Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

[ Previous | Table of Contents | Next ]

Chapter 24 - "Beloved, Be" - II Peter 3

Prophecy (i.e. Eschatology, the doctrine of last things), is God's signature on His sovereignty, and His assurance to mankind of the hope that we have for the future.

The Prophetic principles in II Peter 3 cover what we should consider while we live in an increasingly wicked world. God has an answer to the conflicts we experience, and His program for the future is always related to Holy living. The standard for Holy living is God's Word.

The problem as to why Christians don't follow the Word is outlined in Mark 4:19; 1) The cares of this world, 2) The deceitfulness of riches, and 3) The lust of other things choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.

In II Peter 3 there are four principles of admonition to the child of God, as related to Prophetic events that will come. They are captioned by, "Beloved, Be", and the questioned raised is "be...of what?".

I. "Beloved - Be Mindful" (v.1,2) - Of what are we to be mindful? In vv. 1-7 the Apostle answers the question. We are to be mindful of the words which the Prophets of old spoke in God's behalf to Israel, as well as to the words of the Apostles. The reason for being aware and understanding of what God said through them to us, is that in the last days there would be scoffers who would come questioning the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In John 14:3, Jesus told the Apostles He was going back to Heaven, but that He would return to take His children to Heaven with Him. The argument of the scoffers against His coming again would be that over the centuries the world has experienced birth and life and death, followed by continuous rounds of birth/life/death. Therefore, in the future this would continue as it had in the past. Of an understanding of this the Apostle accused the scoffers of ignorance of God's program. He then cites a reference to one of three illustrations to which he previously had outlined.

In II Peter 2:4-6, the Apostle speaks of three instances of what I would call, "The law of first occurrences", in that he cited three situations recorded in the Old Testament that had never happened before in human history, but did. The argument that because Christ has not returned therefore He never will, is contradicted by these three instances that the Apostle cites.

The first of these is in 2:4, where the war in heaven between the Angels headed up by Lucifer and God and His angels, resulted in Lucifer and one third of the Angels being cast out of Heaven. This is cited in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. This had never happened in all of eternal history past, but it did.

In 2:5 there is the second illustration of the law of first occurrences, which was never supposedly to happen, but did. The wickedness that God saw in Noah's day, caused God to tell him to build an ark that he might be saved from the flood that God would bring upon the world. There had never been any rain upon the earth up to that time. God had watered the earth through a mist that went up from the ground. But now God said he was going to let the Firmament (i.e. the clouds and atmospheric heavens) down upon the earth in the form of rain, and flood it. The skeptics of Noah's day jeered him for his faith in God's command. It had never rained before, therefore, it never would, but it did. And, Noah was saved and the rest were drowned (Gen. 2:6; 6:5-8:22).

The third illustration is in 2:6, where God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham's nephew Lot separated himself from his uncle and dwelt in these wicked cities. God sent two angels, as men, to Lot's door and told him to get out, because God was going to bring judgment on the cities in the form of fire. The men of the cities asked Lot if he was going to believe two strangers, and beside that the judgment they promised had never happened before, and therefore, it never would, but it did (Gen. 19:1-25).

Now, in 3:7, the Apostle warns mankind today, that the "Heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men". This world wide catastrophe from God has never happened before, and according to scoffers it never will, but God's word is sure, and judgment is certain. Therefore, of these things, the Apostle is saying, we are to be mindful.

II. "Beloved - Be Not Ignorant" (v.8) - Again, we ask, "Of what?" The reply is, "Be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day". This does not mean that God expands a day to a thousand years, nor does He collapse a thousand years into one day. What is meant is that time is not of the essence with God. He is not bound by a time/space world as we are, but God deals in a program that is not conditioned by time or space.

The Apostle is trying to explain that God has a program for this world and mankind, and that regardless of time, to which we are bound, God's program is not slack as some may think, but that He is long-suffering to all mankind, "Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (v.9). In other words, God loves every person, and in His love and Grace He sent Christ to die for the sins of everyone. The church has been commissioned to carry this message to all the world (Matt. 28:19,20). For the past two thousand years the church has carried out this command, though not perfectly. Only God, in His omniscience, knows who and when the last person will be that accepts God's offer of Salvation. Then Jesus Christ will return for the Christians, as He stated He would. The Christian's response is to not be concerned as to when Christ will return, as much as it is to be ready for it, and in the intervening time to faithfully continue to carry out our commission, and trust Him as to when.

In v.10,12 the Apostle notes that the "Day of the Lord" (i.e. The great day of Jehovah, the covenant keeping God; see Zechariah 14:1-9) will come, in which He will do away with the heavens (i.e. the atmospheric and starry heavens, not the Heaven where God dwells) and earth, because of Satan's contamination of them through sin. They will be replaced with a "New Heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness"(V.13).

This is God's everlasting promise to His children. If we are to live and reign with Him eternally, and this earth will be part of God's eternal Heaven, He would not desire His children to return to a sin polluted environment. Therefore, transformed and perfected Christians will be brought back to a perfect pristine world in order to spend eternity. This is God's promise to His children. God doesn't want us to be ignorant of this understanding while we await His return.

III. "Beloved - Be Diligent (Careful)" (v.14) - Why should we be diligent or careful, and of what? Since we await Christ's return, and we have a goal or commission, our diligence or carefulness is that, "We might be found of Him in serene confidence, free from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts" (Amplified Bible).

As we reflect upon our world today, is it not known that fear, guilt, passions, and moral conflicts are all consuming everywhere we turn? In Revelation 9:21, we see the four consuming elements that drive mankind on today are 1) Murders, 2) Drugs (i.e. the word sorceries in the Greek is the word pharmacopoeia, from which we obtain the word pharmacy, or drugs), 3) Immorality and 4) Thefts. The Bible plainly states that mankind will refuse to give them up. Note: II Timothy 3:1,2 which tells us why: mankind is consumed with SELF, and its gratification.

In verse 11 we see God's admonition to the Christian in today's world, "Seeing that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy manner of life and Godliness?" The rhetorical question here is plain; God intends us to keep ourselves "Unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). In light of God's future judgment, it is apparent how He desires that we should live in this wicked world.

IV. "Beloved - Beware" (v.17) - Again we ask the question, "Beware of what?" The verse itself answers the question, that we not be led astray of the error of sinful people and thereby fall from our secure position in Christ. There are two thoughts to consider here: first, that we not allow the things of the world, the flesh, and the Devil to deter us from our spiritual maturity in Christ. Second, that our Salvation is not in question as pertains to our relationship with Christ, but that our fellowship with Him may be broken by our selfish ways. See: Mark 4:19 as to that which interferes with our spiritual growth.

In I John 2:15-17 we see the infusion of this world's system as a hindrance to Christian maturity. Out of this humanistic philosophy comes one's behaviors and character development. The Biblical admonition is, don't fall into this way, "But grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus CHRIST" (v.18). For the Christian this is the most important aspect of life, i.e. coming to spiritual maturity in Christ.

John 1:17 says, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ". In II Corinthians 4:6 we read, "For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ". What the law of God could not do through the strength of human endeavor, Jesus Christ did by coming into the world, to reveal God to us, through His love and grace. Our response, as Christians, to all this is to refrain from worldly ways and grow in God's grace and in the understanding of Jesus Christ.

Someday my earthly house will fall,
I cannot tell how soon twill be,
But this I know, my all in all,
Has now a place in Heaven for me.

Someday when fades the golden sun,
Beneath the rosy, tinted West,
My blessed Lord will say, "Well done",
And, I shall enter into rest.

And I shall see Him, face to face,
And, tell the story, saved by grace;
And, I shall see Him face to face,
And, tell the story, saved by grace.

[ Previous | Table of Contents | Next ]