2 Peter 3:9 | There is not Much Time Left

Life is hard. Anxiety levels are high. All in the middle of this is a world-wide lockdown because of COVID. Personal circumstances vary but in general life is difficult for those without money and for those with money. For Christians many see the society crumbling due to sin and they hope and pray for Jesus to return. The Bible has promised that Jesus will return and take those who are called by his name out of this world. This world is temporary and all the power and control that people fight over is temporary.

11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. Revelation 3:11 ESV

Since the very beginning of the Christian church the faithful have been waiting for Christ to return. Yet here we are 2000 years and going with no second coming. So, then what is going on? Where is Jesus? Why is God letting war, disease, sin, and death continue on with end?

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. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

The answer to those questions is wrapped up in the gospel of Jesus. God has a plan that he implemented at the beginning of creation and one major step in that plan leads to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh. We are on the completed side of that milestone. Jesus died to save sinners and we are all sinners. In God’s plan we have yet to reach the milestone of Jesus returning and like little kids going on a trip we keep asking “are we there yet”? God is not there yet and that is what I mean by these questions are wrapped up in the gospel of Jesus.

Why has Jesus not returned? Because when Jesus returns the grace, mercy, and chance to repent and become children of God is over. God it taking his time at his own pace because he is giving everyone on this planet a chance. The opportunity is now to accept Jesus Christ as savior.

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5 ESV

Spirit here is the Holy Spirit of God. Unless the Holy Spirit of God comes to rest in your heart and unless the Holy Spirit of God marks you as a child of God when Jesus returns you will perish. Now is the time of grace and mercy. Now is the time to decide to submit to God or to submit to self. The choice is yours. Humble yourself before God and ask for Christ’s saving mercy to invade your life. If you don’t then when Jesus does return it will be too late.

44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44 ESV

2 Peter 2:1 | Selfish Evil Teachers

How do I as a Christian know that I am following what Jesus actually taught and how do I know if I am listening to people God himself has raised up as guides and teachers? How do I avoid charlatans and selfish people who are in the church for their own personal gain? There are so many churches and so many people trying to claim they have the truth of God. Maybe the they are right and maybe they are wrong. The Bible speaks of false teachers as an ongoing existing problem right now.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 2:1 ESV

So how do you know if the teachers you follow are legit? The answer is not for me to name names but to highlight what every believer should be looking for when they operate in the orbit of a church and the people in that church.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-16 ESV

The fruits of the Spirit (God’s Spirit within us who are saved) are well known like love, joy, kindness but what we never talk about are the fruits of the flesh that Jesus is talking about when he tells us that we will know the false teachers by their fruits.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Peter when he issued his warning to the church about false teachers goes on to describe the fruit or the results of the evil we will find from false teachers. Below are the key things one should look for.

And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. 2 Peter 2:3 ESV

Greed: It always comes down to money, power, and lust. People who don’t trust God to provide are always looking for more. Are the people you follow trying to accumulate stuff, money, and power under the guise that they can help more people if they have more stuff?

those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. 2 Peter 2:10 ESV

Lust and rejection of authority: God’s authority and laws constrain our passions to keep them from becoming a snare and the laws help us limit the destructive sin in our lives. Do the leaders and teachers you follow put controls and accountability in place to constrain the sin we are predisposed to follow? Or do they operate above the rules and above any kind of accountability?

For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 2 Peter 2:18 ESV

Boasts of Folly: Greedy people consumed by the passions of this world need others to provide for them and serve them. What better way than to boast of what they will do. The more outlandish and better. And people who are unstable in their footing want to be part of something larger but they overlook that they are part of God’s family and there is nothing larger than that. If the people you follow are always looking to grow their social media image and reach with outlandish big ideas then you may want to pause and evaluate that message a little more closely.

It can be hard to see some of these worldly passions in false teachers when on the outside looking in because they are liars and frauds by nature but for those close to the person these unholy fruits will be seen. Test everyone and ask God for wisdom. Ask God to direct you to people who have a heart for Him.

2 Peter 1:5 | Stronger Faith for the Walk Ahead

Do you want to strengthen the faith that you have from Jesus Christ? Do you want to take your Christian walk with God to a new level? Do you want to build on the faith that saved you from yourself? Then keep reading. But before we get there some readers may need faith defined. The faith I am talking about here is the faith that separates the Christian from everyone else. It is through faith, trust in God, that one comes before God to worship. Faith is the first step to a relationship with the Creator God.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible… 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  Hebrews 11:1-3; 6 ESV

Faith in Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross is what saves. Faith is what draws one into a relationship with God. For those of us who are saved it is time to start the journey or continue the journey of growing into the knowledge and understanding of what Jesus has done and what that means for the church and each individual.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV

Peter writes that we need to supplement our faith with layers of ever-increasing virtues, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.  Before I define these spiritual attributes let us take a moment to dwell on the what the ESV version of the Bible translates as supplement and the old Wycliff version translates as minister. The Greek ἐπιχορηγέω (epichorēgeō) means to nourish and give aid. So, Peter is in effect saying the following things will give support, nourishment, and growth to the saving faith that you already have. So, grow in faith and become stronger and more useful as Christian.

Virtue: Set your mind to moral and modest thoughts. The world thinks only of lust and selfishness.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence [virtue], if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV

Knowledge: More fully understand who God is and what he is about in the work of Jesus Christ.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God … 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 6 ESV

Self-Control: Restrain your lustful physical passions. Unlike the world that tells us to do whatever feels good.

24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as [Paul] reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” Acts 25:24-25 ESV

Steadfastness: Patient endurance to continue on down the narrow road.

25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience [steadfastness]. Romans 8:25 ESV

Godliness: Humble reverence for God and the work of Christ. Be set apart from the ways of the world.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly [godliness] and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV

Brotherly Affection: Real kindness and caring for other Christians as one would love a brother or sister.

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 ESV

Love: God is love. The world gives love of the lustful self-seeking kind.

3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 ESV

Dear reader dwell on these supporting attributes that provide growth and nourishment to faith. By growing in these and practicing these things in loving reverence to God then he will grow your faith and take you on a journey to places you never imagined.