Prepared Through Repentance / 2 Peter 3:8–14 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday December 10th 2023 / Advent / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday December 10th 2023: Advent / 2 Peter 3:8–14 “Prepared Through Repentance”
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of The Day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Are you a patient person? Perhaps you’ve heard the statement that “patience isn’t something you have until you don’t need it anymore,” which is to say you gain patience through experience, through the trials and troubles and hardships of life ... however it needs to be added that the person who has no desire to learn patience from experience is in danger of becoming bitter and short tempered. Remember what Saint Paul writes to the Christians of Ephesus, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Dear ones forgiveness and repentance are friends that walk hand and hand; these words of Saint Paul are as much for you as they were for the Ephesians. Keep these things in mind as we contemplate our Epistle reading from Saint Peter: Where you and I are not perfect when it comes to patience we know one who is truly long suffering, one whose heart towards us endures all our bitter ill-tempered tendencies. Now on the one hand what Saint Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,” is true; while on the other hand, it is equally true and worth remembering, what Peter provides with these words of warning, words we also need to keep in mind as we live out our lives day to day, “But The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” In His perfect timing the Lord doesn’t rush into action, He is patient, yet He will act when the time is right to do so.
Last week I mentioned before the Divine Service that the Season of Advent isn’t just for material preparations in advance of Christmas, that it is primarily intended to be a time of preparation of the heart. This is part of John the Baptizer’s message in our Gospel reading and when we think of Peter’s words about Jesus’ Second Coming arriving unexpectedly “like a thief” we need to be careful not to put off repentance and forgiveness, we need to be careful not to nurture grudges and bitterness, we need to be careful not to beg off learning the virtue of patience for today because today may be all you have. This is a good thing to meditate on both in the Season of Advent and during the rest of the year because it’s easy to have our priorities disordered in life; some put the physical before the spiritual or others put the mental and psychological before the physical and the spiritual. Wisdom is to know what to priorities when and why. Often you’ll hear me quote the words of Jesus from the Book of Revelation were at His return at the End of Time the Lord says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And why would Jesus say this? Well because Saint John in the Book of Revelation tells us “the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more,” that “the former things have passed away.” Here in our Epistle Reading for today Saint Peter describes for us how this happens saying, “all these things are thus to be dissolved ... the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” Everything will need to be made new because it will all be gone, it will all go up in smoke: piano strings, and vocal cords, vestment and crucifixes, the pews you’re sitting on, the roof over your head, every bit of gravel and tar, railings and landscaping, all of it, gone: your home, your garden, your favourite burner on the stove, every tool in your shed or garage, your bank account, every penny of it, gone; and while that may be frightening to you here’s some Good News it will not just be those things that go up in smoke it will also be your vanity, your pride, your stubbornness, your lusts and covetous desires, your anger, every sin that clings to your heart and works to worm it’s way into your soul ... all of it gone. It was, in fact, all put to death already at the cross of Christ and in The End it will likewise all dissolve in fire forever and be gone, the Lord promises to forget your sin when it is forgives them but sin, death, the devil, the world and even you continue to keep score. On The Last Day those score cards will go up in smoke along with everything else. And should they be made new those score cards will be empty. So we are encouraged by Saint Peter to live our lives now with all of this in mind. And what did we hear from Isaiah? Isaiah ask in our Old Testament reading, as one sent to “cry out,” “What shall I cry?” The answer from the Lord sounds a lot like what Peter is saying,
“All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Listen again, from the Word of our God, to what Saint Peter says, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of The Day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” There’s the question, “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of The Day of God?”
Let’s put a finer point on that. What does Jesus teach about what sort of people we ought to be in lives of holiness, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
‘Perfect ... hummmnnn ... well how do I do that?’ Keep the Ten Commandments without fault: never break them, not once. Keep the letter of the law and the spirit of the law in all you say and do. In all you think under no circumstances deviate from the will of your heavenly Father. You must really be one with Him if you want to be perfect as He is perfect. That is what sort of people you ought to be in lives of holiness and godliness as you wait for The Day of God. Is this you? Oh, now you see the value of the Lord being patient toward you, the value of Him not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Every day, every hour, every minute that God the Father doesn’t crack down on you with fierce justice and a blazing fire of righteous is a testament to both His patience and His desire to provide room for your embracing of the gift of repentance. Before you say, ‘sure but, I’m not as bad as that one over there,’ remember what Scripture teaches “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” what Saint Paul writes there, in his letter to the Christians of Rome, thankfully continues, when Paul says that you “are justified by [the Lord’s] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” Jesus had the fire of the wrath of God poured out upon Him at the cross of His crucifixion on Good Friday, and this is the same Jesus who said that He and the Father are one. That He is perfect as His heavenly Father is perfect. When Jesus was asked by those opposed to Him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. ... He who sent Me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from Him.” They did not understand that [Jesus] had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” It was pleasing to God the Father that this, His only begotten Son who was without sin and was perfect in every thought word and deed would selflessly take your sins, your faults, your failures at keeping the law upon Himself at the cross so that in the fire of the crucifixion your sin would parish and you in faith would live.
Dear ones, with confidence Saint Paul writes the Galatian Christians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me,” this is what God’s Word teaches and this is “the Word of our God [that will] stand forever.” Today and tomorrow and all your days you can say this along with Saint Paul with confidence. This is also the answer to the question Saint Peter asks in our Epistle Reading “since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of The Day of God?”
So we wrap back around to our first question, “Are you a patient person?” Are you patient with your family? Are you patient with your fellow Christians? Are you patient with God? Is that one out of three, maybe two out of three, or is that three out of three: How’s you batting average on this one? Daily you are being prepared through repentance; do not push away from that. Repentance—that constant turning away from sin back to your heavenly Father—walks hand and hand with forgiveness. Remember what we pray in the prayer our Lord gives us, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Today we are called to live our lives as ones who trust what Isaiah prophesied, that it has come to pass at the cross of Good Friday in the person of Jesus, that it’s true for today, and will finally come to pass upon His return on The Last Day:
“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,
and His Arm rules for Him; [That’s the Lord Jesus]
behold, His reward is with Him, [That’s the redeemed in Christ]
and His recompense before Him.[That’s His final judgment]
He will tend His flock like a shepherd; [That’s His church]
He will gather the lambs in His arms; [That’s you]
He will carry them in His bosom, [That’s your promised rest]
and [He’ll] gently lead those that are with young. [That’s including the most vulnerable and needy among His people all in His care]
Make it your prayer and desire to have your heart prepared through repentance each day by the patient nurturing, admonishment and correction of the Lord. Live lives of repentance devoted to striving towards the same perfection that Christ has, to the same relationship He has with the Father.
As Saint Paul teaches “[bear] with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” As you await the return of Jesus live your life in this way. In all these things remember that while our Lord Jesus promises that He will make all things new on The Last Day today and through our whole life your heavenly Father likewise knows what you need and it is He, according to holy His will, who has given you your body and soul, eyes, ears, and all your members, your reason and all your senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives you clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land, animals, and all you have. It is He who richly and daily provides you with all that you need to support this body and life ... all this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us. For all this it is our duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is wonderful news. Lastly as you strive to be more patient, as you work to keep life in perspective, remember these things and give thanks for God’s steadfast patience towards you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Ephesians 4:31–32
 Mark 1:4-5
 Revelation 21:5
 Revelation 21:1
 Revelation 21:4
 Isaiah 40:6-8
 Matthew 5:43–48
 Romans 3:23
 Romans 3:24–25a
 John 5:18; John 10:30; John 17:20-22; John 14:10-11
 John 8:25–29
 Isaiah 40:10–11
 Colossians 3:13
 Explanation of the 1st Article of the Creed, Luther Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2017, pg 17
Photo Credit: Main detail of photo of man with paper on fire from pexels; detail woman with heart from pexels; composite of details from Moses with 10 Commandments from pexels and man struggling with life from pexels; detail of crown of throns and nails from freepik; detail of Jesus comforting a child from freepik; Jesus about to return on The Last Day from freepik.