2 Peter 3:9 ESV

“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.”

When Jesus came to earth the first time it was to die for our sins. One day he is going to return to the earth to judge the people of the earth and to take his bride to be with him forever. Some people think that just because this has not happened yet that the story of his soon return is a fantasy, i.e. it’s not real. But the Lord has delayed his return because he is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

But let me stop right there. What is being taught here? Well, for one it is teaching that the longer Jesus waits to return it will mean that more people will have the opportunity to hear the gospel and to be saved from their sins so that they don’t die in their sins and spend eternity in the fires of hell. But what else? It is teaching us that repentance is a prerequisite to having eternal life with God and to not perishing (dying) in our sins.

So, what is repentance? It is a change of mind, but not just that. It is a change of who we are and what we are about and who is in charge of our lives and where we are headed and what we do and how we live. And it means to make a spiritual U-turn. We were walking in sin but now we are walking according to the Spirit. We were enslaved to sin but now we are slaves of God and of his righteousness, all to the glory and praise of God.

Now, how does this happen? Well, not one of us can come to this repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ. In fact, the faith to believe in Jesus comes from God, it is perfected by Jesus, and it is gifted to us by God. And repentance is part of that believing faith that is granted to us by God. But we have to receive it, and under the conditions that God stipulates, not according to our own perceptions.

Faith, as it turns out, actually means to be persuaded by God. And what does God want to persuade us about? The same things he wanted to persuade his people about in the Old Testament, that we must see ourselves as the sinners that we are, and we must willingly die with Christ to our sins (repent of our sins). Then we are given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived for God and for his righteousness in the power of God in obedience to Him.

Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament gave the same messages as the prophets in the Old Testament. It has always been and it always will be that we are to repent of (turn away from, forsake, die to) our sins and we must turn to the Lord to walk in obedience to him and to his commands, for us the commands that are under the New Covenant. But this all comes from God and is empowered by God. We just have to surrender our lives to God.

So, what happens if we don’t? What if we just “believe” in Jesus? Isn’t that enough? Yes, if we have a true biblical understanding of what that means. For the Scriptures make it clear that if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin that we will die in our sins. We will not have eternal life with God. It won’t matter if we confessed “Jesus is Lord” with our lips. He will say, “Depart from me workers of iniquity. I never knew you.”

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]

2 Peter 3:10-13 ESV

“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.

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

Now, some people assume that they are Christians because they prayed a prayer to receive Christ into their hearts one day, maybe a long time ago, or because they acknowledged what Jesus did for them in dying on the cross for our sins, or they accepted the grace they are being taught as God’s grace, which usually teaches that Jesus died to take away our sins so we would be forgiven our sins and so we can go to heaven when we die.

So, they are not concerned about the judgments of God for they feel they have their free ticket into heaven and so God won’t judge them for their sins. Well, there is some truth to this, for Jesus did die to take away our sins and to forgive us our sins and to give us the hope of eternal life with him. And if we are believing in him with genuine God-given faith, he has wiped away our sins and he has removed from us the punishment of our sin.

But there are conditions. God’s saving grace has conditions. There are things we are commanded of God to do or we don’t have salvation from sin. And there are things we are commanded of God not to do or we don’t have eternal life with him. Yes, God’s gift of salvation is free. It did not cost us anything. Jesus paid it all. But we have to look at what the Scriptures teach his grace is and what that free gift is, because it is not just forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God based on some profession of faith in Jesus.

We have to die with Christ to sin. We have to walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. We have to not make sin our practice, and we do have to make righteousness our practice. We have to obey our Lord and his commandments (New Covenant) which are spelled out for us all throughout the New Testament. And we have to love God and other humans and we must not hate our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

If we don’t do what the Lord says but we live disobedient lives, because we are convinced that Jesus’ salvation gives us permission to do so, then we will be sadly mistaken when the Lord comes to return for his bride and he tells us he never knew us and we are to depart from him.

So, the encouragement here, while we wait for the day when our Lord does return, is for us to live godly and holy lives, separate (unlike, different) from the ways of this sinful world because we are being made into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Daily we are to die with Christ to sin and deny self and follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. We are to go where he sends us, do what he tells us to do, and say what he says to say.

The Prayer

Written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager,
Alberto Testa and Tony Renis

I pray you’ll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know

Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

I pray we’ll find your light
And hold it in our hearts
When the stars go out each night
Remind us where you are.

Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

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P.S. This is not an endorsement of the singers other than as musicians

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