The Second Sunday in Advent

December 5, 2021

2 Peter 3:8-14

As the Advent Children of God—

We Patiently Wait for Peace!

 

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.  So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

Do you ever get tired of what you see and hear on the evening news?  I do.  It seems as though hardly a day goes by when we do not see images of war or civil unrest or at the very least, heated deep-seated disagreements between individuals and between entire nations.  Will the San Francisco Bay area ever get a head of the rampant car break-ins and the rash of smash and grab robberies that are taking place so often?  Will there ever be peace in the Middle East?  Will our federal government ever get past the deep-seated disagreements that seem to have all but paralyzed their ability to work together peacefully for the good of the country?  Personally, I am not holding my breath for any of it, my friends.

 

In a similar vein, what we see taking place in the world around us can also be seen in the visible church— just in a somewhat different but even more serious way.  In fact, the situation in the visible church today has not changed since the days that Peter wrote his second epistle to God’s people who had been scattered across the world.  There were and there still are false prophets in the church— false prophets who are introducing “destructive heresies” in the church (2 Peter 2:1), false prophets who are leading God’s people astray and exploiting God’s people with “stories they have made up” in their own little minds.  (2 Peter 2:2-3)  The end result of all of this is that God’s church here on this earth is not able to live and to work in peace because God’s church here on this earth is under attack.  It is under attack from forces outside of the church.  It is under attack from forces inside of the church.

 

What are we to do as we see all of these things taking place?  What are we to do as we see wars taking place in the world around us and unrest boiling over right here in our own country?  What are we to do when we see and hear all the false prophets who have infiltrated God’s visible church here on this earth?  What are we to do when it seems as though we see everything but “peace on earth” and “good will to men”?  As the Advent children of God— we wait.  In fact, as the apostle Peter reminds us here in our text for today:  As the Advent Children of God— We Patiently Wait for Peace!

 

Since patiently waiting for peace is so much easier said than done, God the Holy Spirit encourages us to remember three things here in this text.  First, God the Holy Spirit encourages us to remember that our God has a plan for this world!  Second, God the Holy Spirit encourages us to remember what we are patiently waiting to receive.  Finally, God the Holy Spirit encourages us to remember how we are to conduct ourselves as we are patiently waiting for peace.

 

There were people in the days of the apostle Peter who scoffed at the teaching that Jesus is going to come back to this world as the Judge of the living and the dead.  Like many people in our own day and age they said, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?  Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4).  If we were to look at this world from a simplistic human perspective— and by that I mean a perspective that only takes into account what we can see with our own eyes, touch with our own hands and understand with our own minds— we might be inclined to agree with the people who say that everything simply keeps going on as it always has in the past.  But, of course, as the Advent children of God we look at this world from a far different perspective don’t we!  Peter emphasizes how you and I look at this world when he says in the opening portion of our text, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

 

When we look at what is going on in the world around us and when we look at what is going on inside the visible church we might lift up our hearts to heaven and say, “Lord, it’s been 2,000 years since you ascended into heaven!  How long must we wait for your return?”  The Lord might easily respond by saying, “Be patient, my child!  It has only been two days since I returned Home!”  As the Advent children of God you and I need to remember that our God has a plan for this world.  His plan is for His people— including you and me— to share the precious message of the Gospel with people all across this earth.

 

Why?  Why do we need to share the Gospel with others?  Scripture gives us two compelling answers to that question.  First, God’s plan for this world is that His children share the message of the Gospel with all the people of this world because absolutely every human being will spend eternity in one of two places— either in heaven or in hell.  Secondly, God’s plan for this world is that His children share the message of His Gospel with all the people of this world because there is only one way for poor mortal sinners like us to escape an eternity of suffering and enjoy an eternity of happiness— kneeling at the foot of the cross on Calvary’s hill (Pointing to the across), repenting of our sins and trusting in what Jesus the Son of God has done for us.  Since God is “patiently” waiting to come back to this world until that very last person is brought to faith in Jesus as their Savior, as the Advent children of God we also wait “patiently.”  We wait “patiently” knowing that our God’s plan for this world will unfold exactly as He has designed it.  We wait “patiently” knowing that we are a part of God’s plan for this world because He has given to us the message that this entire world needs to hear!

 

Secondly, as the Advent children of God what exactly are we patiently waiting to receive?  Peter addresses that question when he says here in our text, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

 

As the Advent children of God we know exactly what we are waiting for, don’t we!  We are waiting for the day that Jesus returns to this earth as the Judge of the living and the dead— because we know!  We know that on that day this world will be purified by fire— like silver or gold is purified in a furnace!  (See Malachi 3:2, 3; I Peter 1:7).  We know that on that day we will inherit a “new heaven and a new earth”— free from sin and free from all the effects of sin.  We know that for all of eternity this “new heaven” and this “new earth” will be our new home— a “home of righteousness.”  Since we know what we are waiting to receive my friends, as the Advent children of God we can and do wait patiently!

 

Finally, since we are indeed patiently waiting to receive a “new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness,” God the Holy Spirit encourages us to remember how we are to conduct ourselves as we are patiently waiting for all of this to take place.  Look at what He has Peter say to us here in our text, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming…So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him”

 

Just as John the Baptist prepared the Lord’s people to meet the Lord’s Christ by calling on them to repent of their sins and to produce the fruits of repentance in their lives (See Matthew 3:1-12), so also the season of Advent gives us the perfect opportunity to take the message of John the Baptist and apply it to ourselves.  As the Advent children of God you and I are now preparing our hearts and our lives to once again celebrate Jesus’ first Advent into this world at Christmas time.  In much the same way, as the Advent children of God you and I need to prepare our hearts and our lives for Jesus’ second Advent into this world on Judgment Day.  A very important part of that Advent preparation is asking ourselves the question, “What kind of life am I living as an Advent child of God?”  Am I living a “holy and godly life”?  Am I “making every effort to be found spotless and blameless”?  Am I living my life in  a way that openly reveals that I am “at peace with him,” that is, “at peace” with the one and only Living God through faith in His Son and what His Son has done for me?  (Pointing to the cross)  While these are not easy questions to ask ourselves, they are absolutely essential.  They are essential because as Peter reminds us here in our text, Jesus’ second Advent into this world on Judgment Day will come “like a thief.”  It will come suddenly.  It will come unexpectedly.  We do not want to be caught by surprise.  We do not want to be caught unprepared.  Therefore, my friends, the time to examine how we are conducing ourselves as we patiently wait for Jesus to return is— now!

 

How does all of this tie in with our sermon theme for today:  As the Advent Children of God— We Patiently Wait for PeaceThe answer is actually quite simple.  As we heard last Sunday, Jesus’ first advent into this world re-established peace between us and God.  It is a peace that is based upon the complete forgiveness of all of our sins.  It is a peace that guarantees to us a glorious eternity.  It is a peace that we don’t have to wait for because this peace is already ours through faith in what Jesus has done for us! (Pointing to the cross)

 

The peace that you and I are still patiently waiting for as the Advent children of God is the peace that will permeate the “new heaven” and the “new earth” that we will inherit when Jesus returns to this earth.  On the “new earth,” in our “home of righteousness” there will be no war, there will be no unrest, there will be no disagreements of any kind— because there will be no sin!  On the “new earth,” in our “home of righteousness” there will be the perfect peace that the prophet Isaiah describes for us when he paints this picture in our minds, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.  The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9).

 

No matter what we might see taking place on the evening news, no matter what we might see taking place in the visible church, this is the peace that you and I are patiently waiting for as the Advent children of God!  This is the peace that is worth patiently waiting for, my friends!  This is the peace that leads us to proclaim:

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen