Today Todd continues in the Hold Fast series. Looking in 2 Peter 3:1-13, he teaches on being ready for the second coming of Christ (the second Christmas), and specifically how believers should focus their time before His return on sharing the gospel and making disciples.
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
All right. I haven't been off this bad boy in three weeks, ever since I realized there was something better. Hopefully you too have not returned like a dog to vomit or a pig to your slop. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out my message from a couple of weeks ago when we were in 2 Peter, chapter 2, where we were talking about when you find something good, you don't go back to what is not true.
That's what we're talking about. Something we need to hold fast to and stay true. If you're here this morning and you've never come to a place where you understand who Christ is, I hope you let loose of the world and find truth. Let's pray together.
Father, I thank you for a chance just to be with my friends this morning and to talk about your Word and be reminded of truth. I pray you would use this time to help us get a firm grip on the truth of Christmas, that it happened and that it will happen again, that Christ has come and Christ is coming, that you have judged the world once and you will judge it again.
But this is a season of mercy, so I pray we would sing of your mercy and your lovingkindness, and we would not confuse your kindness with your incompetence, that we would not confuse your grace with your indifference, that we would be busy being about that which you were about when you were here, offering that grace and mercy to a world who desperately needs it.
We thank you, those of us who know what Christmas was all about, what it's produced in our lives. I pray you would produce it more as a result of our time together, and you would be glorified. In Christ's name, amen.
We are going to do exactly what Peter did in 2 Peter. He said it was his second letter, and he wanted to write it that he might remind you of things. Most of us struggle, not because of an information problem. I don't know how many of you this week had a hard time with your wife or maybe as a child had a hard time respecting your parents or maybe as a single person, a hard time honoring your God because of your forgetting what to do.
Actually, when most of us make mistakes, we don't make mistakes because of a lack of information. We didn't disobey our parents because we didn't know that "children should obey their parents in the Lord, for this is right." We didn't act in a way that was not loving toward our wife because we didn't know husbands were to "love their wives as Christ loved the church."
We didn't not forgive because we didn't know, "Those of us who have been forgiven should also forgive." We didn't not love because we didn't know, "We love because he first loved us." We had that information. Ours is not a problem of knowledge; it's a function of the will. The way the will is constantly encouraged and strengthened is by review. Most of us need to be reminded much, much more than we need to be instructed. Let me remind you that this is a book Peter wrote at the end of his life.
He starts by saying, "Listen, this thing that radically changed me, a relationship with Jesus, you can have it. This faith, which has been delivered to me, is the same faith as yours. Your life of impetuous rebellion against God, your view of God that he was an oppressive God who expected performance and perfection that you could probably never satisfy, so you did the best you could, tried to behave so maybe you would escape judgment…"
"You can be transformed out of that error the way I was. The love that changed me is the love that can change you. The God who I know is the God that you can know. Instead of being weak, you can be strong. Instead of running as a coward, you can stand firm."
Peter is exhorting us in 2 Peter to be diligent to work out our salvation, so he says, "With your right understanding of God, make sure you increase in knowledge, and to your knowledge you add self-discipline, to your self-discipline, you persevere. As you persevere, you grow in godliness. As you grow in godliness, it's evidenced in the way you treat brothers kindly and openly, the way you love even ungrateful and evil men."
Chapter 2 was not just to be diligent in working out our salvation but to beware there are individuals who are going to come along, and who are going to try and pull you off course. They are either going to teach you things that aren't true, they're going to misrepresent God, misrepresent his Word, or they won't call you to full devotion.
I believe the greatest false teachers who are in our country today are individuals who are basically saying, "Hey, you come here. You show up. You shut up. You pay up. You validate me by your being here. You give me enough money to let the lights on. You make me look like I'm doing what I should do by coming, and I won't ask too much of you. We'll both tell each other we're doing what God wants us to do." Those are false teachers.
Jesus says, "If any man wants to follow me, he should take up his cross, deny himself, and follow me." When Jesus calls a man, he bids him to come and die. You beware of individuals who will use the grace of God as an excuse for you to increase in license. Make sure you become increasingly holy by disciplining yourself for the purpose of godliness, not so God loves you but so you respond correctly.
He says, in chapter 3, "Not only should you be diligent working out your salvation, not only should you beware, but you should be ready because Jesus is coming, and every man will give an account." That's where we are. He starts this chapter in a way that is going to allow me to even go back over some of the amazing truth we heard last week.
The summary of what we looked at when we studied the beginning of 2 Peter, chapter 3, is basically… There are saints and there are scoffers, and they're both running out of time. We have to be individuals who work at our salvation, who watch out for false teachers, and who wait for our salvation. But be certain of this: Jesus is coming. He has come; he is coming. He has judged; he will judge.
Peter writes this: "This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind [that you might be wholehearted] by way of reminder." Let me just talk about this. What Peter is zealous for is that we would be individuals who, when we are shown in the light, when people see us for who we really are, we will stand the test.
The English word sincere comes from two Latin words, sine, which means without, and cera which means wax. What would happen is artisans would make pottery, and often in the making of pottery, that pot would crack. What they would do is they would take wax, they would put it in that crack, and they would paint over that or put some finish over that. It looked like it was a good piece of pottery unless you held it up to the sunlight. Then you could tell it was, in fact, not a perfect piece of art.
In fact, when artisans in certain parts of the city would want to display their wares, if you did have a piece of art that was put through the rigorous test and it passed the test, they would stamp it sine cera. "This is a piece of art without wax." Now what's interesting is our New Testament was not written in Latin. It was written in Greek. The Greek word for sincerity is not sine cera, it's the compound of two Greek words, ílios, which is the word for sun, and krinō, which is to judge.
What it means when we see the English word sincere is it is sun-judged. Did you get that? In other words, your life is true. It is what it appears to be. When your life is held up to the light, you look like somebody who met the God who can change self-willed, rebellious, sinful men who have been corrupted by fleshly desire into individuals who add to their faith…the faith…that Jesus saves and transforms, a love of all that is right and good, increasing knowledge, self-discipline, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
Peter is saying, "I don't want you to be those kinds of people who act one way in this setting and this way in another setting. You are without wax. You are sun-judged. In the light, you are who you say you are." The way that happens is through reminder. What kind of reminder? Well, verse 2 tells us, "That you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles."
In other words, we have to continually remind ourselves of that which is true. In a world that is constantly shifting, where we're blown about by wind and wave and doctrine and the opinions of man, we want to be people who are anchored on something more reliable than the spirit of the age. That something, as we talked about in our early weeks of studying this book, was fixed objects in this life as we move through the turbulence that is the storm of this life.
As Clint shared, in the nautical environment, you would hold fast and you would stay true and on course. Second Peter, chapter 3, tells you the way you are going to do that is by making sure you are attentive to the Word. Not the ideas of men. Not your feelings. Feelings are okay. You can have feelings. Feelings are real. They're just not reliable. Opinions are fine, but facts are very stubborn things. Peter is saying there are a few facts you have to know.
Jesus came. When he came, he poured himself out as an offering in order that God might be kind, merciful, and loving toward those he desires to have a relationship with, who have left him, whom he must judge. He can't wink at sin. So that he might be restored into relationship with you, he himself became your provision. But Jesus told us he wasn't just going to die. He was going to take his life back up again. He was going to be seated at the right hand of the Father until the fullness of time, when he would come again.
Jesus is coming again. We talked about all the prophecy in Scripture that talked about Jesus' coming the first time, and how there is eight times more prophecy that Christmas would happen again. Peter is saying, "If you don't devote yourself daily, just like the early church did…" It says, "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
If you are individual who is sailing through life solo, you are stepping outside the provision God has for you and me to be who God wants us to be. We are called to be a part of a body, an esprit de corps, among others who sail with us and encourage us, who look at the map, if you will, of righteousness and truth. We guide our lives by it. We devote ourselves daily to it. We pursue each other relationally. We live authentically about the trials and troubles around us. We admonish each other faithfully. We counsel biblically. We engage missionally.
If you are here, and you're somebody who is listening and encouraged by the truth but you live alone, you need to know: You are squelching a major means of the grace of God. We are called to sail together. But the way we will allow ourselves to hold fast, stay true, and not be blown about here and there by every wind or wave of doctrine is by being people committed to the Word, that you would journey through the Word regularly. And not just go through the Bible, but make sure the Bible goes through you. Peter is zealous for us to believe that.
One of the things I absolutely loved about what I had a chance to do the week I was gone from you is I got to spend time with people in a part of our world where we just can't even believe God might be at work. I want to let you know: God is mightily at work over there. It was incredibly encouraging to be with my friends in the Middle East who are under oppressive regimes that prosecute and make political prisoners out of individuals who say they want to love God as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
That's the way Iran gets through some of its human rights charges, because they say, "We're not prosecuting people because of their beliefs. We are charging them with treason because we are an Islamic state. We believe in Sharia law. We believe in the absolute authority of the Qur'an, the mullahs, the imams, and the ayatollahs. If you do anything which minimizes the prophet Muhammad and the prophetic word he received, then you are being seditious, you are being treasonous, and you are attacking our land." So they prosecute, they arrest, and they blow up.
Now what's really interesting is that in Iran you're allowed to be a Christian. They'll leave you alone if you're a Christian, as long as you're not a Christian who holds fast, stays true, and engages missionally. It's when you start to do what Jesus asked you to do that you now are an individual who has problems with the government.
This is what it says in 2 Timothy, chapter 3, verse 12. "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." There are many people here who need to be reminded that God doesn't want us just to have a faith. He wants us to live our faith and to be diligent in working it out. If we don't, we will not be ready. When our Savior returns, it will not go well with us. Our works will be burned up. We will be saved, if you really knew Christ, and "yet as one who passes through fire." Peter says, "I don't want that to be your experience."
What I loved about being over in the Middle East training pastors and church leaders who were still ministering in that part of the world, and outside of that to refugees and others who had claimed political asylum, is I didn't have to go to Iran to see people who were being diligent and were ready. It was an incredible source of encouragement to the individuals I was talking with to tell them about you, about your love for them, your praying for them, and your faithfulness in the midst of your prosperity.
They stand in awe of you. They say, "Todd, we're not sure if we had the freedom and the prosperity our Christian brothers and sisters do in America if we would hold fast and stay true. We have no option. We've seen the failed philosophy of Islam. When the ayatollahs came back in '79, they promised us we would get away from some of the stuff that was happening in our land and that Sharia law and the way of Muhammad was the way to freedom."
I will tell you, in Iran there are people who know that whatever the solution to man's problems is, it is not Islam. One of the leading causes of death in Iran is suicide. The average age is 35. Drug abuse and alcohol addiction are off the charts, because people see the hopelessness of the government and Sharia law. They aren't allowed to speak up against it without peril, but there are some who have met Christ and are speaking out boldly. It was an amazing thing to see.
This is a photo of my friend Magda. When she was a young woman, Magda went to university. Her father was a believer, and they knew that about her. They said, "Listen now, Magda, we know you're a believer. We're fine with you being here at this school and being a believer, but we do not want you talking to your classmates about what it is you believe." Magda was told that by the leader of that university on the first day.
She went around, and she was loving her classmates and being salt and light. They kept saying, "Magda, you're very different. Why are you different?" She would say, "Yes, I'm different." She chose to not, at that particular moment, speak out about why she was different. Well, there was a young man who found out why she was different.
He came up to her and said, "I know why you're different. I love Jesus, too. I want you to know you can talk to me about your family, because I know all about your family." He did. He knew her family had some means, and he knew she was beautiful. He swept her off her feet. In a matter of three months, against the counsel of the elders in the small little house church she was a part of and of her father, she married this man.
The day after she married this man, he said, "There will be no more Bible reading in this house." The day after she married this man, he said, "We will not practice following Jesus. I told you I love Jesus. I love Jesus the way the Qur'an talks about loving Jesus, but we follow Muhammad in this house." He became abusive toward her.
They ended up having a child, and then it wasn't long after that child was born that he beat her so severely she was in a hospital. She was unable to get out of a bed for 14 days. Because she was still nursing her little daughter at the time, they went and got the daughter. The guy said, "Well, she can nurse in bed." Then when she got well enough, she went and lived with her immediate family.
Every now and then that man would come around. Eventually he said, "I'm going to expose you," and he went to the authorities. He said, "I want to divorce this woman, and I want my daughter back." Because she was a Christian, she lost full custody and had no right to see her daughter. She began to appeal, went through the court systems in Iran, and went to the highest court in her particular region where she sat before three mullahs (three religious leaders) who sat and listened to her.
They said to Magda, "Hey, Magda, if you'll just tell us you love your daughter more than you love your Jesus, we'll let you have parental rights." She sat there, alone in the courtroom with an advocate, no family, and just began to pray. She said, "What do I do? What do I do?" Now as Magda was a little girl growing up, she said, "We had one picture of Jesus. It was the Hollywood Jesus." That is what she described him as. I don't know. Jim Caviezel, Kenny Loggins, Hook's Jesus, the famous painting?
She said, "Our Hollywood Jesus was in our house, and I sat there. I closed my eyes, and I said, 'God, you have to help me. What do I do? I miss my little girl. She's 2-1/2 years old. I haven't seen her now for months. I want a relationship with her.'" She said when she got done praying, she looked up. One of those mullahs was looking at her again and said, "I'm giving you another chance."
She said, "I didn't see that mullah. I saw Hollywood Jesus. I heard the words, 'I'm giving you another chance.' As much as I love my daughter, I knew my Lord loves her more, and I knew I loved him. I knew I didn't follow counsel. I knew I didn't live according to his ways, which got me in that predicament. I wasn't going to make a compromising decision again."
Magda looked, and she said, "I love my Jesus." They said, "That's evidence you're a bad mother. Even wild animals will do whatever they have to in order to protect their young. You're unfit to be a mother." They threw her out of the courtroom. She lost all parental rights. Persecution increased on her and her family and that small cell church.
She now has been driven out of Iran, and she hasn't seen her daughter for 14 years. Yet now she's discipling and ministering to Iranian women, leading many to faith. She's a leader of women in the church, helping them understand God is good. She would have talked to you about forgiveness and the goodness of God in the midst of things like that.
You need to know when Magda hears about your faithfulness in the midst of prosperity, she says, "I marvel at it. It is easy for me to cling to Jesus when he's all I have, but to see people who are diligent in their faith when they have many things that can distract them… Tell them we are encouraged by them." They're praying for you. They know if you don't stay diligent in the Word the way they are, you will not hold fast and stay true.
I love what I did. It was the first time in my entire life I did not go outside for four and a half days. I got there on a Monday afternoon. We met that evening. Tuesday morning I got up early. They took me to a table. They sat me down and go, "Todd, here's your translator. Here are some folks who speak English. Here are some folks who don't." We talked about their testimonies, their stories, what was going on in their particular church in that context.
We went upstairs. At 8:30 we started. We taught until 12:30. We had a one-hour lunch. I was sat at another table with more folks to hear more stories, to talk about their church, how I could encourage them. We'd go back upstairs, teach till 5:30. I had an hour break before dinner, sat with another group of churches at dinner, ministered to them, went back upstairs, did Q&A until 10:30. It was 15 hours a day, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
I didn't realize until I walked outside to get back in some transportation that I hadn't been outside in five days, because these people were so eager to learn. They had so many questions. I had so much to share with them of the resources of God's Word and how they can hold fast and stay true in a part of the world that you would go, "I don't know if I could handle that."
Well, let me just tell you. You don't have to handle that right now. You might one day, but you have to handle something that is just as poisonous to the faith: compromise and weak teaching in a land full of prosperity where you can start to think, "If I just kinda work God into my program, that's enough."
Peter wants you to know that will not allow you to be ready. That's not waiting for your Savior. Let me show you. This problem we're in that Peter is addressing at the very end of his life is a problem all great men addressed late in their lives. It started with Jesus. Peter and Paul, the two most prolific leaders in the early church, all they did is take the acorn of truth Jesus planted in them, and they grew it into the oak tree of revelation we cling to in much of the Pastoral Epistles.
Jesus told them, "You're going to have trouble. Stay true. I'll send you the Holy Spirit. Pay attention to him. I'll remind you of everything I taught you. Go back over it. If you are not diligently studying, adding and increasing to your love of what is good and all that is right about God…knowledge, self-discipline, perseverance…you will not be godly, brotherly kindness will not define you, love will not mark you, and God's provision for this land will not be what he intends it to be.
When you soften that which is supposed to be the preservative of a society…salt…when salt becomes deluded, you have decay. When you take what is supposed to be light and you dim it, the world gets darkened. The reason we have a decaying and darkened society is because we do not pay attention to 2 Peter 3. It's because we don't pay attention to 2 Timothy 2. What I want to do is just take a moment to show that this is a major problem we keep running against.
Keep your finger there in 2 Peter 3. Turn to 2 Timothy, chapter 2. I want to show you at the very end of Paul's life, he is saying, "Listen. Be careful." If you started in verse 16, you would see he goes, "Do not be distracted by worldly and empty chatter because that's going to get you in trouble. You have to make sure you stay focused on the Word of God."
It says in 2 Timothy 2:20, "Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things…" What are the these things? The these things are earthly and worldly chatter. "…he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work."
How do you stay away from worldly and empty chatter? When you are in your communities, when you are together throughout the week, you counsel each other biblically. You don't go, "Well, I think…" or "It's my experience which would say…" When I was with the Iranian church and they would ask me a question, I told them, "I'm not here with persuasive words of wisdom. I'm not here to speak with the influence of the West. I don't want to bring you American viewpoints. I am a steward of the mystery of God and a servant of Christ."
What I would do is say, "This is the same problem they had in Colossae. This is the same problem they had in Corinth. This is how the early church handled this." I would open God's Word for them. I would not give them empty and worldly chatter. I found, just like I do when I'm in Africa, just like I do when I'm in South Dallas, just like I do when I'm in North Dallas, that the Word of God is sufficient.
It says right here, "Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." Do you see that? Some of you guys are struggling against sin, and you go, "I don't want to look at porn. I don't want to be compromised. I don't want this Christmas to get overwhelmed again by materialistic desires." But you can't just be a person who says, "I don't want to. I don't want to. I don't want to." That's not the Christian way.
The Christian way is the way you run from something is you run to something. Do you see that? Flee immorality "…and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." They were not just running from Islam. They are running to Jesus, and because of that, they're the hope of their nation. It says this. "But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged."
Your Community Group is going to wrong you. Your church is going to be difficult, but love each other "…with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come." See this?
Be diligent and beware because from among you… Watch, this is not talking about Hollywood. This is not talking about your lost friends. This is saying, "If you're not careful to hold fast to what is true, even in your own community, people "…will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."
They will go to churches, but they won't be godly. They will be church attenders, but they will not be attending to Christ's business. That's why, over here with my Shoreline friends, you guys have to encourage each other, to not go, "Man, our parents don't know what they're doing." No. you have to say, "Listen, we can't be disobedient to parents."
That's why other parents have to say, "Hey, look. We don't want to be legalists. We don't want to be people who are trying to impress others with children who behave. We want to disciple our kids. We want to ask our kids for forgiveness when we make mistakes. We want to radically pursue Christ." If we don't do these things, if we don't live this way together, these things I'm describing right here will make their way into the church. We'll have a form of godliness, but we'll deny its power. We'll always be learning but never come to the knowledge of the truth.
Let me just give you a summary application statement. The key to not being led astray by false teachers or false teaching is to be led always by God's truth. This is why we do Join the Journey. If you were with us today, you would have read in Hebrews 11 about others who have gone before you, have suffered, and have struggled at how they were faithful to the end. They held fast to the end, trusting in God even in the midst of incredible persecution. Some, God delivered out of persecution. Some were beheaded.
I met with some of the Iranian church. Other parts of the Iranian church are dead or still in prison. Hebrews 11. Hebrews 12 is, "You've got a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before you who have shown you Jesus is worth living for." Jesus himself modeled this for us, who did not consider his service for God anything but a privilege. It says, "You follow him."
Chapter 13 is, "Make sure you don't do this in isolation. God has given you leaders you should be humble before, and they will give an account for your soul. So shepherd one another." That's what we read today. We can be reminded of how much we need each other, or we will not be diligent because we won't be aware of the sin which is in us and the false teaching that's all around us. We will not be ready on that day.
The same thing comes up in 1 Timothy, chapter 4, just like Paul said. Watch this. I'm doing exactly what the Scripture tells us to do, which is to give attention to the public reading of Scripture. There's a reason for that because the key to not being led astray by false teachers is to always be led by the truth.
First Timothy 4: "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…" Second Peter 2. "…by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron." So what's it say?
Make sure you sanctify everything "…by means of the Word of God and of prayer. In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith." Do you see a theme here? You have to hold fast and stay true.
"But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."
I love that this is a CrossFit church. I love that we're a church that's extremely committed to physical well-being, but here's what I would ask you…Are we more committed to that which glorifies us than that which will ultimately allow God to be glorified in us? If so, false teaching is making its way through this community. Saltiness is waning. Light is dimming. God's hope for this land, just like God's hope for Iran, is the church. God's hope for America is the church as we're preserving and providing light.
You know what's going to happen in America, increasingly, and maybe has happened to some of you guys? For some of you guys, there's no conflict with your friends, there's no conflict with the world, because you're just like the Christians they are okay with in Iran. You don't speak about Jesus and his righteousness. You're silent. You are useless and unfruitful. Peter is saying, "You're not ready. You're not living the way God wants you to live."
Again, when you think about what this book, 2 Peter, is about it says, "Work out your salvation. Watch out for false teachers. Wait for your King. He's coming, and he will reward you. But you have to be ready, and you won't be ready unless you discipline yourself." He says in 1 Timothy 4:9, "It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men… Prescribe and teach these things."
Verse 13: "Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching… Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all." Do you see the idea all through the New Testament? Watch this. "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching…" To your behavior and your beliefs, to your doing and your doctrine. "…for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."
Mark my words, there are going to be lots of folks who mock you. They're going to be the people who are talked about right here in the next part of this little section where it says, "Mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was.'"
We heard last week great teaching that talked about this idea of uniformitarianism, where they deny that God ever intervenes and that God ever interrupts, even though God did create and even though God did judge. Notice this. Do you want to be a follower of Jesus? Then teach what he taught. Jesus was a creationist who believed in the universal flood. Read Matthew 19. Read Matthew 24.
Peter was a creationist who believed in the universal flood. Read 2 Peter 3. It is the scoffer who says, "No." It's the scoffer who needs to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. It's one of the things we learned last week. Scoffers falter once; saints hold fast. Scoffers forget God's plan; saints hold fast to God's promises. Jesus said, "I am going, and I am coming again." Are you convinced of that?
Let me just show you… Amazingly, in Romans, chapter 1, it talks about how people (scoffers) are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. It's what they do. It's worth saying again. Richard Dawkins, who is a molecular biologist, said, "Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." Science is, by definition, an "intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment."
Richard Dawkins is saying, "I'm observing nature. I'm observing structure. If I'm a good scientist, I'm going to draw conclusions." Here is the conclusion: there is design there. They have been designed for a purpose. That means there is a designer with a purpose, but because he's a scoffer, he rejects that. It's why Darwin is the most blessed of all scientists among scoffers. He gives them an intellectual umbrella under which they may shield themselves from what they know is true. All in the name of science, even though it is failed science.
Let me just say this. Intelligent design is a theory. Darwinism is a theory. Darwinism as a theory has never been substantiated by science. Intelligent design as a theory is backed up by everything we see according to the rules of science. Yet you're intimidated into silence. I'm telling you, folks, your God has imprinted himself all through creation.
I'm going to show you something next week that's going to encourage your socks off, but for this week, you need to be encouraged that God is at work. He wants to work in you and through you, but it won't happen if you just skip through life. We have to be diligent people who sanctify ourselves by the Word of God and prayer.
Verse 8: "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day." We did a great job last week hearing about this. This is a metaphor. This is not a measurement. But let me say this. We always go, and we say, "Time is money." Well, Jesus rejects that. He doesn't see time is money. He sees time is men. He sees that time is an opportunity to invest in people whom he cares about.
If we're like Jesus, we should invest our lives, our time, and our money in the gospel and in making disciples of men. If your life is all about money and self, you are not following a true teacher. You have found yourself among those who are lovers of self and lovers of money, and that makes its way into the church, doesn't it?
That's why we need to encourage each other. There's nothing wrong with making money, but God says, "Money is a tool." It's a test, and it's a testimony to what you believe about God. Jesus did not care about his precious possessions. He cared about precious men. Time is the most valuable thing you have, and you should invest it in what is most valuable to Christ.
So how are you doing? Scoffers say the reason he is kind is because he's incompetent. Scoffers say God has not judged again because he is incapable, he's irresponsible, he's inept, or he's a figment of our imagination. The Scripture says God is not weak, and he is not indifferent, but he is incredibly patient toward you. Can I just say this to you? There are two purposes of time. That's it. There are only two purposes for which we have been given time.
1._ Time is here to repent in light of the grace available._ If you have never let loose of the world and never found truth, then time is here. The reason God has not moved into what is called in Scripture (and we'll look at in just a moment) the day of the Lord is because he loves you. "He doesn't want for any to perish but all to come to eternal life." So time is here for people to respond.
It says in Psalm 32, "Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to you in a time when you may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him." While God does offer forgiveness to our repentance, he does not offer tomorrow to our procrastination. There is often a second chance, but there is always a last chance. I'm just telling you, I don't know when it's going to happen.
In fact, I will tell you it's going to happen like a thief in the night. It'll be either because your life ends and you stand before him in judgment, or because God is going to institute the day of the Lord activity in a way that's going to move us out of this season of grace into a season of trial and trouble. Time is for the purpose of us repenting in a season of grace.
2._ Time is here for us to respond in love in light of the grace we have received._ Jesus said it this way, "If you don't know me, come. If you do know me, go with me, working according to my Spirit which works mightily within you." This is the thing… Hold fast, stay true or let loose of the world and find truth. That's the only reason we are here. We're not here to become more comfortable. We're not here to become more famous. Here's the reason why: because everything in this world is going to be let go of, and it's going to happen quickly.
Look at what the Scripture says right here in verse 10. "But the day of the Lord…" That is an Old Testament piece of language, which is all Peter had. Peter was paying attention to the prophets. The day of the Lord is when you watch God have his day. When they talked about God having his day, they didn't think it would be on a cross. They completely missed the grace of God and the love of God being magnified through the provision of God through his Son.
The day of the Lord was the time when God would show himself to be God. It's in Isaiah 2. It's in Isaiah 13. It's in Jeremiah 30. It's in Daniel, chapter 12. It's in Amos 5. It's in Zechariah 12. It's in Matthew 24. It's in 1 Thessalonians 5. It's in Revelation, chapters 6 through 19. It's the day God gets busy. You see him working powerfully, intervening into the sinfulness of humankind and bringing judgment. The wrath of God is starting to work its way out.
Now watch this. That's the day of the Lord. The day of God is when he rules the world in truth and grace. The day of Christ, also mentioned here, is when he rules the world with truth and grace. But it's going to happen like a thief. Thieves don't call and tell you when they're coming. I know that for a fact. When I was first married, my wife and I would often house-sit for some families.
This one family was just now empty nesters. We were newlyweds. They asked us to come to their house. They had a lot of art in that house. It was very valuable. They had an amazing security system. They walked me all through it, told me all about it. They said, "Todd, you have to pay attention to this. Make sure you always set it." So I set that bad boy. They went away on their little vacation.
I was at work that day. My wife worked; I worked. All of a sudden, the alarm company, who now had my phone for this 10 days, called me and said, "Hey, there's something going on at the house. Are you there?" I go, "No." They go, "We're calling the police." I rush to the house. The police rush to the house. We get there. There seems to be nothing there. I go back to the office. It happened two more times that day.
That night my wife gets home. I said, "I don't want to freak you out, but let me tell you what I think is happening. I think some professionals have been casing this place. They know they are out of town, and I think what they're doing is timing how long it takes the cops to get here. I just want to let you know this happened three times today. I've called those folks. They just said, 'Be on your toes. The police are on alert.'"
Well, that night about 2 o'clock in the morning, the alarm system went off again. Now we were fairly newly married, so I didn't wear a lot of pajamas, if you're tracking with me. I jump up, and I was running out of the room across the way. The house had a room here, a little bridge over here to the master bedroom where the security pad was, and it had a walkway that went to a spiral staircase and down to two more rooms on that side.
So I'm over there. I tell my wife, "Call the cops!" I get over there, and I deprogram the alarm so I can start to hear. My wife goes, "The phone went dead!" I'm like, Oh, my gosh. These are professionals. They cut the phone line. I just deprogrammed the alarm. We got nothing! I grabbed Teddy Ruxpin, the talking bear. He's now my loincloth. That's all I got, and I'm sitting there. All of a sudden I look, and I kind of walk. I go, "Get under the bed!" to my wife. I look out, and sure enough, there's a flashlight in the back. My heart is racing.
I just go, Okay. Here we go. It's me and them. Then I look, and there's another one in the front. Okay. They're casing the joint. Then the next thing you know, I look up, and it happened to be the cops, who were very concerned that there was a naked guy running around the house with a bear as a pair of pajamas covering him. Once they realized I belonged there…needed to probably dress better, but belonged there…we kind of went through this whole thing.
Finally the alarm company came out and said, "Well, you know what it is? It's a low battery in one of the window vibration units. So that's what's been going on." That, and I had a heart attack at 28! That's what was going on. All that to say thank goodness that bear can't really talk because he would have had some serious stories to tell. But secondly, let me tell you, thieves don't tell you when they're coming. One of these days, there's a thief who is coming.
Now watch this. This is going to really amaze you. Look at this. There's a description here that I think people used to talk about the buildup of Russia, the buildup of America with all the atomic warheads, that the world is going to end with mutual mass destruction, that's how God is going to let the world come to an end.
I don't think so. God is going to end what he started. Men can bring disaster to themselves, but God is going to ultimately bring final judgment. Man creates problems, but God will bring the final solution. Look what this says. This is amazing. "The day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar." That word in the Greek is rhoizēdon. It's an onomatopoeia. An onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like it means, like bang or click or ding. Those are onomatopoeias.
This word was used by Homer in the Iliad of an arrow that would go by a warrior's ear. It was, "Rhoizēdon!" It was used of a bird's wings when it goes by you. It was used of a massive rushing sound that came by you with great force. Now watch this. "The heavens will pass away with a [rhoizēdon] and the elements…" Isn't this interesting? "…the elements will be destroyed with intense heat."
This sounds exactly like what happens during a nuclear explosion. The elements are broken, intense heat comes, and guess what happens? Guess what they found in New Mexico when they tested the atomic bomb? They said there was a whoosh. Watch this. This is Russia testing an atomic bomb in 1961.
Now listen. Why do I play that? I don't think the world is going to end from atomic bombs. We might set one off again… I want to tell you why. Because this world is going to be made new. This is what the Scripture says. I'm going to show you this. It says it right here, "Since all these things…" Meaning all the things that are precious to us, all that we invest our time trying to accumulate, they're going to be "…destroyed in this way."
When the element of the Heisman Trophy, of Conor McGregor's UFC Championship Belt, of your mansion, your lake house, your car, your fame… It's going to go. As a person who understand that, wealth is not a problem. Again, money is a testimony. It's a test, and it's a tool you want to put to work. Time isn't money. Time is men. Money is a tool to reach men, if you believe what Jesus believes about men and the future condition of this world.
I believe what this is describing… In Colossians, chapter 1, verse 17, this is what it says about Jesus. This is amazing. "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Now remember that for what I'm going to show you next week. "He holds all things together." In other words, when Jesus looses the elements…
We know the elements are fused together through protons, electrons, and neutrons in a nucleus in an atom. We know how the elements bond to each other. We know what our world is made up of. When God unleashes that, I think this earth and all that we know are going to go up with intense heat in a whoosh.
It says a new heavens and a new earth will come. It's not new as in time; it's new as in better than it was. So look. When you die, you don't go out 17 galaxies to the really good galaxy. The Bible teaches that this earth is going to be new. God is going to remake it, and everything we are investing in right now is going to be gone except for the Word of God and people.
Now who would invest in people and the Word of God? Answer: Folks who believe 2 Peter 3 and not 2 Peter 2 false teachers, and who are diligent to live their faith. Second Peter 1. "How do we know, Todd, that God is going to do that?" Answer: He's already shown you he can recreate and make something better than it was. "Oh, really? Where?"
He takes people who once were hateful, hating one another, lovers of self, lovers of money, and he made them kind, tender, gracious, loving, forgiving, and selfless. The world looks and goes, "Who are you people?" We say, "We're like aliens and strangers among you, and this world isn't our home because we've been made whole by the King who has come, and he is coming again."
I want to just introduce you to something you're not going to believe. We sing a song every year this time of year that is the right song to sing, but we sing it wrong. I say we sing it wrong because it's one of our favorite carols of the season, but do you know this? When you sing the lyrics with me here in just a moment, there is no reference to shepherds. There's no reference to angelic choruses. There's no mention of wise men who come. There's no little town of Bethlehem. Because it's not about that Christmas. It was never meant to be about that Christmas.
Here's the deal… Sin still is here. Trouble is still here. Babies are still being taken away from mothers because of oppressive, false religions. Truth and grace has come, but not all men have received it. He lets us remain here to suffer and to complete what is lacking in Christ's sufferings. He wants us to use this time for men. I'm using men as human people. Truth and grace is making its way, but joy has not come.
In this world we will have trouble, but guess what? The Bible talks about a day when joy will come to the world. Guess when that will be? Answer: The day of God. The day of Christ. Isaac Watts wrote a hymn about the second Christmas. When you sing it, you'll see. This wasn't about the baby born in a manger. This is about the King coming to conquer all that still is not as it should be.
He hasn't come yet because God sees time as an opportunity. He thinks it's the church's job to get after it. Psalm 98 talks about the coming of God in finality, and Psalm 98 is the text that becomes "Joy to the World." The next time you sing "Joy to the World," use it as an opportunity. Say, "Do you know why the world can sing? Because one day righteousness is going to rule, and guess what? The reason we can be among the righteous is because we have received the truth of the first Christmas."
This is a song that is inviting judgment. This is a song that says, "There will be a day when he will reign." The wicked will not stand at the judgment. Only those who hold fast and stay true to the true King, Jesus Christ, will. Let's stand and sing together.
That's what that hymn is about. It's about the second Christmas. When that baby came, he didn't rule the world with truth and grace. He came to die for the world. But he will rule the world with truth and grace, and he will make the nations prove. "Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, that he is Lord."
Peter is writing to you. Are you proving your faith is genuine? Do you use time because you're a lover of self and a lover of money, or do you use time for men? Do you count your own life as precious, or do count people who Christ died for as precious? Are sharing the gospel? Are you making disciples? Are you attentive to the apostles' teaching, the breaking of bread and prayer?
That's it church. If not, false teachers are rising up among us. What an amazing privilege we have, to invite our friends to come this Christmas and hear about the joy that has come because there is a reconciler who will allow us to be among the righteous through what he has done alone, by nothing we'll every do. But the way we know we have responded to him is we live for him.
Jesus said, "If anyone wants to come after me, let him take up his cross, deny himself, and follow me." Peter says, "He's worth following. He's coming again. He'll judge the quick and the dead. He'll reward you. His recompense is with him." This is Romans 8: "Even rocks, hills, and plains, all of creation longs for redemption."
Guess what? They're going to sing. The scars of sin are gone. Nothing but glory. Weeds are out. Deserts are out. Abundance is coming. It's coming. "But in this world, we have trouble. Take heart. Your King has overcome the world." If you know Jesus, would you hold fast and stay true? If you don't know Jesus, would you let loose of the world and find truth in him? God bless you. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.