2 Peter 3:1-9 ~ "Willfully Ignorant About Christ's Return"
There was once a spider that lived in a cornfield. He was a big spider and he had spun a beautiful web between the corn stalks. He got fat eating all the bugs that got caught in his web. He liked his home and planned to stay there for the rest of his life.
One day the spider caught a little bug in his web, and just as the spider was about to eat him, the bug said, "If you let me go I will tell you something important that will save your life." The spider paused for a moment and listened because he was amused.
"You’d better get out of this cornfield," the little bug said, "The harvest is coming!" The spider smiled and said, "What is this harvest you are talking about? I think you are just telling me a story." But the little bug said, "Oh no, it is true. The owner of this field is coming to harvest it soon. All the stalks will be knocked down and the corn will be gathered up. You will be killed by the giant machines if you stay here." The spider said, "I don’t believe in harvests and giant machines that knock down corn stalks. How can you prove this?" The little bug continued, "Just look at the corn. See how it is planted in rows? It proves this field was created by an intelligent designer." The spider laughed and mockingly said, "This field has evolved and has nothing to do with a Creator. Corn always grows that way." The bug went on to explain, "Oh no. This field belongs to the owner who planted it, and the harvest is coming soon." The spider grinned and said to the little bug, "I don’t believe you," and then the spider ate the little bug for lunch.
A few days later, the spider was laughing about the story the little bug had told him. He thought to himself, "A harvest! What a silly idea. I have lived here all of my life and nothing has ever disturbed me. I have been here since these stalks were just a foot off the ground, and I’ll be here for the rest of my life, because nothing is ever going to change in this field. Life is good, and I have it made."
The next day was a beautiful sunny day in the cornfield. The sky above was clear and there was no wind at all. That afternoon as the spider was about to take a nap, he noticed some thick dusty clouds moving toward him. He could hear the roar of a great engine and he said to himself, "I wonder what that could be?"
In 2 Peter 3:1, 2 the apostle Peter plays the part of the little bug, who is warning the spider who mocks the very idea of a harvest. 3:1 “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,
He has just reminded them in chapter 2: 12 - 22 of the dangers of false teachers who are like natural brute beasts made to be destroyed; who have eyes full of adulteries beguiling unstable souls; who are like wells without water; who speak great empty words; appealing to the lusts of the flesh; promising liberty while themselves being slaves of corruption; who would have been better, if they had never known the way of righteousness, than to have turned back from the truth and who can be compared to sick dogs, and dirty pigs.
Not a nice picture!
So who is he talking about?
3:3 “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."
We are looking at the subject of saving faith. We have seen the danger to faith posed by false teachers. Now Peter zeroes in on one specific attack on faith.
This morning I want you to see that 1. We can expect attacks on the doctrine of the return of Christ. I want you to see 2. The basis for this attack on the return of Christ and I want you to consider 3. The Relation between the Return of Christ and the End of the World as we know it.
The climax and culmination of our faith is the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, so therefore, if an enemy wants to destroy or discredit the validity of faith, that enemy will be likely to attack the belief in Christ’s return. And that is just what Peter says will happen. 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming?”
Now let’s break these verses down a bit. They tell us that:
1. We can expect attacks on the doctrine of the return of Christ. "Where is the promise of His coming?
2. These attacks will come from “scoffers”. The word means “to play with, trifle with 1a) to mock 1b) to delude, deceive. Jude 1:18 warns of “mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.” Other passages bear out the certainty of these attacks on the Bible and on faith. 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, In Matthew 24:4 Jesus warned: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 11 "many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
3. These scoffers will come in the “last days”
When we hear the term last days, we just naturally think of our own time. But it is important to know that the term covers the entire period from the time Christ went away until He comes again.
Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by [His] Son, 1 Peter 1:20 tells us that Christ was “foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for you and in 1 John 2:18 John says, “Little children, it is the last hour;”
1. These scoffers and unbelievers will ridicule faith to cover and excuse their own sinful walk. F. W. Grant says, “they scoff at all that threatens their own security in evil.”
There are two approaches to the Bible and faith and the return of Christ. The first is unbelief, scoffing, and ridicule - the other is belief, anticipation and holy living. Which is your choice?
2. The basis for this attack on the return of Christ.
Do you notice the nature of the argument? “All things continue as they were from the beginning.”
It was a man named Sir Charles Lyell who introduced “the principle of uniformitarianism” which means just that - everything continues as it always has. Charles Darwin took up that idea and built upon it his theory of evolution by natural selection, and these two theories became the underlying philosophy for Fascism and Nazism with the ideas of superior and inferior races; these assumptions are the basis for communism, and for socialism. These theories formed the basis for Dewey’s educational philosophy, and have strongly influenced the fields of psychology, of sociology, of political science and even religion. In all fields of thought, these theories have carried forward the idea that everything has developed naturally, by itself and therefore there is no need for a God, or for the supernatural. You hear the big spider in the university cornfield loudly boasting, “Nothing is going to happen. This field has always been this way.”
The predominant philosophy in our day is the philosophy of secularism: secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings there is no need for God. Man is self sufficient. There is no need for any religion, especially the Christian religion. You feel the resistance to and even hatred for all religious ideas and teachings. It is no longer just in the universities. You feel it in everyday life from everyday type of people, nice people, but people who want nothing to do with religious ideas or the Bible or church.
But the philosophies of our day are wrong. They are based upon a lie. They ignore three great facts of history. They ignore 1. The Creation; 2. The Fall of Man; 3. The Flood.
- They deny the Creation
Because they want to deny the Person and the Power of God, they deny the Creation. They refuse to acknowledge a Creator. They must find some naturalistic explanation for all of life, so they appeal to “The Big Bang” theory; they embrace the idea that we are on the rise; that things are evolving upward. Yet they are pessimistic about the future of the world, because they have missed the comfort and assurance that there is a God and that He is in control.
- They deny the Fall of Man.
Because they believe that we are just evolved animals, they don’t have to believe in sin. They don’t have to believe that we are accountable for our actions. Of course if there is no God, and no sin, and no accountability, there is no need of a Saviour.
- They deny the Flood.
If they were to acknowledge a worldwide flood, they might have to acknowledge the God who sent it, the sin which caused it, and the accountability of which it speaks. And so, they must find some other explanation for any phenomena which would suggest a worldwide catastrophe. They must explain the fossil record and the production of coal and oil and gas in terms of billions of years of slow and steady build up of sediment. This is the principle of uniformitarianism of which I spoke.
So, Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit, anticipates these lies that would excuse man’s unbelief, and says, 5. “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.” The Phillips Translation says, 2 Peter 3:5 they are deliberately shutting their eyes to the fact that there were heavens in the old days and an earth formed by God’s command out of water and by water. 6 It was by water that the world of those days was deluged and destroyed,”
Notice that it says, they wilfully forget; they deliberately shut their eyes to the fact. This is exactly the same thing that the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:18 “ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man——and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Dear ones, these verses proclaim the reality that unbelief is deliberate; it is irrational; and that it is suicidal.
Unbelief flies in the face of truth. In spite of all the claims to the contrary, there was a worldwide or universal flood which destroyed the world. It was moral in nature, it held men accountable for their actions, and it was a judgement upon sin.
Genesis 6: 5 “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 ¶ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered.20 The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. 22 All in whose nostrils [was] the breath of the spirit of life, all that [was] on the dry [land], died.
I am thankful for the many scientists like Henry Morris and the members of the Creation Research Society who find that the facts of science can better be explained on the basis of a Creator and a universal flood than by the evolutionary model. They demonstrate that the flood gives a realistic basis for the rise of mountain ranges, for volcanic activity, for the prevalence of earthquakes, for the origin of petroleum and coal and gas and mineral deposits, for worldwide climate change, and for much other scientific data.
But now I want you to consider:
3. The Relation between the Return of Christ and the End of the World as we know it.
3:7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
The reason Peter reminds us of the flood is to warn us of another world wide catastrophe which is still to come.
It is odd, isn’t it, and with all of man’s boasted advancement, and scientific discovery, mankind remains pessimistic about the future of the world. You can hardly watch TV for an evening without some reference to the fragility of life on this planet, and the possibility that we may destroy that life within the near future. Listen to all the warnings about greenhouse gas emissions, about the pollution of the oceans, about the destruction of the rain forest, about the spread of Aids, about the possibility of nuclear warfare. For years the doomsday clock was set at 5 minutes to midnight and decreasing.
But what they have always lost sight of is the most important element - the reality that God is in control, and that the destruction of this planet as we know it is tied to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the inescapable reality of the Judgement. 2 Peter 2: 7 “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
I say again, unbelief is deliberate; it is irrational; and it is suicidal. Unbelief flies in the face of truth.
So we might ask, “Well, how come that the return of Christ and the destruction of the world as we know it has not happened yet. After all, it is over 2,000 years since the apostle spoke these words.
God’s answer is here in the passage: 3:8 “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
We are poor judges of time; we look back and say, “How can it be possible that ours is a young earth created in 7 days? While at the same time saying, “It’s such a long time - over 2,000 years since Christ returned to heaven.”
God’s timing is perfect. He reminds us again to not depend on our own wisdom: 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Do you catch that reason for God’s delay? He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Remember that God waited for 120 years for Noah’s building and preaching to change people’s hearts and then the end came. After Christ returned to heaven, God waited for 40 years to give the gospel time to change the hearts of the Jewish nation. But then the end came. And God is giving these many years for the gospel to reach the whole world, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Dear ones, if you should happen to be uncertain about the future, remember the spider in the cornfield secure in the idea that everything would always continue as it was, and scoffing at the warning of a harvest that was near at hand. But even more important I ask you to consider the things that God is speaking to your heart from this passage of scripture:
1. We can expect attacks on the doctrine of the return of Christ.
2. The basis for this attack on the return of Christ is unbelief. And I want you to consider
3. The Relation between the Return of Christ and the End of the World as we know it.
No matter what those who ridicule faith may say, Jesus is coming back and all who trust Him shall be with Him forever in a new heavens and new earth. That is such a wonderful truth that I know you will want to be sure that you are ready for His return.