Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Letters Of A Changed Man: A Study Of 1st And 2nd Peter. Day 23, 'The Lord Knows How To Rescue The Godly

Peter continues on with the theme of God avenging those who have been taken advantage of by false teachers. But we need never fear God will pluck up the wheat with the tares (Matthew 13:29) when He brings judgment on the wicked, for Peter reminds us of the examples of Noah and Lot. The Lord destroyed the world by a flood and yet rescued Noah and his family. The Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah but pulled Lot and his family to safety. We are going to look at these two examples, plus one from Revelation, which should comfort our hearts concerning the coming judgment of the wicked and concerning the terrible time known as the Great Tribulation.

"If He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes; and if He rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct he lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)---if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment." (2 Peter 2:5-9) We know that the Lord rescued Noah and Lot, so when Peter says "if this is so", it is the same as if he is saying "since this is so". Since God rescued Noah, who loved Him, God will rescue us. Since God rescued Lot, who lived among wicked people but did not join in with the wickedness, God will rescue us. Obviously God knows how to rescue the righteous; the proof is in the two examples Peter has just provided.

We are living in the end times. We have been living in the end times ever since Christ rose from the dead and returned to the Father's house to prepare a place for us. (John 14:3) I don't know how much longer it will be until Christ returns for the church---His bride. Personally I don't know how much longer a holy God can stand to look on the growing wickedness of this world, but at the same time He is longsuffering toward human beings in giving everyone an opportunity to repent. Christ may come to rescue us from the world today or a thousand years from now, but I think we can recognize the signs of the times the Apostle Paul spoke about, "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God---having a form of godliness but denying its power." (2 Timothy 3:1-5a) Every time we turn on the news we see evidence of these types of behaviors in our world. The Lord Jesus said that there will be wars and natural disasters which shall increase in frequency as the end draws near, just as labor pains increase in intensity as the birth of a child draws near. (Matthew 24:5-8) The news is full of dreadful floods, earthquakes, fires, wars, and the heartbreaking casualties of war.

Does all this bad news mean the end is imminent? Does this mean the terrible days of the Great Tribulation are about to come upon the world? Perhaps so, but we who have put our trust in the Lord need not fear the wrath of those days. We can look forward to the future because of a beautiful promise the Lord made to us through the Apostle John: "Since you have kept My command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth." (Revelation 3:10) We know Christ is speaking to the redeemed---the true church---for in the same passage He says to the church, "I know you have little strength, yet you have kept My word and have not denied My name." (Revelation 3:8) In context Christ is speaking to the church of Philadelphia, which was a literal church in John's day but which also represents a church age. It is believed by most mainstream scholars that each church the Lord writes a letter to through John in Revelation represents a different period of church history, and that the church of Philadelphia symbolizes the final period of the church before Christ's return. The last church the Lord tells John to write a letter to is the church of Laodicea, which represents the apostate church of the Tribulation. This is a church with the attitude Paul talked about, for it will have the form of godliness but will deny its power. There will be no true love of Christ in it. The members may use His name for various purposes in the same way that the false teachers of Peter's day used the Lord's name for various purposes, but they will not belong to Christ.

The Lord didn't allow the flood to take the life of His faithful preacher Noah. The Lord didn't allow the raging fires of Sodom and Gomorrah to take the life of Lot whose heart belonged to Him. The Lord is not going to leave His bride on the earth to endure the worst days this world has ever seen. This is why I agree wholeheartedly with the scholars and theologians who hold to the doctrine of a pre-Tribulation removal of the church from earth. Christ is going to sweep His bride off her feet before judgment falls. He will rescue the love of His life from impending disaster. This is what any mortal man would do, so we can rest assured our all-powerful Bridegroom will do the same. We don't have to fall into a panic about wars, rumors of wars, and natural disasters. We don't have to read about the dreadful days of the coming apocalypse and shake with terror. Our eyes and ears, like those of the apostles and the believers of all ages, should be waiting for our Bridegroom to appear and to call out our names. We don't need to worry about the signs of the end but should interpret the signs of the end as proof that our Rescuer is on His way. It is not His intention for us to focus on this dying world or on its judgment, but to focus on the eternity we will share with Him.

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