Reading from 2 Peter 2:1-11, Todd reminds us that in our culture of tolerance and false teaching, believers are to be heralds of righteousness who are full of both grace and truth.
A Diligent and Right Response to "These Things"
A Reminder of How and When "Joy to the World" Comes
Saints and Scoffers Running out of Time
False Teaching and False Teachers: the Difference and the Danger of Both
False Teaching is a Trap
Lot: the Trampled Spring That Is Wonderfully Saved and a Horrible Warning
The Grace and Truth False Teachers Miss and the Judgment They Won’t
The Words and Ways of the False Teacher and What to Do about It
Stirring Truth That Makes Men Useful
The Choreographed Christian Life
Persecution From Without Is Not Near the Threat as Is the Poison From Within
Good morning, Fort Worth, Plano, and Dallas friends. We are glad to be together. We're going to pray. I think you're going to be really encouraged today. You're going to learn some Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, today. As I get ready to pray, I want to tell you why I want to start with prayer. This is a section in 2 Peter that is letting you be reminded of who God is.
I know we have all kinds of friends who are with us. Some of you are in here this morning, and you're not really looking for a great theological treatise. You're hurting, you're discouraged, and you wonder if there's a good God in this world. What in the world is going on? Maybe that's why you don't trust him. Maybe you have trusted him, and you don't see his goodness yet evident in your life. You're trying to figure out what to do as a result of that.
Others of you are purposing to be faithful, and you're wondering how long it's going to take for God to move and show himself. All three of you and probably everybody else along the spectrum are going to be addressed today. We're going to remind you of the character of God. We're going to remind you what's at stake, and why we have to hold fast and stay true. Let's pray I do that effectively and get us out on time.
Father, that would be a miracle. I confess I love your words so much that sometimes I get to teaching it, and I want to keep going and show them more. Lord, what I really want to do today is hold you up in all your beauty and goodness and remind ourselves of who you are so they would want to run after you personally.
I pray that every week when we gather and sing songs, people would go, "I want to know that God. I want to be a person who believes that better is one day in his courts than a thousand right in the center of the prosperity of the wicked." Lord, sometimes the prosperity of the wicked looks really, really tempting, good, and alluring. We need to come back in here and remind ourselves the prosperity of the wicked is fleeting, and you are good and beautiful.
Now is our time to go to war, and we have to hold fast and stay true. Some of us need to figure out what truth is. Today, I pray you would address every single one of us in our specific places as we journey to know truth if it's there and respond to truth if we've embraced it. Would you open the eyes of our hearts, as your Scripture says we should pray? Would you strengthen us? Would you help us not be blown here and there by every wind or wave of doctrine, because we are mature believers.
Teach us, now. Thank you for 2 Peter. Thank you for what you did through Peter, that today, we might know you through Christ, be useful and fruitful in this world, and be saved from all kinds of storms, temporal and eternal. We pray this in Christ's name. Amen.
If you have not been with us, we are in a book called 2 Peter. It is a very simple book to lay out. Let me explain to you what's going on. Peter was a guy whose life had been radically changed by God who invaded into his broken, impetuous world. He had been filled with a fleshly understanding or maybe even a submission to a form of godliness through a perverted form of Judaism that was prevalent during that day.
Peter met God through the greatest revelation of God, Jesus Christ. Through understanding God, as he was fully revealed through the visible image of God and the person of Jesus, and having received the provision Jesus made for broken sinners like him, Peter became useful to God because he was reconciled to God.
He said, "I am not going to live forever on this earth. I'm going to die. Until God rolls up his kingdom program, until he rolls up what he's doing in this earth, men are going to be born, and men are going to die. People who are reconciled to God will live with God forever. He will overcome the curse."
Peter wants us to know that. He wants you to know your life can be transformed now and secured forever, but you need to know this. It's not going to be because you behave well. It's because you believe rightly. The problem is none of us behaves the way God wants us to. God isn't really angry at us in the way we think of anger, like he's disappointed and wants to unload all kinds of wrath toward us. God is a loving Father, so there is an anger against sin, but there is a love for his children.
As a dad of six kids, I don't get angry at my kids. My kids are going, "Yes, you do. You get angry at me." I would say, "What you're seeing in me, I think, is a righteous anger." Sometimes, because I'm not God, it isn't a righteous anger. It is a human anger. I will tell you, though, if you never get angry, you're a spore. You're a fungus. You're not alive.
You ought to get angry when you see things that are out here, but, "…the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God," the Scripture says. We're encouraged to be angry and sin not. When I am rightly manifesting God's kindness in my life, you will see an anger against sin, because I see it hurt people I love. I see it hurt me.
God has an anger against that which is destroying us, because he's a good and loving God. He wants us to walk in freedom, and he sees we're slaves to error and deception. He has sought to set us free. It's the truth that sets us free. It's the truth about who God is, where we came from, what's going on, why we're here, and what's going to happen as a result of us rejecting the revelation he's given to us.
Let me tell you, at the very beginning, Peter is telling you the faith, once and for all, is delivered to the saints. He says, "God is not looking to smack you upside the head." He doesn't want you to live in fear of him like you're scared. He wants you to live in a fear of God that is a sense of, "He is who he says he is, and I don't want to jack with it, because if I jack with God and trifle with who God is, it's going to cost me."
It's the same way we fear gravity. You don't walk around scared to death of gravity, do you? It's not like the Halloween scary. You respect gravity. You don't go up on tall buildings and walk around on the ledge without being careful, right? When you get in a plane, you go, "Is this thing fairly secure? Is there a good chance, if we make it go up through jet propulsion, it'll come down gently and not at a massive rate of speed?"
You don't fear gravity like it affects your every step like this, but you live in respect to it, knowing if you jack with gravity, it's going to cost you health and the chance to be successful and prosper. You live with a constant awareness of it, and you yield to the laws of gravity. God's saying, "Listen. I want you to understand this. You ought to fear me. You don't want to miss anything about me, because if you jack with me, and you kick against the goads…"
A goad is a long stick that would be used by shepherds to drive along the animals. They were sometimes stronger animals, if you will, than the shepherd, who would want to kick them. A goad was a stick longer than an ox's leg. When it was put into a tender part of that ox, it might kick furiously, but it's not going to hit anything but air. Eventually, it's going to go, "Do you know what? I'd better move."
God's saying, "You can rebel against me all you want, but you're going to be kicking against the goads. Really, you're going to be kicking against God, and you're no contest for me. I want you to know me. I'm a good God, and I'm not mad at you. I'm just saying, if you stay here, if you go this direction, it's going to lead to death.
I'm a good Father. I don't want you to die. I want you to live, now, a life that's going to be a blessing, a life that's useful, fruitful, and meaningful. I want you to know me, which is how you can live that life that's useful, meaningful, purposeful, fruitful, and defined by peace. You understand why you're here, why things have gone wrong, and what I've done to make it right.
Then, I'm going to even deal with the consequences of the wrong that's been done, so you can be reconciled to me. There'll be a day when I'll do away with sin forever, and there will be no more tears and no more sadness. If you don't know me, if you jack with gravity, the gravitas of who I am, it's going to do more than cripple you for this life, and I don't want you to live apart from me."
That's the message of Scripture. God is running toward us to show us who he is. When it says, "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord," it doesn't mean being scared of God. It means an awesome acknowledgement and respect of who he is. You ought to be one of those people who says, "I don't want to do anything God doesn't endorse, because God is good. He loves me, and he wants what's best for me, so if I just ignore that, in any given moment, I'm going to miss what's best for me."
Here's the truth. Our flesh always thinks it knows better. Our flesh is fallen. It's not perfect. Even when you trust Christ and his Spirit of truth indwells you, you still have an enemy. It is three things, and Ephesians 2 talks about this. It is the prince of the power of evil, it is the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience, and it is the lie of the Enemy that says God is not good, God doesn't love you, and he can't be trusted. There is a deceptive spirit in this world.
Secondly, our flesh, which is fallen, is torn to think it knows best. We know our flesh doesn't know best. People say this all the time: "Todd, how can it be so wrong if it feels so right?" I'll just go, "I don't know, have you ever had a Twinkie before? It felt good to eat it, but it's just wrong, okay?" There are a thousand other illustrations. We all know, right? Just because it feels right doesn't mean it's good. You'll never prosper if you follow that, "If it feels right, do it."
Then there's the course of this world, which is largely influenced by evil. Those three things compete against our hearts, and God has come to rescue us from the Enemy, our fallen flesh, and the course of the ways of this world. How? Through truth.
Peter, at the end of chapter 1, says, "Listen. You would do well to pay attention to the Word of God. It's like a light shining in a dark place. It's called illumination, and people who understand God is good listen to his Word, because they want to know the mind of God and the heart of God, because God means well for me."
I'll just tell you, if you're here today and you think you're in a group of people who all we want to teach you rules and tell you to behave so maybe you'll be good enough for God to love you, you don't know the Bible. That message is not in the Bible. The Bible doesn't say, "Behave, and God might accept you." It says, "You don't behave, and there's a consequence to that. You're jacking with the gravitas of the holiness of God, and you're in trouble."
If God doesn't rescue you from that destiny, you have no hope. You're without God and without hope in this world. Close the book. It doesn't matter how much you give or how much you serve. If all you're going to do it turn in a résumé, God's standard is perfection, but there is what's called the gospel.
Peter calls it the faith, the good news, and that is that God enters into your misbehaving and gives provision for you through his own perfect, holy, unblemished sacrifice, that the perfect wrath of God could be appeased, so that he could be just, because he's always just, and the justifier of those who love him.
God says, "Just acknowledge you're a sinner. Acknowledge I'm good. Look what I've done for you to bring you back. Pay attention to my Word, so you might not be stumbling in the darkness, listening to the best ideas of men." He then says not only do you have illumination, you have what's called revelation. These are not words of men but words from God. That's the very end of 2 Peter.
Then he said, "These are men who were carried along by God to give it to you." That is called inspiration. Peter is saying, "Don't just listen to me because I'm some crafty leader. Listen to me because I am doing what any man who loves men will do, and that is to tell them where they have found life. They've stopped following the way that seems right to them. They've been rescued from the wrath that is to come and the wrath that is living according to error."
Peter says, "I've found truth. Truth isn't a concept; it's a person. His name is Jesus, and he is God. He has shown me the way, he has provided the way, and he is the Way." That's chapter 1. Peter says, "Hang on to the truth of Jesus. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, that you don't miss a moment of the goodness of God."
Chapter 3, which we'll get to in a couple of weeks, says, "Wait for it… Wait for it… Judgment is coming to the wicked, and final salvation is coming to the righteous. Salvation is here. Work it out. Wait for final salvation." In the middle is, "Watch out, because there are still false teachers trying to pull you away."
Let me remind you of one of the characteristics of false teachers. It's found right here in 2 Peter 2:1-3. Watch this. False prophets have always been around among the people. Peter says, "There will be false teachers after I leave who will come among you." They will secretly introduce destructive heresies. They'll sound like they're God's people.
I'm going to tell you what. Out there a lot is this heresy: "You say you know God? God is loving. Why don't you just love people? Why don't you accept people? Jesus was the most accepting person on the face of the earth, and you say you're his people. Jesus was inclusive. He didn't reject sinners. Why are you rejecting sinners?"
Is there some truth in that? Yeah. I want to go, "But keep going." Jesus came to save sinners. Jesus came and said, "I don't reject sinners, but I do acknowledge they are sinners. I'm making a way for sinners, but they have to acknowledge they're sinners. I am a divine physician." In fact, he came along some people, and they rejected him.
He said, "Here's the problem. The reason you guys don't like me and the sinners do is the sinners know they're sick, and I'm a physician. The people who aren't sick don't go to a doctor. The sick want the doctor. I am here to heal the sinfulness of men." The sickness, then, was a real righteousness that didn't need a Savior. In that scenario I'm talking about, that was what those people said.
Today, the sickness is, "We're all okay. Let people be what they're going to be, and quit attacking them or making yourself morally superior to them." This is what's so amazing. Do you want to attack people? Say no, please. Westboro Baptist meets about eight hours north of here. If you want to attack people, that's the church for you. They're false teachers.
Do you want to attack people? I don't. I want to love people. Are you morally superior to people who fail in their marriages? Are you morally superior to people who want to marry the same sex as they are? Say no. You're not, and neither am I. One of the great lies today, the secret heresy, is this. They come along and go, "Hey, we're going to be loving. This is the true church. We're not morally superior. We don't attack people." Do you see that? It's like, "Yeah, that sounds like the church I want to be a part of: a non-morally superior, non-attacking church."
Can I tell you something? I don't want to be morally superior and an attacking person, but I do want to speak truth. The problem with our world today is any time you say a statement of truth, people think, because you're making that statement of truth, you think you're better than they are. I had a guy I know who recently said, "Listen. Just because I say, '2+2 is 4,' is not a claim to being a great mathematician. I'm not telling you I know more math than you. I'm just telling you 2+2 is 4 is true."
When I tell you there is a righteousness out there, that doesn't mean I'm more righteous than you are. I'm just stating what is true, and because you don't accept 2+2 is 4, I'm not personally attacking you, I'm just telling you it's not going to work out well for you if you keep saying, "It's 5," or, "It's 3," or, "Let's work together collectively and all agree that's the best answer and love each other so we don't have any microaggression or macroaggression against each other. Why can't we all get along?" Because we can't trade or live if we don't agree there's truth.
By the way, we could live, but it's going to be chaos. Truth is there to set us free. We know that. Do you guys understand what I'm saying? The secret heresy of today is that loving people don't major in truth, but they major in love. I'll say it again: Love without truth is not loving. Truth that is not said in a loving way will not be heard.
People have elevated this idea of tolerance. Tolerance used to be that we could have different ideas, discuss things, and figure out, together, in a civil way, how we should respond. That's old tolerance. That is good. One of the problems is we've lost civility. I have some guys who pastor in this community… I'm going to tell you this, because I wrestle with this.
There are people who are pastors in this town to whom I say, "Listen. I love you. I know you love Jesus and his Word because you tell me you do, but there are some things you're saying to people that… I'm just going to tell you, I really think it's damaging to people. I don't know your motive. I don't know if it's because of greed or desire to protect something in your own life, but I have to tell you, I'm concerned about what you're teaching."
I tell them, "I really wrestle with how I partner with pastors." I was talking to Greg Laurie this week. I don't know if you know Greg. He's a pastor out there in California. In March, Greg is doing a major event out at Texas Stadium. If you haven't seen the movie Woodlawn, go see it. I highly recommend it to you. It hearkens back to some of the life change that happened in our country rolling out of what was called Explo '72, a major Billy Graham crusade that happened at the Cotton Bowl.
Years later (do the math), in 2016, we're going to have another major gathering of believers to lift up Jesus again, so that hopefully there can be some great effect in our land. I told Greg, "I only have so many bullets to fire. I have to tell you, when I get close to March 2016, I'll tell people about that. Until then, I'm going to tell them, 'Hey, we're going to gather here next week and lift up Jesus, so come.'"
Our strategy is not going to be to wait until March. When March rolls around, if you want to serve up there at Harvest America 2016, great. We'll help you know how to share the gospel and counsel people. Invite your friends and go out there, but don't wait until March 2016 to invite your friends somewhere. Invite them here next week. Invite them Monday night to re:gen. Come Tuesday night to The Porch. If they have marriage issues, come Wednesday night. We're on a constant crusade.
When we get to March, we'll talk about it. I said, "Here's my deal, Greg. I'll lift up Christ with anybody, but I will not encourage people to follow Christ with everybody. I'm concerned that when you talk about all these different churches that are going to be there that there are some churches that you're going to say, 'You can go here when you're done with this crusade if you've come to accept Jesus,' and I'm going to tell you, I don't want them following Jesus with some of those churches that use the same words I do but call people to something less than Jesus does."
I told him, "Look. In Mark 9, Jesus said, 'If they're not against us, they're for us.' In Luke 9, he said the same thing: 'If they're not against us, they're for us.' In Matthew 12, he says, 'If they're not for us, they're against us.' I will lift up Jesus with anybody who wants to let me lift up Jesus. If they're not against me lifting up Jesus, they're for us, but when it comes to what Jesus is for, a biblical view of the faith is not a health and wealth prosperity. It's not, 'Give 10 percent or you'll be cursed.'"
There are thriving, large megachurches all around us in Dallas that are teaching that. Some are moving closer than others. They'll tell you to be really spiritually apprised you must, after you trust Jesus, seek a relationship with this Spirit, like it's separate from Jesus. They say the evidence of that will be in some ecstatic expression.
That's an untaught way to handle the Scripture. I've had these conversations with these pastor friends. I've said, "Guys, I love you. Let's be civil, and we might agree to disagree. One of us is right, and one of us is wrong, or we're both wrong, but I can't, in good faith, say, 'I'm okay if my people go there,' because I don't think what you're teaching is true. I think it's manipulative. I'm not going to tell you it's motivated by greed. I'm just going to tell you it doesn't ring true."
I do that because the Scriptures admonish me to do that, and to do it as lovingly and humbly as I can. Old tolerance is, "Different ideas should be respected." New tolerance is, "Every idea is equally true." I will not tolerate new tolerance, because it's not loving. Tolerance, where people are concerned, is a virtue. Tolerance, where truth is concerned, is a travesty. That's 2 Peter.
Let me say one more thing to you about this. As you think about how people talk about issues today… Like I said, nobody wants to be that person who is cast in a disparaging light or who is judgmental, but you must make judgments. Jesus said, "Judge not, lest you be judged," which is a call against saying there are certain people God can't love because they're not morally good enough to love. That's an error. Jesus welcomes everybody, no matter what their flesh's pull is against them.
But to the people who say, "You can't call people to die to their flesh and repent of their sin," that is a 2 Peter 2-type deception. It sounds like Jesus, but it is not his way. Peter is telling you, "You must speak truth. Add to your love of God knowledge of God. To your knowledge of God, be disciplined to learn more self-control. Persevere and be godly people who have a brotherly kindness that is loving like God is loving." Jesus says this: "You're sick. You need a physician." He doesn't say, "Let's all come and pretend like we're well."
I had a conversation with a waiter this week. He and I were talking. He moved to town, and I asked him if he had a faith or if he hung out anywhere. He said, "Yeah I'm at a place called Cathedral of Hope. It's a church that tells people, 'You're not sick if you have certain appetites you don't want to repent of.'"
He said, "I went there because I grew up in a really Catholic environment. There were a lot of rules, and it was really strict. This place was so loving and accepting. I didn't know what kind of church it was when I first got there, but I have really enjoyed how loving they are of everybody." I had to say, "Hey, let's talk about what love is. Let's define it correctly. 'Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness…' the Bible says, '…but rejoices always in the truth.'" Love without truth is not loving, even though it feels good.
That is 2 Peter 2:1, where it says, "They secretly introduce destructive heresies. They deny the Master. They bring swift destruction. Many will follow their sensuality." That's a good church to go to. That's Hozier: Take me to that church which is going to be okay with whatever I do. "Because of them, the way of the truth is maligned."
Verse 3: "In their greed for affirmation, exaltation, worldly acceptance, and maybe your tithing toward that expression, they will exploit you with false words, but you need to know something: Their judgment is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." Here's what you need to see. In verses 4-10, there's one sentence. It's one of the longest sentences in your New Testament, and we're going to read it.
It's going to remind you that God is loving, but he's also just. He is gracious, but there is truth. Jesus is full of grace and truth. Watch this. Jesus wasn't perfectly graceful at certain times and perfectly truthful at certain times. An error is that people think Jesus was this 50/50 blend of grace and truth. He wasn't.
Jesus was not a 50/50 blend of grace and truth, and you shouldn't be either. You should be gracious all the time, 100 percent full of grace, and you should be truthful all the time, 100 percent full of truth. This grace/truth paradox, like you have to go, "Am I supposed to be gracious or truthful in this moment?" is an error. It's unbiblical. Jesus was full of grace and full of truth. Why? Because that's who God is.
This is God. Exodus 34:6-7. Moses is pleading with God. "Show me who you are. I want to see your glory. Show me a full revelation of who you are." We know, later, that no man has seen God at any time, but, it says in John 1, "We have beheld his glory through the Son, who is full of grace and truth."
John is saying, "No one has seen God at any time, except we have. We have seen God. His name is Jesus." Watch this. Moses asked to see God. He said, "Go stand behind that rock, and when my glory passes by, I will let you see a glimpse of it." It was beautiful and glorious. It was probably Mount of Transfiguration-type glory.
Peter says he saw the same thing, and all Peter says he saw was what the Scriptures teach. That's 2 Peter 1. He says, "You don't need to see what Moses saw or what I saw on the Mount of Transfiguration. You just need to know the Word of God. You would do well to pay attention to it, because that's where the mind of God, the heart of God, and the truth of who God is is revealed."
By the way, there is the written Word, which is perfect, and there is the visible, physical Word, which is Jesus. They're the revelations of God. Watch. Jesus was full of grace and truth, because when Moses saw God in Exodus 34:6-7, it says, "Then the Lord proclaimed to Moses, 'I am the Lord God. I am compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth, but who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity.'"
We are going, "Yes, I love you, God, that you're that way! You forgive iniquity, transgressions, and sins." "Yet by no means will I let the guilty go unpunished. In fact, when you have men who don't know me, it's going to visit their own rebellion against me to their children and the children of the third and fourth generations."
That's not to say there's a generational curse there that pops up every decade or so, and somebody teaches that for you to be set free, you have to find out if your grandma played with a Ouija board, or if your granddaddy was a racist, you have to purge the spirit of racism from your generational family curse.
Let me tell you something. If you had a grandfather who was a racist, you probably had a daddy who was affected by racism, and you might be a little bit too, so you need to repent of that bad teaching. Maybe it's the objectification of women or the non-covenantal view of marriage, because you had a long line of disillusion and "get out when it's hard" in your family.
That's not a family curse in the sense that there's a demon of divorce in your family. It means you have learned to not follow God from those you follow the most. It's a reality that if Daddy has a human anger problem, you're going to learn to deal with conflict with human anger. It's not because there's a spirit of anger that's haunting your family. It's because you keep giving yourself over to the same lie. Does that make sense?
He's saying, "I'm going to limit great-granddaddy's impact to three or four generations." The problem is, Great-Granddaddy affected Granddaddy a lot, and Granddaddy affected Daddy a lot, so Daddy is going to affect you a lot unless somebody breaks the chain and says, "It's going to be different for me, man. I'm not going to walk in the ways of my fathers. I'm going to walk in the way of the Father. I'm going to stop this insanity that is in my family. I'm going to start a new branch." Amen?
We are a new branch. That's what the church is. We come from a long line of rebels, and God has saved us. What God doesn't limit is the fact that his lovingkindness is going to go to thousands of generations. He's going to keep offering that people could be set free. Jesus is God. God is lovingkind, slow to anger, and forgiving sin, but he's just.
Did you ever get discouraged when you see false teachers prosper? Some guys are teaching stuff and you go, "How come people are listening to that nonsense?" By the way, one of the reasons people sometimes love what I would call some of the more charismatic expressions of theology, where you come, have a certain feeling, invite a certain experience into your life, and now you have some super-spiritual access that you didn't before, is because that's a quick, fast road to sanctification.
That sounds really good. "If I just ask for this gift, I'll get it. If I speak in tongues, or if I have this sense or feeling that now I've moved to varsity Christianity… Give me that!" What I'm teaching over here at Watermark in my pedestrian way is, "Trust and obey. Every day, wake up, die to your flesh, pick up your cross, and follow him." You go, "Todd, I can go over there and feel great. You're telling me I have to discipline my flesh?"
"Just like Peter did."
"You're telling me I have to persevere through my flesh and the world always pulling me away?"
"Yeah, just like Peter."
"You're telling me the path to godliness is to discipline myself for the purpose of God?"
"Just like Paul."
"You know, Todd, they're telling me if I give over there that there's going to be a blessing on my family. You're telling me if I give right here, I'm going to store up for myself treasures in heaven?"
"That's right. Just like Jesus did. I think there is a blessing in giving. The blessing is knowing your life is for more than just this fleeting world you see dissolving all around you. Listen, man, false teachers are going to be held accountable for what they say, but you're accountable for what you believe. Choose your shepherds wisely. You test everything I say and everything you hear from anybody else. I want to be a servant of God and a steward of his mystery, but I'm accountable to him, and you're accountable for what you believe, so be discerning."
Here's the truth. Are you ready for a long sentence? That was a long intro. That's what that was. I thought we prayed we'd get out on time. Here we go.
"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;
and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority."
Peter would have just had a red-marked paper in English right there, but basically, what you need to say is, "I'm going to give you three examples from prehuman history, from prediluvian history (before the flood), and from after the flood." Every time, you see the same thing: God judges people who do not love him.
Frankly, he doesn't have to judge them. Not loving him is the judgment. I've said this before, and I want to say it to you again. There's really only one sin that offends God, and that is saying God isn't good. Because you say God isn't good, you're going to try to find out what you should worship and seek.
The problem is God looks at you and he hates that, because he's like, "I can't give you what doesn't exist. I am good. There is none besides me. I am Light and Love. Every good gift comes from above. That's where I am, and I'm not just above; I'm everywhere. I am a God where there is no shifting light. There is no shadow. Everywhere else is darkness, so when you leave me, you get darkness. When you leave life, you get death. When you leave truth, you get error."
The only sin is the original sin, which came secretly. It was introduced as a choice. Let me show you this as quickly as I can in Genesis 3, because this is what false teachers always do. In Genesis 3, the Serpent came along, and he said this. Don't turn there, I'll walk you through it. This is the deal.
Here's man and woman, and they're hanging out. This is the way the false teacher started. "Indeed, has God said…" In other words, "Let's talk about God. You're godly people. You walk with God in the morning and the evening. You're at peace with him. Has God said… Let's talk about God's Word." The first thing they'll do is use God's Word. They have no problem using God's Word. "…has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"
Then he pontificates. The second thing he does is he denies God's Word. He says, "You surely will not die if you disobey God." By the way, the reason Eve was sucked into, 'Indeed, has God said…?' is that he watched and saw he had an undiscerning person who did not heed the eventual admonition of Peter, and, prayerfully, of Watermark, Todd, and the elders here, which is to be a student of the Word. Beware what you hear. We teach it to our kids. "Be careful, little children, what you hear. Be careful, little kids, what you see." We're screwed up today because we're still not heeding the words of that song.
Guys, your addiction to pornography and your objectification of women. Do you know why you keep struggling there? It's because you're feeding it. Nothing is alive unless you feed it. You can't look at a woman without thinking pornographic thoughts because you look at porn all the time. You're not careful, little eyes, what you see. You don't love moral excellence, which is a thing of God. "Women are beautiful. God made them to look at. But look at this one this way. Treat the rest of them like my daughters."
Be careful, little ears, what you hear. What are you listening to? What are you reading? Do you listen to truth? It's what is going to set you free. The original lie was, "Has God said…?" We have a girl who wasn't a student of the Word, and Adam wasn't a good teacher of the Word. God told him one thing: "Hey, Adam, enjoy me, and don't eat of that thing."
He's talking to Eve, and like a typical guy, he's sitting there and he goes, "That thing over there… You can't even touch it. Don't even touch it, all right?" Whether he said that or Eve came to understand, "You can't eat it or touch it," when Satan, the false teacher, heard him not be locked down in the Word, he said, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" Eve said, "We can't even touch it," and he goes, "Really? Watch this. I'm going to touch it." He secretly introduces a lie. He denies God's Word. "You won't die. I'm not dead."
Lastly, he substituted a false word. "Here's the deal. Do you want to know the truth? You'll be like God if you do this." That's what false teachers do. They take phrases like "filled with the Spirit" or "success and prosperity," and they go, "It doesn't mean that. It means this. You'll be rich if you do this. You'll always be well if you do this. Your family will be blessed if you give to me. You're going to be okay if you go that direction. You'll be like a god. You can choose what is right and wrong."
This is a truth. After Peter left, there was a guy named Marcion who was a Gnostic teacher. He showed up about 30 or 40 years after Peter. He was the son of a bishop, and he came along and taught Gnostic heresy. Gnostic is from the Greek word gnosis. It means to know. He said, "I know more than you. The God of the New Testament is more loving. We're going to get rid of that Old Testament God."
He took selective writings of Paul, he emphasized certain teachings in Luke, he edited his Bible, and he said, "This is the true God. He is grace, loving, and good, not Old Testament judgment." He encouraged licentiousness and error, and the way of truth was maligned. The early church rose up and stomped him out, but his teaching, Marcionism, is still alive today.
He didn't know the guy's name was going to be Marcion, but before Peter left, he said, "Be careful. They're going to come along, and they're going to teach certain pieces of the Bible. They're not going to teach you the whole counsel of God. They're going to seem more loving. They're going to have a lot of followers, but you be careful." There are three reasons you have to be careful.
First, God doesn't spare the wicked.He didn't spare the angels when they sinned. He cast them into hell, and he committed them to the pits of darkness reserved for judgment. It didn't go well with the angels when they said, "We think we can do better than you."
Secondly, in verse 5: "He didn't spare the ancient world, but Noah he did." Peter is trying to say, "Listen, gang. It's going to work out for you. Hang in there. You be the righteous. God is going to judge the wicked, but he's going to preserve the righteous. Be like Noah." Watch. " [He was] a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly…"
I want to take a second, because Noah is a true hero of mine. The reason he's a hero of mine is because of what he went through. Sometimes, in this world, you and I see the wicked are prospering, and we're like, "Man, are they ever going to be judged?" Think about this. Noah was a guy who, as men were following, if you will, the doctrine of demons, and as the party was ramping up, there was one guy who goes, "This doesn't sound like the doctrine of God."
He didn't buy into what everybody else was buying into. In fact, he heard a word from God. I'm glad God's Word to me is not, "Build an ark in the middle of the desert." I'm so glad that's not what he calls me to do, but sometimes, with the way I live, it looks like I'm building an ark in the middle of a desert.
People go, "Why do you live that way? Why do you do that? No one else is doing that." They are marrying, remarrying, and giving in marriage. They are partying, eating, and drinking with no sense of hesitation. They mock me and the ark of rest that is obedience to Jesus. This is an amazing thing. It was a number of years ago, and I had been a believer for a number of years. I reread in Genesis, and I saw something that God used in my life that made my respect for Noah go off the charts.
Let me walk you back to this. This is in Genesis 6. If you want to turn there and read along with me, it's in Genesis 6. It says in verse 5, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Does that sound like today? You might look around and go, "Man, it seems like there's evil everywhere."
"The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord."
We don't know any reason why. We just know he did. I would call it sovereign grace. It's the same reason Todd Wagner perceives spiritual things, and if you do, it's the same reason you do. I'll get to that in a minute. Verse 13: "Then God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.'" That's 2 Peter 3. Genesis 6:17-18 says,
"Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons' wives with you."
This is not 2 Peter 3. He says, "I'll never judge the world by flood again," a little bit later in Genesis. He does say, by Jesus in Luke 12 and the Holy Spirit through Peter in 2 Peter 3, "I will judge it the next time by fire. It'll be a final judgment. Wait for it, Noah." Genesis 6:22 says, "Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did."
In other words, let me stop right here. You're Noah, and you start to build an ark. Most scholars believe it had never rained at this time. God watered the earth. It was called the prediluvian world, which basically means the atmosphere of the earth changed at this particular moment, and there was a heavy dew that fell on the earth in the morning, and a heavy dew in the evening, but there was no rain. Noah is going to say, "There's going to be a flood." They go, "What's a flood, Noah?"
"Well, it's what happens when it rains."
"Well, it's when there's such a heavy dew the clouds open up, water falls on the earth, and it rises up to such a level that we don't survive. God is going to judge the world, so I'm building this ark, and I'm going to get on it, and I want you to come get on it with me."
By the way, Noah means rest. Jesus is our ark. Watch this. God had somebody build an instrument of wood that would eventually be lifted up in the midst of judgment, that all who trusted in this instrument of wood and by faith walked on it, because judgment was coming, would find rest. Does that prefigure anything to you?
There was another one who said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. I'll be your Noah. When I am lifted up, I will draw men to me. You'll see the lovingkindness of God, who by no means let the guilty go unpunished. You're guilty. I'll be lifted up in the ground. I will take the wrath of God, and I will offer you life. If you acknowledge you're wicked, get on board, and follow me."
Noah has built this ark. He has about 120 years to do it, according to Genesis. Can you imagine being one of Noah's kids going to school? "Hey, man! What's your name?"
"I'm a son of Noah."
"Noah? Your old man is the guy who's building that ark. I'm not supposed to play with you."
You can imagine the crazy talk that went on, but this is what made it even wilder. This is the part I missed for a decade, maybe more, after I was a believer. Genesis 7: "Then the Lord said to Noah…" After he had built the ark. "…Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time."
I'm like, "I'm down with that." He's in the ark, he built this thing, and he's waiting. It took him 100+ years. In Genesis 7:4, God says, "For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made."
You're like, "You want me to go in there, and you're going to shut the door? I'm going to be in there with these animals, and they're going to be defecating all over. I'll be with my sons, my daughters-in-law, and my wife, who have been mocking me and haven't heard what I've heard, but they've just trusted the preaching of the Word of God through me. We're going to be on this thing?"
When you get in a car with a kid, what's the first thing they ask? "Are we there yet?" It hadn't even started to rain yet. Seven days… Seven is the sign of completion and perfection. God said, "At the perfect time, I'll bring judgment. You just trust in me." That had to be seven of the longest days in the history of humankind.
I guarantee you, his sons would go, "Dad, come here. Come on, let's take a walk on the deck. Pops, I love you, but…" I guarantee you there was a party around that ark, and they were marrying, giving in marriage, eating, drinking, and feasting. Jesus said as much. Noah just said, "Wait for it, son. Give me seven days."
"Dad, I've given you a hundred years."
"I know, but I'm just asking for seven days."
Do you ever feel like that, like the world is laughing at your little hiney? Watch Noah, and you wait. Your kids will go, "Are we there yet, Dad?" You go, "I don't know, we're not there yet."
"Is it going to happen during my lifetime?"
"I don't know. He said it'll happen at the perfect time. It says, until then, we are to be heralds of righteousness. We're not to be arrogant. We found favor in the eyes of God. I don't know why we see what we see, but we do know we see God is good, his way is true, and love is not accepting whatever people do, but love is speaking truth.
I know people are calling us names. They're calling us fanatics. I know people are telling us we're hearing voices and seeing things, and we're taken captive by nonsense, but I believe it's true. I'm betting my whole life on it, son. You can choose to get off the ark if you want."
Gang, you need to be like Noah. After he was done walking the deck with his sons, I think Noah leaned out over that ark and said, "Hey, guys, the door is shut, but I'll throw you a rope and pull you up. I don't know why I know what I know. I don't know why God let me see his goodness, but I'm telling you, there's still a chance."
Nobody came, but after seven days, when that rain came, it says in the Psalms, "Let us turn to God in the day, while salvation might still be found, for in a flood of great waters it won't be available." The kindness of God is here to offer you repentance. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3, "The reason God has not brought about judgment yet is because he is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to eternal life."
God does offer forgiveness to our repentance, but he does not promise tomorrow to our procrastination. I'm here to tell you God is good. His Word is true. He is full of lovingkindness. He's not mad at you. He just wants you to be reconciled to God, to be forgiven, so you will not experience judgment. If you think it's bad to drown in some water, just wait until you drown in your misinformation.
As for those people who don't want to say to God today, "Thy will be done," he'll say to them one day, "Your will be done. I'll put you in a place where there's nothing that will ever remind you of me again. No music, no dancing, no partying, no marrying, no friends, no light, no sleep, no rest, and no death. There's just suffering, if that's what you want. I don't want it for you. Don't love your flesh more than me. Your flesh is fallen."
Don't be what 6:10 says. Don't be a person who indulges the flesh in its corrupt desires or one who despises authority. Fear God. It's the beginning of wisdom. Peter is saying, "Be careful. There are false teachers everywhere, and they're going to try to pull you away. They're going to tell you a part of God that you like, but when you talk about a part of God, you're not talking about God.
You're talking about a distortion of God, and they're secretly introducing a heresy, either because they're greedy, and that way appeals to men, or they themselves want to indulge their flesh, they've found a system that will do it, and they want you to come along with them. Wait for it, and be faithful."
I'm going to close with this application. A number of times, Jesus came out over Jerusalem, and Luke 13 was one of them. In Luke 13, he shows up, and he says, "O Jerusalem, O Jerusalem, the city that stones prophets and stones those who were sent to her. How often I wanted to gather you as a mother hen wants to gather together her chicks under her arms."
In Luke 19, again, Jesus is walking to present himself as the King who is going to come first as a lamb, and then as a lion, and he weeps over Jerusalem. I can remember reading that early in my ministry, and I remember praying, "God, make me weep over Dallas. O Dallas, O Dallas, you who hold to a form of godliness yet deny its power."
I remember praying, "God, you have to make me a more compassionate man. I want to feel their pain. I want to love the people of this city. I want to be who Noah is. I don't want to be like Lot, who just gets out by the skin of his teeth. I don't even have time to teach about Lot. I want to be a herald of righteousness, and I want to do it, Father, because I love people."
I was teaching not long after that, and I was engaged at the time. I spent a lot of time with high school students at that moment. It was the first time my future in-laws ever were going to hear me teach. They came up, and I had been spending some time with some kids. There was one little girl from Dallas I knew. She was beautiful and sweet, but she was finding her value in relationships and men.
She heard the gospel, saw the beauty of it, and was willing to respond to it. A gal was there with me talking to her, and I looked at her and said… I won't use her name. She still lives in Dallas, and I see her from time to time. I said, "Sweetie, I'm begging you to find the rest God wants for you. He's not mad at you. If you like what you have, keep doing what you're doing, but I'm telling you, if you keep doing what you're doing, you're not going to like what you have." She looked at me and said, "I know. I know I am following Satan."
In other words, "I've heard what God says. I think God is true. I know I'm following Satan, but it's just so fun." I go, "Sweetie, it's not going to be fun for long. I know it's appealing to the flesh, the eyes, and the popularity of life, but it's the way of death." I've watched this little girl's life over the last 20 or 30 years, and she has lived a thousand deaths.
I got up to teach, and I looked out and put my eyes on her, and I swear to you, it has never really happened to me since then, but I had been praying for compassion, and I got locked up. I started crying. I felt like such an idiot. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't speak because I saw that little girl and a thousand others like her.
Eventually I got my composure. My in-laws must have thought, "Okay. We have a son-in-law who is an emotional basket case and a charlatan. Does he do this every time he teaches?" I'd never done it up to then, and I've never done it since, but I hope I live that way. I continue to pray for this city and pray for you, and my heart goes out.
That's what Noah was like. Be like Noah. Be like Jesus. Don't budge on truth. Call people to rest in the ark of wood that will be lifted up when judgment comes. If they trust in it, they will find rest. Care for them. Don't sit there and go, "What's wrong with you people? How come you don't know what I know?" The truth is, the reason we know it is the same reason Noah knew it. The kindness of God had come to us.
This is Titus 3. "We were hateful and hating one another, filled with malicious envy and gossip." Verse 5: "When the kindness of God appeared, our Savior Jesus Christ saved us, not according to deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and by the renewing of his Spirit."
I've seen God is good. I want to add to that more knowledge of him so I'm not led to error. I want to be full of self-control so I can discipline myself for the purpose of godliness. I want to persevere when people laugh at me and my confidence in the ark. I want godliness to grow in my heart that is evidenced in my brotherly kindness that weeps over my city and that is evidenced by my love.
False teachers are telling us we're not true representatives of God because we don't love the way they do. They're false teachers because they use God's Word, and they distort it for their destructive, greedy, licentious, flesh-appealing purposes. That is our mark. Let us love one another. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, people. It builds an ark and teaches in truth.
Father, I pray we would be a body that would do that, that we'd not be intimidated by a perverse false teacher's definition of love. I pray we would be people who would teach your love, and we'd be full of grace and full of truth, never compromising one for the sake of the other. You, in revealing yourself, always show you are slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth, but by no means will you let the guilty go unpunished.
While we hammer away in responding to the faith you have once and for all delivered to us, I pray that while we hammer, we would preach. While we work hard to follow you, we know our following is a gift from you, and we call others to that gift. His name is Jesus. Help us to be your people and to honor you in all things. In Jesus' name, amen.
I love you guys. Go love the world. If you don't know Jesus, will you come? Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.