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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 3:14-16

2 Peter 3:14-16
(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)
July 17, 2014

We have seen over the past few weeks that 2 Peter 3 is built around the promise of the Lord’s return to our world.  This is a recurring promise that is emphasized again and again in the New Testament. 

I want to begin this session by directing your attention to the first part of 2 Peter 3:14 – “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent…”  Each word in that statement has significance. 
  • “Therefore…”…that word looks back to all that Peter has said in the first part of this chapter about the promised return of the Lord to this world…
  • “…beloved…”…that’s a term of affection…means “dear friends”…used four times in this chapter and each time it is followed by some important instruction in light of the Lord’s promised return…
  • “…since you are looking for these things…”…that is, since you are looking for the Lord’s return…
  • “…be diligent…”…this is the fourth use of this word in 2 Peter (see 1:5, 10, 15)…have told you the word means to be characterized by a sense of urgency that moves you to action…it’s the difference between having a passing interest in doing something and a burning desire to do something…caries idea of earnestness, zeal, or haste…
And then in verses that follow Peter explains what we are to be diligent about…look at 2 Peter 3:14b-16…(text)

T.S. – Built into our universe is the principle of accountability and judgment...we just seem to know intuitively that a time will come when we will give an account of our lives...virtually all world religions have built into them a theology of judgment...and in these verses Peter reminds us that because the Lord is coming back and because we will give account of ourselves to Him, there are some areas of life in which we should be extra diligent…for example he tells us that…

I.  In light of the Lord’s return we should be diligent in our relationships
  1. We are told in middle of v.4 to “…be diligent to be found by Him in peace…”…Peter doesn’t explain with whom we should be at peace…there are two obvious possibilities…
    • Could be referring to peace with God which is the result of our commitment to Christ…as Paul said in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”…salvation is a covenant, a peace agreement between us and God…it is the end of the enmity, strife, separation between us and God which is the result of our sin…and Peter could be saying, “In light of the fact that Jesus is coming back, make sure you have made your peace with Him.”
    • But there’s another way to interpret that phrase…could be referring to the peace which should exist between believers and other people…Jesus came not just to reconcile us to God, but also to reconcile us to each other…and Peter could be saying, “In light of fact that Jesus is coming back, make sure you are living in peace with each other.  Don’t get bogged down in petty conflict and strife.”…think that interpretation best fits context of this passage…
2.   There are some people who seem to enjoy being in conflict with others...they seem go out of their way to have someone in their life at whom they are upset or with whom they are at odds...no doubt you’ve known people like that...they are not happy unless they are in a dispute or fight with another person...however, that’s not the way Christians should live…Christians should make it their goal, their aim to live in peace with others…that principle is emphasized over and over again in the NT…
·         Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemaker, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
·         Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
·         Hebrews 12:14 tells us to “pursue peace with all men…”
  1. And I believe Peter is saying here that the promise of the Lord’s return should motivate us to live in peace with each other…

1.   An ancient legend says that Hercules became irritated by a strange/‑looking animal that blocked his path in a threatening manner.  In anger he struck it with his club.  As he went on his way, he encountered the same creature again several times, and in each instance the beast grew larger and more fearsome than before.  At last a "heavenly messenger" appeared and warned Hercules to stop his furious assaults, saying, "The monster is Strife and you are stirring it up.  Just let it alone and it will shrivel and cease to trouble you." [InforSearch]

1.      And in light of the Lord’s return we should be careful not to stir up the flames of strife and dissension and backbiting in our families, communities, and certainly not in the fellowship of other believers…to do so is to awaken a monster which can devour us…
2.      And Peter practiced what he preached about this…notice the reference in v.15 to “…our beloved brother Paul…”…it is interesting that Peter would refer to Paul in that way…earlier Peter and Paul had an intense conflict…Paul publicly rebuked Peter for yielding to Jewish pressure not to eat with Gentile Christians…yet Peter speaks of Paul here in glowing terms…he didn’t allow conflict and strife characterize how he related to others…and in light of the Lord’s return we should be diligent in our relationships…

II.  In light of the Lord’s return we should be diligent in our conduct
1.   Notice the words “…spotless and blameless…” at end of v.14…these are the exact opposite of the words Peter used to describe the counterfeit Christians back in chapter 2…in 2:13 he says the false Christians lived in such a way that their lives were like “stains and blemishes” on the Lord and the church…now Peter says that true Christians are just the opposite…they are not stains, they are “spotless”…not blemishes, they are “blameless”
3.      Not saying here that Christians will be perfect…the only one who is perfect is Jesus…He is the “…lamb without blemish and without spot…” as Peter put it in 1 Peter 1:19…He is the Lamb of God Who is worthy to be the sacrifice for our sins…and in using these two words I think Peter is making a veiled reference to Jesus…our character should be reflect His character…His character is to be the pattern, the goal for our character…

1.   Christians should constantly be asking themselves, “Does the way I live my life reflect well on the Lord I claim to whom I claim allegiance?  Can people look at me and see a reflection of Jesus, the Lamb without blemish and spot?  (Met a longtime friend Monday morning of this week and he made an interesting statement.  He said, in effect, that years ago the Lord had gotten him out of the business of judging others.  How they live and what they do is between them and God.  However, he said, I am constantly judging myself because I want to make sure I am living as the Lord desires.)
2.   And point want to make here is that the clear teaching of Scripture is that followers of Jesus are to have different values, different loves, different priorities than those values, loves, priorities which characterize the world…
3.      In light of the Lord’s promised return we should be diligent in our conduct…

III.  In light of the Lord’s return we should be diligent in our desire for others to come to know Him
1.   That’s the essential meaning of the phrase at the beginning of v.15 – “…and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation…”…saying look upon the fact that the Lord has not yet returned as an opportunity to share with more people the wonderful news of salvation—of forgiveness of sin, of abundant life, of eternal life—available in Jesus...
  1. And as an example of the kind of diligence, the kind of urgency which leads to action, we should have in desiring for others to come to know Jesus, in the last part of v.15 and v.16 Peter points to the Apostle Paul…it’s interesting that even in 1st century Christians were already beginning to look at Paul’s letters as Scripture and that then, as now, some were distorting what Paul wrote…but as you read Paul’s letters in NT one things is perfectly clear…Paul was driven by a desire for people to come to faith in Christ…and Christians today should have that same desire…

1.   In a few days Craig and Susan Owen are going to be back in this area from Indonesia.  Twice I  had the opportunity of traveling to SE Asia to visit with them.  One thing that has stuck in my mind from those trips is seeing people in the Hindu and Buddhist temples desperately searching for God…at every temple, masses of people were burning incense, bowing in prayer, leaving food offerings and other sacrifices, or lighting candles in attempts to find favor with their gods…many were casting lots in various forms in order to hear an answer to prayer…some were shaking and spinning a basket of hundreds of prayer sticks in an attempt to get the right answer to fall out…
  1. And seeing scenes like that over and over again reminded me the world, both here and there, is filled with people who don’t know Jesus…they have no answers to the great issues of life…they have no peace in their hearts…no sense of being forgiven…no assurance for the future…
  2. And we have the answer…and in light of the fact that one day the Lord is going to return, we must be diligent in telling our world about Him…

Conclusion

1.   There is an interesting legend about a wealthy merchant traveling through the Mediterranean world looking for the distinguished Pharisee, Paul.  This merchant came into contact with Timothy who arranged a visit with the great apostle.  Paul was, at the time, a prisoner in Rome. Stepping inside the cell, the merchant was surprised to find a rather old man, physically frail, but whose serenity and magnetism challenged the visitor. They talked for hours. Finally the merchant left with Paul's blessing. Outside the prison, the asked Timothy, "What is the secret of this man's power? I have never seen anything like it before."
   “Did you not guess?" replied Timothy. "Paul is in love."
    The merchant looked bewildered. "In Love?"
    "Yes," Timothy answered, "Paul is in love with Jesus Christ."
    The merchant looked even more bewildered. "Is that all?"
    Smiling, Timothy replied, "Sir, that is everything." [G. Curtis Jones, Illustrations For Preaching And Teaching, Nashville Broadman, 1986, p. 225.]
2.   And if we are truly in love with Jesus and if we are looking forward to His coming, we will be characterized by diligence—diligence in our relationships, our conduct, and our desire to see others come to faith in Him…