Adapted from a David Owens sermonhttp://www.sermoncentral.com/print_friendly.asp?ContributorID=&Ser monID=156120
A minister visiting with an elderly woman in the nursing home. The young minister said, “At your age you should be thinking aboutthe hereafter!” The older woman said, “Oh, I do all the time. No matter where I am – in my room, down in the cafeteria, or down in the recreation room – I ask myself „What am I here after?‟ ”
C.S. Lewis said, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other worldthat they have become so ineffective in this one.” Popular author and preacher, JosephStowell wrote, “When we begin to believe the reality of the other side, we start behaving differently on this side.”
Last week, we noticed that Peter focused on the reality of the second coming of Christ. All true believers hold firmly to the fact that Jesus will come again. We might disagree about what exactly will happen when He returns, but we know that He iscoming and when He comes everything will be changed forever.
Therefore, in light of Jesus‟ certain return, we must ask and answer a very important question: “How Then Shall We Live?” How should we be living in order to beready? What should we be doing in order to be living a life that is pleasing to God?
Let‟s see how Peter answers this important question. The admonition that best summarizes Peter‟s answer is “make every effort!”. Peter has employed this idea before. 2 Peter 1:5, NET Peter admonished, Forthis very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge;
Then in 2 Peter 1:10 NET he commanded,Therefore, brothers and sisters, make everyeffort to be sure of your calling and election.For by doing this you will never stumble into sin. Again in 2 Peter 1:15 NET Indeed, I will also make every effort that,after my departure, you have a testimony of these things. Let‟s look at this final section of the letter and see what we must make every effort to do in light of the coming of Christ.
2 Peter 3:11 NET Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives inholiness and godliness, 12 while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day ofGod? Because of this day, the heavens willbe burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze!
13 But, according to his promise, we arewaiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. 14 Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for these things, strive to be foundat peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence.
Because we realize that the world will bedestroyed, and that even the elements will be disintegrated, we fix our hope, not onanything in this world, but only on the Lord. And, as we discussed last week, becausewe don‟t know when all this will take place,we must be constantly ready for His return. This expectant attitude ought to make a difference in our personal, daily conduct.
Our conduct should be characterized byholiness (Grk “in holy conduct” NETnotes) and godliness. Holiness entails separation from evil and dedication to God. Godliness relates to piety and worship – it describesthe person whose life is devoted to pleasing God. Commentator John McArthur describes holiness and godliness this way: “Holy conduct refers to action, godliness refers to attitude.
Holy conduct refers to the way I live my life, godliness refers to the spirit of reverence within me by which I live my life… Peter is saying what kind of person oughtyou to be in heart and in behavior, in motive and in action, in attitude and in duty.” Be holy in action and godly in attitude.
The result or conclusion of our effort to be holy and godly is addressed in verse 14 Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for these things, strive to be foundat peace, without spot or blemish, when youcome into his presence. It is interesting that Peter used these same words in reference to Jesus in 1 Peter 1:19 NET but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Christ.
Let‟s contrast this with Peter‟s description of false teachers. 2 Peter 2:13b,c NET…By considering it a pleasure to carouse in broad daylight, they are stains and blemishes, indulging in their deceitful pleasures when they feast together with you. 14 Their eyes, full of adultery, never stop sinning; they entice unstable people. They have trained their hearts for greed, these cursed children! No peace or purity found in them.
We want to be like Jesus, and we want to be at peace with Him & His people. This peace results from our efforts to please the Lord, and from the forgiveness we receive through our relationship with Christ. Ultimately, those who are “found at peace, without spot or blemish,” have put out oftheir lives the things He hates, and have put into their lives the things God loves.
Other New Testament writers also teach that an eager expectancy of the Lord‟s return ought to motivate us to godly living.Paul, in his 2nd letter to the saints in Corinth, talked about the reality of the loss of our earthly tent, and our appearance before thejudgment seat of Christ. Paul‟s conclusion isthat this should cause us to make it our goal to please the Lord and to try to persuade others.
2 Corinthians 5:1 NET For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, isdismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that iseternal in the heavens. 2 For in this earthlyhouse we groan, because we desire to puton our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed, afterwe have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked.
4 For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because wedo not want to be unclothed, but clothed, sothat what is mortal may be swallowed up bylife. 5 Now the one who prepared us for thisvery purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.
6 Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we live by faith, not by sight. 8 Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home withthe Lord. 9 So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition to please him.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each onemay be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, because we know thefear of the Lord, we try to persuade people, but we are well known to God, and I hopewe are well known to your consciences too.
In John‟s first letter, he made these motivating points: 1 John 2:28 NET And now, little children,remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame when he comes back.
1 John 3:2 NET Dear friends, we are Gods children now, and what we will be has notyet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. 3 Andeveryone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure).
It is easy to see how the second coming should motivate us to live holy and godlylives. When Jesus returns we must strive tobe found at peace, without spot or blemish.Since Christ is coming back, we first of allmust make every effort to live godly lives.
2 Peter 3:15 NET And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as also ourdear brother Paul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him, 16 speaking ofthese things in all his letters. Some things in these letters are hard to understand, things the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they also do to the rest of the scriptures.
Here we notice that verse 15 continues the thought that Peter began back in verse 9, where Peter explained why the Lord haddelayed fulfilling His promise to return. God had every reason long ago to judge the world and burn up its works, but His merciful desire to see more people repent, has kept Him from fulfilling the promisedreturn. The Day of Judgment is coming, butuntil then, we continue to live in the time of the Lord‟s patience which results in the Days of Salvation.
Unfortunately, while we make every effort trying to win the lost, Satan is at work trying to foil our efforts. Satan has many tricks up his sleeve for keeping the lost lost. One ofthe tragic ways Satan works is through false teachers.
Peter classifies Paul‟s letters as Scripture,the inspired Word of God, which shouldn‟tsurprise us since from the moment of theircomposition and delivery to their recipientsthey had the authority of commands of the Lord through his apostle.
Peter points out that Paul‟s letters contain some things that can be hard tounderstand, which makes them easily used for distortion and false teaching. What happens to people who twist…the Scriptures? Peter says that they do it to their own destruction.
It leads to destruction because it is therejection of God‟s way and the setting up ofone‟s own way in opposition to God. This is why it is so important for us to correctly handle the Word of God. (2 Tim. 2:15) G.K. Chesterson once said, “orthodoxy is like walking along a narrow ridge; one step to either side was a step to disaster.
Jesus is God and man; God is love andholiness; Christianity is grace and morality;the Christian lives in this world and lives inthe world of eternity. Overstress either sideof these great two-sided truths, and at once destructive heresy emerges.
One of the most tragic things in life is when a man twists Christian truth and HolyScripture into an excuse and even a reason for doing what he wants to do instead of taking them as guides for doing what God wants him to do.” May God help us to correctly handle His Word – to understand it, abide by it, and lead others to Christ through it!
Let‟s notice one final thing before we leave this point. Back in verse 12, Petermentioned that it is possible for us to hasten the return of Jesus. Peter wrote: “whilewaiting for and hastening the coming of theday of God.” How can we Christians hasten, speed up, the coming of Jesus? It can be done through prayer. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” (Mt. 6:10)
It can be done through preaching and witnessing. If God is delaying the return ofChrist so that more can be saved, then if weare busy bringing people to Christ, that will speed His coming.
It can be done through penitence (repentance and obedience).In Acts 3, Peter preached, Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing maycome from the presence of the Lord, and sothat he may send the Messiah appointed for you — that is, Jesus. Acts 3:19,20 NET
Since we know that the day of Christ is coming, and since we can hasten, speed up, its coming,1 - let us make every effort to live godlylives.2 – let us make every effort to win the lost.
2 Peter 3:17 NET Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be onyour guard that you do not get led astray bythe error of these unprincipled men and fall from your firm grasp on the truth. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of ourLord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the honor both now and on that eternal day.
It is heartwarming that Peter writes with such affection in this last chapter. Four times he began his statements with “dearfriends.” These concluding two verses touch on the two main themes of the letter and summarize its contents. First, he remindsthe reader, be on your guard that you do not get led astray by the error of these unprincipled men.
The word translated “guard” carries the meaning of constantly guarding yourself. (to watch, keep watch [Thayer]) Peter said his readers knew the truth, but he warned them that knowledge alone was not sufficient protection. They had to be on their guard; they had to be alert. Second, there is the exhortation, But growin the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Did you notice in verse 17 that a person‟ssecure position, firm grasp on the truth, issomething they can fall from by being led astray by the error of these unprincipled men. Peter is emphasizing that this is serious business – we must guardourselves or we may fall being led astray.
So how can we maintain our steadfastnessand avoid being among those who are led astray? Peter says we can do so by growing in the grace and knowledgeof…Jesus... This command to grow carries the meaning of constantly growing. Someone said: “The Christian life is likeriding a bicycle – unless you keep moving, you fall off.” Peter says that we must continually grow in the grace and knowledge of…Jesus...
To Grow in the grace of…Jesus… includes many things. We are saved by grace and we must grow in our understanding and trust in that grace. To Grow in grace alsohas to do with becoming more like Jesus in our character and in the way we treat others. Grow in grace also means beingstrengthened by grace, (2 Tim. 2:1-4) being able to endure suffering through grace (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
But, we must not only grow in grace, we must grow in the knowledge of our Lord. Consider the balance of these two things. Knowledge without grace is a terribleweapon, and grace without knowledge can be very shallow. Notice that we are notchallenged to grow in the knowledge of the Bible, as good and necessary as that is.
No, we are challenged to grow in the knowledge of our Lord. It is one thing to know the Bible, but it is another thing to know the Lord, who is the central theme ofthe Bible. We should know the Bible so that we can know the Lord, not just the Bible.
The diligent Christian must constantly beguarding themselves, lest they be led astrayby the error, and the diligent Christian must make every effort to constantly grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All of this requires diligence, and demands discipline.
Nobody automatically drifts into spiritual growth and strength, but anyone can driftout of spiritual security and strength. That‟swhy the Hebrew writer wrote: Therefore wemust pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1 NET
Physical and spiritual growth follows prettymuch the same patterns. We grow from the inside out. We need nourishment andexercise to grow. We grow best in a lovingfamily environment. We need to grow in a balanced way. Imagine if your left & right arms or legs grew at different rates. How awkward. That‟s why we want to grow in grace and knowledge.
So here we are at the end of this wonderful, short letter from the apostle Peter. Peter has reminded us of so many powerful truths. He has reminded us that God has given us everything we need for life andgodliness, and we can make our calling and election sure.
Peter has reminded us we can trust ourBibles because the men who wrote it were carried along by the Holy Spirit. He has reminded us there will be false teachers and we must be on guard. Peter has reminded us Jesus is coming back, nomatter how long His return is delayed, we must be ready.
Today we have learned we can be ready by giving attention to three things.Make Every Effort to Live Godly Lives Make Every Effort to Win the Lost Make Every Effort to Guard Yourself and Grow Spiritually. What action plan do you need to put into place as you leave here today?
What changes do you need to make to be living a more godly life? What actions do you need to begin to be reaching out to the lost?Who do you need to invite over for dinner or desert? Who do you need to invite to worship? Who do you need to have a spiritual conversation with and offer to study the Bible with?
What steps do you need to take to guard yourself and to begin growing spiritually? Do you need to be more regular in yourdaily or weekly spiritual disciplines? Do youneed to ask someone to be your mentor or your accountability partner? Let‟s be surewe leave here today ready to do something to be more ready for Christ‟s return.
Do you remember the reports of air trafficcontrollers falling asleep on the job? A lone air traffic controller at Washington D.C.s Ronald Reagan Airport admitted to fallingasleep during his shift. A little after midnight, the pilots of two commercial planes were unable to reach the tower, but they were in communication with a regional air traffic control facility about 40 miles from the airport.
Regional air traffic facilities handle aircraftwithin roughly a 50 mile radius of an airport, but landings and takeoffs are handled by controllers in the airport tower. Another incident occurred when an air traffic controller was found sleeping while on duty at an airport in Knoxville, TN.
The airport control tower was staffed with one air traffic controller who worked both the radar and tower positions and handled seven aircraft over a five hour period because the radar controller was unresponsive. Unlike the controller at the Washington, D.C. airport who fell asleep in his chair, The Knoxville air traffic controllerallegedly made a bed out of couch cushions and covered himself with a blanket so he could be more comfortable.
According an anonymous federal official, aco-worker checked on the controller several times, each time shaking him awake.The controller would promise to stay awake and do his job, but, each time, he would return to his makeshift bed and sleep.
The last thing we want is to be found asleep on the job when Jesus returns. We don‟twant to be caught off guard and by surprise. That means we need to be alert and ready at all times. The one who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon!"Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of theLord Jesus be with all. Revelation 22:20,21 NET To Him be the glory both now and forever! Amen!