Text – (2 Peter 3:1-9)
Theme – Skeptics who deny Christ’s return don’t understand God’s longsuffering
Here’s what Spurgeon said regarding this verse. While I have prayed, “Come quickly,” I have often felt inclined to contradict myself and cry, “Yet tarry for a while, good Lord. Let mercy’s day be lengthened. Let the heathen yet receive the Savior.” We may desire the coming of the Lord, but we ought also to be in sympathy with the tarrying of the Most High, to which his loving heart inclines him.
The Puritan, George Swinnock said this, “All the while thou delayest, God is more provoked, the wicked one more encouraged, thy heart more hardened, thy debts more increased, thy soul more endangered, and all the difficulties of conversion daily more and more multiplied upon thee, having a day more to repent of, and a day less to repent in.”
Mary Washington, George Washington’s Mother said, “Remember that God is our only sure trust.”
What God Has Promised
There aren’t too many things in this world that you can actually count on. The stock markets have their ups and downs. The economy could be doing better. The prospects for peace in the world are about as distant as they have ever been. Pastors, churches and ministries are continually drifting away from the Lord and causing confusion and doubt.
In fact, if you live with your faith in men, ministries and money, then you are going to live a very disappointing and discouraging life. Yet, even in the midst of all the doubts and confusion that surrounds us in the world today; there are still some things you can believe in. I hold in my hand today, the Bible, the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of the living God. This book is pure and it is worthy of our faith and acceptance. Every word in this Bible is inspired by the Lord and will endure forever; Psalm 119:89; Matthew 24:35. Every promise God gave in His Word is worthy to be believed for it will come to pass just as He said.
Hebrews 6:13-20. Think of what this means. When He promised to save you if you called upon Him, Romans 10:13, He meant that! When He promised to be with you, Hebrews 13:5, He meant that. When He promised to take care of you as you passed through this world, Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:25-34, He meant that. And, as Peter is about to tell us, when the Lord promised to come back again, He meant that too!
Take, for instance, the last recorded promise in the Bible from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ, Revelation 22:20, “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” In this verse, Jesus makes it crystal clear that He is going to return to this world. Many people refuse to accept this truth as fact, but that doesn’t change a thing! Jesus said that He was coming again, and He will!
He is returning for a people who are ready to meet Him. He delays His return today because He loves all people and doesn’t want any to perish. He tarries to give them an opportunity to repent and to turn to Him for salvation. On the basis of the inevitable and certain coming of our Lord, and the judgment of Christ upon this unbelieving world and in the face of a new creation, he pleads with us to be holy in life, in character, in prayer, in vision, in service, and every area of our lives.
A Most Sobering Illustration
Someone once said, “Life is what really happens on your way to your dreams.” On September 11, 2001, we were a nation on its way to its dreams when life happened. And it happened in the most horrendous way imaginable. Many of us were not just observers after the fact, but witnesses of history being made. I would bet that most of us can remember where we were during those horrible hours on September 11, 2001. I was on my way to work that dreadful morning.
Many of us were watching live as the plane slammed into the second World Trade Center tower. For most those images will be forever etched in our minds. And what did we see that day?
We saw the incredible slow motion video of a jetliner slamming into a 110 story building. We saw the footage as those two towers came crumbling down. We saw firemen covered with dust. We saw rescue workers combing the wreckage. We saw a bastion of strength in the Pentagon with a gaping hole in the side. We saw scenes that made us cry. We sat in front of our television and saw an act of war against our country. That’s what we saw.
However, we must pause for a moment and ask the question, what did God see on September 11, 2001? And as I pondered that question, based on what is revealed about God from the pages of His Eternal Word, I can make some safe assumptions as to what God saw.
On September 11, 2001 God saw passengers, crew and hijackers on four airplanes that needed to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He saw thousands in the World Trade Center that he wanted to call his children. He saw thousands in the Pentagon that he wished to be reconnected with. And he saw many that perished without ever coming back into relationship with their heavenly Father. And we need to open our eyes not just to the tragedy of death but the tragedy of how many of them died without knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior.
How many attended church the Sunday before 911 and heard the last sermon they would ever hear, the last invitation they would ever have a chance to respond to and yet without knowing that it was the last one, stayed in their seats and never responded.
The world can scoff and they can mock, but when He comes, the bottom line is this: Will you be taken in the rapture, or will you be found lost, judged and sentenced to Hell? God has already made His decision. He loves you and has made a way for you to be saved. Now, you make your decision. What will it be, Heaven or Hell? What will you do with Jesus?
Matthew 7:13-14 says “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
The situation faced by Pilate and that faced by everyone is much the same, “What shall we do with this person named Jesus?” For us, as for Pilate, there is no escape from the dilemma; we cannot avoid making a decision of some sort. Pilate felt uneasy about Jesus. It was obvious that the religious leaders had delivered Him up out of envy, and that He had committed no crimes worthy of death. Also, there was a mysterious quality about this Man who conducted Himself with such calmness and authority, who made no answer to the false charges leveled against Him, and who spoke of a “kingdom not of this world”.
And, on top of all this, Pilate’s wife had received a distinct premonition to the effect that Pilate should have nothing to do with Jesus. Yet, despite his inward sense of the injustice and wrongness of it all, Pilate soon succumbed to the pressures of the mob and delivered up the holiest of all men to the shameful death of the cross. (Matthew 27:11-26; Luke 23:20; John 18:33-38). It would be my sincere prayer that those unsaved people will turn from following in the steps of Pilate. Instead of seeking to crucify Jesus afresh in their own heart and mind, that they will acknowledge Him as their Lord and Savior. Every person must ask the question, which is an old hymn entitled: “What Will You Do With Jesus”
Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall,
Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all;
Hearken! What meaneth the sudden call?
What will you do with Jesus?
What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Someday your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”
Jesus is standing on trial still,
You can be false to Him if you will,
You can be faithful through good or ill:
What will you do with Jesus?
Will you evade Him as Pilate tried?
Or will you choose Him, what’er betide?
Vainly you struggle from Him to hide:
What will you do with Jesus
Will you, like Peter, your Lord deny?
Or will you scorn from His foes to fly,
Daring for Jesus to live or die?
What will you do with Jesus?
“Jesus, I give Thee my heart today!
Jesus, I’ll follow Thee all the way,
Gladly obeying Thee!” will you say:
“This I will do with Jesus!”
So, I ask again. What will they do with Jesus? He came to the world He created, giving up His glory in heaven, and was born of a virgin. He lived a perfect, sinless life, thus fulfilling the law that we could not, and cannot, uphold. He performed miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, and proclaimed a message from God Himself. He died on the cross, bearing the wrath of God, to take away our sin and to offer, to those who believe, restoration and union with the Father.
He rose, on the third day, to give us hope and eternal life. He did all of this to show the mighty power and name of God. Scripture says that apart from Christ, there is no hope, and there is no way to heaven outside of Him. None whatsoever. If anyone has ever told you that life after your acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior is easy, go back and tell them they’re a false prophet.
Jesus said that life will most likely be harder. We will be treated like Jesus. In case you didn’t know that isn’t necessarily a good thing. The world will hate us as it did Him. The world may kill us, as they did Him. Our own family and friends may turn on us. But it is worth it, because we serve the Creator of the universe. It’s ‘worth it, because His love for us, and the hope we have in our Savior can never be taken away by anything this world can throw our way. It will, again, be worth it to hear God say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
No doctrine is more closely linked to practical daily living than that of the Lord’s return