Guarded Christian Living: A Strong Faith at the Right Time
Final Warnings to the Church
- Peter 3:1-8
Turn to 1 Peter1. Peter is now winding down his second letter. If we could state the major theme of his two letters, I would suggest it is Becoming a slave of Christ, of the Master. That becoming a Christian is really a decision that I am going to follow Christ. This is what faith really is, laying your life down before Christ, and saying, You are Lord, and I am not. And the example we have is Christ Himself, who said to His Father, Your will not mine. Christianity means obedience, doesn’t it? Jesus simply said, if you obey Me you are my disciples. This is the obedience of the slave of Jesus Christ. But this also results in such blessing. For it includes forgiveness, eternal life, and favour with God. However, it also includes trials and struggles and persecution. So, Peter gives warnings to those who would determine to follow Christ.
Now I don’t want to bore you this morning. But these things have became so apparent to me as we draw to a close in a couple of weeks in our study of the Peters, as Peter has been pounding these truths over and over again. If you have a handout this morning, I went through both books and saw the obedience of the slave, the blessings of the slave, the persecutions and hardships of the slave, and the warnings to the slave of Jesus Christ. And this is partly why, as we have seen on Sunday evenings, that Jesus told those who desired to follow Christ to first count the cost. As yes, there are so many blessings, but there is also the cost of obedience and there are also trials. So, I have listed some of these in your notes, and we will not look at all of them, but it is a great reminder of what it means to be a slave of Christ. Peter says in his first letter (2:16) that we are slaves of God, and in his second (1:1) that we are slaves of Christ. And look with me at the reference to the obedience of the slave.
- 1 Pet 1:13 – gird our minds for action, be sober in spirit, fix our hope completely on Christ
- 1 Pet 1:14 – as obedient children
- 1 Pet 1:15-16 – be holy in all our conduct
- 1 Pet 2:12 – keep our conduct excellent, so that people would see our good works
- 1 Pet 2:21-22 – follow the steps of Christ do not sin
- 1 Pet 3:2 – observe pure conduct
- 1 Pet 3:8-9 – be like-minded, sympathetic, brotherly, tender-hearted, humble, and don’t take revenge
- 1 Pet 3:15 – be ready to make a defense to those who ask us about your faith
- 1 Pet 3:16 – have a good conscience
- 1 Pet 4:1-2 – arm ourselves to do the will of God
- 1 Pet 4:8-9 – keep fervent in our love toward one another, be hospitable, don’t grumble
- 2 Pet 1:5-7 – be diligent, live morally, deepen our knowledge of God, be self-controlled, persevere, be godly and loving
- 2 Pet 1:19 – pay attention to God’s Word
- 2 Pet 3:2 – remember the words that have been spoken
- 2 Pet 3:11 – be holy in conduct
- 2 Pet 3:14 – be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless, and blameless
We could almost call this the job description. And the question is, who would apply for this job? Yet this is actually what we sign up for. Now there are such great blessings to being a slave of Christ. Unbelievable benefits of being “in Christ.”
- 1 Pet 1:3 – we are born again to a living hope
- 1 Pet 1:4 – we have an inheritance, undefiled
- 1 Pet 1:5 – we’re protected by the power of God
- 1 Pet 1:9 – our souls are saved
- 1 Pet 2:3 – we have tasted the kindness of the Lord
- 1 Pet 2:4 – we are precious in the sight of God
- 1 Pet 2:9 – we are a chosen family, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession
- 1 Pet 2:10 – we have received mercy
- 1 Pet 4:14 – the Spirit of glory rests on us
- 1 Pet 5:4 – we will receive the unfading crown of glory
- 1 Pet 5:7 – He cares for us
- 1 Pet 5:10 – God will restore, strengthen, confirm, and ground us
- 2 Pet 1:3 – God’s divine power has granted to us everything we need
- 2 Pet 1:4 – we have been granted magnificent and precious promises
- 2 Pet 2:9 – the Lord knows how to rescue the godly
And yet Peter will tell us some of the downside of the job, In other words, if you are going to be a slave, then some things are going to be difficult.
- 1 Pet 1:6 – for a little while we will be grieved by various trials
- 1 Pet 3:14 – we will suffer for the sake of righteousness
- 1 Pet 3:17 – when we suffer for doing good
- 1 Pet 4:12 – do not be surprised at the fiery trial among us, but keep on rejoicing
- 1 Pet 5:10 – after we have suffered for a little while
And in fact, Peter warns that when you become a slave of Christ, you are going to be open to attacks from the world and Satan himself. And Peter also will warn us of the danger of pulling back from our commitment to the Master.
- 1 Pet 4:3-5 – those who have chosen a life of disobedience will have to give an account
- 1 Pet 5:8 – Satan seeks to devour us
- 2 Pet 2:1 – false prophets will arise among us
- 2 Pet 2:4-6 – God’s judgment is sure as He destroyed the fallen angels, the unrighteous during the flood, and the people of Sodom
- 2 Pet 3:3 – mockers will come
- 2 Pet 3:7, 10 – judgment will come
- 2 Pet 3:17 – and finally, we must be on our guard lest we are carried away
And the reason I wanted to remind you of these things that we have been studying is that in Peter’s wrap-up over these next three weeks, he will give a last-minute pep talk. In other words, boys, we are down to the final period and you are going to have to give it everything you have. So, listen to these words of Peter as a coach might call his guys to the bench, and shares with them the great importance of our readiness to live for our Master.
“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles, knowing this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being deluged with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”
- Pet 3:1-8 (LSB)
Let’s pray. Father we desire to be Your slave. In fact, if we call ourselves Christians, this is exactly what we are. Lord, may we be obedient, forgive us for our times of failure. Thank You for Your many blessings. Give us courage during times of trial and testing. And might we heed Your warnings this morning, amen.
I want to begin with the warnings that Peter gives in verse 3-7. And I would suggest that these warnings are not concerning the culture, as it would be obvious that the culture would not be even thinking about the coming judgment of God, though I suppose it could have some inference to society. But I would suggest that this concern mainly is the attitude of the church, or we could say is becoming the frame of mind of many within the church. Which falls in line with the warning of false teachers earlier who are among you.
“knowing this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts.”
2 Pet 3:3 (LSB)
Warning #1 – The Childishness of Some within the Church (vs 3)
I thought about what this verse means for the church today, mockers who follow their own lusts. What does that mean? Mockers who follow their own lusts. Again, I would have to think that this is a reference to those within the church. To say that there are mockers out in the world is almost meaningless, and that would be so obvious. “Mockers,” some of your Bibles use the word “scoffers.” Both translations are good. The Greek word “empaiktēs” can mean “mockers” or “scoffers,” but can also have the idea of childish behaviour or immaturity, which falls in line with what Peter says in (vs 5) that it escapes their notice. Why? Likely because they refuse to get too serious about much. Our tendency in our current evangelical culture is to “deflect” which is what immaturity does. Our children when they are little are good at deflecting. Not too many kids are going to say to Mom and Dad, my brother is being good, but I have been really bad.
I always remember being in a grocery store and I saw a Mom with a little guy in her buggy. And he, of course, was wanting stuff that he saw, and she was nagging at him. Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, this little 5-year old yells so everyone can hear, “Mom, you’re a blamer, you’re always blaming me!” Well she just wanted to disappear as she was so embarrassed. The joke around our house for years since is that Anne or I will call each other a “blamer.” Anne, you’re a blamer. Mark, you’re a blamer. And then we both laugh! Because our tendency is to deflect. And we get the picture here of those within the church that likely even secretly “mock” the ministry or “mock” those serving the Master. In other words, it does not match up to what they think it should be. And the mocking has no real desire or real interest that the ministry to do well, for it says here that they follow their own lusts. This doesn’t mean necessarily that this has any sexual connotations. It just means that they are out for their own interest.
And it is also a way of deflection, of an unwillingness to look at one’s own life to see the need for change and growth, as can happen in a marriage. Our first response is that my husband needs to change or my wife needs to change. Know that mockers will be among us at times. And also the warning here to not become one of them ourselves, or have this kind of attitude ourselves. For, as we enter the final days, Peter warns that there will be some among you who will bring a very negative attitude towards the ministry.
Warning #2 – The Shallowness of Some within the Church (vs 5)
“For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water.”
2 Pet 3:5 (LSB)
It escapes their notice. The plain truth is that within the church will be those who do not think too deeply about anything. Their daily Bible time will always consist of something extremely simple, with no contemplation. And what Peter is referring to here is the fact that yes they may be those who are up on the latest cars, or fashions, or trends in investment, or what is going on in the sports world. But notice what Peter says, they haven’t thought about the Lord creating by His Word. In other words, they are not thinking about anything too deeply that pertains to where we came from, the purpose of mankind, our eternal state, our responsibly before a Creator God, but they have looked after temporal things. And I want to be fair here and kind, because we are able by the Lord’s grace to enjoy so much that He has given to us, and it is all good and fun and enjoyable.
But do you also know what I mean here? We have a real responsibility to also contemplate God, to use the minds God has given to us. We have been created by God, we have been given life by God, God has allowed the sun to rise this morning. God has allowed us to be married and have children. God has given us rewarding jobs, and homes, and friendships. And we get the idea in this passage that there will be some in the church, who will almost live like all that God has done has slipped their notice, or that token time with God or token gifts for God are okay. Listen to Job as he contemplated life in the dust:
“For as long as breath is in me, And the spirit from God is in my nostrils … The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
Job 27:3; 33:4 (LSB)
Job was called a righteous man, for he knew how dependent he was upon God. And so much of his thought life was wrapped up in the greatness of God. And notice one more thing here, that the world was created by His Word. The same Word that created everything is the same Word that we are to obey and pay attention to. Craig Blaising said:
“The scoffers fail to understand the nature and power of the Word, for the existence and continuance of the order of things is dependent on the Word of God, as the biblical accounts of creation and the flood demonstrate. ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made and all their hosts by the breath of his mouth’ … Creation took place by means of and in response to the Word. God said, ‘Let it be,’ and it was!”
Craig A. Blaising, “The Day of the Lord Will Come” 391-92
And one does not have to be a scholar to think deeply. For you can be a brainer (is that still used today?) and not think too deeply about spiritual matters. Anne and I were watching the news the other day. And they were showing some young guys that had developed a program to best determine NFL (National Football scores). And they were showing their system of tracking every team, strengths and weaknesses. They were absolutely brilliant, they actually won an award. But none of it has any bearing on eternal spiritual matters. I remember as a kid my Dad saying to me, boy, if you knew your Bible like you know Chicago Blackhawks stats, it would be amazing! Well, I don’t consider myself anywhere near a scholar, yet admittedly, I have a job that allows me much time to study. But the warning here for all of us, is that in these final days, the church is going to need people who contemplate God and contemplate truth deeply.
“and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’ … through which the world at that time was destroyed, being deluged with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
2 Pet 3:4, 6-7 (LSB)
I was not sure how to phrase this one. Let me know if you have a better suggestion after.
Warning #3 – The Denial of God’s Judgment of Some within the Church (vs 4, 6-7)
Peter says that some within the church will say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” Therefore the reality of a worldwide flood and that the world will gain be destroyed, makes no connection with this person. Now this does not mean that they do not know it. Or that they have not read it in the Bible. But they will live and exist as if they deny it. Now admittedly, I am not as sure of this warning. Are these people in the church who do not take judgment seriously? But are they Christians or non-Christians? Paul says something similar to Timothy:
“holding to a form of godliness, but having denied its power. Keep away from such men as these.”
2 Tim 3:5 (LSB)
I would suggest that we have certainly seen this one in some denominations, as God’s judgment has changed over the years. It has changed from eternal damnation in hell; to some kind of existence apart from God; to what many now teach as annihilation (the teaching that those who are not believers after death are forever destroyed, in other words, they go out of existence); to universalism, the belief that in the end, everyone gets saved. All these are ways of denying God’s future judgment of mankind. Do you know what is a good exercise? Go on denominational websites and try to see their statement on judgment. It is extremely vague. Do you know why? Because “Christians” and churches and denominations are in denial. They are in denial of the judgment of God. And this is the world’s influence, because those in the world would see themselves as doing things wrong. Some might even admit they are sinners at times. But never would God judge them for their sin. Surely God would not have the nerve to judge them.
Now there are still statements on God’s judgment within some denominations. Some have a statement that is somewhat hidden in old documents, while their new statement of “what we believe” ignores it. While many state some of the unbiblical beliefs we talked about earlier. Our statement clearly states this:
“We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust. Those saved are eternally blessed in Heaven, while the lost experience everlasting, conscious eternal punishment in Hell.”
Elim Bible Chapel, “What We Believe”
Now we do not have any claim on that statement, that is not ours. That is simply the clear teaching of God’s Word. Daniel 12:1-2:
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to reproach and everlasting contempt.”
Dan 12:2 (LSB)
We have these three things in the world, yes. But they are also lurking in the church: childishness, shallowness, and denial of judgment. So, what do we do? Well, Peter does not beat around the bush.
“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”
2 Pet 3:1-2 (LSB)
Notice he says I need to stir you up to remind you what you believe. By the way, I did find a statement on God’s judgment from the United Church of Canada. They just do not talk about it anymore, as it has been painted over and discarded. If you go to their website, and you fish past the 2006 statement, past the 1968 statement, past the 1940 statement, you will find it in the 1925 statement. But not right away. If you bring it up, it will show some of the highlights, but nothing about God’s judgment. But there is a small section at the bottom that says download more. And if you download it, there it was!
“Article XIX. Of the Resurrection, the Last Judgement, and the Future Life. We believe that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust, through the power of the Son of God, who shall come to judge the living and the dead; that the finally impenitent [unrepentant] shall go away into eternal punishment and the righteous into life eternal.”
United Church of Canada, What We Believe 1925
Do you know what Peter is saying to us as a warning, I am reminding you here of what you believe. And then (vs 2), that you should remember the words spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord. This is sort of a double whammy here by Peter, a reminder and remember. To listen church family to two things: remember what you know, and live as if you know it. Do not deny it. (pray) Father, thank You for Your Word this morning. Give us the courage to live as slaves of Christ. May we be careful that we do not become childish in our faith, or shallow. May we be always aware or your righteous judgment, that You will say to us someday, well done, thou good and faithful servant, amen.
Peter has given us two commands that we need to carefully consider. And these are directives to all of us, as each of us needs to consider our position within the church. And I don’t necessarily mean this church as you could be visiting here with us this morning, but the Bible always challenges us to plant our feet and determine where we stand. Tonight, in our final night on the series “What is the Gospel?” We plan to look at Paul’s statement, “For I know whom I have believed.” In other words, Paul was making it plain where he stood. And in our culture today, not many are going to encourage you to plant your feet, as the beliefs and principles of the culture are as the drifting sands. And to make matters worse, Peter really warns us the change does not only come from the culture, but it comes from within the church. And here are Peter’s two commands:
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master.”
2 Pet 2:1a (LSB)
The false teachers were denying the Master. In other words, their behaviour, their lifestyle, showed that they were not willing to be slaves of Jesus Christ. Is true servanthood your desire? One of the ways in which New Testament believers made their public stand on where they stood in their faith was by being baptized. Maybe you need to consider that. For others it may be some things in your life that you know do not honour Christ. Peter would say to you and I, do not deny your Master.
And the second is what we have been speaking about this morning, don’t deny the truth. Usually we think of standing up for Christ causing us to have to face some ridicule or maybe some mocking. But I would suggest that it will likely get worse than that. Some of you young people are going to have to face greater persecution for your faith, unless God causes a massive revival. Some of you are not going to get the better job or the better position. Some of you may face some kind of penalty from the law, unless you deny the truth. Peter is going to add one more significant remark before we close this morning.
“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”
2 Pet 3:8 (LSB)
In the context of this passage, Peter has been talking about those who deny God’s judgments, and believe that life will go on just as it has in the past. And Peter’s reminder is that with God whether he brings judgment today, or He chooses to wait for 1,000 years, His sovereign power, His ultimate victory, His righteous judgments are no less certain. In other words, everything the Bible has said will come about, though God chooses to delay. Therefore, the importance of acknowledging Christ and acknowledging His Word. But here is the good news folks. That this fight for our faith, our defense of Jesus Christ and truth has actually been entrusted to you and me. For I love what Peter says here, do not let this one fact escape your notice, and then what does it say, beloved. You and I who have been called by God to do a job, may we be faithful to do what He has asked us to do. And all God’s people said, amen.