Statistics
1469 sermons as of June 20, 2017.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
 send email...
 
Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:The day of Judgement is coming
Text:2 Peter 3:1-9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:The Second Coming
 
Added:2013-03-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps. 97: 1 – 4

Ps. 78: 3

Ps. 98: 1, 4

Ps. 75: 2, 5, 6

Ps. 68: 1, 2

 

Scripture reading:       2 Peter 3: 1 – 18

Text:                              2 Peter 3: 1 – 9

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


God grants time for Repentance

Ps. 97: 1 – 4

Ps. 78: 3

Ps. 98: 1, 4

Ps. 75: 2, 5, 6

Ps. 68: 1, 2

 

Scripture reading:       2 Peter 3: 1 – 18

Text:                              2 Peter 3: 1 – 9

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

When you think about the future – what is the most important thing that comes to your mind?   Is there an expectation that stands out, high above everything else, when you look to the future?

For the Christian there is only one answer to this question.   The focus point of the Christian hope is the second coming of Christ.

 

It is at His coming in glory that Christ will be revealed in the fullness of His glory.   It is on the day of His coming that all God’s promises will find their final and complete fulfilment.

 

When scoffers start to scoff about the promise of Christ’s coming, it is indeed a dangerous scoffing.  

If our expectation of Christ’s coming would start to linger, there remains no gospel.   

When Christ’s coming is pushed into the background, when it is no longer the focus point of our hope, worldliness is bound to creep into the church.  

 

If we are no longer preparing ourselves daily for the coming of Christ, then our focus in life will shift to the enjoyment of the things of this world.  

 

It is for this reason that the apostle Peter, here in chapter 3, forcefully fixes our eyes on the coming of Christ.

He places the coming of Christ before our eyes, and fixes our eyes on this hope, in order that this expectation may characterise and sanctify our whole life.

 

He exhorts us to pursue holiness and godliness, and he places his serious admonitions over against the scoffing counsel of scoffers.

In the last days scoffers will come, asking:

“Where is the promise of His coming?   For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

 

This question may either mean that these scoffers do not expect Christ’s coming at all, or it may simply mean that they brush it aside by looking at the natural course of this world.   Then the coming of Christ becomes something remote, something unreal; something that does not fit in the course of our daily life in this world.  

Then the counsel of scoffers is this: Don’t be too anxious about Christ’s coming, the world will continue tomorrow just as it continues today.

It may not even be a pronounced statement, but simply a mind-frame, an attitude towards life.  

When this attitude or mind-frame enters the church, the difference between the church and the world slowly disappears.   Then things become more easy and relaxed in the church.   When there is no longer an intense expectation of Christ’s coming, our focus starts to shift to the enjoyment of this world.   Then people become very upset when they miss out on worldly pleasure, and less upset about the transgression of God’s law.

 

These scoffers are church members.   They have a very relaxed attitude towards life.   They will say to you:

 

“Why should we prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming?   Are we not saved already?  

Don’t try to be too holy!   Remember, we are all sinners, and we are saved by grace alone!   Relax my friend, relax!  Don’t be so tensed about the coming of the Lord!   We are all covenant people.   All the promises belong to us.   We are okay.  

And the world is not such a bad place after all.  You are still young my friend, enjoy life as much as you can, and don’t restrict yourself too much!  Live life to the full – you only live once!”

 

That is typically the counsel of scoffers.   It is a lifestyle that results from a twisting of the gospel; it is a lifestyle caused by false teaching – as the apostle has shown it in chapter 2. 

 

To many church members it is a temptation to give head to such counsel.   The attractions and desires of this world agree with our own sinful nature, and many are still untrained in putting to death the desires of their flesh.  Many who call themselves Christian don’t know anymore what it means to deny yourself and to crucify your own desires.   They will be carried away by any teaching that promises them liberty. 

 

Now, the design of the apostle Peter, here in this epistle, is to warn us against such an attitude towards life.   The purpose of our life in this world is not to enjoy this life as much as possible.   When our eyes are focused on Christ’s coming, then our purpose in life and our lifestyle is characterised by an intense pursuit after holiness and godliness.

That is the context of our text.   The apostle refutes the scoff of scoffers, and reaffirms the certainty of Christ’s coming, in order that our whole life may be characterised by this expectation.

 

Before we move on, there is still one thing that we have to note.   The apostle is not speaking about Christ’s coming in general, but he focuses on the fact that the coming of the Lord will be a day of judgment.   This world once perished in the flood, but next time it will be fire.   The earth is being “reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” – verse 7.

 

And he calls that day “the day of the Lord” when he says that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.

The day of the Lord will be Judgement Day.  

 

His description of the day of the Lord corresponds with the prophecies of old:

 

“Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand!   It will come as destruction from the Almighty… Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wroth and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.   The stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.   I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity…I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts and in the day of His fierce anger.” – Isaiah 13: 6, 9, 13.

 

“Alas for the day!   For the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty” – Joel 1: 15

 

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD” – Joel 2: 31

 

“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!   For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” – Joel 3: 14

 

“The great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly.   The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out.   That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness…” – Zephaniah 1: 14, 15

 

And so we could quote many passages that speak about the coming of “the day of the Lord”.  

The apostle Peter, then, describes the coming of the Lord as the coming of that great and awesome day of the Lord:

 

“The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” – verse 10.

 

The scoffers say: Forget about Judgement Day!  

The apostle says: Remember Judgement Day!

 

That is the context.  Our text says that the Day of Judgement is surely coming.   When we have to wait thousands of years, it may feel to us as if it will never happen anymore.   The world just continues and nothing happens.   But the Lord is not postponing His coming, instead, He is only allowing time for repentance!

 

And so I proclaim God’s Word to you with this theme:

The Day of Judgement is coming

 

We will note:


1.      The scoffing of scoffers

2.      The certainty of the promise

3.      How we should respond to this promise


In the first place we note…

The Scoffing of Scoffers

 

In the last days scoffers will come, men who walk according to their own lust.   The apostle has already given us a description of these men in the previous chapter.   They are false teachers in the church.  They proclaim Christian liberty, while they themselves are slaves of sin.   They turn the grace of God into lawlessness.  

 

Here in chapter 3 the apostle now mentions the reason for their lawlessness: Judgment Day has slipped out of their minds. 

 

Yes, brothers and sisters, if we do not live in the intense expectation of the Day of the Lord, then all our knowledge and all our faith will become useless.   If the expectation of Christ’s coming is missing, if the expectation that we all have to appear before His judgement seat, is missing, nothing will remain of a pure faith or of godly living.  

 

The scoffers in the church are progressive men who are very confident of their own ways.   They do not want to hear of any approaching danger, and they mock with any idea of judgement.  Everything is okay and wonderful; no danger, nothing to worry about. 

When you listen to them it sounds as if the Christian life is just one big party, a life of prosperity and blessing, and in the end glory upon glory!   Life is just one big cruse of happiness and wonderful blessings.   And they are even very thankful for that!  They praise the Lord constantly for His wonderful blessings!  

But something is missing.   There are no warnings.   They have no sense of the approaching danger.   There is just nothing to worry about! 

 

Although they use many Scriptural words and expressions, to make their counsel sound Scriptural, it is, however, a different mind-frame, and a different gospel.

 

Over against the counsel of scoffers, the apostle admonishes us to live circumspectly and with great carefulness; we are to exert ourselves striving against sin, we are to flee with fear and trembling from all defilement.   For the day of Judgement is coming. 

 

The scoffers will scoff and say:

 

“Where is the promise of His coming?   For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” – verse 4.

 

As we said, it may mean either that these scoffers do not expect Christ’s coming at all, or it may simply meant that they brush it aside by looking at the natural course of this world.  

Don’t be too anxious about Christ’s coming, the world will continue tomorrow just as it continues today.

 

And of course the scale of unbelief may be higher or lower.   Some may flatly refuse to believe that they will ever have to appear before Christ’s judgment seat.   Others may be pretty sure that there is something like that, but prefer to push it out of their mind.

 

Over against the scoffing of scoffers, the apostle wants to impress that day deeply into our mind.

If you do not live in the intense expectation of Christ’s coming, your life will show it!

The absence of this expectation becomes evident in a worldly lifestyle.  

 

Dear congregation, the purpose of our life in this world, and of the time granted to us, is not to enjoy this life as much as possible!   Instead, every minute that we have is preparation time.  

 

In order to teach us the right perspective, the apostle places the coming of the Lord directly in front of us.  It will surely come, and it will come quickly.  

 

We find this also in the rest of Scripture.   The coming of the Lord is at hand – James 5: 8.  

Behold, the judge is standing at the door – James 5: 9. 

The end of all things is at hand – 1 Peter 4: 7

Christ Himself said:

 

“Surely I am coming quickly” – Rev. 22: 20.

 

It is now this promise which the scoffers will attack by asking:

 

“Where is the promise of His coming?   For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation”.  

 

These scoffers do know that the promise was made to the fathers, and they clearly use the language of Scripture, speaking of “the promise” and “the fathers”.  

They do not deny that the promise was made to the fathers, but they do imply that the fulfilment of that promise was expected much earlier, and that we should not make the same mistake to be too anxious about that day, or to live too intensely in the expectation of that day. 

Just consider the facts: nothing has happened since the fathers have fallen asleep.  Centuries come and go, and the world just continues.

 

Don’t be too anxious, the world will continue tomorrow just as it continues today.  

You still have lots of time.  There is plenty of time to go on a world-trip for a year, to do this, and to enjoy that.   Enjoy life as much as you possibly can, and forget about the seriousness of life – that is typically the counsel of scoffers.

 

But the apostle, on the other hand, teaches us a different mind-frame.   The purpose of our life in this world is not to enjoy life as much as possible; neither is not to be spent in the lustful desires of the flesh and of this world.  

He places the Day of Judgment directly before us, and he firmly fixes our eyes on it, and admonished us not to take our eyes from it.   The day of the Lord is coming.   The Day of the Lord is approaching swiftly.   Time is running out. 

 

The time that is still granted to you is not a delay of the promise, but God’s longsuffering toward you: He is still giving you time to repent and to prepare for His coming.

 

That is what the apostle is saying here in our text.

 

We note that in the second place…

The certainty of the promise

 

If someone lives in an Australian bush, and his house is surrounded with Eucalypt trees, and he receives the warning that a fierce bushfire is approaching, then he may either give heed to the warning, or he may scoff at it.

 

If he is a scoffer, he may tell you:

 

“My friend, I have been living in this bush for many years and nothing has ever happened.   Why are you so exited?   Calm down.   Look, the birds are singing, the sky is blue, it is a beautiful day to enjoy!”

 

And the more you warn him, the merrier he will become!  Yes, all your warnings will be fuel for his scoffing.

 

But if he is a wise man, he will certainly give attention to the warning.

 

Now, when you receive such a warning, it is also important to know whether the warning is well founded.   Is it true, or is it just a rumour.

If you are not sure, you may still linger for a little while, and be uncertain what to do.

But if you know for sure that the fire is approaching at high speed, then you will act swiftly and with determination.  Then every minute becomes preparation time.

 

The apostle is telling us that the warning is not a rumour.   It is certain.   By the word of God the whole earth will soon be on fire and be burned up.   The day is approaching at high speed.   There is still time to flee, but make haste, for it is coming with a roar, swiftly, to destroy and to lay desolate, and to consume the sinner like stubble.  

 

It is certain for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.   By His word the heavens and the earth were created, by the same word the heavens and the earth is reserved for fire of God’s wrath in the day of judgement. 

 

 

 

What then about the argument of the scoffers that the promise has been given thousands of years ago already, and that nothing has happened since?

Well, in the first place the apostle reminds us that something did happen.   Remember the flood!   God has proclaimed his judgement long before, but finally it did come.   The flood in the days of Noah serves as an example.  

 

“…as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.   For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all way, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” – Mt. 24: 37 – 39.

 

God has given us an example in the history of this world.

 

But then the apostle also continues to refute the scoff of scoffers, by reminding us of the fact that a few thousand years passing by does not mean that there is any delay or postponement of the promise.

 

“…beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.   The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count it slackness, but He is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – verses 8, 9.

 

God created the sun and the moon and the stars for more than one reason, but one of the reasons, mentioned in Genesis 1, is that He made the sun and the moon and the stars “to separate the day from the night” and to “serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years” – Gen. 1: 14 (NIV).

Amongst other reasons the sun and the moon and the stars were created to be the clockwork of this creation, an accurate clock to serve us, ticking off the days and the years.  And so heaven and earth is ticking with the time created by God, which He has fixed in the heavens above us.

 

But God is not part of the clock that He made.   He, and He alone, is eternal.   He is not in any way limited or confined to the limitations and restrictions of His own creation.   Much less is He controlled by the time which He created.

 

On the other hand, God does indeed use the clock which He has made.   He has set the alarm for the day and hour which He has appointed before time began.  Christ will return on a day and an hour on the clock of this creation.  And we may know that it will be soon.

 

Yes, we are not able to determine that day and hour, but Scripture does stress that it will be soon.

 

When the apostle now says that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, he removes the objection of the scoffers.  

They have no idea of God’s greatness and power, and they even try to fit God into their own timeframe and to judge Him according to their own understanding of things.  

And therefore the apostle reminds us of our smallness, and that we may not try to measure the time of the fulfilment to the few thousand years that may be known to us.   

 

If the genealogies in Genesis from Adam to Noah and from Noah to Abraham are correct – and I do believe they are correct – then the clock of this creation has been ticking only for six thousand years.  

To us this may seem to be a very long time, but in comparison to the infinity of eternity, it has actually been a very short while.  

We see, thus, that there is no tension between the promise that Christ will soon return, and the 2 000 years that have since lapsed.

 

Each generation simply has to live in the expectation that Christ will soon return, for no one knows when it shall be, except that it will be soon.  

 

Now, the Lord has appointed a specific day when Christ will return.   The time and hour of His coming is set.   It cannot change.   It cannot move forward or backward.  

 

When Christ speaks of His coming, He says to His disciples:

 

“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority” – Acts 1:7 (NIV).

 

Times and dates have been set by the Fathers authority.

 

“…of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, but My Father only” – Mt. 24:36.

 

Scripture makes clear that there is indeed a day and an hour determined and set by the authority of the Father.

 

With regard to the mocking of the scoffers, the question may arise whether there is maybe any delay in the execution of God’s plan.   And immediately the apostle rejects any such thought.   The Lord will not change His promise, or postpone its fulfilment.

The Lord is not slow or slothful in keeping His promise.   The Lord is making haste.   Everything in the history of this world is heading quickly towards the coming of Christ.

But, at the same time He shows His longsuffering toward us by the very fact that He is still allowing time for repentance.  

 

 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count it slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

 

Now, who has to come to repentance?  Yes, the scoffers have to repent, but the apostle is not now speaking to the scoffers.   He is not now urging the scoffers to repent; he is warning us that we should repent.

 

The apostle is not now speaking to the scoffers, he is speaking to the believers, and he includes himself: God is longsuffering toward us.   We have to repent.

God is not willing that any of us should perish.   Therefore He allows time in order that all of us may come to repentance.  

The apostle has a pastoral concern for the congregation.   He is not now speaking to the wolves; he is speaking to the sheep.

 

The warning is directed to our address.

How then do we have to respond to this warning?     

 

We note that in the third place.

How we should respond to this promise

 

Now that we are assured that warning of the approaching fire is not just a rumour, but that the destructing fire of God’s wrath is swiftly approaching – how should we respond?

 

The answer is actually worked out in the second part of this chapter, where the apostle says:

“Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons aught you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…?”

 

That is what the apostle is driving at.   All his admonitions that we should keep our eyes fixed on the coming of Christ is in order that we shall pursue holiness and godliness.

God is still granting us time to repent, time to prepare for Christ’s coming, time to increase in godliness, that we may be without spot and blameless.

 

The apostle does not tell us: “Brothers, you have nothing to worry about”.  

He does not say to us:  “You are the elect and therefore you don’t have to repent”.  

No, it is the other way around.  

The believers are exhorted in this letter, those who share the same precious faith with the apostles, that they must become even more diligent to make their calling and election sure – 1: 10.  

We are exhorted to make sure that we will found without spot and blameless – 3: 14.

It comes to us in the imperative, as a command, to grow in the grace of God and to exert ourselves in doing so.

 

Dear congregation, the apostle does not teach us that we must reconcile ourselves with God by our own holiness.   Neither does he teach us that we may be justified by our own righteousness.   No, nothing of that!  

But he does teach us that God in His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, and called us to be partakers of His divine nature, that we may escape the corruption that is in the world through lust – chapter 1: 3, 4.

He commands us to grow and increase in faith, in virtue, in knowledge, in self-control, in perseverance, in godliness, in brotherly kindness and in love, that we shall not be barren and unfruitful.

He commands us that we must, in this manner, be even more diligent to make our calling and election sure – 1: 10.

 

The grace of God has been given to us in Christ in order that we may flee from all defilement and increase in all virtue and godliness.   If anyone is not diligently growing in this grace, he will not be saved. 

 

Anyone who continues in an unfruitful life of sin is heading for destruction.   And he finds it necessary to exhort the believers, church members, to be aware of any heresy that teaches a false freedom; a liberty to continue in sin.  

He finds it necessary to warn us against the dangerous mocking of scoffers who does not want to hear about God’s approaching judgement.  

 

The apostle makes every effort to stir the believers up and to awaken us, that our minds may be pure and alert; that nothing – not even the scoffing of scoffers – may turn us away from a godly life in the expectation of Christ’s coming.

 

Brothers and sisters, time is still given for daily repentance, and daily growth in the grace of God, and daily preparation for the coming of Christ.  

 

In this regard it is worthwhile to note that when the apostle says that a thousand years are for the Lord as one day, he is actually referring back to something Moses said in Psalm 90:

 

            “…a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past…”.

 

Now, in that psalm, Moses speaks of God’s eternity on the one side, while man on the other hand is only dust.   Our life is only seventy or eighty years.  And so he prays to the Lord and asks:

            “…teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” – Ps. 90:12.

 

Teach us to number our days.  

Knowing that our days are few, let us use them wisely.  

The apostle Peter is now quoting from that Psalm, and saying the same thing: As much time as is given, is for us to repent and to increase in godliness.

 

Also the apostle Paul comes with the same teaching when he says:

 

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” – Eph. 5: 15, 16.

 

We have to redeem the time and make wise use of the time that we still have.

 

Brothers and sisters, even if the Lord would not come in our own time, then still: we will not live a thousand years.  

Let us learn to number our days, to make the best use of the time given to us – time not to enjoy ourselves us much as possible in this world, gratifying our own desires, walking according to the lusts of our flesh, but time to prepare for Christ’s coming, to grow and to increase in the grace that we once received, and to flee more and more from the corruption that is in the world through lust.

 

The apostle wants our mind to be pure and clear (verse 1).

Yes, our mind is only pure and clear if it is fixed on the coming of our Lord.  

We will only increase in holiness and godliness if our eyes remain fixed on that great and awesome day of the Lord when Christ will appear on the clouds of heaven, in great power and glory, to judge the living and the dead.

 

Let us not follow the counsel of scoffers, nor follow their lifestyle.   Let us hold on to the admonitions of Christ’s apostles.   Let us, who received God’s grace in Christ, not spend our time in the pursuit of the desires of our flesh and of this world, but count our days, wisely redeeming the time, pursuing holiness and godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of that day.

 

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner