2 Peter 3:11-18
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen
The final destiny of the universe ought to motivate followers of Jesus Christ to live lives that honor and reflect the person of Jesus the Messiah. Heretics and false teachers in the Church will always be a reality for Christians. However, the promised presence of our returning Savior, Jesus Christ, is a greater reality of hope superseding any human presence or ideology that now assaults us. So, we continue to look for Him, live for Him, and love like Him for until He returns.
The Advent of Jesus is not presented so that we can set the date on our calendars. It is presented to offer hope for the believer and as motivation for us to extend the genuine love of Christ to others. It motivates and empowers us to be a living witness of the words and power of Jesus Christ to transform lives and forgive us of our many sins. The hope of the Second Advent/Coming calls us to be righteous, godly, and holy people.
How ironic that the very doctrine of the Bible that offers us hope becomes the mis-interpreted and mis-messaged words that divide and deceive the Church. We have seen the Word of God used in narcissistic self-promotion and personal brand-building, as well as trendy or culture feeding teaching that displays everything from spiritual rebellion to biblical ignorance. All of this does not help the message of the Advent and the mission God’s Kingdom, but it does draw disrepute upon the name of Jesus Christ and Christianity.
It is time for the church to grow up in our understanding and application of the Bible and its foundational doctrines. It is time to end Biblical illiteracy in the Church of Jesus and for us to prepare not only ourselves but all who will hear the message of the Advent of Jesus. The Word of God presents the teaching of the Second Coming to offer future hope and to motivate us to live lives to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. Certainly it is time to end our senseless debating and get on with godly living preparing ourselves and others for the Advent of the Messiah. Our Biblical mandate is that we preach and teach all that Christ has commanded us – spread the word. We live in a time and a historical season in which your voice and your actions speak in a powerful way for Jesus Christ. How we live our lives and use our voice proclaims the hope of our salvation – the promise of His return.
Any teaching that denies this hope is false-teaching (heresy) and should be challenged and dismissed at all costs. When Christ does return, it will be in both glory and judgment. A new heaven, a new earth, a kingdom which knows no end, incorruptible eternal beings having been transformed to be like Him, a joyful existence void of sorrow, regret, pain, suffering, no fears or tears, no hate or hostility. These are only a fraction of the Advent promises to those who believe; but before that promise is fulfilled, there will be destruction – believers and followers of Christ will be saved. But make no mistake, to know the truth is to know that we have been warned. What do we do until then? Remain faithful and hopeful until that day. Here is the apostle Peter’s advice.
Text and Interpreted Meaning
[3:11–13] Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
What is going to happen at the end of the age, as the day of the Lord arrives? What impact will this teaching regarding the day of the Lord have on our lives? Verse 11 indicates that God’s people should display godly character in their lives as they/we live with the belief in the Advent of Jesus Christ. The injunction to live holy and godly lives defines what that character should include. The terms holy and godly are both plural and literally mean “in holy forms of behavior and godly deeds.” Peter is not specific at this point, but suggests that holiness and godliness should influence and encourage the lives of the followers of Jesus Christ in many ways. Verse 14 is more specific on these terms and their application in daily life.
Verse 12 adds a curious statement: “as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” This seems to indicate that the timing of the Second Advent is, to some degree, dependent upon the character of believers’ lives, but how can we speed the day of God? Peter suggests that we live our lives in the light of the day of the Lord. Our life on earth as followers of Christ is not intended to be a passive waiting for the final events of prophecy. It is intended to be a time of active obedience with God in the salvation of the world. In some mysterious way, not fullly explained by Scripture, as the character of Christians’ lives shines into the culture, it impacts the day of the Lord.
New mention of the Second Coming leads Peter to repeat his earlier description of the impending destruction that awaits the world (look back to comments on 3:10). Here he added the positive hope that at that time, the new heaven and earth will be the eternal home of the believer, or in Peter’s more generic term, the home of righteousness. Actions of righteousness find their expression in the holy and godly lives of the followers of Christ, the inhabitants of the new heaven and earth.
[3:14] Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
Peter now encouraged his readers to apply themselves diligently to the process of their salvation. Again, we are not passive participants in God’s character-shaping endeavors – the Holy Spirit is at work in us. We are to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. “Spotless and blameless” should be understood together as synonymous. They describe the character of Jesus Christ as seen in the lives of believers (check out1 Peter 1:19 where these same terms are used to describe Christ). To be spotless and blameless does not suggest that we the follower of Christ will live a perfect life, as did Christ; rather, they mean that what drives the Christian believer in daily behavioral choices is the desire, intent, and energy to be like Christ.
[3:15–16] And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
Peter borrowed the authority of the apostle Paul for his emphasis by reminding us that Paul, in his writings, has made the same point. Peter observed that Paul’s letters contain some things that are difficult to understand, but they still contain the same authority as the other Scriptures. Peter’s point of contact with Paul’s writings is simply this: all through Paul’s letters he, too, challenges Christians to live godly lives in light of the day of the Lord. That much is not difficult to understand. It could not be missed, unless deliberately ignored. That is exactly what the false teachers did and continue to do. They have distorted or twisted the teaching of Paul, along with other parts of the Scriptures. Primarily, these teachers refused to submit their lifestyles to the moral and ethical authority of Scripture, but instead mis-interpret and mis-message the Scriptures in order to justify their sinful and disobedient lifestyles.
[3:17] You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
Knowing this common tactic of false teachers, we should be sufficiently warned. We must be on guard against any teaching that undermines the authority and promises of Christ Jesus. In essence, Peter advised his friends: “Don’t be foolishly deceived. You know what is out there; now it is your responsibility to watch and to guard yourselves against their lies and intentions. You have been adequately warned and prepared so there is no reason to be swept off your feet by them. You have been firmly grounded in the Scripture; now stay there.”
Fall from your secure position should not be understood in reference to salvation. “Secure position” describes the fact that they were stable, or firmly grounded in the Word of God, unlike the false teachers who were unstable and not grounded in the Scripture.
[3:18] But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen
Peter’s letter concludes with words reflecting the opening statements of chapter 1. This encourages us to “keep on growing and keep going.” No true Christian believes, “I have arrived.” The Christian life is a continual, growing life and was never intended to be static and stand still. That growth finds its focus in an ever-increasing awareness and understanding of the person and character of Jesus Christ. To him belong all praise and glory.
Advent Principles in Context
· The Advent/Second Coming of Jesus Christ is taught clearly and literally in the Bible.
· The Old Testament Scriptures are an accurate word from God.
· All Christ’s followers are to exhibit love to others.
· The universe was created by God and will be judged by him.
· God desires that everyone be saved.
· The present cosmos will be destroyed by God.
· The believer is assured that God will create a new heaven and earth.
· The doctrine of the Second Coming should impact the way believers live today.
Advent Life Applications
· Avoid teachers who deny the literal second coming of Jesus Christ. Be alert to false teaching in this area.
· Be a student of the entire Bible, including the Old Testament.
· Be prepared to be laughed at because of your belief in the Second Coming.
· Since the Lord’s “delay” provides opportunity to further extend the gospel message, look for Spirit-led moments to share the good news of salvation.
· Make grace a dominant factor in your Christian growth.
Second Peter consistently encourages us to become holy people—to represent Jesus Christ through our character and behavior. At times, this means fighting off the destructive influences of those who would teach contrary to the Word of God, especially as it relates to the person and work of Jesus Christ. At other times, it means being courageous enough to stand up and be ridiculed for beliefs that others consider foolish. For the follower of Christ, the hope of the literal second coming of Jesus Christ is not to throw us into a panic or create skepticism.
Furthermore, it is not presented so that we can set the date. It is presented to offer hope for the believer and motivate us to extend the love of Christ to others. It motivates and empowers us to witness through our lives and words to the power of Jesus Christ to transform and forgive. The hope of the Second Coming calls us to be holy people.
How tragic that the very doctrine that is presented with such glorious goals has become an issue that divides the church. In some circles, a person’s salvation is even questioned if he or she does not see eye to eye on every detail of the Lord’s return. In other places, the cable news updates are read into the Scriptures, sensationalizing the Second Coming. This draws disrepute upon the name of Jesus Christ and His Word.
It is time for the Church to grow up in our understanding and application of the Biblical promises of the Advent/ Second Coming. The Word of God presents the teaching of the Second Coming to offer future hope and to motivate us to live lives to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. Certainly our in-house debating and divisive theorizing do neither. We must become relevant again by directing energy and efforts towards exposing and resisting opposition to scripture by preaching and living for the person of the Second Coming—Jesus Christ.
We have a mandate from Scripture to spread the word. Allow your voice and your actions to speak in a powerful way for Jesus Christ. Rejoice as people respond to the amazing grace of our Lord and join us in anticipation of his return. Be holy as he is holy.
Advent Views and Interpretations
Historic Premillennialism. This view holds that the return of Christ (the coming of verse 4) will be preceded by certain indicators or signs. The Second Coming will be followed by a period of peace in which Christ will reign on earth in person.
Dispensational Premillennialism. This view holds to a two-stage description of the second coming of Christ. Proponents suggest that Christ will come for his church at the Rapture and then with his church after a seven-year period of time called the tribulation.
Postmillennialism. This view holds that the kingdom of God is now extended through teaching, preaching, evangelism, and mission activities. The world is to be ultimately Christianized, ending in a long period of peace and prosperity known as the millennium. After this period, Jesus Christ will return.
Amillennialism. This view teaches that between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ, a continuous growth of both good and evil will occur in the world. The kingdom of God is now present in the world through God’s Word, his Spirit, and the church. At the end of this growing period, Jesus Christ will return.
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