|Vol. 13 No. 7 July 2011||
2 Peter 3:11-12
Mark N. Posey
“There’s a great day coming” are the words of a familiar and favorite song. Christ’s return is a reality. It is neither some riddle to be solved nor a code to be broken, but a day to be anticipated. When that day will occur, however, remains a mystery to all except God (Matthew 24:36). Therefore, it should not be when that day will come that concerns us the most, but how we live until that day arrives. That was Peter’s concern. He said, “How should we live from here to eternity?” (2 Peter 3:11). Consider the following:
Till Jesus comes, live like Christ.Christ is our example(1 Peter 2:21). We should consider His “steps” (1 Peter 2:21), mind (Philippians 2:5) and His deeds (Acts 10:38). Jesus’ life and teaching were in perfect harmony. He cared enough to die. He loved unconditionally. He did the Father’s will. We will walk in the “paths of righteousness” by living like Christ.
Till Jesus comes, strive to save your family. Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), and yet, he saved only his wife, three sons and three daughters-in-law (1 Peter 3:20). Joshua was a busy leader, but he said, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). The world needs more fathers like Noah and Joshua (cf. Ephesians 6:4).
Till Jesus comes, be supremely committed to the church of Christ. Brethren, never be ashamed of the “church of Christ!” It is the church of the New Testament. Christ died for it (Acts 20:28), and He reigns over it (1 Corinthians 15:25). When He returns, it will be delivered unto God (1 Corinthians 15:24).
Till Jesus comes, strive for unity, peace and harmony within the church. In Ephesians 4:1-6, we find the dispositions and doctrines for Christian unity. The pulse of the church must beat in unison. With the Bible as our guide in faith and practice, we should never allow false doctrine, opinion or supposition to lead the church into error, liberalism or legalism. Let us stand foursquare on the Bible, not swaying to the left or right (Acts 5:29)!
Till Jesus comes, live so that your name is always in the Book of Life. Right now in heaven there is a Book of Life. Moses was aware of this book (Exodus 32:32), so was Paul (Philippians 4:3). Jesus told the disciples, “rejoice because your name is written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). In the Book of Life are names of the redeemed. Is your name in that book right now? Your name is placed there when you become a Christian. Your name remains there by living a faithful life. When the Book of Life is opened (Revelation 20:11-15), will your name be there? Life’s most important thing is having your name in heaven!
One of the interesting discussions presented in the religious world today is about the concept of “law.” On one hand, men claim there is no compelling, overriding law that pertains to our moral, ethical and religious activities. On the other hand, we find those who want to open the Bible and contend that every word from Genesis to Revelation is bound on us today. Scripture teaches that both positions are without merit.
Let’s look at Paul’s teaching about the first principle above and see if there is compelling evidence about religious activities. Paul said, “Sin shall have no dominion over you for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). To understand the true meaning of this statement, one must determine which law Paul is talking about and how it applies to us today. At first review, it would seem that we are somehow “without law” – that is, that there are no laws that apply to us, and we can do whatever we want whenever we want. However, further study shows that position is not correct as we read 1 John 3:4: “Whoever commits sin commits lawlessness and sin is lawlessness.” Paul says we are not under the law and John tells us that sin is lawlessness. Lawlessness means there has to be a law to violate.
How can these two verses be harmonized? The answer is easy if we do not confuse the issue. Paul tells the Roman Christians (and us) that the Law of Moses and the Law of the Patriarchs has been fulfilled. They are no longer needed. Later, he tells them that “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus for those who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). We are not under the bondage of the Old Law, but we are under obligation to Christ and the Gospel; “We conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28).
We are instructed in 1 Corinthians 10:18, “Observe Israel after the flesh; are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” Paul is speaking of the Old Law and warning Christians to avoid those who would teach a return to that law instead of obeying the law of grace that is provided by Christ. We live in obedience to the spiritual law of Christ and not the physical law of Moses, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
Living by the Law of Moses does not bring one to Christ! Contrarily, it contaminates our Christian service and, for many, provides an excuse for being disobedient. We must rightly divide the word of truth and that division occurs at the cross of Christ. Before Christ, men were bound by the old laws, and their obedience to those laws were “counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). Now, by the grace of God, men may obey the Son of God and the message of the Gospel and be found righteous as His commandments are kept; “He who does righteousness is righteous even as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7).
Simply stated, “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. But, after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster for you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:24-26).
Under the Old Law, when a person transgressed God’s commandments, he had to make a blood sacrifice because “the life of the flesh is in the blood and it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). Even though the blood sacrifices were made, there was no forgiveness; their sins were rolled forward every year because “it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Through the law of Christ’s grace, “By one offering He has perfected forever those that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). By being obedient to the law of Christ, one can receive forgiveness of sins and have the promise that “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).