SI: I forgot to change the sermon title in the bulletin.
It should be “The Day of the Lord.”
We’re almost finished with 2 Peter.
The big theme of this letter is the Christian life.
Specifically, the point that Peter presses home is that as a Christian,
you have divine power that gives you everything you need for life and godliness.
By virtue of your union with Christ, the new birth and the work of the Holy Spirit,
you have supernatural power for moral and spiritual transformation.
What are the things about yourself you want to change?
Where do you want to grow? In what virtues and graces?
How do you want to be a better parent, spouse, friend, Christian?
What sins do you want to put behind you?
Where do you need more love, patience, joy, and self-control?
Peter says: You have divine power for change.
And the way you bring that power to bear on the actual nitty-gritty of your life, is
through the promises of God. He calls them the great and precious promises.
God’s promises in his Word are the conduit of divine power.
As you know them, believe them, trust them, make decisions based on them,
allow your attitude to be shaped by them, view life through them—
you will be transformed.
Peter concludes by reminding us of the greatest and most precious
of all God’s promises—the promise of Christ’s return.
The Day of the Lord, he calls it.
Let’s see how believing this promise is a conduit of power.
INTRO: On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake on the floor
of the Indian Ocean. It was one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded
and the longest ever observed—it lasted up to 10 minutes.
It displaced over 7 cubic miles of water and created a tsunami that began racing
from the epicenter at over 500 miles per hour. The first coastlines hit by the
tsunami were in Indonesia and Thailand, including several popular beachside
resorts packed with European tourists there for the Christmas holiday.
In almost every case, there was no warning. Sometimes just a strange agitation
of the sea—and then 90 foot walls of water that inundated everything.
Over 250,000 people died throughout Asia, including over 2,000 of those
holiday tourists who were enjoying a beach vacation with their families.
I’m sure many of you have seen the cell phone videos of that disaster,
as well as others that have happened more recently—
like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
There is a promise that permeates the Bible.
This promise is so much a part of the Bible’s message that if you get rid of it
then you might as well get rid of the rest of the Bible as well.
This promise, repeated over and over, is that there is going to be a day—
a real day, a specific date on the calendar. This day will like no other.
It’s called the Day of the Lord.
On that promised day the Lord Jesus Christ will intervene catastrophically
in human history for final judgment against all sin and for the deliverance
of his faithful people.
The reason I started with the reminder of the Indonesian tsunami is because
when the Bible talks about the Day of the Lord, it makes use of every
conceivable catastrophe to describe the destruction and terror of that day.
The Bible compares it to a massive locust plague that strips the green field bare—
and to a storm with tornados and hail that smashes mighty oaks to splinters—
and to the rape and pillage of a city by a ruthless enemy—
And to the slaughter of mighty armies on battlefields,
and to great multitudes of people cut down like grain
and crushed like grapes in a wine press.
Bible also describes it in cosmic terms—stars shaken, sun and moon darkened.
And often, as in 2 Peter, there is the image of fire.
A purging fire that destroys everything tainted by sin. That’s just a taste.
You could spend hours tracing out this promise in the Bible—
all the descriptions of Day of the Lord used by prophets, apostles, Jesus himself.
By introducing this subject of the Day of the Lord, and the destruction by fire,
Peter is being completely faithful to the theme of his letter
which he introduced in the opening verses of chapter one.
If you are a Christian, if you have been born again, if you have put your faith in
Jesus Christ, then you have divine power for the transformation of your life.
The conduits of that divine power—the way you bring it to bear on your problems
and challenges—are the promises of God.
That is what we have talked about in one way or another for past 7 Sundays.
No matter what problem or challenge you are facing—circumstances, situations
in life that lead you to fear, worry, bitterness, discontent, disappointment,
selfishness, self-pity, greed, lust, whatever—
there are promises that God gives you in the Bible that as you believe them,
become conduits of his power to bring real, lasting transformation.
Now in the last chapter Peter brings out the promise of the Day of the Lord.
He holds this promise before Christians and says—
Now this is a promise that has power!
So the question we need to ask is this:
How does the promise of the Day of the Lord give you power for your Christian
life? It does so by pressing home three things:
1. The wrath of God. 2. The salvation of Christ. 3. The pursuit of holiness.
If these three truths are vivid and lively in your mind—think of them often,
if you allow them to shape you—they will be a conduit of divine power.
MP#1 The Day of the Lord reminds you of the wrath of God.
In promise after promise about the Day of the Lord, this stands out—
it will be a day of God’s wrath against sin.
He will judge everyone who has broken his law in thought, word, and deed.
Peter describes this as a day of burning fire. Burning is a purging of sin.
Bible says over and over that God is slow to anger, he is tremendously patient.
He has withheld the final judgment for thousands of years.
He wants to give people time to repent.
As Christ said, this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world,
and then the end will come. God is patiently holding back judgment so that
people of all nations can hear the Gospel.
As saw last week in the preceding verses of chapter 3,
God has withheld judgment for so long, that many skeptics have interpreted the
thousands of years of God’s patience as proof that there will never be a judgment
day or even that God does not exist. It’s just the unending laws of nature.
But remember what Peter said: To God “a day is as a thousand years . . .”
Lord is not on our timetable—but his judgment is coming—he has promised.
When the Day of the Lord comes—and it will be a day as real as December 26,
2004, or March 11, 2011, or September 11, 2001.
God’s wrath will be poured out against all sin and that day will be terrible.
Look again at Zephaniah 1:15-18.
There are many passages like this in both OT and NT just as vivid.
Uses image of city being destroyed by a ruthless enemy to describe Day of Lord.
15That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin,
a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, 16a day of trumpet and battle
cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. 17I will bring distress on the
people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord.
Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth. 18Neither their silver
nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath. In the fire of his
jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live
in the earth.
The day of the Lord will be a terrible day. If the problem of sin is not dealt
with before that day, then a person will suffer total loss.
Gold and silver won’t help you on that day.
How do these vivid reminders of God’s wrath help you in your Christian life?
They put all your problems in an eternal perspective.
Imagine a person on a beautiful beach in Thailand.
It’s the morning of December 26, 2004, and this person is very bothered—
because his wife’s luggage went missing on the flight.
He had planned this family vacation for a long time. It was an expensive trip.
He wanted it to be perfect—the holidays in a tropical paradise.
But now he can’t relax and enjoy himself.
He’s been on the phone with the airline and they’ve found her suitcase,
but they can’t get it to them until the day before they leave.
And to add insult to injury, his wife is not bothered at all.
She’s gone on a shopping spree and the expensive women’s store at the resort.
He can’t get it off his mind, the incompetence, and how much this is costing him.
And 500 miles away, 7 cubic miles of seawater have been displaced by earth’s crust
A vivid and lively sense of the wrath of God reminds you that—
The big problem of your life is not financial.
It’s not your bills, your child’s education, your retirement plan.
It’s not having the standard of living and the stuff that you want.
The big problem of your life is not relational.
It’s not the troubles and disappointments of your marriage,
and the conflicts and challenges of your children.
The big problem of your life is not physical.
It’s not your health, or your weight, or your appearance.
The big problem of your life is not psychological or emotional.
It’s not the problem of your sense of self-esteem or even your happiness.
The big problem of your life is not political.
It’s not who is in the Whitehouse or Obamacare or the Tea Party.
Those things are just lost luggage, a misplaced suitcase.
The big problem of your life is theological.
It is that the tsunami of God’s wrath is looming over all sin—
the day of the Lord, the day of burning—and you are a sinner.
If you truly believe the promise of the Day of the Lord—and see with eyes of faith
the terrible problem of sin and wrath—then you will gain an eternal
perspective on all your problems.
When you realize that you have one problem that is so huge—the stakes are total—
it doesn’t matter if every single problem in your life is solved tomorrow—
if the big one isn’t then all is lost.
On the other hand, if the big one is solved—all others shrink in comparison.
What problems dominate your life and thinking? Get some perspective.
That leads us to the second reminder
MP#2 The Day of the Lord reminds you of the salvation of Christ.
The Son of God first came to earth as a little, helpless baby.
He was born in the stable in Bethlehem, and Mary laid him in the manger.
Jesus lived a life of perfect, humble obedience to God in every way.
Then, even though good, he died on the cross and while he was hanging there
he suffered in those three hours of darkness the wrath of God for sin.
If you repent of your sins, put your faith and trust in Jesus—give life to Him.
Then his death on the cross is counted as your death.
And his perfect obedience of God’s law is counted as your obedience.
That means that when Jesus Christ comes the second time—
not as a little baby but as the Judge of all the earth,
you will stand on that day—you will not suffer total loss.
The fire of God’s wrath toward sin cannot touch you.
Because in God’s books—your sin has already been punished by death.
And in God’s eyes—when he looks at you he sees the perfect obedience of Christ.
So as a Christian you can read the promises of the coming Day of the Lord,
and you can simultaneously tremble and rejoice.
You can tremble at God’s wrath for sin, and know that you deserve that wrath,
and you can rejoice at the deliverance you have in Christ.
The promises of the Day of the Lord cause you to shudder and therefore
love Jesus more for having delivered you.
And more than that, as Peter says—it’s the day we are ushered into the new
heavens and new earth—the home of righteousness—he calls it.
(But that’s another sermon.)
How does this help you in your Christian life? How does this give you power?
It means that the biggest problem of your life has been solved.
God’s wrath toward your sin is settled. It’s paid. It’s finished.
So the day of the Lord will not be a day of loss for you, but a day of gain.
That puts every other problem in your life in its proper perspective.
I’ve this quote from J.C. Ryle numerous times, but nobody has said it better.
(For the Christian) “the great business of life is a settled business, the great debt a paid debt, the great disease a healed disease, and the great work a finished work; and all other business, diseases, debts and works are then by comparison small. (This) makes him patient in tribulation, calm under bereavements, unmoved in sorrow, not afraid of evil tidings, in every condition content; for it gives him a fixedness of heart. It sweetens his bitter cups; it lessens the burden of his crosses; it smoothes the rough places over which he travels; it lightens the valley of the shadow of death. It makes him always feel that he has something solid beneath his feet and something firm under his hands—a sure friend by the way, and a sure home at the end.”
What’s troubling you?
What are the tribulations, bereavements, sorrows, evil tidings, bitter cups,
crosses and rough places that you are suffering right now?
How do you face those things and not fall apart?
Not fall into despair or bitterness?
Real power comes by looking intently at the Day of the Lord.
It truly puts everything you are facing in an eternal perspective.
The biggest problem of your life has been solved by Jesus Christ.
As you believe that, it gives you power to face all the lesser problems.
This brings us to the last reminder and Peter’s primary concern in the passage.
MP#3 The Day of the Lord reminds you of the pursuit of holiness.
Peter asks a striking question in verse 11.
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?”
Then he answers the question:
“You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed
And he adds a little more to his answer in verse 14.
“Since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless
and at peace with him.”
This is Peter’s concern in the whole letter.
He wants Christians to grow. Wants you to add to your faith.
Remember list of virtues in chapter 1—add to faith goodness, knowledge,
self control, kindness and so on.
As a Christian you are called to grow into the character of Jesus Christ.
To be transformed. To be effective and productive.
Peter says that the Day of the Lord is a reminder to pursue holiness.
But it is absolutely essential that you understand why the Day of the Lord
is a motive for you to live a holy and godly life.
This is probably the most important thing I am going to say this morning—
Listen to this carefully. Understanding this makes a world of difference
in your experience of the Christian life.
Peter is not saying to Christians, “You ought to live a holy life so that on the Day
of the Lord, He will look at you and say, ‘Because you’ve been good,
I’m not going to destroy you, I’m going to save you.’”
Because you’ve obeyed me and tried to live a holy life, I’m going to rescue you.
Peter is saying to Christians, “You ought to live a holy life because you have
already been delivered by Christ from the burning of that day.
You ought to live a holy life because God can’t destroy you on that day.
You ought to live a holy life because for everyone who trusts in Jesus,
the Day of the Lord is already, even now, a day of salvation and joy.”
If you have been delivered from God’s wrath by the death of Christ—
how can you live any other way than to prepare for the day of his coming
by striving with all your might to live in a way that pleases him?
Has Jesus saved you from that day when everything will be destroyed
so that you can love money and devote your life to making money
and accumulating stuff? So that you can take it easy and not work hard
for his church and his kingdom?
Has Jesus suffered the day of wrath for you so that you can indulge in sexual
immorality and foul language and spiritual laziness?
Has Jesus changed the Day of the Lord from a day of total loss to a day of
eternal blessing for you so that you can be discontented with your
lot in life and complain about your circumstances?
Has Jesus turned the fire and burning from something horrible into a path of
glory so that you can be mean and sarcastic to your spouse?
No—he has saved you so that on that day when he comes to judge the earth,
that terrible and glorious day, you can meet him with a clear conscience
and with joy and receive the blessing from his hand—
a new heaven and new earth, the home of righteousness.
Don’t live in a way that will make you ashamed on that day.
Do you see how radically different this is from the way we naturally look at it?
Oh no, I better be good because judgment is coming!
No, Jesus has already been good. And he’s already suffered judgment.
Jesus is coming—look forward to your Savior and make every effort to be found
spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.
Stir yourself up with this great promise—use it as a conduit of power
for moral and spiritual transformation of your life.
CONC: We all know John Newton’s most famous hymn, Amazing Grace.
But Newton wrote many other hymns, including one called,
Day of Judgment! Day of Wonders!
The first verse is about the promise of the day of the Lord.
The second is about Jesus Christ, the judge on that day.
The third is a question: What’s going to happen to you on that day?
The fourth affirms what 2 Peter 3 is about—the blessedness of everyone
who trusts Jesus Christ on that day and the greatness of the promise.
Day of judgment! day of wonders! Hark! the trumpet’s awful sound,
Louder than a thousand thunders, Shakes the vast creation round.
How the summons Will the sinner’s heart confound.
See the Judge, our nature wearing, Clothed in majesty divine;
You who long for his appearing Then shall say, This God is mine!
Gracious Savior, Own me in that day as thine.
At his call the dead awaken, Rise to life from earth and sea;
All the pow’rs of nature, shaken, By is looks, prepare to flee.
Careless sinner, What will then become of thee?
But to those who have confessed, Loved and served the Lord below,
He will say, Come near, ye blessed, See the kingdom I bestow;
You forever shall my love and glory know.
The Day is coming. Believe the promise.
Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.