Today’s selected reading continues in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter unto those who have received like precious faith. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses one through sixteen of the third chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you find the apostle Peter bringing this epistle to a close. Within the first sixteen verses of this chapter you will find the apostle transitioning from writing and speaking concerning the false teachers, false prophets and false brethren who infiltrate and invade the church to writing and speaking about the last days and the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having now set the stage for both writing and speaking about the imminent return of the Messiah, the apostle now delves into perhaps what is the most crucial part of the epistle. What’s unique about this third chapter is that within the chapter the apostle Peter acknowledges that it his second epistle, and as it was his second epistle, everything found within his previous epistle, and everything within the first two chapters of this second epistle have all led up and pointed the way to the reality that Jesus Christ is going to return. The apostle Peter partook of the first coming of Jesus Christ and had the prime GE of walking and talking with Him for three and a half years. The apostle Peter has the wonderful privilege of following after Jesus during His first coming and first appearing within the realm of time and space. The apostle Peter was part of that first generation which witnessed the appearing and manifestation of the Messiah—and not only the appearing of the Messiah, but also everything which the prophets foretold concerning His life, His ministry, His death, His burial, and His ascension. When the apostle Peter walked upon the earth he was privileged to witness the signs, the wonders and the miracles which Jesus performed. The apostle Peter went to the tomb after Jesus had been raised from death to life and saw that the tomb was in fact empty. The apostle Peter was present on the mount of Olives when Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, and when angels declared that in the same manner in which Jesus ascended to heaven, so also would He return and come again.
If you read the New Testament you will find that the apostle Paul wrote a considerable amount of language concerning the imminent return and coming of Christ, as well as we know as the parousia or rapture of the church. When writing in his first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation the apostle Paul wrote concerning the resurrection of the dead, and how the basis and foundation of our resurrection is found in the physical and actual resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. It is only because and as a result of Jesus’ resurrection that we ourselves can experience—not only a spiritual resurrection as saints and believers of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also a literal and physical resurrection on that day when the dead in Christ will rise from the dead, and when we which are alive and remain will he caught up together with them in the clouds to meet Jesus face to face. What an incredible image this actually is—particularly and especially when you consider that Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection, and how He will lead a joyful procession of the saints of God into glory. We dare not miss the incredibly significance of this reality, for it is truly remarkable and wonderful to think about and consider. The apostle Paul wrote s considerable amount of words and language concerning the imminent and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and what would transpired in the last days. When wring unto the Corinthian saints we find the apostle Paul bringing them face to face with the reality—not only of resurrection, but also the reality of transformation which would occur in that moment when that which is corruptible puts on that which is incorruptible. The apostle Paul recognized and understood the awesome reality that there is coming a moment when the saints of God shall be raised from death to life, and when we will he caught up together in the clouds to meet Jesus. When this first happened, jesus appeared in the clouds alone as He ascended from the earth, and appeared alone in the clouds. On this second occasion Jesus will not be ascending from the earth, but will be coming and returning from heaven to rapture and capture His saints with Him.
What I so love about this second epistle which the apostle Peter wrote unto those who had received and obtained like precious faith is that it was written—not only by a man who partook of the first coming and first appearing of the Messiah, but who also partook of the ascension of the Messiah. Though the apostle Peter did not physically witness Jesus rising from the grave early the third morning, he witnessed the resurrected Jesus Christ, and one multiple occasions experienced His appearing and manifesting among the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter was there in the upper room on both occasions when Jesus appeared after His resurrection, and was there when Jesus instructed Thomas to place his hand in His side, and to place his fingers in the print of the nails. The apostle Peter experienced the manifestation of a risen Christ for forty days after He had raised from death to life and had manifested Himself among men. In fact, the apostle Paul when writing unto the Corinthian saints wrote concerning the manifestation and appearing of Jesus Christ during those forty days, and how Jesus appeared among men, and at one time upwards of five hundred at one time. It’s incredible to think about and consider the words and language which the apostle Paul wrote in this particular chapter, for what he essentially wrote about was a succession of revelation and manifestation—a reality that would ultimately culminate in His appearing unto the apostle Paul Himself. How wonderful and powerful it is that not only did Jesus Christ rise from death to life, if He also manifested Himself among men after His resurrection. What’s more, is that the apostle Matthew informs us in his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus that when Jesus died on the cross the graves of many were opened, and how only once and after Christ would rise from the dead and Himself be resurrected would the body of those saints whose graves had been opened would come forth and walk among men. I can’t help but consider that for a period forty days there was a company of resurrected ones who walked upon the earth, as not only was Lazarus alive and walking upon the earth, not only was Jesus alive and walking upon the earth, but so also were the bodies of all those whose graves had been opened walk upon the earth. Essentially there was a company of resurrected ones who walked upon the earth at one time.
I am convinced that it is necessary and imperative that we explore the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation, for not only does it describe the appearance of Christ after His resurrection, but it also describes the resurrection we as saints can and will experience as a direct result of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. It is necessary that we actually explore the entire chapter beginning with the first verse and continuing through to the final chapter. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle which he wrote unto the Corinthian saints beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of all the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His graced which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I l aboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preached, and so ye believed. Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be no risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection fo the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so iN Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they they are Christ’s at His coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under Him, it is manifest that he is expected, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. But some man will say, How are the dead raise dup? And with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed His own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star different from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbiet that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earth, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be bought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The string of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unloveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:1-58).
The entire fifteenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul describes and sets for the tremendous reality and concept concerning the resurrection of the dead, and how the resurrection of the dead has at its very heart and foundation the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead which stands and serves as the foundation for our resurrection—and not only for our resurrection, but also for our transformation. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand, it’s that so long as we are in this physical and natural body we are being transformed while we wait to be transformed. While we are in this earthly tent, we are resurrected while we are waiting to be resurrected. What the apostle Paul writes in this particular chapter perfectly describes the resurrection of the saints of the living God, and how in that moment we shall all be changed, and that that which is corruptible will put on that which is incorruptible, and that which is mortal will put on that which is immortal. The natural will be completely and utterly done away with, and only that which is spiritual shall remain. Oh, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for the very heart and foundation of our gospel is found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and if Jesus Christ be not raised from death to life, then not only is our faith in vain, but also our preaching is in vain. The apostle Paul sought to bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that the resurrection of Jesus Christ set forth the foundation for our own resurrection, and even during those forty days after His resurrection we find this reality to be true, as there was a great company of resurrected ones which walked upon the earth with Jesus who is the Christ. The apostle Paul was on who continually and firmly believed that not only was Jesus Christ crucified according to Scripture, but so also was He buried according to Scripture, and if buried according to Scripture, then also raised from death to life according to Scripture. Oh that we would recognize and understand the tremendous importance of Jesus being raised from death to life, and how His resurrection serves the basis and foundation for our resurrection and transformation, as well as the preaching of our gospel. With that being said, it’s imperative that we we recognize and understand that the apostle Paul—when writing unto the Thessalonian saints and congregation—also wrote concerning this second coming of Jesus Christ, and the transformation and resurrection that occurs as a result. Consider if you will the words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapters of the first epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto this congregation:
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a. Shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the ari: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11).
This was not the only time the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints in Thessalonica concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, for if you turn and direct your attention to the second chapter of the second epistle which was written unto these saints you will find that he again wrote unto them concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Beginning with the first verse of the second chapter you find the following words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints concerning the coming of the Messiah, and the days which are to follow that sudden and imminent appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these thigns? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the life of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believeth not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
Within the first epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Thessalonica, we find the apostle writing concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ, and how the dead in Christ shall rise first, and we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet Him in the air. When you come to the second epistle, however, you will find the apostle shifting gears, and while he does mention the second coming of Jesus Christ, he goes on to write about a strong and powerful delusion which would come upon the earth, as that Wicked one and worker of iniquity will be manifested among men. The apostle Paul sought to warn the Thessalonian saints concerning this reality, for undoubtedly the New Testament authors and writers believed themselves to be living in the last days. The apostle Paul sought to bring encouragement unto this particular congregation concerning the second coming of the Messiah, but also to warn them of a strong and powerful delusion and deception which would come upon and enter the earth. These words directly line up with what we find in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, for within this particular chapter we find Jesus warning His disciples against being deceived by false teachers, false prophets and even false Christs. I previously wrote concerning those which will deceive in the last days professing themselves to be Christ, and yet are nothing more than false Christ. I wrote how perhaps one of the greatest deceptions in the last days will not be by those who claim to be Christ, but those who claim to be Christ’s—those who claim that they belong to Christ, and are Christ’s disciples and followers. I am convinced that one of the greatest deceptions in the last days will be those who say they are, and those who believe themselves to be of Christ, and yet the truth of the matter is that they are the furthest thing from such a reality. The apostle Paul wrote unto the churches in Galatia concerning false brethren which crept in unaware to spy out their liberty, and to bring them into bondage, and I can’t help but be completely and utterly consumed by this reality, and how in the last days countless men and women will be deceived—first among and within themselves, and second among each other—as men and women will profess to be Christ’s, and will profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, and yet are nothing more than workers of iniquity. We have been called to fellowship with and fellowship among the brethren, but I would also dare say that we have been called to discern the fellowship of the brethren, and discern those who truly belong to Christ. I am convinced that we have been called to discern and recognize the brethren who truly belong to Jesus the Christ, and those who are nothing more than imposters impersonating the true followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke about those who made the declaration “I am Christ,” and yet I can’t help but wonder if we have misunderstood and translated those words, and took them to actually refer to declaring oneself as being Christ. What if we have gotten it wrong all along, and what if that which Jesus was truly saying was not that men would rise up among us declaring and professing themselves to be Christ, but rather those who would rise up among us and declare themselves to be Christ’s and to essentially be Christians? What if men and women in the last days will profess they are Christ, but not in the literal sense that they are in fact Christ, but that by making such a declaration, they are professing identity, communion and fellowship with Christ?
When you come to the third chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter, you will find the apostle Peter writing concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ as one who witnessed His ascension into heaven, and one who witnessed His manifestation after His resurrection from the dead. The apostle Peter wrote concerning the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as one who had partaken of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as one who had been witness to the death, the crucifixion, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I find it absolutely incredible that the apostle Peter wrote in this second epistle concerning the second coming of the Messiah, for he was one who was there on the mount when Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father who was and is in heaven. It’s one thing for the apostle Paul to write concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ, having experienced the manifestation of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, and then again in the wilderness, but it’s another thing to be a witness of the resurrected Christ after He emerged from the grave, as well as the ascension of Jesus into heaven where He would be seated at the right hand of the Father. What’s more, is that the apostle Peter was there on the mount where Jesus was transfigured before them, and as His appearance was changed, for He was seen in the glory He originally had with the Father in the kingdom of heaven. The apostle Peter wrote concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ as one who had witnessed and partaken of the events which led up to his crucifixion, the events of his crucifixion, and the events of His resurrection. I absolutely love the words which the apostle Peter writes in this particular passage of Scripture, for the apostle Peter is writing concerning the last days, and how there would be scoffers who would mock the concept of the last days, for they believed that the second coming and imminent return of Jesus Christ is nothing more than a hoax. The apostle Peter—in the third chapter of this second epistle—writes how there would be scoffers who would ask where the promise of His coming was, for they have seen absolutely no proof or evidence of the imminent coming and return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter wrote concerning scoffers who would seek to dissuade men and women from believing in the second coming of the Messiah, for there was absolutely nothing that was tangible and visible before them within and upon the earth. What’s more, is that there would be those who felt as though the second coming of the Messiah should have already taken place, and yet it had not yet taken place or been fulfilled among them within their midst. What is truly remarkable about what the apostle Peter writes in this passage of Scripture is that such individuals are ignorant of the scriptures, and what the authors of the Old Testament wrote concerning the judgment of the Lord, as well as the patience of the Lord.
QUESTIONING THE PATIENCE OF GOD! As I read the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture, I can’t help but be confronted with the mindset of these scoffers, and how they insisted on questioning the patience of God, as though the patience of God was somehow something which was tragic and not at all necessary. It’s worth noting how patient the Lord was during the days of Noah, and how long it took Noah to build the ark that would save only eight souls—Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their three wives. What’s more, is when you consider the tremendous patience of the Lord during the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, and how long He endured and witnessed the incredible and tremendous wickedness of the cities of the plain. Furthermore, it’s worth noting and considering the fact that the Lord was willing to spare the cities of the plain if there was found within them a mere ten righteous souls who worshipped and served the living God. We know that Lot, his wife and their two daughters were found within the city of Sodom, and if each of them were righteous, than that leaves a deficit of six souls not present within the city. As much as the Old Testament book of Genesis is a book about beginnings and genesises, it is also a book about judgment and cataclysmic devastation brought about by the Lord. The days of Noah, as well as the days of Lot are both used as striking and alarming parallels and portents to the last days, when the Lord will Himself return to gather His people, and when the Lord will judge the wickedness of men. It is true that Jesus Christ has not returned yet, and it is true that Jesus has not come to gather his people, however, we dare not mistake his patience for weakness, or question His patience as though it were some strange thing. We dare not mistake the patience of the Lord as something completely unnecessary, for it is the patience and goodness of the Lord which leads men to repentance. I absolutely love what we find and what we read in this particular passage of Scripture, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of our appreciation for the patience of the living God, and how His patience actually works toward and for our salvation. It is the patience of the Lord which makes possible our ability to experience His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His faithfulness, and so much more. Even more than this, the apostle Peter asks what manner of men we ought to be seeing that all these thing shall be dissolved, as we look for and haste unto the coming of the day of the Lord? I am convinced that what we must take from this passage of Scripture is both a patience for the coming and return of Jesus Christ, as well as a mindset we are to possess in light of His coming and return. Beginning with the fourteenth verse the apostle Peter writes the following words—words which I leave you with at the conclusion of this writing:
“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be dilgent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:14-16).