Sunday 6 December 2020

                                                     2 Peter 3 v.3/14

Advent is the time the Church prepares to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; it is also to remember and prepare for His promised return to earth in glory. Whilst there is readiness to speak about the first coming, the second coming is often avoided. This is told in the gospels and by Peter and Paul in their Letters, and this morning we are looking at

Peter’s 2nd Letter in chapter 3 reading verses 3/14.

     The Bible states, during the ‘last days’ there will be a time when scoffers will be present who will mock God, saying he is dead, we can’t find him anywhere, and they will scoff at any talk of judgment or the return of our Lord’ When the Bible mentions last days, as it does numerous times, it is referring to the days between the day of 

Pentecost and the time of our Lord’s return.

     Many Bible scholars think we are in that period now, and they may well be right. The Bible lists terrible events which will come before the final end, and whilst these have in some way been seemingly applicable to past years, they seem to be most applicable now. When we look carefully at them we can claim they are very much relating to our time.

     By the word ‘scoff’, it is meant treating with contempt and the number of scoffers, and the intensity of their scoffing, will increase in the last days.  It is suggested that the reason for this is because they walk after their own lusts; in other words, they follow their own evil desires.

     Such scoffing was also being done by false teachers who had infiltrated the Church even then, and they wanted to please the people of the day. When biblical Christianity didn’t fit in with their preferences they thought Christianity should change. Often people express doubt due to moral overtones, in that they don’t want the constraints of true Christianity

     We have many scoffers today who do not believe that Jesus Christ is coming back again. The Bible distinctly declares that Christ is coming back again, that His kingdom will be established, and that the prayer which our Lord prayed will be answered some day.

     They reckoned that God was asleep as things had been the same since the world was created and God had not shown His presence.  They forgot that it was God who commanded the heavens to be brought forth, earth from the waters, and was One who kept His Word.

     They forgot too that God at one time was disgusted by people in the world and destroyed it by means of the flood. He also indicated that a time will come when the heavens and earth will be destroyed again, but not by water but by fire.

     Jesus said, ‘as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be when the Son of Man comes back’.  If you read the story of Noah in Genesis you will find it was a time when people began to travel; knowledge was increasing; people began to develop weapons and musical instruments; and there was an emphasis on sex.  And Jesus said when such things happened of that nature in the future the end would be near.

     Think of the amount of travelling we do now by land, sea and air.  People holiday all across the world whereas once Blackpool was a long way off.  Bible literacy is at an all time low and immorality at an all time high. Sex is used to advertise and sell almost all products on television.

     It was also a time of violence and lawlessness.  Look at the terrifying events and occurrences that are happening in the world today; the threat of nuclear war by the psychopathic leader in North Korea, who wants to take on the mighty United States; the seekers of world domination in Iran.  The acts of terrorism which arte proliferating in Western nations by people who have chosen to live here.

     As in the days of |Noah, people in this country have fallen away from true faith.  The Bible states people will not wish to listen to sound doctrine and will seek churches where they will hear what they want to hear, and this is truly happening.

     God recognised Noah as a man of faith who could be trusted.  He told him to go into the desert and build a huge boat and Noah trusted God.  You can imagine the humour this must have caused a man building a big boat in the middle of the desert, all because He believed God wanted him to do so.  If that was today you would have every television crew in the world going off to film the event.

     The bible consistently promises Jesus Christ will come back to earth, but this time He will not like the first time, a little baby born in poor surroundings, He will come as King of Kings and Lord of Lords in triumph to judge, and we will all have to answer and account to Him for how we lived in response to His teaching.  When He does come there will be no notice. He will just appear like a thief in the night.

     Peter said do not forget for the Lord a day is like a thousand years. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, He was not forgetting or being indifferent as He is long suffering and still giving people the chance to repent and accept Jesus as Lord so they will not perish, He does not want anyone to be unsaved.

     People say I can’t believe God would send anyone to hell, and that is right, but people make their own choice by ignoring His call.

     Verse 11 states, since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  Peter calls on all God’s people to live holy and Godly lives and avoid sinning until the day of the Lord comes.  Peter calls on Christians to be holy in conduct and godliness, and to make every effort, to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with God. Live in a way which if you met the Lord now, you would not feel ashamed.

     Having studied the words of Scripture together with their meaning, we have to consider how they relate to us in our lives.

     Jesus gave commands to His Apostles and told them to teach all He commanded; we have this laid out for us in the New Testament, and anyone who acts in a manner which is conflict with such teaching is offending the Lord Himself.   Holiness is God’s activity, and we have to respond.

     Recently I was told by a young lady who I would have thought to be highly intelligent and of sound mind, that people should see the Bible as a valueless book from 2000 years ago.  I was shocked as I thought if this was typical of the younger generation, we need earnestly pray and say God help us.

     The reliability of the Bible is beyond question and been attested by eminent writers of the day and has many of its prophecies fulfilled, and we some now taking place.

     In recent years we have seen biblical prophecy fulfilled by the return of the Jews to their homeland 70 years ago; the establishment of the Jewish States 50 years ago; the reclaiming of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

     There are good grounds for God to judge the sinful world now.  The Islamic faith is challenging the Western world, and whilst there is too much violent aggression in the process, we have to admit sadly and shamefully that there is generally a more ethical and moral basis in their faith than many Christians have.

     They saw millions and millions of abortions in America, with a President Obama, who gave millions of dollars to an abortion clinic in America, where there was evidence suggested of very improper dealings; and in other Western nations abortion has become alternative form contraception.  Nuns were forced to act against their consciences and belief, and he tried to export his policies across the world.

     They see drugs; the obsession with illicit sex; same sex (so called) marriage; the pornography and smut; the breakup of homes; young people smashing and looting and rioting; and they don’t want it in their countries. 

     Mankind is in rebellion against God. Our very natures have been twisted and perverted by sin, but most of our leaders are deliberately ignoring the wrath of God hanging over us. Biblical literacy is at an all-time low, and immorality at an all-time high; that suggests there is some co-relation.

    We have now seen a setback in America, where a President showing and supporting Christian beliefs and faith, has been replaced in very dubious circumstances by the man who was Vice President under President Obama, and already before in Office has intimated he will support much of what he then did so, and which was morally offensive.    

     In the face of considerable opposition, our churches have remained silent on all the moral issues, terrified of offending people who do not and never will have any concern for us. The Church of England, which as the established Church, should be giving a lead and speaking out against the abandonment of all absolutes, has in some cases joined in and embraced ways of life specifically opposed by the Bible.

     The Archbishop of Canterbury once revealed he would have difficulty describing sin! When asked if he thought ‘gay sex’ was a sin he is quoted as saying he was unable to answer.  This was quite inexcusable. Sin can be simply defined as being anything which offends God’s Word, as has been written down for us in the Bible. Surely this is as easy and basic for anyone to answer.

     I am reminded when I read that, of the difference when pastor in the United States, who when asked to give an opinion to the very same question, replied, ‘I am not here as a pastor to give an opinion, I am here to tell what the Bible says and if the Bible says it is wrong then I say it is wrong, but it doesn’t mean I love you less’.

     I am told people want to hear happy sermons to make them feel better; of clergy who take lessons on how to tell jokes in sermons; if they want to be comedians they should go for a stage career instead.   Jesus was never afraid to speak without fear or favour, and had two effects on people; He either saved them or turned them away

     We allow our bible to be mocked; our speech to be restricted; Christians made to act against their conscience, all of which are not enforced on other faiths

     Jesus said we need to be prepared, ‘prepare to meet your God’.  We do this by being certain we have accepted that Jesus died for our forgiveness, and we received Him as Saviour.  There are so many people who sincerely believe if they have been honest, kind and helpful to others they have accomplished all that is needed for a heavenly passport

     But preachers are not commissioned to say soothing words and tell people just what they want to hear, we are to tell what they need to hear for their salvation. This means we accept Christ by faith and believe, and we live a disciplined life under the guidance of His teaching

     I pray that under the Lord’s guidance you will always hear sound biblical doctrine, but from much experience I have doubts this will always be the case.

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