In answer to His disciple’s questions about the end of the present age, Jesus told them, “There will be signs in sun and moon and starts, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which ae coming upon the world; for the powers of the heaven will be shaken. Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25-28) In this statement, Jesus once again repeated His prophecy that He would personally return to the earth.
For the past few weeks we have been looking at some Bible passages that refer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Our main focus has been in the third chapter of the Second Epistle of Peter. Peter addressed this letter to the same group of churches. During his apostolic career, Peter had been busy establishing New Testament churches, leading people to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and teaching them the rich Bible truths that he had himself received directly from the Lord Jesus.
Many Christians in Peter’s day believed Jesus would return in their lifetimes and some were becoming discouraged because some of their Christian friends had died and still Jesus had not returned. Peter knew that he would not be alive when Jesus returned because Jesus predicted that Peter would die. Yet others were confused by the teaching of Jesus’ return. None of them could have foreseen that the age of the church would stretch on for at least two thousand years. Because of the confusion, some became victims of false teachers, whom Peter called “mockers,” and began to reject the idea that Jesus would ever return. The mockers constructed three arguments they thought proved Jesus would not return.
In this chapter, Peter answers their arguments with three refutations that disprove the false teacher’s hypotheses. I will begin by briefly stating the mockers arguments and then look at Peter’s repudiations of them that prove that Jesus will indeed return. Jesus’ return could come at any time and those who are His disciples should love His appearing and be ready.
THE MOCKERS’ ARGUMENTS. (2 Peter 3:3b-4)
The Argument from Ridicule. The argument from ridicule comes from the words, “mockers will come with their mocking.” The argument from ridicule is a subjective and emotional argument. It is not rational, and it does not actually deal with the issue. Its purpose is to intimidate, coerce and belittle those who believe who believe in the Second Coming. Instead of offering and cogent ideas, this argument trivializes, rationalizes and attempts to spiritualize the coming of Jesus.
This argument tries to marginalize the believer in the Second Coming and portrays them as unintelligent and childish. Now this has become a very common ploy, and can be called intimidation by sarcasm, scoffing, mocking and ridiculing. They say, “You’re not one of those who actually believes the Bible, are you? You don’t really believe Jesus will come back, do you? You’re not one of those anti-intellectual peoples who just take everything at face value; you’re not a non-critical thinker, are you?” Intimidation like this often works because it attacks our emotions. But, the mockers are wrong.
The Argument From Morality. The words in verse three that say, “Following after their own lusts” is the moral argument. I have heard it said that a person’s morality dictates their theology. The word in the original indicates sexual sin and perversion. They do not want to accept the Second Coming of Jesus because that would mean they would have to answer for their adulterous lifestyle. Rather than repenting from their sins and living a pure and chaste life, they choose to reject that Jesus will return.
If Jesus never returns, there will be no ultimate judgment and accountability for each member of the human race who has ever lived. If there is no ultimate judgment, then we can live any way we choose to live. There are no moral principles. Purity and chastity are ridiculous, and we can be free to express our immorality any way we want. That is the argument from morality. People desire to follow after their own sordid lusts.
The Argument from Uniformity. The argument from ridicule is an emotional argument. The argument from morality deals with moral issues. The argument from empiricism or uniformity targets intelligence. It is found in the words, “all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” The law of uniformity states that the laws of physics and other natural laws have never changed and never will.
This argument takes the law of continuity to its extreme. These false teachers claimed that the laws never changed, and God has never intervened to change them. What is true has always been true and always will be true. Since God has never intervened in history, He never will. Consequently, since Christ’s return is a divine intervention and God never intervenes, Christ cannot return.
This is why the theory of macro-evolution is so important to these mockers. Since they make no room for God in their worldview, they must come up with some explanation for the existence of everything. So, without any evidence at all they postulate the idea that through naturalism molecules turned into man. Only the false teaching of continuity or uniformity can allow for this. This argument is like someone saying, “I have never died, therefore, I never will.”
In the first phrase of verse five you will notice that Peter says that these scoffers have it all wrong. Their premises are wrong, their arguments are wrong, and their conclusions are flawed. In fact, there is a body of real truth they have willfully neglected.
THE MOCKERS’ ARGUMENTS REFUTED. (2 Peter 3:5-7)
The Refutation from God’s Creation. Has God intervened in history? Peter tells us that God has certainly intervened in history. He chooses three specific incidents when God either has or will intervene in human history. Each one is found in the Old Testament Scriptures. We must remember that Peter is not attempting to offer an explanation of Christ’s return to the pagan unbelievers that were outside the church. These false teachers claimed to be Christians and had gained an audience inside the church. Peter wrote to Christians and told them to check their Bibles because it is there that we find proof that God has previously intervened in human history and that shows that He will step into human history in the future.
Christians should note what the Bible says because false teachers refuse to believe it. The phrases “it escapes their notice” can be more accurately translated “they are willingly ignorant” or “deliberately overlook” the facts of creation. “Professing themselves to be intelligent, they have become fools” because they reject God’s truth about how the universe came into existence.
Genesis 1:1-7 is God’s explanation of how the earth was created. Peter says (verse 5), “that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” In effect, Peter is summarizing Genesis 1:1-7. The Bible tells us that God created the heavens and the earth. The existence of the universe was not some arbitrary cosmic accident, but was intentionally created by a Creator whom we know as God.
We note that the earth was formless (Hebrew: tohu) and void (Hebrew: bohu). At the very beginning it had no specific shape to it–it had no form. And, it was empty (or void). No life teemed across its surface. There was nothing. We can state generally that the first three days of creation gave the earth its form or shape and in days four through six, God filled the emptiness with life.
We find something happened in verse two. The Spirit of God moved over the surface of the waters. Remember, Peter mentioned water. Now we find the Holy Spirit moving over the waters and now the waters have shape because the surface if now defined. The creative power of God has shaped the earth into a sphere.
On the second day of creation (verse 6) we find that Peter was talking about when he said, “The earth was formed out of water and by water.” God separated the water into two places. One remained on the earth’s surface (below the expanse) and the other place was above the sky (above the expanse). Adam and Eve lived in a pre-flood world underneath a canopy made up of a large layer of water vapor. They were shielded from the sun’s harmful radiation. One of the results of the water canopy was that humans lived much longer lives, in fact, averaging over 900 years. Another result was that many animals grew much larger. Much of the water below the expanse was collected in vast subterranean aquifers.
On day three, God collected the water on the earth’s surface into seas, lakes and rivers and for the first time, dry land appeared. The scoffers said there was no evidence that God had ever intervened in human history. Peter said God intervened by creating the very planet on which they stood. In effect, Peter said, “Here’s exhibit A–you’re standing on it.”
Many modern scientists are rethinking the whole hypothesis of the arbitrary, accidental explanation for the earth’s existence. I could spend hours quoting from scientists. But I will use just one. Patrick Glynn wrote, “I realized that in the twenty years since I had opted for philosophical atheism, a vast systematic literature has emerged that not only cast deep doubt on, but also, from any reasonable perspective, effectively refuted my atheistic outlook. Today there is no good reason for an intelligent person to embrace the illusion of atheism or agnosticism.”
Mr. Glynn’s discovery is called the anthropic principle and he explains it the way: “All of the seemingly arbitrary and unrelated constants in physics have one strange thing in common–they are the precise values you need if you want to have a universe capable of producing life.” Many physicists and other scientists have now concluded that the only way this could have happened is if there was a Creator who designed and constructed every aspect of this universe. God had intervened. He created everything.
The Refutation from the Flood. It would have been nice if the beauty of the pre-Flood earth had remained, but it didn’t. Despite the ideal environment God created and man enjoyed, the human population declined in its spiritual and moral values. It became so bad that God had to intervene again.
In Genesis 6:11-13, 17, we find that the earth was filled violence and was corrupt and wicked. God was forced to bring judgement on the earth. In 2 Peter 3:6 we find that “the world at that time was destroyed being flooded by water.” Once again, water played an important role. God’s choice was to bring judgment in the form of a global flood in order to destroy the total wickedness into which the human race had descended. He found a righteous man named Noah and had him build an enormous life-raft called the ark. Noah split time between building the gigantic wooden structure and warning any who would listen that judgement was coming. For 120 years he preached, and no one listened. Then, in a cataclysmic event, God caused the canopy overhead to collapse and caused the subterranean aquifers to open and the earth was completely flooded with water. God the Creator is also the Judge of all things. In His sovereign will He controls all natural processes and time is moving inexorably to the conclusion of His choice.
Peter told the people of those first century churches that the false teachers who were planting doubts in their minds deliberately failed to remember God’s intervention in the Flood of Noah’s day. Their premise was flawed because of this omission and consequently their conclusions were all wrong. Jesus is coming again.
The Refutation from God’s Future Intervention. After the great Flood, God promised to never again destroy the world by water, and He placed the rainbow in the sky as a sign of this promise. But that does not mean He will never intervene again. In fact, Peter declared that God had spoken of another intervention and that God is keeping the world for destruction through the means of fire for the judgment and destructions of ungodly men. Peter knew this because it is found in the Bible.
Isaiah 66:15-16 says that the Lord will come in fire and will execute judgment by fire. Second Thessalonians 1:6-8, the apostle Paul says that the “Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
Nobody knows when Jesus will return, but it is the testimony of the Bible that He will return. It is not a matter of “if” Jesus will return; it is only matter of “when.” Later on, in this passage in Second Peter, we are told that in the light of Jesus’ return we should be people of holy conduct and godliness.
Jesus said that in order to be prepared for His return, we must be born again. In John 3:1-18 we find the narrative of a visit from the Jewish leader, Nicodemus, who came to see Jesus. Not mincing any words, Jesus told him that he must be born again. “How is that possible” was Nicodemus’ question. The answer is found in verse 16, “God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, and whoever believed in Him will be granted eternal life.” Have you been born again? God Jesus intervened into human history to provide eternal salvation to whoever believes. Will you believe in Jesus?
Updated by Pastor Vernon Welkner, 8/19/2019