The Lord Desires Repentance for All


Gil Rugh

Copyright © 1978
Indian Hills Community Church
Lincoln, Nebraska

GR962  - 2 Peter 3:8-10

(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh on Nov. 10, 1996)

In the opening verses of 2 Peter 3, Peter is dealing with those who have a scornful attitude toward the second coming of Jesus. The first seven verses deal with the attitude of those who do not believe Jesus Christ is going to come again, particularly that He is not going to come again to deal in judgment with sin. Peter has called them mockers - scoffers who choose to reject the clear revelation of God.

This includes more than just teachers who claim not to believe He is coming again. It includes teaching that is more subtle and prepares the way for open rejection. Such teaching promotes an attitude that says, "Well, I do not care what the Bible says about future things. I just worry about today and what God says to me today about my life. All the details of prophetic matters and the return of Christ in judgment, I am willing to leave with God. Whatever He does will be all right with me."

That attitude is a form of scoffing and mocking the word of God. that is not humility. that is mockery because God has spoken to the issue, and that attitude is really saying, "I do not care what God has said about that matter, and what He has said on that matter does not interest me. I do not find it important." That attitude reveals someone who is a scoffer, a mocker. It is tempting to respond to that attitude by saying, "I can understand that. You do not want to talk about prophetic things. You do not want to talk about the future. You just want to know how to live your life today and serve the Lord today. that is fine." No. It is not fine, because it is not fine for me to tell God that I am not interested in what He said. that is why in chapter 3 Peter writes that he is giving a reminder of what the prophets of old have said as well as what the apostles said regarding the coming of the Lord.

People who mock the coming of the Lord do not take into consideration the greatness of God and the way that He has involved Himself from the beginning of creation. They choose to remain ignorant of the fact that He is the creator of everything. He has called everything into existence by the word of His power. Furthermore, He intervened earlier in history with devastating judgment by the destruction of the world in the flood of Noah. To speak of a coming judgment that will envelop the world is not without historic precedent. It happened in the days of Noah, but false teachers choose to ignore what they do not want to believe, then they reject it.

2 Peter 3:7 reminds us that God's word is guarding and keeping this present world, preserving it for a time of coming judgment. This world cannot and will not self-destruct because God is guarding it and protecting it in anticipation of the judgment that He will pour out upon an unbelieving world. Having covered that, Peter encourages his readers to remember to see things from God's perspective, to remember the beauty of the character of God that is being displayed during this time when judgment is being withheld. Then he reminds them that judgment will come, and they can be assured of that.

In 2 Peter 3:8, Peter again addresses his readers as beloved. "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved... " Beloved is the word agapao, a form of the Greek word agape - to love. Agapao means loved one, or those who are loved by God and loved by Peter. Peter started this chapter with this same word, "This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing..." There is warmth shown in this letter. These have been hard subjects to deal with. He has written some very hard and harsh things about false teachers, but it all comes out of a deep love he has for them as fellow believers. 

1. Do not Overlook what Mockers Overlook

"But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved..." As believers, we have to make sure that we do not make the same error that false teachers make. We must not fail to take into consideration everything that God has said. Escape your notice is translated from one Greek word. That same word is used in verse 5 in reference to the false teachers: "...when they maintain this, it escapes their notice..." In other words, they choose not to consider this fact or they ignore this truth. Peter is saying, "I want you, loved ones, to be careful that you do not overlook, that you do not ignore, this very crucial truth regarding the coming of the Lord." In verse 3, he reminds them, "Know this first of all, ... mockers will come..." In verse 8, he continues, "but you be careful that you do not overlook what the mockers are overlooking." What does he not want them to overlook? This one fact "...that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day." We must remember that God does not see time from our perspective. It does not mean that God does not recognize time. It does not say that there is no time with God, but time does not impact God the way it impacts us.

Psalm 90 is probably from where Peter draws how God views time. Moses, not David, is the writer of Psalm 90, which is one of the oldest of the Psalms. Moses is contrasting the brevity of man's life with the eternality of the everlasting God. Note how Psalm 90 begins, "Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or you gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." He is the sovereign God. All the generations who have lived have dwelt in the presence of the eternal God. He has brought everything that is into existence. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God.

Verse 3: "You turn man back into dust and say, 'Return, O children of men.'" We are reminded of this at funerals. They often say dust to dust, ashes to ashes. Note verse 4, "For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night." It is nothing to God. A thousand years in God's sight is like yesterday for us. It came and went. It is just a brief span. It is here and gone. Or like a watch in the night, the changing of the guard through the watches. that is all it is. This Psalm continues in verse 10 with a reference to the 70 years of a human being's life. Maybe one will get 80 years. However, with additional time comes the aches and pains of age, and so, at the end of verse 10, "...For soon it is gone and we fly away." Life comes to an end. It is brief. It is quick. 

2. 1,000 Years Is Like a Day to God

Moses was contrasting the brevity of a human life with God who is eternal. Peter just picks up the one idea of the comparison of time with God. A thousand years is like yesterday. It is like one day. One day is as a thousand years. God's perspective on time is not the same as ours. Some Bible interpretation begins to run wild on a verse like this. Remember it does not say one day is a thousand years to the Lord or a thousand years is one day. It is just a point of comparison. Some people use this to say that numbers do not mean anything in the Bible. They maintain that when Revelation 20 refers to a thousand-year millennium, one day is a thousand years so it is not really talking about a thousand years. In 2 Peter 3, Peter is referring to a thousand years in comparison. He wants to compare a thousand years with one day. One thousand years is a long time as we look at it in human terms. It has only been two thousand years since Christ walked the earth. It has only been two days as God might look at it. It is almost nothing in His perspective.

Perhaps we can grasp this comparison of time when we consider an adult's perspective and a child's perspective. You tell your child that you are going to take him out to buy candy. You will do it later today. He is back every two minutes to ask you, "Are we going now? Are we going now? Are we going now?" He does not have your perspective on time. Our family used to drive from Lincoln, Neb., to Philadelphia. It would take about 24 hours. We would load up the family, and the kids were all excited. We tried to tell them that it is a long trip. Usually in about 45 minutes, just this side of Omaha, the questions would start: "Are we almost there?"

Peter is reminding his readers, his fellow believers, that when it seems so long and the false teachers talk of all the time that has gone by, they are to remember to think about this from God's perspective. It is nothing. it is just a short time. Think about it. As God's child, in a hundred billion, trillion years - and you can't grasp that any more than I can - you and I will be living and enjoying the presence of God. As a believer, one thousand years does not amount to anything for me, either. It is just a speck in time. Peter continues in verse 9 by reminding them that not only do they need to keep God's perspective on time, but they need to appreciate why God is doing what He does and the way He does it. There is a purpose. There is a reason. God is not indifferent nor does He lack the ability to accomplish what He has promised. Events are operating according to a purpose and a plan.

In the book of Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet was instructed to record a vision from the Lord. Habakkuk 2:2: "Then the Lord answered me and said, "Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets..." Note verse 3, "For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay." God is making the same point: God has spoken, here is His word, do not get tired of waiting. Note the way that it is put here: "Though it tarries, ... it will not delay." In other words, even though it seems like it is taking awhile, it is right on schedule.

For example, you go to the airport to wait for an airplane. You get there four hours early. It seems like the wait is just taking forever, but the airplane is not late. It may be right on time. The point is, you are early. Someone shared with me an interesting story that happened to him. This person had a flight out of Omaha and wanted to get there early to take care of transportation details. He arrived at the airport and decided to get checked in and have his baggage checked. He went to the counter and said to the ticket person, "I'm a little early, but I thought I'd walk around the airport." The woman looked at the ticket and said, "I would say you are early." He said, "I know, but I'm just going to wander around the airport and wait." The ticket agent said, "Do you realize that you are one week early?" The plane was going to be on time. It would tarry, but it wouldn't delay. I understand he did make arrangements to get on an earlier flight. 

3. God has Established His Timetable

Things may not happen when we think they should or on our timetable, but they will happen on God's timetable. That is what Peter is talking about. 2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness." Habakkuk 2:3 was saying the same thing. It will happen at the appointed time. From our perspective it seems to drag on, but from His perspective it is right on time. Why does He do it this way? "The Lord is not slow ... as some count slowness." It isn't that He just hasn't gotten around to doing it, He has a purpose. He is manifesting the beauty of His character. He " patient toward you." His slowness is not an inability or an indifference on God's part. It is part of His plan. He is manifesting his patience toward you, "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

The idea of the patience of God, the long-suffering of God, comes from a passage in the Old Testament that is repeated here, and the concept is repeated over and over in the Bible. In Exodus 34, the renewal of the covenant is described. God is replacing the tablets of stone that Moses had broken on which were inscribed the ten commandments. That is a renewal of the covenant. Exodus 34:6: "Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord God...'" - note His character - "'...compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished...'" God is a God of compassion, grace, lovingkindness, patience, but He will judge sin. Man tends to take the patience of God, His kindness, as an excuse to go on sinning, assuming He will never judge. That is an eternally fatal error. He is compassionate, loving, gracious and long-suffering so that everyone may have an opportunity to repent, to turn from sin and believe.

2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is ... patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." God is a God of great love and great grace. It is not His desire or His wish that any would perish. This is not referring to the determinative will of God, what He causes to happen. It is an expression of the heart of God. He does not desire or wish for men, women and young people to perish in hell. There are those who say, "My God would not send people to hell. I do not like to think about God as a God of judgment." He is a God of mercy, a God of kindness, a God of patience, but you must understand He is also a God of justice and righteousness. His desire is that you will be saved. That is His heart, but He will bring wrath upon those who will not receive His salvation. He is not wishing for any to perish in the coming judgment and the destruction that judgment will bring, but He wishes for all to come to repentance, to turn from their sin, from their selfish pride and believe in the salvation that He has provided through the death and resurrection of His Son. His desire is that sinners would respond to His love, to His patience, to His compassion, turn from their sin and cling to Him as their Savior God. 

4. God Takes No Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked

This is repeated in the Old Testament and New Testament alike. In the Old Testament, Ezekiel 18 reveals the expressed desire of God, the heart of God, who longs for sinful people to turn from their sin and receive the cleansing that He will give. Ezekiel 18:23: "'Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,' declares the Lord God..." Does He take pleasure in the death of the wicked? "'...rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?'" That is the desire, the delight of the heart of God, that we would turn from our sin, find life in Him, and be spared the judgment. In this context, He is talking about the judgment that would bring death and destruction on the unbeliever. Ezekiel 18:32: "'For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,' declares the Lord God. 'Therefore repent and live.'" The death He is talking about is a death of judgment. Even so, God's heart is not to destroy, not to kill, not to punish. He says, "I do not have pleasure in that. Repent and live. that is My desire for you." We believers need to keep this in mind because we are responsible to be reflecting the mind and will of God in the world in these days.

In Ezekiel 33:11, God tells Ezekiel, "Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord God, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'" The compassion of God is revealed in that He sends the prophet to plead with the people to turn from their sins and trust Him as their Savior. God is a God of compassion and grace that He should plead with vile, wretched, hell-deserving sinners. He pleads with sinners to turn back from their sin. He does not take pleasure in destruction. He delights to save each one.

In the New Testament, Acts 17:30: "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He 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." This sounds like Ezekiel does not it? God is now declaring to all people everywhere, "Repent, turn from your sin, believe in Me. There is coming a time of judgment. I have offered proof with the resurrection of My Son who will be the judge of all men." 

5. Unrepentant Hearts Store Up Wrath

Some people want to believe that a God of love wouldn't send people to hell, that a God of love wouldn't pour out wrath. These people want to go on ignoring the compassion and love and kindness of God shown toward sinners. Like the false teachers, they want to persist in their own stubborn way and reject the love of God, scoff at His patience but not have to confront the reality of His wrath. Romans 2:4: "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" Why are you being exposed to this message of God's kindness? Because He is a God who has dealt with you in kindness and patience. Verse 5: "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." The blame does not rest on God. It rests on you if you do not believe in Him. You are storing up wrath. do not try to hide behind the myths that God would not punish the wicked, that God would not pour out His wrath or that God would not send people to an eternal hell. You are rejecting His kindness, His love, His mercy, and you are storing up for yourself the wrath that will be poured out upon you.

In 1 Timothy 2, Paul urges that believers be faithful in praying for all those in governmental authority. "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, ... be made ... for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." What believers should desire from the government is a kind of environment where we can live godly lives. Some Christians have gotten confused on this issue and think this means we should have those in our government live godly lives. However, we should be satisfied if our government creates the kind of environment where we are free to live quiet and godly lives. Why? Because our role here is to carry the message of the gospel to an ungodly world, and that can happen in an environment where we have liberty and freedom to live out tranquil and godly lives. That does not mean we are to sit back and just enjoy the good life on our way to heaven.

Verse 3 explains: "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Paul is encouraging prayer for the kind of environment where there will be greater freedom, greater opportunity and greater liberty to present the truth of the gospel of God which is set forth for us in verses 5 and 6, "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time." That is God's desire: All men should be saved. Our desire should be that we have the kind of environment that will facilitate the ministry of the word of God.

In our society, we are blessed with an answer to these prayers. We may not like what the government does. We might not like the vileness around the world, but we are here worshipping the living God and proclaiming His truth without a fear that someone is going to break through the doors and arrest us. We have the privilege to live godly lives. We get frustrated that unbelievers are not living godly lives, but God is concerned that His people live godly lives. We are to be about our Lord's business. During this period of the kindness, grace and love of God, His people are to be manifesting His character. Some of our impact is lost on the world because we get caught up in the good life of the world. We fail to reflect the kindness and the love and compassion of our God. We fail to reflect that we are beseeching men, women and young people to turn from sin and believe in the Savior that God has provided so that they might be forgiven. That is the character of God that is to be manifested in the world today, and it must be the character that is manifested in His people. 

6. God Displayed Patience in Noah's Day

God's patience is being manifested in the world today. In 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is ... patient toward you..." The word for patience, makrothumia, is translated long-suffering or patience. The word patience was used by Peter in an important context in his first letter. In 1 Peter 3:20, Peter is writing about the ministry of the Spirit of God through Noah in the days when Noah was building the ark. He begins by referring to people who are now dead, and their spirits are imprisoned, "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." That was a period of God's grace and patience. It took Noah 120 years to build the ark. Could God have enabled him to build that ark in 10 years? I believe God could have done that, but He had Noah build the ark over 120 years. During that 120 years, God was patiently waiting. His long-suffering was being displayed. The people of the world of that day were hearing the message of salvation by faith in God through Noah.

2 Peter 2:5: God "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." Noah was not just a full-time ark-builder during those 120 years. He was a full-time preacher of righteousness who was building an ark. The patience of God kept waiting, kept waiting, kept waiting. There were only seven people - Noah's family - who believed and were saved. No one else in the world did. Is that God's problem? Was He not patient? Was He not long-suffering? Was He not loving? He did not have to give them an opportunity to be saved. He did not have to tell them the message of righteousness, but He does not delight in the destruction of the wicked. He desires that all people everywhere would be saved. But people are stubborn, proud, hardened in sin. The people did not respond to the preaching of righteousness through Noah, and so destruction overtook them.

God's perspective on time is different than ours. God is working according to His perfect plan. This is a time of the manifestation of His patience. This is a day of grace when people are invited to salvation. Peter goes on in 2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief..." In the Greek language of the New Testament, it is possible to rearrange the word order according to the desired emphasis. In this Greek sentence, the first word is the verb, the word translated "will come", and that gives "will come" the emphasis. It is in the emphatic position. Literally translated, it would be, "Will come but the day of the Lord..." The emphasis is, the day of the Lord will come. Do not presume upon the patience of God. Do not become confused in your thinking and presume that enough time has gone by, so it will not happen.

Think of the people in the days of Noah. They had never seen rain. They had never seen a flood. Then this kook preaches about coming judgment. He has been preaching coming judgment for five years. Another five years goes by. He has been preaching this for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 50 years, 75 years, 100 years. Do you think he had any credibility left? Does the fact that God is long-suffering and full of patience mean that the judgment would not come? No. The day of the Lord will come. 

7. 'Day of the Lord' Is for Specific Period of Time

We could do a series of studies on "the day of the Lord," but we will not do it at this time. "The day of the Lord" is an expression drawn from the Old Testament. The theme of the book of Joel, the Old Testament prophet Joel, is "the day of the Lord." That would be a good starting place for a study on the expression, then it can be traced through many other prophetic passages. "The day of the Lord" is not one specific day. It is a period of time that encompasses certain events. The current time period might be called "the day of God's grace." "The day of God's grace" also is extended over a period of time. "The day of the Lord" is a period of time, not a specific day.

"The day of the Lord" in the prophetic writings has a prime emphasis of judgment and wrath because much of its emphasis is on God dealing with sinful humanity which has rejected His love. But it also includes blessing and restoration for those who are His children. There is a two-fold emphasis in "the day of the Lord" - judgment and destruction for the ungodly, and blessing and restoration for the godly. Both are found in 2 Peter, although the dominant thrust through chapter 2 is judgment. In chapter 3, the emphasis is on those who reject the idea of coming judgment, but when judgment does arrive, within that context there will also be blessing for God's people. Peter writes about that in verse 13 when he says the new heavens and the new earth will be the residence of God's redeemed people and a redeemed creation. "The day of the Lord," then, is a block of time which will encompass events from the beginning of the seven-year tribulation following the rapture of the church, through the return of Christ to earth and the judgments of the nations and the Jews described in Matthew 25, through the millennium and the great white throne judgment at the end of the millennium to the recreating of the heavens and the earth. That seems to be what is meant by "the day of the Lord."

Peter uses a couple of examples, but he is not trying to give a full theology of the day of the Lord. He wants to first of all focus on the destruction that the day of the Lord will bring and then the new creation that will come out of that. The reason he focuses on the climax of the day of the Lord is to draw attention to the final judgment before the great white throne at the end of Revelation 20. There will take place the final judgment and destruction of all the wicked, which occurs in the context of the final destruction of the heavens and the earth. The preparation for the new heavens and the new earth then begins in Revelation 21.

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief..." The point is that it comes unexpectedly. Surprise, that is the way a thief operates. At the end of 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul writes about the rapture of the church, the time when all believers will be bodily caught up to meet Jesus Christ in the air. The living and the dead from Acts 2 down to the time of the rapture will be bodily caught up to meet Jesus Christ in the air. Then Paul continues in 1 Thessalonians 5:1: "Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night." This is the same thing Peter has said. Paul continues in 1 Thessalonians 5:3: "While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief..."  

8. This Day Is Not Reserved for Believers

The day of the Lord will come like a thief, but that day is not for God's people. The day of the Lord comes like a thief for those who are not expecting Him. Verse 5: "for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night or of darkness so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober." That is the same warning Peter has given. He is saying, "do not let this escape your notice. Stay alert. Keep the Scripture ever before you." 1 Thessalonians 5:8: "But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep..." - whether dead or alive - "...we will live together with Him." Remember the contrast with the day of the Lord. God's people are not surprised by the day of the Lord. The church will be raptured before the day of the Lord because God has not appointed believers to wrath nor to experience the time of wrath that begins with the seven-year tribulation and culminates in the second coming of Christ to earth.

What will happen in the day of the Lord? This could be developed much in the Old Testament. 2 Peter 3:10: "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat..." The heavens will pass away with a roar, and evidently the roar is the roar of a fire. It is like what happens when you throw extra logs on the fire and you say the fire is roaring, because you hear that sound. Or suppose there is a great fire in a city, where the buildings are burning, and the roaring of the flames can be heard. We sometimes see this in parts of the country during the dry season. That seems to be the picture.

"...the heavens will pass away with a roar..." The word translated "to pass away" was used by Jesus several times in the gospels to refer to the passing away of the heavens. In Mark 13:31, the same verb is used. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." It is eternal, unchanging, unending. The elements will be destroyed with intense heat. I believe "the heavens" refers to the heavens around the earth, the planets and the stars. They will pass away. Some people speculate about life on other planets. Are there other societies? I believe not. The focal point of the Scripture is the earth. Why did God create all the universe? It just displays His greatness, the majesty of His person. It goes beyond what people are able to plumb with the greatest scientific instruments. They display His power, but it is all going to be wiped out. They will pass away, they will be consumed.

"...the elements will be destroyed with intense heat..." The word translated "elements" is the Greek word stoicheion. It is a word that you would use if you were teaching a child the ABC's. These are the stoicheion, the beginning principles, the foundational things. With the current understanding of atomic energy, we can further appreciate how this could be. The very particles that make up the physical world are going to be consumed. I am not saying that it is describing a nuclear holocaust, but our ability to understand something of nuclear energy can help us understand how that process can be. The very particles that make up matter are disintegrated. "...the elements will be destroyed with intense heat," so the heavens and the earth will be consumed in fire, not with a flood. The flood was the last worldwide destruction in judgment. This one will be more complete, more intense, more final. It will wipe out every vestige of the curse that has ever been. 

9. All of Earth's Great Works Will Burn

The conclusion is "...the earth and its works will be burned." The heavens around this world will pass away, and the earth and its works will be destroyed. "Its works" seems to refer to the achievements and accomplishments of the people of this world. That is a solemn reminder. Everything here - everything you see and touch - is going to go in the fire. Peter uses this as an exhortation to believers in the following verses, which we will pick up in our next study. This has to shape the way you live if you believe it. The impact of the gospel has been lost to a large extent in our society because so many of those who profess to be believers live like the world. Do we really believe it? Do I really believe that my most precious possessions are going to be consumed in an instant? The house into which we invest so much love and labor will be gone. The IRA, the retirement account, the bank account, gold, diamonds, whatever we thought would be durable will be gone. This is a reminder of that little saying, "Only one life, t'will soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last." That is what Peter is saying here. This earth and all its works, the finest accomplishments of mankind, will be annihilated. What will be left? Only the treasures we as believers have stored up in the glory of His presence are permanent and enduring.

Is it any wonder the world scratches its head when Christians preach this doctrine and the world sees the Christians laboring and grabbing to store up as much as they can, just like the world does? It is no wonder that the world is indifferent to coming judgment. They look at the way believers live and decide that believers do not believe what they preach. Believers say there is coming judgment and the end of that judgment will be the complete destruction of everything here, but they sure look like they are in love with the material possessions here. They're sure giving it everything they can to get all they can.

As a believer, do I really believe this in my heart? Or are they just words on a page, and I say yeah and I go on? This is where Peter is going. Your life must be shaped by this if you really believe it. If they looked at my bank account or at my check stubs from the past year, would they say I am a man who believes what he preaches? We as believers need to pour what we have into the service of our God. This building will be gone if we have built it as a monument to ourselves, the Gil Rugh Memorial Auditorium. The only value to things is if they are used for the Lord in the accomplishing of His purpose in these days. Am I looking for the coming of the Lord? Or am I among those who think He'll come some day far off in the future? If He came today, it would be a surprise. Am I more worried about what is going to be here for me in retirement than I am in what I accomplish for Him today? Is that the way I live my life? Does it shape my thinking?

Let me summarize briefly, in a few points, what we have covered :

We should not become disheartened or wearied in our waiting for the return of the Lord. Remember, we want to see things from His perspective of time, not ours.

We should appreciate the patience of our God in desiring the salvation of all men. If the Lord would come in the next hour, wouldn't that be wonderful? It would be, but are there some people whom you would like to be saved? Aren't there family, friends, parents, children and coworkers who need to hear and believe the Gospel? Then let's appreciate the grace of God and say, "Thank you, Lord, for this day." I get up in the morning and I say, "Lord, Your patience has been manifested here at the beginning of a new day. This is another day of opportunity." Remember, we as God's people have to see it in the context that God has provided this day in His patience and lovingkindness because He desires all men everywhere to repent. Is that the way I am living my life? Am I grabbing on to the patience of God myself and manifesting His character? We have this day because God desires the salvation of men and women today. So what am I doing with my today to carry out the will of God? If this is the final day of God's patience with fallen humanity, how will I use it? Will I be reflecting the mind of God and the heart of God in longing for the salvation of men and women, in exhorting them to turn from their sin? Will I be telling them that there is one God and one mediator, the man Christ Jesus, and you must believe in Him? Or am I guilty of presuming the grace of God and being indifferent to God's patience today?

The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly upon those who are unprepared. The only preparation is God's salvation. Those who have experienced God's salvation ought to walk with ready minds and ready hearts. At any time, He may come. I am to be eagerly anticipating that.

This world and all its works will be burned. I need to go home, walk around my house, look at all my stuff and say, "Ashes, ashes. Hold it all lightly, Gil. All ashes." Check your bank account, savings account, retirement account. Ashes. I need to say, "Lord help me to invest it." Ashes. Lord, am I using what you have given me wisely? Does my life count? What have I done with these days of patience? You have graciously saved me. That is what this ministry is to be about. Acts 17:30 says, "God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He 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."

Let us pray. Thank You, Lord, for Your grace. Thank You for Your patience. We are here today as testimonies of that patience, that grace, that lovingkindness. Lord, we thank You for another day of patience. We do not know whether we will make it through the day. Lord, may we seize the opportunities. May we take to heart the marvelous truth of Your word. How we rejoice that we have been spared the wrath to come. May we live as people of grace, Your servants, beckoning a fallen world, lost loved ones, to come to the Savior today while there is still time. We praise You for this time 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
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