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Focusing Our Lives on God's Grace

2 Peter 3

Jim Davis

Keeping focused in the midst of difficulties is life's greatest challenge. Peter is concerned about troubled Christians keeping their focus in the midst of persecution by false teachers. For these Christians to keep focused they must think clearly.

2 Peter 3:2-4
Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. (NIV)

Peter is endeavoring to stimulate clear thinking. When people begin to mock us, deride us, harass us and scoff what we believe we may be tempted to start thinking otherwise. We must remember that the powerful impact of negative thinking scoffers does not make what they say true. No matter how powerful their influence may seem we remain sober minded.

Too often when difficulties come, we begin to think, "Why is this strange thing happening to me?" Peter encourages us to remind ourselves "that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." (1 Peter 5:9) In fact, the Lord promised us this would happen. "I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." (2 Peter 3:1-2)

God's Word Is A Reminder

What God has done in the past is the clue to what he will do in the future. When Peter was writing these verses Christians relied on the Old Testament to tell them about God. Peter doesn't hesitate to tell them to take heed to what God had done in the past.

2 Peter 3:5-7
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (NIV)

Peter is ever reminding us of what God has done. In chapter 2, Peter has reminded us of the surety of God's word. He reminded us about God's judgement of angels, he has reminded us of God's fiery judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah and this is the second time he has reminded us of God's judgement against the world in Noah's day. God's judgement of the past is a wholesome reminder of the destruction in store for ungodly people.

God's Word Is Sure

By God's word the heavens and earth were created and this assures us of God's power to bring to pass whatever he has declared. God has declared to the prophets and the apostles what lies ahead. God's Word is as sure and powerful today as it ever has been. God reigns. The passing of time does not dilute or weaken God's Word.

2 Peter 3:9-12
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (NIV)

Hebrews 1:10-12
He also says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." (NIV)

The story of the second coming of Christ and his judgement of the world is not an incredible story dreamed up by a group of theologians. It comes straight from God's month through his inspired Word. We have many stories of God's coming as dates and times are set. The year 2000 thousand has been no exception. We have seen people stockpiling food and supplies to prepare for the Lord's coming. A couple filled their pantry, bought generators and made all kinds of preparation for the coming of 2000. A few weeks ago one couple was cleaning out their cupboards. Bugs had gotten into much of the food they had stockpiled. They didn't want me to know about it because they were embarrassed.

Peter makes it clear throughout his second epistle how we must prepare for the second coming of Christ. We must be partakers of the divine nature as we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us to add the Christian graces to our lives. (1 Peter 1:5-11) This is the only way to be prepared.

We must remind ourselves that it is not the slackness of God's promises that keeps this world turning. It keeps turning because of God's promise to save as many as possible. God is trying to populate heaven. This world will be destroyed in God's own timing. Time is not of the essence to God. The salvation of souls is of the essence to him. "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (2 Peter 3:8 NIV)

Isaiah 51:4-8
"Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail. "Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations." (NIV)

God's Word Issues A Warning

Some may scoff, others may doubt, but the Lord is coming again.

Matthew 24:23-24
At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-- if that were possible. (NIV)

Matthew 24:35-36
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (NIV)

Matthew 24:44-46
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. (NIV)

Seeing You Know These Things"

Peter's warning is clear. His message has been plain. He has warned us against those who would like to lead us astray. The Day of Judgement is coming. But it is also a day of salvation for the saved. Therefore we must prepare for his coming. Peter concludes that we should take the initiative to prepare for his coming in three measurable ways.

2 Peter 3:17-18
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (NIV)

We must remember what we already know. From the beginning of this epistle Peter has been reminding the readers of what they already know. (1:12) He has written this letter to stir up the pure minds of the readers. (3:1)

Now he translates those reminders into action. He asks us to live in light of what we already know. There is no need to know more until we apply what we already know. Knowledge must be transformed into a way of life.

We must beware lest we fall from our steadfastness. If we forget what we know, it will be impossible for us to remain steadfast in our faith. There are wicked people in the church who are wolves in sheep's clothing. They are subtle and shrewd, if you are not careful they will make you stumble and fall in you walk.

The scripture warns us: Watch out! Be on guard! Beware! Resist the devil! Flee from evil! Consent not to sin! The list goes on.

However, in spite of this God tells us that he will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) The best defense is an active offense.

Grow in the grace and knowledge of . . . Jesus. (v.18) Grace is the heart and core of the Christian lifestyle and community. Growing in God's grace is the only weapon against false teachers. We may want for God's grace to abound to us without wanting to grow in that grace. Grace can only be multiplied to us through our willing to grow as Christians.

Ephesians 4:21-32
Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)

Conclusion:

We must focus our lives on receiving and living by God's grace. You show me a person a person who is growing in God's grace and I'll show you a person experiencing God's grace and sharing it with others. The only valid way of sharing God's grace with others is through allowing others to experience God's grace through our relationship with them. This is what Paul s talking about in Ephesians 4:21-32

 

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