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Romans 2.8-9

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8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

There are people in this world who do not receive Jesus Christ and His righteousness. They give a whole host of reasons: religious reasons, intellectual reaons, reasons regarding the defects in Christians, reasons to do with their sophistication or reasons to do with their anger.

You have heard some of these reasons and so have I:

“There are too many hypocrites in the church”
“Where did Cain’s wife come from?”
“If there is a God why is there pain and suffering in the world?”
“If there is a God why is there pain and suffering in my life?”
“Religion is for wimps”
“Evolution has proved there is no God”
“I am a Muslim / Hindu/ Jehovah’s Witness, etc…”

But this verse is clear: the reason why people do not obey the truth of the gospel is that they are contentious. The word here translated contentious is eritheia,which means partisanship or putting yourself first. This word is normally translated strife in the New Testament and is found in the list of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5.20); James tells us that where eritheia is there is every evil work (James 3.16); and Php. 2.3 says to do nothing out of an attitude to eritheia. It is clear that eritheia is bad news!

The Bauer/Danker Greek-English Lexicon has an interesting comment about this word. It says that the word is only used in ancient Greek outside of the Bible by Aristotle. According to the BDAG Aristotle uses the word to “denote a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means”. The picture is one of a politician doing everything he can to gain power and influence, not caring about other people, not listening to other people – on the outside he may look sophisticated, intelligent and sympathetic, but it is all an act! Inside all they are doing is selfish – no wonder they cause strife and grief wherever they go.

The fact is it is this self-promoting attitude why people do not become Christians. It is not the intellectual excuses, it is not the fault of Christians – it is their own self-promoting attitude why they are not obeying the truth. It is their attitude that they know more than God Himself that is the cause for them rejecting Him. No one on judgment day will stand before God and say “it was those hypocritcal Christians”. They will fall on their face, aware of their selfish, strifeful, self-promoting lifestyle that rejected the gospel because they could not bear the implications that they needed the grace and mercy of Jesus.

The more you hold on to this self-promoting attitude, the more three things develop in your life: unrighteousness, indignation and wrath. Unirghteousness in this context means injustice – you treat some people different from others. This could manefest as racism or sexism, or it could be someone that judges and shuns someone for a sin that they commit themselves.

Indignation means a bubbling passionate anger. One of the hallmarks of someone who has rejected Christ is that they end up out of control of their temper.

Wrath is where your anger leads you to hurt people, either with your words or with your actions.

Now, what happens when you step into this self-serving, unfair, angry attitude and reject the goodness of God? The NIV translation of v.9 is stark: There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil.

Now, that is actually not – in context – talking about in this life. If you go and read vv. 5-6 you will see that this verse is referring to judgment day. If you reject the goodness and mercy of God, if you do not believe in Jesus Christ, then when you die you will suffer trouble and distress. Every human who is not born again when they die will suffer trouble and distress.

The word trouble is the word normally used for tribulations and means pressure. The word for distress literally means a narrow place. The Greek says that this pressure and this narrow place are going to be brought into our soul: our mind, will and emotions.

There is a hell and hell is real. If you reject Jesus you will be eternally in a place where your mind is under pressure and afflicted. You will be in a narrow place – in other words you will never be able to turn around and change direction. Hell will be a place where your emotions, your thoughts, every part of your personality will be in pain. You will regret your self-promoting attitude, you will endure the pain of knowing that at any time you could have turned to Christ.

Hell is a real place. Do not end up in hell – turn to Christ and ask for His mercy. Believe in what He did on the cross to take your sin and death so that you can have righteousness and life.

The other thing I want you to know is that there are parts of hell that are worse than others. Just like in heaven some people have better rewards, in hell some people have worse punishment. v. 6 says that God will give to each people according to what they have done. If you have been more proud, more self-seeking and destroyed more people in life then you will have a greater punishment in hell. You will experience more anguish, more distress, more pain from the fire.

However, the good news is that Jesus descended into hell and suffered the agony of hell (Acts 2.42) so that you do not have to. You can call on the name of the Lord and be saved, no matter how many sins you have committed, no matter how bad you are. You could be a thief and a robber nailed to a cross and simply call His name and when you die you will be with the Lord in heaven. Praise Him for His grace forever!

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.

Run Through Romans (5.2-5)

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2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

You see, when we know that we are righteous and that we have peace with God we have full access to the grace of God.  That means we can stand no matter what is going on around us.  Does it really matter who or what declares war on you when God is at peace with you?  You can rejoice no matter what happens because you know that God is at peace with you.

You might have done something selfish and stupid today, but God is at peace with you.  So rejoice!

3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

Not only can we stand no matter what happens, we can rejoice in tribulations.  What does this mean?  It means that when you know God is at peace with you, you can declare war on any situation or circumstance.

I remember a long time ago, when I was a little child about seven or eight, I was in the supermarket and I was causing trouble.  I had escaped my mother’s careful eye and I was peeling the oranges around the fruit section and having a right giggle.

This lady, I don’t remember if she worked in the shop or not, decided to tell me off.  In fact, she decided to try and put me over her knee and smack my backside.

I was very cheeky to her but I was actually very nervous, especially when she got a hold of me.  She was twisting my wrist and was about to smack me one when my mother came around the counter.  She yelled at this lady “don’t you mess with my son”, and the lady dropped me immediately.  Suddenly I felt safe again, and started making rude gestures at the lady who simply backed off.

Now my behaviour was wrong, and my mother dealt with it, but the point is this: I wasn’t that ladies’ son and she could not declare war on me because I was at peace with my mother.

You are at peace with God – so glory in tribulation.  People calling you names for being a Christian.  Get excited – what are they really going to do to you in eternity?  Nothing, because you are going to stand before God on judgment day and you have peace with God.  Gives you a chance to preach the gospel to them.

Sickness comes on your body and attacks it.  Glory because God is the Healer and you are at peace with Him.  Bills stacking up, glory because God supplies all your needs and you are at peace with Him.

What your tribulation – your troubles – do is work patience.  Patience in the New Testament simply means consistency.  Anyone can praise God for healing when they are well.  But patient people praise God for healing them no matter what their body feels like, and people like that don’t stay sick for long.  Patient people thank God for His provision before they see it, and see it they will.  There is such a joy in being consistent before the Lord.

4And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

This patience – the power of being consistent in praising God – always leads to experience.  You will experience your healing if you consistently praise God for your healing.  You will experience your freedom and deliverance if you consistently praise God for deliverance.

These verses are not about being patient in suffering, patient in barely scraping by.  That is a lie.  These verses are about being patient (consistent) in praising and glorifying God and thanking God and then experiencing what you are thanking God for.

These experiences then bring hope.  Hope is your imagination.  When you see one healing, you start to dream of other people being healed.  When you receive enough provision to meet your needs, you start hoping for the money to start meeting other’s needs.

Hope means you are a positive person.   When you know you are at peace with God you are positive.  Any trouble in your life just makes you consistently praise and thank God for helping you because you know you are at peace with Him and He is your ally and He will help you.  Your praise brings experience as you see your deliverance happen and then you are a hopeful person.

5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

When you have hope you are never ashamed.  No matter what you go through, you know that you are going through and not camping there.  And that means you are not ashamed.  It is no shame because your righteousness is based on the Lord and not your actions or your experiences.

And the other reason we are not ashamed: God has put His love in our heart.  Notice that this is present tense again: God’s love IS shed abroad in our heart.  Do you know that the full love of God is in your heart right now if you are born again?

There used to be a song sung in some churches: “More love, more power, more of you in my life.”  It has a nice tune, I grant that, but it is completely incorrect Biblically speaking.  If you are born again, the love of God is shed abroad in your heart.  If you are born again, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is inside you.  If you are born again, the Lord lives inside you.

How can you ever have more love, more power and more of God in your life?  It is nonsense.   It would be like if you gave me the keys to your car and I kept wandering around you begging you for the very keys you had already given me.  How would you answer a request like that?  You would be very confused.

I don’t think God is confused, but asking for things you already have is ridiculous.  You have the love of God inside you.

If someone near you is making you want to act unloving, don’t beg God to give you more love for that person.  It is a nonsense prayer – and if you have ever prayed like that (I have!) you will know it simply does not work!

What do you do then? Follow the Scripture: glory in your tribulation.  Notice the Bible says glory IN your tribulation, not glory FOR your tribulation.  Don’t thank God that there is someone you find difficult to love in your life, thank God that the love of God IS in your heart.  Your glory will bring patience: you will be someone who is consistency praising God.

Then your patient and consistent praising of God and thanking Him for the love that He has already put in your heart will become your experience.  You will start to feel the love that you know is inside you.  That will bring about hope.  That is how you deal with trouble in your life.


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