Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Pregnant with God’s Promise

December 30th, 2012 by Vic

2 Peter 3:11-18

“Pregnant with God’s promise”


In the first half of this chapter we were warned that there will be mockers.  Christians with pure hearts can fall asleep and not see what God is doing.  Now Peter tells us this world will self destruct and Christians will be able to see God in it.  We should be looking with pure motives and seeing what God is doing.  We should be pregnant with the living hope, the imperishable seed that God planted in us.


Peter tells us in 3:10-15 that Christians should know that the end of this world is coming.  Christians should feel like aliens without a passport in this world because this world is not our home.  We are on a work visa or a student visa.


A major theme in Peter’s letters is your way of life, not how much you give, save, consume or how accurate your theology is.  He’s concerned about your behavior.  Eight out of the 13 times the word for ‘behavior’ or ‘way of life’ is used in the NT, you’ll find it in Peter’s 2 letters.  In the Scripture today Peter uses ‘behaviors’ in the plural form to let us know that he is talking to all of us.

In this paragraph there are 2 other words that are repeated 3 times.  The first is ‘loosened’ or destroyed.  The word for loosened is in verses 10, 11, and 12.  All the things of this world are in the process of being loosened or melted down or changed in some way.  Do you feel like you have a few loose ends in your life?  You should.  That is the way life is.  Peter says knowing God gives us the ability to live on the edge of this chaos.  Knowing God and knowing our world is breaking up, knowing that this world is in transition from the old to the new, Peter asks, “What kind of people is it necessary for you Christians to be?”  How then should we live?


Are we supposed to do great things for God, preach to big crowds on radio and TV?  Are we supposed to have pretty buildings and big programs so we can be attractive to the world?  Are we supposed to organize a Crusade and recapture the Holy Land?  Should you seek political power?  Not according to Peter.  He says we should be expecting.


The word for ‘expecting’ is repeated in verses 12, 13, and 14.  It is the word for pregnant.  Knowing the chaos of this world and knowing God, it is necessary to be expecting or looking for God’s activity.  Watch and pray.  Be pregnant with the promises of God.  We don’t panic and think there is no future.


Some of you know what it means to be pregnant.  Some of us do not.  It is more than a hope or figment of your imagination.  Expecting is more than a dream.  It is something growing within you.  You have based your expectation on some evidence.  This word is used in Luke 1:21 when the angel was talking to Zacharias in the Temple and the people were ‘expecting’ him to come out because he had gone in and there was no other way out.  In Luke 3, people were ‘expecting’ the Messiah to come (Luke 3:15).  In Acts 3:5 the beggar was ‘expecting’ Peter and John to give him some money.  In Acts 10:24, this word was used of Cornelius expecting Peter.


In this world everything is being loosened and made ready for the new heaven and earth.  Sin has broken our relationship with our Creator.  The world is in a mess and politicians think they can fix it without following the directions God gave us.  The mockers don’t remember that God’s covenant offered blessings and consequences.  In Christ we can expect to see a beautiful pattern in the world’s sin and chaos.  We see God’s plan.  We should have an expectant attitude.  We should have eyes that see the glory of God in everything.  We look forward to the new heaven and earth.


A young pastor in Oregon asked me, “What is the most beneficial tool that helped you in your ministry?”  I thought about it and realized it was not a book, a class, or a program.  It is a missionary couple, Bob and Ina Ashley.  I asked Bob one time how he planted the Nazarene church in a couple countries in the Caribbean.  He said, “I believe that every person I meet every day is a potential member of my church that God has placed in my life.”  It is an attitude of expectancy.  Bob demonstrated to me that God goes before me.  I expect God to be working in the lives of all the people I meet.  I have found that it is very wise to remember that God directs the lives of others too.  God works all things together for good with those who love Him.


Another missionary couple I know has a great attitude toward missions.  They identified 3 steps to plant a church.  1. pray,  2. meet people,  3. be Christian.


Do you expect God to bless you?  Do you expect God to bless this church?  He promised He would if we would be holy in all our behavior.  Did you notice how many people God brought into your life this week?


A more literal translation of 3:11 would read, “All these things thus in the process of being loosened, how great a people is it necessary for you all to be by nature in the sphere of holy lives and pieties (in holy forms of behavior and godly acts)?”  This is written to Christians.  It assumes the reader is living in the sphere of holy behavior and doing godly deeds.  So this is what you should be.  In contrast to the mockers, whom Peter called ‘unworshippers’ or unpious, we are to be good worshippers.


The phrase ‘how great a people’ is my translation of a word that can be translated, ‘of what sort’, ‘of what manner of persons’, or ‘from what country are you from’.  In English we have a question we ask if we have a doubt of the persons motives or intentions.  We ask, “Just where are you coming from?”  So here Peter is asking, “Just where should you be coming from?”  What sort of people should your be?


Notice the verb “to be” in 3:11.  There are 3 words in Greek that can be translated ‘to be’.  The most common (eimi) refers to ordinary existence (I am living).  The second most common (ginomai) has emphasis on becoming (I am (becoming) a farmer).  But the 3rd word I have translated ‘to be by nature’.  It infers that your current condition is the result of a previous decision.  Your nature requires you to be this way (I am a son, loved by God and forgiven).


What Peter is trying to say is that you are a Christian.  You should act like it.  You have become part of the family of God.  By nature you are living holy lives and pieties.  The plural form is emphatic and means holy forms of behavior and godly acts.  You are more than a physical being.  You are more than a social being.  You are a special child of God.


What kind of people is it necessary to be?  Expecting people!


But this coming loosening is the day of which the wicked man fears.  The heavens are going to be roasted and loosed and the basic elements will be melted with a fever.  The Christian will not be surprised.


Peter has said that before the flood the heavens and the earth were maintained by water and that very water changed the world as it was known then.


Now the scientists say our world is sustained by the sun and the Bible says that our world will be changed by that same sun.  People used to think that the atomic bomb or nuclear energy was going to be the source of the heat that God will use to destroy the world.  Peter says it is the sun.


“Expecting and desiring earnestly the coming presence of the day of God on account of which day heavens being set on fire, shall be loosed, and basic materials being burned with fever, shall be melted.” (3:12)


This does not say that maybe this world will end.  This does not say that we will run out of energy or the sun will fade away.  This does not say we will destroy ourselves with poisonous gases or biochemical warfare.  This does not say the end will come by something that men will do.  These only indicate a fever.


The end will come by a direct act of God’s all-sovereign will.  The destruction comes when God comes.


We read in verse 9 above that God is patient because he desires all to come to repentance, but He is coming and when He comes there will be a windup of everything.  The end is certain.


Look at 3:13.  “But new heavens and earth new according to the promise of Him we are expecting, in the sphere of which righteousness is comfortably at home.” 


God has made a promise.  Do you know what that means?  My promises are subject to many variables that I cannot control.  When we write up an earnest money it is subject to both the purchaser and property qualifying for a loan.  But God’s promise has no subjections.  No outside force can hinder His will being done.  His will will be done.


The promise is a standard by which the new heavens and earth will be made.  No more than the promise will happen.  No less than the promise will happen.  What happens will be a full measure of the promise.  This new world will be built according to the standard of the promise of Christ Jesus.  We are to be pregnant with this promise.


Peter does not tell us much about the new heavens, but he says that righteous conduct will be comfortably at home there.  The phrase ‘is comfortably at home’ (dwell) is the translation of a compound word made up of ‘down’ plus ‘house’.  Righteousness is not down home in this world, but it will be down home and comfortable in our resurrected bodies in the new world.


In the new heavens and new earth, the Christians will no longer be aliens and strangers scattered throughout a hostile world (1 Peter 1:1).  We will be brothers gathered.


3:14 literally reads, “On account of which, dearly beloved, these things you are all expecting, each of you must make every effort, without SPOTS and FAULTS, to be discovered by Him in peace.”


The words without spots and faults are used for the sacrificial lambs.  Jesus was our peace offering and has invited us to fellowship in God’s presence.  Because of His sacrifice we can live lives that are pure and acceptable to God as living sacrifices.  We are to be blameless and acceptable to God.  This does not mean that the lamb never got dirty or smelly.  But he was cleanable and perfect according to God’s standards.


The word for faultless or without reproach is a word only used of Jesus in the rest of the N.T.  Peter says we are to be like Jesus.  People will find fault with us because they judge with a different standard than God.  They found fault in Jesus.  But we can be faultless before God.


Dearly beloved you know that Jesus is coming again.  So how are you going to live your life?  Don’t fear and panic as the wicked do.  Be expecting the day.  And be expecting the new heavens and earth.  Be expecting a world where righteousness is at home.  Be living in the fellowship of peace that has come because of Jesus’ sacrifice as a peace offering.


In the following 4 verses we have 3 commands:  Consider the patience of Jesus! (15)  Guard yourselves! (17)  Grow! (18)  These are directions for a healthy spiritual pregnancy.


1. Consider Jesus!  He set us an example to trace over.  Jesus knew the Father and kept entrusting Himself to God’s will.


The last part of 3:16 is really a warning against taking the Scripture out of context.  If you think you can let your Bible fall open and put your finger on a verse and learn something about God, you are deceived.  That is magic not Bible study.


Peter calls these people ‘unlearned’ and ‘unstable’.  You may have a lot of facts and still be ‘unlearned’ because you chose not to believe the facts.  You can refuse to learn.


The word used for ‘twist’ literally means to turn, but it was used of an instrument of torture.  Like a screw and pulley on a torture rack that pulls your arm out of its socket, the unlearned and unstable dislocate their favorite Scriptures out of their context.


They are going on the way to their own personalized destruction and refuse to see it.  Peter seems to be suggesting here that their destruction will reflect the benefits they twist out of life.  He did not just say ‘their destruction’, but ‘their OWN (idios) destruction’.  They will receive their own personalized and unique destruction.


2. Guard yourselves.  This is a military term to be on your guard.  Some things God keeps for us (1 Peter 1:4), but some things we do (1 Peter 2).  Paul said put on the whole armor of God.  Peter told us in the first chapter of this letter to lavishly outfit our faith so we don’t sin.  A Christian must be a self-disciplined workman.  He needs to stay awake.


Even in the first century, even with the original Greek manuscripts, people distorted the Word of God.  Now today we have many translations of the New Testament and they can be distorted.  Jesus promised that His Spirit would teach us if we will listen.


Let me elaborate on 4 other words in 3:17 before we look at the last command.


The word for ‘wandering off the way’ is used of a ship without a rudder.  Here it is used of a life without any goals.  These abnormal men are wandering off the way.  Abnormal usually refers to sexually abnormal with the word used.  The abnormal men want us to go with them as they wander from the way.  Without a keel we easily go in circles.


The word for ‘you might fall out of’ is used of grace.  We can fall from grace.  But the good news is in Rev. 2:5 when John tells the church in Ephesus that they can be restored after they have fallen.


The word for ‘steadfastness’ or ‘stability’ is the word used for a ship with a keel and rudder.  Our rudder or keel is the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  We can be stable and have direction.


3. Grow!  To grow we must have food, rest and exercise.  Spiritually our food is the Word of God.  The rest may be our worship and fellowship.  The exercise is the routines of holy living and doing good as we have opportunity.  Our exercise is obedience.  We are purified by obedience.  Exercise cleans out toxins.


To grow means to be healthy.  To grow means abiding in the Vine bearing fruit.


These are Peter’s last words.  Consider Jesus, Be on your guard, Grow in grace.  God does not want you to be in a spiritual coma.  He does not want you on a survival mode.  The world is in a mess, but you have a hope in you that is more certain than the promises of this world.


God wants you to grow, be healthy, enjoy life, abide in Him and be fruitful.  What are you expecting your spirit to live on?  How regularly do you feed your spirit?


I have a suspicion that I spend more time on my physical health than on my spiritual health.  That is dumb, because no matter what I do, this body is perishing.  I have to live with my spirit for eternity.  I need to feast on the Word of God.   He is the living bread.


When women are pregnant, I notice their appetites change.  Their moods change.  Are the promises of God changing you and making you hungry and thirsty for some things that seem odd to this world?  Are you pregnant with the promise?

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