. football field, which is 300 feet long. So, then you have to think of a ship that is like another half of a football field longer. It was like a football field and a half is how long the ark was. Then, it was 45 feet tall, like four stories tall.
So, you begin to get a little bit of the feel for it, right? It goes on a football field and another half of a football field, four stories tall. If you’ve ever been to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, you get to see a full-scale representation of Noah’s Ark. We’ve been there. If you haven’t been there, google it and look at some of the pictures of the ark that they have recreated and look at the size of it, compared to a person standing next to it.
Think about that. I mean, four stories tall, a football field and another half of a football field long. If it was a local flood, you don’t have to build a gigantic thing like that. Just as you would in any local flood, you would simply move to another area, or you would move to higher ground somewhere, but you wouldn’t build a gigantic tanker-like structure.
Then, the fifth reason why I believe it was a global flood is, God’s Rainbow Promise (to never flood the world again) Is Nonsensical if it was a Local Flood. Look at what it says in Genesis, chapter 9, verses 11-16. We’ll get some phrases out of here. He is promising, as He gives the promise of the rainbow, to never do it again. He says, “…All flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to (to do what?) destroy the earth…never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.” God says, I am making an everlasting covenant, it is a covenant between God and a small group of people somewhere? No, it is a covenant, an everlasting covenant, between God and “every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Not a local flood, but a global flood makes the best illustration of a future coming judgment that is going to come upon the whole world.
Peter begins to talk about that more in verse 7, when he says, “By His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Peter is sharing this because, just as Paul thought, I don’t want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters. Peter has a whole lot more to talk about, a whole lot more to inform us about and he is going to do that as we continue our study of 2 Peter, chapter 3.
We’ve looked at a lot of information and a lot of data today. I want to talk about some Life Response. We shouldn’t come up against and go face-to-face with the Word of God and nothing impacts us. So, some Life Response. How can we respond? Well, first of all, for those who don’t know the living God [and it is very possible that some of us don’t have a relationship with Jesus as our rescuer from sin and judgment]. If you don’t have and don’t know the living God, here is the life response we are suggesting that you do. That is to Turn to the True Spiritual Ark, which is Jesus. See, Noah’s ark is really a picture of Jesus and Jesus is a picture of the ark. Here is what happened in the global flood. Those who entered into the ark were delivered from world-wide judgment. The same in principle: those who turn in faith to the spiritual ark, Jesus, will be delivered from world-wide judgment. That is the idea. Trusting in what Jesus Christ did on the cross: taking our sins, paying the penalty for them, because God’s holiness demanded that that be so. And, then He rose again from the dead. Trusting in that and coming by faith to the true spiritual ark of Jesus means that when judgment comes, we will be delivered from it.
Now, here is one of the lessons from the global flood. When the judgment of the flood arrived, there were no second chances. You were either in the ark or you were not in the ark. The same thing is going to be true when there is coming judgment upon this world. We’re either going to be in the spiritual ark of Jesus or we are not going to be. But there will be no second chances.
Jesus’ appeal to us is reflected in John 5:24, when it says that, “He who hears My word (here is the truth of Scripture) and believes Him who sent Me (what happens?) they have eternal life, they do not come into judgment, but they have passed out of death into life.” That is what we want for every person that we know. That is the appeal to those who don’t know the living God: turn to the true spiritual ark of Jesus. You do that by faith. It is a transaction that happens between your heart and the heart of God. It is an act of faith: I am going to rely on what He did, not what I think I can do, in order to be delivered from future judgment.
So, how about for those of us who do know the living God? What life response should we have? I really love what Chuck Swindoll says about this so I’m not even going to try to improve on his wording at all. But here is, for those of us who do know the living God, I think the life response that he has for us.
He says this: “First it might be best…to understand what you don’t do. [Right? Sometimes we need to know what we don’t do in light of this truth] You don’t dress up in a white robe and gather with like-minded fanatics in a commune or on some roof. [You don’t do that]. You don’t quit work and move to the highest mountains to be the first to meet the Lord when He descends. And you don’t try to set dates for His return…” That is what we, in terms of life response, what we don’t do.
Well, what should we do? He goes on to say this, “You do, however, get your act together…and keep it together [I really believe for some of us that is the message that the Holy Spirit has for us. It is time to get our act together]. You do live every day as if it’s your last, for His glory. You do work diligently on your job and in your home…for His name’s sake. You do shake salt out every chance you get; you do shine the light…You do continue sharing the good news.” That is the Life Response for us, because men and women, we have a hope, we have a message that the world needs.
I want to lead us in prayer as we get ready to sing a closing song together. Let’s pray together. Father, we thank You again for the truth of Your word. We thank You for how powerful it is. We thank You that it is so pertinent. We need this perspective; we need to be reminded of this. We need to not duck away from it. We need to look at what the heart of Peter wants to share with us. And, Father, may we remember that You don’t want us to run off some place and hide. You want us to bring hope to the people around us. You want us to stay on mission. You want us to share the hope, the Gospel—the Good News that You have given to us—with the world around us and the people who live near us. May we be men and women who understand Your plan and live in light of it. And we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Questions for Reflection
Embrace Biblical Prophecy
2 Peter 3:1-6
1. Bruce pointed out that people in the church usually have different perspectives on Biblical prophecy of the end times. Some view prophecy on the return of Jesus and the coming judgment of the world as too frightening and negative. They prefer not to think about it, much less study it.
Others feel prophetic passages seem too cryptic and confusing since there seems to be so many interpretations, so why bother investigating them?
Still others fancy themselves as a PNT…a prophecy nerd type.
Which perspective do you most identify with and why? Be transparent. Elaborate.
2. Bruce shared three positive aspects that flow from studying Biblical prophecy of the end of the age. Try to list them and share which one stands out to you.
[note: if you struggle, the points are listed below]
3. Peter states that his desire is to stir up the believers by way of reminder about prophetic truth. Why is that important for us? Why do we need to be reminded?
4. Have you ever interacted with someone who poked fun at the notion of Jesus’ return to earth and the idea of an eventual day of reckoning for the whole world?
If so, share some about it.
What drives people to take that viewpoint? Does Ephesians 4:18-19 provide any insight?
5. What were some of the reasons why Bruce concluded that the flood of Noah’s day was a global flood rather than a local flood?
6. Based on the truth Peter shares in 3:1-6, are there any attitudes, actions, or activities that the Holy Spirit is nudging you to address or alter? Be honest.
7. Take time to pray and thank God for the Truth He has revealed to us.
[Breeds confidence that God is truly the ruler of the universe; Calms our fears about the future; Motivates us to remain “on mission”]