Thursday, August 7, 2014
“Motivation for Spiritual Growth”
You’re listening to The New You, the daily broadcast for people who have been made new by the blood of Christ. I’m Robert Hatfield, and here is today’s Scripture:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? (2 Pet. 3:10-12).
What is your motivation to live for Jesus today? I realize that the answer to that question is somewhat personal and subjective to some degree, though we as Christians share many of the same motivators. You may choose to live for Jesus today because of a passage that you recently read that resonated with you and gave you that extra boost for the week. You may choose that righteous life today because you want to be reunited with a loved one in heaven. These are all great reasons.
In 2 Peter three, the Holy Spirit offers a great motivation in living for Jesus. Here’s the motivation: “the day of the Lord will come” (2 Pet. 3:10). That phrase, “the day of the Lord,” is used multiple times in Scripture. In the Old Testament, it signified a coming judgment. In the New Testament, it refers to the Lord’s coming which will precede the final judgment.
How does the coming of the Lord serve as a motivator? Let’s notice two major points from today’s text, then, in the wrap up, we’ll make a couple of applications.
First, notice the destruction. Peter says that the day of the Lord will come, it is certain. It will come suddenly and unexpectedly, “as a thief in the night.” When the Lord comes, then the destruction will take place. I’m referring to the universal, material destruction of this physical life. Notice Peter’s clear terminology: “the heavens will pass away with a great noise” (2 Pet. 3:10). The “heavens” refers to where the birds fly, the sky. He continues: “the elements will melt with fervent heat.” The word “elements” refers to the minute parts of the universe, the small things that comprise the whole. Every last thing is going to be melted. The meaning in the Greek is that the universe will literally unbind, or loosen. This will happen by fire, according to Peter. He says that “the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” Did you notice that last detail that Peter included? Not only will the material universe be destroyed, but the works in it will be destroyed, too. All of man’s material accomplishments and all of God’s material creation will be destroyed. This is a complete destruction, and it will occur on the day of the Lord, the day that the trumpet sounds and Jesus appears in the clouds.
Second, notice the disposition. In 2 Peter 3:11, Peter says, “Therefore [linking the previous thoughts regarding the destruction of the universe, RH], since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…?” In other words, how should you be living since you know that everything here is going to be destroyed. At best, our universe is only temporary. Peter sums up all of the duties and responsibilities of Christians in those last four words of verse eleven: “holy conduct and godliness.” That’s what living the Christian life is all about. Peter says that this ought to be our disposition in light of the fact that the material universe will not last. Focus on what will last – your soul! Be constantly engaged in all holy living and godliness. Prove – through your righteous thoughts, deeds, and words – that your citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).
Peter goes further in verse twelve. He says that Christians ought to be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” Those words “looking for” translate a Greek word which literally means to watch for, to anticipate, to expect. We’re excited for the day when Jesus will come to take us home! Further, Peter says we ought to be “hastening the coming of the day of God.” This is an interesting word choice, isn’t it? It literally means to urge on, to be eager for.
Stop for a minute and contemplate this thought. Why hasn’t the Lord returned yet? See, those to whom Peter wrote were asking that very question. The false teachers were using the fact that Jesus had not returned as a means to shake the faith of the Christians. But Peter tells us why the Lord has not yet returned in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Could it be that our evangelistic activity could literally hasten the coming of the day of God? If more people knew the message of the gospel, then wouldn’t it follow that there would be more Christians? It’s a thought worthy of your careful consideration.
Let’s wrap it up: What is your motivation to live for Jesus today? After studying 2 Peter 3, I think you and I both can say that the second coming of Christ is a definite motivation to life right! Why? First, because this earth, with all of its material pleasures and achievements, is going to be destroyed. And second, because we cannot wait for the day when Jesus comes again to raise the dead and to judge the nations so that we can go home to be with Him forever. That’s some serious motivation to grow in knowledge and ability for the Lord!
Memory Verse: Let’s look once again at this week’s memory verse.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen (2 Pet. 3:18).
Sometime today: Turn in your Old Testament to Hosea 4:6 and answer this question from that verse: why were the people destroyed? More on that tomorrow.
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This is The New You, I’m Robert Hatfield, and I hope you have a great day!