From Before the Beginning
Back to Basics
The New Testament Witness of the Apostle Peter
The Gospel of Mark & Peter's letters to the Church
A story is told of a legal expert who decided to seek a patent on the handy wheelbarrow. Since there were supposedly no patents on file for such an ancient tool, he reasoned that he could make a fortune from selling permission to produce his "invention"! Now I do not know how accurate this story might be, but I can just imagine the reaction of anyone who would be asked to pay for building copies of just such an ancient "invention"! Yet, in a similar vein seed companies and animal geneticists are working diligently to tie up every valuable cultivar of plant and breed of domestic animal under creative patent. Most farmer's can't imagine holding the patent to a specific breed of cattle or hog? Yet, at the university research level there is under development a hog designed to provide vital parts for transplant into humans, it will be a very profitable hog indeed! Someday soon, a piggish person may be rightfully accused - "You have the heart of a hog!"
Once this is accomplished, only the "owners" will be able to raise and prosper from their inventive creation. One lady in the southwest has even begun to market pastel cotton of various colors for weaving. She refuses to even sell any of her seeds, because she intends to harvest all of the profit from her "invention". Now you may think that these people are a bit cheeky for taking for their exclusive use common tools, seeds and animals. But, their reaction is exactly what we should expect in our fallen world where people would ignore the higher creative power of God by inventing evolutionary myths.
When we read the truth of Genesis 1:1 that "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth", the worldly would answer back with myths of their own imaginations. And like the secular humanists of our time, the various myth makers of history would monopolize the mind of mankind with their lies! And the lies of all false philosophies are merely different ways of expressing the same unbelief. Every false philosophy proposes that there is no personal, transcendent God. Each and every philosophical myth begins with the existing order as it is experienced and understood. The Hebrew revelation is only one of a few cosmologies that teach God is above and separate from the created order which came into existence at His Word.
the study of philosophy of the universe as an ordered whole.
Oxford American Dictionary. (New York: AvonBooks: 1980)
On the cutting edges of Cosmology true scientists are beginning to appreciate that behind the myths of evolution there are natural laws or forces that originate in scientific mystery. By this I mean to say that our unique universe appears to be beyond the realm of statistical probability! Thus what we see and experience should not have happened. If science would say anything about "before the beginning", it would have to say that we know nothing. One agnostic Astronomer by the name of Robert Jastrow, in wrestling with the study of origins, has written that just as modern research is about to grasp the truth, scientists must acknowledge that theologians have known the answer all along. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth". But let is go on one more step further, not only was God in the beginning, we know on the basis of Scripture that God had a plan which predated creation.
Once during the Reformation period, a parishioner approached Martin Luther with a question. "What was God doing before He created heaven and earth?" Luther retorted that God was imagining a future Hell for the curious! Well, that is not our answer today. On the basis of Scripture we may know that God had a plan in mind. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:4-5 and related passages that: He chose us in Christ "before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will". It is this plan of salvation that we would focus on today. Now, pause and think about the implications of what we are saying. Or as the psalmists would say "Selah". Consider this well in light of our calling. Does the whole created order exist for the benefit of calling to Himself those human creatures who are loved by the God of Creation? Before creation, God had you and me and all the other sons and daughters of God in mind. And for us, not only was there a beginning, but there will be an end as well, so that we might go home to be with Him for eternity.
But, not only do the myth makers of our time scoff at beginnings but also at an end. Well did Peter write in our passage for today: In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of His coming?"
Look at the end of verse four. There is the modern creed of uniformitarians who believe that every natural condition today is the same it has always been since the beginning. Peter also observes that by deliberate decision, the humanists, the materialists, the atheists and pagans of all stripes ignore the fact of creation. In debate with these people, we do our Creator grave injustice whenever we argue only to prove the fact of Creation. I remember well a radio show I heard one evening on the way home from Bible Study. A local theologian by the name of Brother Bob was taking on a noted scientific atheist from Columbus. Brother Bob made the mistake of trying to argue for Creation from scripture which the atheist would only make fun of. This should not be our immediate goal. Our immediate goal in modern times is to put the evolutionists on the defense. We should carefully undermine the public confidence in their fanciful myths. We should use all scientific methods and evidence at our command to challenge the myth of evolution.
One week as I was lecturing on the nature of myth to help my students understand the that form of literature, I waded into a description of our Modern Mythos and its essential myth of evolution. I was amazed when, in two separate classes, at least three or four students hooted loudly at the suggestion of such nonsense. It took a few minutes to calm them down with my assurance that I did indeed agree with their assessment! What a blessing to realize that there are thinking students who are fed up with being filled with myths. Even as the secular humanists tighten their control over what young minds may be exposed to, the possessors of those minds are becoming more and more vocal in their appeal to common sense. But common sense is not enough. People need to hear about the purpose that God has in creation, to make for Himself a people whom He would love and hold for all eternity.
With that said, we can move on to our second point this morning and answer the question why the second coming of Jesus Christ is so long delayed. It is because, in holding off the ending of the created order, the Lord is making certain that all of those whom He will call to Himself have enough time to become convinced that He is the way, the truth and the life! Peter tells us, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." What Peter means here is that God is delaying Christ's Second Coming until the last of His people are saved. Or as Calvin describes it "God puts off His advent so as to call the whole human race to repentance.
If we would doubt His coming again, Peter appeals to the fact of Creation and the fact of destruction in the Great Flood. No one who is not the Lord's will appreciate these or any other Spiritual truths! But God's people will hear and respond.
In the last few verses of our text today, Peter applies the necessary lesson when he asks us the difficult question: "what manner of persons ought you to be?" This is an essential third lesson. Just as the ancient Jewish Rabbis argued, our Christian lives and witness may do more to inhibit than to hasten the coming of our God and King. Do you want Jesus to return? Look at verse twelve. See the implication there that in some way we may hasten His coming! But you might argue, if He comes quickly some of my loved ones may be lost! Yes, they may very well be lost, but if we would live more and more for Christ and mirror His presence, could not that witness be used by the Holy Spirit to accomplish salvation?
At school, when my voice was once affected by a cold, I asked a class three times to get quiet. Finally, I found the strength to bark loud enough to be heard down the hall. That intensive effort got their attention! In the same way a more intensive Christian lifestyle and words of witness may carry more weight as we hope and pray for the coming Day of our Lord. What we need to recapture is the spirit of the early church who believed that Christ would return at any hour. May we all then obey the summons in this chapter to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. And remember Christ's delay in coming is to allow a few more hours, days, months or years for the salvation of His own people. Be assured, that His will and purpose will be accomplished. May we be found at work towards that same purpose when He comes again. Amen.
Boice, James M. Genesis: An Expositional Commentary. Volume 1 Green, Michael. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries:
2 Peter & Jude.
Johnston, W.B. Calvin's New Testament Commentaries
Hebrews & 1st and 2nd Peter.
Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary:
Ham, Ken. "The Big Bang is Coming", Back to Genesis. Morris, Henry M. The Genesis Record. Wiester, John L. The Genesis Connection.
The New Geneva Study Bible (NKJV)
"Bringing the Light of the Reformation to Scripture"
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995)
2Pt03a 05 October 91 & 28 November 99