Sunday, 23 February 2020
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. 2 Peter 3:9
In the previous verse, Peter, refuting the scoffers, noted that to the Lord, a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day. That was provided to show that “The Lord is not slack.” The word here is bradunó. It signifies, “to loiter” or “to be unduly slow.” There is the sense of being late in regard to an appointment.
Peter is saying that this is not the case with the Lord. Rather, He has His appointed time for all things, and He will meet those appointments perfectly. This includes the timing “concerning His promise.” That is speaking of the return of Christ which Peter said the scoffers bring up as a way of mocking His truthfulness. In verse 3:4, he cited them as saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?”
But Peter shows that the promise has been made, and that even if it seems like an inordinate amount of time has gone by, and that the Lord is tardy to His appointment, this is not the case, especially “as some count slackness.”
In the previous verse, it was noted that we as humans look at time, and the events in time, from our own personal perspective. This is why there have been prognosticators in every generation who have claimed that the Lord was coming during their own lifetime. When it doesn’t come about, there is the accusation that the Lord is unnecessarily tarrying, or that He is actually slack. These scoffers then use that as a pretext to deny the truth of Scripture.
But what they believe is a delay which allows them to sin, and to live in lives of sin, is actually a delay which has come about for their own possible good. It is the Lord’s way of showing mercy, even on them. As Peter says, the Lord “is longsuffering toward us.” This is one of the main attributes of the Lord. In Exodus, Moses asked to see the Lord’s glory. When the Lord passed before Him, He made a proclamation concerning Himself to explain His very nature. When He did, He said –
“The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6
The Lord is merciful even to those who scoff at Him. He is gracious in giving them time to consider their errant ways, and He is longsuffering in His attitude toward them, not immediately giving them exactly what they deserve. He is also “abounding in goodness and truth.” He has made sure and reliable promises to His people, and He will fulfill them exactingly. Peter then precisely explains this by saying that the Lord is “not willing that any should perish.”
Man is made in His image. The value of man is not in who he is, however, when in Adam. In Adam, man is fallen and is already condemned. However, the Lord Jesus came to remedy that. He entered into the stream of human existence to specifically correct that defect in man – giving him a value which he was originally intended to possess. After His coming, He gave instruction to those who have come to Him to continue teaching about Him – even to the ends of the earth.
If Christ came back immediately, or after a short time, the world would not be fully evangelized. But when we set our priorities correctly, we will desire to have others come to Him, and we will set our budgets, our actions, and our lives to work in accord with that. All of this is because the Lord truly desires “that all should come to repentance.”
These words are specifically spoken concerning even the scoffers. To repent simply means “to change one’s mind.” One cannot repent about Jesus if he has never heard of Jesus. However, scoffers have obviously heard of the Lord. They have heard of His promised return, and they have scoffed at it. This indicates that they are not saved, and they therefore need to repent, or change their minds, about who Jesus is and about the state of their relationship with Him.
The words of this verse, as much as any others in Scripture, show definitively and without any ambiguity, that the doctrine of free will is correct. It utterly refutes the Calvinistic concept of the Lord first regenerating a person to believe, who then believes and is born again, and who then chooses Christ and is saved. If this was so, then what Peter says here would also indicate that God has failed.
If he desires that none should perish – but that people do perish – then God is the one who failed to regenerate the people that He desired to not perish. Rather, man has been given free will, and man must come to his own conclusions about the Lord, calling out to Him for salvation.
Life application: Peter reveals here what he has been leading up to for the past eight verses. Those who laugh at or argue against the Lord’s return, because of the many intervening years, have failed to understand the reason for the delay. It is for our personal benefit that the Lord is waiting, and for the sake of all who will be a part of His heavenly temple. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:19-22 –
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
The Lord is building a holy temple and is using the saved of the ages as living stones to form it. What we may perceive as “slackness” is the Lord’s longsuffering. As wickedness abounds in the world, He is holding out His hands to those who would call on His name. He is doing it as a master Architect. No builder would start a project without considering the materials needed to complete it. God knows the exact number of souls that it will take to build His temple, and when the last person who is needed to finish the next phase of that project calls on Jesus, then the next event in His time schedule will come to pass.
The Lord is not willing that any should perish in the process, but that all will call on Him. Those who actually do will receive their reward; those who fail to do so will be condemned. The process is completely just and is perfect in its scope and execution. What a great God!
O God! How precious it is to be one of the elect – a living stone in Your glorious temple. Thank you for having been patient and longsuffering, and that those who have called on Jesus have been given the chance to do so. Now, please give us patience as we watch You work in other lives, bringing them to the same state of salvation which we now stand in. To Your praise alone! Amen.