As Christians, we have been born again into salvation by grace through God’s mercy, by faith in Jesus Christ, and not by works lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8). And we have been applying ourselves, with varying degrees of diligence, to grow, in the time and times of our lives, into the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a complete man or woman, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4: 13). As persons, God created us and we are therefore important to Him; we have value, as the created, to the Creator, and therefore we have reason to know we have intrinsic value and we should value our selves and treat ourselves accordingly. Yes, we have learned that God knew us before He formed us in our mothers’ wombs (Jeremiah 1: 4-5; see Isaiah 43: 1-7). And we say, “Yep, God has a plan for us”, and we know if God has a plan for us, we are important to Him and His plans for our roles in the generation of time and history in, and for which, He has especially and lovingly created us as a heritage, a gift, in our generation (Psalm 127: 4).
Today, we are recognizing our college students, and percentagewise, we are favored with a high number in our small body of believers in this church. The message today is especially for our young college students, but it applies to our older students and to all of us. It is a message to keep focus, to be diligent and not to be mislead by all the seemingly smart professors and students in and around the colleges, and also not to be tempted to walk according to their own lusts, along with those who scoff at the existence of God, those who laugh at the “morality” which God requires of those who believe and follow Him. Our message today, as always, contains encouragement and a warning. We can only proclaim the Word of God; you, my friends, must choose to apply the Word of God – with its encouragements and warnings – to, and in, your own lives, to the glory of God.
In the transition from home to college, our young students have a great challenge, typically because of the new and great freedom of choice, and apparent separation from the accountability of home. And this is true for those college students coming from Christian homes and from non-Christian homes. So, and sadly, many college students decide that they can release themselves to choices and lusts and immoralities that they never would have thought they could have gotten away with at home. And many are beset with worries about paying for college and about grade performance, and choice of courses and classes and careers, and job opportunities. So, our college students, in this time of transition especially, like us non-students, so often get distracted by the worries and cares of this life (Matthew 6: 31) and we fail to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, because we forget the things we have worried about and cared about will be added to us if we keep our priorities straight and make quality choices to seek the things of God and His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6: 33). Structurally, that is God’s plan for our lives, although there are many specifics in addition and in implementation of that structural plan. But in forgetting that structural plan, in forgetting to keep our priorities straight, in failing to make quality choices to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness, we deviate from, we step away from, God’s personal plan for our lives.
Today, we are reminded through the second letter of Peter of some very basic principles, and realities of our lives, principles and realities necessary to sustain in us a pure heart and a pure mind. Let’s look at II Peter 3, beginning at Verse 1, and reading through Verse 18:
“ Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you 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 Savior, knowing this first, that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 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 creation.’ For this they willfully forgot that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation – as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”
In this Scripture, Peter has written for us here not a new teaching but reminders, and we all need regular reminders in our lives, amen? And Peter’s reminders here are to “stir up your pure minds by way of reminder” (Verse 1).
So, what does Peter here remind us that is so important?
- Getting reminded of fundamentals of our faith is valid and important because it stirs our minds, which causes us to hold to God’s priorities in our lives and to make quality choices for His kingdom and His righteousness.
- Scoffers will come and attack the prophecies of Jesus Christ, which is to attack Jesus Himself, with the purpose of justifying their decisions to walk (Verse 3) according to their own lusts. This reminds us that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19: 10), and that it is by our faith in that testimony of Jesus, which has fulfilled all the law and all the prophets that we rebuke and rebuff, in love, the scoffers, the modern philosphers [although those scoffings have long been around – there is nothing new under the sun! (Ecclesiastes 1: 9)].
- We should not lose faith because all men have not come to the saving knowledge of Jesus, which is God’s desire (I Timothy 2: 4), because (Verse 9), “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any one should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
- (Verses 4-7), reminds us that by the word of God the heavens were created and the earth and waters were created – Earth was created, and the universe. And that the heavens and the Earth are now preserved by the word of God and thus reserved by the word of God for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. Verse 10 reminds us of “suddenness”, that the day of the Lord, that day of judgment will come like a thief in the night (preplanned by the thief, but sudden to those in the home), at which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements of the earth will melt with fervent heat, such that both the earth and the works, the so-called improvements, that are in the earth will be burned up. And, thereby we are reminded, in Verse 13, of God’s promise in Revelation 21: 1-4, that there will be a new heaven and a new earth and a New Jerusalem will come down from God, prepared by God as a bride adorned for her husband, constituting the tabernacle of God brought to men, those men saved by the Lamb of God and His blood, wherein God will live with us and He will wipe away every tear, and there shall be no more death, and no more sorrow and no more crying, and no more pain, because the former things of the lives we have lived in the former earth shall have passed away. That is what we have to look forward to, that is the crux of our eternal hope in the Blood of our Savior, Jesus. What a reminder!!
- Verses 11-12, and 14, remind us to be persons of “holy conduct and godliness”, and to look forward to, and hasten, the end of this earth and heavens and the gift of the New Jerusalem and God’s presence and the passing away of tears, death, sorrow, crying and pain. These verses remind us to be diligent (to study hard and with discipline), so our lives will be lived, and we will be found by God, in peace (remember, be reminded of Isaiah 57: 21, “There is no peace . . . for the wicked.”), without spot or blame. And Verse 18 reminds us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, giving Him the glory now and forever.
- But in these reminders there is not only the warning that we not be deceived into the temptation of the scoffers against the prophecy of the end times and the New Jerusalem and the prophecy of Jesus, but in Verses 16 and 17 there is a warning – it says, “beware” – that we make certain that, through diligence and discipline and growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we gain, and we should do so as quickly as we can, sufficient knowledge of Jesus that we are persons taught and learned in the knowledge of Jesus and God, and therefore that we are stable in all things (See James 1) and that we understand the Scriptures and don’t get them twisted up in our minds, thus impure minds, so that we fall away from our steadfastness (in other words, fall because our foundation is unstable), and get led away with the errors of the wicked to our own destruction!
Many people, especially college students just away from home and immersed in the freedoms of choice available to them, get really lost in the weeds, so to speak, trying to figure out who they are, whether it is important that they live or die, how to balance their own ego with service to others, how to have good relationships, what is God’s plan for their lives, and then trying to decide if and when they will pick up that mantle, that yoke, that cross, and follow Him. Those specifics about God’s purpose and call in your life are vitally important, but so many people get so lost in that struggle for Godly identity that they forget the general structure of God’s plan while they are sorting out the details in their lives, and trying to balance freedom of choice with accountability to the God Who created them, as well as to their parents and family. Each person has to find the call of God in the details of his/her life, but one cannot find, or sustain, that call and that purpose except in the construct of God’s big picture.
These six reminders of the big picture of God’s plan are so vital, so necessary and so important; do not underestimate their importance. Please, with a heightened degree of diligence, engrave them in your minds and on your hearts, that they may be ever before you as you prioritize your time, and make your choices and decisions – minute by minute and day by day – in your lives. These six elements of God’s plan, if kept clearly in mind, and diligently used as the filter for sorting out our options as we make our decisions, will in every case have the effect of keeping us on God’s narrow highway, and of shepherding us into the correct,
quality choices and decisions at every crossroad, every turn of life. These six elements of God’s plan for every life will bring forth the individual fruit that He purposed from the beginning in every individual life, for His ordained purposes, as we actually use our hearts, minds, emotions and will, setting our mouths, feet, hands and money to work in the great work of discipleship in which we are all commanded to fulfill God’s plan that the gospel should be preached to all men, so that they may have opportunity better to appropriate unto themselves, for salvation and eternal life with God, the saving knowledge of the truth, which is Jesus Christ.
Amen and God bless you!