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#9 The Day of the Lord

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THE DAY OF THE LORD

(A Godly People – Series in II Peter)

Westgate Chapel 7/15/01                                    2 Peter 3:10-13

PROPOSITION:  The Day of the Lord will come with judgment that will be sudden, that has already begun, and with only one way of escape.   

I.    INTRODUCTION

-     RIGHT now, the Church of Jesus Christ in India is experiencing unprecedented persecution at the hands of Hindu extremists….and the Hindu nationalist government is closing its eyes to the violence.

-     SOME of our own pastors in Malabar have been attacked and beaten. Some of our own churches have been vandalized.

-     BUT reports are coming back to us that in spite of persecution, maybe even as a result of persecution, the church is flourishing and new believers are being added daily.

-     AT least four of our own churches in Malabar, planted just less than two years ago, are already running over 70 in attendance and all of those converted Hindus.

-     IN a city called Ponpara, one of the men who was a bootlegger and communist party leader in the town was persecuting our church and pastor...has just received Christ in one of the services where he had come to mock the pastor…and joined the church.

-     NOW that man’s family and whole village has come to Christ…and is now unemployed because they were all making illegal liquor.

-     HISTORICALLY, Christianity has always done well in times of persecution.

-     THE first epistle of Peter was written by the apostle to churches in Asia Minor suffering persecution…and he writes to encourage them to not retaliate, but hold on to God, be faithful in the work of the kingdom, and put their hope in their eternal home.

-     THE second epistle of Peter was written because there was an attack from inside the churches of Asia Minor.

-     AND this attack was far more insidious and far more dangerous than persecution.

-     WHEN the enemy is loosed from inside the church, by the people of the church…the result is almost always disastrous.

-     THE specific focus of this second epistle is the growing belief that loose living is OK… that there was going to be no judgment, no final accountability before God….so live to please yourself.

-     THE kinds of things that Peter identifies inside the churches are…

*     …distortion and twisting of Scriptures (1:20; 3:16).

*     …shamefully extravagant lifestyles (2:2).

*     …greed (2:3).

*     …eyes full of adultery (2:14).

*     …treating holy things flippantly (2:12).

*     …arrogance and willfulness (2:10).

*     …boastful words (2:18).

*     …rejection of all authority (2:10).

-     SO 2nd Peter is more in your face than Peter’s 1st epistle…and for good reason. The very survival of the church is at stake.

-     WHICH is what makes 2nd Peter so appropriate for our day…and the erosion of Biblical standards of holiness and the invasion of materialism, selfishness, adultery, willfulness, and the rejection of all authority inside the Church of Jesus.

-     AND the focus of the last chapter of 2nd Peter is coming judgment.

-     JUDGMENT is never intended to be the motivator to bring people to God.

-     IT is God’s mercy and grace that are intended to draw us to Himself (Romans 2:4).

-     BUT without the backdrop of the judgments of God, the subjects of mercy and grace are totally without meaning.

-     SO in 2nd Peter 3:10-13 (page 1206), Peter directs the attention of the Christians in these churches in Asia Minor to the subject of God’s final judgment.

-     AND twice in these four verses Peter calls it “The Day of the Lord.”

-     THE Day of the Lord is…

*     The day that God establishes His kingdom of righteousness in all the earth as the only game in town….with Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.

*     The day that Satan’s influence, his power, and all of his emissaries, human and demonic, will be cast into the lake of fire...the eternal judgment of God on sin forever.

*     The day that all sin, all evil, all attacks on God’s kingdom will forever be destroyed.

*     That day that all true Christians will enter into an eternity of unrestricted victory and unequalled joy.

      “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (4) They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (5) There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:3-5)

-     THE Day of the Lord is mentioned 22 times in the Bible, from Isaiah to 2 Peter 3:10.

-     THE Old Testament describes it primarily in terms of God’s coming and final day of wrath. For example Isaiah 13:9 says.

      “See, the day of the LORD is coming-- a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.”

-     IN the New Testament that Day still has a backdrop of God’s wrath, but it is also describes the Christian’s position in those events.

*     In John 6:40, Jesus says,

      “For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

*     In Philippians 1:6 Paul writes that he is,

      “…confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

*     In Acts 2:20 Peter describes it as the,

      “…great and glorious day of the Lord.”

*     And he goes on to say that in that day,

      “…everyone who (had called) on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)

-     THE apostle Peter teaches us three things about the Day of the Lord this morning…and its ramifications for us, this 15th day of July, 2001.

 

II.   it will be sudden

-     HERE is the first lesson.

-     IT is in 2 Peter 3:10.

      “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.

-     THE Day of the Lord will come (emphatic in the Greek) suddenly!

-     PETER is most certainly here remembering Jesus’ words that he had heard with his own ears, recorded in Matthew 24:43-44,

      “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. (44) So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

-     THE apostle Paul uses the same metaphor of the Day of the Lord coming like a thief in I Thessalonians 5:1-4,

      “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, (2) for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (3) While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”

-     AND in all of the contexts where this metaphor of the thief is used to describe how suddenly and unexpectedly the Day of the Lord will come…the call of the Holy Spirit to us is for watchfulness and readiness at all times.

*     Don’t lose your first love for Jesus Christ or that Day will catch you without Light in your lampstand (Revelation 2:5).

*     Don’t be without the oil of the Spirit, or that Day will catch you outside the kingdom of God (Matthew 25).

*     Don’t neglect the priorities of God’s kingdom, or on that Day you will find yourself consigned to a place of torment (Matthew 24).

*     Don’t be caught sleeping spiritually

*     Don’t neglect to live a lifestyle of repentance for sin, because in Jesus’ own words in Revelation 3:3,

      “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”

-     THE false teachers inside the churches of Asia Minor had created an environment of spiritual laxity and ease….where compromise with the world was encouraged because they said there would be no final judgment.

-     AND Peter responds with the urgency of Jesus’ own words on the subject….the Day of the Lord will come suddenly, like a thief in the night.

-     THEN Peter describes that Day in the rest of verse 10,

      “The heavens will disappear with a roar…”

•     The “heavens” here is the sky disappearing.

•     The Greek word translated “roar” includes the sound of…

-     arrows flying by.
-     rush of many wings.
-     mighty wind.
-     roaring waters.

-     LET’S read on in verse 10,

      “…the elements will be destroyed by fire…”

•     The “elements” here are the heavenly bodies of the universe.

-     AND the last part of verse 10 says,

      “…and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

-     IN Mark 13:31 Jesus said,

      “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

-     IF you tend to be a skeptic this morning you need to know that contemporary astronomers have developed theories concerning the demise of the universe based on their research that include all of the descriptions Peter uses in these verses.

-     WHY all of this sudden destruction?

-     GOD is holy and this is His universe and all sin and evil must be judged.

-     THE Day is coming when God will purge His universe of all sin and everything it has polluted or stained with evil.

-     SO, the first lesson is that this destruction will come suddenly…..so be alert, watchful.

     

III.  it has already begun

-     THE second lesson is that Peter teaches us in these verses is that this destruction has already begun.

-     LOOK at verse 11a, with me,

      “Since everything will be destroyed in this way…”

-     EVERYTHING will be destroyed….in the sky, in the galaxies of the universe, and on the earth.

-     THE word “destroyed” here is the Greek word, luo, which means to undo…like a wall that was built but then is dismantled.

-     BUT there is something else here in the Greek that is so very important for you to get this morning.

-     THE Greek verb for “destroyed” is the present participle….which more literally can be translated “is being destroyed.”

-     IN other words, everything in the sky, the universe, and the earth, is already experiencing the judgments of God.

-     THE Greek word for “destroyed” is also in the passive tense which means that the “destruction” is something being done from outside of the sky, the galaxies, and the earth. All creation is on the receiving end of the destruction.

-     IT is what Paul means when he writes in Romans 8:19-21,

      “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. (20) For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope (21) that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

-     ONE scientific description of this destruction already present in the universe is the second law of thermal dynamics which states that all matter, left to itself, will degenerate….be undone.

-     THAT un-doing has been present from the time sin brought God’s curse on creation at the fall of humankind in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).

-     SO since we can see the seeds of this “undoing” of creation all around us already in the universe…which is God’s judgment…Peter asks the only appropriate question in verse 11,

      “…what kind of people ought you to be?”

-     SINCE there is going to be a final accounting, since God is going to judge all sin, since He is going to undo everything stained by sin…“…what kind of people ought you to be?”

-     MAKES sense, doesn’t it?

-     LOOK at Peter’s answer in verses 11 and 12,

      “You ought to live holy and godly lives (12) as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

-     THIS is the whole purpose of any discussion concerning the end of time…to inspire holy living.

-     IN I John 2:28 the apostle writes,

      “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

-     ALL through Scripture discussion of the coming of the Lord is connected with an appeal to…

*     Preach the message of Christ (Matthew 24:14).

*     Bring people to a saving experience with Christ (Matthew 13:10).

*     Pray (Matthew 6:10, Revelation 8:4).

*     Meet together regularly (Hebrews

*     Live obedient and repentant lives (Acts 3:19-21).

*     Live good lives (1 Peter 2:12).

-     THE way we live actually speeds the coming of the Day of the Lord, says Peter.

-     HOW can this be?

-     BECAUSE Jesus is coming back for a…

      “…radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:27)

-     PETER then reminds us in the last part of verse 12 how real this coming destruction is going to be,

      “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.”

 

IV. there is only one way of escape

-     SO far, the two lessons we have learned from Peter concerning God’s judgment are that…1) It will be sudden, and 2) It has already begun.

-     HERE is the 3rd lesson: There is only one way of escape.

-     LOOK with me at verse 13,

      “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

-     JUDGMENT is coming. It will come suddenly. It will come certainly. In fact, it is already present in the universe.

-     BUT against all of the darkness of this coming judgment there is a promise that was made by God all the way back in Isaiah 65:17,

      “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”

-     DESCRIBING that new earth Isaiah says concerning the Messiah,

      “He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. (5) Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. (6) The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. (7) The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. (8) The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. (9) They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:4-9)

-     THE apostle John saw this promised land in a vision and in Revelation 21 wrote,

      “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (2) I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (4) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (5) He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (6) He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. (7) He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (8) But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."”

-     ISAIAH and Revelation describe the eternal home of the righteous….against the backdrop of the certain and fearful judgments of God on all sin and evil.

-     THERE is only one way to escape the coming judgment that is already present in the universe…and take your place in the new heaven and new earth….and that is by being righteous.

v.  conclusion

-     SO the only question this morning is… “Who is that righteous?”

-     PAUL answers that in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

      “God made him who had no sin (Jesus) to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

-     THERE is only one way for you and me to be righteous…and that is through a faith relationship with Jesus Christ.

-     HOW about you this morning?

-     ARE you a child by faith of the promise….new heaven and new earth?

-     OR are you outside of God’s family and destined for the judgment that has already begun?

-     THERE are no other choices!

-     WHICH one are you?

 

 

 

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