Question of the Week: Can we make Jesus’ Second Coming take place sooner by sharing the gospel?
The passage being referred to in this question is found in the third chapter of Peter’s second epistle. The context of the whole statement includes the Second Coming of Christ, but the focus isn’t on that event specifically. In order to properly conclude what we ought to from the passage, let’s read it in its entirety.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:11-14 (NKJV)
To begin a careful unpacking of the passage, first take notice that Peter is using the same language Jesus used to describe the End Times in the Gospels (Matthew 24:43-44). Likewise, the term Day of the Lord comes from the Old Testament prophets when God enacts judgment on the nations(Joel 2:11, Isaiah 2:12, etc). Peter is referencing both to give as broad a picture of the End Times as possible. This is further contextualized by the following verses. The End Times is going to include a lot more than the heat death of the Universe, but will ultimately conclude with that when all things are made new. Before that happens, Peter gives an exhortation for Godly living in this passage in light of that eventual fact. The things in this world won’t last forever, but the things of God will. Therefore, our priorities should be on those things that last. However, Peter isn’t making this point on its own. Leading up to this passage, as well as the verse that brought up the question, Peter clarifies why that Day of the Lord, specifically the day in which the universe (heavens) will be dissolved like Revelation 21:1 describes, is still a very far time off.
But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:7-9 (NKJV)
Before Peter gives his exhortation to hasten the coming of the day of God and live Godly in light of that eventual reality, he clarifies that judgment is only being delayed because of the mercy demonstrated by Jesus Christ. Time is no object for Him. Whether it takes a day or a thousand years. “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” His priority isn’t the restoration of the Universe, but those He created to live in fellowship with Him in it. These were Jesus’ marching orders to His followers and all those who would come to believe in Him through their testimony.
Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.
Luke 24:46-48 (NKJV)
This is the job the Holy Spirit will accomplish through us as we present ourselves available to be used by Him to lead people to repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ. The question is if the answer was a simple yes, why was there a need for so much context to Peter’s words? Two reasons;
1. To clarify what was actually said.
2. To clarify what wasn’t actually said.
There are two equal and opposite errors people make when they read this passage in 2 Peter. One error is to conclude that the end of the heavens depends on our efforts. That isn’t true. Jesus stated plainly that the Father has placed these things in His own authority. He is not dependent on our efforts to hasten or prolong the length of time between now and the restoration of all Creation. (Acts 1:6-8) The other error is to conclude that Peter is specifically talking about the Rapture or Second Coming of Christ. While those events will be a part of what we refer to as the Last Days, he clarifies exactly what he meant when he refers to the Day of God in the very chapter that mentions it. More context is always clearer than less. The gospel will go out with or without us. We have the honor and privilege of being a part of the process the Holy Spirit is seeing done in calling hearts and minds back to Him before every possible chance has been given and the inevitable end this fallen world is heading towards can no longer be delayed.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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