Todd closes out the Hold Fast series. Teaching from 2 Peter 3:11-18, he recaps the series focusing on being diligent to know the Lord (Ch. 1), being aware of false teachers (Ch. 2), and being ready for the coming of Christ (Ch. 3).
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
Fear the Poison, Not the Persecution
Father, thank you for a chance to be here with my friends and now to study your Word and to learn and to be reminded, to be blessed by what you gave Peter so that we can be a blessing. Lord, we come to you right now. We just pray you'd tune our hearts to hear of your grace, that it would change us, it would do its work, it would not return void, that the seed of truth would bury deep in our hearts and would bear fruit, thirty, sixty, a hundredfold, and that fruit, Father, would be consistent with the fruit of what your Spirit does, that there'd be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, that every good thing would flow out of us, because we are attentive to you and what you're doing and what you've done and who your Son is. Teach us now. In Jesus' name, amen.
Turn with me to 2 Peter 3. We're going to read the last seven or eight verses. We're going to get through them today. We're going to close this up. My son last night said, "Dad, what are we doing tomorrow?" I said, "Man, we're wrapping up 2 Peter." He goes, "Second Peter? We did that book forever!" I go, "This is the ninth week. JP did two of them. We were in John for two years. What do you mean forever?"
So we're ending the "forever" that is nine weeks to a 16-year-old, and I hope it buries some truth that will forever live in your heart. I love this book, and I'm thrilled to teach you some stuff today. I think there's going to be some stuff that's going to be a major "aha," and also it's going to be a chance for us to come back and one more time bury in our hearts what God wanted us to hear through his servant Peter, as Peter was getting ready to check out.
This is one of the early leaders of the church, one of the foundational leaders, and this is his last credo, as one who was sent forth by Christ. God sovereignly used him to record a message that somebody else did what this message said, so that here, 2,000 years later, while Christ is still being patient that others may come and find rest, we are able to have the same faith and the same relationship with Jesus that Peter did. It's amazing.
I don't know how long the Lord is going to tarry, but if he tarries beyond our lifetime, we have to be attentive to this message so that 20 years from now others are still able to enjoy the same faith that has been once and for all delivered to the saints. Let me just remind you of some of the amazing truth we just tore through. Right out of the chute, we talked about how this book was written by a guy whose life was a mess until he bumped into Jesus.
We talked the first week about no matter where you have been or what you have done, who you can be is somebody who is useful to God and a blessing to others. What an amazing truth that comes out of this book. We talked about the difference between common men and men who are commended by God is their understanding of who Jesus is. We ought to become very uncommon people, like aliens and strangers, to use the words of Peter, because we've bumped into this Jesus who Peter is fired up about us knowing.
We talked about the fact that every one of us has access to everything we need to be everything our God and, in correlation, our wife and our work and our kids and our families ever wanted us to be. We've been given that. Peter uses the phrase "Everything pertaining to life and godliness is yours." We talked about the person, Jesus, who gives you grace and peace by his power, has in his glory and excellence promised that we could partake of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world by lust.
It's amazing, and we walked you through how all that is possible. So many other truths. I've laid out the book of 2 Peter for you very simply. I've talked about how chapter 1 is "Be diligent to take advantage of all these things I just talked about. Beware. There are going to be guys who try to pull you off of that." In fact, one of the things we talked about is false teachers always have a tendency to slide toward one area of extreme untruth.
They're always either teaching licentiousness or legalism. In other words, they always say, "It doesn't really matter what you do, because Jesus died for you, so grace is going to abound. You're all good, so be free. Just make Jesus your own personal Savior, which means you can personally do whatever you want. Be free, man. It doesn't matter how you behave. It doesn't matter what you do, because Christ died for sinful men. He just loves you, so go." That is heresy. Not that he loves you but that you shouldn't be attentive to the one who loves you.
False teachers also sometimes come at you with real legalism. "Hey, if you don't behave, and you don't do what he wants you to do, he's not going to love you." They heap on you guilt and shame and burdens, and they become very legalistic and performance-driven. Those are false teachers who don't understand the gospel of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Those are false teachers who say because the work is finished it doesn't matter what you do. It matters a lot what you do.
The last thing Peter wanted you to hear is truth. You beware. There are false teachers who pander to your lusts and become shepherds that you accumulate according to your desire and who allow you to have the life you want right now without telling you it's not about you anymore if you know Christ. There are two reasons God gave us his Word. He gave us his Word to comfort those of us in our affliction, for us to know that we're sinners, know that we've gone our own way and turned away.
God's Word is there to comfort the afflicted, but it's also there to afflict the comfortable and say, "You need to know something. There is a God who is there, who knows you, who will cause every man to give an account, so you be diligent to know him and respond to him. You beware. There are some people who are going to mock that truth, and you be ready to meet him." There is a layout of 2 Peter: Be diligent. Beware. Be ready.
What I love about 2 Peter is that you could almost boil it down to two things: Be diligent, because there's amazing, life-giving truth; beware, there are false teachers; beware, you're going to be held accountable for what you do with any teaching you put yourself under, so you be diligent. That's another way to look at this book.
You're going to see the way it ends this week is with Peter coming back not to a reminder of telling you what Christ is going to do and not a reminder to tell you what false teachers are going to do but a reminder that we are accountable. False teachers are accountable for what they teach, but we are accountable for what teaching we listen to. Are you ready? Let's read it. Second Peter 3. I'm going to read to you from verse 10 down to the end of the chapter. We looked at some of this last week. We'll see if we can't have some fun together learning something.
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up." I talked about how the Lord is the one who holds all things together. I told you last week I was going to give you a little bit of something that is an amazing piece of truth that I think encourages you.
In fact, for some of you, it might be your favorite illustration you've ever heard, especially if you were a college student in the last 10 years or you're a fan of my buddy Louie Giglio, who I'm a fan of. I love Passion ministries, and I love Louie. He gave an illustration that I'm going to share with you today, and I'm going to tell you I don't really want you to bank on this illustration, but it's awesome.
I talked last week about how what's being described in 2 Peter 3:10 is very consistent with what people who have been around an atomic explosion say they experienced. The elements come apart with a roar. It creates a vacuum, and there's a rushing wind, and it creates intense heat. I don't think the world is going to end with an atomic war. I don't know if a nuclear bomb will ever be set off again as men go to war with each other. It wouldn't surprise me, but there is not going to be mutually assured mass destruction.
Jesus is the one who created the earth, and he is the one who will bring the earth to an end. I think what's going to happen is this Jesus, this God who created all things… All things were created by him and for him. As it says in Colossians, chapter 1, verses 17-18, "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." He should have first place in everything.
Again, in verse 17, "He holds all things together." Louie was getting ready to speak about the greatness of God and the glory of God in nature and design and all that we can clearly see. He was actually in Texas, and he was getting done speaking, and a guy walked up and went, "Louie, that was magnificent. I heard you speaking on this topic this weekend, the greatness of God. What's your close?"
Louie goes, "I really don't have a close yet." He goes, "Well, you have to have a close, and I have your close. Your close is laminin." Louie goes, "Laminin? I'm not really sure what laminin is." The guy goes, "Well, I'm a molecular biologist. I know what laminin is, and laminin is your close." The guy went on and said, "Louie, give me your email address. I'm going to email you a picture of laminin."
So Louie went home. He forgot all about it, but all of a sudden this email pops up in his inbox. He looks at it, and the guy said, "Hey, this is your close. This is about the beauty and perfection of God in the design of nature. I'm going to show you how God is in the middle of everything and how when he says he holds all things together… I'm going to show you how he put his fingerprint even there. The farther out we go we see order and design, and the farther in we go we see order and design, and the divine footprint is everywhere."
So Louie looked at a picture of laminin, actually a two-dimensional drawing of it. This is what laminin looked like when he saw it. Now what is laminin? Laminin is a protein molecule. It is a cell adhesion molecule. What happens is cells need to affix to each other to create organs and linings and skin, so cells organize into certain molecular structures, and how they are formed determines what their use is going to be.
This is the way laminin, which is a protein… There are anywhere from 10,000 to 60,000 different proteins in our bodies, and they all do different things. Laminin is an adhesion molecule. It causes our cells to stick together. It has these little arms that reach out and grab other cells, and it literally holds the lining of your stomach together, and it holds your organs together. It's what makes your organs.
The amazing thing is as Louie looked at it… In fact, here's an actual cross-section of some laminin on a slide. It's in the shape of a cross. The thing that holds us together, like it says in Colossians 1:17… Louie does a great thing. It says, "All things are held together by him," and the very symbol of our Lord that affixes us to a holy God, that takes sinful men and pulls it all back together, instead of death and judgment makes beauty and wholeness…
Christ holds it all together, and there's going to be a day that Christ goes, "Hey, I'm not holding this thing together anymore, and I'm letting it go," and you're like, "Oh my gosh! Laminin!" Louie does a great job with this. It's stunning when you watch it. Now let me just tell you something. I love Louie, I love laminin, but don't get too excited about it. I don't want your affection for truth to be wrapped around what somebody is going to tell you that maybe you can find.
The Bible already says that what is known about God is clearly seen, having been evident through what has been made. His eternal power, his invisible attributes, his divine nature have been clearly seen through that which has been made. The fact that we can look at creation… We don't need little cross-section slides and pictures of what's inside of us. We can look at order and design and beauty and the formation of human life, and we know this didn't happen through time plus nothing plus chance. Romans 1 makes that very clear.
I'm fine with laminin looking like a cross, but here's what you need to know. Laminin is not a two-dimensional object. It's actually a three-dimensional piece of protein, and depending on how you look at it… Some people might say, "Well, it really looks more like flowers or like a jack or even a pyramid."
Somebody might listen to you make a big deal about, "Look! This is how you can know my Bible is true. Colossians 1:17 says he holds all things together, and the cell adhesion molecule that holds all of our cells together… It's a specific protein. It's laminin. It looks like a cross. Therefore, you can see that Christianity is true, because it holds everything together, just like it says."
They might go, "Well, bro, have you ever really understood laminin? It's not a two-dimensional thing. It actually has a three-dimensional shape to it. By the way, do you also know it kind of looks like the Greek letter psi, which is used in astronomy to present the planet Neptune? So what if I told you it really is an imprint, that we're here from aliens, and they put their little stamp on us? Or how about this?
Do you know that when you look at the DNA helix from a vertical angle it looks more like the yin-yang symbol than anything? So maybe Chinese spiritualism is what God is trying to put into your DNA…not laminin, but your actual DNA that makes you. There's a yin and a yang. Or how about this? There's another DNA molecule that actually looks like a pentagram, so the truth is we're all supposed to worship Satan." I told you I was going to ruin that illustration Louie gave.
Here's my point. I do believe God is going to hold all things together until he doesn't want to hold it together, but you don't need laminin to believe in your Lord. Just like Peter said in 2 Peter, chapter 1, "I saw the risen Lord. I saw the Godhead, veiled incarnate deity. I saw him pull back the flesh, and I saw that was not just a man; that was very God of very God, and I fell down on my face and worshiped him. Moses was there and Elijah was there, and it was an unbelievable experience."
But Peter says in 2 Peter, chapter 1, "There's something even better than experience, than what I saw. You have the prophetic Word made more sure, and you would do well to pay attention to it, as a lamp lighting a dark place." All I'm going to say is don't go too hard to the hole on experience or what somebody shows you in a cross-section of a protein molecule, which is awesome. I think it's encouraging. I think there's something there, but not my faith.
My faith is in an empty tomb. It does not say in your Bible, "If laminin is not in the shape of a cross, we above all men are to be pitied, and we above all men are fools." So let's not lead with that and make that our hope. Our hope is Jesus Christ and him crucified and the empty tomb. Louie, by the way, would agree with that a thousand percent.
It is awesome to make observations in nature. I hope you're encouraged, but I hope you know where your encouragement comes from. It comes from a God who invades the darkness and who, even though he wasn't a man, took on the form of a man, and being found in the likeness of a man, humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Because he was not just a man but was fully God at the same time, he never sinned, so the wages of sin, which he paid, were done, so death no longer has victory, and death no longer has sting. He's the firstfruits, the firstborn from the grave, to show you he was who he said he was. No one took his life; he laid it down, and he picks it back up again. He came out and said, "Look, I am the one who can affix you to the Godhead, and only through me can you be affixed."
You put your hope on that cross and that empty tomb, and you put it nowhere else. You would do well to pay attention to the Word of God that declares it and to preach the gospel that declares it, because there is no other hope. Now I'm going to read all the way through, verses 11-18. "Since all these things…" All these things about what God is going to do in his second coming and what's going to happen to our earth.
"Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."
Can you see Peter? He's just saying, "I'm about to check out. My turn is over, and I'm giving it to you. If Jesus doesn't come back, you have to give it to somebody else. These things which you've heard in the presence of me and many witnesses, grow in them. Love God. Love what is good, and to your loving goodness of the nature of God and the redemption through Jesus Christ add knowledge. Learn more. To your knowledge add self-control. To your self-control, persevere so you will be a godly person who shows brotherly kindness and love." (2 Peter 1:5-7)
That's the way he says it. "Be diligent. You have to know this is a big deal. Beware. Some guys are going to try to call you off. You're going to be distracted by your flesh and by false teachers, and you'd better beware. Jesus is going to hold you accountable, so be diligent. This is a big deal." Now let's walk through slowly. Verse 11: "Since all these things are to be destroyed…" Why would you set your mind on these things? You're people who know this is a fleeting world, that this world is not your home, that you're crazy to give yourself to these things and to make these things your hope.
I love the story of a guy named David Garrick. David Garrick was one of the most celebrated actors and producers of his day. In fact, he was the very first actor ever given the privilege of being buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. This guy was famous for his Richard III. He was a Shakespearean actor who was so good people took note of him. He was an actor and a producer. He wrote a book called The Private Correspondence of David Garrickwith the Most Celebrated Persons of His Time.
Everybody wanted to be with David Garrick. He would write them and correspond. They would talk about life and all of these different things. There was a real intellect of his day, one of the greatest intellects who ever lived, the guy who basically wrote the dictionary before the dictionary came out, a guy named Samuel Johnson. Samuel Johnson walked into David Garrick's house one time. Dr. Johnson was a very committed follower of Jesus.
He looked at all the art and the possessions David Garrick had accumulated for himself, and David was showing them off. He said, "Dr. Johnson, what do you think about all I have?" Dr. Johnson looked at him and said, "David, I think what you have are all of the things which make a man's deathbed horrible, because you're putting your hope in things that are going to be fleeting." This guy played Broadway. He created Broadway in England, and he had all the swag that went with it, but if he didn't have Christ he had nothing.
You're not like David Garrick who's trying to establish fleeting fame. You're the one who's trying to follow the Famous One, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. That's who you are. You're people who know that Jesus is not just some guy making his way around the Sea of Galilee. This is very God of very God. He has shown you that, and you've seen that and embraced that, and you are affixed to God and not in love with the world, because you know Jesus.
You know that the God who came in grace and mercy as a child is going to come as a king to judge, and it's going to be "Joy to the world! The Lord has come." That's a hymn not for this Christmas. That's a hymn written by Isaac Watts for the next Christmas, the one where he comes to say, "I'm done with sin. I'm done with death, and truth is going to reign, and the nations will give an account to me," and we go, "There's no more sin, no more death, no more war, no more weeping," but there's going to be great weeping for those who don't know him.
The reason he delays, the reason he allows you to go through hardship… I want to tell you something. Three friends close to our body, members… Jon Abel is not singing this morning because he buried his daddy yesterday. We have a sweet family whose firstborn daughter was diagnosed with some cancer a year ago and who in just a few days is going to be buried. One of my friends who kept haggling me and wrangling me to come over to Fort Worth died on Thursday. I'll tell you about Scotty in a minute.
Sometimes you're like, "What are you doing, Jesus? Why don't you come back? How much time are you going to take? What's going on?" The Scripture says that we're the people who look for his coming, as we live holy lives and conduct ourselves in godliness, because we know this world is not our home. We're not David Garrick. We're not trying to become famous and accumulate for ourselves a bunch of things. Are we? I hope not.
There's nothing wrong with things as long as things are not our hope and are not accumulated for our own comfort to the expense of not being about the cause, which is not our comfort but about comforting other people with the comfort with which we've been comforted. So what sort of people does it say we ought to be? We ought to be people looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because the heavens are going to be destroyed.
How do we hasten the day of God? Well, here's one way: through prayer. The disciples came up to Jesus and said, "Jesus, teach us to pray," because Jesus was a man who was always praying, because he knew this world has its own cell adhesion molecules, and it's always trying to pull you into it. Jesus said the reason a lot of you guys are not useful and fruitful is because of the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, the concern for many things, all that the world has made Christmas about.
He says, "You have to prune that stuff out. You have to stay focused. You have to be in the Word. You have to give attention to the apostles' teaching, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer." The disciples saw Jesus be in the world but not of it, and they went, "Your life is different. You are holy and blameless, altogether different than us. What's the key?" He said, "My relationship with the Father." How do we talk to the Father? He said, "When you talk to the Father, talk this way."
This is the way Jesus taught them to pray: When you pray, pray, "Our Father…" You have an intimate relationship with him. He loves you. You're his son. "…whose name is holy." He's nothing like you. His agenda is not like your agenda. You're going to have to die to your own agenda to get on his agenda. "Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be thy name." His name is holy. "Your kingdom come, your will be done." Hear that? Jesus said right out of the chute one of the ways you hasten his coming is to pray that he would come.
It's okay to say, "Lord, this is awful. People are following false teachers to the place that they start to think if they kill people because they don't agree with them they're glorifying you. If people say humans shouldn't define their sexuality as their highest, most important expression of who they really are… If we say we're against that, people call us haters and intolerant. Lord, I buried my little 21-year-old girl. I lost my dear husband at 56. I'm burying my dad. I have conflict. I've been abandoned by my spouse. Come quickly, Lord Jesus."
We hasten it by praying. Jesus says, "I want to show you how much I love the world. The reason I'm patient and not coming is not because I don't care about you. I care a lot about you. In fact, let me tell you how much I care about you. I let other people I've loved go through the same hell you're going through so I wouldn't roll up judgment before you came to know me, so you could enjoy me forever."
Then God has the audacity to say, "Hey, these momentary light afflictions…" I mean, burying your little 21-year-old girl. These momentary light afflictions? Being in a movie theater to watch something and some nut jumps in there and starts killing people randomly. That's a momentary light affliction? Being abandoned, being sexually abused by your father. That's a momentary light affliction? What are you doing, God?
What he's saying is, "You need to know something. Vengeance is mine. I'm going to be really excellent at executing it, and if you knew what my vengeance was like, you would want me to be very patient before I start executing it. In fact, I'm going to let you endure a lot of hardship right now so that other people can come before I come with joy, because there's going to be joy in the world, but for joy to be in the world there can't be any sin. If sin is in any man because man is not in Christ, it will not be joyful. I love them enough to let you, my son, suffer, live in a wheelchair, be sick, and die, and wait another generation so more can come."
Some of you guys trusted Christ in the last six months. Aren't you glad he didn't come January 1, 2015? There are a lot of you guys in here who are like, "I'm really glad, Todd," because it wouldn't have been joyful when Christmas happened the second time had he not waited for Christmas 2015. Some of you guys are in this room this morning, and he let a family lose their little 21-year-old girl in front of their eyes.
He let Kelly walk out in her driveway and see her husband of 56 dead in the driveway from a heart attack because he wanted you to know about the kindness of the first Christmas. Woe to you if you scoff at that, the way he'll let his children suffer so you can know about the way he suffered for you. So you hasten by prayer. You hasten by proclamation. In Matthew, chapter 24, one of the things it says is that the gospel will be preached to the whole world, and then the end will come.
You might be the one who gets to go. "That's the last one I wanted to trust Christ," and Boom! Here we go. So share your faith. I don't know. You might be the last one to pick up that last animal before the ark door closes, so I'd go gather all of the butterflies I could and go, "Is this the one? Is it the aardvark? Let me go get the elephant. Is it my aunt? Let me go get my aunt." I don't know, but you hasten it by proclamation.
It says in verse 13, "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth…" That's what we're looking for. We're not looking for judgment of this earth. We're not looking for judgment of our wicked enemies. We are looking for the conversion. Look for the new heavens and the new earth. Don't long for the judgment of this one. Long for the redemption of this one. That's another thing we should look for.
Ezekiel 18:23 says, "God takes no delight in the death of the wicked." So neither should we. We shouldn't look at judgment of our enemies. We should know how awful judgment is, and we should look for the conversion of our enemies. Do you love your enemies? Are you praying for your enemies? Are you living your life in holiness and godliness before them, that they might know you've bumped into something that could maybe change them?
Are you proclaiming the gospel? Are you doing what you should do for them? That's who we are. We're people who long for redemption, not judgment. Verse 14: "Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things…" What? The ultimate return of Christ, the rolling up and wrapping up of things that are fleeting, that won't be a part of eternity. "…be diligent…" In other words, intense effort ought to be applied, which ought to produce observable change. That's what the word diligent means: intense effort that produces observable change.
"…to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and [think correctly] regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…" Not as his incompetence or indifference but as his love. We think time is money. Jesus thinks time is men. Are you about his business? We are not about the things that people who are living in the horror of being without God and without hope in the world, who are still trying to figure out how to make their way through life and all the sadness of it…
They don't know how to live. We shouldn't be surprised when sinners sin. They're just fulfilling the job description. In the same way, when you go see a horror movie… Before you trusted Christ, when you went to see a horror movie, you were never shocked at what those idiots do. You're like, "Don't go in there. Why do a dare you're going to spend the night in the haunted house where the last people who did it were sawed up? Why would you do that?" And they do it.
I love the GEICO commercial. It talked about how people in horror movies make really bad decisions. It's crazy. That's what Peter is saying. "You know this is a horrible world. You know this world is going to be judged. Why do you keep running to the guy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy? Why do you run to the cemetery to live with other dead people to find life? Get in the Messiah Christ, the moving car that can take you away from the horror." Peter is saying, "Why would you do that?"
The answer is that you think it's a joke, because you don't really believe. "It's just a movie." No. It's really a story. It's the story. So I don't get mad at people who don't know the story. They're just having fun running around, and they're going to run where they think they should run. They're going to do the thing that seems right to them, but in the end it's the way of death, and we know that. We've been rescued from that. We've jumped into chain saw-filled rooms with the one who steals, kills, and destroys.
We have been living among the dead. We were dead ourselves, lost in our trespasses and sins, and God rescued us (Colossians 1:13) from the domain of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. We know that Son isn't dead. He's coming back. There's going to be a second Christmas, and he's going to deal with horror. So why do we look like the people in the horror movie? Peter is saying, "You can't do that, man. You have to be diligent, because there's a lot at stake."
Now watch this. This gets even better. "…regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…" That's what's going on here. "…just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things…" What are the "these things"? I want you to watch this with me. It starts back up in verse 11. "Since all these things are to be destroyed…" Verse 14: "…since you look for these things…" Verse 16: "Paul speaks of these things."
What are the "these things" we've been talking about? The second coming, the fact that Christ isn't dead; he lives. He's seated at the right hand of God the Father, and he's going to return. He says, "Paul wrote about these things." This is specifically what he's talking about in Paul's writings. He says, "Some of what Paul said about the end times is hard to understand, which the untaught," meaning people who have never heard it…
How many of you guys had heard last week that "Joy to the World" was not written for the first Christmas? Our world is singing, "Joy to the world! The Lord is come…" That should say, "He's coming." If you don't know him, it won't be joyful for you. That is not a Christmas Eve, "baby in a manger" song. Look at it. There's no mention of wise men or babies in a manger. It is the clouds being rolled back, and Boom! The Lamb is not coming; the Lion is coming.
The untaught don't know that. They just sing it. They shop underneath it. They accumulate for themselves more things and run behind chain saws. They're untaught. You have to teach them. The unstable are those false teachers you have to beware of. Paul wrote about these things. That's what he's saying. Some of it's really, really hard. Here's what's great. You need to be encouraged. Peter and Paul were not that smart. They're plagiarizers. All they did was take the acorn of truth God gave them and grow by the Spirit the oak of revelation.
Second Peter 3 is really Matthew 24 and Mark 13 retold. Second Thessalonians 2 is the acorn of the second coming of Christ developed by Paul. What's Paul developing in 2 Thessalonians 2? Daniel 7 and Matthew 24, the tribulation period, which is the beginning of the day of the Lord, with the man who is called the man of disobedience, the great deceiver, or son of destruction, the man of lawlessness, who is the Antichrist, what his role is going to be, when you know that man is on the scene, how you should respond as that man comes on the scene, and the timetable of Christ becoming the one who is ultimately on the scene.
If I had time, I would read you right now Matthew 24. You ought to go read it, because it is the basis that Paul wrote some of these things that are hard to understand. If I had time, I would read to you 2 Thessalonians 2:1-15, where it talks about who this Antichrist is and where he comes and why he's not here now. I would take you to 1 John and tell you that the spirit of the Antichrist is already in the world. It's always in the world.
There's going to be a moment where God is going to let somebody with that spirit go to a position of power. When will that be? Paul tells us it's when the restrainer is removed. "Well, Todd, who's the restrainer?" The restrainer is always the Holy Spirit, probably the Holy Spirit in and through the church who listen to 2 Peter 3. But there's going to be a time, probably through this event called the rapture, when the Holy Spirit is removed, and chaos is going to ensue all around the world.
Some people are going to seize upon that chaos and march on God's people, the Jews, and they're going to try to destroy him. There's going to be, Paul would tell you, probably a leader of the remade Roman Empire, a little horn, which is a symbol of power, that will rise up and swallow up the other nine horns, and they will follow him, and he will make a treaty with Israel and protect Israel. Israel will go, "We're saved."
He'll say, "I am your leader and your friend," and for three and a half years there will be general prosperity and peace, but at the end of those three and a half years, that man of lawlessness will say, "I'm not just a good leader; I am your lord," and he will put himself in Jerusalem, in the Temple Mount, on the throne, and say, "I am God. Worship me." When that happens, Matthew 24 says, you'd better run for the hills. At that moment, we'll be in the times of Jacob's trouble, the times of Jacob's distress. It's going to be really nasty.
Here's my deal. There's a lot of debate about prophecy. I taught on this for 10 weeks when I got through the gospel of Mark to chapter 13, and I called those 10 weeks The Last Things You Need to Know. It's the Olivet Discourse. It's available free online. You can go check it out. I talked to you the best I could about what I think is going to happen, but I even said then, 10 years ago when I taught that, I want to get off the planning committee.
Some people would say, "If you teach the rapture and people are here when trouble really happens, they're going to think there's no Jesus really coming, so they're going to abandon their faith." That might be the case. In the Prep series, I said you need to understand there's this thing called the rupture of America and the rapture of the church. Some people say there's not even a rapture of the church. All I'm going to tell you is I know there's a return of Christ.
I am off the planning committee, and I am on the welcoming committee. I am on the invitation committee. I think God gives us insight. I think the Spirit illumines the words. I think the untaught and unstable can distort Paul's words to their own destruction. I also think there are things to be learned, to be encouraged by there. I taught you some of this when I talked about Lot in chapter 1 and what God has always done about removing his people before the judgment, but I don't know.
I do know this: my hope is in the empty tomb and the return of Christ, and he is coming, and you'd better live in light of that. One of the things you need to do in light of that is hasten the day by the proclamation of the gospel. This is how it ends. Verse 17: "You therefore, beloved, don't be untaught or unstable, knowing this beforehand, that you'd better pay attention to the Scriptures. They're life-giving to you. Be on your guard. Be diligent. Work hard. Have intense effort and be attentive to the Word of God so it can produce observable change in your life."
"…so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness…" Peter is writing to the church, and he's not saying, "If you don't do this you're not going to be saved." He's going to say, "You won't be steadfast. You will be useless and unfruitful, and it won't go well with you at the judgment. Even though you might be saved, it'll be as one who passes through fire." I don't want that to be the case. The church needs leaders. The American church needs leaders.
We have to be the church. We have to be people who live radical lives that are holy and blameless, that are godly and set apart, who love, who restrain evil and don't participate in evil. "…but grow…" That word for grow is such a beautiful word. It means to the extreme limit, to the highest possible potential. Just stay at it. "…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."
You grow. Stay at it. Let's go. Don't be saved and skip through, but be diligent to grow. It brings me to my friend Scotty Nix. I met Scott long before there was ever a thing called Watermark Fort Worth. I would teach down at T Bar M Family Camp, and here comes this big ex-lineman from TCU, and he's nothing but love. Twenty-eight of his family members are here this morning. I love it. Everybody loved Scott. He was just fun to be around.
But there were years after Scott trusted Christ and was a big FCA guy and went to FCA he didn't really grow in his grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Still fun and still lovable and affable. He'd hear me teach at T Bar and go, "Todd, there ain't nobody teaching like this. There's nobody encouraging the church to be the church where I am. You have to come to a church in Fort Worth." I'd go, "Scott, you have to be God's church. God has you there." I told him that for years.
It turned out I couldn't go and teach at that camp anymore for a while, so I sent a young guy named JP down there. Scott picked the phone up and called me and said, "Hey, Todd, you don't need to plant a church in Fort Worth anymore. I like JP more than you. JP can plant a church in Fort Worth." I said, "I don't blame you." But Scott and some friends started begging us, "Come on, man. Let's talk about how we can be the church. I want to grow. I want to be God's man again."
One of the things we've all read, as people have talked about Scott, is Scott Nix has had a different last three years. Ages 53 to 56 were really different than 23 to 53, because he got to be part of a church where for the first time he was going to go, "I'm going to be God's man. I'm going to grow. I'm going to get after it. I'm not going to just listen. I'm not just going to like JP. I'm not going to like having my ears tickled by Todd."
A couple of weeks ago, when we were talking about how God loves to turn scoffers to saints and that if you know Christ is coming back and this is your time to be busy you'd better be busy, Scott walks out of church. He and Kelly had taken two separate cars that day to church for different reasons, and he goes with Kelly to her car, and she goes, "What are you doing? You have your car." He went, "We're going somewhere together."
It was to a friend who had cancer that's probably terminal whom he loves, who he'd been praying for, whom he had not been forthright with about the gospel. He goes, "We have to go share the gospel." He went over to this guy's bed, sat with him, and told him why he was there. He told him he loved him. The guy is kind of a famous atheist and rebuffer and mocks God a little bit. The family didn't want Scott to do it. Scott said, "I have to do it, because I love my friend. I don't know how long he's going to be here."
You know what? Scott didn't know how long he was going to be here. Just a few days after that moment, Scott can't go to war anymore for Jesus. Don't you know that he'd love nothing more than to have this week to invite somebody to Christmas Eve. Don't you know he'd love to have this day to go sit by somebody else's bed and tell them about Jesus. Scotty needed to be ready last Thursday to lay down his life in front of his Lord and say, "Here's what I have. Here's what I did for you. I grew. I was diligent."
What's awesome is because of you and your prayers, your investment of Fort Worth, others' encouragement, he went from being an attender to tending to God's business, and it was a beautiful thing. Kelly said to me, "I got my husband back the last three years. I got God's man back in my home, the one I wanted to marry, the one who was always kind but was not Christ."
All that was changing. He was still not perfect. That's why we celebrate Jesus at his funeral and we sing songs about Jesus and not Todd and not Scott, but Todd, Scott, Watermark, are you ready? Today is the day. I don't know how many days we have before he comes or we go to him. This is our turn. Be diligent. You are no fool if you live for his glory. Watch this.
Male: Because of the resurrection…
Female: I am no…
Male: I am no fool.
Female: I am no fool.
Female: I became a believer at the age of 6 but shortly thereafter fell away from Christ and started looking for pleasure in my adult life through an addiction to pornography that I thought would satisfy.
Male: I was focused on my goals and leading myself and working harder than everybody else. I felt like that was important.
Female: I had no faith. I had shallow friendships. I drank a lot. I did a lot of drugs. I just kept running away from my problems in my life.
Male: I started to serve in our young adult ministry, The Porch, and served as a volunteer and as a leader, and each week that passed, my passion for my career and the business world and making a name for myself and working my way up the corporate ladder was just plummeting, and my interest and passion for ministry and seeing God change lives was going through the roof. I just started to think, "What would it look like to not give my leftovers, not my scraps of my time and my energy and the things the Lord has entrusted to me, but really give my best to investing in the kingdom?"
Female: Through the ministry of re:generation I found a lot of freedom. I felt physically like chains had been released. I was able to breathe and be honest about my sin. I was able to share it, and I lived an open, honest life after I really accepted that God's grace covered all my sins.
Female: When I was so scared and so broken and so lost, I really felt like God started pursuing me. At that moment, I knew the life I had been leading up until then, that I was the fool, that I was the one who had gotten it all wrong. At that moment, I decided to trust Christ. I realized in that moment that I needed a Savior and that my little boy needed a saved mother.
Male: My son was experimenting with alcohol and had been drinking, and I knew he was a reflection of what I had shown him was okay. I had a hard heart that started to soften. The power of being vulnerable and knowing that I am broken and leaning on someone other than myself has been a gift. Christ gave me that. Our relationship has never been healthier. It's never been stronger.
Female: Because of the resurrection…
Male: I am…
Female: I am…
Male: I am…
Female: I am no fool.
Jen Clouse: I was single for a while, and then really excited to get married at 38, and then completely shocked at 39 to find out I was pregnant and would have a baby boy, and then within a year of that to find out, just shy of 40, that I had breast cancer that had already spread to my lymph nodes. I began treatment then. First I had chemotherapy and then surgery and then radiation, and then we had about a year where we kind of felt like we were enjoying life back to normal.
In December of 2014, after experiencing a little bit of back pain and inquiring of my doctor, she thought we should do a bone scan. By the end of that Saturday, she sat by my bed and informed me that the pain in my back was, in fact, a broken rib and it was broken because the cancer had metastasized to my bones and weakened them. She also informed us that it had spread to my liver and the lymph nodes around my stomach and around my lungs. We've also learned that it spread to my brain, so we have been in intense treatment since December of 2014.
Those first days in the hospital when we were processing the news of my cancer and how extensive it was were crazy sobering. It really was hard for our family and for Scott and me to process the news. I remember having the courage and feeling like it was scary to ask my doctor if she thought I would see Lincoln graduate high school. She very soberly said, "I expect not." Scott and I had some really sweet but some really hard conversations.
Scott said to me that very first night in the hospital, "I guess we get to see if we really believe what we say we believe. Do we really believe that eternity and Christ's promises to us are real?" I laughed and told him I thought this might be a little early to have that conversation, but so sweetly by the next morning… I remember I had taken my first shower since I'd been in the hospital, and I came out of the shower and told Scott, "You're absolutely right."
I could rest on the promises of Ephesians 2:8-9, that it is by grace I am saved through faith and that it is not of me, and in that grace I have eternal life, and I have the hope of glory and the hope of heaven and I can truly rest in those promises. I can't imagine not trusting Christ with this part of my life. I can't imagine (and I've witnessed it) the despair I see in folks who have to cling to the hope of trials or doctors.
While I surrendered to the Lord my number of days, and I really do want more days, especially for Lincoln's sake, I am able by his grace to accept that the days he has for me are numbered by him, whether that's another one year, two years, or three years, and ultimately he awaits me in glory. I am not a fool for trusting the Lord with my husband and my 4-year-old son. He loves them even more than I do. I am not a fool.
[End of video]
Jen is not a fool. She was by Samantha's bed, that little 21-year-old girl, a couple of times this week, just hours before she passed. We don't expect Jen to make it through elementary school, not just high school or college for Lincoln, but she's no fool to be filled with peace, because she knows God is good. Do you? Have you ever come to the Lord who came the first Christmas so you can be ready when he comes at the second?
If you know he has come at the first Christmas, are you ready for him to come because you're being diligent about the Lord's business? Are you going to do your job today to "go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere"? No matter where you've been or what you've done, who you can be is useful to God and a blessing to others. That's how you know you understand Christmas.
So as we sing the last song, first, if you have kids, we'll run and get them, if you have friends, we're going to go and tell them, and if Jesus isn't your friend, you're going to come and receive him. We'll see you on Thursday. We'll have a great week of worship until then.