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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
February 7, 2010
The Patience of God
2 Peter 3:7-10
It seems that all my life I have been anxious to get to the next phase of life. Having an older brother may have increased that desire some. Jesse joined the Cub Scouts, so I wanted to be a Cub Scout. Jesse became a Boy Scout, so I wanted to be a Boy Scout. Jesse learned to ride a bike, so I wanted to learn to ride a bike. Things like that just kept coming. I remember my parents telling me to be patient and to enjoy being a child for I would grow older soon enough. They were right. You do grow old soon enough! But at the time it seemed like I would never be old enough to drive a car, get a job, go places on my own, go to college, get married, have my own children, etc.
Looking back in time, all those things did come very quickly, yet there is still a side of me that is still impatient for the future to come. I greatly enjoy being right where I am at now in life and wish in some ways I could slow the clock down to enjoy having my sons still living at home for many years to come, yet there is also a longing at the same time for future events to arrive. There are not only still things I would like to see, do and accomplish, but I also anticipate the things my sons will do and accomplish as well.
There are also things I want to see happen here at Grace Bible. I still long to see this building filled to capacity with dozens of new believers becoming disciples and baptized every month. I would like to see the plans for expansion of the facilities here fulfilled as well as new churches planted in neighboring communities. I am eager for the Lord to return and take all of us home to be with Him forever.
However, the longing to see things happen can lead to frustration when the future unfolds slowly with those longings still unfulfilled. This can affect pastors as much as anyone else. I have certainly been to enough pastors’ fellowships where such frustrations are expressed on occasion. The work is not progressing as fast as desired for there are not workers to carry out all the current ministries much less new ones. People can be stubborn and remain immature when they should be mature in the Lord. There is the longing to see more people come to know the Lord and for church membership to increase. Unless care is not taken these things can cause tremendous frustration. More than one pastor has left a church or even the ministry because of those frustrations. The Lord’s perspective must be maintained to avoid such reactions. Jesus told us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send the workers, so we need to pray and be patient for those workers to be sent. Paul had the same problem with immature people, so he continued to feed them milk even while challenging them to eat solid food (1 Corinthians 3:2). Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:18), so we simply need to be faithful servants while He does so.
Anyone here can lose perspective and start viewing things through the perspective of their own eyes which are limited by individual experience, human resources and comprehension. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need eyes that view things from God’s perspective which is not limited. Our resources are exchanged for His omnipotence. Our comprehension is exchanged for His omniscience. Our experience is exchanged for His sovereignty. It is only as we begin to see things from the divine viewpoint that we will begin to comprehend the reason circumstances are like they are and learn to be content as Paul describes in Philippians 4. The alternative is to continue to look from man’s limited perspective which leads to anxiety, worry, impatience, frustration, disappointment, failure and feelings of futility.
This morning we come to a text that is extremely helpful in giving us God’s perspective on time and the events that occur within them. By coming to grips with what Peter says here in 2 Peter 3:8-9, a lot of the questions that plague us and the frustrations we have in this life can be answered and resolved. However, before we examine those verses, let us make sure we understand their context.
Review – 2 Peter 3:3-7
3 “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with [their] mocking, following after their own lusts.” We have talked for the last two weeks about these mockers that will come in the last days. These mockers are already here. They are controlled by their own desires and bold in their defiance of God. They scoff at the promised return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In a jeering manner they say in verse 4, “Where is the promise of His coming? For [ever] since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” This mocking is absolute foolishness for in scoffing at the promise of the Lord’s return they rely on a premise that is contradicted by both history and the physical evidence all around them. All things do not continue as they were from the beginning of creation. Adam and Eve fell into sin resulting in man breaking his previous harmonious relationship with God, getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden, woman being cursed with pain in childbirth and a struggle in her relationship with her husband, man being cursed to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, the earth being cursed with thorns and thistles, and death entering to terminate their lives and the lives of all their decedents.
Peter points out in verses 5& 6 that they willfully ignore God’s judgment upon the wickedness of mankind in the past by a worldwide cataclysm. “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice (literally, they purposely forget), that by the Word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.”
Two weeks ago I pointed out the Biblical and historical evidence for the global flood of Genesis 6-8 that destroyed all air breathing, land dwelling life that was not in the ark. That historical narrative is confirmed by Moses, Isaiah, the writer of Hebrews, Peter & most importantly, Jesus Himself. The Bible cannot be reconciled with any kind of local flood theory. I also pointed out that multiple cultures around the world have some type of catastrophe/salvation mythology. Usually there is some type of flood account, and often there is a hero figure that builds finds a means to escape with other people and animals. The Bible is the original and true story with these myths being degenerated forms of the Biblical account
Last week I spoke about the evidence from our observations of the natural world around us. When true science that takes a hard look at the present physical world, the reality of a global flood shouts back. The geologic and palenotologic evidence points directly to catastrophism on scale unknown and incomprehensible in the world as it exists today.
*Large sedimentary formations such as the Colorado Plateau at 250,000 square miles and the Tibetan Plateau 750,000 square miles cannot be explained by evolutionary / uniformitarian geology. They can be explained by a worldwide flood.
*The flat, smooth boundary layers of the various formations of the Grand Canyon show they were laid down rapidly and not by long processes that would have left topographical boundaries with undulations of ancient hills and valleys. Polystrate fossil trees that transect various sedimentary layers also show that those layers had to form quickly to bury them before they could rot or erode.
*Fossil graveyards of both multiple animals buried in place and those moved by water from various distant places before mass burial together.
*Misplaced geologic formations and fossils in which the supposedly older material ends up on top of what is supposed to be younger material.
Why this refusal to recognize what is all around us as evidence for the Genesis flood and the catastrophic events that would have followed while the earth settled into its current equilibrium? Because if these mockers recognized the flood, then they would also have to acknowledge that God has intervened and judged mankind in the past. If that is true, then what Peter says in v 7 is also true, and mockers do not want to be held accountable to God. Peter states, “But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” The beliefs of men will in no way hinder the Lord from carrying out His word. God will judge men again in the future as He has in the past, except it will be by fire instead of flood.
Waiting for His Return
But a question quickly arises from this that makes us also ponder. When? When will all of this come about? These mockers could only say what they did because it had been so long at that time since the flood. It is now been about 1,950 years since Peter gave his warning, and about 1,980 years since Jesus made His promise to return. That long period of time does cause us to wonder how much longer, and for some, it leads them to wonder if He is coming back at all.
We consider the condition of the world and the prevalence of evil within it and we wonder why the Lord has let things get so bad? Why doesn’t He come now before things get worse? Sure, the cold war ended, but it has been replaced by rogue nations and terrorist groups without a nation that are proving to be as dangerous, perhaps more so because it is difficult to have any kind of diplomacy with people that do not value life – either yours or their own. More Christians died in the 20th century than all previous centuries combined, and the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ continues in countries around the world, and especially in the Islamic countries and the communist countries. That religion and ideology transport their violence to other countries where they seek to gain control.
Then there is the continuing decline into ever greater immorality within the international community and in our own nation. Those who call what is good, evil, and what is evil, good hold the major offices in our own nation, hosts of nations around the world, and at the U.N. They justify the slaughter of the unborn under the banner of “freedom of choice.” The current demand is to recognize homosexuality as not just an “alternative lifestyle,” but one that is equal with marriage. The perversions of other sexual deviates are gaining increasing advocation as within the realm of normal by the political elite. The president’s appointment as the “Safe Schools Czar,” Kevin Jennings, is a known advocate of letting underage teens be molested by adults. There is the rise of Satanic activity which is now also accepted as within normal for entertainment. The demon channeler in “Ghost Whisperer” tells people that “death is not the end, only the beginning” and is advertised one who “saves souls.” And so we cry out, “Lord, how long?” “Why haven’t you returned yet?”
Mockers openly scoff at the promise of Christ’s return, but we who believe in Jesus can also be subject to wondering about the promise of His return. That is why Peter speaks to us again in verse 8 about the nature of God and through it seeks to encourage us to hold fast to His promised return. He will do this by teaching us three aspects about the Lord’s nature and character: 1) The Lord’s Time, 2) The Lord’s Forbearance, and 3) The Lord’s Desire.
The Lord’s Time – 2 Peter 3:8
The first thing Peter reminds us of is that the Lord’s time is not the same thing as our time. He says, (v 8) “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved,” Or literally, “do not let this be hidden from you, beloved.” What is it that he does not want hidden from us? It is the fact that the Lord’s relationship to time is radically different from our own. We are creatures of time. We come into being at a certain point in time. We live for a certain length of time. We will die at another point in time and then enter eternity. We can only go forward in time, and only at a constant rate. We cannot tell what the next point in time will bring until we have entered that point in time, but then it is too late to change what occurred in the moment of time just past. We are caged in by time. Time surrounds us and we cannot escape it. The Lord, however, is not bound by time. He existed prior to time, in fact, He created time. He will exist after time is done away with.
Peter describes the Lord’s relationship to time in this way in verse 8, “that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” This does not mean that one of the Lord’s day’s equals one thousand of our years as some have tried to do. Such a thought does not fit either the context of this passage or the context of Psalm 90:4 from which Peter’s statement was derived. Peter is simply showing the transcendent nature of God in relationship to time. The Lord can accomplish in one day what may seem like it should take a thousand years to accomplish. Or he may stretch something out so that it may take a thousand years for something to occur that we would like to have done in one day. Time is relative for the Lord, and He does things in His own timing.
In Psalm 90, Moses is speaking about the eternal nature of God as compared to the transitoriness of man. God is eternal while the life of a man on earth is fleeting. It is like a whisper of wind or a vapor that vanishes as it says in James 4:14. But God? Moses says, “before the mountains were born, Or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou are God . . .” For a thousand years in Thy sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:2,4).
The past, the present and the future all belong to God. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He knows eternity future from eternity past. In Isaiah 46:8-10, God says, “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” That sentence is just the point Peter wants us to conclude. Do not be dismayed or discouraged that the Lord has not returned yet. He will keep His promise in His timing, not our timing. The many fulfilled promises in the Old Testament are proof of this declaration God makes through the prophet Isaiah. We must rest assured that God remains the same today. God will establish His purpose and God will accomplish His will, even if from our perspective it seems that He is being slow. Which is what Peter addresses next.
The Lord’s Forbearance – 2 Peter 3:9
v 9. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you.” The Lord’s forbearance is for our benefit. We may not understand the Lord’s timing, but we better be very grateful for the Lord’s forbearance.
Even if we think the Lord is slow about fulfilling His promise, or that He is hesitating to act, Peter tells that in reality He is not. God is just being patient with men. The actual word here for patience
makroqumew / makrothumeô speaks of forbearance meaning, “to suffer long, to be patient when under provocation by people.” Peter is telling us that we should not think that God is slow about what He is doing. God is just being patient with you.
Have you ever really thought about how God’s patience is for your benefit? What if God patience of God were as that of man?
How patient are people with their children? We want them to do something, but they do it wrong, or worse, they disobey and therefore fail to do it at all. Do we get angry? Do we threaten them? Strike them? Maybe even mistreat them because of our own impatience with them? What if the Lord treated us like people treated their children?
How patient are you with husband or wife? Do you just expect them to do certain things and treat you certain ways automatically? What do you do if you do not get what you want? Do you get mad and threaten? Do you get verbally or maybe even physically abusive? Perhaps you pout and sulk with the old “poor me” syndrome? Or maybe you are a schemer that will manipulate your spouse to get what you want at their expense? Would you want God to treat you as you treat your spouse?
How patient are we with the people we work with? How do we treat the boss? How do we treat those under us? Are you friendly? Do you humbly suggest things or just make demands? Do you give respect to both those above you and below you in authority? Do you treat co-workers as real people, or are they just machines that have been hired to accomplish some task? What do you complain about at work? Would you like God to treat you like you treat your co-workers?
Do you realize that the only reason you even exist right now is because God has been patient with your parents and you? What if God immediately treated people according to what they deserve? God told Adam and Eve that if they broke His law and ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would surely die. They did disobey and they did die spiritually that day for the relationship they had with God was broken and they became separated from Him, but God was patient with the physical aspect of death allowing them to live a long time before they died physically. If they had physically died right after they sinned, there would be no mankind.
God says in Ezekiel 18:4 that “The soul who sins will die.” What if God carried out that just punishment as soon as you sinned? No one would make it out of childhood. We live only because the character of God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave [ the guilty] unpunished (Exodus 34:6,7).
But what happens when God is no longer willing to let the sinfulness of a man continue? The Scriptures record several instances when God, after much endurance, put an end to the blasphemy of men.
One dramatic example in the Old Testament is Korah in Numbers 16. Korah rebelled and challenged Moses’ authority to lead Israel. God did not take kindly to the disrespect of Korah toward Moses, the Lord’s servant. Numbers 16:31-35 describes what happened to him, “Then it came about as he finished speaking these words, that the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah, with their possessions, so they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and the perished from the midst of the assembly.” It goes on to say, “Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering incense.” These men were also part of Korah’s rebellion, and in this case God judged quickly.
This quick judgment also occurs in the New Testament. Acts 12:21-23 records what happened to Herod. “And on an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. And the people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.”
In reality, these examples and others such as Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, or Ananias & Saphira in Acts 5, only seem like they are quick judgments because we are so used to the patience of God. And God is patient. Even in the case of the flood of Noah, 1 Peter 3:20 says “when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark,” which may have taken 120 years. God was very patient even with those who were so wicked that “every intent of the thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually.”
How foolish then are atheists of our day who rail against God and mock Him by saying things such as, “If God exists, He should prove it. I challenge Him to prove it by striking me dead.” I heard a guy say that on the radio one time. How utterly stupid. Does he really think that his foolish mocking will wear out the patience of God? Yet at the same time, those same atheists should be careful, because God may just strike them dead as He did Korah and Herod and others to be examples to all the rest.
But the Lord’s desire is not to strike people dead. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. The Lord’s Desire is different.
The Lord’s Desire – 2 Peter 3:9
Peter says the Lord is, “not willing that any perish but for all to come to repentance (v 9).” The word “willing” or “wishing” here (boulomai / boulomai) means to ‘desire‘ to ‘intend‘ to ‘want.’ This speaks of God’s moral will, not His sovereign will. This is what God would like to happen, but He has allowed other factors to determine the outcome. God is not willing that people sin, yet because God has allowed people to choose against Him, they do sin. God does not desire for men to perish or to be destroyed in Hell. Hell was not created for man, but for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Yet, men in their sinful desires choose to go there rather than serve God. Part of the eternal destruction that occurs in Hell is being shut out from the presence of God (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Men and women go to Hell because they reject God and choose to go their own path, and all paths do not lead to heaven, they lead to Hell. Only the straight and narrow path of faith in Jesus Christ leads to heaven. God would like all people everywhere to come to repentance. In Acts 17:30 God declares that “all men everywhere should repent.” But God has allowed man to choose to do otherwise, and so man in his sinfulness does not repent, and the result is his damnation.
Every person who was ever came to faith in Christ did so because of God’s desire for them to repent. It is God’s love for us that gives us hope. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16,17).God does not want you to perish. He wants you to repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to repent? In simple terms it means to have a change of mind that results in a change of action. I change my mind about myself and my own righteousness so that I clearly understand my own sinfulness and need for a savior. I change my mind about Jesus Christ, His person and work to believe His claims to deity and sinlessness and that His death on the cross was sufficient to atone for my sins and make me righteous before God through faith in Him. I change my mind about trying to earn my way to heaven and instead cast myself upon God’s grace and mercy that come through Jesus Christ to trust in His promises of forgiveness and eternal life for all who place their faith in Him. In short, I change my mind about sin, self and the savior to believe God’s word and trust His promises.
Every true believer who is here today is a testimony to the Lord’s patience, for our very salvation depends on God’s forbearance with each of us. Romans 3:25 talks about our salvation which was purchased for us by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. It goes on to say, “This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.” God patiently put up with you even while you were provoking Him, and He loved you enough to send His son Jesus to die for you. “For God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).
God has been patient with you. He has been patient with me. Every day that He tarries from returning is due to His patience with sinful mankind that yet some more people will repent and turn to Jesus for salvation. But now the bigger questions remains. How have you responded to the Lord’s forbearance toward you? Do you take it for granted? Do you ignore it and try not to think about it? Or do you praise and thank him for it and resolve to be obedient to Him?
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, today is the day of salvation. Paul warns in Romans 2:4, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Don’t put it off any longer. Get your life right before Him today. You talk with me or any of our church leaders and we would be happy to show you from the scriptures how you can leave today forgiven of your sins and right with God.
If you already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then praise and thank Him for what He has done.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Write down all the verses mentioned. 2) Count how many times “patience” is mentioned. 3) Talk with your parents about God’s patience with you and your response to Him
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What anticipation of the future did you have while growing up? What anticipation of the future do you have presently? Have you ever been frustrated by having your desires for the future delayed or unfulfilled as the future unfolded? How did you deal with that frustration? Why is the human perspective so different from God’s perspective? Why is important for the Christian to have a godly perspective? How do the mockers of 2 Peter 3 differ from the false teachers of 2 Peter 2? How are they the similar? What promise of God do they mock? What is their premise and give at least two reasons it is false? What do they willingly ignore or forget? What are the major evidences for the global flood of Genesis 6-8? What evidences from the natural world support geologic catastrophism? What do the mockers hope to avoid in ignoring the evidence for the flood? Have you ever wondered why the Lord has already waited so long to return? What is man’s relationship to time? What is God’s relationship to time? How understanding does that give you to the delay in the Lord’s return? What does it mean that the Lord is patient? How is that attribute manifested? Give some examples of what happens when the Lord’s patience comes to an end? What would have happen ed to you if the Lord was not longsuffering? What is the Lord’s desire toward sinners? Why then do sinners perish instead of being saved? What is repentance? What is the evidence that someone has repented? What should be the proper response to the Lord’s kindness and forbearance? How have you responded to the Lord in view of how He has treated you? Why has the Lord’s delayed His return and why is that a blessing?
Sermon Notes – 1/31/2010
The Patience of God, 2 Peter 3:8-9
The longing for things to happen can be frustrating when the _________unfolds without their fulfillment
As followers of Jesus we must strive to view things from _______ perspective instead of our limited one
Mockers are already here and they follow their own __________ – 2 Peter 3:3
Their premise that all continues as it has from creation (2 Peter 3:4) is contradicted by _______& nature
They willfully ignore God’s past _____________ of mankind in the Genesis flood (2 Peter 3:5-6)
Genesis 6-8 describes the flood as _____& historical. It is confirmed by Isaiah, Hebrews, Peter & _____
The flood myths around the ________ attest to an event remembered by Noah descendants
The geologic & palenotologic evidence ________ catastrophism on a scale unknown in the world today
__________ sedimentary formations such as the Colorado and Tibetan Plateaus
_______Deposition: The flat, smooth boundary layers between the rock formations in the Grand Canyon
Quick Deposition: Polystrate fossilized ___________
_____________ graveyards around the world – both buried in place and water sorted & deposited
“Misplaced” geologic formations – fossils found in the “___________ ” order
Mockers ________ignore the evidence because they want to ignore God’s future judgment (2 Peter 3:7)
Waiting for His Return
The long period of time since the Lord’s promise to return leads to ___________about how much longer
The condition of the world declines while _________ increases. Lord, why haven’t you returned yet?
The Lord’s Time – 2 Peter 3:8
The Lord’s relationship to __________ is radically different from our own
We are caged in by ___________ for it surrounds us and we cannot escape
_________ is transcendent to time, cf. Psalm 90:4
Psalm 90:2 – God is everlasting to everlasting – existing before and after __________
Isaiah 46:8-10 – God knows and declares the _________ from the beginning
Do not be dismayed or discouraged the Lord has not returned yet, He will do so in ______________
The Lord’s Forbearance – 2 Peter 3:9
The Lord’s patience is for our ______________
makroqumevw / makrothumeô = “to suffer long, to be ___________ when under provocation by people”
Be ___________ that God’s patience with us is not like that of man
If God immediately treated people according to what they deserve none of us would __________
Exodus 34:6,7 – The _____________ of God
Numbers 16:31-35 – __________ Rebellion
Acts 12:21-23 – God’s judgment on King _____________
Cases such as Nadab & Abihu or Ananias & Saphira seem quick because we assume God’s __________
The Lord’s Desire – 2 Peter 3:9
bouvlomai / boulomai refers to desire, intent, want – God’s ____________ will, not His sovereign will
Men out of their sinful desires _____________ the broad path to Hell rather than serve the living God
God’s desire is that all men ____________ – Acts 17:30
Repentance is a ___________ of mind that results in a change of action
I change my mind about sin, self and the savior to ___________ God’s word and trust His promises
Paul’s ____________ to us – Romans 2:4
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