Please read 2 Peter 3:11-18 in your Bible. I used the NIV for my research, but there is no compulsory choice.
As if he’d received a diagnosis of terminal cancer, the Apostle Peter dealt with the question, “How would I live if I knew today were my last day?” In our time, people have answered this question by writing “Bucket Lists.” It’s become so common we all know that a “Bucket List” is the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.”
There’s even a website where members can explore over SIX MILLION ideas of things to add to their Bucket List. You can not only get ideas there, but you can share your own Bucket List items and your experiences crossing them off.
Have you seen the TV commercial where they guy is driving his elderly dog all over, crossing items off the dog’s Bucket List? Do you remember the product they were selling? HINT: a dog can’t use it.
Notice that most of the items that make Bucket Lists are possessing worldly items or doing things that excite or please the flesh. Many are taking advantage of the fact that you won’t be held responsible for some mean-spirited or illegal acts.
How many Bucket Lists have you seen that include something like GROW IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST? How about you? If it became clear your time was drawing to an end, would this make your Bucket List? Would it be a priority?
REVIEW (See the previous two posts.)
- We are called to be Saints among Scoffers (3:1-7).
- God’s timing is not your timing (3:8-10).
- Last Days Living (3:11-18).
Number One Last days Living Strategy = Live like it matters (vs. 11-13). Knowing that this reality will end in fire could just as easily become Nihilism or some other excuse for ungodliness, saying, “The end is near and clear, so it doesn’t matter what I do.”
Peter wants to deny the SCOFFERS this excuse by asking the pertinent question: “Since the end is coming some day, how should we live today?” (11) And then he immediately answers it; “We should live HOLY AND GODLY LIVES.”
The word HOLY describes a spiritual condition. It means that my existence is set apart to God. I no longer live for myself, but for God’s will. The word GODLY describes a moral condition. It means that with God’s help I am going to do the right thing with all the days given me.
Peter gave two good reasons for living HOLY AND GODLY LIVES in v. 12. Firstly, AS YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY OF GOD. The Second Coming of Jesus is an event only His followers will anticipate with relish, because it is the day on which all the promises of God are realized, our faith is vindicated, and we go to our eternal home in new bodies, heavenly versions of our bodies. Verse thirteen elaborates on this PROMISE God, adding that we have a new HOME to which we can look forward. It is nothing less than a new reality (a NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH). It is a place characterized by RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Secondly, in the phrase AND SPEED ITS COMING. He didn’t need to, but God has chosen to partner with us in bringing about the DAY OF GOD! We learned last Sunday that the Second Coming was being held back to give everyone every opportunity to repent and be saved. As you and I participate with God in helping people come to faith, then we move God’s timetable ahead if the people who are going to be saved are saved sooner. If anyone who claims to follow Christ but has never had the experience of leading someone to Christ, then they have not participated in speeding the Day of the Lord and need to be serious about their claim.
Number Two Last Days Living Strategy = Live blamelessly and biblically (vs. 14-16). The phrase SO THEN in v. 14 might be paraphrased, “Now that you’re properly motivated, here’s where your part comes in.” What will be true of people who are headed for heaven is their daily choice to MAKE EVERY EFFORT to live the HOLY AND GODLY LIVES mentioned in verse eleven.
Heaven-bound believers will MAKE EVERY EFFORT to live that way beyond all accusations of falsehood or hypocrisy. Peter describes this EFFORT in terms of the EFFORT put into our relationships.
SPOTLESS and BLAMELESS refer to our relationships with one another. We want our moral and spiritual life to give evidence that our claims of faith are true and give form to our witness to those who’ve not yet believed.
AT PEACE WITH HIM refers to our relationship with God, that we have accepted His gift of salvation and been forgiven our sins.
Verse fifteen reminds us of what we learned earlier; the “delay” of the Second Coming is a demonstration of God’s PATIENCE. As we are the beneficiaries of God’s PATIENCE, it is fitting that we patiently await the fulfillment of all God’s promises.
In verses fifteen and sixteen, Peter supports this teaching by referencing the writings of his fellow Apostle, Paul, noting how the two of them were in agreement on this issue. This is interesting, because Peter and Paul weren’t always on the same side of issues and Peter had to bear Paul’s rebuke at least once. What Peter does in these verses is also important because it is Scripture verifying itself as the word of God, His revelation to us in written form.
Peter wants to protect the truth, especially the truth about the Second Coming, from the SCOFFERS. One way he goes about that is to say, “Paul’s had to deal with his own scoffers and we are both in agreement about this teaching concerning the Second Coming to refute their false teaching that it’s not going to happen or has already happened.”
Number Three Last Days Living Strategy = Live guardedly, growing in Christ (vs. 17+18). The word THEREFORE warns us that a summary and/or application of the previous teaching is about to occur. In this case, we’ve been served notice: a WARNING has been given. Peter warned his readers that this reality and all the people who have – by rejecting God – declared their allegiance to it, will be destroyed by fire.
Part of what makes this teaching so crucial is that it is a warning we all need to hear repeatedly. Unbelieving people need to hear it so they will repent and be saved. Believers need to hear it to renew our commitment to follow Jesus in the days we have left.
Peter’s warning is to the people in the church, as indicated by his salutation – DEAR FRIENDS – in verse fourteen. That church people can be believers and unbelievers may come as a shock to some. As much as we try to honor the doctrine of regenerate church membership, experience, reason, and Scripture combine to demonstrate that every local church has some degenerate members.
First, he warned the unbelieving church folk (the degenerates) that they need to be on GUARD lest the false teaching of the SCOFFERS cause them to fall away from what otherwise looked like a SECURE POSITION.
Second, he warned the believing church folk (the regenerates) to confirm their true standing in Christ by GROWING IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. Science teaches that growth is part of the definition of life; things that are alive grow. Peter sets forth two signs that we can use to judge whether we are alive in Christ or just faking it.
First, the phrase GROWING IN GRACE means that the temperament and character of a true disciple will be in the process of becoming more like Jesus. We need to acknowledge that aging and maturing are two different things. In fact, it may be observed that the majority of people “freeze” at a point of maturity and though they continue to age, they do not mature.
Second, the phrase GROWING IN KNOWLEDGE means that a true disciple is always a learner, always humble about what they know. Humble people know in their hearts and say aloud that the more they learn, the more they realize they have more to learn. Humble people acknowledge the biggest “room” in their home is “room for improvement.”
So believers and unbelievers are both being warned, but to different ends. Peter is NOT warning the believers that they can forfeit their salvation. Instead, he is giving church folk (both believers and unbelievers) a warning that simply claiming faith is not enough. A genuine faith is not merely assumed or claimed; it is proven by how we live in these LAST DAYS. Since God already knows our hearts, we are proving our faith to ourselves and others by the maturing of our character into Christ-likeness.
Believers are NOT given this warning to undermine our confidence in our salvation, but to give us signs we can see on our own, to verify our confidence. This warning was given to humble us and cast us back on the grace of God and stand on that alone. In this understanding Peter was again in agreement with Paul, who wrote; SO IF YOU THINK YOU ARE STANDING FIRM, BE CAREFUL THAT YOU DON’T FALL! (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Peter ends this letter giving GLORY to OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, which is the happy task of all His followers and the best use of our LAST DAYS on earth.
In his book, The Quest For Character, Charles Swindoll wrote about a little blue box held in the Library of Congress. A label on the box reads: CONTENTS OF THE PRESIDENT’S POCKETS ON THE NIGHT OF APRIL 14, 1865. Here’s what was in Abraham Lincoln’s pockets on the night he died:
- A handkerchief, embroidered “A. Lincoln.”
- A country boy’s pen knife.
- A spectacles case repaired with string.
- A purse containing a $5 bill — in Confederate currency!
- Some old and worn newspaper clippings.
The clippings were concerned with the great deeds of Abraham Lincoln. One of them reported a speech by John Bright which said Abraham Lincoln was “one of the greatest men of all times.”
John Bright was a British statesman who was quite right in his assessment of Lincoln, but in 1865 many others had a contrary opinion. The President had fierce critics. It is touchingly pathetic to imagine this great leader seeking comfort from a few newspaper clippings.
True believers will, like Lincoln, face adversity in this life. God promised that following Him would be worth it, but He did not promise it would be easy. Peter faced his SCOFFERS and Paul opposed false teachers in the churches he founded. Without bowing to opposition or compromising to the world, the promises and the warnings will be held dear by those who are true. It is worth it.