When I talk with many of our senior saints one of the concerns or fears I hear expressed the most is basophobia. You didn’t know that did you. It is also call FOF, fear of falling. When we get older it is a legitimate concern. If you have fallen before it is an especially big concern. For some of us this fear is on our mind a lot, we worry about it, we take precautions, we use extra means to keep it from happening, like canes and walkers and removing obstacles. That’s wisdom. There is a parallel between our fear of physically falling and spiritually falling. We should treat them both in similar ways and be just as diligent with guarding against both. In fact, we should be more diligent in guarding against spiritual falling. What is more important, our bodies or our souls? Didn’t Jesus say,
We return again this morning to chapter three of Acts where we are given a sign and a sermon. The sign is the miraculous healing of a man who was severely crippled from birth for over forty years. After walking, running, jumping, and leaping for joy, we are told he is now clinging to Peter and John. All the people came, they were amazed and astounded. God wanted to say something and He used this miracle to get everyone’s attention so He could say it, and not just to them, but to us here and now.
A Sign and a sermon. In chapter three of Acts we are given a sign and a sermon, a miracle and a message. The sign is the miraculous healing of a man who was severely crippled from birth for over forty years. After walking, running, jumping, and leaping for joy, we are told he is now clinging to Peter and John. All the people came, they were amazed and astounded. A sign and a sermon. Which do you think is more impressive, which is more powerful, which is more important? Let’s imagine for a moment I went to Mary right now and said, “Mary, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Then immediately her leg grew back and strength returned to her legs and she stood up and started walking. In fact, even though it isn’t a very Dutch thing to do, she started dancing. After that, what would happen? People would start talking all over Lynden about this amazing thing Pastor Robert did and people would come flocking. Am I right? Who knows, it might even make the national news. Within months I would have a TV ministry, a mansion and a Lear Jet. And I would be a charlatan for cashing in on the miracle and using it for my own gain and glory. If I was wise I would do what Peter did and call time out and preach a sermon explaining what happened and why it happened and what it all means and what we should do in response to what happened. In other words, the miracle is not what’s most important, what’s most important is what it points to.
As we come to this final passage of II Peter I want to approach it a bit differently and focus on four phrases that stand out to me in the text. Next week I will wrap up the whole letter with a focus on the last two verses.
What is this weird book called Proverbs? On July 1 I challenged you and your families to read the 31 chapters of Proverbs during the 31 days of July. Some of you have been doing that, some started but have had trouble keeping going, some never even tried. Those who have been trying have some questions. Let’s face it, Proverbs is a weird book, there is no other book in the Bible like it. Reading it you feeling like a BB in a tin can, as the verses ricochet all over the place. There is no flow, no rhyme or reason. Almost no two verses are on the same topic. Let me begin with just a bit of background to this book. King Solomon is said in Scripture to be the wisest man who ever lived. In I Kings 4 we read that when he was starting out as king God asked Solomon in a dream what he would like God to give him. Remarkably of all the things he could have asked for, he asked for wisdom and this pleased God very much.
In II Peter 3 Peter is helping the Christians in his church know how to deal with people who say Jesus isn’t coming back and the world is not going to end in some sort of fiery ordeal and trial and great judgment. If it hasn’t happened in the past two thousand years, no sense thinking it will now. Live for the here and now. Live for today. Don’t worry, eat, drink and be merry, it’s all good. God is good and God is love and we have nothing to fear. They said this to justify their sexual freedom and indulgence and their love of money and love of earthly and worldly pleasures. And people who try to justify themselves always try to convince others of their same view, the more the merrier, the more confident they are in themselves. See we aren’t alone in this.
It is interesting to note that most of the second epistles in the NT deal with false teachers and false prophets and false apostles, people who are deceiving believers and creating doubt and sowing the seeds of apostacy and immorality. It is a serious problem in every age. Peter in his second letter certainly has been warning about these things. In chapter three he has focused specifically on those scoffers who are saying that Jesus is not coming back like he promised. He is long overdue and we might as well just live and act as we please since it doesn’t matter. Where is God in the midst of all the chaos, conflict, terror, crime, violence, war, immorality? Why doesn’t God come back and fix everything that’s wrong with the world? What is God waiting for? When is the last act? When will the curtain come down on history? Why is the present age so long? Two thousand years and counting. If you have questions like that, Peter has answers. Four questions answered in II Peter 3: 1. How
We have to stop and reflect on what God allowed us to be a part of. I want you to know the fruit of your labors, I want you to know about the lives you touch, I want you to hear firsthand reports of God’s grace, God’s providence. I have asked some members of our Serve volunteer team to share briefly from their experience. Laura Buys and some of our youth; Ria Van Weerdhuizen; and Len Honcoop. Three weeks ago I preached from Acts 2:42-47, the classic Scripture text describing the beginnings of the early church. I said it was a snapshot picture of a healthy church. Listen to that text again and see how it was put into practice this week.
The religious leaders hired a lawyer, an expert in the Jewish law to ask Jesus a question that seems relatively simple to us but in those days, it was a matter of huge controversy. Sort of like the immigration debate today. They didn’t ask Jesus this question to find out the answer. They didn’t ask this because they were interested in spiritual things or because they wanted to learn and grow and be better people. This was a question designed to trap Jesus no matter what He said. But they had no idea who they are up against. Instead of exposing Jesus as a fraud, they gave Him the opportunity to give one of the most profound summaries of religion ever given. This is Jesus’ definition of true religion. This is Christianity. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of your life, if you figure this out, you will have figured out life. If you do this, everything else will take care of itself. True religion consists of two things, two sides of the same coin, two inseparable things.
Peter spent chapter two warning his Christian readers about false teachers and about how their bad thinking/theology has led them into bad behaving/acting. This is why Paul says to watch both your doctrine and your life, the two go together. When we abandon the authority of the Word of God we soon find ourselves in all kinds of immorality, sexual immorality, abortion, divorce, and justification of all kinds of practices God has clearly warned us to steer clear of (see Ten Commandments). Now in chapter three Peter speaks more directly to his Christian readers. This is a pastor writing from a pastor’s heart, like a loving parent to his children. This is evident from the term of endearment he starts with.