Saturday Study

Saturday Study

2 Peter 3, Jude & Revelation 1-2 (11.9.19)

Grab your Bibles and turn with me to 2 Peter 3.

*This is a little longer study than normal due to the importance and needed clarity over an often-misunderstood verse that we find in this text. Please set aside quality time to sit with your Bible and to be in prayer so that you can understand God’s word clearly as He has given it in Scripture for us to better know Him and how He works not according to tradition or our desired interpretation, but as according to Scripture alone. I’m praying for you. May God be glorified, and may the saints be emboldened to testify to His good news of saving grace.

2 Peter 3:1a This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind …

Peter is making a turn in his second letter as chapter 3 begins. He regroups and readdresses his audience before speaking to some specific heresy the false prophets were saying. Let’s review.

First, to whom is he writing? He literally says it here, “… I am writing to you, beloved …”

If you found a letter on the ground and picked it up and it said, “To my sweet and wonderful wife, Jennifer Kirstine,” Would there be any doubt in your mind for whom that letter was written? No.

Same thing here, Peter is writing to the church often referred to as the beloved. He is writing to the redeemed, the saved by God, those who have been born again by the grace of God and the costly blood of his only Son and the amazing regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. This clarity will become important again toward the end of this morning’s study.

Next, what is Peter’s aim in writing both of these letters, 1 Peter and 2 Peter?

2 Peter 3:1b In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind …

The word “mind” means understanding or thinking.

The word “sincere” means pure, uncontaminated.

Peter is saying, “Look. You, the church, are pure-minded because you are genuine believers. You have an ability for spiritual discernment, and I want to stir that up!”

I want to stimulate that pure mind and the truth that you already know, so your spiritual discernment will be able to understand false doctrine and give a proper rebuttal to it.

This is a great contrast to the kind of mind that the false teachers have. The false teachers have a mind that is darkened by sin. They have a mind that is depraved through and through.

Specifically, false teachers have come along to the people of the church and have said falsely that the second coming is not going to happen, essentially trying to steal away their hope. This is in direct contrast to the living hope Peter has assured us we have in Christ.

Skip ahead with me to verses 10-13 (we will come back to verses 8 and 9 in a minute), and let’s see how Peter, once again, brings great assurance that, indeed, Jesus is coming again and how we, the church, are supposed to be ready for, and hope in, His coming.

2 Peter 3:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 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! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Beloved, Jesus is coming again. He is coming with fire. He will come like a thief in the night. All these things you see around you will be dissolved. They will pass away with a roar! Everything in the earth and all its works will be exposed! And new heavens and a new earth will be the eternal reality for those who repent and believe in Jesus alone!

This is often referred to as judgment day! But, as Christians, we are not to think of Terminator-like destruction.

Instead, there is a better name for this day which is the name Peter gives here, “the day of the Lord.”

It is a day of judgment and wrath. But it is also the coming of our Lord. It is His day!

It is the day for all who have told themselves, “Jesus is not King and God and not sovereign Creator and Lord,” to bow before Him as their eyes have been opened! They will see Jesus with great clarity. There will not be one who doesn’t see Him in all His glory and majesty, so much so that every knee will bow because it will be clear that He is the Lord. It is His day. The damning reality is, for those who finally see Him, it will be a fleeting moment of overwhelming truth as they are judged and condemned to hell for their unrepentant sin.

As for those who did repent and believe, what sort of bride should we be as we await our Groom to come for us? Verse 11 tell us—holy and godly!

Church, this is a beautiful truth to which we must hold. Read verse 13 again.

2 Peter 3:13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

This is the purpose of Peter’s writing. He wants to remind the Church, the beloved, of the promises of God in contrast to the false teaching of liars who will come in and try to deceive us and tell us Jesus is not coming again to judge. He is helping us navigate truth and lies.

2 Peter 3:12 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!

Wow! This is a sobering reality. Jesus is coming! And God will judge and execute His wrath. And the Bible tells us that this is good and right for God to do.

Romans 2:5 … because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

Now look with me to verse 8 as it sets up where I want to spend most of our time today.

2 Peter 3:8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Here, Peter is quoting Psalm 90:4. This is a great reminder to us, the redeemed!

He is saying, “From our viewpoint, the last days can feel like a long time.” It doesn’t feel very “last” when it’s a couple thousand years, but from God’s point of view it is very, very short.

We can’t confine God to our schedule. We may have a desire for a new home, but we must be patient. God is so patient with us. Think of the exiles of old, for hundreds of years, longing for their home.

What Peter says here is a good warning to our hearts who just want the end to come so we can go home.  It is a warning to our hearts to not get sucked into the false teachers’ reproach that God never does anything because He’s impotent or indifferent and the delay is so long. Maybe He can’t act; maybe He won’t act!

You have to stop and try to see that God is at work and He doesn’t live in time like we do. So, a couple thousand years to us is like a couple days to Him, meaning it’s nothing.

If you put together all God has been doing in these last couple thousand years, it is quite staggering, really!

Peter responds to the concern we might have about Christ’s delay to return sooner rather than later.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Ok, this verse is a biggie! It’s a biggie, because this verse is one of the most misquoted verses in Scripture. Here is the problem with how many modern-day Christians have treated 2 Peter 3:9.

There are many verses in the Bible that take on a life of their own. This happens because some verses are so often quoted that the meaning is just assumed. Then what happens is the assumed meaning becomes hard and fast biblical truth in people’s minds. This leads to great error and false teaching, or false belief, in how God works.

The way to verify the true meaning of a verse is we have to go back to the original context where that verse was given and check to see if the modern meaning or belief about it is, indeed, what the author intended to say or not.

Let me give you an example before we do this for 2 Peter 3:9. If someone told you that they heard me say, and I quote, “I want to kill them. I want to literally annihilate them and watch them die. I want them all out of my house forever.”

You could hear that and think, “Wow, what is going on with you? I can’t believe you think this way or would ever say such mean and vile things about anybody. You are not talking about your family, are you?”

Now, you would be right to be concerned about a man of God speaking of anyone that way especially if that is the way he was speaking of his own family.

Can you imagine how that would eventually get around town? “Did you hear how Joshua Kirstine talks about his family? How he wants them all dead? He even said he wants to watch them die.” That guy should not be a pastor.

But here is the reality. The context is essential. What if, when I said, “I want to kill them. I want to literally annihilate them and watch them die. I want them all out of my house forever,” I was talking about an infestation of cockroaches that were up my walls, and in my bed, and running out of my shower drain. Then you would say with me, “Amen!” Not, “Wow! That guy is nuts!”

Context is essential to not forming wrong understanding about any particular verse in the Bible, too.

Now, for decades, people and pastors have declared, “God is not willing that any should perish! That will preach! And it has, for many preachers who have drawn crowds and raised up denominations of thousands around this battle cry. It cries out to the Church to go win the world because God doesn’t want anyone to perish. He wants all to be saved.

Based on this, the thought is to go and share the gospel and say, Make a choice. It’s up to you. God has made it possible for you to be saved and does not desire that anyone perish. Choose rightly! It’s up to you.

On the foundation of this one verse, understood out of context, a huge wave of modern-day Christian belief has been formed that, while God made it possible for you to be saved by Jesus’ work on the cross, it is ultimately you who decides if you are saved or not. Why? Because God is not willing that any should perish! But this is so unbiblical in so many ways.

If this were true, it would mean that Jesus bled and died and took on the sin of many who will not choose Him, thereby meaning that God messed up in who Jesus bled for and that Jesus unjustly suffered for some for whom He paid their debt, but they never accept the benefit of His costly atonement.

If this were true, it would mean that God is either by choice or by design impotent to save whom He desires. It means He wills all men to be saved, but He has to stand back, and hope, and watch to see if they will choose Him or not. Is this the omnipotent, sovereign God of Scripture, or is it a man-made idea of God that puts man in the driver’s seat and God in the backseat watching and hoping we will turn down the right road to life and not death?

If this were true, what do you do with all of the rest of Scripture which declares and demonstrates that God is sovereign and does all that His perfect will desires to do.

What we need to do is read and understand the verse within its context. Read it with me again.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

You will notice there is a pronoun in this sentence, “you.” “… but is patient toward you …”

This has been the highlight of this study so far. WHY? Because it is the very context and highlight of Peter’s very letter!

So, to remind us, and for the sake of great clarity, let’s review.

Who is the “you” he is speaking to here? Look back.

2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

“… those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours …”, meaning those who are saved like we are—the Church, the saved, the redeemed.

2 Peter 3:1a This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind …

I am writing to you, the beloved, those with a sincere mind, a pure mind, those who are in the family of God, the beloved, those whom God has given a new and pure, sincere mind. He is talking to the Church—the saved. “… I am writing to you …” The “youis the true Church.

The next question to ask is, “Is there anyone else he is referring to in this letter?” The answer is yes!

2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you …

So, there are false prophets who rise among you.

2 Peter 2:1-3 … just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

So, now we have two groups, the false prophets Peter refers to as “they” and the Church who he will refer to as “you.”

So, what does Peter say about you, the Church? Let’s go back.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God’s will is that none of His people will perish but all will reach repentance. That sounds like exactly what Jesus said of His sheep, His people that God has entrusted to Him to save.

John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

So, what does Peter say about “them, or “they”, the false prophets?

2 Peter 2:3Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

2 Peter 2:9 … then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment

This is really the opposite of the understanding that God’s will is that not any should perish if, indeed, He actively keeps the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.

To say that 2 Peter 3:9 is speaking of all people on earth is to flat out ignore God’s sovereign hand “to actively keep the unrighteous under punishment” and all the other scriptures about God’s divine providence over the non-elect.

So, Peter is clearly speaking about two groups of people. The “us” or the “you”—those who have received a precious faith. These are the inclusive pronouns. Then there is the other group, “them” or “they.” They are righteously judged, and God is active to keep them under his punishment until the final judgment.

To ask it again, “To whom does the ‘God is not willing that any should perish’ apply?

2 Peter 1:1 … those who have obtained a faith of equal standing …

2 Peter 3:1 … the beloved …

John 10:29 As Jesus says, “those whom God has given to him.”

God wills that none of these will perish. This is good news!

But it says, “… not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

If the “you” is the saved, then why does he reference that all of these should reach repentance?

The “you” is the elect whether they are saved or not yet saved.

He has a particular people whom He will save and who will not perish! Jesus speaks to this in John 10:16, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

Jesus also says, there are some who are not of His flock (His elect).

John 10:26 Jesus says to His hearers, “… you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.”

These have not “… obtained a faith of equal standing …” because they are not of His chosen sheep.

So, in the end, 2 Peter 3:9 is a great promise and a great hope for all of God’s people—the saved and the going-to-be saved!

To all His people, Peter is saying, “In the midst of false teachers and deceivers and those destined for punishment, have faith. Trust in God’s perfect timing for these things.”

Peter says to God’s people, “Be patient and know this, ‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)’”

We should count the delay of Christ’s coming as an act of mercy and patience until all His sheep are gathered into the fold and not one is lost. He is not willing that any of them will perish!

Praise God that He is patient with us all.

Praise God that He elects some instead of condemning all as all our sin rightly demands.

Praise God that He is not slow as we might consider Him to be, but perfect in His timing to save whom He will.

Praise God that none of His people will perish. ALL will reach repentance!

Praise God that He has given us, the Church, a work to do in spreading the truth of His life-changing gospel to the ends of the earth so all of His elect will hear it and be saved.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church