2 Peter 3:17-18
Sometime ago I read a story that I have adapted, and would like to share with you.
The story is about a stranger who came to visit us.
We were all fascinated with this enchanting stranger, and invited him to live with our family.
He quickly accepted.
We never questioned his place in our family.
The stranger was our storyteller.
He could weave the most fascinating tales.
Adventures, mysteries and comedies entertained us daily.
He could hold us spell-bound for hours each evening.
If we wanted to know about politics, history, or science, he would inform us.
Profanity was not allowed in our house-- not from us, from our friends, or adults.
- He could tell us about the past, and inform us about the present.
- He could portray stories that could make us laugh or cry.
- He was like a friend to us.
- He took us to major league baseball and football games.
- He could take us around the world and back.
- He would thrill us with his stories of faraway places.
Our welcomed stranger, however, occasionally used four letter words that burned our ears
and made our parents squirm.
The stranger was never confronted about his bad language.
My parents didn't drink liquor, and would never permit alcoholic beverages in our home.
But the stranger exposed us to it often.
He often offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages.
He made cigarettes look appealing, made cigars look manly, and made pipes look distinguished.
He talked freely about sex.
His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally, embarrassing.
Much about our lives were influenced by the stranger.
Time after time he opposed the values of my parents.
Yet, he was seldom rebuked, and was never asked to leave.
More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family.
If you were to go into my parents' house today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner,
waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.
He was our TV!
TV and other forms of media have had a powerful influence upon our country in the last 50 years.
TV and other forms of media have had a powerful influence upon Christianity in the last 30 years.
2 Peter 3:17-18
Peter writes this letter as an appeal to the church.
It is a reminder of things they should already know.
Churches were being threatened by false teachers. . .
One group denied Jesus was God.
Then another declared him God, but not fully man.
The apostles denounced legalism, and were met by those who preached that anything goes.
Members of one church quit work and huddled together to await Jesus' return.
Those of another gave up on his returning at all.
2 Peter was written as a reminder of basic things a Christian should believe and do,
with the hope that it might expose the false teachers.
False teachers are still among us.
George Barna has predicted that America is headed for anarchy or revival in 5 to 10 years,
He also stated that the church hasn't prevented a massive moral and ethical decline in America.
He cited statistics, such as:
a majority of people who marry this year will have cohabited with someone before getting married;
one-third of Americans believe it is acceptable for two people to have an affair with each other;
and half of the people marrying this year believe they will divorce.
Also, 71 percent of American adults believe there is no such thing as absolute truth
-- a view shared by 64 percent of born-again Christians and 40 percent of evangelical Christians surveyed.
Despite the growth of some churches, there has been no overall increase in people becoming Christians.
Barna said, 70 to 80 percent of church growth is "transfer" growth,
or movement of Christians from one church to another.
Although 82 percent of Americans call themselves Christians,
only 37 percent attended services in a given week.
Church attendance has fallen to its lowest level in a decade.
A survey showed that 31 percent of baby boomers-- ages 31-50--had attended church in the past 7 days.
The figure was 50 percent in 1981.
It is sad.
Why is it that 64% of born-again Christians believe there is no such thing as absolute truth?
It is because they have been indoctrinated by our culture.
Politicians, talk show hosts, books, TV shows, magazines, the Internet -- all endorse tolerance
in our multi-cultural society.
Tolerance is wearing a new face.
The new definition means that every view is equally true.
You hear that in songs and on TV.
That should disturb us as Christians.
You, too, may have become indoctrinated by our culture.
Many Christians are suffering from spiritual schizophrenia.
Here is an example of this serious spiritual illness:
People practice one set of beliefs on Sunday and a different one the rest of the week.
They talk about commitment, but compromise is their practice .
Their deeds belie their words.
What a difference it would make if we lived our faith.
Do you really believe these things?
- If we really believed God loves us, we would never feel worthless.
We would never think that our lives are meaningless.
- If we really believed the Bible is the most important document in the world,
we would never allow a day to pass without reading it.
- If we really believed that our sins break God's heart,
we would never set out to sin.
We would never feel good about our sins, and we would never defend ourselves for doing wrong.
- If we really believed Jesus' death on the cross was for our salvation,
we would never trust our own goodness or refuse the salvation God is offering us in Jesus.
- If we really believed our sins are pardoned,
we would stop chiding ourselves and acting like guilty sinners.
- If we really believed our lives are empowered by the Holy Spirit,
we would never excuse ourselves for giving in to weaknesses of flesh or spirit.
- If we really believed there is a Judgment to come,
we would not break our promises to God.
- If we really believed that we are bound for heaven,
we would not allow ourselves to get so attached to earthly things.
- If we really believe that we are citizens of the kingdom of God,
nothing would matter to us as much as seeking God and His will for our lives.
Be careful not to deceive yourself.
Do you think you can get anything you want in this world by knowing all the right words, but never doing anything?
Do you think that merely talking about faith indicates that a person really has it?
Do you suffer from this spiritual disease?
Do you have spiritual schizophrenia?
If you do -- do you want to be cured?
Do you want to protect yourself from getting this disease?
Do you want to innoculate yourself
so that you will not be poisoned by our deceptive culture?
You can be!
Take Peter's advice in 2 Peter 3:17-18.
His advice is intended to help the church and protect them from false teachers.
This is an effective solution: "Grow in the grace of Jesus Christ." (v. 18a)
This is how to combat spiritual schizophrenia!
Grow in grace!
Spend time thinking about God's amazing grace.
The Creator became a creature and died in your place and took the punishment for your sins.
That is amazing!
Grow in grace!
This will change the way you live.
You will want to give something in return to God who has given you so very much.
Grow in grace.
You must grow in your knowledge of Jesus Christ. (Verse 18b)
Peter makes a simple statement that emphasizes what every Christian should be doing.
Grow in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Learn more about Him.
God came not only to die for your sins, but to show us how to live.
Grow in your knowledge of the life Jesus lived.
Learn all you can about Jesus.
Learn what Jesus did and why He did it.
Then ask God to enable you to live like Jesus.
Wipe the dust off your Bible, and read it.
Don't just skim a few verses and feel good about yourself.
Read it, think about it, and continually ask why and what it means.
Ask what does this verse mean?
Then, apply it to your life, and live the way God intended you to live.
This will enable you to rid yourself of spiritual schizophrenia.
"Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
There is a software that you can purchase called Global Positioning System (GPS).
It receives signals from a network of satellites to calculate your exact location.
Hertz calls its version of the program, "NeverLost."
The system can pinpoint a driver's exact location and guide him to hotels, businesses, restaurants, or residences.
You don't even have to watch the screen -- a voice tells you the direction.
This is a beneficial use of technology that could even save lives.
This could pinpoint people who get lost in the mountains or at sea.
This can enable people to stay on course.
We have a means for staying on course in our spiritual lives that is our GPS.
It called our conscience.
It will let us know when we stray off course.
Our prayers to God are signals that we transmit as a plea for His guidance.
Scripture is the strong signal from heaven that can direct us back to God.
And the Holy Spirit supplies the power to keep us from straying off course.
Hertz advertises its in-car navigation system with this line:
"The easiest way to ask for directions."
Maybe we should print labels with that same message and put them on the covers of our Bibles!
Bibles are worth very little just laying tables or shelves.
The best way to keep the cover of your Bible supple is with daily applications
of the skin oils produced by your own hands.
As you read what God has to say, its message will reach your heart and keep us oriented
to God's will for us in the midst of our poisonous culture.
With so many confusing options before us, it is so easy to get lost.
We have access to a spiritual guidance system that will keep us safe.
We must keep our receiver in good working order.
"Grow in grace and grow in knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ."
"When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ,
And He shows me His plan for me.
The plan of my life as it might have been
Had He had His way, and I see
How I blocked Him here and I checked Him there
And I would not yield my will,
Shall I see grief in my Savior's eyes;
Grief though He loves me still?
Oh, He'd have me rich, and I stand there poor,
Stripped of all but His grace,
While my memory runs like a hunted thing
Down the paths I can't retrace.
Then my desolate heart will well-nigh break
With tears that I cannot shed.
I'll cover my face with my empty hands
And bow my uncrowned head.
Lord, of the years that are left to me
I yield them to Thy hand.
Take me, make me, mold me
To the pattern Thou hast planned."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White