Summary: To be mature in the Christian Faith is to distance oneself from scoffers of sound doctrine but to devote the rest of one's life to Godly living for Jesus as a shining example of the Truth - in word and in deed.
SHINE LIKE RED DELICIOUS APPLES!
Based on 2 Peter 3
Once we reach our cruising altitude of spiritual maturity, we should have no problem recognizing false teachers (the rotten apples among us); and, when we do recognize them, we would be well advised to distance ourselves from their false teaching, so that, rather than be blemished by the rottenness of their doctrine, we can shine like red delicious apples.
This is not to say that any of us is better than anyone else. It is to say that the task of spreading the gospel would be better served if we keep our focus on the message rather than any messenger – including messengers of truth - simply because the messenger is human and, therefore, imperfect.
Who among us is perfect? Not one. Yet, as we become more like Jesus, we develop the mind of Christ; and, having the mind of Christ, we are blessed with the gift of discernment; and that gift enables us to make a distinction between a messenger of truth and one who tweaks the message to suit himself and his own selfish desires.
It was this very problem that prompted Peter to write both of his letters.
In 2 Peter 3:1-2, he tells us the reason why he wrote both of his epistles . . .
Do you ever need to be reminded of anything?
Do you remember everything that you are reminded of?
Peter reminded believers of the essentials they needed to remember.
This apostle - who once denied Christ - is now willing to die for Christ in order to convince all believers that Christ is the central figure of Christianity. Our minds should be focused on Him! Peter was anxious for Christians to remember that the Old Testament foretold Christ . . . the gospels tell about the coming of Christ to this earth to become our Lord and Savior . . . the apostles spread the message of Christ after the ascension of Christ to keep the gospel alive.
He said it is now up to all Christians to continue spreading the story of God’s love – but as you share the gospel, remember that Christ is the central figure; He must be central in your thinking.
In short, Peter said that he wrote these two letters “to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” He cautions us - whenever we hear the Word of God preached - to “think it through” in light of the teachings of Christ – and, if the preaching and teaching center on Christ, take it seriously; if not, treat it cautiously. Christ must be the CENTER of our Christian faith!
The problem Peter was most concerned about is addressed in the next two verses – 2 Peter 3:3-4 . . . Let me just say this: Anytime anybody tries to trip you up, they most likely will do so by asking a question intended to raise doubts in your mind.
The question scoffers asked first century Christians was this: “What has happened to the promise of His coming?”
This technique was not new to this particular New Testament situation. In Malachi’s day, the scoffers asked, “Where is the God of judgment?” (2:17)
The heathen questioned the Psalmist. “Where is thy God?” (42:3)
Jeremiah’s enemies demanded an answer to this question:
“Where are you getting this word of the Lord that you preach?”
In every instance, the implication of the question was that the thing or the person asked about must be a delusion and therefore does not exist.
As the early church began to gather momentum, there were those who scoffed at Christians; the scoffers took aim at the promise Jesus had made that He would come again.
These doubters challenged the Christian teaching concerning the Second Coming of Christ in two different ways. (1) They asked a question. (2) They made an assertion.
The question: “What has happened?” “Where is He?”
The assertion: Nothing cataclysmic has happened since the beginning of time. So, why worry about something as cataclysmic as the return of Christ would be? No, everything just goes along as usual.
Hold on, said Peter. These scoffers don’t know what they’re talking about. They are overlooking three of the greatest events the world has ever known - 2 Peter 3:5-7 . . .
The scoffers had said that nothing of cataclysmic proportions had ever happened; the world had just gone along as usual - people being born, living and dying - and apparently that cycle will never be interrupted.
Not so, says Peter. Have you scoffers forgotten that the heavens were brought into being . . . after that, the earth appeared - his reference being of course to the creation of the heavens and the earth by the Lord God of this universe? “Wouldn’t you call those creation events cataclysmic?”