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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Melville
 Melville, Australia
 www.frcsr.com/fellowship/melville/
 
Title:Looking forward to the Day of the Lord, be diligent!
Text:2 Peter 3:10-18 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2019-03-31
Added:2019-03-29
Updated:2019-07-27
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

ESV

2014 Book of Praise

Psalm 27:1,2

Psalm 15:1,2,3

Hymn 70:1,2,3,4

Hymn 74:1,2,3,4

Hymn 69:1,2,3

 

Read:  2 Peter 3

Text:  2 Peter 3:10-18

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The busy lives that most of us live is punctuated by times of waiting.  Waiting at the traffic lights.  Waiting to be served at McDonalds or your local café.  Waiting at the doctor’s surgery.  Waiting in the airport.  Waiting for the train and then waiting to get to your destination.  But what do you do when you wait? 

  What we do when we wait depends to an extent on what we are waiting for and how long we anticipate waiting for.  You might just scroll through your Instagram feed or glance at the local newspaper when you wait for your meal or your coffee to be served.  You might pick up a magazine at the doctor’s surgery, and as you wait for the traffic lights to go green, you might change radio stations, resist the temptation to check the message that came in on your phone or else just get lost in your own thoughts.

But how are you waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Many people, of course, are not waiting for him at all!  There will be scoffers in the last days, Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:4, walking according to their own lusts, and saying,

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

Others might not scoff but instead agree that the Lord Jesus is going to return one day, but they are still living as though he is not.  They are living as though this world is all that counts and as though the Day of Judgment isn’t coming.

But what about you?  Are you waiting for Christ’s return?  And if so, how?

In 2 Peter 3, the apostle Peter mentions in three separate Bible verses that we are to be waiting for and looking forward to the return of Christ and all that this will bring. 

Verse 12,

“waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”

Verse 13,

“But according to his promises we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

And verse 14.

“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”

But unlike waiting for the bus or train or for your coffee to be served, this waiting for, this looking forward to the return of Christ, is not a passive waiting.  Rather, it is an active living!  As we look forward to the return of Christ we are called to live holy and godly lives, to hasten the day of the Lord, to be found at peace, without spot and blemish, to beware lest we get pulled away by false teachers, and to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And so, with our Bibles opened to the second half of 2 Peter 3, I preach to you this message:

Looking forward to the Day of the Lord, be diligent!

  1. Looking forward
  2. Being diligent

1. Looking forward.

Have you ever missed the plane or the bus?  Have you ever been distracted or else just not taking note of the time, and the plane or the bus went without you?  I’ve missed a couple of plane flights in my time: once in Brazil when we were casually having a cup of coffee and didn’t realize that our plane was on the runway, and once in Auckland when I’d failed to read our ticket correctly and thought we were leaving two hours later than scheduled.

  Being late for a flight isn’t normally such a big disaster in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t “the end of the world” and with respect to the two incidents I’ve just “fessed up” to, things turned out OK.  But what about the return of Christ?  What about the day that literally will be the end of the world as we know it?  How often don’t we live as though the return of Christ is never going to happen?  We can be so short sighted.  We can be so focused on this life, on the here-and-now.  On keeping fit and active.  On ensuring that we and our family are safe and comfortable.  On our daily work, on earning money, on building or buying a house.  On wealth management.  On taking holidays.  And, when you are on holidays, planning for the next one.  And doing all these things as though this life is all that counts.  As though this world is never going to end.  As though the Lord Jesus is never going to come back.

  But that’s not all.  When Peter wrote his second letter, it’s not just that people had stopped thinking that the Lord Jesus was going to return: some of them had stopped believing it.  And since they scoffed at the idea that Christ would return and since they mocked the threat of judgment, they also lived as though He would not return, they lived as though Judgment Day would not be coming.  And as a result, they walked according to their own lusts.  They lived lives of greed and selfishness, lewdness and sexual sin.  And we should not be surprised at that.  If you don’t believe that Christ will return, or if you’ve stopped thinking about his return, if you are not living as though he is coming back, this will affect the way that you live.  But on the other hand, if you know and believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back, that will also affect the way that you live.

The return of Christ will affect the way that we live because we know what His return will be like.  2 Peter 3:10.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

And verse 12,

“. . . waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!”

The picture we have here of the return of Christ is frightening.  His return will be sudden, but the destruction of the world as we know it will be swift.  The sky will be rolled up like a scroll, Revelation 6:14 says, and the heavens will pass away with a roar.  The cleansing fire of God will cause “the heavenly bodies” to be burned up and our works to be exposed.”  In other words, at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the universe as we know it will come to an end, and the things that are being done on this earth, the sins that are done in secret, will be laid bare and they will be judged. 

  The Bible makes no secret of the judgment that is to come. 

Matthew 12:36,

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”

2 Corinthians 5:10,

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

And Revelation 20:12,

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.”

From the perspective of the ungodly, from the viewpoint of those who live outside of Jesus Christ, the return of Christ and Judgment day is a horrible and scary thought.  So scary, in fact, that the Bible says that on that day they will be running to the mountains, saying “fall on us!”  and to the hills, saying “cover us!” (Luke 23:30).  And that’s a truth that we cannot avoid.  “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”, Hebrews 10:31 says, and Judgment Day will prove that this is true.  We need to remember this for ourselves and we need to warn one another about this.  You will not get away with sin and with godlessness forever.  The day is coming when you will have to give account for the life that you lived.

But even though this is all very true, this is not the picture that Peter wants the readers of his letter to be left with.  Peter wrote this letter not to false teachers, nor to those who followed them, but to those who shared the same faith as him and the other apostles in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  He was writing to those who had been given grace and peace, who had been given all things that pertain to life and godliness, who had been given precious and very great promises, that they might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.  (2 Peter 1:1-4.)  He was writing, therefore, not to those for whom Judgment Day would be a day of terror, but for whom Judgment Day would be a day of vindication, of blessing and of joy!  And so Peter goes on in 2 Peter 3 to say in verse 13,

“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

We look forward to Judgment Day.  We look forward to an end to sin, an end to our battle with sin, and an end to the suffering and the consequences of sin.  We look forward to the new heavens and a new earth.  We look forward to the home of righteousness, of truth and of purity.  And the more we are confronted with the sin, the mess and the filth of this world, and the more we recognize the sin, the mess and the filth of our old sinful nature, the more we look forward to that which is to come.

But now how about you?  Where does this talk about Judgment Day leave you?  You see, for as long as you think this world is never going to end, for as long as you think or act as though a day of accounting will never come, you can – and you will – live and act however you want.  There will be some external things that will govern the way you live your life – the laws of the land; the approval, or non-approval, from those around you; your own conscience – but you won’t be living in a way that makes you right with God, the One who created you and the only One who has the full right to determine what is good and what is evil.  And so how about you?  What will Judgment Day mean for you?  Is it a day to look forward to or a day to fear?  That is the question each one of us, individually, needs to have an answer for.

And the first thing we all need to understand is that by nature we are all sinners.  The first thing we all need to understand is that not one of us can make ourselves ready by doing better, trying harder.  Nor can we look forward to Judgment Day thinking that in and of ourselves we are perfect, that we will make the grade.  Rather, to the contrary, we confess that we have all sinned and lost our way.  If we were left up to ourselves, not one of us could stand before God on Judgment Day.  But the good news of the gospel is that what we could not do, Christ has done for us.  Jesus Christ, the One who will return as Judge, has already come to this earth – not as judge but – as our Savior.  He lived a perfect life in our place, He fulfilled all righteousness.  And He took our sin upon Himself and carried the punishment for that sin on the cross.  He was, 1 Peter 1:19 says, “a lamb without blemish or spot”, the perfect sacrifice for sin.  It is through Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may have peace with God.  It is through Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may be found “without spot and blemish” (2 Peter 3:14).   As we confess in Lord’s Day 19 of the Heidelberg Catechism concerning the fact that Christ will come to judge the living and the dead,

“In all my sorrow and persecution I lift up my head and eagerly await as judge from heaven the very same person who before has submitted himself to the judgment of God for my sake, and has removed all the curse from me.”

That’s what He’s done for me, and that is why I look forward to the day of the Lord.  But as we look forward, let us be diligent to walk in the righteousness that Christ has obtained for us.  We’ll see that in our second point.

2.  Being diligent.

The fact that we are saved in Christ and may therefore look forward to His return cannot make us complacent, however.  To the contrary, it must urge us on even more godliness and holiness.  The return of Christ isn’t delayed so that we can sin but so that in this time we can fight against sin, living lives of holiness and godliness, as 2 Peter 3:11 says, and verse 12,

“waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”

Since, verse 15 says, we should “count the patience of our Lord as salvation”, and since 2 Peter 3:9 says that the Lord is “not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance”, God calls every one of us to repent and believe the gospel.  Further, it is with Judgment Day in mind that we need to warn people with a greater sense of urgency and to call them to turn to Jesus Christ as well. The fact that Christ will return and the fact that He can return at any moment compels us to tell people not only about sin and the punishment for sin, but the return of Christ compels us to tell people how to escape from sin so that they too can look forward to the last day with joy and not with dread.

  But while we are telling others about the gospel, false teachers, controlled by Satan, are hard at work trying to pull them and us away from Christ and away from the gospel.  These false teachers might appeal to parts of the Bible, but they take Scripture, Peter writes, they even take the letters of the apostle Paul, and they twist them to their own destruction.  And so Peter warns us in 2 Peter 3:17,

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”

The error of lawless people, Peter has explained in this letter, is to reject Christ, to reject the gospel.  The error of lawless people is to reject godliness and holy living.  The error of lawless people is to turn away from the way of righteousness and to once again be overcome by the sin and the pollution of this world.  These last days before the return of Christ are a battle and Satan is doing all he can to drag us away from the truth and way from our security in Jesus Christ.  And that’s why we need to beware, why we need to watch out.  “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” it says in 1 Corinthians 10:12.  And 2 Peter 3:17, “take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”  We cannot be complacent, we cannot think that we are immune to the attacks of the evil one. 

  And so Peter tells us once more, in 2 Peter 3:18,

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Be diligent to grow in Him.  Because you have received so much in Christ, grow in Him and get to know Him better.  For this very reason, Peter had already said at the beginning of his letter, in chapter 1: 5-7,

“make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”

And now at the end of his letter, Peter goes back to this.  “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

If there is one thing that Peter’s second letter has taught us, it is this:  there can be no such thing as a carnal Christian.  There can be no such thing as one who calls himself a Christian but simply follows the desires of his flesh, be that a life of greed, a life of laziness or a life of sexual sin or a life of drunkenness and debauchery.  There is no such thing as a carnal Christian. Nor can there be such a thing as a slothful Christian, a Christian who is careless about the truths of the gospel and about living a holy and godly life.  You cannot and you may not do that.  Since you have received such great and wonderful promises, since you have been saved from the sin and the pollution and the future destruction of this world, since you may now be partakers of the divine nature, and since you look forward to new heavens and a new earth, remember how you shall live.  2 Peter 3:14,

“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”

Be diligent.  Grow in grace.  Grow in godliness.  Grow in your knowledge and your understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And so Peter ends his letter with the words,

“To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.”

To Him, to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, be the glory.  He was and He is the God who came to this world to save us.  And He is the One who will come again.  To Him be the glory, now, today.  And to Him be the glory forever.  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2019, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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