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Where is the promise of his coming?主要降临的应许在哪里呢?

November 23, 2014, More from this speaker 更多关于此讲员: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee (2 Peter 3:3-9) For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: 1,2 Peter & Jude
Preached at a Mandarin (Sunday) service

Tags: 2 Peter, 彼 得 后 书

Listen to sermon recording with the play button or download with the download link. 您可点播或下载讲道录音。
About Rev. Wong Siow Hwee: Rev. Wong is the moderator of Jubilee Church, serving there since 2002. 王晓晖牧师是禧年堂的主理牧师。自2002年,在那牧会将近20年。
Bible passage (ESV) of the sermon can be found at the bottom of the page.

彼 得 后 书 第 3 章:3 - 9 节
Sermon on 2 Peter 3 : 3 - 9

Title: Where is the promise of his coming?
主要降临的应许在哪里呢绒?

Today’s passage is essentially about this one question: Where is the promise of his coming? (v.4) This question is about the second coming. In case you haven’t noticed, FACT: it isn’t here yet. FACT: Many Christians from the first century till now have waited and anticipated in vain till they died. FACT: life goes on, nothing has changed. So, where is the promise of his coming? But before I answer that question, I feel I must first tackle another question. Why does it matter if Christ comes or not? Why is it important to us?

It is important because this coming, this promise, gives hope to the calling God has given to us. It gives meaning to what Christians are called to do. 1 Peter 1:13 13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. The Second Coming is our hope. Because of the hope, we can embark on our divine mission on earth: To be holy and to do good. 1 Peter 1:15-17 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.

FACT: Such holy living is wonderful, and something desirable for us. To have love for one another. To act in kindness as a community. Even when we have our times of weakness, at times we rebuke and restore, at times we show care and support, at times we choose to accept and forgive. I don’t think it’s just me who yearns for such goodness and thinks of them as truly precious. Isn’t it for such precious moments of true humanity that movies and dramas are made? But have you considered this: if such is our yearning for goodness, why is it not prevalent all the time, but only expressed ever so sparingly in our lives? Why do we not act in sincere goodness in all that we do, towards all that we encounter? Perhaps you might have guessed the answer.

The word that is repeated 6 times, 3 times in 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:14; 2:11; 4:2) and 3 times in 2 Peter (2 Peter 1:4; 2:18; 3:3), is “Desires” (私欲). Translators often qualify this word by translating it as evil desires, or lust, or sinful desires, but the literal meaning is just desires or feelings. And Desires are the mental block. It is Desires that say, “Why should I?” It is Desires that prompt all suspicions and hesitations within us, alerting all the “What ifs” in our mind. What if it’s a fraud? What if I’m misunderstood? What if he/she hurts me? What if nothing ever changes? You know what? There is nothing intellectually wrong with thinking like that because that is the reality. FACT: Desires are part of the reality of life. In today’s passage, Peter speaks of those who are “indulging their own lusts” (v.3). They are not even shameful or feel guilty about it. They are just following or walking in accordance with their desires. You may know of perpetual liars, or those with a permanent mask, or some who are always seeking to take advantage of others. There is no denying the reality that we live in a world with bullies, cheats and the ruthless. You might immediately think of the recent case in Sim Lim Square. [1] Desires are the mental block in our Christian mission.

But Peter challenges this mental block head on. Our living should not be dependent on how others treat us, but dependent on who we are. We may fear the desires of others. We may be even more shocked and disgusted by the desires deep set within ourselves. Like Adam and Eve, our eyes were opened to our vulnerabilities before sin, and our instincts are to protect and hide ourselves from shame. But vulnerable and afraid as we are, God called us. He called by his own glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3). A calling to do good even if others may accuse you of doing wrong (1 Peter 2:12). To do good even to those who may be harsh towards us (1 Peter 2:18). To do good even if you are being slandered (1 Peter 3:16-17). To do good even in suffering (1 Peter 4:19). On one hand, we must acknowledge the reality of Desires. On the other hand, we do good in spite of it all because the one who called us determines who we are. One thing I’m absolutely certain about: that at the back of Peter’s challenge to his church lies the model of Christ. Jesus is the epitome of living by pure goodness despite a reality of Desires. In the midst of the desires of the Jews, the selfishness of Pilate and the Romans, the secret ambitions of the disciples, and perhaps his own struggle with his identity as the son of God, Jesus chose the path of pure goodness every time. [2]

I feel that it’s only when we fully acknowledge just how impossible is this Christian divine mission that we can appreciate the value of hope. Why does the promise of Christ’s coming matter? It matters because we live believing that such genuine goodness eventually wins out. We live believing that even though we know desires is a threat to our goodness all the time, that even though we may look like fools to the world, we know that all these matter greatly to God. His coming matters, because the vindication and reckoning of all these difficult and foolish choices to be good matters. And this is our Christian living hope. We need this, just to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This promise of God is our assurance that such goodness, the fearlessness to be good, is never in vain.

But there will be scoffers. They are like the wet blankets of the world. Essentially that is one way to see the world. And you have your so-called FACTs to back you up. To believe that nothing ever changes. God can’t be bothered, otherwise why would he delay his coming? And so the only thing that really matters is your desires. It’s every man for himself. But this is Peter’s counter-argument, you cannot be self-selective with FACTs! You cannot just choose those you like and ignore the ones you don’t like, and declare that’s the way to see the world. So in 2 Peter 3:5, Peter says this about them, “They deliberately ignore this fact”. And then in 2 Peter 3:8, Peter says “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved”. And when you put all the facts together, you have the proper way to see the world. While it may seem like nothing ever changes, FACT: the world actually changes by God’s word. (repeat) Two examples were given, one spoken in Creation, and the other pronounced in Judgment during the time of Noah. And since the promise is given in the word of God, you can be sure that the world will change when the time is fulfilled.

Yet it is true that there feels like a delay. For all the anticipation of the early church of a second coming within their lifetime, it didn’t happen. In a way, it feels like all the goodness was for nothing, and they have suffered in vain. It’s times like this that giving in to your desires makes better sense. Imagine the teacher saying that the test will be cancelled today. Some of the students who studied hard might be thinking, I should’ve watched my favourite TV show yesterday instead. The sucker punch then comes in the form of another lazy classmate, “See? I told you so. This teacher always threatens with a test but it never comes. Lucky I couldn’t be bothered and went out partying.” It is natural to wonder. If this vindication is so precious to our faith to do good, why should it be delayed? We don’t mind looking like fools for now, but we do wish that the test arrives as promised to show that we are actually the smart ones. What is God thinking then?

Peter explains in verse 9, “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” Though the second coming is extremely important for Christians, it is not here yet because of God’s patience. I want to say 2 things about patience. FACT, Patience is often unseen. We only know it because nothing happened. But just because nothing happened doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. This is an important consideration, whenever we feel disappointed that nothing happened. Two, patience is relative to the person with the time. Kids are not patient because they live moment to moment. But as we mature, we grow patient because we learn to plan and to perceive time in longer and longer durations. But when time is running out in our twilight days, impatience sets in again. FACT: God has a lot of time. And so God is patient. He has time on his side.

With these two concepts in mind, let’s now think like a parent. You have a child struggling with the moral choices in his life. He is trying hard, but the harsh reality is making it even harder. What would you do if you hold the call to the time of judgment? Parents, have you experienced this? In my children’s case, sometimes it is a final call of “that’s it, we’re not going to the playground tomorrow, since you refused to listen something.” Even though the child might not see it, and perhaps he cares more about his moment than how I see the entire situation from my greater perspective of time, I find myself always giving more and more patience. I think that’s the way with God.

Where is the promise of his coming? I admit it seems delayed. 2000 years of waiting is a long time for humans who cannot live beyond a hundred. But when we put all the FACTs together, perhaps it’s not hard to see why. God is just acting with the same goodness he demands of us. His reputation can be beaten, and he can be gossiped about and scandalized by mockers. Some call him slow, and I’m sure he has his heartaches from utterly disappointed well-meaning Christians who suffered and waited in vain in their lifetime. But this is what goodness is about, to be good in spite of everything, in spite of suffering and temptations from all sorts of desires. I cannot pretend to be God. But maybe in his mind, his good intention is that if he is a little more patient, more will repent and be saved.

This is the last sermon on the Peter series at the bilingual service. I began the series talking about our Christian walk, living between the two marshmallows.[3] The Christian walk is never easy because we follow a holy heavenly Father intent on saving the world. As humans we yearn for this goodness. What a wonderful world it would be. We must choose to live in this way regardless of the desires of this world. We are people of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is coming. And the hope that it would be all worthwhile will spur us on. It’s therefore important that I end today’s message by giving a full assurance about our Christian hope. In my reading, I came upon this Davidic Psalm. I love the poetic and gentle way it is written to calm a troubled soul. Let’s do this in responsive reading as a fitting end to our Peter sermon series.

Psalm 37
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

[1] http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/sim-lim-square-incident-case-begin-injunction-proceedings-against-mobile-air
[2] Well, that path eventually ended on the cross. Does this seem like foolishness to you? Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1: 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. I needed to talk about this seeming foolishness because I want to be totally upfront about Peter’s challenge to us. I feel that it’s only when we fully acknowledge just how impossible is this Christian divine mission, then we can appreciate the value of hope.
[3] http://www.jubilee.org.sg/sermons/?sermon_id=556

2 Peter 3:3–9 (Listen)

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

(ESV)