Anticipating the Soon Coming of the Lord


Gil Rugh

Copyright © Indian Hills Community Church
Lincoln, Nebraska

GR963  - 2 Peter 3:11-14

(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh on Nov. 17, 1996)

In 2 Peter 3, Peter has been focusing attention on the return of Jesus Christ to accomplish the completion of His work in dealing with sin and the ultimate redemption of the world.

The Bible, and really all of history, is built around the two interventions of Jesus Christ, personally, in world events. Almost 2,000 years ago He was born at Bethlehem, lived and ultimately was crucified in Palestine, and was raised from the dead after three days. In that work He provided salvation for fallen, sinful human beings. Through His death, He paid the penalty that God's holiness required for our sin. As a result, the message we proclaim is that you can be forgiven by turning from your sin and believing in Christ.

His first coming to earth, including His death and resurrection, not only dealt with the issue of sin and made salvation possible for fallen humanity, but it also was the link that provides assurance that He is coming again. When He comes again it will not be to die, but it will be to rule and reign. In connection with coming to rule and reign, He must deal in judgment with those who have not responded to the invitation to believe in Him as their Savior. The Apostle Paul is speaking in Acts 17:31 and says that God "...has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Therefore, the death and resurrection of Christ becomes a guarantee that He will return to earth again, and when He returns to earth again, there will be judgment. Ultimately, all the world will stand before Jesus Christ and be judged by Him.

In 2 Peter 3, Peter is focusing on the events associated with this second coming of Christ to earth. In chapter 1 he wrote about the redemption Christ provided at His first coming. In the first part of chapter 3 he has been focusing attention on the assurance of the second coming and the judgment that will take place then. In this context, he has referred to the events around the second coming as "the day of the Lord," in 2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief..." The day of the Lord, as we noted in our previous study, is not just one single day, but it is a period of time encompassing a number of events. But all these events are tied together directly with the coming of Christ to earth, the judgment that will take place and the ultimate redemption of God's creation.

Here are some of the major events that will take place within this period of time that we call "the day of the Lord." It will begin following the rapture of the Church which is the removal of all true believers from the earth into the presence of God, when the antichrist signs an agreement with Israel that will begin the 70th week of Daniel, the seven-year tribulation. The day of the Lord has as its beginning point the start of the seven-year tribulation, which is divided into two equal 3 1/2-year periods of time. It is a time when God is pouring out His wrath on a sinful world, and at the same time He is working to bring the nation Israel to its knees and draw it to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. 

1. Armageddon to Follow 7-Year Tribulation

At the end of the seven-year tribulation will be the battle of Armageddon. That fits within the day of the Lord. At the battle of Armageddon will be the direct, personal descent from heaven of Jesus Christ to the earth. He will return to earth in power and great glory. This is unfolded in Revelation 19.

In connection with this return to earth at Armageddon, the enemies of the Lord will be destroyed. Then Jesus Christ will set up a throne of judgment on the earth, and all the nations of the world will be brought before Him for judgment, not to be judged as nations, but to be judged as individuals within the nations. The nation Israel will come for judgment, and all those who have not come to believe in Christ as their Savior will be executed. The Gentile nations of the world will come before Christ in judgment, and all those who have not believed in Christ as Savior will be executed. This is set forth in some detail in Matthew 25.

Then the millennial reign of Christ, also known as the earthly kingdom or the thousand-year reign, will be established. Those who have believed in Christ during the seven-year tribulation and have not been martyred but have survived in their physical bodies, will go into the earthly kingdom. They will have children, and they will repopulate the earth. For a thousand years, Jesus Christ will reign in righteousness. There will be no disease. There will be no suffering. There will be no pain in childbirth. The Bible tells us that the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. The earth will be saturated with the knowledge of the living God.

However, at the end of that thousand-year reign, Satan, who has been bound in the pit, will be turned loose for a short time. He will go about the world luring people to follow him as their king rather than Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that a number of people like the sand of the sea will make a decision that they would rather have Satan as their king than Jesus Christ. A great number of people will be born during that thousand-year period and will live under the righteous reign of Christ, but they will only grudgingly conform to what is required. They will never bow before Him and trust Him as their Savior. As soon as they are given an opportunity, they are ready to join in rebellion. That will result in their destruction, the destruction of the heaven and the earth, and the setting up of the final judgment.

2 Peter 3:10 describes what will be happening in connection with that final event in the destruction of the wicked: "the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up."  

2. Christ Will Reign On Earth for 1,000 Years

In Revelation 20:1-7, John mentions six times that Jesus Christ will reign for a thousand years. Some people try to make this a symbolic number, and they use 2 Peter 3:8, "with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day." Therefore, they claim that a thousand years in Revelation 20 is just symbolic, that it does not mean a thousand years, and that it could mean any period of time. But if you do that with a thousand years, then the comparison in 2 Peter 3 means nothing. The point in 2 Peter 3 is that what we would take as a literal thousand-year period on this earth is no more than a brief passing period to God, like a day is to us on this earth. When God says six times in Revelation 20 that it is one thousand years, I would understand it to be one thousand years. Only an unwillingness to accept that clear statement of fact would make anyone say anything else.

At the end of the thousand years in Revelation 20:7, there is a rebellion. Fire comes down from heaven in verse 9 and consumes these enemies of the Lord. Verse 11, "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them." Included in this would be the destruction of the heavens and the earth because chapter 21 begins by saying, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away." The passing of the present heavens and earth and their destruction by fire will take place in connection with setting up the great white throne judgment.

The great white throne judgment is the last judgment of history. It is the final judgment for all humanity who have not come to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. It involves their final sentencing to eternal hell where they will endure torment night and day forever and ever. After the great white throne judgment will come the new heaven and the new earth.

All of those events are included in the period of time we call "the day of the Lord" because it is the day when God completes His dealing with sin in His creation. It has two parts: It involves dealing in judgment and destruction for the unbelieving and the unredeemed, and it involves glory and ultimate re-creation of that which He redeems.

In 2 Peter 3, this is what Peter has been talking about. The focal point of his consideration has been on judgment and destruction because this is what the false teachers want to deny. They want to deny that Jesus Christ is coming again, and the particular point in the coming of Christ that they are bothered by is His dealing with sin and judging the wicked.

That's true today. People do not have any problem if you are talking about the love of God or talking about heaven. On TV and radio talk programs, people talk about dying and life after death, and the claim is always that they saw a light and they were on their way to heaven. Nobody wants to come on and talk about, "I died and I was in hell and it was awful." That is not what anybody wants to hear. 

3. False Teachers Appeal to Popular Notions

Remember, in the last days, people will heap to themselves teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. "Tell me that after I die, I am going to heaven. It is going to be wonderful. Tell me about angels. do not tell me about sin. do not tell me about judgment. do not tell me about hell. I do not want to hear it." False teachers are those who just tell people what they want to hear, what is popular.

Peter has been reminding the believers to whom he is writing that judgment will come and that God has a purpose in why it has not yet happened. he is going to elaborate on that purpose beginning with verse 11. 2 Peter 3:11: "Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way..." "All these things" refers to verse 10, the heavens, the planets, the stars around this earth, this earth, all the works that have been accomplished in it. All are going to be destroyed. Since this is going to happen, "...what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness."

"What sort of people ought you to be?" it is not really a question. The word translated "what sort of people" is used several times in the New Testament, but it is never used to ask a question. It makes a statement. We might say that it is a rhetorical question, but it is more than a rhetorical question. It is an exclamation, a declaration, "What sort of people must we be!!"

That word ought is a strong little word. It refers to what we must be before the living God. We who have believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior are to understand something about coming judgment. We are to understand that everything you can see and touch and handle is going to be destroyed, dissolved and eliminated. We are to recognize the reality of coming judgment and the destruction of all things. What must characterize us as believers is holiness and godliness.

Interestingly, these two words, holiness and godliness, are in the plural. Some of you may be using a translation that uses the word all - "in all holy conduct and godliness." That translation is trying to pick up the emphasis of those plurals. They are used in the plural to stress the application to every area of our lives and behavior. Holiness is to characterize every aspect of our lives. Godliness is to characterize everything we do. that is the point in using plurals for these two words. Holiness is to characterize all of my life, not just parts of it. Godliness is to characterize all of my life, not just parts of it. I am to be characterized by holiness and godliness at all times - not only when I am together with Christians on Sunday, but when I am at work or when I relate to people in other contexts,

Peter began this concept back in chapter 1 and also wrote about it in his first letter. 1 Peter 1:13: "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Peter draws attention to the coming of Christ without delineating the details within that. He continues in verse 14: "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" We are to reflect holiness in all our behavior. Why? Because we are looking for the coming of our Lord. It is the same basic emphasis as in 2 Peter. 

4. God Provides Power to Live Godly Lives

In the opening verses of 2 Peter 1, Peter addresses his letter to believers who have a faith of the same kind as the apostles. The readers have turned from their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Peter writes that God has granted to them divine power for holy living, godly living, and a life of godliness in verse 3. In verse 4, he writes, "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."

Peter continues in verse 5, "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, . . ." This list describes holiness and godliness of life. These are key qualities that must be in our lives as evidence of the fact that we truly belong to the living God according to verses 8 and 9 and summarized in verse 10. Peter is implying that if you really know the living God, if you really understand the reality of His coming again, then you are driven to the pursuit of holiness and godliness in your behavior and in your conduct.

2 Peter 3:12: "...looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" The word translated "looking for" is used in verses 12, 13, and 14. In verse 12 it is translated "looking for"; in verse 13 "...we are looking for new heavens and a new earth..."; and in verse 14 "...since you look for these things..." Those who truly belong to the living God have a different perspective and a different focus of life than does anyone else on earth. They are to be fixed on anticipating the coming of the Lord or "the day of the Lord." The rapture of the church is the leading event in opening the way for the unfolding of that day.

The word translated "hastening" has two possible meanings. One is as it is used in the New American Standard Bible, "...hastening the coming of the day of God..." The idea is that we are hastening that day, moving it closer by our service and ministry. In other words, we are instruments that God is using to bring that day even more rapidly before us. Verses like Matthew 24:14, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come," show how the Lord uses people in the accomplishing of His purposes.

The other meaning of "hastening" is "earnestly desiring" and that fits smoothly in the passage here. We are to be looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of the Lord. This is the passion of God's people, the coming of Christ. The first phase is the rapture of the church. The second phase is the return of Christ to earth in person.

We are looking for and eagerly desiring "...the coming of the day of God..." This is an unusual expression. This precise expression is only used here in the New Testament. A very similar expression is used in Revelation 16:14 where it is called "the great day of God, the Almighty." In Revelation 16, the focus is on that climactic point of the day of the Lord, including the destruction of the heavens and the earth, the setting up of the great white throne, the final judgment, and then the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. 

5. Heavens, Earth Will Be Re-Created

I would understand the expression to be basically synonymous with "the day of the Lord" that Peter has just used in verse 10. It is the day of God's intervention personally and directly in the affairs of this earth again. It is the day in which the heavens will be destroyed by burning; the elements will melt with intense heat. That is what he was talking about in verse 10. This does not mean they are annihilated, but they are done away with as they presently are, so they can be re-created.

That is what 2 Peter 3:13 refers to, "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." There is a connection with the old because they are new heavens and a new earth. Their very names connect them with the old heavens and the old earth. Remember, there has been precedence for this already in Peter's writings, both in his first and second letters. The first heavens and earth suffered destruction by the flood. The earth before the flood was radically different after the flood and was radically altered because of the events of that cataclysmic judgment. Well, even in a greater, more complete way, the earth and the heavens will be radically altered and changed and made completely new when they are destroyed by fire and then re-created by God.

The verse begins, "But according to His promise..." The writers of the New Testament have an unshakable faith in the truthfulness and reliability of the Old Testament and its prophetic message. Peter is dealing with false teachers who infiltrated among the people of God and told them, "Look, the Lord's not coming. He was crucified. This idea that he is coming again in judgment is just a myth. it is not going to happen." Peter's response is, "God promised and that promise will come true."

The prophet Isaiah, centuries before Jesus Christ came to earth the first time, wrote in Isaiah 65:17, "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create." God has promised that He is going to create new heavens and a new earth. Do we still believe that; even though that statement was made centuries ago? "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away" - Matthew 24:35. The word of the eternal God is eternally true, eternally reliable. You say, "But it is been so long." Remember, this is the God of eternity. A thousand years in His sight is no more than a day in your sight as a human being. it is just a little, passing, fleeting moment. Since Isaiah wrote this, it is only been like two-and-a-half or three days to the God of eternity. We have to remember to see it from God's perspective. Peter is writing his letter expecting martyrdom at any moment, but his faith in the promise of God was unshaken, and he writes under the inspiration of God so that we have the same assurance. 

6. God's Promise to Israel Sealed by His Faithfulness

Isaiah 66:22: "'For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me,' declares the Lord, 'So your offspring and your name will endure.'" The promise of new heavens and a new earth is so sure that God uses it as a foundation for the promise to Israel that the nation will endure before Him. If there isn't going to be new heavens and a new earth, then the promise to Israel collapses, too.

Some who are misguided in their understanding of Scripture think that the promises to Israel have fallen through. They think those promises depended upon Israel's response to God. But they do not depend upon Israel; they depend upon the faithfulness of God who made them. The promise of new heavens and a new earth depends upon the faithfulness of God who made them. Remember in Revelation 21:1, John describes a new heaven and a new earth. This is a description of the future, but it will happen.

2 Peter 3:13: "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." We are not just to be looking for the day of the Lord simply because it will bring judgment and punish sinners, although that does put a certain fear of the Lord in me and a fear of sin and its awfulness. We are to be looking for the new heavens and the new earth that the day of the Lord will bring after He has finally dealt in wrath and judgment with sin and the effects of sin, even in the creation.

The new heavens and the new earth will be the residence of righteousness. The new heavens and the new earth will be characterized by righteousness. There will be no sin. There will be no evidence of sin. There will be no taint of sin present in the new heavens and the new earth. Sin will have been completely annihilated. The evidences of sin will be completely gone. Isaiah 65 stated that the former things will not be remembered. They will be gone, eliminated. 

7. New Jerusalem Is Focus of New Heavens, Earth

The focal point in the new heavens and the new earth is the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven in Revelation 21, and sinners are excluded from the new Jerusalem and the new heavens and the new earth. Revelation 22:15: "Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying." In this new creation, all unredeemed sinners are closed out. They are outside. They are excluded. Where are they? Revelation 20 indicates that they have appeared at the great white throne and have been cast alive into the lake of fire which burns forever and ever. They are not part of the new creation, the new heavens and the new earth. They are outside.

It can get wearisome when it looks like the wicked prosper, but we need to do as David did in the Psalm 73:17, "Then I perceived their end." Today people parade their immorality. They are proud of their lying and what it has accomplished. You can turn on the television and watch the "Sorcerers Network". But we understand the day of judgment will come. When we get to the new heavens and the new earth, they will not be there. They will be outside, confined to an eternal hell. 2 Peter 3:12-13 gives us the balance, the destruction in judgment, and Revelation 20 reveals the great white throne judgment of the wicked.

2 Peter 3:14 continues, "Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless." Peter is telling his readers, his well loved ones, that since they are to be looking for all the things associated with the day of the Lord, including the new heavens and the new earth in verse 13, "Therefore, beloved, ... be diligent to be found in Him in peace, spotless and blameless." The word translated "to be diligent" is in the aorist imperative; it is a forceful, strong command. it is a word that Peter used in chapter 1. He is wrapping this letter up the way he started it.

In the first four verses he is talking about the power of God in accomplishing our salvation in Christ. 2 Peter 1:5: "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, ... supply..." these things. Also in verse 10, "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent..." That is the same word given as a command. In the context of 2 Peter 1:5-11, Peter writes that in light of the fact that His divine power has granted to those who have been redeemed everything necessary for a life of godliness, we must be diligent to see that godliness characterizes our lives. Now it is not that I reach down into the resources of myself to pull myself up to accomplish what I should. No! I reach down into the resources of almighty God, who has made me new within, and I draw upon His power, the One who is my sufficiency, and apply myself to the pursuit of the development of His character in every aspect of my life. that is the idea being presented.

So, in light of these things, be diligent. The context in 2 Peter 1 makes it clear that this divides the believer from the unbeliever. Diligence marks out those who have truly come to salvation in Jesus Christ and those who have not. Two things must be present or must be evaluated to know whether salvation is genuine. Number 1: The doctrine that is believed. What do you believe about your sin? What do you believe about Jesus Christ, who He is, His person? What do you believe about His work, His death on the cross and resurrection? What do you believe about the forgiveness of sins? Those are the doctrines that must be considered.

Number 2: The transformed life that will characterize a person who has truly been saved. Many people hear a message of Christ in an emotional moment, the singing of a song, the impact of the crowd, and they respond and have a great zeal for a time, but after a time there is a drifting farther and farther and farther away. That drifting reveals the fact that salvation never occurred in that life.

The assurance you have that you are saved, according to 2 Peter 1:10, is the evidence of His work in your life. The false teachers want to move it out of the realm of anything concrete and tangible. They tell you that if you feel like you believe, then you are saved. They will say, "Nobody can see my heart. You cannot tell me if I am a Christian or not." Ultimately, God will be the judge, but He says there are certain concrete, tangible evidences, and if these evidences are not there, then it is very sure that you do not belong to Him. False teaching has so permeated the Church today that we walk on eggshells thinking that everyone who walks around professing faith in Christ should be accepted as a believer regardless of whether his life is characterized as holy and godly. False teaching is allowed to permeate the Church because a portion of the Scripture is denied. In this case, false teachers want to deny that the evidence of God's electing work in one's life is that it produces holiness and godliness. 

8. Peace of Salvation Marks Believers

In 2 Peter 3:14, the word order in the Greek text has been reversed to make it flow smoother in English. Literally, the word order in Greek is "spotless and blameless, by Him, to be found in peace." The word peace comes at the end of the expression, not the beginning. In 1 Peter 1:19, Peter describes Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God without spot, without blemish. The purity of our Savior is to manifest itself in our lives as His people. We are to be diligent to be found by Him, because in connection with the coming of the Lord, we will appear before Him, and we want to be found by Him in peace.

"In peace" seems to refer to the peace of salvation. Romans 5:1 says, "...we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 8:1 says, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

In 2 Peter 1:10, Peter tells us that we are to be diligent in the pursuit of holiness and the development of God's character in our lives, for this makes our calling and election sure. it is not that one is saved by being diligent. Peter started the letter by referring to the fact that his readers have the same kind of faith that the apostles have, that they believe what God says about sin and about His Son. The point here is that those who are truly saved are diligent in the pursuit of godliness, and that such diligence is a confirmation that they belong to the living God.

To paraphrase, 2 Peter 3:14 says, "beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace and to produce the evidences of your salvation." This is back to where Peter started the letter in chapter 1, "spotless and blameless." That does not mean that as a Christian we live without sin. Instead, living without sin is to be the relentless pursuit of my life. I can never be satisfied with less. I can never have the attitude that it is no big deal if all of my life does not reflect Him.

As a child of God walking in obedience to Him, the "little areas" plague you where sin keeps asserting itself. it is just not acceptable. It is not satisfactory. In this way we are to desire to be found spotless and blameless by Him. 

9. Opportunity for Salvation Continues

2 Peter 3:15 begins, "and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation..." Two things are going on in these days as we anticipate the coming of the Lord, the day of the Lord. First, it is an opportunity for us to grow, mature, to be diligent, to confirm our salvation and to produce more of God's character in our lives. Secondly, we regard these days as days of salvation. Instead of waking up and thinking, "Ah, the Lord didn't come again. It would have been so nice if He had come last night while I was sleeping and just moved right out of my sleep into the glory of His presence," we are to be thinking, "Thank you, Lord, that you have delayed another day. There are people who still need to hear. There are some whom I love and still desire to experience your salvation." This is a day of salvation. We are to have the attitude that says, "I am glad the Lord hasn't come yet! it is an opportunity." that is how we're to look at it.

Therefore, beloved, it is an opportunity for us to apply diligence to holiness of life, not to settle down and try and enjoy the good life in the world. No, that is not what this time is for. it is to produce the character of God in my life, and it is an opportunity to reach out with the message of salvation to others.

The New Testament gives many exhortations to purity of life in the context of the coming of the Lord. In 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter notes that Paul has written similar things in his letters. Romans 13:11: "Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near." The Apostle Paul lived on the brink of expectation that the Lord is coming! He wrote that this is no time to be drowsy, to be fogged over by the things of this life. His point is that we are a day closer to the return of the Lord than we were yesterday. It can be tempting to be skeptical. After all, it is almost two thousand years later, and it has not yet happened. Nonetheless, that is the way we are to live. That is supposed to shape your life. If someone could tell you for sure that the Lord is coming at 5:20 this evening, it would be easy to gather up the strength to avoid any sinful activity for this day. 

10. Focus Upon Christ's Return Provides Strength

This strength is similar to the strength you have when you get bad news. I used to work with a man who was a life-long smoker. I asked him one day how he gave up smoking, and he said, "You know, I never had the strength to give it up. Then I went in for an operation and they removed one of my lungs. When I came out of that operation I had a strength that I did not have before the operation. I have never smoked again, because the doctor told me, 'When you come back for the removal of your second lung, you are gone.'" He was the same person. He had the same mind, but the events shaped him. If I really believe that the Lord is coming before the day is over, all of a sudden I have a strength, and that temptation to sin is muted and dulled by the reality that Christ is coming. In fact, if I knew that He was coming on Wednesday of this week, there would be a purity to my life over the next few days that would probably exceed everything else; a freedom from sin. Why? Because I would be focused on the coming of the Lord.

Romans 13:12 continues, "Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."

1 John 3:2-3, "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." That hope fixed on Jesus Christ and the reality of His coming causes me to want to live a pure life. The church gets moved away from teaching the word. These false teachers try to move us away from focusing on the return of Christ. Then it is easy to move us into a corrupt lifestyle. People say, "I want to talk about things that are practical." Remember, talking about prophecy and the coming of the Lord is practical because God says that is what ought to shape the way we live today - the impact of knowing that He is coming.

In Titus 1:16, Paul writes about false teachers. "They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him." If you just examine their doctrine, they profess the right things, but their lifestyle denies what they profess. Doctrine and lifestyle have to go together.

In Titus, Paul is writing about living a godly life. In chapter 2, at the end of verse 5, his concern is that the word of God will not be dishonored. At the end of verse 10, his concern is that they adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. Verse 11: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men." That grace of God is associated with the first coming of Christ to earth, His providing His Son, the unblemished and spotless Lamb of God, to hang on the cross to pay the penalty for sin.

Verses 12-14 continue: "instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds."  

11. Salvation Is the Starting Point to New Life

You see the order. People think they are going to be acceptable before God because they try to do good. No! The starting point in salvation is to recognize that you are no good. you are without hope. Then you bow in faith before God and receive the free gift of life he is provided in Christ. When you do that, He makes you new within. He gives you a new heart and a new mind, which then you are to apply with unrelenting zeal to the pursuit of holiness and godliness.

That's what the grace of God teaches us. This should answer the false doctrine permeating the church that we can disassociate works from salvation. Remember, salvation is not brought about by works. Works are not part of accomplishing our salvation. But you can not experience the dynamic power of God in being made new and not have your life changed. The president of the seminary I attended used to say, "When He saves you, He saves your 'want to', so now you want to do what is pleasing to Him."

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is coming again? Is it a focal point of your life? Does it shape your thinking? Does it shape your lifestyle? Does it shape the activities of your day? You may need to back up and say, "Have I really experienced the impact of the first coming of Christ in my life? Have I come to grips with my need of salvation, my wretched, sinful condition? Have I turned from my sin and believed in the Savior? If so, am I diligently applying myself to seeing His character produced in me in every situation and every circumstance and every part of the way that I live?"

We as believers are to be eagerly expecting and looking forward to that day when He shall take possession of all. Ultimately, we will bask in the glory of new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, because according to the last couple of chapters of the book of Revelation, the throne of God itself will dwell on that new earth. There is a glorious destiny for those who are redeemed. There is a frightful destiny for those who ignore the free gift of life in Jesus Christ.

Let us pray together: Thank you, Lord, for your holiness, your righteousness. Thank you, Lord, that you have provided holiness and righteousness for us as fallen, sinful human beings in your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you, Lord, for the promises of your word that He is coming again in power and great glory. he is coming again and will deal in wrath and vengeance with sin and all its manifestations. And, ultimately, he is coming again to re-create this world to be a world in which righteousness dwells, a world that will be a fitting dwelling place for the throne of the eternal, living God. Lord we give you praise for the wonder of your salvation. Lord, I present to you this congregation today. You know the hearts of each one. You know us as we are. Lord, you know those who are just going through the motions, who have deceived others and perhaps themselves. Lord, in your grace, convict their hearts in this day of salvation. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.

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Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
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