2 Peter 3:8-10
God’s Patience—Our Repentance
There are some teachings of the Christian faith that are not negotiable. We may disagree on how one should be baptized and when. We might have different understandings of the Lord’s Supper. Some of us are Arminians and some of us Calvinists. But there are some doctrines that the one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic church has always taught, and one of those is the certainty of our Lord’s bodily return. Indeed, he rose so that he would return and gather us together at the end of time. We now live between the comings: his first and his second.
And this is the answer to the false teachers who scoffed at the doctrine of our Lord’s return. They made two obvious errors: 1) They thought God worked on their timetable. This is always a temptation for Christians. Our lives are so fleeting, so temporary, and so short-lived. And since we naturally think that the world revolves around ourselves—our sinful natures so inclining us—we expect God to do our bidding when we think. But God has His own plan and has no cause to hurry. He knows exactly when He shall send His Son to fetch His Bride. His faithful ones understand this and do not presume upon God’s will. They know that He is eternal in the heavens and that He commands time and not the other way around. What are a thousand years to God? Let us never forget that his promise to Adam and Eve, that a Messiah would come to crush the serpent’s head, took millennia to fulfill (Genesis 3:15). 2) Far from being slack in His promise, this “delay” (which it isn’t) is the day of grace—anno domini—the year of the Lord, the age of salvation, when one may repent and believe (Romans 2:4). God’s patience is man’s opportunity for salvation, if only the scoffers would see this.
But when he does come, the Apostle warns us, he shall come as a thief, meaning, without such warning (Matthew 24:36-51). Then shall the heavens give way (Revelation 6:14; 20:11; 21:1) as they must for the advent of the new heavens, and then shall come the judgment of all the works ever done upon the earth, for “nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be made known” (Luke 12:2). After which the earth shall be renewed as the heavens (Romans 8:18-23). What a glorious future awaits the children of God, but we must not lose heart. Satan will tempt us, and false teachers will try to deceive us. We must hold fast to the faith delivered one for all to the saints (Jude 3). God is patient on account of the lost ones; may we be so concerned for them as well.