2nd Peter: Episode 5

Beth's Notes

1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.  2 Peter 3:1-2 (NIV)

Peter begins this Chapter reminding his readers to stimulate them to wholesome thinking – meaning pure, unsullied, sincere, free from spot or blemish - understanding.  It is the picture of holding something up to the light of the sun and finding no particles of contamination.  Peter was so anxious to arouse the saints to the importance of maintaining their confidence in what God had revealed concerning the prophetic future.  This is the Truth and he wanted them to know it!  He wanted their memory refreshed – just as He does ours.  We are to remember, remember, remember.    Prophecy is a lamp given to lighten the pilgrims path along this dark road as they pursue their way through this dusty earth to their home in heaven.  Therefore, the Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians:
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Colossians 3:1-4 (NIV)    

God wants His people to have pure and sincere minds, not those in which their sin has simply been masked or covered over.  He wants our thoughts higher still.  Further, sincerity of mind, heart and action is protos (number one) for the child of the King and our confidence can never lay in the flesh to achieve this but only in His power.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  Nothing.

“The purest robes, unless their purity be preserved by divine grace, will be defiled by the most sinful stains.  Experienced Christian, do not boast in your experience; you will trip in spite of this if you look away from Him who is able to keep you from falling.  You whose love is fervent, whose faith is constant, whose hopes are bright, do not say, ‘We shall never sin,’ but rather cry, ‘Lead us not into temptation.’  There is enough tinder in the heart of the best of us to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest hell, unless God quenches the sparks as they fall.”   Charles H. Spurgeon     

This is not that you would lose your salvation rather your good standing which is your peace and your joy in your sojourn here.  Remember also, God despises any hypocrisy which is simply another form of deceit:

1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 1 Peter 2:1 (NIV)

Our focus as believers is to be in God’s Word and His teachings and putting them into practice.  Changed thoughts change lives.  As we think so we go. Believers do well to recall the writings of both Testaments regarding the Lord’s return.  We are to be a prepared people.  Few people like to wait, but that is precisely what God calls believers to do as they anticipate the Lord’s return.  Our waiting is not to be inactive but is to be done with watching, listening and action.

“There are such difficulties in the way of our salvation as could never be overcome but by that grace of God which is almighty.  ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.’ His grace can work on the soul, so as to alter the bent and bias of it, and give it a contrary leaning.”    Matthew Henry

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ 12 But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don't know you.’ 13 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  Matthew 25:11-13 (NIV) 

3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”  5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.  2 Peter 3:3-7 (NIV)

Peter understood that he and his readers were living in the last days, the period of time between the Lord’s First and Second Advents – just as we are.  This is referred to the Church Age.   He tells them just as he tells us: “Above all”- which means foremost in importance – scoffer’s will come on the scene.  They will distort the Truth with a lie and confuse the weak willed and ignorant.  It had been predicted again and again by both Prophets and Apostles that in the last days there would be those who would utterly repudiate the Truth of a divine revelation as to the return of the Lord.  These scoffers would hate the Truth because it interfered with their own selfish desires and ambitions, and they would sneer at the very possibility of the second advent of the Savior.  False teachers who will deny our Lord Jesus Christ and His return.  Jesus warned us these heretics would come on the scene and indeed they continue to remain on the scene:

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”  Matthew 24:3-5 (NIV) 

11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Matthew 24:11 (NIV) 

23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. 26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:23-27 (NIV) 

Paul also writes us concerning them:

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.  1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NIV)

1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.  2 Timothy 3:1-7 (NIV) 

Peter echoes their warnings, adding that their scoffing is accompanied by their evil desires.  Arrogant snobbery and disdain for the idea of a coming judgment led to sexual perversion and all sorts of waywardness – just as it does in our day.  People love to think they will never be called into account for their actions.  Their mocking took the form of a stinging question: Where is this “coming” He promised?  They reject this promise of Scripture to their own harm and devastation.  Since nothing has happened in all this time, mockers reasoned, why expect the Lord’s return now?  Indeed, in our day, we find men walking after their own ungodly lusts, deriding the doctrine of the imminent return of the Lord as though it were something utterly ridiculous and not to be considered for a moment by sober-minded people.  Sadly, we even see this in the pulpits by either denying that the Bible itself teaches the second coming of Christ, or else maintaining that even though predicted by Christ and taught by His Apostles, it is all to be looked upon as an idle dream.  They insist there is no evidence whatsoever in the history of the past or in conditions prevailing in the present time that indicate the fulfillment of any prophetic declarations.  Though wise to the things of the world, they are absolutely ignorant of the signs of the times – signs that spiritually-minded and godly men discern readily, but that these carnal and sensual leaders ignore completely.   

Peter met those arguments head on by reviewing some ancient history.  Just as water, by God’s command, played a significant role in the early formation of the earth, so water also was the agent for destruction of the earth at God’s command.   

Never forget, God the Creator is also God the Judge.  In His sovereign will, any change in process can occur at any time for He designed and controls these “natural” processes.  Everything is His.  These scoffers deliberately (willingly), forget God’s Creation and the Flood.  This is an interesting contrast with Peter’s constant reminders to his readers to “remember”.  Again, God is constantly reminding His people to remember, remember, remember as we are all so prone to forget.  I am reminded of His Words to us in Deuteronomy:

5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”  7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? 9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.  Deuteronomy 4:5-9 (NIV)

The scoffers deliberately put aside God’s Word and then complained that God was not doing anything.  They deliberately forgot Jesus’ Words in Matthew:

36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.  42 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  Matthew 24:36-44 (NIV) 

As in the days before the flood the men of Noah’s day refused to give credence to the testimony of the Lord in regard to a coming judgment through the testimony of Noah and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so it will it be with many in this generation who contemptuously discard all that Scripture teaches in regard to the coming day of the Lord, while all the time the world is rushing forward into the fearful vortex of that day of wrath.  They are willingly ignorant of God’s dealings with men in the past, and therefore refuse to believe in any predictions of judgments to come.  And, Scripture states, it will come as a thief in the night:

1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 (NIV) 

The same Jesus who ascended to heaven will come again at the end of the age.  He will overthrow the Antichrist by the breath of His mouth and destroy his evil work by the splendor of His coming.  Christ is now reigning as Lord at God’s right hand, sharing God’s throne.  Although His authority is not readily discerned by the world at the present time, it will be made visible by His revelation.  And every knee will bow whether if it is forced or not.  The power and glory that Christ possesses will then be unveiled and disclosed to the world just as Revelation states:

7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”   Revelation 1:7-8 (NIV) 

15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.  1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (NIV) 

2 Peter 7,10, and 12 are the only places where the New Testament depicts the future destruction of the world by fire.  In the past, the world was destroyed in the Flood by God's Word and by water; in the future it will be destroyed by the same Word and by fire.  Having decided to judge the world, God is simply holding the earth on layaway so to speak.  It is reserved - “being stored up like a treasure” - for fire and kept – “guarded” or “held” for judgment.  The Prophet Isaiah also associated fire with the return of the Lord as he stated: 

15 See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16 For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the LORD.  Isaiah 66:15-16 (NIV) 

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.   2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) 

Why should the Lord be so long in coming?  Peter offered two answers.  First, God counts time differently than does man.  Once again Peter appealed to their memories – “do not forget this one thing”.  The scoffers forget, but believers should not.  Christians should recall Psalms 90:4:

4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.  Psalm 90:4 (NIV) 

People see time against time; but God sees time against eternity.  In fact, time only seems long because of man’s finite perspective.  Since willfully ignorant men do not readily see the evidences of God’s coming judgment, they deny what they do not understand.  What to people, including scoffers, may seem like a long time is to the Lord very short. For instance, the present Church Age has lasted, in God’s eyes, two days!  Yet when punishment is not quickly mete out, scoffers foolishly surmise it never will be.  Ecclesiastes tells us:

11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.  Ecclesiastes 8:11 (NIV)    

The second reason the Lord’s return seems to be so long in coming is that God wants as many people to be saved as possible.  “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise.” Meaning He does not linger or delay.  Rather, God’s so-called “tardiness” as viewed by some people – “as some understand slowness” -  is only a delay with respect to their time schedules, not His. In fact God’s time schedule is modified by patience and motivated by love, major attributes of the heavenly Father.  Paul tells us in Romans:

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:4 (NIV)

If His judgment seems to tarry, it is not because God has forgotten, but rather because of His deep concern about lost men whom, in His loving-kindness, He still desires to save.  Isaiah tells us:

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-9 (NIV) 

God’s heart goes out to those perishing in rebellion against Him – as should ours – and He waits in grace, still proclaiming the gospel message and offering salvation to all who would turn to Him in repentance, because He is not willing that any should perish.  God longs that all would be saved but knows 

that many will reject Him.

3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time.  1 Timothy 2:3-6 (NIV) 

“Oftentimes we don't like to say the words Hell and judgment, because people will get offended. So we hide that part of the gospel message. Listen, the word gospel means good news. But before someone can fully appreciate the Good News, they need to know all about the bad news. Jesus did not come to be an additive in our lives. He did not come just to give us warm, fuzzy emotional feelings. Jesus primarily came to deliver us from eternal judgment in Hell. Things like happiness, peace, and joy are fringe benefits. The big issue is eternity. We must not be afraid to tell people the truth. We, like the apostle Paul, need to proclaim the whole counsel of God.”  Greg Laurie

In God’s desire to save, He has called believers to be ministers of reconciliation as Paul states in 2 Corinthians:

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NIV) 

The founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, writes:

“Not called!” did you say? “Not heard the call,” I think you should say.  Put your ear down to the Bible and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to the pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world!”   William Booth

Jude tells us:

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.  Jude 1:22-23 (NIV)

“Paul dedicated himself to telling people about the cure for the plague of sin. He never allowed their relentless attacks, false accusations, or assaults on his integrity to stop him.  He maintained his focus on positive living by remembering the costly price Jesus paid for the cure, as well as his own calling as God’s ambassador.  ‘We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God’ (2 Corinthians 5:20).  No matter how difficult our circumstances, how severe our pain, or how unbearable our life seems, we can find release from these burdens. How? By remembering that we are ambassadors of the Lord of glory and by sharing His message of reconciliation with others.  When we focus on others, sharing the Good News of God’s deliverance with people tormented by fear and anxiety, our own burdens will lighten. Nothing is more uplifting. ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation’ (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).  As long as we live on this earth, we have a purpose: to be God's messengers and to serve on His behalf. When we begin to understand this role, nothing can keep us down for very long.”  Michael Youssef

“Jesus gave all His followers – not just a few - the immense privileged duty of the ministry of reconciliation.  He sent us to proclaim the Good News – with both our actions and words - that through His blood we no longer need remain alienated from God and even each other – wallowing in the filth of our sins, lacking significance, always coming up wanting.  His desire is for all to be turned back from our miserably sad point of departure – which we were all born into excepting Adam and Eve – to walk again in the garden, so to speak, in the cool of the day; to commune with Him; to be filled with the fullness and completeness that He alone gives and to experience the life that is truly life.  God greatly desires to bring back the lost wanderer to the former state of harmony that our original parents were privy to and He confoundly uses people like me and you to accomplish this great work.  That’s actually what the word reconcile means in Scripture – ‘to bring back to a former state of harmony.’  Christ’s blood reconciled us allowing those who would believe in Him the changing back to that time of no variance.  That amazing Truth is to be shared and not hoarded and He calls all of His followers to be faithful to the task.”   BHY  

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.   2 Peter 3:10-13 (NIV) 

When the Lord does come, it will be both surprising and catastrophic: like a thief.  The word translated “Roar” is used for “the swish of an arrow, the rush of wings, the splash of water, the hiss of a serpent.  Some commentators liken it to an atomic bomb going off.  Isaiah states it as this:

2 The LORD is angry with all nations; his wrath is upon all their armies. He will totally destroy them, he will give them over to slaughter. 3 Their slain will be thrown out, their dead bodies will send up a stench; the mountains will be soaked with their blood. 4 All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.   Isaiah 34:2-4 (NIV) 

The thief simile was used by Jesus in Matthew 24:42-44 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2 as we have previously seen and repeated by John in Revelation 3:3 and 16:5 as well – Jesus speaking in both passages: 

3 “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”   Revelation 3:3 (NIV)

15 “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” Revelation 16:15 (NIV) 

The day of the Lord describes end-time events that begin after the Rapture and culminate with the commencement of eternity at the conclusion of the Millennium.  In the catastrophic conflagration at the end of the Millennium, the heavens - the earth’s atmosphere and the starry sky - not God’s abode -  will disappear with a roar, which in some way will involve fire.  The elements -  either stars or material elements - with which the universe is made will be destroyed by fire and will melt, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  This Greek word could mean that everything will be exposed for what it really is. 

Peter sees all this as a strong motivational expectation which should provoke us to holy living.  The question, “What kind of people ought you to be?” is rhetorical.  But just in case someone should miss the point, Peter answered it: “You ought to live holy and godly lives.”  “Holy lives” refers to “Holy Conduct” meaning Christian separation and sanctification from the world and toward God.  If you want to live for Christ you can’t blend with the world. 

“Godly” refers to piety before God.  The word “live” is in the present tense, indicating that these qualities are to be constantly present in light of the Lord’s return.   Scoffers, questioning the Lord’s coming with its ensuing judgment on them, lead ungodly licentious lives – just as in Noah’s day and Lot’s day.  Sin will always go lower still and spirals out of control when not dealt with by the power of the Holy Spirit.  As we have said before – keep your accounts short before the Lord.  Don’t delve in unrighteousness.  We are to live as children of light.  Paul tells us in Ephesians:

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible.  Ephesians 5:8-13 (NIV)

We are to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature.  Paul tells us in Colossians:

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Colossians 3:5-10 (NIV)

This is only accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling every true child of the King.  In light of our anticipating Jesus’ certain return, believers are to manifest the Spirit not the flesh. Our Lord calls His followers higher still – both for their good and His glory.  The fruit of this life Paul states in Galatians:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV) 

It does us well to remember how great and lavish the Lord’s love is for us.  John tells us:

1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 (NIV) 

No one will ever thus fail who keeps his eyes on Christ and his heart fixed on those things that are above where Christ sits at God’s right hand.  Doctrinal error of a serious character is almost invariably connected with some moral failure.  As we walk before God in holiness of life – keeping our accounts short with Him – we will be preserved from destructive heresies, and as we walk in the Truth we will be kept from sin in the life. 
Holiness and piety not only cause God’s people to look forward - expecting and anticipating the Lord’s return but also to speed its coming. How do believers hasten it?  The godly lives of the Lord’s people, their praying, and their witnessing help bring others to repentance – of which God desires for all men to come to.  Peter then repeated for emphasis the fact that at the commencement of eternity - here called the day of God -  the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt in the heat.  

The old cosmic system will one day give way to a new heaven and a new earth and this is what believers are to be looking forward to -  not to the earth's destruction.  The new heaven and new earth, given by the promise of God, will finally be the home or dwelling place of righteousness – literally, “in which righteousness dwells permanently”.  It will be the home of righteousness because the Righteous One will be there.  What a contrast this will be to the world’s unrighteousness!

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  Revelation 21:1 (NIV)

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.   Revelation 21:22-27 (NIV) 

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. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.  2 Peter 3:14-16 (NIV)

To show that one’s behavior is to be linked to his expectation of the Lord’s coming, this paragraph begins with “So then”.  What kind of people should believers be?  They are to be holy and godly, and they also are to make every effort to be spotless – pure, blameless, without moral defect and at peace with Him.  

13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you
14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Timothy 6:13-14 (NIV) 

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27 (NIV) 

We are called to keep ourselves from the pollution of the world which is so easy to get sucked into.  The false teachers, Peter said, “are blots and blemishes”, but believers are to make it their business to be morally clean as Christ, our Righteous example, was the spotless One.  Peter sets forth for us the practical result of the implantation of the divine nature in the members of God's family; it is the ringing encore to the symphony of grace described earlier in 2 Peter 1:5-7:

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.  2 Peter 1:5-9 (NIV) 

58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

As noted earlier, the Lord’s patience is because of God’s desire that people would come to salvation.  The seeming procrastination of the Second Coming, far from being negative inaction on God the Father's part is rather a demonstration of His long-suffering.  Now the world has time to repent – and, as ministers of reconciliation, we are called to be part of this in leading others to repentance - but the time will end when the “the day of judgment” comes.  The Lord’s kindness in bestowing His patience leads toward repentance, which is precisely the point Paul made in Romans 2:4:

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:4 (NIV) 

Jesus stated:

40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”  Matthew 25:40 (NIV) 

Peter said that Paul wrote about the same thing in all his letters.  Though written with God’s “wisdom”, Paul’s letters contain some things that are hard to understand.  The Greek wording for “hard to understand” was used only here in the New Testament and was sometimes applied in secular Greek literature to oracles that were ambiguous and obscure.  Peter himself, as well as the ignorant – “unlearned”, who were new to the faith of New Testament doctrine, found some of Paul’s statements hard to understand. These difficult passages (which Peter did not specify) had caused the unstable to pervert, distort and twist their real meaning.  But that was to be expected since that is how they handled all the other Scriptures to their shame.

The fact that Peter referred to Paul’s letters and then to “the other Scriptures” indicates that Paul’s writings were then considered authoritative Scripture. Such behavior - twisting the Scripture to suit their own purposes - is met with God’s judgment which, in this case, the ignorant and unstable bring on themselves in the form of destruction.  Believers may not fully understand all the Scriptures, but they certainly ought not twist their obvious meanings.  Revelation tells us:

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  Revelation 22:18-20 (NIV) 

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18 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 3:17-18 (NIV) 

In a warm and loving style - dear friends - the Apostle Peter closes this public yet personal epistle with a word of warning and a word of encouragement -   both are based on an assumption: “You already know this”.  These words are translated by one Greek word from which comes the English word “prognosis.”  When a medical prognosis is made, a patient is better able to prepare himself for what is ahead and if possible, to correct himself.  When a doctor says, “If you continue to eat as much as you do now, you will have serious heart problems in a few years,” the patient “knows beforehand” and can therefore change his life in accord with the information he has.

Peter then warned, “Be on your guard”.  If Peter were writing today, he might say, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”  If his readers were not careful they could be carried away or led astray by the error of lawless men.   This emphasizes a group or corporate movement.  Unfortunately, false teachers are not satisfied with ambushing one or two, now and then, here and there; they want to sweep large groups of people away from the correct doctrine of Christ.  Those who keep company with such people are in danger of being led astray or “falling”. This does not refer to losing one’s salvation rather falling into sin which, of course, nothing done in sin will be eternal rather burned up.  Also, robbing us of joy and peace.  On the other hand those who have paid attention to the warnings, carefully heeding the prognosis, can maintain their secure position in the truth.  “Secure position” – “firm position”.   God desires for us to grow up in Him – not in the world – as the latter always leads to death of something.  We will always cause our own harm by living contrary to God’s revealed will – always.  He has our best interest at heart.   Remember as well:

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”  C. S. Lewis

Peter ends by telling us “to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”.  Grace is not subjective, based merely on experience and emotional happenings.  It is objectively related to Peter’s key word – knowledge.   This is not just any knowledge; it is knowledge about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ which is found in His Word.  The verb “grow” is a present imperative, which could be rendered “be continually growing.”  Like I have mentioned before, we never “get there” this side of heaven.  Believers are to grow “in grace,” that is, in the sphere of God’s unmerited favor, and in the exercise of spiritual graces which Peter spoke of in 1:5-8.  

These, Peter states, we are to possess in increasing measure and as a reminder I read again:

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV) 

This process of spiritual growth begins by knowing Christ initially in regeneration and it continues in one’s deepening relationship with Him (sanctification process – becoming more and more conformed to the image of Jesus).  Both are necessary.  Without the initial knowledge there is no opportunity for growth.  But if there is only that initial knowledge, the struggling new believer forgets “that he has been cleansed from his past sins”.  Jesus says to us in effect: “If you would practice my teaching, imitate my life.”  He is the One we are to follow.  He is perfect virtue and all holiness as well as the Teacher of it.  The Christian should take nothing short of Christ for his model.

Now the apostle, at one time more comfortable in fishing boats than with the parchments of biblical texts, affirmed the oneness of the Father and the Son in a splendid doxology.  The One who is “our Lord” is also “our Savior.” And glory, which belongs only to God, is also the Son’s.  To Him be glory is Peter’s praise and prayer.  The glory of redemption, the glory of spiritual growth, the glory of manifesting the symphony of grace, the glory of escape from the false teachers, and the glory of His ultimate return—all glory belongs to Jesus.  And He receives that glory both now and forever.  “Forever” is literally, “to the day of the Age” - from the moment of the Cross, on through the days of the New Testament, throughout the history of the church, to the present hour, and throughout eternity! No wonder Peter concluded with the affirmative word of praise, Amen!

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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