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In 1979 Dr. Larry Reynolds moved to Denton, Texas, to become the founding pastor of Southmont Baptist Church. During his twenty-eight year ministry at Southmont, the church grew to a membership of more than 1800. The church, which began in a small storefront, now meets on a campus that includes three educational buildings, a fellowship hall, an activities center, and sanctuary. After retiring as the Senior Pastor of Southmont in December, 2006, Pastor Reynolds has remained active in the Denton area conducting weddings, funerals, and leading Bible studies. He and his wife, Carol, have traveled extensively. In addition to five trips to Israel, they have visited Jordan, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Peru, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

2 Peter 3:3-13


2 Peter 3:3-13

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

July 10, 2014

 

1.      I remember hearing some time ago a story about man who was fishing along bank of a Louisiana bayou… beside him was tub which contained a number of live fish…game warden appeared and asked man if had license for fish he had caught…said, “I haven’t caught any fish.”…what about these fish in this tub…man said, “Those?  I didn’t catch them.  Those are my pet fish.”…of course game warden was skeptical and said he had never heard of someone having pet fish…man said, “Yeah.  Every night I bring them down to the bayou and let them swim around for a while.  Then I whistle and they jump back into this tub and I take them home.”…of course game warden didn’t buy that story…man said, “It’s the truth.  Here I’ll show you” and he dumped the fish into the bayou and silently waited…after several minutes game warden said, “Well?”…man replied, “Well what?”…game warned said, “When are you going to call them back?”…man asked, “Call who back?”…game warden said, “The fish.  When are you going to call the fish back?”…and man said, “What fish?”

2.      In 1st century church some people were asking something like that about the promised return of Jesus to our world…they were asking, “What return?  Where is He?”…notice the question in 2 Peter 3:4 – “Where is the promise of His coming?”…in other words, “Why hasn’t the promised been fulfilled?  Why hasn’t He returned yet?”…want begin by reading 2 Peter 3:3-7…(text)…

3.      Many 1st century Christians expected Jesus to return in their life-times…as Christians began to die and the Lord had not come back, come begin to question whether He was coming at all…they succumbed to a philosophy which one writer calls uniformitarianism [Stedman, p.2]…it’s a philosophy which has long gripped both the scientific and scholastic world…basically this philosophy asserts that if something has not happened before it cannot happen…it is a way of saying that a supernatural occurrence cannot break the ordinary course of nature…Peter refutes their thinking by reminding them that God has the power to break into our natural world at any time… in vv.5-7 mentions two times that God has done so—at the creation of the universe and in the great flood in the days of Noah…and says will do so again when Jesus comes back…

4.      Then in vv.8-13 Peter tells us some things we should do to avoid being misled by those who are skeptical of Christ’s return… and it’s those verse on which want us to focus today…look at 2 Peter 3:8-13 (text)…

 

T.S. – In these verses Peter points out some things we should remember in preparation for Christ’s return…while don’t have time to deal in-depth with all that is in this passage, want to point out three things we should remember to be ready for Christ’s return…

 

I.   To be ready for Christ’s return we should remember that God’s view of time is different from our view of time

  1. The statement in v.8 “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day…” is a reminder of one essential difference between God and humans…we live in the realm of time, the realm of beginnings and endings…God, on the other hand, lives in the realm of eternity, no beginning and no ending…one writer points out that eternity is not just time which lasts forever, it is existence above and apart from time… [Wiersbe, p.83]
  2. What appears to be a long time for us, is a mere instant in the eyes of God…we see this principle at work on much smaller scale in the differing perceptions of time between small children and adults…And point Peter is making in vv.8 is that while it may appear from our perspective that the Lord is taking forever to fulfill His promise to return to our world, from the perspective of eternity it is not taking forever at all…
  3. Now look at v.9…“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness…”…that is, He is going to fulfill His promise to return at the appropriate time… but there is a reason His coming has not yet happened…
  4. The last part of v.9 explains the reason by saying the Lord ”…is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”…that is, the reason Christ’s return has not yet happened is the Lord wants to give all people the opportunity to be saved…want point out two things about that statement…

--doesn’t say that all people will be saved…is not teaching universalism here, the belief that in the end everyone will be saved…means that anyone who turns to Christ in repentance and faith will be saved…

--nor does say that God is waiting for certain number to be saved… find no Scriptural evidence for belief that God has fore-ordained or pre-destined certain number of people to be saved and will not come until that elect group has turned to Christ…this verse says God does not desire “…for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

5.      And main point of vv.8-9 is that to be ready for Christ’s return we should remember that God has always kept His promises and He will keep His promise of Christ’s return to our world in His time, not ours…

 

II.  To be ready for Christ’s return we should remember that it is futile to predict when the return will occur

1.      Reminds us in v.10 that “…the day of the Lord will come like a thief.”…Peter, no doubt, took that statement from the teachings of Jesus…in Matthew 24 where Jesus taught His disciples about the pending destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (which happened in 70 A.D.) and about His return to this world at the end of the age, they wanted to know when His return would take place…Jesus said in Matthew 24:36 – “…of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, not the Son, but the Father alone…”…and then He told a little story about how the owner of a house not knowing when a thief may come…and the point of the story and point of this statement in 2 Peter 3:10 is that no-one knows when the Lord is going to return…

2.      There are people who think they know…there are those who make predictions about His return and even make important life decisions thinking He is about to return…remember during my seminary years met young man and young woman who were engaged to be married… asked if I would perform their wedding ceremony and I agreed…called one day and said the wedding was off…asked why and their response was that they had decided the Lord was going to return before their wedding date and they saw no reason to continue with their plans…I’ve often wondered what became of them and what they now think about their decision not to marry…

3.      No-one knows when the Lord is going to return…anyone who says they do know, run from that person as quickly as possible…and while we don’t know when the Lord is going to come back, Peter tells us in the last part of v.10 that whenever it occurs, it is going to be a cataclysmic event…he tells us on that day “…the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up…”…seems to me that the point of all that is that when the Lord returns it is going to be a time of great upheaval…

4.      I know that there is a lot of interest among Christians about what may or may not happen at the time of the Lord’s return…and I know that there are a number of views, each supported to some degree or another by Scripture, about the events which may surround the Lord’s return…

5.      My personal opinion is that it is not particular helpful to speculate about such things…what we know for sure is that no-one can predict when the Lord is going return, but when He does return it will be apparent because cataclysmic changes are going to occur…and that leads into the third thing that Peter says about being prepared for the Lord’s return…

 

III.  To be ready for Christ’s return we should remember to live for Him                    today

1.      It is important to understand that Peter’s reason for mentioning the coming return of Jesus was to motivate his readers to godly living… came across interesting statement in my study of this passage this week…”The purpose of prophetic truth is not speculation but motivation … It is unfortunate when people run from one prophetic conference to another, filling their notebooks, marking their Bibles, drawing their charts, and yet not living their lives to the glory of God.” [Wiersbe, p.89]

2.      In v.11 Peter reminds us that since the Lord is going to return at some point in the future, we have every reason to be characterized by “holy conduct and godliness” today…the word “godliness” is one of Peter’s favorite words…uses it four times in the three chapters of this letter… it is another of those compound words Peter often uses…first part is a word which means “well”…second part is word which means “to worship”…literally means “to worship well”

3.      Not speaking of just public worship services…speaking of an attitude toward God which should permeate our lives…in the secular Greek world this word was used to describe an attitude of respect for and awe of the many Greek gods…and the idea behind the word is to live in such a way, to make decisions, to have personal values which reflect genuine awe and respect for God…

4.      And knowing that the day is coming when Jesus will return to this world should motivate us to live in that way…

Conclusion

1.   In the book And the Angels were Silent Max Lucado tells about one of Sir Ernest Shackleton's expeditions to the Antarctic Circle... left some men on Elephant Island with intent of returning and taking them back to England...but Shackleton was delayed and by time could go back for the men, the sea had frozen and he had no access to the island...three times tried to reach them and each time was prevented by the ice...finally, on fourth try broke through ice and found a narrow channel leading to the island...

2.   Much to his surprise, when arrived found crewmen all packed and ready to board the ship...in amazement he asked them how they knew he was coming that day...they told him had no idea what day would return, but knew one day would come back...so every morning when they awakened, their leader rolled up his sleeping bag, packed his gear, and said to the crew, "Get your things ready, boys, the boss may come today."

3.   Not a bad way for Christians to live...each day should say to ourselves, "Get ready, the Lord may come today."...and how do we get ready?...by--

--remembering that God’s view of time is different from our view of time…

--not getting bogged down in speculating when He might return and what all is going to happen when He returns…

--living in godliness today…