Summary: May we be encouraged today by the Words of the Apostle Peter: FIRST OF ALL in whatever we do be holy and godly SO THEN we wait in God’s patience so that others may come to know Him THEREFORE be on guard while we wait and remain faithful
“FIRST OF ALL, SO THEN, THEREFORE”
INTRODUCTION… Letters Back and Forth (p)
Written letters can be a powerful tool of communication. I remember when I went to college that a friend of mine and I kept in contact via letters. We both graduated from the same high school in Germany because our dads were both in the Army. I went to school in Tennessee. She went to school in Georgia and then to USF here in Tampa. That is quite a bit of distance and in the late 1990s unlimited cell phone plans did not exist and the cheapest long distance rate on a telephone one could get was 10 cents a minute. The other way to keep in touch was through written letters. We kept in contact and kept our friendship from high school alive our first years in college because we wrote letters back and forth. She would creatively send letters with the envelope made of fashion magazine pages with various supermodels on it. What a friend! Those letters provided a solid foundation for a friendship. I am glad she and I kept in contact after high school via letters since she eventually became my wife.
The Apostle Peter had a specific purpose in writing the letters that he did. 1 Peter 5:12 says about his first letter, “With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.” Peter wanted the letter to bring encouragement to those who read it. He wanted them to stand firm in the grace of God which was given to them through Jesus and he expressed that in a divinely inspired written letter. It is exactly the same for the 2nd letter. 2 Peter 3:1-2 states, “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 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.” Peter’s goal in writing the second letter was so that believers would be stimulated to wholesome thinking. So overall, the Apostle Peter wants believers to be encouraged and stimulated in wholesome thinking after reading his letters. Those are worthy goals for a letter!
Today as we dig deep into 2 Peter 3, let us see what is encouraging and what stimulates and spurs us to wholesome thinking. As I looked over 2 Peter 3, I noticed he basically had three sections in this thought process which started off with three different phrases: “first of all,” “so then,” and “therefore.”
I. FIRST OF ALL
READ 2 PETER 3:3-13
First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 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 in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
That is quite a chunk of Scripture to go over. The Apostle Peter introduces the topic he is speaking about in this part of the letter by talking about “the last days” (verse 3). “The last days” is one of those phrases like “the Day of the Lord” which can have different meanings based on the context around the phrase. It seems like to me that in this passage, the Apostle Peter is looking towards the future to the actual last days of the human race. He mentions, in verse 8, the Absolute Truth that God Almighty is outside of time and His concept of time is not like ours. Our existence is a day by day and week after week existence. God is eternal and is not concerned with time as we are. So, at the proper time in God’s time, the end of our lives will come as a planet.