2 Peter 1:1-13
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, (2) that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, (3) knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. (4) They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (5) For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, (6) and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. (7) But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (8) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (9) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (11) Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, (12) waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (13) But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
TRUTH IN FOCUS
Though scoffers mock and ridicule the truth of our Lord’s coming judgment, God’s people trust in the promise that one day, God will finally judge the wicked and dwell with His children eternally. This place, a new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells, will serve as the eternal home of God’s redeemed children.
Peter writes as a pastor who truly loves Christ’s church, warning them not only of false professors, but also of scoffers who will question the reliability of the Word of God. The tragic end awaits the scoffer. The very Word they seek to disparage will one day sit in judgment on them as God pours out His unmitigated wrath both on them and on the fallen creation around them. Peter prepares and equips the church for the coming onslaught of scoffers and skeptics, reassuring God’s people by reminding them that God’s will unfolds on His own schedule in accordance with His own will and counsel. God will one day move to destroy and recreate the heavens and the earth. But He will do so in His own good time.
The scoffers silenced, Peter writes yet another blessed promise from God to His people: God is patient toward us! He is unwilling that any of us, His chosen ones, His redeemed children, should perish, but that all of us come to repentance! This precious promise is a major part of the bedrock for Christian assurance in the Gospel: Salvation is the work of God in Christ on behalf of the elect. So it is that the patience of God toward the elect works for their good. But the tarrying of God as it pertains to the reprobate scoffer serves no other purpose but to store up divine wrath for the coming day of destruction.
Once our Lord judges the living and the dead, we are told of a place, a glorious place, rising from the ashes of God’s fiery wrath. This new home is described by Peter as “a place where righteousness dwells.” With the scoffer silenced, the wicked judged, and sin destroyed, the fellowship between God and His people will be a perfect union in a re-created home. Beloved, “eyes have not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the joys the Father has prepared for those who love Him!”
I. THE QUESTION OF THE SCOFFER (v.1-4)
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, (2) that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, (3) knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. (4) They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
A. “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you” – Peter refers to the First Epistle he penned to the same churches.
B. “I am stirring yo your sincere mind by way of reminder” – Notice the difference between the scoffer and the true believer. Christians have a “sincere mind” signifying a teachable attitude and genuine desire to learn from God. In Paul’s First Letter to Timothy 1:5 we can see the same language of sincerity used to describe the genuine Christian faith. Paul writes, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
In John’s first epistle, we see the important difference between the sincere Christian and the haughty scoffer:
1 John 4:6 “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
The scoffer does not ask questions in the pursuit of knowledge. Their game is to attack, to malign, to tear down. As John wrote, they do “not listen to us,” choosing rather to follow the “spirit of error.”
C. “the predictions of the holy prophets” – Acts records the Apostle Peter preaching on this very topic. The Acts of the Apostles records Peter preaching concerning the Messianic fulfillment of Christ:
Acts 10:43 – “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Again, the scoffer will deny Christ. Yet, to the Christian, the truths of God’s Word will feed the soul and sustain them through good and bad times.
D. “the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles“ – The Word delivered by the prophets of old is reliable, attested by the arrival of the Son of God. They prophesied the arrival of Christ, and in the fulness of time, Christ fleshed out their prophecy! Christians are called to believe what the prophets of old recorded as well as the Gospel of Christ (the fulfillment of the Law in Christ by His righteousness imputed unto His children).
Peter calls the church to stay close to the Word of God. Is this not our only defense against the schemes of the enemy? Christ Himself taught us, even while enduring the temptation of Satan, that “man shall not live by bread, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4)!
E. “that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing” – Scoffers, worshiping their own lusts, will attempt to put Christ to the test. Peter warns that scoffers will actively attempt to mock the Lord and His Gospel.
Robert Hawker illustrates the scoffer in this way: “Scufflers are very awful characters. And nothing can more pointedly manifest the bitterness of the heart. The scoffing of men is, in human nature, in correspondence to the hissing of the serpent in his. The devil is the author of both.”
F. “Where is the promise of his coming?” – Just as the serpent questioned God’s Word as he tempted Eve, so too does the scoffer go about questioning the veracity of God’s Holy Word. The scoffers worship their own lusts, they glory in their belly.
The scoffer contends Christ’s coming should have already occurred because they had heard about it for years. Yet “all things continue the same since the beginning of creation.” Because God’s time line is inconvenient for the scoffer, he dares to conclude that Christ will never return, calling into question the entirety of the Christian faith.
The scoffer denies Scripture’s witness (both Old and New Testaments) while accusing the God of heaven and earth of having lied to mankind.
II. THE REBUKE OF THE SCOFFER (v.5-8)
(5) For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, (6) and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. (7) But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (8) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
A. “They deliberately overlook this fact…” – Peter accuses the scoffer of having selective memory! Deliberately, the scoffer overlooks the fact that God is the Sovereign ruler of the universe, creating the earth by the power of His own Word.
The scoffer needs to be reminded that God is the sovereign creator, wielding complete authority and control over the elements He Himself spoke into existence. The scoffer arrogantly rails against God while living, moving, and having being because of God! In fact, the very world in which both scoffer and saint reside is a world He once destroyed by water!
Since God destroyed the world once before, what other reason than mere wickedness would cause a scoffer to deny God’s promise to destroy the world again?
Who is the clay to speak back to the Potter? To the scoffer, Peter says, “know your place!”
B. “that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – Using words which at the same time comfort the Elect and shame the reprobate, Peter reminds everyone that God’s divine timing is His to know. Earthly time frames do not factor into the Eternal now of God, who transcends time, space, and every created reality.
Christians can find comfort in this truth because the infinitely incomprehensible God, having all power to do that which He pleases, is pleased to promise and deliver redemption to a people He has chosen from the beginning to love! This God, the only God of Heaven and Earth, has set His love on His people. Who among creation could possibly thwart His plans pertaining to us?
To the scoffer, the infinitude of God and His divinely decreed plan is contrasted with the temporal, sinful, whimpers of a rebelliously fallen creation. Peter intends to shut the mouths of the scoffers as they have absolutely no standing before a Holy God. That God permits them to live is a testimony of His power to put their feet in slippery places, saving them only for an even greater fall at a point in time of God’s own choosing.
III. THE COMFORT TO GOD’S PEOPLE (v. 9-13)
(9) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (11) Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, (12) waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (13) But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
A. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise …” – With the scoffers put in their place and the church given the correct tools to combat the foolish error of the accusers, Peter turns His full attention to the comfort of God’s people!
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation! God’s people have a right to the comfort such a powerful Gospel affords! God demands that His people be comforted in the good news of Christ and His Gospel fulfillment of all righteousness!
Earlier, we spoke about the prophets of old. Consider this wondrous passage from Isaiah 40:1-2:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (2) Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
O beloved, the Lord is not slack concerning His promise! We have pardon of our sins in, by, and through the finished work of Christ Jesus!
B. “but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” – How many times have you heard this verse quoted out of context as proof that God is somehow patiently waiting for all, every man, woman, boy, and girl, to make a free will decision for Christ and come to repentance?
Consider the actual verse with me for a moment. God is patient. But with whom is he patient? What does the text actually teach us? In the King James Verson, the text reads “He is patient to us-ward.” In the ESV, the text reads “He is patient “toward you.” Beloved, God is patient with His people, the same people He predestined before the foundation of the world!
God does not wait idly by hoping against hope that reprobates will somehow birth in themselves a new creation, choose God, and permit the Lord to justify them! What foolishness! This kind of teaching rises to the same heretical level as that of the Christ-denying scoffers which Peter addresses in our Scripture lesson!
Believers, God is patient with you! He is patient for the sake of those who have yet to be drawn in time by the Spirit working in the preaching of the Gospel. He is not willing that any of His elect children should perish –— So NONE OF THEM WILL PERISH! Praise God!
All of God’s people, though pressed down and abused in this world by scoffers, mockers, corrupt rulers, and every other dark force, will be preserved by His power for Christ’s sake. Christ will “lose none but raise them up on the last day!”
C. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness?” – Christians have absolute reason to believe that this world is soon to pass away. God has promised to destroy this reality by fire, re-creating it as He ushers in the eternal state of fellowship between God and redeemed, glorified man.
It must be stated emphatically that neither holiness and godliness are the result of our human effort or works! Much to the contrary, holiness and godliness are the gifts granted freely by God through Christ in salvation! We are are made holy and godly in, by, and through the imputed merits of Christ that we may offer acceptable works to God by faith!
Robert Hawker- “The Apostle knew the certainty of the ground on which he stood. He had already passed from death unto life. He had gone under the sentence of God’s holy law, which he had broken. He had found redemption in the blood of the cross, and stood perfectly, freely, and fully justified in the righteousness of Christ, his Head and Surety.”
In light of this gift of holiness and godliness, the Christian should seek those things which are above, which moth and rust cannot corrupt. Our heart’s desire should be to please God in our daily manner of life. The holy God of heaven has made eternal provision for His people! As assured faith works by love, let our hearts long for the “city whose builder and maker is God.” The things, the cares, the worries, in this old world should, as the hymn writer penned, “grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!” Christians should live like pilgrims on a journey toward glory! God help us to cultivate this characteristic of living!
D. “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” – Anyone who believes salvation is dependent on their own performance of good works will never be in a place to honestly hope for the swift return of the Lord! How could they EVER be in a position to truly know whether or not they are prepared to meet God?
Only those who have Gospel-rooted assurance can pray such a prayer. Those who trust Christ alone for all salvation and assurance freely long for the great day of the Lord, knowing that God has put away their sin in Christ for all time! We have been made acceptable in the beloved! We are seated together in heavenly places! Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to them that believe! Praise God! Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!
Peter longed for the return of the Lord because he knew the great work of redemption was complete, not in His work, but in the cross work of Christ Jesus!
E. “But according to his promise we are waiting …” – Oh, beloved of the Lord, we anticipate the great coming of the Lord, not with fearful hearts, not with dread, but with hearts filled with confident joy! The “joy of the Lord is our strength!” We know that we will be found in Him, not having our own righteousness, but having Christ’s righteousness because He prepared the way at Calvary! Our assurance, our comfort, our joy in seeing that great day arrive is irrevocably bound to the promise of God in the finished work of Christ. Christ’s promises are true!
John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (2) In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
F. “for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” – Much like in the days of Noah, God will once again destroy this world and re-create it. We do not dare assume to know exactly how God will perform this awesome wonder. Suffice it to say, the secret things belong to the Lord.
But this we do know: God will grant to His elect children a new heaven and new earth, a place where righteousness dwells. Our new home will be perfect in every measurable way. Beloved, we will be with the Lord in eternal fellowship, forever and always.
What a comfort sent to us by God through the writing of the Apostle Peter! Abraham longed for this reality, trusting the promises of God. Christians throughout the ages have longed for this blessed hope! And one day, praise God, what we have seen as through a dimly shaded glass, we will see with glorified eyes!
To this we say, even so come quickly Lord!
For as long as their has been a Gospel to proclaim, there have been scoffers and hater of God’s Word with which to deal. On the day of Pentecost, Peter himself dealt handily with mockers who accused the faithful of being drunkards!
The scoffer, the so-called wise men of this age, will pass away as dross is scrapped away in a refiner’s fire. But, the Word of the Lord endures forever and for all generations! The scoffer denies the truth of God’s word at their own eternal peril.
Ah, but what is foolishness to those who are not ordained unto eternal life is blessing and comfort for the people of God! God’s promises are true! The Lord Christ is coming again with a new heaven and new earth in tow! We will fellowship and reign together with Him for all eternity in the bliss of a city wherein righteousness truly and fully dwells.
Lord, bless the preaching of your Word today for the sake of Christ the Lord – Amen.
Jason K. Boothe is Pastor at Horizons Baptist Church in Piketon, Ohio. For more information concerning the ministries of Horizons Baptist Church, please visit www.HorizonsBaptist.org