Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the second epistle written by the apostle Peter unto them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. More specifically today’s passage is found in the third chapter of this New Testament book. “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For sine the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:1-7).
“ But, beloved, be not ignorant of this. One thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:8-10).
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for an hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering 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. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:11-18).
When you come to the third and final chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find the apostle writing unto these dear saints concerning the last days—and not only the last days but how in the last days there can and there will be scoffers who rise up in the midst of the saints of God. If you begin reading with and from the first and opening verse of this chapter you will find the apostle Peter speaking of this being the second epistle he wrote and how his desire and ambition was to stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance. What’s more is the apostle Peter sought and desired that they would be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of the apostles of the Lord and Saviour. That which the apostle Peter sought and desired to do among these dear saints was to call their minds to remembrance concerning those things which they had indeed heard from the apostles—and not only those things which they had heard from the apostles but those things which were written in the prophets. This second epistle was indeed written by the apostle Peter as means of bringing his readers and audience into the place where they recognized and understood those things which were spoken—things which were taught unto them which they ought to give the more earnest and diligent heed to. This second epistle was written by the apostle Peter as means to instruct, encourage and admonish these dear saints in the things of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that they might bear in His sight and presence fruit and good works.
As you read the words which are found in this particular epistle you will discover in the first chapter that as the apostle was writing the words contained therein he was preparing for his decease and his departure. You cannot read the words found in this epistle and not be brought face to face with the truly wonderful and powerful reality concerning the apostle Peter knowing that the time of his putting off this earthly and natural tabernacle was drawing nigh and that he would soon be with Lord Jesus whom he had walked with and followed for three years. If you read this epistle you must needs recognize that it was written by an apostle who much like the apostle Paul when writing unto Timothy his spiritual son in the faith. It is in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul which was sent unto Timothy you find him preparing himself for his own departure from this life and his being poured out as a drink offering before the Lord. In fact I would dare say there are some strong and powerful similarities between these two epistles and how they were written by two men who had faithfully walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter had personally walked with and followed the Lord Jesus for three and a half years together with the other eleven disciples and walked with Him for more than three decades after His ascension unto the right hand of the Father. The apostle Peter was a personal witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ during those forty days before He ascended unto the right hand of the Father and was even a personal witness of His transfiguration atop the mountain when He appeared in glory speaking with Moses and Elijah. What’s more is the apostle Peter also witnessed another supernatural event atop a mountain when he witnessed and beheld the Lord Jesus ascend from the mount of Olives before a cloud concealed and hid Him from their view.
The more I read the words which are found in this second epistle written by the apostle Peter the more I am brought face to face with the wonderful reality that this was a man who was drawing near to the end of his life here upon the earth. It would be in this epistle the apostle Peter would seek to encourage and instruct these dear saints—not only based on his walking with and following the Lord Jesus for more than thirty years after His ascension unto the right hand of the Father but also having personally walked with and followed Him for three and a half years. I have to admit it is truly astonishing to read the words found in this epistle and come face to face with an apostle who had personally walked with and followed the Lord Jesus and heard His works and beheld His works. The apostle Peter watched the Lord Jesus stand up in the midst of a storm and command it to be still and both the winds and the waves obeyed His voice. The apostle Peter personally witnessed the Lord Jesus exercise authority and dominion over unclean spirits and demons as He commanded them to come out of those whom they oppressed, tormented and oppressed. The apostle Peter was an eyewitness to the Lord Jesus raising others from the dead and was undoubtedly at the tomb when Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth from the grave. [As a side note it is truly unbelievable and remarkable to consider the narrative of Lazarus and understand that the voice of Jesus and His authority was not only manifested in the realm of time and space but it was also heard and manifested in the realm of eternity. When the Lord Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth from the grave His authority and dominion over death would extend beyond the realm of time and space and would echo in eternity and to that realm on the other side of this natural life.]
I sit here today thinking about the words which were found in this epistle written by the apostle Peter and I am brought face to face with the beautiful truth that this was written by a man who had come to the end of his life and knew that the hour of his departure was at hand. What makes the words found in this epistle all the more intriguing is when you consider there was a certain air of expectancy and anticipation within the heart and soul of the apostle as he knew that his own life was about to be poured out as a drink offering before and in the sight of the living God. The apostle Peter had spent more than three decades faithfully teaching and preaching the name of the One he had personally walked with for three and a half years and now he was preparing himself to see Him again for the first time since His ascension. Imagine the expectation and anticipation that must have been present within the heart of this apostle who was perhaps the most outspoken and vocal of all the disciples whom Jesus ordained, chose and appointed to walk with and follow Him. Imagine being the apostle Peter and knowing that not only were you coming to the end of your natural and earthly life but you were also preparing to meet and see the Lord Jesus for the first time in the glory which He had with His Father which is in heaven. The apostle Peter knew and understood that his life upon this earth was about to come to an end and as a direct result was readying and preparing himself to depart from this life that he might witness, behold and look upon Him in a way he had never personally seen while walking with and following Him during those three and a half years.
The words which are found in this particular epistle are absolutely and utterly astounding for within it the apostle Peter wrote unto these dear saints of like precious faith concerning the sure word of the testimony which was spoken unto them. In the opening chapter of this epistle the apostle Peter wrote unto them concerning that fateful day atop the mountain when he, James and his brother John were escorted by the Lord Jesus to the top of a mountain where Jesus’ appearance would be altered before them. There atop the mountain the Lord Jesus would be transfigured before them as He would stand atop the mountain in a certain degree and measure of the glory He had with the Father from the beginning. What’s more is that atop the mountain the Lord Jesus would appear to be speaking with Moses and Elijah—Moses who represented the Law and Elijah who represented the prophets—not only concerning the kingdom but also concerning His coming decease and sacrifice upon the cross. The apostle Peter was a personal witness to this powerful transfiguration atop the mountain as well as the voice of the Father which spoke from and broke through the midst of that encounter and not only declared and proclaimed that this Jesus was His beloved Son but also instructed those there to hear and listen to Him.
If there is one thing that is truly and utterly fascinating when reading the words which are found in this epistle it’s that as the apostle Peter was drawing to the end of his life and preparing to depart from this world and put off his earthly tabernacle he would take the time to earnestly and eagerly warn his readers and audience. Upon continuing to read the words which are found within this epistle you will find that as the apostle Peter prepared himself to depart from this world and enter into the realm of eternity he recognized and understood that in the coming days there would be those who would rise up among them who would seek to deceive the flock of God. It is absolutely and necessary we recognize and understand this for the words and language we find in this epistle is incredibly similar to the words we find in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy. In fact I can’t help but read the words which are found in this particular epistle and find the apostle Peter not only warning these dear saints concerning false teachers, false apostles and false prophets who would rise up among them but also scoffers who would rise up among them doubting and disputing the return and coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the words which are found in this particular epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the apostle Peter seeking to warn these dear saints to be on their guard in the coming days. It would be in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter he would instruct them to be sober and vigilant because their adversary the devil as a roaring lion prowls about seeking whom he may devour.
In the first epistle written by the apostle Peter we find this apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ warning his readers and audience concerning the danger of an unseen enemy and adversary who lurks in the shadows and the darkness. It would be in the fifth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter we find him encouraging and instructing the saints of the living God to be sober and vigilant because their enemy and adversary the devil was like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. What’s more is the apostle Peter would also instruct them to resist the devil knowing that he must and will flee from them. This is incredibly important language which we must needs recognize and understand—particularly when we come to the second epistle written by the apostle Peter unto these dear saints. Not only this but we must also understand the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints of Ephesus, the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints of Corinth in the second epistle sent unto them, the words which James wrote unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad throughout the known world at that time. If we want to truly understand that which is required of us in the days in which we are living—and not only in the days in which we are living but also in the days which are coming—we must needs recognize that for which we are personally called to in this life. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the epistle written unto the Ephesians, the second epistle written unto the Corinthians and the epistle written by James unto the twelve tribes:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all preservation and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).
“Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:1-6).
“Ye adulterers and adultleresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:4-10).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the incredible truth concerning the vigilance and diligence we must possess within our hearts and our souls in the days in which we are living. We cannot read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture and not encounter a tremendous call to be those who are constantly on their guard in the midst of the generation in which they live. Each of these passages present the incredible picture that there is a very real adversary and enemy who can and will seek to do anything and everything he can to destroy us. If you read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture you will find James and the apostle Paul warning the saints of God of the schemes and tactics of the enemy and adversary. Moreover the apostle Paul desired that the saints of God be not ignorant concerning his schemes, his tactics, his devices and that which the enemy can and will use to deceive and destroy us. Oh there is a great need to recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for one of the greatest truths found within the writings of the New Testament authors is the awareness of an enemy and adversary that does indeed and does in fact seek to deceive and destroy the saints of God. You cannot read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture and not come face to face with the tremendous desire of the enemy and adversary to rise up in strong opposition against the saints of the living God. With this in mind consider if you will the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto the saints which were scattered throughout Asia and the surrounding regions:
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:5-11).
Within this final chapter of his first epistle the apostle Peter sought to arm and guard the saints of God with the knowledge, the understanding and the awareness that there was indeed a very real enemy and adversary—one who desired to destroy and deceive them. In fact if you want to truly understand the words and language which is found in the second and third chapters of this epistle written by the apostle Peter it is absolutely necessary to recognize and understand that there is indeed a very real enemy and adversary who can and will seek to destroy and overwhelm us. With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to emphatically call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle written unto the Corinthian saints, as well as the words which the apostle John wrote in his first epistle and the words which our Lord Jesus Himself spoke when preparing the disciples for the last days and the days ahead. There is not a doubt in my mind that we as the saints of God must needs be aware of this incredible truth for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible awareness and discernment we must needs have in this life. If we are going to be those who are going to be able to stand in the days in which we live we must needs arm ourselves with discernment, wisdom, discretion and understanding in the sight and presence of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is a great need for us as the saints of God to truly recognize the dangers which face us in these days. With this in mind I invite you to consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints, the words which the apostle John wrote unto the Ephesian saints and even the words which the Lord Jesus Himself spoke unto his disciples and followers:
“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtitlity, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I supposed I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:1-15).
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (1 John 2:15-20).
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (But) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1 John 2:22-24).
“Whosoe4ver committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that eh might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (1 John 3:4-10).
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:13-20).
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14).
“Then if any man shall say not you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I( have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:23-28).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth for his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep” (James 10:1-13).
Please pay close attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for within them we encounter a very striking reality concerning the days in which we are living—days which would eventually become true of the early Church. If there is one thing that is entirely and altogether astonishing when considering the narrative of the early church it’s how in the early days there seemed to be a great and powerful sense of unity, fellowship, community, and the like. In the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts we find the early church being of one mind, of one accord, and of one heart and one purpose. We find the church which would explode by three thousand on the day of Pentecost alone and would continue to explode and balloon to five thousand saints and continue to grow giving themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the breaking of bread from house to house. Eventually, however, what we find being present among the churches which were established are false brethren, false teachers, false prophets and false apostles creeping in among them. Oh this is not something which is entirely seen in the New Testament book of Acts, however, it is something which we begin to see as early as the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. Beginning with the first epistle written unto the Corinthians we find division, contention, strife and heresies beginning to creep in among the saints and brethren of the living God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that when you come to the second epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find him speaking of another spirit, another gospel and another Jesus which was being introduced among them by false apostles and false brethren who were masquerading as angels of light.
The more you continue reading in the New Testament the more you will begin to see a clear picture of that which would begin to creep into the church as the epistle written unto the churches of Galatia is a powerful witness and testimony to these false brethren who would enter in and creep in among the saints of the living God teaching destructive doctrines and heresies which were meant to entice and lure men and women away from the simplicity that is found in Christ and from the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was something the apostle Paul was worried about when writing the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints for he was concerned that just as the serpent beguiled Eve so also would these dear saints be beguiled and turned away from the simplicity that is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. When you come to the epistle written unto the churches in Galatia you will find this particular truth being all the more manifest for the apostle Paul would even speak of their being bewitched and deceived by those who would creep in among them. OH it is necessary for us to recognize and understand this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it helps us to understand the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the second epistle written unto the saints who had obtained like precious faith. It would be in the second epistle written by the apostle Peter he sought to warn them of the last days—days that would be filled with great evil, great wickedness and great deception, lies and falsehood.
It is with the words which are found in the second and third chapters of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia beginning with the first chapter:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But thou we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).
“O foolish Galatians, who hath betwitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:1-5).
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:9-10).
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth until Christ be formed in you. I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:16-20).
“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:7-12).
The words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia must needs be carefully considered—particularly when we come to the second and third chapters of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter. When we read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia we find him writing and speaking unto those who were being led astray, beguiled and deceived by a false gospel—and not only a false gospel but also a false Jesus whom the apostle Paul did not preach. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia it’s that eventually false brethren, false prophets, false prophets and false teachers would begin creeping in among the saints of God and among the churches. I don’t want to say that the honeymoon phase would eventually be over but there would come a time when the church would begin to experience dangers and threats to it—not only from within but also from without. The more you read the New Testament writings and study church history the more you will encounter and understand the truth that the church would begin to experience threats from without—first from the Jews and then eventually from Rome itself. It would be the Jews who would first rise up in opposition against the church and would even engage in persecution of it, however, there would come a point in time when Rome itself would take up this persecution of the early church and the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we come to the second epistle written by the apostle Peter we find a man who was coming to the end of his life and preparing for his decease. The apostle Peter was indeed preparing himself for his departure from this world and from this life as he was making himself ready to meet the Lord Jesus face to face for the first time since He ascended unto the right hand of the Father from the mount of Olives. The words we find in the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Peter bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding false prophets which were among the people and which would seek to seduce and deceive the saints of God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for within Scripture we find two different epistles written by two different apostles—both of whom were preparing to depart from this world and enter into the realm of eternity. What’s more is that when you read the words which are found within the New Testament you will find two epistles which were written by two different apostles who were preparing to meet the Lord Jesus Christ on the other side of time in the realm of eternity. Before these apostles would depart from this world they would set out to warn the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ concerning the dangers and perils that would arise and would face them in the coming days. Both the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul recognized and understood the great dangers that would emerge and would present itself against the church. The apostle Peter and the apostle Paul sought to warn the churches and saints prior to their departure that they would not be caught off guard and unawares when it came to the days in which they were about to enter.
The more I think about and consider this the more I can’t help but find two apostles who were prepared for an earthly and natural departure from this life and from this world as they were going to be entering into the realm of eternity. It would be prior to their departing from this world they would set out to warn the saints of God concerning the days which were coming. What makes this all the more captivating when you think about it is when you consider the words which are found in the twentieth chapter of the book of Acts. It is when you come to this particular passage of Scripture you will be brought face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the apostle Paul calling the elders of the Ephesian congregation unto himself. If you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the purpose for the apostle Paul calling the elders of the Ephesian church unto him being centered upon his journey unto Jerusalem knowing that he was going bound thereunto and was unaware of what awaited him there in the midst of the city. The only thing the apostle knew was that the Holy Spirit had born him witness and testified that bonds and afflictions awaited him in every city he entered. The apostle Paul knew and understood he would no more see the faces of these dear saints and brethren and sought to see them one last time and encourage them. Oh we must needs recognize and understand the words the apostle Paul spoke unto these dear saints for the words the apostle Paul spoke unto them not only encouraged them but also warned them of the coming dangers that would await them after his departure. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concerning this encounter and exchange:
“Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:18-35).
We dare not and must not miss what is presented in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is an incredibly powerful picture of the departure of the apostle Paul as he journeyed unto the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul knew that he was going to depart from Asia and journey unto Jerusalem and that he would not see these dear saints and brethren any more. What’s more is that not only did the apostle know that bonds and afflictions awaited and abode him in every city he entered but he also knew and understood the dangers the church would face after his departure—namely grievous wolves entering in among them which wouldn’t spare the flock. Not only this but there would be men of their own selves who would arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. The apostle Paul was preparing for an earthly departure in a geographical context and diligently sought to warn these dear saints and brethren concerning the dangers which would come after his departure. What makes this all the more intriguing when you consider it is that when the apostle Paul was preparing for another departure—a departure from this world and the realm of time and space—he once more warned of the dangers and threats that would come in the last days. When writing the second epistle written unto Timothy the apostle Paul sought to warn him concerning the dangers and troubles that would face the church and the world in the coming days. The apostle Paul knew and understood that after his demise and after his departure from this world there would be a great period of deception, lies and falsehood that would rise up in the midst of the earth. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of the second epistle written unto Timothy:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasts, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than. Lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was” (2 Timothy 3:1-9).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary we call and draw our attention to the words which are found in the second and third chapters of the second epistles written by the apostle Peter. The words which we find here in this particular epistle call and draw our attention to the tremendous dangers and perils which would indeed face the church in the last days. It would be in the third and final chapter of this second epistle the apostle Peter would warn of scoffers who would rise up in the midst of the earth—those who would walk after their own lusts and asking where the promise of the coming of the Lord Jesus was. It would be in the third chapter of this second epistle the apostle Peter would write of these scoffers who would rise up in the midst of the earth doubting and disputing the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus—and not only this but the apostle Peter also goes on to describe these scoffers as being likened unto those who were present in the days of Noah. Just as there were scoffers during the days of Noah when Noah preached righteousness and the coming judgment of the living God so also would there be scoffers in the last days concerning the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that just as there were scoffers during the days of Lot when the warning of impending judgment and destruction was given so also would there be scoffers in the last days. Oh it is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found in the final two chapters of this second epistle written by the apostle Peter for within them we find the warning of scoffers who would rise up in the last days arguing, disputing and doubting the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus.
If you continue reading the words which are found in the third and final chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Peter reminding his readers and audience of the days of Noah and how during those days the earth would be covered with the waters of the flood as everything that had the breath of life which was not on the ark would perish in the midst of the waters. Moreover the apostle Peter would go on to speak unto these saints concerning the heavens and the earth which are presently manifested are being kept in store being reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. The apostle Peter would go on to admonish his readers and audience not to be ignorant of this one thing—that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. Not only this but the apostle Peter would go on to write and speak unto them concerning the Lord not being slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness but is longsuffering to us-ward not willing that any should perish. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s not only the overwhelming mercy of the eternal and living God being unwilling that any should perish but also the clarion call concerning who and what manner of person we ought to be in the coming days. The apostle Peter would indeed conclude this epistle with a powerful call to the saints of God concerning who and what manner of person we ought to be and it is these words I leave you as a powerful invitation to you and I concerning who and what manner of person we ought to be:
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for an hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering 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. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:11-18).