Second Sunday of Advent, Year B: The Hope of Christ’s Coming
- Larry Overstreet Retired professor, Corban University School of Ministry
- 2014 27 Aug
Many people openly scoff at the idea of Christ's return. Many who profess to believe in Christ's return often do not live as if they actually expect Him to come again. However, this is not new to humanity. Peter knew it was true in his day, and he assured his readers—original readers and us toda—that Christ will return.
Be Informed: The Lord Will Return
Christ will return, but when? Peter did not specify a date, but he did indicate there will be a delay. That delay, however, does not negate the Lord's return (vv. 3:8-10). The length of time in the delay of the Lord's return is relative (v. 3:8). To us, 70 years is a lifetime. To God, however, 1,000 years are like a day.
God already is delaying Christ's return because He is patient. Peter already announced God's certain judgment is coming on unbelievers (v. 3:7), and that is a sure promise (v. 3:9). He delays His coming judgment because He does not want anyone to perish. Rather, He wants sinners to repent and be saved. God provided for the salvation of all and desires their salvation. When anyone rejects God's salvation and perishes, it is not because God determined it.
God's delay will come to an end suddenly and unexpectedly, comparable to a thief in the night (v. 3:10). Thieves do not announce their impending crimes publicly (unless they're really dumb), and God does not announce the end of His delay of patience. When that end comes, this present earth and the heavens will be destroyed by fire.
To get a limited idea of what this might be like, log onto a website such as YouTube.com and view clips of nuclear explosions. Observe the fire and the devastation that accompany them. The largest nuclear bomb that ever exploded was the Soviet Union's Tsar Bomb, which exploded Oct. 30, 1961. It had an explosion equivalent to 50 million tons of TNT. It was 10 times more powerful than all the explosives of World War II combined. That, however, pales before God's judgment. Imagine what it will be like when God unleashes His judgment in a destroying fire on the present heaven and earth. That will be a conflagration beyond the power of all earth's nuclear weapons combined.
Be Sanctified: The Lord Will Return
The reality is that everything we currently know and see will be destroyed (v. 3:11). In view of that certain destructive judgment, Peter asked, "What kind of people ought you to be?" So that no one misunderstood, Peter answered his own question, "You ought to live holy and godly lives." Holiness, or sanctification, is being separated from all evil—set apart for God. Godliness is our full loyalty and devotion to God. The coming of Christ and His judgment are so certain that Peter reiterated it for added emphasis (v. 3:12). This reminds me of the adage, "When God repeats something, it's not because He ran out of things to say."
We also should be sanctified because of our heavenly expectation (v. 3:13). The destructive judgment of this present creation is not the final word on the subject. God will create a new heaven and a new earth. They will be radically different from what we now experience. They are the home of righteousness. Someone once said that in this present time righteousness suffers; in God's kingdom, righteousness reigns; in eternity, righteousness dwells at home.
Finally, we should be sanctified through consistent diligence (vv. 3:14-15a). The return of Christ compels us to be diligent in our behavior (v. 3:14), striving for an expectant attitude and a spotless and blameless life, the same words that refer to Christ in 1 Peter 1:19.
We must also be diligent in our discernment (v. 3:15a). Again, we see the stress on the Lord's patience. This is the time to discern how God is bringing people to Himself in salvation. Christ surely is coming again. Until He does, believers must act so that unbelievers can come to Christ before His return occurs.