Where Is This ‘Coming’ He Promised?
2 Peter 3:1-9
Key Verse 3:9
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
In the last chapter Peter warns us about false teachers. He talks mostly about the character of false teachers in the church. He tells us that they are morally corrupt— their viewpoint on sex is unbiblical— liberal and unhealthy. Their sinful nature governs all their actions. They are hungry for fame and fortune. You can easily pinpoint them among you because they have a problem with the authority of the Scriptures, and with the Lordship of Christ. They prey on those among you who are weak in their faith and unstable in their commitment to the Lord. They negate the word of God and justify their own interpretations with popular opinion. Worse of all, these are church going people who claim to be Christians but in truth they are false believers who are enemies of the gospel and deserve God’s judgment.
That’s what Peter talks about in chapter 2. It is a serious warning for those who sit in churches asserting that they belong to the Christian faith, yet interpreting the teachings of the Christ with their own understanding. I cannot express enough to you the dangers of interpreting the Bible in your own way. There is no such thing as your way or my way of interpreting the Bible. The Bible is its own authority. It interprets itself. If it is not clear on an issue in one text, another text makes it very clear. You will just have to read it— study it— look for it— find it. Jesus already appointed for us an interpreter for everything that might seem difficult to grasp. His name is the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26) Those who do not have the Holy Spirit interpret in their own way, and bring condemnation on themselves. But for those who have the Holy Spirit, He opens their minds and heart so that they can understand the Bible. Peter is clear when he warns us against false teachers. They have a secret agenda to destroy the church by undermining the Lord and his Words. They infiltrate the church and sow confusion until the church becomes confused about what is right and what is wrong— about what is good and what is evil— about what is godly and what is ungodly. That is the work of false teachers. When a church accepts sexual freedom and unrestrained gain as natural and acceptable practices, that church has been won over to false teachers, even if that church preaches the name of Jesus. Beware of them, Peter tells us in chapter 2.
Then, in chapter 3 Peter returns partly to what he was talking about in his first chapter. He wants to remind us of some things. In chapter 1 he made a big deal of telling us of the urgency of reminding us of some things. “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” (1:12) What did he want to remind us of? Listen to what he tells us in verse 16. “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1:16) He’s talking about the second coming of our Lord Jesus. We saw him in his majesty, he goes on to tell us. But that was not all that he wanted to remind us of. Look at 1:4. He wanted to remind us mainly of the promises of God— those great and precious promises God had given them. He wanted them to know how important it was for them to remember those promises— that they had been given such great and precious promises? How precious are the promises of God in your own life as a Christian you think?
When God first called Abraham to follow him, it took 25 years to plant promises in Abraham’s heart— Only promises and nothing else. Abraham’s life with God was a life of promises. God met Abraham when he was 75 years old— when he was at the end of his rope. He had no children, and no future. And God challenged him to walk with God— that is, to live by faith in God and God gave him some promises that were impossible to believe. But Abraham believed them. That was the basis of his relationship with God. At one point God challenged him to believe one of the most impossible promises of all. And Abraham believed that as well. And the Bible tells us that Abraham believed God and God credited it to Abraham as righteousness. That means that God accepted Abraham’s faith as the basis for a right relationship with God. It wasn’t Abraham’s good behavior that brought him a right relationship with God— it was his faith in God’s promise. Abraham took God at his word. He believed God. It was just a promise— an impossible promise for that matter— but Abraham believed it. And that became the foundation of what God wants from all of us.
God wants us to trust him, to believe him, to believe his promise. That’s how important God’s promises are in our lives. So he gave us promises in the Bible. Sometimes his promises are impossible promises. He promised to send a Savior. It was an impossible promise to believe. But he kept it. The world was terrible place. We were wretched people and undeserving. The Savior he sent looked haggard. He did not look like a Savior. He looked like a beggar. But God wanted us to believe that he is the Savior. Then the Savior was crucified. And God wanted us to believe the promise that in his death there is forgiveness of sin. Then God also wanted us to believe something impossible. He wanted us to believe that he would raise him from the dead— and in his resurrection, he would deliver us from the power of sin and death. It was a ridiculous promise. But God kept his promise and raised him from the dead. Then Jesus wanted us to believe that if we put our faith in him, confess our sins, ask for his forgiveness, he would do so, and he would also come and live in our hearts and change our lives. It was an impossible promise. Why would the holy God live in an unholy human heart? How can he change our dark and sinful heart? How can anyone forgive all the sins that I have committed in my life? But God kept his promises— all of them. And when we believed— that is exactly what he did. He changed our hearts and changed our lives. He made us his children. God also promised that as his children he would give us his Holy Spirit to be with us— to deliver us from temptation— and to guide us in our life of faith and holy mission. Did God fulfill his promises to us?
That was what the prophets and apostles were teaching the early church. That was the gospel that Peter was preaching. But the false teachers were attacking the most fundamental teachings of our gospel faith— the faith that God’s promises are all true and that they will all absolutely come to pass in God’s time according to his purpose. How important are the promises of God in your life as a Christian? They are fundamental to your faith! God wants you to believe them— all of them— and for many reasons.
First, God wants you to believe them, because God works through his promises as he worked in Abraham and then in Jesus. In Peter’s day he was working through all the promises. He is still working through his promises in history even to this very day. There are promises to be fulfilled in your life and in the history of faith which God is creating day by day. So you need to believe them.
Second, God wants you to believe them, because according to what Peter said in chapter 1 and reminded the church of, the promises are essential to you if you want to live the godly life that God would have you live. The promises of God are the divine power of God in your life that helps you live the godly life. You want to live a godly life; You want to grow spiritually; You want to please God; You want to mature; You want to be effective; And productive— you will need to be rooted and grounded in these promises, because it is these promises contain the Morning Star that rises in your heart when the day is dark and you are struggling for some victory. (1:19) Those who hold on to the promises of God in dark times always experience victory.
Third, God wants you to believe them, because when the false teachers attack the bible they mainly attack the promises of God. In this chapter 3 Peter elaborates on what the false teachers attack. Read verses 1-4. In these verses Peter tells the church why he has written us these two times. He is vigilant for us. The times are evil. He wants to caution us personally. But mostly he wants to remind us of some things. We mentioned some of them earlier in chapter 1. And here are some other things he would remind us of. He wants his readers— the believers— the genuine Christians— who honor and respect the word of God— to think clearly. He wants us to think soberly, with unclouded minds. And he wants us to think on this! He wants us to remember the word of God spoken by the prophets of old— all of them— not just one or two but all of them— since most of them have spoken on this subject (and he will soon tell us what subject this is). He wants us to remember what these holy prophets have written or spoken about. He also wants us to remember also what the apostles— all of them— not just one or two— but all the Lord’s apostles— those who were with the Lord and who have heard his words: He wants us to remember what we heard/read from these apostles as they were instructed by the Lord about this subject (again he will soon tell us what subject this is). And what subject is that? He tells us exactly what the subject we all heard and was spoken of by all these people— in verses 3-4. Scoffers will come; They will be following— not the holy desires of the Holy Spirit, but their own unholy evil desires— and they will scoff at the second coming of Christ Jesus. False teachers attack the promises of God, especially the second coming of the Lord.
In other words they will mock the second coming of the Lord. They will say that it will not happen. What they are saying is that God’s promise will not come true. Our whole faith now rests on God and on the promise of Christ that he will come again. The whole Old Testament is full of promises about the coming of the Christ and of his second coming. The New Testament is also full of the promises of Jesus’ second coming. Jesus never failed to plant the hope of his second coming in his disciples’ hearts. We don’t think much about Jesus’ second coming, but a large portion of Jesus’ parables are about his second coming. They are warnings to be vigilant as we await his second coming. Warnings to be alert and wakeful, in full service of the King while we await his second coming. Apart from this faith we have no standing in this world. Our whole faith in his second coming is directly related to our hope in the coming of his kingdom. Peter emphasizes the hope we have in the kingdom in the second part of this chapter. (12-13) But faith in the kingdom cannot stand unless it is rooted first in the coming of our Lord, who will come in clouds of heaven, who will gather his people from all over the world, and will proceed to judge the living and the dead. This most basic teaching of the Bible, these scoffers were ridiculing.
In verses 5-7, Peter tells us something very important about them. They are deliberate in their unbelief. In their hearts they innately know as all human beings know that God is the creator of the heavens and the earth. They know that the world has been under God’s judgment. They know that the righteous God must judge the unrighteous actions of the wicked. They also know that this world cannot go on like this forever, that a day will come when this world will have to stand before the righteous judge and be judged for all things. But in spite of all that they know, they deliberately forget and ignore what is good and right, and they plunge into what is evil and wicked. Why? Perhaps because it is profitable for them to do so. At heart people are greedy and the pull of the sinful nature is too strong, and not many people stand to resist the sinful nature. According to these verses these false teachers take comfort in the fact that God has for long not acted on his promises, and so they continue in their wicked ways. So Peter explains God’s delay in verses 8-9.
Read verses 8-9. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The reason God has not judged the world already is because of his loving kindness. The Lord who gave his One and Only Son on the cross for our sins is a patient and gracious God, who does not wish to see anyone perish. He is not slow in judging. He is simply loving. He waits for all his people to come to their senses, repent and turn to him in faith, so that they might have life. For almost 2000 years now God has withheld his justice from this wicked world. He has endured the injustice and the wickedness, he has endured the falsehood, the corruption of his gospel, the suffering of his saints— why? Because he loves this world, and would see the last person repent and come into God’s family and come back home to God. May God help us be rooted in his promises, especially in the promise of his second coming. We need to hold out this hope in our hearts. We need to cling to the hope of his return as we share his gospel of peace to our generation and pray for their salvation. Thank God for his grace to withhold judgment from this world to bring the gospel of life to all people. Amen.