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The Day of the Lord (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 12, 2023 3:00 am

The Day of the Lord (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 12, 2023 3:00 am

Jesus isn’t slow in fulfilling His promise to come back. His apparent delay is purposeful. So what are Christians supposed to do while waiting? Study along as we consider how to prepare for Christ’s return, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is not somehow slow in fulfilling His promise to return.

His delay is purposeful. So what are we as Christians supposed to be doing while we wait for Him to return? Alistair Begg focuses on that question today on Truth for Life as he teaches us from 2 Peter chapter 3. Now, in verses 3 to 7, he gives to us what he says to 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.

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. And 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, 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 at 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 whole 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, and 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.

But he says, verse 10, don't allow yourselves to count on this in a strange way, because the day of the LORD will come like a thief. There's going to be a once for all end to our space-time home. It's really beyond description.

It's beyond imagination. It's attempted there in verse 10, sorry, the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. It's a description of the destruction of the cosmos as we know it, the laying bare of the earth, and the master is going to return and inspect his works.

Now, again, you see, this gives us an opportunity to speak to our friends in the framework that I have given to you on many occasions—the good, the bad, the new, the perfect—when you talk concerning your view of the world with your friends at the office, and they say, for example, I wonder why it is that things are in such a dreadful predicament. We cannot give them watertight answers, but we can at least help them along the journey by pointing out that the world that God made was absolutely perfect, pristine, pure, good, and wonderful, and he communed with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, and fellowship between God and man was absolutely unmarred and unstained and unbroken. However, sin enters into the world as man turns his back on God and exercises his free will and goes his own way, and so badness then becomes the pervasive element within the framework of man—both the badness that he finds in himself, those dreadful tempers, those hasty outbursts, those horrible words, those filthy thoughts, those dreadful resentments and disgusting jealousies.

Why? Because his grandmother locked him in a box? No, because he is inherently sinful. That's what the Bible says.

Our friends may not like that, but that's at least our explanation. And furthermore, no attempt by the man who is trapped within this box to extricate himself can possibly work as a result of his own endeavors. But of course, the good news is that Jesus has come to do for man and woman in that box, trapped as they are, what they could not do for themselves—namely, to release them, to set them free, to forgive them, to change them, to make them new. He died that we might be forgiven, as the Easter song says. He died to make us good, and he makes us new. And so the believer lives in the realm of the new. He has become a new creation. She has become a new creation, and she looks forward to the perfect.

The good, the bad, the new, the perfect. And since everything will be destroyed, verse 11—since everything will be destroyed—he doesn't say, You better figure out the timeframe on this. He says, You better figure out the kind of person you ought to be. This, I think, for me, in terms of eschatology, is the great kicker—in other words, the issue of the last things. That the compelling issue in any consideration of what happens at the end of the world when God wraps things up. When you go to the Scriptures themselves, they are always urging, not to some kind of speculative framework or the creation of charts and diagrams, but they are urging us to a certain kind of life.

What kind of people ought you to be? Well, he says, Let me tell you, you ought to be the kind of people who are living holy and godly lives, and you're indicating the fact that you have a forward look. You're looking forward to the day of God.

Interesting phrase, isn't it? To the day of God. He doesn't say, You're looking forward to the rapture. He says, You're looking forward to the day of God. What is the day of God? I think it's the day when God will come, when Christ will come and wrap the whole business up. We will move from this age to the age that is to come. And in one great instantaneous moment, God will settle all the accounts, deal with all the issues. No second chances.

No place else to go. Since this is the case, he says, when an individual understands this about the destruction of the cosmos, then surely it will create compassion in our hearts for those who do not believe. And if we're genuinely interested in moving towards the day of God, then our friends and our loved ones will know that we are, not by our ability to articulate a view of the end times, but by our lifestyle, by our holiness, by our godliness, by our zeal for the things of Jesus.

It's such a challenge, isn't it? It's far easier to say, I'm very interested in the return of Jesus Christ. And let me tell you how I've got it all figured out here in page number 49. You see, this will happen and that will happen. You'll run twice around the building. You'll go over there. You'll take the number you first thought of. You'll multiply it by six. And before you know where you are, you're underneath the throne in Jerusalem. When you get there, you will discover there are 144,000 people living under a building.

You will come out of it, and so it goes on. And people are saying, what in the world is that about? Exactly what is it about? It's largely an American invention. Sorry, but true.

Exported from England, picked up in the States, and as with every other good invention, parlayed into the most powerful influence that the world has ever seen. I've got news for you. The quantifier, as Augustine said, regarding those who love the coming of the Lord, is not those who affirm that it is very close, nor is it amongst those who determine that it is far in the distance, but it is to be found in those who, whether it be near or far, await it with all their hearts. And how will you know that you're awaiting it with all your heart? It will stir you concerning the loss of your loved ones and your friends who do not know Christ, and it will say to you, come on now, Jesus is coming.

He doesn't want to find you in this filthy predicament. It makes perfect sense. The whole idea of speeding his coming is interesting, isn't it? That'll shut down most Bible studies there. In verse 12, as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. So Mrs. Johns puts up her hands and says, I want to tell you what this means to me.

Just ask her to go out and make coffee at that point and do everybody in the group a favor. How could we speed his coming? Perhaps by living in its light. If sin causes a delay—in other words, he's not slow, as some people count slowness—but he is delaying in order that those who remain in their sin may be repentant.

Well, if sin causes it to slow up, maybe living in the light causes it to speed up. Maybe we can speed it up by praying for his kingdom to come. Your kingdom come. Come, Lord Jesus.

Maranatha. Perhaps by our involvement in world mission, the Word will go out as a testimony to all the nations, and then Christ will come. So perhaps by our engagement in these things. But never stumble over a wee phrase like that. Just stand back far enough, as you do in an art gallery, to see the totality of the picture. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire.

The elements will melt in the heat. He reiterates this. It's hard to mistake it, isn't it? But in keeping with his promise, we're looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. This week I read a book that Pastor Bickley recommended to all of us on the pastoral team. In this little book, and every so often you read a book, somebody writes down something that you thought was a totally heretical view, and then you realize if it is, at least it's you and this guy, or this girl that wrote it down.

And I had one of these this week, because most of the pictures of heaven, both as a child growing up and in my adult life, have not, do not, grab me. Okay? I'm just being perfectly honest with you. The idea of walking on the streets of gold.

I mean, I know that you're supposed to get up for that, but it doesn't do anything for me. Well, are we going to walk on the streets of gold? Okay. Well, right. What else? Well, there's some things, and there's a big thing, and you go in that. Well, yeah, but I've been to Disney.

You know, I mean, what is this? I don't mean to be bad in saying that. But if you read Romans 8, where all creation is groaning, right? In travail, waiting for the redemption of the sons of God. And when you read the Bible and you think about the fact that there is going to be a new heaven and a new earth, it prevents us from the kind of Platonic thinking that pitches heaven into somewhere a way up there that you've got no knowledge of, that is so completely beyond anything that represents the reality of our lives now, that you find yourself saying, if you're honest, well, I know I'm supposed to like it, but I'm not sure that I really do. Not the fact that Jesus will be there or that we'll be reunited with our loved ones or anything like that.

I'm not referring to that. I'm just talking about the general way in which heaven is pitched, and especially in old hymns that came out of the 1950s. As strange as it sounds to our ears, the Bible insists that on the day God writes the moral wrongs of history, namely the judgment day, he will write the environmental chaos as well. In other words, God pledges to renew the physical universe itself. This is one of the most distinctive elements of the biblical understanding of the future. Eastern traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism respond to the problem of the disorder of the natural world by holding out the hope of nirvana, an eternal state of absolute non-physicality.

For these philosophies, physical reality is not reality at all, but an entrapment from which we must eventually free ourselves. Biblical hope is radically different. When the good book describes the future eternal kingdom of God, what we commonly call heaven, it speaks not of the removal of physical existence but of its renewal. The passage just quoted, Romans 8, says the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay. In fact, the climactic description of that kingdom found in the final pages of the Bible speaks not of going to heaven at all, but of heaven coming down to earth and transforming everything. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. For many of us, even for some long-term believers, our picture of the kingdom come derives from an unlikely combination of ancient Greek philosophy and modern Hollywood movies. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato taught that the physical world is a kind of grubby reflection of the ultimate non-physical reality to which everything is headed. Buddhism and Hinduism, with their goal of nirvana, share a similar outlook. Somehow, Hollywood got hold of this idea, and now almost always portrays the afterlife as an airy-fairy fourth-dimensional existence with clouds, halos, bright lights, and the ever-present harp music.

True! In the years after I came to believe in Christ, it always troubled me—and this, when I read the book, I said, Oh, this looks like he's going where I hope—in the years after I came to believe in Christ, it always troubled me that I was now meant to enjoy the thoughts of escaping the physical world and entering a spiritual one called heaven. I loved the taste, smell, sight, sound, and touch of this world. And here I was being told to look forward to losing these five senses and having them replaced by a spiritual sixth sense. I was not terribly excited about it. Then someone challenged me to point to biblical texts that describe the afterlife as a disembodied nirvana-like bliss.

I couldn't. Every passage I turned to challenged the Hollywood version of heaven. It turns out that the biblical kingdom come is not an ethereal place of clouds and ghosts, but a tangible place of real existence. It is a new creation. Whether or not we will gain a sixth sense, I have no idea, but I think we can count on keeping the other five senses. This is a future I can get excited about.

It is a life in the fullest sense of the word, a reality in which the moral and physical tensions of our current world will be resolved through an extraordinary act of divine recreation. And when I find myself doubting that such a fantastic hope could ever become a reality, I need only go down to the beach near where I live or look up at the glorious night sky and remind myself that God has already done it once. The proof is right there before my eyes.

Why should I question his ability to do it a second time? That is really good. Yeah. Now, it doesn't negate one thing in the Bible.

All it does is it just fleshes out the reality of the notion of a new heaven and a new earth. You say, stop it now. Okay.

I will. Because if I try to go to the rest, then we'll be here a long time. Actually, I don't have any other notes past that. Why do you think I read that big, long quote? You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg making it clear that trying to calculate the timing of the Lord's return isn't as important as the urgency to share the gospel with our friends and loved ones before he returns. Alistair will be back in just a minute. If you've not already subscribed to the daily devotional email from Alistair, you can sign up today. This is a great way for you to prepare for Christ's return by spending time daily in God's word. You can begin each morning by reading a passage of scripture followed by a brief commentary from Alistair. Then you'll be prompted to consider how to live out what you've read as you go about your day. The daily devotional is a free subscription.

You can sign up at slash lists. Our desire here at Truth for Life is to make clear, relevant Bible teaching available at an affordable cost. So if you're looking for books or messages about a particular topic, take a few minutes to scroll through the resources available in our online store at slash store.

Most of the items are less than $10. You'll find a great selection of books that are perfect for personal study or to give as gifts or to build up your library or the library at your local church. And it's because of faithful giving that comes from listeners like you that these high quality resources are available to you at cost. When you give a donation today, we're saying thank you by inviting you to request a book called Habits of Grace, Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. You may have heard me mention this book previously. It's a book that will help you jumpstart your daily spiritual routine as you step forward in the new year. We're only offering the book Habits of Grace for a few more days.

So request your copy today when you give a donation at slash donate. Now here is Alistair to close in prayer. Father, we are so thankful that you've given us the Bible to study. Thank you that it demands of us a right thinking and the careful use of the faculties that you've provided.

We always are saying to one another, now you're sensible people, you need to examine these things to see if they're so. Certainly the Bereans did that with Paul's preaching, and we need to do it with each others. We thank you though that there are things that are perfectly clear to us tonight about which we need be in no doubt at all, namely that Jesus will return, he has promised. That judgment will take place. It's happened in the past and it will happen in its fullness and in its finality in a day that God has set. God, when he looks on our lives, knows that we are eager and keen for these things, not by our ability to describe our views, but by our willingness to tell our friends and neighbors about the good news of Jesus and our desire to close the gap between what the Bible says we are in Christ and the way in which we're living. You are truly a wonderful merciful Savior, Lord Jesus. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. You know, coasting a bike downhill doesn't take a lot of energy, it's not much exercise. Just sitting in church every Sunday is kind of like spiritually coasting. Tomorrow we'll learn how to actively improve your spiritual health. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-12 05:04:29 / 2023-01-12 05:13:48 / 9

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