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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
 www.bethelurc.org
 
Title:What Kind of People We Ought to Be?
Text:2 Peter 3:10-28 (text: 11 &14) (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:The Second Coming
 
Preached:2021-11-07
Added:2021-11-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Opening Song # 95B: 1-4
Reading of the Law
Assurance of Pardon
Song of Response: “On the Good and Faithful” # 484
Song of Preparation: “Before the Throne of God Above” # 277

Service of God’s Holy Word

Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 3:10-18
Sermon: “What Kind of People Ought We to Be?”
Prayer of Application
Song of Response: “Take My Life, and Let It Be” # 538

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Note: You may want to explain at the outset of the Scripture reading that this sermon does not attempt to explain every aspect of the Lord's Second Coming that is mentioned in the passage. In my previous two sermons (also found on the Seed) I addressed some of these other subjects. The purpose of this particular sermon is to focus on verses 11 & 14 within the greater context.  

What Kind of People Ought We To Be?

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, what would you do if you knew that your time on earth was short – if you knew these were the last months, the last weeks, even the last hours of your life? Where would you go? What would you want to do? How would you spend your time?

 

Those questions reminded me of a song by Tim McGraw. It’s about a man who is talking to someone else about the bad news he just got from the doctor – that his time was short. In the song, the question is asked: How's it hit you when you get that kind of news? Man, what'd you do? And he said, I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu; And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying. And he said, Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.

 

Now, I know that my dying wishes would not be to jump out of an airplane, or climb a mountain, or ride a mechanical bull. I’m just not that adventurous. But the point of that song is that the prospect of one’s death, that the end is drawing near, has a sobering effect on you. It motivates you to live the rest of your life with a sense of urgency, no regrets; wanting to make every moment count; doing things that perhaps all your life you were too afraid to do or too reluctant to do.

 

And even the last things he mentions about showing love and granting forgiveness, that reveals an ethical and moral dynamic to life – about how we should be treating others around us. And of course, the whole point and message of the song is that we shouldn’t have to wait until we are dying to live like this – everyday we should be living like we were dying.

 

Although not exactly the same, Peter has a similar message for us in this text as we are to live each day knowing that Judgment Day is coming; that the Lord’s coming is near. In verse 11, Peter says: since everything will be destroyed in this way, since we know that the day of the Lord is drawing near – that Jesus may return at any moment – what kind of people ought we to be?

How should we live? And while Peter doesn’t share with us a list of his dying wishes – of all the places he wants to go and of all the things that he would like to do -- he does share with us the qualities and attributes that should characterize the lives of God’s people living in the last days.

 

Peter is saying that our knowledge of the nearness of the Lord’s coming has an ethical dimension to it; that knowledge moves us and motivates us and fills us with a sense of urgency. That’s what we will be talking about today. Peter Calls us to Live Godly Lives as we Await the Lord’s Return.  

1) In Contrast to the False Teachers

2) In Keeping with the Lord’s Character  

 

1) In Contrast to the False Teachers

To begin, I want to spend a few moments going over the context again -- to review some of the things we’ve been talking about in the last 2 chapters. Then we’ll get a better idea of how this all fits-in with what Peter says in our text today.

 

Back in chapter 2, Peter exposed the destructive heresies of the false teachers who were in the church. These false teachers had challenged the testimony of Peter and the other apostles who had been with Jesus, and who were teaching and preaching about the second coming of Jesus, and about the coming day of judgment. The false teachers were saying: it’s not true.  

 

Bold and arrogant, these men blasphemed God. They even slandered the angels whom Jesus appointed on that day to be his servants, carrying out his judgment. They scoffed and mocked Peter saying: where is this coming that he promised? Each day goes on as it has before since the creation of the world.

 

And as if that was not destructive enough, these same false teachers were also dark and depraved men. In a previous sermon I pointed out that that these men were most likely Gnostics who taught that there were two parts to the human being – the body and the soul. And all that God is concerned about is the soul – the body will be destroyed. So as a result, they taught that God did not care what we did with our bodies.

So, it is no surprise to find (in II Peter 2:17-18) that these men indulged the lustful desires of their sinful human nature. They turned into sexual predators. They targeted and enticed new coverts -- those who had just joined the church, who had just believed the Gospel and escaped the errors of the sinful world around them. Sadly, they fell into the clutches of these evil men. These men first deceived them with clever sounding arguments and then seduced them into sexual sin.

 

So we see, even with these false teachers it is true: their end times perspective had an ethical dimension to it. In their case, they eliminated the reality of a final judgment, they convinced themselves that Jesus was not going to return -- that they would not have to stand before their Creator, their Judge to give an account for how they had lived their life -- and what happens?

 

It’s exactly what we would expect. These men became brute beasts; depraved animals driven by their sinful desires. And that’s the contrast that Peter is making here. Everything Peter says in our text about living Godly lives and being holy and spotless and blameless as we wait for the coming of the Lord, is held against the backdrop of those sinful, immoral depraved false teachers who said – there is no judgment. The Lord is not coming back.     

 

And I think there’s a lot we can learn from this as we look at the present state of the world in which we live. Almost 2000 years separate us from the time of our text, but is our world all that different from the way it was in Peter’s day? You could argue that the world in Peter’s day was the pre-Christian era, when the church was just growing, and today we live in the post-Christian era. But in both Peter’s day and in our day the church lives in a world where there is widespread paganism.    

 

And wherever there is paganism, there is no fear of God. There is no knowledge of God. And there is no objective truth. The truth about the existence of God; the truth of the Bible as God’s Word;

the law of God as well as the truth of the Gospel – that fallen man needs a Savior – all of that is roundly rejected.

 

And what happens to man as a result? When there is no fear of God in man’s heart, no fear of Christ as King, no fear of the Judge who will return someday to hold all men accountable – man becomes a brute beast. He becomes the sum of his fallen parts – driven by his sinful human nature. And so the world in Peter’s day is not that different than the world in our day. But keep in mind, Peter is not talking about the presence of sinful immorality and false teaching out there in the world – which is where we would expect it. No. He’s talking about its presence in the church. This sinful immorality has crept into the church by way of the these false teachers and those who follow them.  

 

That’s why Peter issues the warning that he does in verse 17: be on your guard (watch out) so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. In a way, we’re tempted to think of the church (being among God’s people) as a “safe space” where we could let our guard down and where we would not have to worry about the presence and power of sin and evil and immorality.

 

But Satan does not stop at the door of the church. Satan does not leave God’s people alone. Satan does not give up trying to tempt us or seduce us once we have given our hearts to the Lord. If anything, he works on us even harder.

 

And just as he did in Peter’s day, Satan will use the teachings and philosophies of the age, the social movements of the day, even the “wokeism” of our day to try to drive a wedge between Christians – to divide families – to create division in the church. To drive a wedge between what we believe in as truth from God’s Word, and what the current wisdom of the age is.

 

And so that warning in verse 17 is a timely warning, and it is for all of us, for every Christian – for those new to the faith as well as those who have been a Christian for 80 years. Be on your guard. Keep watch. It’s easy to become complacent; to get lazy spiritually speaking. It’s easy to take our standing in Christ – even our election -- for granted. It’s easier than we think to fall away from the faith – because very often, when we fall away, we do so gradually, incrementally, not all at once.

 

And so be on your guard. I am reminded of what Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:16) Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. That is a wonderful exhortation for all of us as pastor, as elders, as parents and grandparents. Be on your guard. Examine your life. Study God’s Word of truth and pray that by God’s Holy Spirit He would bring your heart and your life into conformity to God’s perfect will.  

 

2) In Keeping with the Lord’s Character 

And that is right where the second point of this passage leads us. Peter Calls us to Live Godly Lives as we Await the Lord’s Return. To Lead lives that are in keeping with the Lord’s character.

Again, in verse 11 Peter asks: what kind of people ought we to be? Another way of asking that is What kind of people does God call us to be? What kind of people does God expect us to be?

 

In verse 11, he mentions living holy and godly lives. The word holy, of course, is connected to God’s own perfect character. Think back to what Peter wrote in the first letter – in chapter 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. As it is written Be holy as I am holy.

 

Holiness in God’s people has to do with moral purity. It has to do with living a life set apart from the world, and set free from sin and set apart unto God. And the word used for godliness means piety and reverence and awe toward God. It is the same word that Peter used back in 2 Peter 1:3. God’s divine power has given us everything we need for Godliness. That makes sense.

 

God’s people should be a Godly people – possessing reverence and awe for God. Our lives should be marked by Christian piety where the evidence of our faith, the proof of what we believe is reflected, it is on display (as it were) for all to see -- in every area of our life.

 

In our marriage, in our relationships with others, in our daily conduct, in our work ethic, in our language, in the way we spend our money, in the way we worship, in the way we raise our children, even in our ambitions and desires and plans for tomorrow. Our godliness (our love and loyalty and fidelity and trust in the Lord) should be evident to everyone.

 

Then later on in verse 14 Peter mentions being spotless, blameless and at peace with God. Spotless means without stain or blemish. It’s the same word Peter used back in 1 Peter 1:19 when he referred to the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot. Implied by that perfect; pristine.

 

And the word blameless has to do with being innocent; without fault; nothing can be alleged against you. If you’re in your car, and someone is speeding recklessly down the road and they run a stop sign and then crash into your car, then they are the guilty party. But you are blameless.

 

Then finally, there’s the word peace being at peace with God. This could mean being right with God – or simply living in peace with God, in harmony with the ways of God, as opposed to someone who is living in hostility and enmity with God and with his people.

 

So to review: what kind of people are we to be as we wait for the Lord’s return: We’re to be holy, godly, spotless, blameless and a people that is at peace with God.

 

Set part from the pagan world – but especially, living in contrast to those false teachers – who although they were in the church, although they pretended to be Christians, they showed by their ungodly conduct and by their immorality and unholy lives that they were not Godly people.

 

Now, I want to make sure that there is no misunderstanding here. I can imagine a scenario where this is easily taken out of context; where a visitor walks into church today and hears what I am saying and they think: these people at Bethel claim to be perfect! They claim that they are holy, godly, spotless, blameless and a people that is at peace with God.  

 

But let me say this as clearly as I can: all of us here are sinners. We have all sinned against God and against our neighbor in thought, word and deed. No one here is without sin. In fact, if it were not for the grace and mercy and love of God shown to us through His Son Jesus Christ, if it were not for the fact that Jesus died to take away my sins, our sins, all of us would deserve eternal judgment and condemnation in hell.

 

I think it is Sinclair Ferguson who said:  God accepts us as we are, but He never leaves us the way He finds us! Every one of us must come to Christ as we are – sinful and lost and unworthy, with a load of shame and guilt and regret -- but then God takes hold of us in His grace, and by the power of His Holy Spirit, God begins to change us; to transform us.

 

God gives us a spiritual makeover if you will. And the image God is going for – the person that God most wants us to be like is His own Son Jesus Christ. That is the goal for every child of God. That is the gold standard as it were. To be like Christ. To be made more and more after the image of Christ.

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 says that exactly: And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  Colossians 3:9-10 says Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

 

So you see, we Christians are not boasting about how holy we are and how much better we are than anyone else. No. We are humbly confessing that we are sinners saved by grace, who have now been called to holiness! We have now been called to leave our life of sin, the ways of immorality and the sinful desires of the flesh, and we have been called to follow Christ, to strive to die unto our sin, and be more and more like Christ every day.

 

And that exhortation, that encouragement is summarized so beautifully in what peter writes in the very last verse of our passage (vs. 18):  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!

 

He follows up the negative warning from verse 17 of being watchful, of being on your guard so that you do not fall away or drift away, with the positive call to grow! To Grow in the grace and knowledge of who? Of the Lord Jesus Christ. There again we see that Christ is One set before us! He is the one we are to imitate and follow!

 

Think of His grace not just as his favor, but think of all the gifts that flow to us from his grace – the very gifts we have mentioned like holiness and godliness – we are to grow in holiness and godliness as Christ dwells within us, and as we seek to follow Him and walk in His ways.

 

And then we are to grow in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Which is true knowledge! It is the knowledge of the Scriptures that teaches us who Christ is and what He has done for us – how much he has loved us that He gave up His own life on the cross to save us from our sins. We will never reach a day now, or in eternity, when we will be able to say that have fully attained the whole knowledge of that truth, or that we are bored with the knowledge of that truth -- because the knowledge of what Christ has done for us is so infinitely great and so utterly amazing!  

 

And so you see, this is how we are to live out our days until Christ returns. Yes, there may be many things we’d like to see or do or accomplish before Christ returns or before we die. Some people refer to that as a bucket list. I don’t think it’s wrong or ungodly to have such a list or make certain goals -- so long as they are wholesome and worth pursuing and we can glorify God in the process.

 

Maybe you’d like to see the Grand Canyon or go to Europe or yes, maybe you’d prefer to go sky-diving or rocky Mountain climbing. But as we do those things – whatever they might be -- let’s never forget the higher calling we have received from God. To prepare for the end, to live our lives each day -- ready to meet the Lord when he returns. Which means striving to be like Christ; which means growing each day in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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