Agonizomai: 2Peter 3:8-10 - Delay for the Sake of the Elect

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

2Peter 3:8-10 - Delay for the Sake of the Elect
8-10 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Remember {2Pe 1:1} that these facts are being given to believers – as an encouragement to persecuted saints – who are beset round and about, within and without, by false teachers, by mockers and by scoffers. Satan has spared nothing in his attempt to suppress the truth. He still spares nothing up until this present day.

Believers need the encouragement and the exhortation, the admonishment that comes from the truth of God and the reliability of His Word. Though God might seem to delay - though the wicked seem to prosper, though deceivers abound, thought the church is under relentless attack and the saints are led like lambs to the slaughter, though the very gates of hell are brought to bear against the Lord and the Lord’s people - yet all is under God’s Lordship, His power and His control.

Though to us it looks like the Lord is delayed, and though the world does not believe He will ever come back (that is, if they believe He came in the first place) yet He is faithful and true. The wicked are tolerated for a season. God patiently abides. God has a plan and a timetable that can neither be hurried nor delayed. And that timetable is governed by this fact - that God does not will that any of His elect should perish, but that every one whom He named in Christ before the foundation of the world be gathered in. That is why God seems to delay. That is why He allows the wicked to prosper for a season. The church needs to be reminded that God is gathering in His own from the world. He will not end things until the harvest is over and only He knows when that will be - because only He knows all the names that were written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.

Some people take verse 9 to be speaking of all humanity and use it as proof that God wills for all men to be saved. In a sense He does. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and asks why they will not repent. He urges and encourages and commands and even pleads for them to repent and believe the gospel. It is not God’s desire that men perish. But neither is it His will to save all men. Those that perish will perish on account of their sin and their unswerving preference to remain in it. Those that are saved will be saved by the grace of God alone.

It is a commentary on the sad state of doctrinal understanding and Biblical knowledge today - even among teachers and pastors - that this verse of 2Pe 3:9 is almost universally used out of context to "prove" that God wills to save all men. It is used to prove the very opposite of what it means in the context. In the context, believers are given the encouragement of knowing that God is saving all the people He intended to save from eternity, and that this is the reason why He seems to delay His return and the judgement. Poor exegetes use this scripture out of context to say that God wills everyone to be saved - implying that His will is thwarted by the intransigence of fallen men. They make God less than what the Bible says about Him regarding salvation.

One day, we are assured - one day that even the Son did not know when He was on earth - one day Almighty God will have saved the last of those He gave to Christ before the world was made, and at that time – not sooner and not later – God will draw a curtain over history and bring an end to all things as we know them. The whole universe will be dissolved by fire. All the works of men will be brought under the light of God’s holy judgment and all accounts will be settled. Those wicked who seemed to prosper for a time will reap what they have sown. And all God’s children will be vindicated because they trusted in Him and in His righteousness alone.

My moniker - that's John Henry to Americans


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