Summary: It is foolish to think what God says will happen will not happen, just because it hasn’t happened yet. Sermon 23 in a study in 1 & 2 Peter
“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
It may seem strange at first glance, that so far into this letter Peter would reference the fact that this is his second letter to them, written for the purpose that it is. People usually state their reason for writing either at the beginning of correspondence or at the very end.
Actually, he has already declared in chapter 1 verses 12 and 13 his desire and readiness to remind them of the things important for them to keep in focus. So if we remember that then we realize that he is only repeating himself here, for emphasis’ sake.
Notice that in both verse 13 of chapter 1 and here in verse 1 of our text he uses the term ‘stir’ and ‘stirring’, from the same word which means to awaken or arouse.
In all of us, even as sincere Christians, which by the way he calls his readers when he says he wants to stir up their ‘sincere minds’, there is the tendency to focus on the physical world around us and slumber, so to speak, spiritually.
We read a book or article, or hear a sermon or attend a conference in which the focus is on the imminent return of Jesus Christ, and we get so excited about it that we just feel He could come at any moment. Haven’t we all had those times?
And what happens to us? Well, for a little while at least, we pay closer attention to spiritual matters. We are more alert to the things in our lives that may be displeasing to Him; or perhaps the things missing in our lives that should be given a prominent place, because they have an eternal value that far exceeds the cares and concerns of this life, and since He is coming soon we are ‘stirred up’ to think about those things.
Then a week goes by, or less, and we’re back in our spiritual slumber, worrying about the bills, thinking about vacation, planning for retirement or whatever.
Now it’s not that it is wrong to think about those things. We still have to be responsible in our daily lives.
But the people of the early church really believed that Jesus was coming back; so much that they even greeted one another with the word, Maranatha, which means, “Our Lord, come!” or ‘Lord, come quickly!” depending on whose work you’re reading.
The Apostles certainly lived in expectation of the Lord’s return, simply believing the promise that He made to do so. In the whole of the New Testament only Philemon and 3rd John, both very short letters, make no mention of the return of Christ.
The very ones who walked with Him, saw Him die, were witnesses to His resurrection and saw Him ascend into the heavens are the ones that were so confident of His return that they mention it over and over again, either directly or indirectly, as incentive toward holy living and toward keeping watch with eager anticipation, and as the event that will mark the fulfillment of all His precious and magnificent promises concerning our eternal future.
Now, here, as Peter is beginning to draw his letter to a close, he once more expresses a desire to stir up, wake up, arouse in them, remembrance of the things they already know but should not let slip; specifically, the things that were spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and from the Lord Himself, and then the apostles.
Things thrice confirmed by the Holy Spirit through His agents; the pure truth of God’s Word.
Remember, he has just warned them in the strongest of terms to be on the alert against false teachers and then he has described these creatures born for destruction. So by way of contrast now, he says that he wants them in defense against the deceit of the false teachers to remember the holy prophets, as opposed to the unholy prophets, and the Lord’s own teaching, and the things taught them by the Lord’s chosen Apostles.