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The Day of the Lord (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2023 3:00 am

The Day of the Lord (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 11, 2023 3:00 am

It’s been more than two thousand years since Jesus promised He would return. How should we respond to scoffers who say He’s not coming back? What’s the reason for His delay? Hear the answers to these questions on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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It has been almost 2000 years since Jesus promised that he would return. So how should we respond to scoffers who say he's not coming back?

What's the reason for his apparent delay? Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg explores the answers to these questions in a message he's titled, The Day of the Lord. Now we're turning in our Bibles to the New Testament and to Peter and to the third chapter.

If you go to the back of your Bible and start at Revelation—it goes Revelation, going backwards, Jude 3, 2, 1, John, and then to Peter, and you're at chapter 3—to Peter chapter 3. Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 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. 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. 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. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise.

As some understand slowness, he's 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. But in keeping with his promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you're looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom that God gave him.

He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort as they do the other Scriptures to their own destruction. 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. Now, why don't you just keep your Bible open? Father, we pray that as we study now from these pages that the Holy Spirit will help us, enable us, help us then, Lord, to hear from you.

For Jesus' sake we ask it. Amen. Chapter 2 ended with Peter's preoccupation on pigs and dogs, if you will recall. He had some very striking things to say concerning the false teachers that were plaguing the believers to whom he is writing. And as he comes now into the home straight, as it were, to draw his brief letter to a close, he is addressing his dear friends. He actually uses this phraseology frequently. You will notice he says it again in verse 8.

Don't forget this one thing, dear friends. He comes back to them as dear friends in verse 14, and when he gets ready, finally, to wrap it up, he is again referring to them in verse 17 as dear friends, agapitoi, from the Greek agape. And this love of the Lord Jesus, which is shed abroad in the hearts of the believers, is supposed then to be the mark of our relationships with one another. And Peter wants his readers to know that he's addressing them in that way.

He's been very passionate, as we've seen, in his declarations and in his stinging rebukes, and now he is very warm and encouraging as he seeks to wrap these matters up. It is now my second letter to you. He says, now, that may immediately make us think that he's referring to 1 Peter, and it may well be referring to 1 Peter, but it may not. He may have written another letter in between the two, and it's also possible that he wrote 1 Peter to one destination and 2 Peter to a second destination. And if he wrote 2 Peter to a destination other than 1 Peter, then 1 Peter can't be the letter to which he refers in the first verse of chapter 3, but it would have to be another letter that he had written. If he wrote another letter, it is a letter of which we have no knowledge.

It doesn't really matter very much at all, and so we keep moving, but I want you to notice that in passing. Whatever this other letter was, whether it was 1 Peter or another letter, he says, I want you to know that I've written them both as reminders. And you will perhaps recall that when we started out, we began not at verse 1 of chapter 1, but we began at verse 12 of chapter 1, saying that this was the key which opened up the whole letter. I will always remind you of these things even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you have. Down in verse 17, at the end of the chapter, he's back to that, isn't he?

Dear friends, since you already know this, then be on your guard. So he is writing to affirm them in truth about which they have already become convinced. And he wants them to be stimulated, particularly to wholesome thinking. I'm writing these things to you as a reminder in order that you may be stirred up, that you may recall certain things, recollection may give way to stimulation, and the stimulation may result in wholesome thinking. And what then will be the basis of wholesome thinking for the child of God? Well, it will be in the source which he refers to in verse 2. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by the Lord Jesus himself. We need be in no doubt as to the basis of wholesome thinking. Paul says the same thing in Romans, that you would be transformed by the renewing of your minds, and the minds would be renewed in the truth of Scripture.

And Peter says the same thing. It is impossible for us to think wholesomely unless we are thinking biblically. And it is difficult for us to think biblically unless we're studying our Bibles.

And if we're endeavoring to get enough as a result, perhaps, of one study a week or even two studies a week as a result of what comes from the pulpit here, then we will find that we are impoverished fairly quickly into the week. Let me encourage each of us to make sure that we are, for ourselves, in our Bibles, recalling the truth of God's Word and being stimulated to think properly. The words that have been spoken in the past, the commands given by Christ, is simply another way of saying, I want you to be people of the Bible.

I want you to make sure that you're paying attention to these things. At our staff meeting, we read together from Romans 15, for everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. The only foolproof way to stand against nonsense, to combat heresy, is in understanding what the Bible has to say. And it is no surprise, then, that Peter drives this home in his opening couple of verses. Now, in verses 3–7, he gives to us what he says to us as the first thing that they need to understand. This is a priority, he says.

This is number one in what I want you to be getting hold of. I don't want you to be unsettled by the existence of scoffers. First of all, he says, you need to understand that in the last days… And of course, Peter's reference to the last days can be understood not only from here but also from what he said post-Pentecost. You remember when the people came and they said, it looks as though folks in Jerusalem have been up very early in the morning drinking alcohol because there is a great hullabaloo going on in Jerusalem. And Peter stands up and he says, folks, these individuals are not drunk as you think.

They haven't been going out to the bar early in the morning. But this is nothing other than what was reported by the prophet, in these last days I will pour out my Spirit upon you. And he says, what the prophet said would happen in the last days has happened, making clear that the understanding of the Bible concerning the last days is a reference, first of all, to the days between the first coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ. Just as Jesus came as a result of the prophecies, or in conjunction with the prophecies of the Old Testament, so Jesus is going to come again personally, visibly, bodily, life-changingly, strikingly, staggeringly, in a way that the whole world will understand. Jesus is coming again. The Bible makes that perfectly clear. And we're living, along with those to whom Peter wrote, in the period to which the Bible refers to as the last days. Now, clearly, there will be last days to the last days.

But the timeframe gathers up not only the immediacy of the circumstances to which he refers here in the chapter but also to our lives. And they need to understand what it is important for us to know and about which we are not at all surprised—namely, that in the last days, scoffers will come, and these scoffers will be following their own evil desires. They will scoff at all kinds of things. They will certainly scoff at the idea of living a godly life. They will be scoffing at the idea of the notion of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so says Peter, I want you to understand that even this is actually covered in the Scriptures. You need to understand that in the last days, they're going to come, and people will say this. They will say, verse 4, well, where is his coming?

Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as has been since the beginning of creation. Now, these warnings about scoffers you don't only find here towards the end of the New Testament—I'm not going to take time to cross-reference it in your hearing—but if you read in Psalm 73, in Jeremiah 17, in Mark chapter 13, you will find that there are references frequently to those who emerge, as it were, in every generation, scoffing at the whole idea that God is orchestrating the events of history and that Jesus is coming back again. These individuals live self-indulgent lives. They have a self-indulgent agenda, and they laugh at the very notion of the return of Jesus Christ. It becomes a figure of fun. Somebody was telling me just moments before I came in here that subsequent to our gathering at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, an edition of a program on national public radio went out where they seized the opportunity to scoff at the whole idea of the return of Jesus Christ. And the big joke, of course, was, ha ha, these people apparently think that Jesus is coming back again. Now, Michael Green in his commentary says, For men who live in the world of the relative, the claim that the relative will be ended by the absolute is nothing short of ludicrous.

And of course, it is within the desire of men and women who are living godless lives, who have no interest in the Bible, who only use the name of Jesus as a curse word to deny any notion of him coming back again. If you're fooling around in your classroom, you want to know that the schoolteacher has left for the day. You don't want the possibility of the schoolteacher returning. If the schoolteacher is about to return, then of course it makes a difference to the extent of your foolishness. At least it did to mine.

It curtailed it at least a little. But if the person took his briefcase and said, That's it for me. Look after yourselves until the bell rings.

That was an invitation for complete mayhem in the school to which I went. But if he left his briefcase and you knew he was returning, then you need to moderate the extent of your foolishness. So if you could convince yourself that he is gone for good, then you can pretty well do what you want. And that is why men and women have a vested interest in denying the return of Jesus Christ.

Because as long as he is not coming back, then there is no judgment to face, there is no report card to be filled out, there is no event that yet awaits us that will call us to account. So the self-indulgent life has a definite interest in convincing first themselves and then those who would listen to them that Jesus will not return. And so the skepticism is described. They're saying, It's not going to happen.

Things have been going on like this for years. So Peter points out to his readers that the scoffers are not simply working from the evidence before them, because if they think about the evidence before them, they've had to make a deliberate determination to forget what has happened in the past. And so he says they've deliberately forgotten that long ago, by God's Word, the creative agent, by God's Word, the heavens existed, and the earth was formed out of water and by water—simply a reference to Genesis chapter 1 and the place of water in the work of creation.

And not some great scientific statement, but merely an acknowledgment. If you go back to Genesis 1, you can say, I can see why Peter would say what he did. And then he says, as a result of that creative act of God, God by his same power was able to destroy. And in verse 6, the same waters by which the earth was formed became the very waters by which the world at that time was deluged and destroyed. And of course, this is a reference here to the flood. And so he's saying God's activity in the past is an indication of what is yet to be. And then comes this staggering statement, by the same Word.

You see this? By God's Word, creation. Verse 5. By that same Word, the destruction of the flood. Verse 6. By that same Word, verse 7. The present world as we know it, the heavens and the earth, are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. The Bible is absolutely clear concerning the issue of judgment.

Absolutely straightforward. We daren't come at this with any sense of smugness or the silly nonsense that you see on bumper stickers in the cars that refer to secret raptures and that basically say, Hey, I'm gone. Please yourself, you know. I'm out of here.

Tough for you. It doesn't seem to have the mark of Jesus about it, does it? It doesn't seem to have the touch of the apostle upon it. If we thought for any time at all about the truth of verse 7 and we really took it to heart, who knows, but we wouldn't simply walk out of the building and either visit or phone up every person that we know within the precinct of our own acquaintance and friendship and tell them, listen, before you go to sleep tonight, I have to tell you something. It struck me again. If you die in your sleep without Christ, you will go to hell.

And because I love you, I can't imagine the thought. See, many of us are just unbelieving believers when it comes to these issues. Now, in verse 8 and following, he says, having said, First you need to understand this, and then he tells us what they need to understand.

Then in verse 8 and following, he says, And there are a couple of things I don't want you to forget. In fact, the first thing I don't want you to forget, my dear friends, is this, that you can't ask God to think of time the same way we think of time. God is not working on our clock. We hope for things to happen in our lifetime. And if they don't happen in our lifetime—three score years and ten, perhaps a little bit more if you stay around for longer—if it doesn't happen in our lifetime, then we say to ourselves, Well, you know, this is no good at all. Peter says, Well, I don't want you to forget the fact that God is not working on our clock. If you try and work out the return of Jesus Christ on the basis of our time-space mechanisms, then you're going to come up really short.

I don't want to delay on this or divert myself from it, but if you read old books on prophecy—and I mean old books on prophecy—you will find this borne out. Napier, of Napier College, which is adjunct to Edinburgh University, was a mathematician. He invented logarithms.

He's a great hero of mine, as you can imagine. And having invented logarithms, he then used his logarithmic formula to determine the date of the return of Jesus, which he set somewhere early in the nineteenth century. Now, on the strength of that, his book went through multiple printings until it reached the date.

And it hasn't sold particularly well in the second half of the nineteenth century on. No, clearly not. Because he went to it, and he said, You know, I can figure this out according to my clock. And Peter says, Listen, he's not working according to your clock. Also, you need to realize that God is not being slow here in the fulfilling of his promise in the way that we might understand slowness—sitting a traffic light, waiting for the light to change, sitting outside, waiting for a friend to come, waiting for somebody to come out of the grocery store, whatever it may be. What in the world are they doing now? Why are they being so slow?

What's the holdup here? Now, he says, You need to know that God is not working on your clock, and secondly, his slowness is a purposeful slowness. He has an express design in view, and that is why Jesus has not come back yet. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance. Remember, Paul says something very similar to this—a disturbing verse for some of us. First Timothy chapter 2, verses 3 and 4, This is good and please is God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

And here he seems to be saying the same thing. God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance. Of course, we know that not everybody does come to repentance.

And so, the church fathers distinguish between the desire of God, which is expressed here, and the decree of God, which is not addressed here. For those of you who understand my allusion, fine. For those of you who don't, don't worry about it.

You can pick it up later on. I resist the temptation to stop on verse 9. There are multiple ways to understand it, but I'm not going to delay on it.

Let us allow us to take it just at face value. God loves saving people. And if he had come back prior to this evening, all those to whom we're going to go with the message of the gospel would have gone to a lost eternity. Therefore, we should be very, very grateful, and others too across the world, that he remains in this posture. And Peter says, I want you to understand that he is doing so with great purpose. Jesus has not forgotten his promise that he's returning.

He's not slow in returning. He is waiting patiently, giving more people the opportunity to repent and to be saved. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. In today's message, Alistair explained that the only foolproof way to have hope and to combat heresy is by understanding what the Bible says, by recalling God's truth more often than just on Sundays. That's why you hear the Bible taught every day here on Truth for Life. And to help you establish a personal routine of studying God's word, we have an easy to use daily Bible reading plan that will guide you through four passages of scripture each day, giving you a roadmap for reading through the entire Bible over the course of a year. The Bible reading plan is free for you to download from our website at truthforlife.org slash Bible reading plan.

Or if you'd prefer, you can purchase the plan in a booklet format for just a dollar at truthforlife.org slash store. Now, when you hear the word meditation, what do you think about? Maybe a modern new age practice? Actually, meditation is an ancient biblical discipline. In the book Habits of Grace, the author explains that meditation has been used by Christians for centuries so that God's word will dwell deep in their hearts. And the book explains specifically how we meditate. Request your copy of the book Habits of Grace today when you give a donation at truthforlife.org slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. I'm Bob Lapine. How should the fact that Jesus is purposefully delaying his return impact our lives as we wait for him? That's our focus tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-11 11:37:35 / 2023-01-11 11:46:35 / 9

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