Summary: We should be especially thankful that God is patient.
We’re thinking about being thankful God is patient. (READ TEXT)
What are we speaking of when we think about God’s patience? We’re talking about His relationship with humans. God’s above circumstances that might cause us to be impatient, like a long line at the Walmart checkout counter. But when it comes to humans, whether unbelievers or believers, God shows patience, because He’s created man with free will, and God won’t circumvent our free will. That means God works His will while also allowing man to exercise his free will in how he responds to God. Which requires patience.
Peter speaks about a promise some said God was slow in keeping. That promise had to do with the return of Christ. In verses 3-8, Peter said unbelievers were scoffing at the promise of Christ’s return. They said things were going on as they had since the beginning of creation.
But in the verses following our text, Peter indicates not only had the slowness of Christ’s return caused unbelievers to scoff; it had caused believers to doubt. In verses 10-18, he encourages believers to remain faithful, knowing God will keep His promise and Christ will return.
The idea of slowness here is the idea of being sluggish, lazy, and not attentive. To the contrary, God is attentive to every detail, working out His purposes while respecting man’s free will.
There’s coming a day, when the last person to reject Christ will do so and the last person to choose Christ will do so, and in that moment, God will have orchestrated things in such a way that all prophecy will be fulfilled and Christ will return. Until then, God is being patient.
What does Peter teach us here in this verse about the patience of God?
1. God is patient with unbelievers.
When Peter says “you,” he’s addressing the scoffers he mentions in verses 3-8. God’s allowing unbelievers as much time as He can for them to repent and choose to come to Christ. But as patient as God is, the eternal clock is counting down; and when the eternal moment we mentioned earlier comes about, time will be up. So, while God is presently patient, a time will come when His patience comes to an end.
It’s said that the Devil once called all the demons of Hell together and asked for suggestions as to how to damn the souls of men.
One demon suggested they destroy man’s confidence in the Bible; another said they should deny the idea of life after death and the existence of heaven and hell; another said they should cause men to doubt the reality of Christ and the story of how forgiveness of sin and salvation can be found through faith in Him; still another said, let’s get them to doubt the very existence of God!
Then one demon came forward and said, “Let’s tell men the Bible is God’s Word. Let’s tell them there is a real Hell and a real Heaven; that people who die without trusting Christ go to Hell; and those who believe in Christ go to Heaven. Let’s tell men God loves them and has provided a way they can be saved. Let’s tell men they ought to be saved, but that they plenty of time to decide.”
It’s said that all the demons of Hell, and Satan himself, applauded that demon and said, “That’s it! That’s what we will do! Men will fall for that! That’s the best way to damn the souls of men!”
Nobody plans to go to Hell. Many simply put off coming to Christ until it is too late. They’ve thought they should look into issues of eternity. They’ve thought they need to investigate the claims of Christianity. They may even understand everything they need to understand in order to be saved. They just thought they had plenty of time.
“The road to ‘one day’ leads to the destination of ‘never.’” - Anonymous
Unbelievers run three risks when they put off coming to Christ.
A. They run the risk of dying before they believe.
You may not like to talk about death. Well, when people quit dying, we can quit talking about death. Until then, death is a reality and a part of everyone’s life. And nobody knows when he’s going to die.
Dr. George Truett, one time pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, was saved as a child. He told a story about trying to lead a friend to Christ when he was a teenager. His friend replied, “Let me alone, George. Not tonight. Another time.”
A few days passed and Truett went to check on his friend. His friend’s mother came to the door, and George asked to see him. His mother explained, “He took sick the night you saw him last. He has pneumonia. The doctor says he may not pull through. Nobody has been let in to see him. But you and he are such close friends, George, and I think it is all right for you to see him.”