For our summer Bible study friends . . . I am so thankful, again, for a wonderful discussion on ZOOM today! Peter’s letters have been packed with important truths to ponder and it was so good to begin tying all those threads together, to see how we will bring our study to a conclusion. For those who are following along, see below for a recap of our chat. . .
TODAY’S DISCUSSION – 2 Peter 3
Peter opens this final chapter stating again why he is writing to the believers under his care. He wants to “stimulate wholesome thinking,” to encourage them to keep practicing what they have learned and witnessed the apostles modeling before them. Our lesson pointed us to Philippians 4 to further clarify our goal: to diligently fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. It was so good to remind each other that our mouths will speak what we welcome into our minds and what we welcome into our minds is something we can choose! As John Piper stated recently, may we be people who “live and die by what the word of GOD says!” GOD’s Words check every one of those boxes. If we saturate our world with His truth, what flows from our lips in any circumstance will likely fall into those categories as well.
In addition to Peter’s concern about false teaching, he also speaks to opposition believers will face. In this lesson, we had the opportunity to dig deeper into the characteristics and destiny of scoffers, those who hurl sarcastic comments, breed division, laugh at the truth, and cast doubt about the character and Word of GOD. They tragically fail to see or willfully forget who GOD is and all He has done. Our passages this week in Romans, 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation clearly show us that their path is destructive, they will meet trouble and calamity, and their end will be the righteous wrath of Almighty GOD. He will grant them their choice – to be forever, eternally separated from the LORD and His glorious power. The LORD is not vague or mysterious about the devastating results of rebellion against Him. He spells it our clearly. His desire is not to sound harsh for harshness’ sake, but to plead with lost souls, to tirelessly pursue their hearts, longing for them to choose the blissful alternative He offers!
In contrast, those same passages in Romans, 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation describe believers as those who marvel at the character and purposes of GOD, treasure the gift of His Son as their Savior, happily choose to obey, follow, and honor GOD, and praise His holy Name. It is the Father’s delight to bestow on His children the abundance of eternal life, shared glory and honor with Christ, peace and rest, and that anticipation of the time when He will make all things new!
Peter addresses one particular argument from scoffers, that Christ promised to return, so where is He? They question the validity of His promise because they fail to understand His timing. Drawing from passages in the Psalms, Peter explains that the LORD operates on a much different timetable than our own. Our GOD transcends time! What is 1000 years to us is but a day to Him. More importantly, He has a specific purpose in His delay – and it comes from a place of deep love! It is not GOD’s desire that ANY should ever perish. He is delaying the LORD’s return so that many more have time to repent and trust Christ as their Savior. Although we can confidently look for His return, its timing will be unexpected, “like a thief in the night.” It is vitally important to be ready and watching! As our hearts align with His, and beat with compassion for those who do not yet know and trust Him, it will become easier to patiently wait for His return, confident in His promise that at just the right time, He will come and not delay!
As we wait for the Savior’s return or our home-call to heaven’s shores, earth is our temporary home. But our lesson poses an important question: what is the destiny of the world we know? Creator GOD carefully designed a beautiful home for us here. He daily provides for our needs and faithfully orchestrates the circumstances of our days. But . . . what perspective it gives us to realize that the world we know is passing away! How does the knowledge of what is coming shape our attitudes and actions today? For starters, it cautions us against clinging to it too tightly OR being defeated by its reality. Neither the blessings of this life nor its challenges will endure. In the light of eternity, they are temporary. Peter patiently reminds us again to set goals with that long gaze forward toward our heavenly home, to invest in our future by choosing now to live holy, Godly lives, to make every effort to be pure and blameless, at peace with GOD, to grow in the grace and knowledge of GOD, eagerly looking forward to His eminent return!
That long gaze forward prompted my favorite part of today’s conversation! Our lesson directed us to Revelation 21, asking us to describe the object of the believer’s greatest anticipation. The passage paints a glorious picture: “a new heaven and a new earth, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from GOD out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband, a shout from the throne declaring that the home of GOD is now with His people, that He will make all things new, forever removing all sorrow, death, crying ana pain, for the old world and its evils will be forever gone.” Just wow. Do our hearts not beat faster to imagine such a new and thrilling reality?
Call me a hopeless romantic, but how precious it is to imagine this whole scene as a wedding celebration! The anticipation building that we, as His Bride, will finally stand face to face with Christ, our Bridegroom. He will take us by the hand, stand beside us before His Father, claim us as His own, and welcome us Home to stay. As we count down the moments to that day, what are we doing to prepare for the wedding? How are we investing in that eternal marriage relationship?
When Peter challenges me to live a life that honors the LORD, do I stop to think that anything less would bring dishonor to my Bridegroom? Would I not do anything to grow, preserve, and protect the precious union that He has sacrificed so much to secure? My Savior is the Love of my life – for time and for eternity. May my heart never cease to be captivated by His Person, steadied by His truth, or wrapped in His love. May my eyes ever be lifted to the horizon, ready and watching for His return!
“EVEN SO, COME” by Chris Tomlin
Like a bride
waiting for her groom
we’ll be a church
ready for You
every heart longing for our King
even so come
LORD JESUS come
There will be justice
all will be new
Your Name forever
Faithful and True
JESUS is coming soon