(A Godly People – Series in II Peter)
Westgate Chapel 7/22/01 2 Peter 3:14-15
PROPOSITION: The true disciple of Jesus is to look forward to the return of Christ, make every effort to be ready at His appearing, and bearing in mind that any delay means salvation to those not ready right now.
- OVER the last 20 years of my life I have been able to pursue three hobbies that I dreamed of as a young boy….flying an airplane, driving a racing car on a road course, and riding motorcycle.
- IN all three pursuits there is a common thread that illustrates this morning’s message so well….I cannot let it pass.
- AND that common thread is the absolute concentration necessary concerning what is ahead of you….you had to be looking forward.
- I LEARNED to fly in a Cessna 182, which cruises at 150 mph…and got you to your destination fairly quickly.
* Now, to be ready for your destination there were several things you had to do in advance.
* You needed to know weather conditions at your destination airport, barometric pressure reading, wind direction and speed, altitude, traffic pattern, tower frequency…and when you got there you had power settings, fuel pumps, approach speeds, and other traffic to be looking for.
* In flying an airplane, if you weren’t looking forward you wouldn’t be ready for your destination.
- WHEN I took the racing school at Sears Point Raceway….one of the first things they teach you is to get your line of sight up and forward from the space directly in front of the car.
* In fact when you entered a turn the instructor wanted to see your helmet (eyes) pointing forward to the exit of the turn.
* The distance immediately in front of a car does you no good when you are traveling fast. You are already too late for the next twenty feet at 100 mph.
* And by the time you have exited the turn they want you thinking ahead about your entry speed and turn in point of the next corner…..long before you get there.
* The principle is that you will drive the car to the point your eyes are looking.
* So, if you are looking ahead, you will arrive at your destination.
- THE same principle is true of riding a motorcycle with one small difference.
* A motorcycle is very sensitive to road hazards, like gravel, holes in the blacktop, or an oncoming car that has crossed the center line.
* If you are not looking well forward of the space immediately ahead of you, you will not see and avoid obstacles in your path.
- YOU must be looking forward.
- IT is a great lesson for life in general.
- THE late President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, once made this statement,
“I am interested in the future because that is where I am going to spend the remainder of my life.”
- NOW, he was looking forward to the rebuilding of the nations and economies of the world that had been destroyed during WW II.
- HE wanted to know the future of world politics, of world economies, of industrial re-development….because he was going to be spending the remainder of his life here.
- YOU must be looking forward.
- IF it is true for planes, cars, motorcycles, and politics….how much more important is it for your eternal destination?
- THAT is the theme of two verses in 2 Peter 3:14-15….looking forward.
- THE verses immediately preceding our two verses for this morning have taught us that there will be a day ahead of us when life as we know it will cease.
- THE final judgements of God will destroy everything on the earth and in the heavens….everything, every place, and every person polluted by sin and its influence.
- BUT at the same time God will provide a new heaven and a new earth without sin, rebellion, or profane people…in verse 13 Peter calls it the home of righteousness.
II. looking forward to christ’s return
- AND this morning, we pick up the subject in verse 14a, where he writes…
“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this…” (2 Peter 3:14a)
- THERE is that principle…looking forward.
- IN the Greek language, in which the New Testament was written, this phrase is in the present active tense….which means constant and earnest expectation and anticipation.
- VERY simply it means getting your eyes up off the next twenty feet in front of you…and earnestly looking ahead onto things having to do with your eternal destination.
- THE nature of our life here on earth is to be consumed with things, people, and the activities in the next twenty feet.
- THEY demand our attention and affections.
- AND what Peter is saying here is not that we be careless about the relationships and responsibilities of life, but that we have our attention up and forward to our ultimate destination….that is if we expect to get there.
- THIS is what the apostle Paul was talking about in Philippians 3:13….after years of ministry, he writes…
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
- LOOKING forward to matters eternal rather than being fixated on your immediate circumstances.
- BUT what is the “this” that Peter says we must be looking forward to?
- FIRST, I think there is something to anticipating the cleansing that God’s judgements are going to accomplish on this earth.
* I have stood in the gas chambers of Auschwitz…and peered into the ovens.
* I have stood in the barracks, 30 by 100 feet, filled floor to ceiling with little children’s shoes.
* I have stood in the slums of East Harlem, seen 11 year olds addicted to heroin.
* We see the reports every day of rape, sexual abuse, violence, greed, hatred, prejudice, abortion, unmentionable perversions.
* So, yes…I think we all look forward to the fiery judgments of God that will purge the universe of every last remembrance of sin and its effects.
- BUT, the centerpiece of all end time events is not the fires of judgment….but Jesus.
- IN Revelation 5, moments before God’s culminating judgments begin….someone in God’s throne room has to break the seals and open the scrolls the will usher in the climax of world history.
- AND the apostle John writes,
“Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. (2) And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" (3) But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. (4) I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. (5) Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." (6) Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (7) He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. (8) And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (9) And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (10) You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."”
- WE are looking forward to Jesus and the place that He has gone to prepare for us….the home of righteousness.
- HE is my destination….AND my journey.
- THE writer of Hebrews says,
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
- WE are looking forward to this!
* Not the stock market!
* Not the cottage by the lake!
* Not the car, plane, or motorcycle!
* Not that relationship!
* Not the Mariners!
* Not another outfit from Nordstroms!
* Not the next promotion!
- BUT we look forward to Jesus….the centerpiece of God’s throne and all eternity!
III. making every effort to be ready
- NOW, Peter continues in verse 14, since this is our orientation….where our heads are turned…
“…make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Peter 3:14b)
- AND the New King James translation says,
“Be diligent to be found by Him.”
- YOU see saints, we all have a date with God.
- EVERY one of us will stand before Him some day….whether through death, or if we are alive when Jesus returns. One way or the other we will be found by Him.
- THE apostle John writes,
“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” (I John 2:28)
- SO, since we are looking forward to that day…MAKE every effort!
- IN the Greek some verbs are written in the imperative….which means they are much more like a command with urgency than a suggestion.
- IT literally means, “be diligent and eager” to be found by Him in a condition of readiness.
- SAINTS, our salvation is by faith and faith alone in the finished work of Jesus.
- BUT our salvation doesn’t end there, with us sitting back inactive, unproductive….but saved.
- OUR salvation is by faith but the life of “the saved one” is packed with aggressive pursuit of God and training in righteousness.
- IN Philippians 2:12-13 Paul writes,
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
- WHAT is the goal of our efforts?
1. TO BE FOUND SPOTLESS
- PETER says, to be found SPOTLESS!
- IT means “without blemish.”
- THIS is a lesson we learned back in the Old Testament concerning the kinds of sacrifices that God required of His people.
“This is a requirement of the law that the LORD has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke.” (Number 19:2)
- THE lesson was reinforced when Jesus came to earth as God’s perfect sacrifice. It is what God demands.
- PETER himself wrote in his first epistle,
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed … (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:19)
- OUR spotlessness begins and ends as a work of God’s grace in our lives. Paul writes in Colossians 1:22,
“But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—(23) if you continue in your faith, established and firm…” (Colossians 1:22-23)
- BUT our role is clearly in view in verse 23, “if you continue in your faith, established and firm…”
- WE are to make every effort to be found spotless when Jesus returns.
- SPOTLESSNESS is also the goal for the Church of Jesus…..in Ephesians 5:25ff,
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, (27) and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
- BUT there is another goal for our efforts.
2. TO BE FOUND BLAMELESS
- IT means what it says….without blame.
- AGAIN, thank God it is the work of Jesus cleansing blood that accomplishes this in our lives….through faith.
- IN 1 Corinthians 1:8, Paul writes,
“He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:8)
- IN Ephesians 1:4 he writes,
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…” (Ephesians 1:4)
- BUT, once again, some assembly is required of us in the process of staying blameless.
- WE are to make every effort….to be found blameless when Jesus returns.
- PAUL writes in Philippians 1:9, that we need discernment for it…and fruit of righteousness in evidence in our lives…
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, (10) so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, (11) filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-- to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
- AND in Philippians 2:14 being found blameless even is connected with the attitude with which we work in the matters of the kingdom…
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, (15) so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…” (Philippians 2:14-15)
3. TO BE FOUND AT PEACE WITH GOD
- LASTLY, says Peter, we are to make every effort to be found at peace with God when Jesus comes back.
- PEACE is the cessation of hostilities between you and God.....PEACE WITH GOD. Romans 5:1-2 says,
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand."
- PAUL puts it this way in Ephesians 2:13-14a,
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility......"
- BUT, this word in the Greek has a fuller meaning that just peace with God. It is also the cessation of hostilities between you and those around you.....THE PEACE OF GOD. Colossians 3:15 says,
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."
- HEBREWS 12:14 says,
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."
- THIS is how you and I are to be found by God when Jesus comes back…and it will require a great deal of effort on our part.
IV. bearing in mind that any delay means salvation
- SO, Peter’s first point is….look forward to eternity as a way of living and navigating life.
- HIS second point is…make every effort to be found by Jesus, spotless, blameless, and at peace with God and others.
- THEN Peter makes one last point concerning this forward looking orientation….and it has to do with the apparent delay of Jesus’ return.
- APPARENTLY the false Christians were making a big deal of this…because it is the second time Peter mentions it.
- IN 2 Peter 3:15 he writes,
“Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.” (2 Peter 3:15)
- IN other words, live with the general understanding that God’s delay is not license to live to please yourself.
- THE delay is all about salvation for those who do not yet know Him as Lord.
- THE delay translates into kindness for the world….because the Day of the Lord’s judgement will be dreadful for those who don’t know and love Him and are looking for His appearing.
- IN fact the New Testament teaches that we are to be longing for His appearing….not as escapists…but as people who are clearly engaged in the salvation of others with that Day in view.
- IF God’s delay is because of the salvation of the lost…then doesn’t it only make sense that we would be engaged in that same priority?
- IN 2 Timothy 4:8 Paul writes,
“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
- LOOKING forward to eternity and things eternal…is how we are to be oriented while living here on earth.
- MAKING every effort to be found by Him, spotless, blameless, and at peace with God….is where our energies are to go concerning ourselves.
- BEARING in mind that any delay is because of God’s priority for the salvation of the lost…speaks to where our energies need to go concerning others.
- ARE you ready to start looking forward this mornign?