Summary: Words of encouragement for the believer to hold firm to the reality of what is to come.
FALSE TEACHING IN THE CHURCH. Last week we looked at Peter’s very candid words found in the second chapter of this his second letter where he addressed the church in regards to how they are to respond to false teachers in their midst being mindful of the judgment of God that has been and is reserved for them. This week, as we begin chapter 3, we are going to see how Peter deals with a particular false teaching that the false teachers had brought into the church.
DENYING CHRIST’S RETURN AND POWER TO JUDGE
The false teachers that had infiltrated the church were attacking one of the very foundational beliefs of the Christian Faith and that being JESUS’ SECOND COMING AND IMPENDING JUDGMENT. You can almost hear how it must have been in the early church. Preachers and teachers proclaiming Jesus’ second coming and impending judgment upon sin and the world and all the while the false teachers would have scoffed beneath their breath and then having conversations with the believers saying, “DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THIS?” “THERE IS NO WAY THAT ANY OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE! JUST CONSIDER…..”
THE BASIS OF THEIR DENIAL:
1. DISBELIEF. These false teachers, in the face of Jesus’ clear teaching through His prophets as well as the teaching that came from His own lips, denied Jesus’ Second Coming and judgment upon sin. THEY KNEW THE SCRIPTURES. THEY HAD BEEN TO CHURCH! THEY HAD HEARD THE SERMONS AND PARTICIPATED IN THE BIBLE STUDIES and yet did not trust in the promise of Jesus regarding all of this that is to come. Hear Jesus’ words—JOHN 5:22, MATTHEW 24, JOHN 14:1-6. The false teachers denied Jesus’ Second Coming and Power to Judge because of their lack of faith in the promises of Jesus and His Word.
2. LOVE. The second basis for their denial is due to their insatiable love for their own sin. Peter said, “scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” Do not miss the fact that their scoffing is motivated by their following of their own sinful desires. If you remember last week we saw that these false teachers had an insatiable desire for sin (2:14). They loved their sin. There was no blushing. No shame. No remorse whatsoever. They hungered and thirsted after sin instead of righteousness. When your heart is such and you live as such it is natural to deny Jesus’ Second Coming and judgment upon sin. This makes sins. If you are loving and living in sin the last thing you would want to think about or confirm is Jesus’ Second Coming and His power to judge sin.
3. MISINTERPRETATION. The final basis of their denial of Jesus’ Second Coming and Power to Judge is their misperception of time. They look at the past as well as their current day and all they see is the cycle of life going on—people are born; they grow up; they die. Nation rises against nation in war. Empires rule and reign then they are replaced. And so goes time. This error is fundamentally driven by their disbelief of Jesus’ words as well for Jesus said that there would be signs of His coming and the end of the age and ever since His ascension we have seen these signs—the first century Christians saw some of these signs in the demise of Jerusalem and the Temple at the hands of the Romans—and they have been increasing in frequency and intensity. HISTORY IS NOT JUST PASSING BY PURPOSELESSLY BUT IS HEADING TOWARDS ITS CULMINATION IN JESUS’ SECOND COMING AND JUDGMENT UPON SIN.
PETER’S REBUTTAL. These false teachers, in saying that “nothing is changing and time is just continuing to go on as it always has,” are denying the fact that Jesus will intervene in human history. They erroneously deny Jesus’ Second Coming and impending judgment on the basis of their belief that the world is a closed system that Jesus does not intervene in or interfere with but simply lets all things continue on as they always have, running its course so to speak, until the universe “runs out of steam” and simply ceases to exist. Philosophically and theologically these are called Deists. There is no such thing as the supernatural or miraculous because to affirm such would be to affirm God’s action in the universe. Reality is that the universe is not a closed system where Jesus does not interfere or intervene and Peter refutes the false teachers with two illustrations:
a. GOD CREATES. The idea that “things continue on as they always have” alludes to the idea of the eternal existence of the universe. We know, as Peter points out, that the universe has not eternally existed but was created by God and because the universe is His creation then He does intervene and interfere according to His good and perfect purposes. Peter uses God’s activity IN CREATION as proof that HE WILL ONCE AGAIN ENTER HIS CREATION for His own purposes.