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Last Days Mockers (Thomas Ice)

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Know this first of all, that inthe last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their ownlusts, and saying, “Where is thepromise of His coming? For eversince the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginningof creation.” For when theymaintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavensexisted long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, throughwhich the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth byHis word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment anddestruction of ungodly men. -2 Peter 3:3-7

Peterwarns us in his second and final epistle that mockers would arise in the lastdays denying our Lord’s second advent. What is the Apostle Peter saying in this passage? Are we currently living in the “last days”of which he spoke? Who are themockers to which Peter is referring?

The LastDays

TheBible has almost three-dozen references to the last days, end of days, etc.[1] A majority of those passages refer tothe seven-year tribulation period, but Peter has in mind the last days of thechurch age, which is supported by the context. Peter wants the church to know “first of all” that therewill be a “time of trouble which will precede the close of the present age (2Tim. 3:1-5; 1 John 2:18-19).”[2] We are living in this time today.

Peter’swarning for our day is that “mockers will come with their mocking.” This phrase is also repeated in Jude 18without reporting to his readers an account of their mocking as we have here in2 Peter. Jude just says there willbe mockers in the last day. Lenskitells us, “Yes, the first thing they should know or realize is that ‘mockersshall come at the days’ end,” meaning that the second thing to realize is theParousia itself which shall come after these mockers have appeared.”[3] In the same vein Mayor notes, “Theexistence of these scoffers is a proof of that which they deny. It is one of the appointed signs of theapproach of the last day.”[4]

Sohere we are in the twenty-first century, it has been about 2,000 years sinceChrist left earth for heaven and we see last days mockers all around us. Certainly unbelievers and liberals denya future second coming and apply a uniformitarian rationale to this issue asdescribed in verse 4. However,there are others, even within Christendom, who deny that there will be a futuresecond coming of Christ. Chiefamong them are full preterists.[5] Also, partial preterists,[6]while still clinging to a future second coming, by and large scoff at those whobelieve the traditional understanding that Matthew 24 (see also Mark 13; Luke21), Revelation 1:7 and 19 teach a second return of Christ that is still futureto our time.

PreteristMocking of Future Return

GaryDeMar has become a partial preterist who seems to go out of his way to mockChristians who believe that Christ could come at any moment. Even though he admits that Christ willreturn in the distant future[7]the clear emphasis in his ministry is upon why Jesus cannot return in our dayand mocking those who believe He can. “We are not end-time scoffers,”[8]insists DeMar. Oh really?

Inhis book Last Days Madness, DeMar tells the story from Aesop’s fable of the shepherd boy whocried wolf and declares, “In the same way the people of God-the sheep-areharmed by continual shouts of ‘the end is near!'”[9] He continues, “By crying wolf and beingwrong each time, the church is perceived as unreliable.”[10] The fact of the matter is that Christ’sreturn is a one-time event. Justbecause some have been wrong in the past does not prove that He will not returnin the future. That is the pointPeter makes in 2 Peter 3 when he notes that such an assumption is undermined bywhat the mockers willingly ignore (3:5). They ignore God’s past intervention in history when He created the worldand judged it globally at the Flood (3:5-6). Just as in Aesop’s fable, the wolf did come, so also, Jesuswill return one day in the future. Just because Jesus has not returned in the past does not mean he willnot in the future.

TheDissolution of The Heavens and Earth

DeMardoes not think that last days mockers will ever come in the future since he believesthat the 2 Peter 3 passage was fulfilled by a.d.70. “But the day of the Lord willcome like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and theelements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works willbe burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). Hesays, “the coming judgments were near for those who first read Peter’sletter. The scoffers were aliveand well in the first century. People have a right to mock and scoff when they read that Jesus was tocome within a generation and nearly 2000 year have passed.”[11] Are there no last days scoffers in ourday? How could there be last daysscoffers in our day if 2 Peter 3 was fulfilled 2,000 years ago? However, has 2 Peter 3 already beenfulfilled?

Afirst century fulfillment is so bizarre that even fellow partial preterists donot agree with DeMar on this point. Ken Gentry has given five reasons why 2 Peter 3 will be future and wasnot fulfilled in the first century. “First, the thrust of the book seems to promote a spiritual perseverance in anticipation of the historicallong run-a long run that ends up in the eternal new creation,”[12]notes Gentry. “Second, the mockersscoff at the promised second advent of Christ due to the long wait associatedwith it (2 Pet. 3:2-4, 9). Despitethe trials to come soon (2:9), Peter even suggests it may be thousands of yearsbefore Christ’s return, in that the delay is based on God’s time rather thanman’s . . . (3:8).”[13] When one realizes that 2 Peter waswritten within four to five years from the time that DeMar says it wasfulfilled, there would hardly be reasonable time for any fulfillment.

“Third,the longsuffering of the Lord is due to a process that is necessarily age-long. . . (2 Pet. 3:9) . . . (2 Pet. 3:15a). The process of calling the ‘all’ to ‘repentance’ unto salvation is onethat spans the entire inter-advental era and is still continuing today.”[14] So if DeMar’s view were true, thenthere was only a four to five year window of opportunity for salvation. Gentry further notes, “The way that we’hasten the coming of the day of God’ (3:12) is by evangelistic endeavor.”[15] DeMar’s first century fulfillment viewmakes no sense and is not workable at all in light of this passage. “Fourth, the reference to theunraveling and conflagration of the heavens and the earth is expressly tied tothe material creation. Hence, itseems clearly to refer to the consummation and not to a.d. 70.”[16] “Fifth, the strong detailed language ofthe destruction of the heavens and the earth seems to go beyond apocalypticimagery, referring to the actual consummation . . . (2 Pet. 3:10) . . .(3:12).”[17] This final point is such anunderstatement.

Conclusion

Clearlythere are last days mockers within the unbelieving world who deny the futurepossibility of Christ’s return due to an anti-supernatural bias. Those are obvious. It is also obvious that full preteristswithin Christendom do not ever believe that Jesus will return in the futurebecause they say He returned in a.d.70. The more subtle approachconcerning this matter is practiced by some like Gary DeMar who not onlyridicules those of us who believe that Christ could come at any moment but alsothink that the last day mockers have already come and gone. Such a view blinds one to the warningthat Peter issues in this passage since they do not believe it to be a possiblethreat to the church today. Iguess we will have to wait a little longer for Christ’s return to actually takeplace so that the mockers will become aware to the truth of Peter’s words. Maranatha!

ENDNOTES


[1] For a discussion of the different nuances ofthese phrases see Thomas Ice, “Are We Living in The Last Days?”www.pre-trib.org/article-view.php?id=36.

[2] D. Edmond Hiebert, Second Peter and Judge: AnExpositional Commentary(Greenville, SC: BJU Press, 1989), p. 142.

[3] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of TheEpistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), p. 338.

[4] Joseph B. Mayor, The Epistle of St. Jude andThe Second Epistle of St. Peter(Minneapolis: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers [1907] 1978), p. 147.

[5] Preterism is from a Latin word meaning “past,” or”gone by.” A full preterist is onewho believes that Christ has already returned in a.d. 70 and He will not return in the future.

[6] Partial preterists believe that most of thepassages that the church has historically thought to refer to a future secondadvent were fulfilled in a.d. 70,but that a few passages still teach a future second advent.

[7] The only three passages I have ever seen DeMargive in reference to a return of Christ are Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

[8] Gary DeMar, Meet theReal Last Days Scoffers
: A Response to Ed Hindson’s “The New Last DaysScoffers”-Part 2,www.americanvision.org/articlearchive/05-27-05.asp.

[9] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession ofthe Modern Church, (PowerSprings, GA: American Vision,1999), p. 29.

[10] DeMar, Last Days Madness, pp. 29-30.

[11] DeMar, Meet the Real Last DaysScoffers.

[12] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall HaveDominion: A PostmillennialEschatology (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics,1992), p. 302.

[13] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p. 303.

[14] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p. 303.

[15] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p. 304.

[16] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p. 304.

[17] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, pp. 304-05.

About treeoflifelondon

Tree of Life Church is a dynamic new church recently planted in London. We have branches in Dagenham, Guildford and Watford. Pastor Ben is a Christian who preaches the Word with integrity and anointing. He loves seeing Christians released into ministering into signs and wonders, perfect peace and being able to walk in their destiny.

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