Last year John Piper penned a great little book at the start of the pandemic, and 12 months later his words still ring true:
“The coronavirus is God’s thunderclap call for all of us to repent and realign our lives with the infinite worth of Christ.” (77)
“Disasters are a gracious summons from God to repent and be saved while there is still time. . . . I think that’s God’s message for the world in this coronavirus outbreak. He is calling the world to repentance while there’s still time.” (79–80)
“What God is doing in the coronavirus is showing us—graphically, painfully—that nothing in this world gives the security and satisfaction that we find in the infinite greatness and worth of Jesus. This global pandemic takes away our freedom of movement, our business activity, and our face-to-face relations. It takes away our security and our comfort. And, in the end, it may take away our lives. The reason God exposes us to such losses is to rouse us to rely on Christ. Or to put it another way, the reason he makes calamity the occasion for offering Christ to the world is that the supreme, all-satisfying greatness of Christ shines more brightly when Christ sustains joy in suffering.” (82)
“And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved.This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.” 2 Peter 3:15-16 NLT
It is truly astounding the way rich Bible truths are anchored at the “3:16” point in nearly every New Testament book. This post continues my long exploration of the Three Sixteens. Today we are looking at the salvation which comes to us through the Lord’s patience, as described in Paul’s teachings.(If you missed the earlier posts, go back to the start and check them out: Matthew 3:16 through to 1 Peter 3:16.)
To understand the significance of these words, it is worth understanding the patience that Peter is referring back to (in verse 9):
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. This actually a response to the criticism mentioned in verses 3-4: I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?
So what did happen to that promise? More than ever, the idea that Jesus would come and end all the pain and suffering of this Covid world is attractive. We who hope in Christ and the resurrection would probably welcome his return today! But unlike God, we are each so wrapped up in our own interests. The reason for the Lord’s delay is the salvation of souls.
With each day that passes, new believers are made, new children are born to the Kingdom of God. How gracious is the delay of this promise! God’s purposes in calling people to himself are not thwarted by the criticism that Jesus’ return should come right now. For the sake of mortal men and women, our loving heavenly Father is patient. And though he stands outside of time, we can be thankful for the passing moments from where we sit, and wait. More people are coming to put their trust in Him!
Verse 15 leads into 16, where Peter makes the interesting connection between Paul’s teachings and the rest of Scripture – giving weight to Paul’s letters and thereby declaring that they too are indeed God-breathed. Peter’s verse 15 agrees with Paul who wrote in Romans 2:4: “Do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Peter’s agreement with Paul is significant in that it sets the apostles’ teaching apart from that of false teachers, who denied the Second Coming of Christ.
As for Peter’s comment that some of Paul’s writings are “hard to understand”, I don’t think he is being critical. Rather, the opposite. He wants us to see the truth in Paul’s hard teachings. Just as Jesus spoke in parables – so that we might seek the meaning and exercise faith to understand the truth – so Paul’s teachings call on us to think!
John Piper offers this comment in a sermon on the passage:
” . . . even though Scripture is inspired, it is not all easy to understand. Verse 16: “There are some things in them hard to understand.” I would love to preach an hour on the implications of that sentence; but since I don’t have time, here is an outline of that sermon. Point 1: Being inspired, the Scriptures reveal the mind of God. Point 2: The mind of God is vastly greater than our mind and will often be perceived by us as strange and complex, not familiar and simple. Point 3: Therefore, the Scriptures will sometimes be strange and complex and hard to understand. Point 4: The continued selection only of what is simple in the Bible would be a sin in the regular preaching of the church, because Hebrews 5:13 says, “Everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness; for he is a child.” Point 5: Therefore, preaching which aims to deliver the whole counsel of God in Scripture (and which does not presume to be wiser than the apostles) will sometimes be complex and will demand from God’s people the utmost in humility and mental effort.”
Praise be to our great God – who has revealed himself to us and patiently waits for more to be gathered into the kingdom of His Son.
Here is a song to finish with, reminding us of God’s Mercies which are new every morning. (Recorded by Matt Redman – Thy Kingdom Come Event | London, UK)
“Like a warrior in battle he will lead his people home . . . “
Here is a new song from Navigate Worship – a song written and performed by a collaboration of musicians at my church! Lyrics below the Spotify link. Had a great time adding some harmonies along the way. Enjoy! (Ps. Lyric video coming soon – will post once available).
The One and Only God
Lord we lift our hearts to you
Lord we recommit our hearts and minds anew
Lord teach us of your ways and let us look upon your face
And fill us with your words
The God who sits above it all
The God whose kingdom shall remain and never fall
The God whose name is worthier than any other name
The God we call our own
Servant King, light of all the earth
Shout his praises and endless worth
Like a warrior in battle he will lead his people home
The one and only God
Oh our one and only God
Lord you lead us through the flames
And you promise we will not be set ablaze
Through waters and through rivers we will not be swept away
For by our side you’ll stay
The God whose word defines all things
The God whose mightier than any earthly king
Who stretches out the heavens giving breath to everything
We kneel before you Lord
Almighty, who is there like him
Holy, no other rock, the one and only God
Oh our one and only God
Lift our voices, praise his precious name
Holy, and all fall short of the one and only God
Oh our one and only God
Performed by Navigate Worship, Written by Ashleigh Willett, Ross Tenni; Source: 2241884 Records DK
As an quick addendum of my last post, “Free Speech versus the Thought Police,” I wanted to make you aware of the 2020 Netflix original documentary, “The Social Dilemma.” Here’s the video trailer description: “We tweet, we like, and we share— but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media? As digital […]
If you haven’t discovered Matt Redman’s album, Let There Be Wonder (released early 2020), please seek it out. It has been a wonderful refuge for the soul in the midst of these turbulent days. Here is a beautiful acoustic version of “Upon Him”.
Here is a powerful song from Matt Redman’s new live album released at the start of 2020, “Let There Be Wonder”. Lyrics are in the YouTube link. Enjoy! I think this is the standout song from the album. Let me know if there are others you have on repeat!
1“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?3When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)
This song from Mercy Me is a great encouragement in the midst of the weariness and challenges which 2020 has brought us. The film clip is also quite a unique and creative one! I trust you find these words from the bridge an especially beautiful glimpse of the joy of heaven to come.
“I know that the cross has brought heaven to us But make no mistake there’s still more to come When our flesh and our bone are no longer between Where we are right now and where we’re meant to be When all that’s been lost has been made whole again When these tears and this pain no longer exist. . .”
Are you disappointed Are you desperate for help You know what it’s like to be tired And only a shell of yourself
Well you start to believe You don’t have what it takes ‘Cause it’s all you can do Just to move much less finish the race But don’t forget what lies ahead
Almost home Brother it won’t be long Soon all your burdens will be gone With all your strength Sister run wild, run free Hold up your head Keep pressing on We are almost home
Well this road will be hard But we win in the end Simply because of Jesus in us It’s not if but when So take joy in the journey Even when it feels long Oh find strength in each step Knowing heaven is cheering you on
We are almost home Brother it won’t be long Soon all your burdens will be gone With all your strength Sister run wild, run free Hold up your head Keep pressing on We are almost home Almost home Almost home
I know that the cross has brought heaven to us But make no mistake there’s still more to come When our flesh and our bone are no longer between Where we are right now and where we’re meant to be When all that’s been lost has been made whole again When these tears and this pain no longer exist No more walking we’re running as fast as we can Consider this our second wind
Almost home Brother it won’t be long Soon all your burdens will be gone With all your strength Sister run wild, run free Hold up your head Keep pressing on We are almost home Almost home Almost home We are almost home Almost home Almost home We are almost home