The Certainty of God's Judgments
Copyright © 1996
Indian Hills Community Church
Sermon GR954 - 2 Peter 2:4-5
(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh on June 2, 1996)
The apostle Peter considers the matter of false teachers and false teaching and the danger, which they present, to the churches in Asia. False teachers will infiltrate among the believers and teach that which is contrary to the truth of God. They will corrupt the life style of His people and their teaching and their style of living will confuse and corrupt believers and the church.
One of the most disheartening things about false teachers is their apparent success. False teachers often seem to have large followings and limited difficulties. They seem to ride a crest of popularity and they are honored. They have ministries that seem to be growing and effective. This is often in stark contrast to true believers who seem to be constantly struggling. Their churches and ministries seem to have limited resources and to be always facing one problem or another. That is often true even in our general view of the world and in the life of the unbeliever.
1. A Psalm of Encouragement
Psalm 73 is a great encouragement and a needed reminder for me. This is a Psalm where Asaph, the writer, bares his own heart and soul and he shares some of the frustration that he has experienced in observing the prosperity of the wicked. It got so bad for him that he almost lost his balance and he began to think, "Maybe it was not worth it to try so hard to be faithful to God."
The Psalm begins on a confident note. "Surely God is good to Israel. To those who are pure in heart!" That is absolutely true, but it is one thing to have a sound doctrinal statement and it is another thing to live it out. "But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped." What Asaph says is, "I almost lost it. I almost got confused and stepped out of the proper path." Why? "For I was envious of the arrogant, as I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death; and their body is fat. They are not in trouble as other men; Nor are they plagued like mankind." They seem to do so well and they seem to avoid so many of the problems and pressures in trials that I experience. I began to think that maybe I ought to make an adjustment, so that I might enjoy some of the good things that they enjoy. Did you ever wonder why God lets some of the wicked and vile people live as long as He does? "Lord, it would really help us in our ministry if You would make an example of them, but they seem to do well." They live the beautiful life and then they pass away quietly at a ripe old age and we say, "It is not fair."
That is what Asaph was thinking. We read in Psalm 73:12-14 "Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth." So he thought, "Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, And washed my hands in innocence; For I have been stricken all day long; And chastened every morning." Did you ever have that thought as a believer and say "I just do not think it's worth it?" You try to be faithful to God and you determine that you are going to honor Him with your life and the wretched person you work with gets a promotion and they tell you that you are going to be terminated. You say, "Why, Lord?" Perhaps you are diagnosed with a major medical problem, but the other person who is living an ungodly life seems to be without any trials.
"When I pondered to understand this; It was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end." (Psalm 73:16,17) Do you know what Asaph says? "I needed to have God's perspective on this. I had to see the wicked from God's perspective. Then I saw what their end would be." "Surely You set them in slippery places. You cast them down to destruction and they are destroyed in a moment. They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form. When my heart was embittered; And I was pierced within, Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You." (Psalm 73:18-22) You say, "I realize that it is stupid thinking." Just consider for a moment, an unbeliever lives the good life for 75 or 80 years. He enjoys much of what this world has to offer. When he passes away in his sleep we say "Wow, that is the kind of life to lead." Now consider the end, where is he today?
"Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, And afterward receive me to glory." (Psalm 73:23, 24) I may not have many possessions in this world and I may not have good physical health, but I do have the Lord God who holds my hand. He walks with me through this life and afterward He will receive me to glory. "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth." (Psalm 73:25)
"But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works." (Psalm 73:28)
Return now to 2nd Peter 2. Peter explained that these false teachers will have a marked degree of success, humanly speaking, and they will have many followers. Peter says, in verse 3, " ...in their greed they will exploit you... " But remember, that at the end of verse 1, they are "bringing swift destruction upon themselves." Also at the end of verse 3, "...their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep."
2. Examples of God's Faithfulness
Peter will unfold the reality of the coming judgment for the wicked. He will show the reality of the destruction of these false teachers and he will remind us of the faithfulness of God. He is going to use three examples, from past history, as illustrations. These examples are:
the angels who sinned in verse 4,
the flood in the time of Noah in verse 5 and,
the situation with Sodom and Gomorrah in verses 6 and 7,
Peter will make two points from the first part of verse 4 through the first part of verse 10.
God does not spare the wicked, no matter who they are and no matter how many are involved. God does not spare the wicked!
God does deliver the righteous no matter who they are and no matter how many are involved. God does deliver the righteous!
These two simple points are profound and have eternal significance. Men and women become involved in the corruption of the world and in doctrines that are not true to the Word of God and they forget the reality of the coming judgment. They choose to ignore reality and become like the proverbial ostrich with their heads buried in the sand. They do not want to hear about sin and they do not want to hear about judgment! They say "Do not talk to me about hell!" They forget that God is trustworthy and that His instructions are clear.
Verses 4 through 8 use conditional construction:
"For if God did not spare angels..."
"and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah...;"
"and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah..."
"and if He rescued righteous Lot..."
Verse 9 begins with "then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgement, ..."
3. Peter draws a conclusion
Peter will use these examples from ancient history to draw his conclusion.
The examples come from the early chapters of the book of Genesis. The first example involves the angels who sinned. "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment." (2nd Peter 2:4) God did not spare angels who sinned and He made it clear that no one is above judgment. No one will escape the judgment of God for sin. Even the angels of heaven, who served in the presence of God, were judged when they sinned and they were judged with an awful, awesome and terrifying judgment that is described as hell. The pits of darkness hold the ultimate destruction.
There is some difference of opinion as to what sin the angels committed. One view is that the sin involved the original sin of Lucifer and the angels, who joined him in his rebellion against God. Because of that rebellion, they lost their position in heaven and were sentenced to eternal suffering in hell. The sentence will be carried out in the future.
The second view is that the sin of angels refers to the sexual sin, where angels entered into sexual relationships with women in the days leading up to the flood. This is described in the opening verses of Genesis 6.
The point, which Peter makes, is the same, and it is clear, no matter which view you hold. Even angels do not escape judgment for their sin. My understanding is that the reference is to the original fall of Satan and his angels. There are two main passages, in the Old Testament, that describe the original condition of Lucifer, or Satan, and his fall. In both of these passages, an earthly king is being described and then the prophet moves beyond that earthly king in the description. In Isaiah 14, it is the king of Babylon who is being described. In Ezekiel 28, it is the king of Tyre who is being described. Lucifer is described as the king who is behind the earthly king in these examples. We read in Isaiah 14:12 "How have you fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart," ---then you have the five "I will's" of Satan, as we usually identify them,--- "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly... I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. Nevertheless, you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit." Satan was exalted and lifted up in pride. God had created him with such beauty and majesty that he deluded himself into thinking that he could take the place of God. He would be thrust down to Sheol to the recesses of the pit. Satan has now lost his position in heaven. "He is fallen" verse 12, "from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn." He has the sentence of hell hanging over him, but that sentence will not be carried out until Revelation 20. That sentence remains to be carried out in the future.
4. Pride at the heart of sin.
It is somewhat dumbfounding to read of the pride and arrogance of Lucifer, who thinks that he could be God. Pride is at the heart of all of our sin. That is why we chaff so much at being told that we are sinners. When we are told that we are defiled, unworthy and deserving of hell we do not want to hear it! I want to hear that which will exalt me and lift me up because I think highly of myself.
Refer to Ezekiel 28:11 where the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel. He delivers a lamentation over the king of Tyre. Then he moves beyond the earthly king to the spirit-force behind that earthly king. In verse 14 we read, "You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire." Satan (Lucifer) may well have been the most exalted of all God's creation. He was the angelic being, the cherub, who covered the very throne of God. He had the position of most intimate relationship with God among all the created beings. "You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you." God did not create Lucifer sinful, but sin developed within Lucifer's own heart and mind. And so unrighteousness was found in him.
We read in the middle of verse 16, "...Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God." He was cast from God's kingdom and God's presence where His throne dwells. "And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire." Now that destruction is not yet complete, because Satan roams to and fro on the face of the earth like a lion seeking someone to devour. But judgment has taken place and the final judgment will take place. A simple earthly analogy might be a person who has the sentence of death hanging over them. They are incarcerated in prison. So judgment has taken place but they are awaiting the ultimate end, their execution. Satan has been removed from his position and placed under the sentence of hell and he awaits the final outcome of that sentence.
In Matthew 25:41, Christ says to the wicked that they will be cast into "the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." He cast the wicked into eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. So, you see, preparation has been made and we simply await the final outcome. All of the wicked will be with Satan, not only the fallen angels, but ultimately those from mankind as well.
Return to 2nd Peter 2:4 where we read "...God did not spare angels when they sinned,..." He did not withhold the punishment which the angels deserved. The whole idea of God as some soft, understanding, loving God who is indifferent or tolerant and understanding of sin is totally foreign to scripture. Multitudes of people are on their way to hell because they have created a concept of God and sin in their mind that is of their own making. That is simply a form of the sin of Satan. They have made themselves God. They have made God in their mind and now here is what their God will do. But reality does not change and God has no tolerance regarding sin. He has no laxness in dealing with sin. Every sin must be judged. His very character, as a holy and righteous God, demands it. The sin of angels and its consequences provide the evidence.
"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell" and (further defined) "committed them to pits of darkness." This phrase "Committed them to pits of darkness..." is a translation into English of one word. It is a participle and the word is tartarus. This is the only time that the word is used in the New Testament. It is defined here as "pits of darkness." Tartarus, from the general literature, was a place of suffering for the wicked and evidently, it refers to hell as translated here. It is a place where angels will be confined and punished. Literally, one translator said, "He tartarized them, committing them to pits of darkness." That does not necessarily have to mean that they are now in tartarus, but this is what God's sentence required. The ultimate sentence will not be carried out until a future time.
You should be aware that there is another dimension here in Revelation 9, at a future time after the rapture of the church. This future time is that seven year period that will follow the rapture of the church and climax with the return of Christ personally to the earth to establish a kingdom. In Revelation 9 , under the Fifth Trumpet Judgment, an angel comes down from heaven and at the end of Revelation 9:1, "...the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit. And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth and power was given them..." Now these are called locusts and they are given a description here but they are evidently spirit beings.
(1) They come out of the bottomless pit and it takes an angelic being to open that pit.
(2) They serve under the authority (verse 11) of the king who is over them, who is the angel of the abyss, Apollyon or Abaddon.
5. Demonic Beings Are Bound
It seems that what we have here is a description of demonic beings. It appears that these demonic beings are bound in a bottomless pit, characterized by smoke and darkness. We know that the pit is dark because when the smoke billows out it the sun is darkened. So you can imagine what this pit is like. What are these demon beings doing in here? Satan roams to and fro on the face of the earth. He will not be bound in the pit and in hell until Revelation, chapter 20. I just want to share the question with you since I do not know the answer. We know they are present and we know they are bound for the purposes of God. Are they more fierce and awful than Lucifer himself; I think not. Was their sin worse than his; probably not. They are present because it fits the purposes of God. I mention this because we do have that description in 2nd Peter. It talks about being committed to pits of darkness and we do know that there are demons in pits of darkness awaiting the opportunity to be released in the tribulation. It could have happened with the fall of Satan that some of the demons who followed him are bound. We see in Revelation that there are other demonic beings, bound by God at the present time, to be released to accomplish certain things in His plan. So there is much about the angelic world that we do not know.
While we are here in Revelation 9:7, you should consider this thought. Some people make light of the subject by saying "you know, my friends will be there so we will party." Well, let me just read a description of those you might be next to you in this pit of darkness. "And the appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads, as it were, crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. And they had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. And they have tails like scorpions, and stings..." Think about the pits of darkness. You will not be next to one of your friends. Think about being next to one of these characters. You see, hell is going to be an awful place with beings so fierce and corrupt and awful that hell will be their permanent abode. We read in Matthew 25:41 where Christ will say to the wicked "Depart from Me, ... into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." These wicked ones will be the cell mates in hell and not the friends which are expected.
Matthew 8:12, for example reads, "the wicked will be cast into outer darkness and in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Your most awful concept of hell does not scratch the surface of what it will be like and there will be no socializing. It is a place of outer darkness, horrible isolation, terrible suffering every moment of every day for the endless years of eternity.
The angels have been sentenced to that ultimate destiny and now in 2nd Peter 2:4, they have been cast into hell (tartarus) and into pits of darkness, which are reserved for judgment. That is their condition since they have lost their position. They are under the judgment of God and they simply await final sentencing to hell.
Remember, when Jesus walked the earth in Mark 1, the demons said "we know who You are, the Holy One of God. Have You come to destroy us?" They know the sentence that will be meted out on them.
That is the first example of judgment. I realize that people choose to ignore it and false teachers choose to ignore it. The reality of it stands; it is an historical fact! When angels sinned, God judged them and the judgment is awesome and terrible - eternal hell. That is how serious that God considers the matter of sin. The anointed cherub who covered the throne of God could not escape judgment for his sin so what makes you think that you will escape judgment for your sin?
The second example comes from the ancient world of Noah. (Verse 5) "and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;..." The second example is the flood, during the time of Noah, recorded in Genesis, chapters 6, 7 and 8. And did not spare the ancient world, --this was the world in the days before the flood-- but preserved Noah. Now, for the first time we have another dimension that was not mentioned in the example of the angels. God preserved the righteous when He judged the wicked. We will now consider the other side of the picture. God will not only will judge the wicked but He will protect, keep and guard the righteous just as He preserved Noah.
6. A Preacher of Righteousness
Noah is called "a preacher of righteousness." Now, Genesis 6 tells us that Noah was a righteous man. It never tells us that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, but now we know he was. Peter alluded to this fact in his first letter as well. Refer to 1 Peter 3:18 where we are told that Christ was made alive in the Spirit and that (Verses 19,20) "...He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water."
So here we see that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and the Spirit of God was working through Noah in those days while he was building the ark. For 120 years Noah was proclaiming the necessity of righteousness before a Holy God and the whole world was disobedient when the patience of God kept waiting. They ignored God's patience. They ignored God's mercy and kindness. They continued to disobey, to refuse to believe the message that Noah preached. So as we read here in 1 Peter 3, and also back in 2nd Peter 2, there were seven others in addition to Noah who were preserved. Noah preached for 120 years and after this extended period of time Noah, his three sons and the wives of these four men, a total of eight people, were the only believers on the whole face of the earth - remarkable! God preserved those eight people, who were righteous before Him, and led by Noah, the preacher of righteousness. The point he is making is that God judges the wicked but He preserves the righteous, no matter how few are involved. The ungodly are those who have no regard for God and who do not respond in faith, humbly believing the message that He gives. He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.
Refer now to Genesis 6:3. "Then the Lord said 'My Spirit shall not strive with man forever'." Remember, we read in 1st Peter 3:18,19, where Christ, went in the spirit, in the days of Noah and preached. So here God's Spirit uses Noah to preach the message of righteousness. The word preacher in the phrase, "a preacher of righteousness" in 2nd Peter 2, means "a herald", or "one entrusted with a message to give forth." God demands righteousness and it can only be found in Him. "His days shall be one hundred and twenty years." God drew the line. "I am going to give mankind 120 years. Noah, start building the ark and proclaim righteousness. In 120 years, I am going to wipe every unrighteous person off the face of the earth."
Look at verse 5. "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth," -- now, note this -- "and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
We read in verse 11 "Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth." This earth is an awful place. "Every intent of the thoughts of a man's heart was only evil continually" God looked on man and it was total, absolute corruption. You should observe what goes with verse 11. "Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God and the earth was filled with violence." As mankind became more overt and flagrant in the practice of sin, something accompanied that - violence. We wonder what is going on in our world today. We have conferences and then we have marches for children and we create posters to stop abuse in the home and all this at the same time as men and women proudly parade their sin.
Did you ever notice how man always wants to do the opposite of what God says? God says that men and women are to be joined together in marriage. But a man and a woman do not want to be married. Hollywood models this lifestyle for us. They want to live together and not get married! We will just live together, they say! But now homosexuals do not want to only live together, they want to be married! Why does a man and a woman not want to be married, but homosexuals are going to court so they can be married? God says a man and a woman must be married to have sex and a man and a man or a woman and a woman can never have a relationship together in the sexual realm. Man just wants to turn it on its head and we parade it and we are proud of it! People are coming out and all other sin of all kinds is paraded around as man in his pride and arrogance now boasts that he loves himself. He thinks highly of himself and he knows that he is the most important person on the face of the earth. Then at the same time, we find our society dissolving in violence. You do not want to drive down certain highways, somebody might pull up and shoot you. You certainly do not want to walk on certain streets at certain times of day. The corruption of man's soul and his life style is accompanied with violence in the earth. Man is looking for ways to plug up a hole here, but I do not want to give up my sin. We have got to stop this behavior but it just continues to unravel. Nothing is new folks. Noah was not called to reform the world. Noah was called to preach righteousness and to live a righteous life.
"But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord." (Genesis 6:8) "...Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God." (Genesis 6:9) Now that is based on the favor of God, the grace of God and the kindness of God. This was just Noah's character. It does tell you something. Here you have eight people who are righteous in the sight of God in the whole world! How many people were on the face of the earth then? I have no idea, perhaps hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions. There are only eight people who are righteous! So much for the "majority rules." Do you know what is encouraging in this? Noah did not have to live like the majority. He was a righteous man and he was blameless in his behavior. He walked with God! Do you sometimes think, "I just cannot stand up. Everybody I work with is corrupt! I just need more believers around me." Well, having believers around you is a blessing, but you do not have to have believers around you to live a godly life in spite of a lot of the emphasis we have that we need a buddy.
Do you know who Noah needed? He needed his God. Noah walked with God. Does that remind you of Asaph in Psalm 73? "He takes my right hand. I walk with Him. The wicked may do what they do but I walk hand - in- hand with my God." Noah walked with God. Does it matter that the whole world is on its way to hell, literally, the whole world! Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his ways. He walked with God and his family, eight people, were preserved. Can you imagine the pressure that was brought to bear on Noah? He is surrounded by people who only think about evil things and wicked things. We sometimes think, "Boy, we are a small minority in this city!" We do not know anything about minority as God's people. There were only eight righteous people on the whole face of the earth! Think about how much pressure was brought to bear on Noah? It would have been easy for him to say, "Look, we have to make some adjustment. I have been preaching for 66 years and I still do not see any converts here! Somebody must have a better idea!" Noah's responsibility was not have ideas. Noah's responsibility was to live in obedience. Is there any reason for us to miss the point?
7. Lessons are summarized
1. No one is too important to escape judgment.
There is no escape and there will be no exceptions. Even angels did not escape the judgment of God when they sinned.
2. All of the wicked will be judged.
God did not spare the ancient world. We are sometimes influenced by the world to think, "Well, if so many people are doing this, God will have to make an adjustment." This is like assuming that God watches the evening news to see what the latest opinion poll indicates. Then He says, "Well Gabriel, we have crossed the 50 percent level and We are probably going to have to make some adjustments." It did not matter in Noah's time. Eight people were certainly a very small percentage of the people living and it did not change one thing. Being a part of a large group will not protect anyone from judgment. "Look, this is what they do - look, this is what they believe. Eighty nine percent of the people in the world are doing this, or perhaps 99 percent are involved." The percentage that are not involved is infinitesimal. The number does not change anything. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" He will judge the wicked and He will spare the righteous.
3. God is merciful and patient.
We read in 1 Peter 3:20, "...the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah..." for many years. We read in 2nd Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." God is much more patient than I am. I wait; I tap my foot and I want God to know that I am gracious like He is. Finally I cannot take it any longer and I have to tell Him that it is time. I am like the sons of thunder among the disciples of Jesus. "Shall we call down fire from heaven now, Lord. Burn 'em to a crisp, that'll show 'em!" They have had more than their share of patience from me. I need to learn that God is a God of patience. If the Lord does not come, I am still not going to complete 120 years of preaching. So, I still will not have to do what Noah had to do. By God's grace, I certainly have had more encouragement than Noah. God is a God of patience. These are days of God's kindness and patience. Let me tell you, that ought to impact you and me as believers. Noah's testimony would have been somewhat muted since he was preaching coming judgment and the coming destruction of all things. If while he was building an ark, he was also in the process of constructing mansions for his family, you might say, "Well, Noah if you really believe this is all going to be destroyed - if you really are preparing yourself for God's deliverance for you when He destroys the whole world, why are you constructing mansions?"
Sometimes we, as believers, preach coming judgment. Peter is going to discuss this topic for us in chapter 3. If we really believe that this whole world is going to be destroyed, then we had better be living like strangers and pilgrims here. That does not mean that we cannot have a house or other property. It should be clear, however, that these material things are not the most important things in your life, otherwise, there is no significance in your message. We need to understand and live like these are days of God's grace and patience for a world that is rushing to judgment. The judgment is surely coming! I am living in expectation of His deliverance and anticipating leaving behind the material things of this world. We must understand that Noah's house was washed away in the flood. Noah would never find his land again. The world will be totally different. It will live in light of these facts. Do you realize this whole world is going to be consumed by fire? We preach coming judgment and we preach that these are days of grace. Today is the day of salvation. Do people see it in us as God's people? One of the things the devil does is he turns us around in our thinking. Our commitment to God becomes identified with an hour on Sunday morning and then I fill my life with the busyness of this world as though this was everything to me like it is for everyone else. I need to have God's perspective. God is merciful and patient. I realize that is what these days are, days of God's mercy and patience. I must seize every day! I must walk with my God as a man of righteousness every day! I must proclaim righteousness every day and I must do it in a world that is disobedient.
4. Sinners continue to reject the kindness of God and so bring destruction upon themselves.
We read the end of 2nd Peter 2:1 they are "bringing swift destruction upon themselves." Also, at the end of verse 3, "their destruction is not asleep." The world was disobedient in the days of Noah. Why did they not believe? The message had gone out for 120 years. It reminds one of Paul's experience at the end of the book of Acts. "Some more convenient time I'll call for you, maybe in another day," or Herod, "you almost persuade me to become a Christian." It is too bad. Many people sit and hear the message of righteousness and say someday I am going to settle it. Sinners continue to reject the kindness of God and every time you reject it, your heart gets a little more hard, a little more steeled against the message and the reality of coming judgment becomes all the more sure.
5. God rescues the righteous, no matter how few.
Do you realize that with all this emphasis, on the church today, that we have to be successful and that we are not doing God's will unless we pack the house. This idea is a corruption of the word of God. I am not saying we should not have a passionate desire for the salvation of the lost. We ought to be willing to pay any price, before God, as Paul said "I have become all things to all men that He might by some means save men through me."
The success of my life is not determined by the crowd that I have in this church. It is determined by two things: the faithfulness of the message that I preach and the faithfulness of the life that I live. Would you say that Noah was a successful preacher? Would you say that Noah was successful with his life and service for God? If we were there we would have come up with all kinds of alternatives. "Building an ark and preaching righteousness is not getting the job done. Look what we have found out. We have taken a survey among the people of the world today. Here is what they are looking to find. We cannot go all the way, but we can make some adjustments. Wait, you just wait, they will be sitting around this ark listening - all ears." We do it God's way or we do it in opposition to God.
There is a beautiful connection to this thought in 2nd Peter 2:4. We read "For if God did not spare..." you ought to underline the words, "did not spare angels..." and in verse 5, "did not spare the ancient world..." That same expression is used in Romans 8:32, "And God did not spare His own Son but delivered Him over for us all." Is that not remarkable? Let me tell you, no one escapes judgment. God did not spare the angels and God did not spare the world of Noah's day. God did not spare His own Son when His Son took our sins in His body "but He delivered Him over for us all." This is awesome, awful truth developed in the book of Hebrews. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. For those who have rejected, scorned and remained disobedient to the gracious offer of God, to have eternal life in His Son, Hebrews says "God looks at you as trampling under your feet His Son who died for you." You can be sure God will not spare you in the coming judgment. "How much more sever a punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified...?" (Hebrews 10:29) God did not spare His own Son. So we can conclude with the exhortation recorded in Hebrews 4:7, quoted from the book of Psalms, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!" Today is the accepted day and today is the day of salvation. Today is a day of God's grace and patience where He offers you life. Do not sin against the grace of God or you will find yourself swept away in judgment for which there will be no remedy.
Let us pray together. Thank You, Lord, for who You are and for the majesty of Your Person. We are in awe of Your greatness. We are in awe that You, the Holy and Righteous God, has stooped to reach out in love to us, fallen and sinful beings. And Lord, we are in awe of how stubborn and rebellious we are that we continue to be disobedient to You. We continue to scorn and reject Your grace, Your kindness and Your patience. Lord, You have been blunt and clear. There is no escape from judgment for sinners or for angels or for the whole world and not even for Your Son when He bore our sins in His body on the Cross. Lord, we thank You that this is a day of grace, that in kindness Your exhortation comes, "Do not harden your hearts." You do not desire the death of the wicked, but You do desire that men, women and young people will repent of their sins, turn and believe that Jesus Christ, the Savior, died for them and bow in humility claiming Your mercy as their hope for salvation. May we Lord, who have been redeemed, take these truths to heart, and not be discouraged or disheartened by the corruption that is all around us. May we count it our joy and privilege to walk with our God in the midst of a world that is fallen and corrupt as we proclaim Your Righteousness to a world on its way to judgment. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.
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.
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