Thoughts for Preachers on 2 Peter, #4
A final thought on 2 Peter. This time it’s a difficulty of application.
Peter spends a long time in ch.2 spelling out three things about the false teachers themselves: their destructive denial of the return of Christ, the depraved conduct they engage in, and the ways they try to entice believers into the same. My initial problem in applying that is: I struggle to think of many people who fit exactly that description and who are causing problems for the people I preach to. There are plenty who hold official teaching positions in churches who deny the return of Christ: just round the corner from most Bible-based churches there will be a church where that denial can be heard from time to time. The problem is that most of those preachers are thoroughly decent people who give themselves in love and service to their communities. So in preaching 2 Peter, just who am I to relate this to in our world?
Here’s my not very profound thought. In our particular world right now there may not be many obvious individuals who have in themselves all the features set out in ch.2. But there is no doubt what happens morally in churches and denominations which consistently deny the return of Christ as judge. (And of course you effectively deny something if you refuse ever to speak about it, or if you reinterpret it into something else, as liberalism regularly does with biblical truths about Christ.) What happens is: those churches and denominations end up before long going along with the world in its approval of gross immorality. That is rather obviously happening in major denominations right now. What Peter says in ch.2 of individuals may in our world be more observably true of churches and denominations. But the principle is the same, and the same sharp application is valid and timely.