How to live anticipating His return

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How to live anticipating His return

Riverside Indonesian Fellowship
Published by Stanley Pouw in 2011 · 6 November 2011

Let's continue in our Bibles tonight in our study of God's truth in 2 Peter 3. We are almost at the end of this great epistle, 2 Peter 3; we're looking at the section from verse 11 through verse 18. We've been asking the question...what does it mean to us as Christians that Jesus is coming again?

Peter has been talking about the coming of the day of the Lord. We noted for you that following the day of the Lord is another great day, called the day of God in verse 18 also called the day of eternity.

We as believers are not anticipating the day of the Lord, because that's judgment day. We are anticipating the day of God, that's the eternal day, the day of the new heavens and the new earth. We are joyously anticipating entering into God's glorious eternal creation.

We do not long for the day of the Lord, the time of severe judgment, the time of damnation on sinners, but we do long for the eternal state of righteous glory in the day of God, that great day when God is all in all. That term, "day of God," as you note, appears in verse 12 of this text.

And we already anticipate it, though we have not yet entered into the day of God, and will not until after the millennial Kingdom. Furthermore, we are already citizens of that eternal state. Our citizenship is in heaven. We seek a city whose builder and maker is God. And that is the eternal new Jerusalem, the new heavens and the new earth being its final dwelling place. And so we live in anticipation of that eternal day of God.

Verse 11 then says, "Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be." What are the implications of the entire universe in a holocaust of fire followed by the new heavens and the new earth, the eternal day of God in which you will dwell? Granted that you are citizens for that glorious day, that eternal kingdom, that eternally new universe, what sort of people should you be!

And we learned that that is not a question but rather an exclamation, what sort of people ought we to be, in what kind of excellence should we behave and live. Since Jesus is coming to judge the ungodly and destroy the sin-cursed universe and replace it with a new one, made for us in which we will eternally dwell, it should impact our lives.

How should it impact us? Well he says it in verse 11, "In holy conduct and godliness." Holy conduct has to do with our action, godliness has to do with our attitude. So both in attitude and action we are to be separated from sin.

Now what does that mean? How does that break down? What are the components of such godly attitudes and godly conduct? Well I said to you last time Peter is going to give us a list of components that cause the kind of attitude, the kind of action that should characterize us.

First of all, it includes expectation. Verse 12 and 13, "Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning and the elements will melt with intense heat, 13 but according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." We went into that in detail last time.

Let's go to the second component in his instruction here. Not only should we be characterized by anticipation, but we should be characterized by pacification. We should be in a peaceful condition. Please notice verse 14, "Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace."

Therefore, Christians, since you look for the day of God, the new heavens and the new earth, the eternal state, the glorious Kingdom awaiting us in the presence of God forever and ever, you should be diligent..." Another way to say that is to make every effort to be found by Him in peace.

I need to make a brief note about that phrase "be found by Him." When the Lord Jesus comes, you will be found...personally by Him. There will be nothing hidden in that day, there will be nothing overlooked in that day. Everything about you will be brought to light in the day when the Lord Jesus comes.

It says in 1 Corinthians 4 that when He comes He will bring to light everything we've done in our lives, whether it be good or worthless. 2 Corinthians 5 says, we will be found by Him. That emphasizes that it is He who is coming and it is He who will confront us. So when He finds us He should find us living in peace.

What does he mean by that? Well it could mean peace with other Christians, that what he is saying that when Christ comes and sets up His glorious Kingdom, He wants to find you living peacefully with each other, the peace of Christ’ love, the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, as we hear from the Apostle Paul.

But what he is really saying here is that you be found enjoying the peace of God, personal peace of mind, the peace that comes from a strong faith in the Lord. In Philippians 4:6-7, "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and 7 the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

That kind of peace makes us free from anxiety and free from fear. That kind of peace is not being anxious for Christ to come for fear that He will discover our sinfulness and our shame. That kind of peace is free from all worry about the future.

That kind of peace knows no fear regarding the day of the Lord, the judgment of Christ, or whatever because we enjoy the peace of God. And this, says the Apostle Paul, is a peace that transcends human comprehension, it transcends human intellectual power and it transcends human explanation.

Another way to say it is the way Paul said it when he wrote to Timothy and spoke about those who love the appearing of Christ because they have no fear, they have no anxiety. It means you have the assurance of your salvation. It means you have the reality of your Christian faith and obedience so that you will not be ashamed at His coming.

It means that you have no fear that you might get swept away in the judgment of the day of the Lord because you know all is well between you and God. You are completely comfortable with the end of the world, and should you know it was coming in the next twenty-four hours, you could put your head on a pillow and sleep soundly without fear.

The real challenge of Christian living is not to see if you can eliminate any uncomfortable issue in your life. The real challenge of a Christian is to live in a fallen world as a sinful person, surrounded by fallen people, in the midst of all manifestation of the curse, enduring the pain and yet having perfect peace because all is well between you and God.

That is the peace of assurance. That is the peace of security. That is the tranquility of a man or a woman who knows that all is well with God and fears no shame at the appearing of Christ. This, says Paul in Philippians 4, will guard your heart; it will guard your mind.

If you think about the coming of Christ and the new heavens and the new earth that God has established for you, if you think about seeing Him face to face, then you should be rejoicing with anticipation, loving His appearing, crying out, "Come, Lord Jesus." You should have no fear in your heart because you know that all is well.

First John 4:17 says, "That we should have confidence in the day of judgment." We should be confident that it will pass us by. So says Peter, as you anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ, you should be living in anticipation and you should be living in a condition of perfect peace.

Thirdly, another component in living in the light of the return of Christ we'll call purification. Back to 2 Peter 3:14 again, "Beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent not only to be found by Him in peace, but to be found by Him spotless and blameless."

Now this is in contrast to the false teachers. You remember back in chapter 2 when he described the false teachers he said they were “stains and blemishes”. In contrast you should be spotless and blameless. These two terms speak of both character and reputation. They speak of both what we are in reality and what people think we are.

Spotless means my character. What I really am. There's no spot, there's no blotch on my life. Blameless is my reputation. What people think I am and I am to be spotless, that is pure in reality and blameless, that is pure by reputation. That is how the Lord wants to find us.

Now there are four possibilities in these words and we have to deal with them realistically. First, it is possible that you could be spotless, but at least in one sense not blameless. It is possible that you could be living a pure and a godly and a virtuous life, but in the eyes of the world you are not blameless.

That is maybe because somewhere in your past there has been something in your life that has stained your reputation that though you now are spotless and forgiven, people remember the stain. And so while at the time of the coming of Christ all might be well with you, it might be that you're not blameless, for somewhere along the line you brought reproach upon your testimony of Christ and you have been blamed for that.

Secondly, it is possible to be blameless but not spotless. It is possible that people don't know the real truth. It is possible that while people think you to be spotless, you are not, that while people think you to be blameless, your reputation is flawless, but the truth is, you're not spotless. So there are some who look blameless but not spotless.

There's a third possibility. When Jesus comes you are spotless by way of character as much is as possible by His grace, and you are blameless by way of reputation. Both your life and your reputation are untarnished and unblemished. And there is a fourth possibility that you are neither spotless nor blameless. And in that case, both your life and reputation are tarnished and blemished.

I just draw that out for you so you can see the implications of what is at first glance a rather simple statement. We are to take care of the sins in our lives, that is the point, to try to live holy lives. And when the Lord comes, He wants us to be pure.

How can you be that way? You have to know your sin, detest your sin, confess your sin and desire a holy life. You need to abstain from temptation situations, be faithful in the means of grace, like Bible study, prayer and worship, so that you maintain a pure life.

The Lord says that's how I want you to live until I come. And that's consistent with what you're anticipating in the eternal state. If I am destined for eternal purity, if I am destined for eternal glory, I ought to seek to live that way now.

So Peter says, as we anticipate the coming of Christ, we need to be people like this: characterized by anticipation, peace through faith and purification. Verse 15 takes us to a fourth thought, we are to be characterized by evangelization.

In the time in which we are waiting for this great, glorious, eternal state, he says, verse 15, "We're to regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation." In other words, we are to be using our time, energy, gifts, life that we have for the purpose of salvation. The Lord is waiting in order that through us He might save more people.

Some of the critics were saying in verse 9, well, the Lord doesn't come, He said He would come but He'll never come. Look how long it's been and He hasn't come. And so Peter says, "The Lord isn't slow about His promise as some count slowness, but the reason it appears as though He is slow is because He is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

He's waiting patiently. And in verse 8 he said, "Don't let it escape your notice that a day with the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day," so He doesn't keep time like you do anyway. He's very patient, very merciful.

God does not wish that any should perish; He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. God our Savior, in 1 Timothy 2:4, will have all men to be saved. God is patient in waiting for those who have yet not repented to come to repentance. When God said to Israel, "Why will you die, O house of Israel," Ezekiel 18:31, He emphasized His compassion and He underscored His mercy.

You also see the image of this incredible merciful patience in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The son living in the world in immorality, in wasting his privilege and opportunity and his father at home patient, gracious, compassionate, waiting and waiting until the son comes home. This is a picture of our God the Father.

And so Peter is saying in verse 15, that the patience of our Lord is for the purpose of salvation. And the fact that we're waiting for the coming of Christ doesn't give us license to sit around and do nothing. We're not to put our pajamas on and sit on the roof and wait till He gets here. We all should be involved in the ministry of reconciliation.

In 2 Corinthians 5:11, the Apostle Paul really articulated what should be the goal of every believer who is waiting for the coming of Christ. This is what he said. "Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men." In other words, when I think about the day of God which is a blessing for me, I also have to think about the day of the Lord, which is a curse for them.

There's a graphic illustration of this same attitude that comes from the Apostle John. As he was contemplating judgment in Revelation 10, the angel brought him a book and he gave the book to John and he said, "Take it and eat it." In the symbolism John ate it. He said, "It will make your stomach bitter but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey. 10 And I took it and I did that and I ate it and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter."

What does this mean? The little book represents the truth of God about final judgment which is bittersweet. It is, on the one hand, sweet because it ushers us into the day of God. It is, on the other hand, bitter because it means damnation of the unbelieving world. Let us continue this next Sunday. Let us pray.


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