2 Peter Part 8
The Scoffers are Coming!
2 Peter (entire)
1 Peter 1:13
We are now in the 3rd portion of Peter’s 2nd letter.
As noted before, he began in Ch. 1 by establishing the FOUNDATIONS of the Christian life, and how it can be lived out irrespective of our circumstances.
Last time we saw Peter’s warning against FALSE TEACHERS which took up the whole of Ch. 2.
And now Peter wants to help us keep our focus regarding the Promised FUTURE God Christ has won for all those who are found in Him by faith.
2 Peter 3:1–10
And as we have seen over and over in Peter – remembering is a constant theme.
It is a vitally important theme given the effects of the Fall on the human psyche.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his little and insightful book “Creation and Fall” unpacks something of the practical importance of this fact.
“Temptation is a concrete happening which juts out from the course of life. For the physical man, all life is a struggle, and for the moral man every hour is a time of temptation…“With irresistible power desire seizes mastery over the flesh. All at once a secret, smoldering fire is kindled. The flesh burns and is in flames. It makes no difference whether it is sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, or love of fame and power, or greed for money, or, finally, that strange desire for the beauty of the world, of nature. Joy in God is in the course of being extinguished in us and we seek all our joy in the creature. At this moment God is quite unreal to us, He loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real; the only reality is the devil. Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God…The lust thus aroused envelops the mind and will of man in deepest darkness. The powers of clear discrimination and of decision are taken from us. The questions present themselves: Is it really not permitted to me, yes – expected of me, now, here, in my particular situation, to appease desire?” This is worldliness. God, is not in it. He is forgotten.”
And nowhere is this more true than in our inability to balance off present trials and temptations, against the promise of Christ’s return and final judgment upon all sin.
So Peter takes up his 1st point in these 10 verses.
1. (1-2) Keep Remembering – “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,”
The term “Sincere mind” is a pregnant one. It holds the idea of decisions and opinions flowing from sound reason more than feelings.
Temptation and the momentary forgetfulness of God that allows us to give into it gain their power in lives lived more by feelings and impulses than by reasonings and decisions that flow from Biblical truth in the moment.
Now one cannot read the OT without encountering the theme of God’s judgment on sin. Both in the temporal, and in pointing to the FINAL JUDGMENT.
And, one cannot read the OT without encountering the wonderful promises of the Day of The Lord and the restoration of all things.
But Peter’s meaning here is more likely tied to the rise of false prophets and teachers he addressed in the previous chapter.
I.e. You will have to keep reminding yourselves about the warnings about false prophets in the OT, and about the false teachers we looked at last time who Paul, and Jesus especially, warned about.
False teachers will be a perennial problem in the Church and it requires real vigilance to keep safe.
We looked at just 2 OT passages out of dozens last time: Deut. 13 & 18
But Jesus is emphatic on this topic:
Matt. 7:15 – “ Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Mark 13:22-23 “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.”
Paul again in Acts 20:28-31 – “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.”
And now Peter.
Remember, remember, remember – False teachers ARE coming!
But beyond false teachers, Peter now mentions a 2nd category of dangerous folk.
They aren’t as much interested in growing a group around themselves as the false teachers are – but more directed at simply undermining Biblical Christianity and especially the Believer’s hope in Jesus’ return, the resurrection, final judgment and the eternal state.
These, Peter simply calls “Scoffers.”
2. (3) Expect “Scoffers” too! – “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.”
“C’mon! You don’t believe that 2nd coming stuff is literal do you?”
How unsophisticated. How cartoonish. How fairy-tale like.
And this, Peter notes is because they want to follow their own sinful desires.
In denying the return of Christ and judgment, it would appear they want to follow their sinful desires without the pain of a guilty conscience now, or especially the thought of ultimately having to give an account for their sin later.
Michael Green: “Anthropocentric hedonism always mocks at the idea of ultimate standards and a final division between saved and lost. For men who live in the world of the relative, the claim that the relative will be ended by the absolute is nothing short of ludicrous. For men who nourish a belief in human self-determination and perfectibility, the very idea that we are accountable and dependent is a bitter pill to swallow. No wonder they mocked!”
And this is nothing new, is it?
As D. A. Carson notes, the very first objection to God’s revelation in the Bible is found in Gen. 3 when Satan tells Eve that if she eats of the forbidden fruit there will be no judgment. “You will not surely die!” he scoffingly says.
Christians cannot afford to be the equivalent of the present culture’s “snowflakes”, who melt at the hot breath of anyone who contradicts, voices a contrary opinion or scoffs.
We’re soldiers, not sissies.
3. (4-7) Don’t buy the Scoffer’s Logic – “They will say, “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.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”
Jesus said He was returning soon – and how much time has passed? they ask.
If there hasn’t been any final judgment up until now, what makes you think there will ever be one?
Look carefully at Peter’s 3-fold response to this line of reasoning.
- They deliberately ignore the fact that God has judged before on a major scale – in the Flood.
- They deliberately ignore the fact that God waited a LONG time before sending the Flood / as He did with Sodom & Gomorrah; the Canaanites: Gen. 15:13-16; and Israel and Judah themselves.
- They deliberately ignore the prophetic warnings from the OT prophets, Jesus & the Apostles that a fiery judgment is to come.
Psalm 50:3–4 “Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:”
Zephaniah 3:8 “Therefore wait for me,” declares the LORD, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed.”
Mal. 4: 1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”
Matthew 3:11–12 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
2 Thessalonians 1:6–10 “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.”
Hebrews 10:23–27 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”
God by His Word created the world
By his Word of judgment flooded the world
And by His Word of judgment will destroy it a final time by fire.
Rejecting these realities lulls people into a false sense of security regarding their own sins. They do not admit a day of final reckoning.
Now some may quibble over whether or not LITERAL fire is meant here like the literal water in the flood. And I don’t care whether you take it literally or metaphorically – the idea is the same: God is going to test everything and only what can withstand subjection to His holy presence will remain. Every impurity, everything temporary, everything that is not weighty and valuable weighed in the scales of God’s holiness and eternity with be utterly and completely purged away.
4. (8-9) Don’t count the Lord’s patience, as indifference – “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
The 1000 year reference here is not meant as a tool for calculations.
Rather, it is simply to awaken us to the fact that the Lord is not bound by time the way we are. That as an eternal being, such constraints need to be set aside.
And so, we need to let Him work His work in relation to His purposes and wisdom, and not according to the way we might conceive of “soon” and other such wording.
Beware this does not send you down rabbitless holes.
Romans 2:1–5 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
And for you who do not yet know Christ – think of the patience of God in respect to your own life right now.
You have been preserved thus far. You have been exposed to the Gospel once more – that Jesus died for your sins and calls you to Himself – to repent of your self-government against Him and His holiness, and to turn to Him in faith – trusting in His atoning sacrifice at Calvary.
You are still alive to hear this – not because God is pleased with you as you are – but He is exercising Divine patience that you might repent and believe!
Don’t squander this moment! You may well not receive another!
5. (10) Rest Assured – “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.”
- JESUS WILL COME!
- WILL COME WITHOUT WARNING!
- WILL COME IN JUDGMENT!
The Believer will be spared, vindicated and rewarded.
But even now, the Believer, having understood justice in light of the Cross, cries out for justice in the whole of God’s universe.
Luke 18:7 “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?”
Revelation 6:9–11 “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”
Believer – Justice WILL come! Every foul deed will find its proper recompense.
And as awful as that will be, yet for those who are in Christ Jesus and pardoned in His blood, we can cry out with John – Revelation 22:20 “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”