Sermon by Pastor Ron Thomas

"Living Life From God's Eternal Perspective"
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040

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Preached 1/27/2008
"Living Life From God's Eternal Perspective"

Text: II Peter 3:1-10. "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But 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. 8 But, beloved, 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. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."

Introduction: On a road through a desert in Arizona, a preacher named Nathaniel Evans walked every day, preaching to the many people who roared past in their cars. He would yell with conviction, "Repent, for the end of the world is near!" One day, as he was walking, he came across a big lever in the middle of nowhere, just by the side of the road. On this big lever was a sign that read, "Pull this lever to end the world." Nathaniel saw this as the perfect spot for him to preach, and soon many cars were parked nearby, and a congregation gathered to hear his message. The congregation grew until there were so many people, and so many cars, the road was nearly blocked. Then one day it happened. A big 18-wheeler came over the hill to find the road totally blocked and couldn't stop in time. The driver had a choice, run over Nathaniel, ending a preaching career, or run over the lever and end the world. As the driver explained to the highway patrol later, he actually had no choice. Pointing to the red smear on the road that used to be Nathaniel Evans, he said, "Better Nate ....than lever."

A couple of pastors from nearby churches, were standing by the side of the road, holding up a sign that read, "The End is Near! Turn yourself around now before it's too late!"

A passenger in the first car that sped by, leaned out of an open window and yelled, "Leave us alone you religious freaks!" From around the curve, the pastors heard screeching tires, ending in a big crash. Hearing that, one pastor turned to the other and commented, "Do you think we should just put up a sign that says, 'Bridge Out' instead?"

II Peter was written by a senior apostle Peter to believers and churches in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) to warn them of false teachers who were spreading their lies among them. Most believe that Peter was writing this letter from a prison cell in Rome, where he was soon to be martyred by Nero. Peter begins in chapter one of II Peter, by admonishing believers of their need to "add to their faith." Spiritual growth is vital if they are to remain effective for the cause of Christ. Peter reminds them that they possess a "more sure word of prophecy," the written Word of God, which came to them through "holy men," as they were "moved by the Holy Spirit of God."

The best protection against the lies of the devil and his false teachers, is a growing faith that is built upon the truth of God's Word. Salvation, regeneration, is just the beginning of our walk with God. Once we are saved, we are to take responsibility for our own personal spiritual growth! Peter knew first hand about being "sifted as wheat" by Satan. This is why Peter tells us in the last two verses of II Peter 3 that "...growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" is the best thing we can do to protect ourselves from "...being led away with the error of the wicked," and falling from our "....own stedfastness."

One of the truths these false teachers were challenging was the "The Day Of The Lord." The prophets of old had time and time again, prophesied of a coming day when the Lord would directly intervene in the affairs of this world in an obvious way. Paul in Acts 17, proclaimed that there is an appointed, set aside day, when the Lord shall return to judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ! This doctrine was being challenged by so called Christian teachers. They mocked and scoffed at the idea of Jesus Christ coming back in a culminating event, to conclude human history, and to judge individuals as well as nations.

These false teachers could not deny the clear teaching of the "day of the Lord" contained in the Old Testament Scriptures, so they attempted to explain it away by allegorizing it and spiritualizing it. They said, "Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." They were saying, "If this was going to happen, it would have happened by now!" Peter then in our text, goes on to defend the doctrine of the return of Jesus Christ by reminding them of the nature of God. The God of the Bible has revealed Himself as El Olam, the eternal God! Peter says in verse 8, "But, beloved, 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." These false teachers did not have the Spirit of God, and did not know God! How foolish it was for them being finite, temporal creatures, to judge God by their own limited conception of time! If there is one thing the Old Testament teaches us about God, it is that He accomplishes things in His own way and in His own time! What's a day to us? What's a thousand years to El Olam, the eternal God?

Here we are living in the 21st century, some 2,000 years since the first coming of Jesus to the earth as a baby born in Bethlehem. Jesus has promised that He would come again to receive us unto Himself, and every generation since has been watching and waiting. Is Jesus coming again? Is the hand of God orchestrating human history, moving it toward that great and final day when He will take this world by storm?

There are those who observe that God always works in sevens. He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Based on a millennial day, a day to God being a thousand years, they purport that we are living near the end of the sixth day, six being the number of man. The seventh day would be the "day of the Lord." Seven is the number of completion.

If there were a heavenly door standing between us and God's return, I believe God is standing at that door, with His hand on the door knob. Because we are living in the 21st century, we can easily observe that things have not simply continued as they were. Things have changed! Just as the stage was set for the first advent or coming of Jesus, I believe it is set for His return.

Meanwhile, we must live life from God's eternal perspective. What does that involve?

Live Life From God's Eternal Perspective:

First: Think and live in terms of eternity. Verse 8 says, "But, beloved, 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." As we read Peter's words in verse 8, we cannot help but realize that his focus is on the Lord. The phrase "with the Lord," lets us know that Peter is considering God's perspective. Peter's rebuttal of these false teachers is based upon the nature and character of El Olam, the eternal God. This passage screams at us, "Don't be ignorant about God! Know who God is and how God is, so that you can see things as He sees them!"

Time is not an issue with God. Sometimes we are guilty of projecting our own concepts of time and space on to God. We are often tempted to reason, "If God is serious about us and about our concerns, then He should do something now!" Our culture with its fast food; its high speed internet; its constant demand for instant results, immediate gratification, sets us up for this kind of thinking. God does not think this way and He does not work this way! El Olam, the God of eternity is not bound by the spirit, mood, and demands of our present age!

God is patient, yet He is never late, and He does not procrastinate! In verse 9a Peter observes, "The Lord is not slack (not slow) concerning His promise, as some men count slackness (count slowness)." The Bible reveals that God steps into the most unlikely places, speaks to the most unlikely people, works in the most unlikely ways, and He does it all in His own good time!

The child of God must be long minded! By long minded, I mean thinking beyond today, or living each day in view of eternity! The Christian race is not a sprint, it is a marathon! Noah preached righteousness and prepared the ark for one hundred and twenty years! Abraham and Sara waited twenty five years for the birth of Isaac. The moment we give God a deadline, we are setting ourselves up for a big disappointment! How are you be long minded?

You must be long minded in your service for God. Galatians 6:9 says, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." The "due season" does not mean tomorrow! We do not plant a seed one day, and reap it's fruit the next! In the same way, we cannot sow a good deed or render service to God, and always expect to see immediate results! At the same time, I am convinced that our faithful service to God impacts the lives of people more than we know, certainly more than we will ever see, in this life!

You must be long minded in your witnessing.

I Corinthians 3:6-7 says, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." There are so many people in this nation, state, and city, who have been told they are saved, simply because they gave correct answers to someone's questions or prayed someone's prayer. We cannot save anyone! However, if we sow the seed of the gospel, and over time water it with prayer, demonstrating genuine love and concern, God can save anyone! You must see everyone you meet, as someone who will face God in ETERNITY!

You must be long minded in your prayers. In Luke 18:1 Jesus said that " ought always to pray, and not to faint." God the Father honors persistent prayer! God the Father desires us to come with our petitions, seeking, knocking, asking, day after day! You must pray everyday, day after day, for boldness to witness; for eyes to see what is really important in life; for wisdom to make decisions that will please God. You must pray everyday, day after day, for lost souls that are leaving this world, to face God in ETERNITY!

You must be long minded in your commitments. In Luke 9:62, Jesus said, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Nothing worthwhile is ever accomplished by individuals who are off and on, in and out, up and down! God rewards faithfulness. It is faith that keeps us coming back; faith that keeps us in the race! Ask God to help you with your commitment.

You must be long minded in your decisions. Have you ever gotten stressed out over things that were insignificant and really didn't matter? Dean Smith, former basketball coach legend at University of North Carolina once said, "If you make every game a matter of life and death, you'll be dead a lot." Someone has suggested that when facing life's dilemmas and decisions, we should always ask ourselves the question, "Will this make a difference in 2500 years?" Apply that to what someone did to you, or what car you drive, or whether the Cowboys or Packers win or not!

Second: Get the most out of every moment. Verse 8a reads, "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years." Think about it, from God's perspective, one day is as a thousand years! While God is patient to wait, taking plenty of time to accomplish His purpose, God can also accomplish great things with just a little time! We know and serve a God who created all things in six, twenty four hours days! For six days Joshua and company circled the city of Jericho, while the priests blew their ram's horns. The seventh day, they circled the city seven times, and on cue they shouted with a great shout. It took just a moment for God to bring those great walls down! With the Lord in our lives, the proper investment of one day, can have a profound and lasting impact! Every minute, every second of every day, is crucial and must be lived to the fullest. We must learn to live "in the moment," but not "for the moment." Living "for the moment" says, "Lets eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die." Living "in the moment" says, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." We should take every day as a gift from God to be lived to the fullest for His glory! Every day should be packed with eternal significance for the child of God.

In 1984, Christian artist Randy Stonehill released a song titled, "Celebrate This Heartbeat." The words of the chorus say, "I'm gonna celebrate this heartbeat, cause it just might be my last. Everyday is a gift from the Lord on high, and they all go by so fast." Written By Copyright 1984 by Stonehillian Music & Word Music (a division of Word, Inc.) (ASCAP) Back to that 2500 year question, if you share Jesus Christ with someone, it would matter 5 billion years later! Just think, a moments investment of our time, could make the difference in someone else's ETERNITY! Which brings us to our next thought.

Third: Remember that people are important.

Verse 9 reads, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." God's delay has a divine purpose, and at the center of that purpose is lost humanity! Verse 15a says, "And account (understand or reason) that the longsuffering (the patience) of our Lord is salvation." God is waiting in order to give room for grace. He is "...not willing that any should perish." There is a doctrine that says God chooses when and to whom He offers "irresistible grace," or in other words salvation. But if that doctrine were true, then this passage is saying that God is being patient with Himself, until He feels like offering that "irresistible grace" to those few chosen individuals. God is not waiting on Himself! God is waiting on the lost to believe, and perhaps He is waiting on you. Perhaps God is waiting on you to get the gospel message to them!

This is why we, the redeemed in Christ, have been left behind! W. A. Criswell used to say, "God's eternal purpose is to procure to Himself a people who will love Him by choice. Love must make a choice." God is patient for the sake of lost humanity. There are people in our lives who have a choice to make! Our mission is to share the message of the love of God in Jesus Christ with the world! You can't take anything from this life to heaven, except people. People are the only thing you can take with you to ETERNITY! Are you living for others?

Fourth: God is more concerned about your personal purity, than your personal pleasure; your holiness over your happiness.

Verse 10 says, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." One day this old sinful world with all of it's toil and care, with all of its suffering and heartbreak, will "pass away"; it will "melt," be "burned up," or "dissolved!" Scientist insist that the universe began with a big bang. When God said, "Let there be...," who knows but what it went, "Bang!" ....or as Emeril says, "Bam!" Here by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter informs us that for sure the world will end with a big bang! What comes next? Verse 13b says, " heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." This is the eternal home for the righteous! God has great things in store for us! We are often good at preparing for the worst. What about preparing for the best? Jesus is coming! How will He find you?

Verse 11 says, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation (behavior) and godliness." The other day, my wife was at the 99 cent store near our house. She was standing in the aisle where they keep the candy. Looking up, some teens were filling their pockets with all sorts of candy to smuggle out of the store. No one was looking. No one saw them as they walked out. Somehow they rationalized that what they were doing, was acceptable behavior. Stealing is not acceptable in the eyes of the law, and certainly not in God's eyes. What are we doing that is not acceptable in God's eyes? How are we justifying it? Standing before Christ, we must put all of our stuff down! We must empty our pockets and come clean. We must give up all our excuses. Peter is calling us to live lives that are different, lives that are set apart from the world! We are to live lives with nothing to hide!

On January 25th, a three alarm fire broke out at the Monte Carlo Motel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip. In a moment, that 32 story luxury motel with its thee thousand plus rooms, was on fire and threatened with nonexistence. Here, just this last week in Garland, a large business burned to the ground! There are fires in the news every week. In this passage, Peter is telling us that everything that is bound to time will one day go up in smoke! Everything that has been accumulated in time will no longer have any value! It will be gone.

It should serve to remind you that You need to live life from God's perspective! God didn't create us for time. God created us for eternity. Eternity! Are you ready? Are you living for it?

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