Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Day of Grace, a Day of Forgiveness

Second Wednesday in Advent
2 Peter 3: 8-14
Bror Erickson

[8] 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.
[11] Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, [12] 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! [13] But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
[14] Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 2 Peter 3:8-14 (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. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…

What a wonderful text. Many grow weary waiting for the Lord. They grow weary waiting for that great and glorious day when we will be taken in to the new heavens and the new earth where righteousness dwells. Part of me looks forward to that day too. That day when the troubles of this world will be put aside, and we live in bliss for eternity, doing what God has put before us to do, but no longer earning our bread by the sweat of our brow.
But then part of me is glad that the Lord is patient, that a day to him is as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. We see the eternity of God here, His other worldliness. We see that time is not the same from His perspective. He is not bound to it the way we are. But we also see His grace, His love. He wants all to come to repentance. So we Christians also want that all would come to repentance. So God waits. He puts off that day that will come like a thief, unexpected in the night. He puts that day off. Some grow weary. They wish it were now. But we rejoice that he has given us another day to tell our friends and family. We rejoice that he has given the world another day, for another soul to hear the word of God. God doesn’t grow weary. He waits patiently. And we wait patiently with Him.
Every day is a day we have on loan, as it were, from God. One more day of grace He has given us in this world that another soul might be saved, because He desires that all should reach repentance. But the day will come like a thief. But the day of the Lord, the day when he judges the living and the dead, will come like a thief in the night, unexpectedly when no one is looking. We don’t know when it will come. We may not have tomorrow.
It belongs to our human psyche to always think we have tomorrow. We think we have tomorrow, we put off to tomorrow. We find ourselves living for tomorrow. Saving for tomorrow’s retirement. Waiting to get married for tomorrow when we are older and more mature. Only to find ourselves older, more set in our ways and probably less mature. Some try to put off faith for tomorrow. Constantine the great emperor the first Christian emperor did that. It was good to be king, but not if you were a Christian first. Being king afforded to many pleasures of the flesh to pass them up by being Christian. I don’t know that I would have put money on that bet. You think you have tomorrow. You don’t. You have today. Tomorrow might happen, and you can place a side bet on it if you want, save a little for retirement, decide not to tell your boss off, withhold the fire from the bridges. But we never know we have tomorrow. We have today. It might be a good time to say a prayer, tell a friend about Christ, tell your wife you love them, show your husband you love them, kiss your children on the forehead before they go to school. As the old obnoxious ditty says: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
We have today. As the Lord says:
[34] "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 (ESV)
But I suppose most of all the purpose for the day is repentance. We can repent today. We might not have that gift tomorrow. Today God has shown patience with us. We have today, but more than today, for today we also have the Gospel. We can hear it. We can proclaim it. We can share it. Today is another day of grace, a day of sin covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, a day of forgiveness. Today we have forgiveness, and that makes today worth living. So we live today. Today we live knowing our sins are forgiven in Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross. Today is a joyous day even amidst the sorrows and pains of this world. For no matter what might happen today, a loved one gets sick, a loved one dies, accidents, divorce, the abused and abusers, today we have the gospel in our midst, the forgiveness of sins, so that tomorrow we might dwell in righteousness. Oh yes there will be righteousness tomorrow in the new heavens and the new earth, for those who repent today, because today there is forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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