Sermon 2533. The Ever-present Crisis
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1897.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, APRIL 17, 1884.
"You therefore, Beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you, also, being led away with the error of thewicked, fall from your own steadfastness." 2 Peter 3:17.
The Apostle has told us that there will come, in the last days, scoffers. We, therefore, know this is to be the case, forwe have been informed concerning it. Forewarned is forearmed and now that we see the scoffers and cannot help seeing them,we perceive another proof of the truth of Scripture. Every time a blasphemer opens his mouth to deny the truth of Revelation,he will help to confirm us in our conviction of the very Truth of God which he denies! The Holy Spirit told us, by the penof Peter, that it would be so, and now we see how truly he wrote.
I do not think it is of any use to sit down and fret about the badness of the times. Ever since I first understood anything,I have always heard that there has been "a crisis." Somebody or other has continually assured me that we were just on thebrink of something perfectly horrible. I have never been quite able to see that the times at any particular period have beenvery much worse than they used to be. Thirty years ago they seemed to me to be about as bad as they could be-and I could notsee any room for their getting much worse! I used to, then, constantly hear laments about "the good old times," and I remembersaying that the times, then, were the good old times, for time was never so old before. And, taking all things into account,I thought that, perhaps, the evils of that time were not so very much greater than the evils of the ages that had gone before.Still, I do incline a little to the belief that the times have become worse of late. At any rate, in this matter of scoffers!
The scoffers who used to be in holes and corners have now come out into the open and, worse still, they have climbed intothe pulpits! And if not there, actually to scoff, they insinuate doubts and undermine the faith of many who formerly believed.The times are certainly now very perilous, whatever they may have been in the past, and, as we look into the Scriptures, wesee that the New Testament, even where it does not take the exact shape of prophecy, nevertheless does give us many indicationsof what we may expect in human history-and those indications are being verified continually all around us! Seeing we knowthese things before, we are bound to pay the more earnest heed to the lesson of Peter in the text before us which seems tome to be most suitable to the times in which we live!
There is another matter that ought not to be passed over without much searching of heart and much lamentation- and that isthat in all our churches of every sort there is a very dreadful leakage continually going on. It is so with ourselves. Wereceive large numbers into fellowship, but there are continually large numbers going out from us, not always by sin, but many,of course, by death and emigration and removal. And there is a large proportion of members who drop out of sight, although,at the time of their admission, they gave credible evidence of conversion, according to the judgment of those who watch overmen's souls. Look in any of the lists that are published by any religious body-at the column recording the numbers of thosewho are dropped for non-attendance and so disappear from the church roll-and you must be saddened to see how many are thuslost to us who, at one time, appeared to become good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Because of that sad fact, I thought it all the more necessary that I should speak at this time upon the words in our text-"Youtherefore, Beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you, also, being led away with the error of the wicked,fall from your own steadfastness."
I. First, dear Friends, there is a TITLE here given to all Believers which is well worthy of our careful consideration fora little while. The Apostle says, "You therefore, Beloved."
Peter is not the Apostle of Love. We do not expect to find him speaking in such terms as we have in John's Epistles. Yet itis very amazing that the greatest praise of love was written, not by John, but by Paul. And here, Peter, without seeming togo at all out of his way, speaks just as affectionately as John might have spoken. I suppose he felt that when he was administeringa rebuke, and when he was warning against a great peril, it was right that he should speak in the most affectionate terms.I do not think that we shall ever do people much good by bullying them. I question whether any receive rebukes at all if theyare not administered in love. They only resent them if they are spoken in anger. But when the tone of the reprover is thatof affection, then even stripes will be accepted, even as it was with David when he said, "Let the righteous smite me; itshall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head."
In our text, Peter, very honestly warning those to whom he wrote in plainest terms, calls them, "Beloved." Nor was he usinga word which was not true. I do not think that it is always a wise thing to call everybody, "Dear this," and, "Dear that."In fact, if anybody talks like that to me, I always begin to suspect that there is some motive for such endearing terms. Itseems to be the natural course of things that if people say, "Dear this," and, "Dear that," and, "Dear the other," they thinkthat, possibly, by such talk they can get something out of us and, therefore, they use those unctuous terms without meaningthem in their heart. Have we not known people call each other Brother and Sister when all the while they were gossiping oneanother's character away? It was not so with Peter-he really loved those people to whom he was writing. And it was becausehe loved them that he wrote so plainly to them and gave them the needed warning so very honestly. Let us, in passing, learnthis lesson-that real affection is a necessary qualification of one who is to be a leader of God's people. Continually toblend this affection with faithfulness is the part of true wisdom, for we shall be cutting and wounding to no good purposeunless we use the lancet with a very tender hand. If we must cut deep, even to the very heart, then it must be done with greattenderness-a lion's heart must be linked to a lady's hand.
Why did the Apostle Peter love these people and call them, "Beloved"? I think we can answer the question by putting ourselves,in our inferior ministry, in a similar position. All those who are converted and brought to Christ are truly beloved by God'speople for Christ's sake. Wherever we can see anything pertaining to Christ, we wish to give the love that is due to Christ.Where we see that the Holy Spirit has worked the life of God in any Believers, we feel that the life which is in us is insympathy with the life which is in them. There must be, on the part of a minister of Christ, a deep and intense affectiontowards all those whom he believes to belong to Christ. Especially is this the case with our own converts-there is a tie ofthe nearest and most powerful kind which unites us to those who have been brought to the Lord Jesus by our instrumentality.Do they flourish? Then we also flourish. Do they decline? Then our heart languishes. They are our epistles and when they areblotted, we feel that there is a spot upon ourselves. But when they are legible and men read them to the glory of God, oursoul is full of delight! I trust that we can say of all those whom we have brought to the Savior-and whom we have seen unitedin the fellowship of the Church-that without using the word unmeaningly, we can call them, "Beloved," And it is because theyare beloved that we long to see them "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." We pray the Lord tohave them always in His holy keeping, to preserve them from the temptations which are in the world through lust, to deliverthem from the power of their own inbred corruptions and make them perfect in every good work, to do His will, working in themthat which is well pleasing in His sight.
Workers for Christ, learn the lesson of this title before we pass on to the next part of our subject. Go, in the spirit oflove, to deal with those whom you would bless. Love them to Christ if they are unconverted! Bind them to the Cross with cordsof love if they are converted. And if, being converted, they have wandered away from their Lord, draw them back "with cordsof a man, with bands of love," remembering, yourselves, lest you, also, be tempted to stray from your Savior! There, then,is the title which Peter here uses-"Beloved."
II. The second thing which I notice in the text is, A WATCHWORD given by Peter to those whom he addressed. "You therefore,Beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware."
That word needs to be sounded in the ears of young converts very soon after they come to know the Lord. They are men and womengiven to appetite and they are very apt to eat whatever is set before them which looks like spiritual meat-and many a diseasemay be engendered in them by eating unwholesome spiritual food! This warning word, "Beware," needs to be spoken, today, withmuch earnestness. Beware of many of the books that are given you to read! Beware of much of the teaching that is rife in thepresent day! Beware of the example of some who are called Christians! Beware of the deceitful talk of some who would makea gain of you and lead you away from Christ! Beware, above all, of yourself-beware of leaning to your own understanding, bewareof giving the reins to your own will, beware of trusting in your own grace and believing that you are beyond the gunshot ofthe enemy! This is not the best watchword we can give you for your comfort, but it is oftentimes a necessary watchword. Goinground the camp at night, we may well whisper in the ear of the sentinel, "Sleep not, but beware!" And waking up the army inthe morning, we may well sound the word down the ranks, "Beware!" All day long, all night long, in every place, from everyquarter, beware, for the world is full of adversaries! Every bush conceals a foe-almost every tuft is at the verge of a rifle-pit.Beware, you are in an enemy's country! You have no right to sleep, or to say, "I am perfectly safe and need not watch." Thisis the watchword we give you, even as Peter gave it long ago, "Beware."
Be not credulous-"Beware." Remember how the Apostle John says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whetherthey are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." Drink not in every novelty, listen not to everynew teacher, be not "carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby theyare in wait to deceive," but, "beware."
Be not too confiding-"Beware." Trust in the Lord with all your heart, but watch against men, for there are some who would,if it were possible, deceive even the very elect! They are watching to see how they can deceive you. If they cannot lead youinto some great and gross error, they will insinuate doubts and questions. They will leave behind a spark, if they cannotkindle a fire. Just as when Captain Cook went round the world, he landed on every shore and scattered all manner of Englishseeds broadcast, so there are some who go up and down the land sowing tares among the wheat-and they are never better pleasedthan when they drop a handful of the evil seed in the mind of some youngster who has but lately come to Christ and who doesnot, as yet, know the devices of the adversary! "Therefore, Beloved, beware." Be not too confiding, but be always on the watchagainst evil of all kinds.
Above all, be not careless, but, "beware." I know some who have said, "Really, it does not matter what we believe, as longas we are right on the main points." But it doesmatter, for they who neglect any of Christ's Words shall fall by little andlittle. Every Truth of God is a diamond of untold value! I do not know whether there is such a thing as an unimportant Truthof God. Somewhere or other, near to it, there may lie certain consequences that we know not of and, the Truth of God beingneglected, an error may fill its place-and that error may become pregnant with mischief from generation to generation! Itis an ill time for the Church of Christ when she begins to walk blindfolded, or when she even desires to neglect any of theprecepts or the doctrines which Christ has left behind Him. Moses was to make the tabernacle according to the pattern shownto him in the mount-and Ezekiel was to remind the people of his day of the exact pattern of the house of the Lord-and we needconstantly to be put in mind of all that makes up the palace of Truth where Christ dwells. May we be helped to escape allcarelessness by giving heed to this Apostolic watchword!
I pass on the watchword, "Beware," to you, dear Friends, and pray especially that you may beware of the errors of the wicked.There are plenty of them. May you watch both against the errors which are matters of doctrine and the wickedness which ismatter of practice! And may you be kept from both of these!
III. Advancing a little further, I want you to notice, thirdly, AN ARGUMENT in our text. There are really two arguments. "Youtherefore, Beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you, also, fall"
First, "seeing you know these things before, beware." If you are deceived, you will be culpably, guiltily deceived becauseyou have been warned. If you should be led away from Christ and His Truth, from holy living and holy thinking, you will beled astray willfully because you have already received the intimation that you must watch and pray lest you enter into temptation!Peter here tells you, first, that there are scoffers. Then mind that you get out of their way. He tells you, also, that thereare seducers and that they shall wax worse and worse. Take care that you do not let them seduce you. Of course they will notcome to you with the name, "seducer," printed on their foreheads-they will appear to you not as messengers of Satan, but asangels of light-and they will pretend to be very nice, excellent people, when all the while they will be only excellent indoing mischief. And Satan will think well of them because they serve his purpose.
You are warned that these people will twist the Scriptures. They are great hands at that evil employment. They assert thatanythingcan be taught from the Bible and so it can if a man is only wicked enough to twist it from its proper meaning! Thereis no book under Heaven that cannot be made to say the exact opposite of what its author intended, if a man is only sufficientlydelivered from the power of principle to twist it. Such a man is a thief, for he steals words and uses them for his own wickedpurposes when they were meant for quite another end! No doubt he can make any misuse that he likes, even of Holy Writ. Butthe Scripture as God gave it to us is plain enough-on all the great Truths of God, it is a child's book. There are certaingreat Truths, undoubtedly, in the Word of God, which are hard to be understood, but even those are not difficult because ofthe language in which they are proclaimed, but because the Truth, itself, is mysterious and deep. Therefore, dear Friends,if we come honestly to the Scriptures and seek to be taught of the Spirit, we shall learn the things of God. But we must notbe surprised if others act dishonestly and twist the Scriptures to their own destruction, for it has been foretold that theywill do so. You know this before, therefore, beware! Be on your guard.
Then the second argument is, "Beware lest you, also, fall." As some have turned aside, twisting the Scriptures to their owndestruction, you may do the same, for you are of the same nature as they are. Say not with Hazael, "Is your servant a dog,that he should do this great thing?" Left to ourselves, we are dogs, enough, for anything, Brothers and Sisters! If we arewithout the Grace of God, neither dogs nor devils are worse than we are! We are quite capable of believing a lie and of clingingto it until we perish if the Grace of God does not keep us to the Truth and preserve us to the end. Let us never begin tothink ourselves exempt from the weaknesses of human intellects, or even from the perversities of human minds. But watch, forwith the same nature as other men, the same danger is around us as is around other men. And unless God, in His infinite mercy,shall preserve us, we, too, shall apostatize, forsake the faith and become worse than infidels.
IV. Now, in the fourth place, let us briefly notice A CATASTROPHE which is foreshadowed in the text. "Beware lest you, also..fall from your own steadfastness."
Beware lest you fall from your steadfastness as to belief of the revealed Truth of God. Beware lest you neglect this truthfuldoctrine and that, till, at last, you drift into a sea of error. Do not believe what some tell you, that it is of no consequencewhat we preach, or what you hear. On the contrary, cleave closely to Holy Scripture. Judge everything that we say, or thatanyone else says, by the supreme test of the Inspired Word. If I say anything to you merely on my own authority, reject it!But if it is on the authority of God's Word, reject it at your peril! Hold that fast which is really written in this Bookand pray that it may be written on your heart by God's Holy Spirit. Be prepared at all times to judge by the Law and by theTestimony, that which you hear, for, if it is not according to this Word, there is no Light of God in it. Take care that youdo not depart from the steadfastness of your faith in these Truths of God, for there are some who have not really drunk inany error, yet they do not believe the Truth in the very power of it. They adopt a creed as a mere letter, but what is theuse of that? One dead creed on the shelf is as bad as another-we need to know in our own soul the Truth of God is. The Truthconcerning sin so as to hate it-the Truth concerning the Atonement so as to prize it-the Truth concerning the Deity of Christso as to rejoice in it!
I cannot stay to mention all the Truths of God in detail, but these and every other Truth are to be laid home to the souland tested and proved in the daily life. Oh, that none of us may fall from our steadfastness in this matter! As with an irongrip, hold what you hold in these evil times of doubt and unbelief. To my mind, it is a pleasant thing, nowadays, to meetwith a person who really believes anything. I have found a man up to his neck in error and yet holding firmly some one Truthof God. I have said to him, "Sit down, my Friend, and let us have a talk, for you believe something, and so do I, and so farwe can get on together." But it is different where there is nothing at all believed, where it is, "Whichever you please, youpay your money and you take your choice." We are told that we must "keep abreast of the times." And, "truth is always advancing."If it is so, then one thing was true in the year 1800, and another in the year 1830, and a different thing was true in theyear 1840, another in 1860, another in 1880-and we are going on to a new truth for 1900! Some seem to think that the Truthof God changes like the moon, or like the weather! In their opinion, it is never at one stay, but ebbs and flows like thetroubled sea when it cannot rest! But we believe in the Truth of God that never alters and never can be altered, but standsImmutable as God, Himself! May we be kept steadfast in our belief of that!
And, dear Friends, it is a painful thing when men are not steadfast in their practice. Of all the griefs the Church ever feels,the keenest is when those who once stood in her midst dishonor the name of Christ by unholy living. Are there not many such?They did run well, but what has hindered them that they do not still obey the Truth? Once they were regularly at the PrayerMeetings. Once, they were among the most earnest Sunday school teachers and Christian workers, but where are they now? Eatenup with worldliness, honeycombed with the desire after amusements that are, at least, questionable, their spiritual life isreduced to the lowest ebb, and even their morals begin to be very doubtful. God save you, beloved Friends, from such a catastropheas that! We cannot live too near to Christ-the very marrow of religion lies in that which some men think to be the too greatprecision of it. I am certain that the full enjoyment of true religion does not belong to the great mass of Christian professors-theydo not get near enough to the center and heart of it all to realize what its sweetness is. They do not sufficiently consecratethemselves to their Lord and Master, or live in such complete fellowship with Him as to really get at the marrow and fatnesswhich are stored up in the central regions of true godliness. The Lord help us to get there, and when we do get there, mayHe keep us in that blissful spot!
And, oh, to be steadfast in our labors for Christ-not diligent, today, and sluggish tomorrow! Let us always be like the racerwho is intent on reaching the goal, pressing forward as though he could not go fast enough to win the prize- so let us alwaysbe panting to do more for the glory of God. We have many professors who are like runners that are short-winded-they couldwin a sharp, short race, but they cannot hold on through life-and who among us could do so unless the Lord should hold usup? This is the point of Peter's warning, let us see that we fall not from our steadfastness of Christian progress, but alwaysbe as if we were arrows shot from the bow of the Eternal that must speed onward till we reach the target of perfection! Beware,therefore, lest you fall from your steadfastness, for that would be, indeed, a terrible catastrophe.
V. And now, fifthly, just for a minute, notice that here is A WARNING. "Beware lest you, also, being led away with the errorof the wicked, faMrom your own steadfastness."
A man does not usually go bad all of a sudden. "Oh," says one," there is So-and-So, who was with us a little while ago, buthe has gone into gross sin." Just so, but long before there were any outward signs of evil, there was the undermining goingon in his character, depend upon it. When men fall, it is often the case that they have been "led away." Somebody gets holdof your ear and leads you away. Some get a hold on your empty pockets and lead you away because of your needs. Some get holdof your eyes and lead you away by your eyelids. There are many points where a man may be grasped by one who is seeking todestroy him, but, dear Friends, I beg you not to be easily led away by anybody! Know what you know for yourselves-do yourown thinking! When you want to find the Truth of God, work your passage to it-study the Scriptures for yourselves, alwaysseeking the instruction of the Holy Spirit-and then, if you are led, do not be "led away." It would take a great deal to leadme away from what I know, from that Refuge wherein I have hidden, from that Rock whereon I have built for time and for eternity.My Lord-
"To whom or where could I go, If I should turn from You?"
If you are led away, dear Friends, do not be led away by error If somebody can teach you more than you now know, and it isreally God's Truth, go and learn it. If there is an upper room at the feast and the King says to you, "Come up higher," goup higher by all means! We do not want you at the lower end of the table if there is better fare at the higher end of it.But do not let men lead you away with error, especially when it is "the error of the wicked"-and you can soon determine that.I will tell you how you can detect men who would lead you away with the error of the wicked. You can always be sure that thosewho would make you think lightly of the Scripturesare leading you away with the error of the wicked! He is no good man whothinks little of the best of books-the Book of God! I will have nothing to do with that man who makes me think less of theWord of God than I used to think! I know at once where he comes from and understand what his objective is-if possible, tolead me away with the error of the wicked! Have nothing to do with any man who would make you think less of Christ than youdo! His error must be the error of the wicked!
If he begins to point out to you some defect in Christ's teaching, or some fault in His life, or tells you that He is notvery God of very God, get out of his society at once! I would have you do what John is said to have done with Cerinthus whodenied the Deity of Christ. John was in a bath, to which the unbeliever came, and it is said that John hurried out at once,for fear that he should be contaminated by contact with Cerinthus, or lest the bath should fall on them both! Something ofthat kind of spirit the most loving followers of Christ will be sure to have. You can be sure of this, that he will do youno good who does not honor your Lord and Master, so get out of his company as soon as you can.
And shun also those people who would make you think less of prayer, for they would lead you away with the error of the wicked.You know how some of them talk, "No doubt it is a very proper thing for people to pray. It does them good and relieves theirmind, but to suppose that God hears prayer and answers it is positively ridiculous!" Yet for all that, they say that theywould not discourage us from praying. Now, personally, I feel inclined to say to a man who tells me that, "My dear Sir, youhave as good as called me an idiot, and I am very much obliged to you for the compliment." "No," he says, "I did not callyou an idiot." But I am an idiot if I go on praying when I know that God does not hear me! I say that a man is a natural foolwho, believing that God never hears and answers prayer, yet goes and kneels down to pray. Why, he might as well go to thetop of a hill and whistle to the winds! Surely, if there is no effect produced by prayer, it is idle to say that it will dous good to pray! We are not so foolish as to believe that! When we get to that state of mind, we hope to be taken in at Earlswoodor at Bethlehem. But we have not come to that condition just yet and, when any speak ill of prayer, we understand that theydo not know even the elements of true religion! If a person were to say to me, "I will teach you to read," and he began bysaying of the first letters of the alphabet, "That is not A, and that is not B," I would say, "Oh, thank you, I will not troubleyou any longer. I knew better than that when I was quite a little boy!"
That man, again, who begins to speak lightly of sin, will lead you away with the error of the wicked. You know how he talks,"Do not listen to those old-fashioned Puritan notions! You can go and mix in society, you can indulge in this and that amusementand yet you can be a Christian all the same." Ah, yes! I constantly see persons trying to see not how near they can live toGod, but how far they can live from God and yet be called Christians! There are some who seem to be inculcating on our youththis kind of doctrine. Do not keep away from temptation, but go into temptation. Do not burn yourself, but just singe yourhair. Do not, by any means, actually kill yourself in the machinery, but get a finger cut off every now and then-then youwill know something of the nature of steel and of how it operates when it cuts through a bone. That is very instructive, nodoubt!
This is the typical of the talk that we hear from many in this evil age, "Of course you must know a little about life. Youngpeople are not to be always tied to their mother's apron strings-they must go out and learn a little for themselves." Thatis, drink a little poison every now and then just to see how it operates on you. Take a drop of acid and see what it willdo for you. My advice is-Keep clear of all such things! Let this warning be always remembered, "Beware, beware, beware." Ihave never yet come under a rule of life that seemed to me too severe. On the contrary, I still find myself all too apt towander in thought, if not in act, and I would be glad if I could not only be bound, but nailed right up to the Cross.
"Oh," says one, "what do you mean by thatexpression?" I mean that I wish I could realize the truth of Paul's words, "I amcrucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me." I would gladly have no liberty to do anythingthatis even questionable! I would find my liberty in being perfectly holy. Oh, that God would help each one of us to reach thatpoint! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 2 PETER 3.
Verse 1. This second epistle, Beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.The purest minds need stirring up at times. It would be a great pity to stir up impure minds. That would only be to do mischief.But pure minds may be stirred as much as you please and the more the better! There are hallowed memories in the minds of allChristians, but those memories are apt to lie asleep-it is well to ring the alarm bell and wake up all the memories withinthe Believer's heart, even as Peter did when he wrote-"I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance."
2. That you may be mindful of the Words which were spoken before by the holy Prophets, and of the commandment of us, the Apostlesof the Lord and Savior Peter believed in the Inspiration of the very "Words" of Scripture. He was not one of those precious"advanced thinkers" who would, if they could, tear the very soul out of the Book and leave us nothing at all. He wrote, "Thatyou may be mindful of the Words"-the very Words-"which were spoken before by the holy Prophets." "Oh," says one, "but wordsdo not mean anything-it is the inward sense that is really important." Exactly so-that is just what the fool said about eggshells.He said that they did not matter-it was only the inward life-germ of the chick within that was important! So he broke allthe shells and, thereby, destroyed the life that was within!
We contend for every Word of the Bible and believe in the verbal and plenary Inspiration of Holy Scripture, believing, indeed,that there can be no other Inspiration but that. If the Words could be taken from us, the sense, itself, would be gone.
3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers. A prophecy which has been abundantly fulfilled! Youneed not go far to find them-they come in the form of living men-and they swarm in the form of their books. They are to bemet with almost everywhere! Like the locusts, they fill the air and hide the light of the sun! "There shall come in the lastdays scoffers."
3. Walking after their own lusts. Errors of doctrine are almost always attended with errors of practice and, certainly, theylegitimately lead that way. Those who scoff according to the lusts of their intellect are very likely to live according tothe lusts of their flesh! The two things are congruous. They are born from the same cause, they flourish for the same reasons,and they tend to the same ends! "Walking after their own lusts."
4. And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were fromthe beginning of the creation. Only the modern scoffers have tried to improve upon their predecessors, for they say, "Allthings have developed by evolution from the beginning, which never had a beginning, but which somehow or other has alwaysexisted." Thus the scoffers change their tune, but they never alter their spirit-it is always an attack upon the revealedTruth of God! Indeed, they scarcely seem to believe that there is any revealed Truth, and they will only accept that whichthey might, themselves, have invented! Notwithstanding what these men say, all things have not continued as they were sincethe beginning of the creation, for there have been great interpositions of Divine power in the past, as Peter goes on to show.
5-7. For this they willingly are ignorant of that by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out ofthe water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and theearth, which are now, by the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the Day of Judgment and perdition ofungodly men. Admire the power of God's Word! It was by the Word of God that the heavens were made, by the Word of God thatthe earth was drowned, by the Word of God that it has been preserved ever since-and will be preserved until, by that sameWord, fire shall come to devour all the works of men. As surely as Noah's flood came, so surely shall there be a burning upat the appointed season. "The heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire."
8. But, Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand yearsas one day. You are in a hurry. You do not understand the infinite leisure of the Eternal One. The wondrous system of DivineGrace seems to have hardly room and scope enough in the few years that men give to it by their prophetic calculations! ButGod's prophecies are being fulfilled to the very letter. It may be that the length of time for their accomplishment will befar greater than any have imagined, yet to God it shall still be a very little while. "One day is with the Lord as a thousandyears, and a thousand years as one day." We cry, "How long? How long?" Yet, according to God's reckoning, it is but the daybefore yesterday that Christ died, and only about a week ago that Adam was expelled from Eden. A thousand years is, afterall, a very brief space of time. If it is measured by our life, it seems long. But what is the life of a man? Measured otherways-and there are many other modes of measurement-it grows even longer. But measured by the eternity of God, it is a vanishingpoint altogether-there seems to be nothing left of it.
9. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering toward us, not willingthat any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. So He hurries not. He gives the sinner space and time enoughin which to repent. Oh, that man would turn to God, moved by that gracious long-suffering of His!
10. But the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. It is impossible to tell when it will come, but the Day ofthe Lord willcome and, to the great mass of mankind it will come as a thief in the night. Though often warned, they will notexpect it. The Lord's saints will watch for Him, for they are not in ignorance that that Day should overtake them as a thief.But, to the ungodly, the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night."
10. In the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth,also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Men make great boasts concerning what they build and there are manywonderful works of men upon the face of the globe. But the day will come when there will be no trace of them left, for theywill have utterly disappeared! Why, then, should you and I live for these things-for the things which are seen, which aretemporal? O Beloved, live for the things which are not seen, which are eternal!
11. Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversationand godliness. These are garments which we should wear in prospect of eternity! These are things which no fire can touch,for holiness and godliness will outlive even the flames of the Last Great Day!
12, 13. Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the Day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved,and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,wherein dwells righteousness. We believe that God will, in the end, have a complete victory over sin, and that even this poorworld of ours, purified by the fire, shall be lifted up, in a sevenfold splendor, to be a part of the great Kingdom of ourGod. "New heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness."
14. Therefore, Beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot,and blameless. Be diligent to get rid of all those spots which sin has made. In one sense, you are cleansed from them, already,but in another sense, the purifying work must constantly go on. You are to overcome your besetting sin-you are to vanquishall your tendencies to evil-every thought is to be brought into captivity to the mind of the Lord.
15, 16. Andaccount that the long-suffering ofourLordis salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul, also, according to thewisdom given unto him, has written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are somethings hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable, twist, as they do also the other Scriptures, untotheir own destruction. If Peter, here, alluded to the Doctrine of Election, and the great doctrines that spring out of predestination,that is no argument why they should not be preached, for if they are not to be preached because men twist them, then nothingis to be preached, seeing that we are here told that they also twist other Scriptures unto their own destruction! Any ropewill do for a man to hang himself with-and any doctrine will surface for a man to ruin himself with if he wishes to do so.The doctrine of Divine Mercy has been twisted into a reason why we should live in sin! The doctrine of Human Capability hasbeen twisted into this falsehood-"I can repent when I like, or believe when I like and, therefore, I may leave it to the verylast." There is no form of opinion which cannot be rendered mischievous! Our business is to study the Word of God and preachit as we find it-and if men will twist it, we cannot help that. Is it not so that the Truth of God will always be a savorof life unto life to those who believe-and a savor of death unto death to those who perish?
17, 18. You therefore, Beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you, also, being led away with the errorof the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in Grace. The only way to prevent falling is to grow- the tree thatgrows will not fall over!
18. And in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen. An ascription ofpraise to Christ is never out of place at the beginning or at the end of an Epistle, or in the middle of it! You may praisethe Lord Jesus Christ anywhere, at any time-it shall never be a waste of time to sing unto His name! "To Him be glory bothnow and forever. Amen."