Tag Archives: 2 Peter

Divine forbearance…

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come..They will say,”Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

(2 Peter 3.3&4, 8&9)

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End…I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take of the free gift of the water of life.       He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

(Revelation 22.12&13,16&17, 20)

I am greatly comforted in these early years of the twenty first century since Jesus walked on our earth, to read the words written by Peter to a group of struggling and fearful believers only a few years after the events of the first Christmas. The apostle wrote to reassure them, to encourage them in their faith as they faced ridicule from their society, and to remind them that the promises of God are trustworthy. Our wise and loving Father in heaven knew full well what his children would have to face, and provided for our need!

We too live in an age of scepticism, an age when to have faith in a creating, loving, forgiving, and holy God who will judge with righteousness is to be regarded as the ultimate folly. It is all too easy to look at the world around us and say with the ‘scoffers’, “Where is this second coming? Surely if it were true, things would have happened by now!” We see so much pain and suffering, and we rightly long for the justice of God to be seen, for evil to be abolished and all wrongs put right. How can God endure to watch his creatures enduring in this broken world, when he is planning to put an end to it all for ever?

Peter writes to remind his readers – and us – that we are trapped within time, and God is not, so that we cannot share the divine perspective on what is happening. He points out that the delay is due to God’s incredible patience with his creatures, and his yearning love, reaching out to all that they might yet respond to his offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ. When we become impatient with God’s timing, we demonstrate how little we share his love for the lost and fail to care enough that they might indeed come and take the free gift of the water of life.  Surely the God who went to such lengths to open the way of salvation will not be hasty in closing that way until all who are to walk in it have been welcomed in! May we be forgiven for our lack of love for the lost, forgiven for wanting everything arranged according to our meagre understanding and for our comfort..

And yet, I believe it is right that believers should in some measure be longing for the end to come, for the final glorious winding up of time, and the purging fire of cleansing and judgement. It is surely right that as we come to be formed more and more after the likeness of Christ, that we should share his desire for the time when the church will no longer suffer and be cut off from him by the remnants of sin and evil. We are meant to long for that glorious union, which is so richly portrayed for us by John in his Revelation visions. As the bride and groom look forward to their wedding day, so we as believers should be eager to see the day when we might dwell in the holy city, in the new creation, in full fellowship with our Lord.

He will come, dear friends, do not lose heart but persevere; labouring in his name, and rejoicing in the sure promise that he is coming soon…Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

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Tell me again..please?

Therefore, I will always remind you about these things – even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live….For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendour with our own eyes….because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets.

I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Saviour commanded through your apostles.

(2 Peter 1.12,16,19 &3.2)

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the good news I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this good news that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you…I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the scriptures said.

(1 Corinthians 15. 1,3&4)

 Our world in these early years of the twenty-first century is driven by rapid change – population growth; expanding economies; transforming technologies. We in the prosperous and stable European nations enjoy an unprecedented standard of living and are swept along in the current of constant innovation which drives our economies and personal lives. Every few years, we replace appliances, cars and pieces of furniture, and obsolescence is built in to much of what we use,  we accept it cannot last for long. We are increasingly driven by novelty, the lure of the new and different. It was ever thus, humanity is easily bored, but the pace of change today is breath-taking.

Do we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking about faith in this way, as if there ought to be some innovations by now, some new and exciting insights and teaching which will render much of our tradition obsolete? Well, perhaps there is a case for arguing that much which is traditional is no longer helpful, but actually obscures the gospel, and it could therefore be set aside. But, there is a foundation of truth upon which our faith must rest if it is to have any validity at all, and that foundation remains today as it was when the apostles wrote about it two thousand years ago..

We believe in a God who became human, lived a perfect life, died the death of a sinner, and was raised to new life, ascending into heaven where all those who accept his death in their place will also be received. It can be reduced to the simplest of statements, as the children’s hymn puts it, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so..”

There is sufficient profound theology behind this truth to occupy the greatest minds; and yet it is clear enough to be understood and embraced by the youngest and simplest of us. And it does not change…this is what we believe, and without this, we are astray upon a sea of conjecture, tossed by fashionable philosophies, driven by ruthless atheists, and without any real grounds for hope. It is this truth which we need, more than anything else, to give us courage to face life, to face ourselves in all our weakness, failure and malice.

Jesus loves me – therefore I am of worth, I have value in God’s eyes and can hold my head high no matter what others say of me; Jesus loves me – and his death has dealt with all my sins, the past, present and future, I am forgiven and the burden of guilt has no weight for me: Jesus loves me – I want to live in a way that honours him and recognises that my life is no longer my own to waste; Jesus loves me – and that love is for all who will receive it, therefore I have good news to share with my world!

This old story, of Jesus and his love, is what I need to receive afresh every day of my life. It is as basic to my existence as the food I eat and the air I breathe. Without this story, I have no hope, and am at the mercy of my own sin, the wiles of the devil, and the power of evil in the world.

Praise God, in his infinite wisdom, that his great story of redemption is complete, that nothing need be added by all the cleverness of humanity to make it effective. There is no need to look for new versions of the good news of Jesus; the old story, the unchanging story, is never obsolete, always effective, and the only sure foundation of faith. Alleluia, and Amen!

In the quiet places

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

(2 Peter 1.3&4)

In a way, it is so very simple – a walk in the park, as some might say! As believers in Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord, growing in knowledge of him, we receive from God the power to live godly lives, participating in the very nature of God himself. It sounds so easy, and straightforward, and gloriously complete – we receive ‘everything we need’. So why does my life not speak more clearly of God’s love and glory, why do I fall into despair, doubt, self-pity and resentment so readily? I have been a follower of Jesus for over 3 decades and was raised in a christian home, surely by now I should not be falling into these traps!

There are two things to be wary of here. The first is the temptation to fall into sin by comparing myself to others, or to some imagined standard which I ought by now to have obtained. I believe this is indeed a sin, and the work of the devil in effectively turning my attention firmly back to myself and away from Jesus. I refuse to trust my own assessment of the state of my soul, and when I find myself falling into this trap, I return to such glorious promises as Paul gave the church in Philippi , where he affirms his confidence that God “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The only important thing to cling to is that one day, God will be finished, and it is His business to know when that is!

The other trap is to be so preoccupied by my shortcomings and sins, that I fail to recognise the sensitivity of my spirit as a healthy sign! It is only as we grow in knowledge of the beauty and perfection of Jesus as God is revealed to us through him, that we become increasingly aware of the blight and poison of sin. So although I am saddened by my sins, yet I can also give thanks to God that I am more aware of them and more than ever dependent on his forgiveness and mercy.

In this sense, it is our knowledge of Jesus which does indeed give us all we need for life and godliness. Through understanding what he accomplished for us on the cross, we learn that sin truly has no more power over us, and we are free from its dominion. It can mar, but not destroy, and while we will strive against it as long as we dwell in these bodies, yet in Christ we are victorious over it. Our knowledge of the riches which we have in Christ, as beloved children of the God of heaven, sets us free from coveting the things of this world and this life, free to give and not count the cost, to spend our lives in loving and serving.

But what does this transforming knowledge look like in the mess and noise of daily life? There is no opportunity in the middle of a crisis, or a manic day at the office, to go and find it, no time to sit and meditate on a psalm to bring about a calm frame of mind! I believe very strongly that we must take the opportunities of the quiet times and places to build up our knowledge of and relationship with Jesus, so that our thoughts and reactions begin to mirror him instinctively. Do I make full use of the ‘means of grace’ as they are sometimes called – of the teaching of the word at my church; of bible study with friends; of prayer (alone and with others); of the sacrament of communion? Do I chose to use my free time for God, putting myself in his presence and meditating on his word? To fail to do so, is like an athlete who enrols for a marathon and then fails to do the training and wonders why she fails to complete the race.

I am certainly not saying that we can ever be sufficiently prepared so that every trial and test finds us unshakeable! But I do need to challenge myself to fully embrace my quiet places and times as opportunities to pursue deeper knowledge of Christ and sweeter fellowship with him. May our gracious God grant me the hunger and the discipline I need!