2017 New Year’s Message
LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY OF GOD
2 Peter 3:1-18
Key Verse 3:11b-12a
“You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward
to the day of God and speed its coming.”
Happy new year! God blessed the year 2016 with the completion of our new church building and raising 20 vision team. It will be remembered as a historical year. The new year 2017 has dawned today like the rising sun. This is the year of rooster in Chinese zodiac. I like a rooster because it reminds of the dawn of the day. This year let’s dream big because there is no hope without dream. Then we can expect a bright future because we have a living hope in Jesus. Everything that has a beginning will have an ending. The sun rises in the morning and the same sun sets in the evening. The Scripture reveals that there was the beginning of the world in Genesis and there will be the ending of the world in Revelation. I have bad news and good news today. The basic theme of Peter’s letter is the Day of the Lord. Apostle Peter encourages all Christians to look forward to the day of God as we live like a Last Days Christian. How should we live as Christians who are waiting for the second coming of Jesus? What should be our life goal? We ought to live holy and godly lives in the midst of unbelieving influence of this corrupted generation. I pray that God may give us a clear key verse in 2017. May God bless us to be strong and courageous to proclaim the gospel message of Jesus to all nations including UMCP students!
PART 1 THE PROMISE OF THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS (1-10)
In this part Apostle Peter refuted all scoffers who did not believe the second coming of Jesus and reaffirmed the promise of the second coming of Jesus.
Look at verses 1-2. “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.” Apostle Peter mentioned about the coming of Jesus in his first Epistle. In his second Epistle it is only needed to remind and recall them again. We are very forgettable. So we have to be reminded again and again. The purpose of his reminder was to stimulate them to wholesome thinking. Here the word ‘wholesome” is “pure” or “sincere.” Here we learn that wholesome thinking stems from a pure mind. Our mind can be corrupted and influenced by the corrupted way of this world. In the age of information overflow we can be influenced by the unwholesome thinking. These days everything is permissible in the name of diversity and religious plurality. It is important to maintain pure mind to have wholesome thinking in this confusing spiritual environment. Apostle Paul emphasized the power of pure thought in Phil. 4:8, “whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” When we have pure heart, we can think right and hold on the truth of God in spite of temptations and persecutions. How did Peter prove the certainty of the second coming of Jesus? He supports the second coming of Jesus in three ways. The OT prophets, the commands of Jesus, and the apostles confirmed the second coming of Jesus. Jesus discoursed with his disciples about the end of the age in Matthew 24. Jesus promised that he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matt. 24:13) Acts 1:11 says, “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Jesus will touch down in the same place when he comes back again. His second advent is Biblical truth which is the foundation of Christian hope. Without this hope Christian faith collapses.
But there were scoffers who denied the coming of Jesus. They infiltrated in the church and spread the bad news that Jesus would not come back. Then what was the message of scoffers. Look at verses 3-4. “Above all, you must understand that in the Last Days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” The presence of the scoffers indicated the last day of the world. The alarming truth is that the scoffers are not outsiders but insiders. Their point is that we waited for his coming for a long time. But where is his coming? All things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. The scoffers based their message on the notion that things have always been the way they are right now and that God has not and will not do anything new in his plan for creation. Life continues as if always has. New year comes and goes as usual. Presidential election comes every four years and repeats again and again. Nothing is new under heaven. The return of Christ will never happen. Therefore, let’s enjoy life as long as it is possible because Christ will not return. We will not be countable for our actions. We can have a free life style following our evil desires. Let’s eat and drink because there is no future. They are earth-bound secular Christians who do not have a living hope. They do not have the resurrection hope the redemption of their bodies. They only invite the wrath of God because of their perversion. We should not follow our evil desires but follow the Spirit of God to inherit the eternal life in the coming kingdom of God in 2017. We should not listen to the scoffers but follow the truth of God by 1 to1 Bible studies and prayer life.
What is the error of scoffers? Look at verses 5-7. “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and the earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” The scoffers were wrong because God judged the world when it was filled with marriage compromise, violence, and corruption. God poured out his wrath on the earth in the days of Noah. As water was involved in the creation of the world, so it played the major role in the earth’s destruction in the time of Noah. God created the world by his word and he destroyed the world due to sin by his word. God has power to create and destroy. The same word that created all things, and judged the world in the flood will one day bring a judgment of fire upon the earth. The Flood Judgment was universal. The evidence is that fish bones were found in the mountains and there are salt mountains. Since God promised Noah not to judge the world by water again, he will judge the world by fire. God spoke and the earth came into being. God speaks again and the universe is reserved for fire. The scoffers forgot the word of God willfully. The earth is not stable since the creation. The earth is getting old and we need new earth. There are earthquakes and typhoons and hurricanes and the global warmings. There will be three signs of the end of the world-violence, corruption, and marriage meltdown. Look at the violence worldwide, corruption of the politicians. Two women presidents were impeached due to the corruption charges. Marriage definition was changed and government promotes such marriages. The world is no longer safe place to live. There are many sings of the end of the world. There are 20,500 nuclear weapons on earth today and there are enough to destroy the total earth. North Korea a rogue nation is threatening to blow up the world with nuclear weapons. The next judgment will come in the form of fire. Since the universe will be destroyed by fire, God’s people must store up treasures in heaven not on earth. We must not put our hope in the perishing world or temporary pleasures of the world. We must put our hope in the second coming of Jesus.
What is God’s time schedule? Look at verses 8-10. “But do not forget this one, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years; and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, a some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” God is not delaying the coming of Christ but his time measure is different than ours. Whatever seems like a thousand years is but a day for God. God is eternal and his time clock is long time. Since the ascension of Christ to heaven, only two days passed. God is not slow in delivering his promise but he wants to save more people for his kingdom and gives all mankind to repent so that they may inherit the kingdom of God as his children. This passage shows God’s heart of love for the world. The reason why Jesus’ return isn’t sooner is so that any may not perish but have eternal life. We see God’s longsuffering patience for all fallen men.
Look at verse 10. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” God in his mercy and grace has postponed for the day of his return in order that men may have as much time as possible to repent and believe. However, God did not change his mind about the coming of the Lord. The day of the Lord will come without fail. How? The day of the Lord will come like a thief. He will come suddenly without warning. When men least expect it, suddenly he will return and the day of salvation will be over quickly. No thief will notify for his coming time and so we must be ready for the coming of the Lord withy watchfulness. The day of the Lord will bring an enormous fire and the earth will be melt down completely. The disaster will be cosmic by nature and is beyond description. We all marvel at the volcanic power that erupts and covers the whole mountain in ashes. What will it be like when the entire universe explodes into a fiery furnace! We do not know how the world will end but one thing is certain is that as God brought upon the world a judgement by water so in the last days he will bring about a judgment by fire. But God is faithful to carry out his promise. God never broke his promise. Jesus will come with the trumpet sound and the dead in Christ will rise first and the living Christians will meet him and all other risen Christians in the air. The return of Christ is good news for all believers but bad news for all unbelievers.
PART II YOU OUGHT LIVE HOLY AND GODLY LIVES (11-18)
In the first part Apostle Peter convinced us that the promise of the second coming of Jesus is certain and there will be the end of this world and there will be new heavens and a new earth. Here Peter asks us a rhetorical question, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” (11a) He answered his own question in 11b-12a. “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” We should stop sinful life. We ought to live holy and godly lives. We should have a holy and godly living in anticipation of a new created order. We should not live like pagans running after the pleasures of this world but live a life worthy of God’s grace. Look at verse 13. “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteous dwells.” We should live our lives seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness-having holy conduct and godliness. The kingdom of God is the dwelling place of the righteous. We have to be right with God in order to dwell in the new heaven and new earth. We should invest our lives for eternal life. Revelation 21:1-4 described a new heaven and a new earth in this way, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” God prepared for a new heaven and a new earth for all who live by faith in Jesus. There will be no death, no sorrow, no sin, no temptation, no Satan, and no more debt. We will praise God and live in love and peace.
What does it mean to live holy and godly lives? It is “do nothing” life. No. First, we have to be active in our spiritual life. Best offense is best defense. In the football games offense scores and brings victory. As long as our team has ball all the time, the other team has no chance to score. If we are occupied with the word of God and work for the gospel, there is no time to sin. Idle hands invite sin. We need to keep watch and pray because we are tempted every day via Smartphones, Internet, Face Book, Tweeters, MSN, and KakaoTalk. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I pray that someone may not be you. For example, Daniel was POW to Babylon. But he made resolution not to defile himself with wine and refused to bow down to the statue. God blessed him to reveal his plan of the coming of Jesus. We have to be on our guard so that we may not fall from our secure position. Jesus said in Mark 14:38, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” We need to watch and pray constantly not to be carried away by the error of the lawless and not to fall from secure position. Nobody is free from temptation. Apostle Peter was confident in following Jesus. But he did not pray. The devil tempted him to deny Jesus. He denied Jesus three times and he made a bitter cry after the rooster crowed three times. Peter was changed after meeting the Risen Jesus and confessed love by saying, “You know that I love you.” (John 21:15) Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” What was Peter’s relational language? “I love you.” Peter became a powerful witness of Jesus and three thousand people were converted at his address in Acts 2. Daniel and Peter were active in God. We must be action in our prayers. God blessed our 5;30 AM prayers to answer all our prayers and protect us from falling into temptations. We can overcome laziness and become diligent in feeding sheep and sharing the gospel of Jesus with others.
Second, we need to have a living hope. As long as we have hope, we can overcome hardship and persecution. Peter encouraged all scattered Christians exiled in the foreign land to flee from persecutions from Roman Empire to have a living hope not a dead hope in this world in 1 Peter 1:3-4. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” Wow! We have eternal inheritance kept in heaven. Our earthy inheritance will be gone someday but our spiritual inheritance will be forever. Abraham in Genesis lived in a tent as a stranger because he was looking forward to the city of God whose architect and builder is God. Jesus gave the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. A certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He planned to expand his bans store his crops and go Bahama cruise and visit Grand Canyon. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” This is a true story to most of people. They work hard to invest things in the world but in the end they return to the grave empty-handed. Their life is meaningless and meaningless as King Solomon lamented. Therefore, we have to live for the kingdom of God by believing in Jesus.
Third, we have to be spotless and blameless. Look at verse 14. “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” It is easy to compromise to follow our sinful desires when we are surrounded by sinful environment. Zechariah and Elizabeth were blameless in the sight of God and God found them and used them to become the instrument of God as the parent of John the Baptist. Once again Peter admonished his readers to have spotless and blameless lives. God’s people are to be spotless and blameless in this corrupt generation.
In conclusion, we live in perverse and corrupt generation. How can we have a victorious Christian life? First, we need to mediate the word of God. Romans 12;2 says, “Do not conform to the patter of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” How can we not follow the pattern of this world? We have to renew our mind daily by the word of God. It is important to do daily bread daily not to follow the popular idea of the world. Matthew 4:4 says, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” God’s word is the key to have a holy and godly life. Second, we have to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Look at verse 18. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” We have to be gracious toward other fellow Christians and we have to stay in our deep grace of our Lord Jesus. We have to remember that we are saved by God’s grace. We can never grow apart from the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus. By the grace of God, we grow spiritually. We also must grow in our personal relationship with Jesus. This means knowing Jesus in a personal relationship. In the new year I pray that we all may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus.
May God bless you and give you a great year 2017!
Let’s read the key verse 3:11b-12a. “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”