2 Peter 3:3-7
Greetings, everybody — God’s peace, and welcome to Monday’s edition of EDiBS! It’s great to be with you as we enter a new week of Bible study together, presently continuing forward in our study of 2 Peter. As always, I’m glad to know you’ve joined in for our time in God’s Word, and also as always, I invite you to take a moment and pray with me as we begin.
Heavenly Father, You are the bringer of joy to our lives and the bringer of joy to all the world, because you have sent your Son Jesus Christ to us as Savior. We thank you for the redemption we have because of Christ and His cross; because of the sacrifice He made to bring us forgiveness and reconciliation. It’s in Jesus’ precious name that we come to you this day, asking for a great blessing as we open the Scriptures. Speak to us Lord God, and do your work in us. Amen.
As we get started today, Peter now begins to address the issue of those who disregard the teaching of God’s Word. Our focus: the importance of going the distance.
2 Peter 3:3-7
3First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
When I left home for college, my dad had few words for me, but the words he did speak were words of wisdom. “Those guys always playing pool in the student union? You watch them – because as the year goes on, there will be fewer and fewer of them there.” He left it at that, and I was puzzled at first, but in time it began to make sense. His point was that people who were in school without a game plan, without a vision, and without any sense that their education was a means to an end, were going to fail. And he was right: a lot of people in the party crowd and a lot of the class-skippers and a lot of the do-nothings didn’t last very long. They didn’t see the benefits of delayed gratification, and they didn’t have the vision to go the distance. As a result, they faded out and disappeared.
Verse 3: In today’s reading, Peter, having spent a considerable amount of time on false teachers and their impending doom, now moves on to tackle another group of people, a group that will grow in numbers as the last days move steadily toward the Final Day. Who are they? Scoffers – people whose hearts have been hardened, whose faith has grown cold, and who have given themselves over to a life of sin because their capacity to embrace the eternal has faded away.
Verse 4: How are we to know them? The truth is, each of us probably does know someone in this category. They know the Word, or at least have a cursory knowledge of what it says, but for some reason they have come to disbelieve it. They look at what they perceive as evidence of God’s absence on the scene and say, in effect, “Things were what they were, are what they are, and will be what they will be. Nothing has changed, and nothing will change; God may have promised a glorious return, but it’s obvious that if He hasn’t come by now He’s not going to come…ergo, the Christian Worldview is invalid and I’ll go my own way, thank you very much.” It’s easier and easier today to slide into that defeatist, existential philosophy. Not because God’s Word and promises are flagging, but because modern culture has brought an all-out assault on faith and the things which faith grasps. The preponderance of pseudo-intellectuals in our colleges and universities, the failure of the academic world to understand and embrace the reality of evidence-based theological truth, and the outright rejection of the existence and authority of a Higher Power who created, redeemed, and sustains the universe have all contributed to a spiritual stupor in today’s society that is only growing as time goes on.
Verses 5-7: But here’s the truth of the matter: In verses 5-7 Peter says that people who take this point of view have deliberately forgotten something, namely that God has created and destroyed everything once, and that He will most certainly do it again – only this time in reverse order. By God’s Word things came into existence and by His Word they will cease to exist. The first time the earth was destroyed by water, but in the last day it will be destroyed by fire — and by that terrible act He will judge and destroy the ungodly.
What grieves my heart when I read this passage is not the severity of God’s judgment. He is perfect, His righteousness is absolute, and He is right in all of His ways. No, what grieves me is that if people would only seek with all of their hearts the things of God like they seek wealth and prosperity and happiness and pleasure; if they would utilize their intellectual capacity to consider the claims of Christ and the truths of the Scriptures like they pursue the theory of evolution and look for the missing link; if they would embrace Christianity with the same fervor that they embrace the huge smorgasbord of every other conceivable belief system devised by man, then they would see things differently than they do. But because it is Christ, they reject Him out of hand before even considering Him as a possibility. They are tolerant of everything as long as it doesn’t mean being tolerant of Christian orthodoxy. And because that is what is currently in vogue — and for the foreseeable future will continue to be in vogue — as the dominant ideological paradigm framing our education system and our government and our social institutions (and even some of our religious establishments), there are people of faith who will grow hard. They won’t go the distance. They will become scoffers, and they will fade away into a Christless eternity, forever judged along side those who helped to lead them there. The one thing I can say to all of that…the one thing l must say to all of that…is that in the face of such opposition, we must not give up the fight.
As we wrap things up for the day, think on these things. Ask God how He would use you to counteract the effects of a growing anti-Christian element in our culture. Consider your level of willingness to equip yourself to be an ambassador of light in a dark world that desperately needs your influence. And finally, for those you know who have so tragically become scoffers, tell them and show them that there is a better way in Christ. You may be their only link to the gospel; the one person who can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, bring them back from the brink of rejecting God. The battle is serious, and it is a growing one, but remember: victory is ours, because the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ. Don’t give up!
Thanks for your time today, everyone; have a terrific day resting in the peace that God has provided us in His Son! Take care, and I’ll see you again next time.