II Peter—Living the Christian Life, Part 3
We are finishing up our series on 2 Peter this week. We hope you have been encouraged and challenged like we have. The book of 2 Peter is all about how we are living our lives in light of Jesus’s return. It’s been over 2,000 years since His ascension and promise to return. 2 Peter 3 is reminding believers why Jesus has not returned.
Chris will also share how prophecies in the Old and New Testament are always surrounded by God’s desire for His people to live lives pleasing to Him. We often jump to the prophetic passages and skip the surrounding verses. But in doing so, we miss the heart of God.
Where are you focusing your thoughts? Are you worrying about the things of this world that have no eternal value or are you living life in great anticipation of our Lord’s return?
Steve Conover: It's been over 2,000 years since Christ's resurrection and ascension, and the Scriptures promised several times that Jesus would come back again. Even Jesus himself promised the second coming. But it's been a long time, and even in the apostle Peter's day, Christians were questioning whether Jesus would ever return. Hi, everyone. This is the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover.
Chris Katulka: And I'm Chris Katulka, and today we're going to wrap up our series on 2 Peter. We've been going chapter by chapter through the apostle Peter's letter, and the one thing that stands out the most is that Peter wants his readers to know how to live the Christian life in light of Christ's return. For Peter, he knew Christ was coming back. And Steve mentioned earlier that we've been waiting a long time for Jesus' return, and today on the program, Peter answers the question, I think, that's on everyone's mind. Why are we waiting so long?
Steve Conover: We look forward to hearing your insights, Chris. In the news, King Abdullah of Jordan announced on the anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that aspects of the peace treaty with Israel pertaining to annexation of land will be canceled. This means certain lands owned by Jordan with Israelis living in them will lose special status that allow the rights of Israelis to live and work there.
Chris Katulka: Yes, Steve. This is 25 years that the Israeli Jordanian peace plan is really celebrating 25 years of existence, that there's been a solid peace plan between these two countries. But this is interesting because King Abdullah really chose a bad day, I think, to announce his decision to pull back on some of the aspects of this peace plan. I think he could have chosen a different day. They were celebrating Yitzhak Rabin's life, they were honoring him because it was Yitzhak Rabin who signed that peace plan and he was assassinated. And so for some reason, King Abdullah decided this would be a good day to announce the pull back of that peace plan in certain areas. So I think he chose a bad day there.
But the other thing is this. I think King Abdullah's playing politics here. I think he's playing politics with the Netanyahu government. He's pushing to see what kind of deal he can get with this renewal of the peace treaty that's there. So I think we'll just have to wait and see what happens.
Okay, so we're finishing our series on 2 Peter today and we've been going through 2 Peter together. There's three chapters in the letter, and we've been going chapter by chapter, so today we're wrapping up our series, of course, in chapter three. And 2 Peter is all about how we are living our lives today in light of Christ's coming. That's the theme of what we've been talking about as we've been going through 2 Peter chapters one, two, and what you'll see here in chapter three. And while we wait for the Lord, listen. He doesn't want us to live lives that contradict the change of the work of the Holy Spirit that's happening in us today. He wants us to live lives that are pleasing to God. That actually goes back to 2 Peter 1, where Peter wants to emphasize the fact that the Holy Spirit is dwelling within us. He's changed us. We are partakers of the divine. He wants us to live lives that are pleasing to him, and even in 1 Peter the apostle says, "Be holy as I am holy." Even today, God wants our lives to reflect the spiritual change that has happened because of Christ's forgiving work on the cross.
And folks, as we are waiting for Christ's coming, we are being squeezed. We're being squeezed between the world, our flesh, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And let me add one more thing. Prophecy is extremely important. I think 2 Peter balances prophecy and Christian living perfectly. I often hear people say, "Prophecy makes up one third of the Bible." But folks, the reality is this: the whole Bible is prophecy. From Genesis to Revelation, God is working out his plan of saving us from the judgment that we deserved that goes way back from the garden. The moment Adam and Eve sinned, God set forth a prophecy of his redemptive plan.
And you know, whenever we read prophecy, I feel as though we often go to the prophetic part of the passage because it's the thing that we're most interested in. But then what happens is we tend to leave out the surrounding passages where God is communicating his desire for his people to live lives that are pleasing to him. And this can be found in both the New Testament, as we're reading here in 2 Peter, and also in the Old Testament.
You know, when God promised the new covenant in Jeremiah 31, he set forth a very significant prophecy that he would create a new covenant for Israel. Not like the covenant that he made with their forefathers. This is amazing. But why is it amazing? Because Israel's relationship to the Lord over their history has been full of disobedience, which led to God's judgment. And it's within this context of God's judgment of Israel because of their spiritual disobedience toward God that he makes them a promise, a promise to change the location of the covenant, from a covenant cut on stone tablets to a covenant that he places on their hearts, the new covenant. And the reason, think about, this is amazing. The reason he chooses a new covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-35. You should go read it. The reason that he does this is so that God can plant Israel back in the land. Two amazing prophecies of Israel's return and Israel's restoration are wrapped around how they are living their lives during the days of Jeremiah.
This can be seen all over the Old Testament, and folks, Peter does the same thing. Prophecy is often connected to how God's people are relating to him spiritually. And in 2 Peter 3, Peter is warning his brothers and sisters not to give up hope on living the Christian life, even though Christ hasn't returned yet. Peter tells them, "There will be some that appear in the last days." And listen, let me tell you something. I believe Peter thought we were living in the last days. I believe, for Peter, he thought Jesus would return at any moment, and that's only a few decades after Jesus had resurrected and ascended. I believe we're living in the last days. But there were people during the days of Peter who would shout, "Where is Jesus? When will he return? Where is his promised return?"
2 Peter 1 was all about those who denied Christ, and 2 Peter 3 is all about those who deny Christ's return. And Peter says this about those who deny Christ's return. Listen to this. He says, "Above all, understand this: In the last days, blatant scoffers will come, being propelled by their own evil urges." Do you hear what Peter's saying? Those who deny Christ's return. Those who are not living in the light of Christ's return do so to fulfill fleshly desires, their evil urges. And it's interesting because, see, Peter uses that word for evil urges in all three chapters of his second letter. And what he's trying to say is that those who deny, or would even neglect to recognize Jesus' return, are in a state of spiritual floundering.
See, Peter's connected prophecy to the way that we live for Christ today, and he's arguing that those who justify their sin do so on the basis of neglecting the prophetic word that Jesus is coming back. The two go hand in hand. Folks, our holiness is wrapped up in our hope. Let me say that again. Our holiness is connected, it's wrapped up, in our hope. Peter's biggest concern is that Christians who love Christ and are living lives pleasing to Him will be sidetracked by those who say, "Where's Jesus? He's not coming back, so do whatever you want with your life." Peter wants his brothers and sisters to know, even though Jesus hasn't returned yet, that doesn't mean God has forgotten or that nothing is going to happen. And think about it. It's only been, like I said before, a few decades since Jesus' resurrection and ascension.
Listen to what Peter says in 2 Peter 3 again. He goes on. He says, "Now dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord, and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord is not slow concerning His promise as some regard slowness, but is patient toward you, because He does not wish for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance." If you've ever wondered why Christ hasn't returned yet, there's a reason. And Peter just explained it. First, your concept of time isn't the same as the Lord's. If you think you've been waiting a long time, that's your concept of time. It's not an eternal concept of how God understands time, space, and the way that He views things. For God, a thousand years with the Lord is but a day. So when you compare 2,000 years since Christ's death and resurrection to eternity, it's not even a drop in the bucket.
The second reason is this: God's perceived slowness to fulfill His promise in returning Christ isn't to torture you. I promise. God's perceived slowness. It's the way that we see things. We wonder why is it taking so long? That's our perceived slowness. It's not there so that God can torture us in our life right now. No, instead, it's God's grace and mercy at work. He's being patient toward you and the rest of the world.
Let me say this. For a Christian today, the return of Christ is an event that we should all be looking forward to. It's the day where God's glory is revealed in Christ, when all things are made new, when Christ establishes His Kingdom on earth. But what's good for Christians who believe in Christ is also incredibly bad for those who don't. The apostle Paul in the book of Romans, in Romans 2:1-5, he says this. Listen. "Therefore, you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things. Now, we know that God's judgment is in accordance with truth against those who practice such things, and so you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? That you'll escape God's judgment? Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness?"
Listen to this. Paul is connecting right to what Peter's saying. "Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet you do not know that God's kindness leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment is revealed."
See, Paul is saying that for those who refuse God's goodness and mercy as he's being patient during this time, that the fact that Christ hasn't come yet is an act of God's patience and kindness and mercy, is that he's offering an opportunity for those to repent to turn to Him. But for those who refuse to repent, look at what Paul says. He says they're storing up wrath for themselves in the day of wrath. You know, while the second coming of Christ is the hope of all Christians, it's also the righteous judgment of unbelievers. It's a double-edged sword. And Peter reminds us that the reason Jesus hasn't returned yet is not to keep us waiting, but to provide God's grace to the utmost extent so that all people might have an opportunity, might have a chance to repent and turn to the Lord. God's patience is His grace in our lives and in the lives of unbelievers.
Now when we return, Peter will give us a picture of what Christ's second coming will look like and what it means to us, so stay tuned.
Steve Conover: 2 Peter's three chapters embody virtually everything we as believers need to know about how to live like Christ today. In the book Standing Fast in the Last Days, Dr. Elwood McQuaid walks you through the letter of 2 Peter, encouraging believers to live a godly life in light of Christ's second coming.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, listen to what Elwood McQuaid says in the book: "2 Peter unveils great vistas of optimism and expectation of what lies ahead for those who know him. Food for the soul, enlightenment for the mind, and the eternal triumph of the redeemed are all here for the taking as we fulfill his heart's desire that we do what 2 Peter 3:18 says: Grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Steve Conover: To learn how you can purchase your copy of Standing Fast in the Last Days by Dr. Elwood McQuaid, go to foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org, or call our listener line at 888-343-6940. Again, that's 888-343-6940.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everyone. We've been wrapping up our series on 2 Peter 3, and I just want to remind you, go to foiradio.org, and there, if you've not had a chance to listen to our previous two shows on 2 Peter, you can go to foiradio.org, and there you can just go to our archives page and you can listen to the past two programs. I want to encourage you to do that to help catch you up from chapter one to chapter three, because we're wrapping up our series here. And so far we've seen that Peter is warning Christians against those who would make you think that Christ's second coming isn't going to happen. And since they think it isn't going to happen, we can live however we want. We can fulfill those fleshly urges that we have.
But that's not the case for Peter. Peter wants his brothers and sisters, that's us, even now. He wrote to the people 2,000 years ago and his letter is timeless. It still applies to us. It still matters to us. And he's writing to us to let us know that Jesus is coming back and his patience in returning, like I said earlier, isn't to torture us, but to show the outworking of God's grace and mercy to those who haven't believed yet. Now at the end of 2 Peter, the apostle shares with us what it will look like at the coming of Christ, and he gives those believers, and us, the picture of what God's judgment on earth looks like. And he says this in 2 Peter 3: "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief." Those are Jesus' exact words, so Peter's picking up on what Jesus says about His return. "The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed."
I think many people believe this whole world, this universe that God created, is going to, at the end, just implode or explode on itself during God's judgment. But I don't think that's where God's taking us. I don't believe God is going to delete his creation that he once called good. I believe God wants to resurrect his creation. So the way to almost look at this is like a farmer who burns his field to enrich his soil with nutrients for the next crop. God in his judgment will burn this world, removing the impurities and sin from it once, for all, and from that burning, God will resurrect his creation to new life.
Peter ends his letter with these words. Take a listen from 2 Peter 3. "Since all these things thus will be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens shall be set on fire and dissolved and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn. But according to His promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."
Folks, where are you setting your gaze as Christians? That's the question. Are you setting your gaze on the here and now? Are you trying to build something eternal here on earth? Because it's just going to melt. It's just going to dissolve. All of the things that are wrong on earth, all of the sin, all of the shame, will be exposed, Peter says. But God says all that stuff's going to burn, but what doesn't burn is a life dedicated to serving the Lord, a life of holiness and godliness. These are the things that matter now in light of Christ's coming. Because folks, our sights shouldn't be set on the here and now; our sights should be set on something higher, something greater, like the new heavens and the new earth, where God's righteousness dwells.
Friends, prophecy isn't just about what's going to happen in the future. It's all about what's happening in your life now. And I want to encourage you to start reading prophecy in light of God's desire to change lives. Not just what's going to happen in the future, but how the glorious future plans of God affect our lives today.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: Two of my sons and my daughter are now serving at the Lebanese front in the army. Recently I received a letter stating that the army wants me also, but I said, "Not this time." I want to remind the military officials that I am now 53 years old and actively served in all four of Israel's previous wars, performing the most dangerous job. One of the officers said, "But you know how serious the situation is." I replied, "Yes, and I have given you my three children. If you must have me, then you must also take my wife and my youngest son. Then all of our family will be in the army." The officer said, "You may stay home for now, but be ready if we call you."
"I am always ready," I said. He asked, "What do you mean?" I told him, "I am ready to preach the good news of God to all who will listen."
"But you never went to yeshiva." A yeshiva is a religious school. "Did Israel's prophets go to a yeshiva?" I asked him. "When the Lord called Moses, did he ask him what type of education he had? No, he simply told Moses to do His will. God himself put the words in Moses' mouth. That is how it is with me."
"What do you want to speak about?" The officer asked. I replied, "I want to tell you about our need for salvation."
"But we are close to victory in the north," he said. "No we are not," I responded. "It is not by might nor by power, but by the spirit of the Lord. Zechariah 4:6. The Lord has fought for us in the past, and he is doing so again. Even though my children are in the north, I have peace because my trust is in the Lord. Why should we fear? We can be sure of his victory." Then the officer asked, "Where do you get your confidence?" I told him, "God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid. Isaiah 12:2. If you are afraid, believe in the Son of God as I did."
We began a long conversation about faith in the Lord, and finally he said, "We never knew that you and others like you are so bound to the land of ours." I told him, "We believe in the same heavenly Father, read the same Bible, and are loyal officers of Israel. We love our country. I have given my three children to fight for this land, and I can give even more."
"What is that?" He asked. I replied, "As I told you, you can take me if you must."
"If this turns into a big war, you must go," he said. "We do not have as many people as our enemies." I agreed. "Yes, but at times like this, we must trust in the Lord. Do not be afraid, but remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt. If this war becomes big, I will be there without even being called." The officer then said, "We have learned a lot today about you and others like you, whom we always thought of as negative. But we know that two negatives always make a positive." I was grateful for the opportunity to meet these military people and to change their minds about true Hebrews.
Steve Conover: I'd like to thank you all for being with us today for the program. Chris, any final thoughts as we close?
Chris Katulka: I don't know about you. I've enjoyed this series on 2 Peter. And the one thing as we're closing, I think Peter ends on such an amazing note. Jesus is coming back again. Yes, we've been waiting a long time. But the thing Peter wants us to know is this: our holiness is connected to our hope. The holiness that we should have today as we're living lives that are pleasing to the Lord is not something that's ambiguous; it's actually anchored. It's rooted in the hope that we have that Jesus is coming back again. And Peter wants us to anchor that hope in Christ’s Second Coming.
Steve Conover: Very encouraging, Chris. Thank you. And thank you for joining us today. We want to take a moment to mention that the Friends of Israel Today is a listener supported program. Would you prayerfully consider being a monthly supporter of this ministry? You can find out more at foiradio.org or call and leave us a message on our listener line at 888-343-6940. And someone will return your call during regular business hours. Again, visit us at foiradio.org or call 888-343-6940.
Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
II Peter: Standing Fast in the Last Days
By Elwood McQuaid
Second Peter’s three chapters embody virtually everything we as believers need to know about how to live like Christ today. In the book, Standing Fast in the Last Days, Dr. Elwood McQuaid walks you through the letter of Second Peter, encouraging believers to live a godly life in light of Christ’s second coming.
Apples of Gold: Not This Time!
In 1981 three of Zvi’s children were serving in the Israeli Defense Force in Lebanon. They called on Zvi to serve also. Being in his fifties and already serving in four previous wars, Zvi declined. While speaking with the military, Zvi reminded them that victory is in the hands of the Lord.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.