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Accelerating the End Message Introduction

Happy New Year! 2014 is behind us and 2015 is just beginning. As we move into 2015, it would be good for us to recognize that this new year is a gift from God to each one of us. 2015 is a gift of life, a gift of time, a gift to your family and to our church. In this year, God wants to give you more hope, love and peace. Whenever God gives us a gift or blesses us, it’s never just for us. God intends for us to bless others with the gifts that He blesses us with. So, in this new year, 2015, God desires to bless you, so that you can be blessing to those around you.

Let’s watch a short video about the New Year called “All Things New.”

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Our hope for the New Year is not based on ourselves. Our hope for the New Year comes when we fix our eyes on Jesus. Jesus is the one who has given us this New Year and He is the one who has the plan and path for us to follow in 2015.

Our current message series is “Living in Light of the End.” We are living in the last days and the Bible tells us that in the last days, darkness and evil will increase. So, I cannot promise that 2015 will see less of evil and wickedness than 2014. What I can assure you of is that God’s light will shine brighter and brighter, even as the darkness increases. I believe that in 2015, the distinction between light and darkness, between good and evil will become clearer. People will more and more be called on to take a stand for Jesus Christ. The white and black will become clearer and the murky gray areas will recede.

Proverbs 4:18-19 (NIV)  The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

These verses contrast the path of the righteous and the wicked. The path of the righteous in 2015 will shine every brighter, while the way of the wicked will be plunged into deeper darkness. So, don’t become upset or discouraged about the way of the wicked, press in to walk on the path of the righteous until the full light of day, when Jesus returns.

Today, my message is called “Accelerating the End.” The end will come at the end of the last days, when Jesus returns. We don’t know when Jesus will return, it could happen at any time. Why hasn’t Jesus returned yet? Why is it taking so long, it’s been over 2000 years? Is there something that you and I can do to accelerate His coming?

This morning, we are going to look at an incredible passage in 2 Peter 3, where all these questions and more are clearly answered by God’s Word. The message is going to set the stage for each of us individually and for our church as we head into the year of 2015. The letter of 2 Peter was written by the apostle Peter shortly before he was martyred for serving Jesus. God’s Spirit moved him to write words that speak to us today, in 2015.

Understand that scoffers will come

2 Peter 3:3 (NIV)  First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

What is a scoffer? A scoffer is someone who mocks or expresses disdain. Here, scoffers will be those who scoff at God, Jesus, the Bible and believers in Jesus Christ. Scoffers are unbelievers who attack the things and people of God in order to advance their ungodly agendas and follow their evil desires.

Anti-Christian scoffers have increased exponentially in recent years and will continue to increase in 2015. They are everywhere. The December 23, 2014 front page article in Newsweek is entitled “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” The article attempts to discredit the Bible in many ways and advance it’s own ungodly agenda. As we go through this passage today, we’ll see an example from Peter on how to address and deal with scoffers.

Scoffers say that science rules the world

2 Peter 3:4 (NIV)  They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

Basically scoffers completely deny the supernatural. They question the second coming of Jesus Christ as it hasn’t happened yet. Scoffers say that scientific laws rule the world from creation onward and there is no intervention from God. This view of scoffers is very prevalent today and essentially holds that science can explain everything, so there is no need or evidence for God, other than a construct of our imagination. In essence, science is treated as a religion and used to explain everything. This view is called scientism or uniformitarianism.

Let’s see how Peter addresses these scoffers.

Scoffers forget that God created and destroyed the world

2 Peter 3:5-6 (NIV)  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

Peter points out two supernatural acts of God that scoffers ignore. He states that long ago, both the heavens and the earth were created by God’s Word, not by natural or scientific processes. Secondly, Peter points out that God supernaturally judged the entire world through a flood, that destroyed all life, except that which was kept safe in the ark. Two major supernatural events that scoffers deliberately forget and choose not to believe, creation and the flood. Finally …

Scoffers don’t understand judgment is coming

2 Peter 3:7 (NIV)  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

As we’ve been talking about in these messages about the end times, the world as we know it will end with supernatural intervention. When Jesus returns, He will bring a judgment by fire to purge His kingdom of all evil and ungodliness. In the last days, scoffers will increase.

How does Peter combat these scoffers? Peter combats the falsehoods of scoffers with the truth of God’s Word. And so must we. The danger of scoffers is that they will undermine the faith of those who do not have a good knowledge of the Bible or a close relationship with Jesus Christ. Scoffers will also dissuade some who might be considering God’s truth from continuing to seek it.

Unfortunately, scoffers have invaded the church itself. Scoffers in the church hold to some teachings of the Bible, but deny that God is a supernatural God who still moves supernaturally today in our time. As the last days continue, we need God’s supernatural power to take our stand for Jesus. Peter goes on to teach that …

God exists outside of time

2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)  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.

In other words, what is a long time for us is not long for God, who has always existed outside of time. The return of Christ is not at some predetermined date in the future. As we’ll see in the next verse, the return of Christ will definitely happen, but it will only happen when a certain condition is met. Why hasn’t Jesus returned yet? Here’s the answer.

Jesus is waiting until more people repent

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)  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.

The scoffers say that since Christ hasn’t returned, He isn’t ever going to. Others say that since Christ hasn’t returned in 2000 years, He is slow in keeping His promise to return. But here, Peter gives us the reason that Jesus hasn’t returned yet. Jesus is being patient and giving more people time to repent and become believers. You see, when Jesus returns, His judgment comes as well. When Jesus returns, each person will be permanently fixed into their state of belief, either as a believer in Jesus Christ or as an unbeliever.

The believers will spend eternity with Jesus in a new heavens and earth and the unbelievers will spend eternity separated from God in a place of torment called hell. Since, we know the reason that Jesus hasn’t returned yet, we’ll see in a minute the incredible truth that you and I can do something about the timing of Jesus’ return.

Jesus will come unexpectedly in judgment

2 Peter 3:10 (NIV)  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.

Jesus’ return, the day of the Lord, will come suddenly and unexpectedly, like a thief breaking into a house. Jesus’ return will be accompanied by the judgment of God. God’s judgment on the world in the time of Noah was by water. When Jesus returns the second time, judgment will be by fire. Everything that is evil or contaminated by sin will be destroyed by fire. For unbelievers, destruction does not mean annihilation, but eternal death, forever existing separated from God in eternal fire.

God doesn’t desire for anyone to perish in such a way, so He is patiently waiting for more people to repent and become believers in Jesus Christ. Only those who repent will escape God’s judgment in eternity.

This is a very important truth for every person, believer or unbeliever alike. For the unbeliever, every day of your life is a gift from God, giving you the opportunity to repent of your sin and enter into eternal life with Jesus Christ.

For the believer, every day of your life is an opportunity from God to lead someone else to repent and become a believer, and so escape God’s judgment of eternal death. God gives each person an allotted time to live. During that time, they are given an opportunity to believe in Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life. Once we receive that gift, the time of our lives is an opportunity to lead others into a saving relationship with Jesus. Peter puts it this way, as believers, we are to …

Live a holy and godly life

2 Peter 3:11 (NIV)  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives

When we look ahead and understand that Jesus is coming and the world will be destroyed by fire, it should have an impact on our lives today. Our understanding of the future from God’s Word should motivate us to live holy and godly lives here and now.

Why? First of all, because we are preparing in this life for an eternity with God, so we best build that relationship now. Secondly, how we live in this life can incredibly …

Accelerate the coming of Jesus

2 Peter 3:12 (NIV)  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.

Underline the phrase “speed its coming.” God’s Word is saying that you and I have something to do with the timing of Jesus’ return. We can actually speed or hasten the coming of Jesus in the day of the Lord. How can that possibly be?

Remember why Jesus hasn’t returned yet. Because He is waiting for more people to repent and become believers. As we are witnesses for Jesus and lead more people to become believers, we accelerate the return of Jesus, we move it closer to our time.

On that day, even the heavens will be destroyed by fire and all the elements will melt in the intense heat. Yet out of God’s judgment, something wonderful will be created. We …

Look forward to a new heaven and earth

2 Peter 3:13 (NIV)  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The present heaven and earth will be destroyed, but God will create a new heaven and a new earth. This new heaven and new earth will be the home of righteousness, the home for every believer to walk and talk with God forever. The new heaven and new earth will be paradise restored, where no sin or evil will ever intrude again. Heaven will come to earth and be our home for eternity.

So, what can we expect in 2015? We can expect an increase in scoffers, scoffing at the Bible, Jesus and believers. Don’t let them get to you. Simply respond with the truth of God’s Word.

Jesus is coming back again, He is simply being patient and giving people more time to repent. When He returns, He will come in judgment, destroying this present world and creating a new heaven and earth. So what should our priorities be in 2015? In light of what we’ve learned today, we should make every effort to lead a holy and godly life.

As we lead such lives, we can accelerate or hasten Jesus’ coming by leading others to faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t get discouraged by the scoffers or evil that will continue in 2015. Instead, look forward to a new heaven and earth, in which every longing of your heart will be fulfilled in Jesus.

Message Audio, Outline & Study Guide

Living in Light of the End Message Series

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