"Stir Up Your Pure Minds" (II Peter 3)

"Stir Up Your Pure Minds"
(II Peter 3), Part I

Elijah's mission was a call to repentance for the people of God. Repentance is conversion, it is turning around, it is renewing our minds. Our subject words in this article are closely related to the ideas associated with the "Spirit of Elijah".

Peter exhorted us: "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance" (II Peter 3:1).

Let us consider that these words were written to us. (The latter day believers in the final generation?) If this is the case, it is certainly encouraging to be called "beloved" and to be said to have "pure minds" – minds that just need a little stirring up!

The word "stir" is interesting in this verse. It means literally to "arouse" or "awake". Is there an implication that we may be snoozing? It is interesting that in the other chapter written to this generation (I Thessalonians 5), the same message is presented:

  1. I Thessalonians 5:4-9
  2. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
  3. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
  4. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
  5. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
  6. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
  7. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Words of exhortation given in the same positive spirit – and yet still enough implication to suggest that some may be sleeing. When we think about this suggestion we may want to look again at other prophecies with latter day clues. For example, Matthew 25 (the parable of the ten virgins).

  1. Matthew 25:5-7
  2. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
  3. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
  4. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

They were all aroused by the midnight cry. There are only 2 probable choices as we attempt to understand this: either all of the virgins would be "sleeping in Christ" (waiting for the resurrection), or even though they are considered to be "wise" they are still in a state of spiritual slumber when at last he comes.

The 2nd choice is most likely. We are specifically told that there will be those who are "alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:15). We also know that he will come "in clouds" to a few of his disciples (even as ye have seen him go). We certainly would not deliberately describe ourselves as slumbering virgins, but then how would the Lord describe us? Remember that in another latter day prophesy, we are told:

  1. Luke 18:7-8
  2. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
  3. I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

We are also told that there would be "perilous times", that it would be like the "days of Noah" (Matthew 24:37-38, Luke 17:26) and the "days of Lot" (Luke 17:28). There is an abundance of evidence describing our generation – not only concerning conditions in the world, but also evidence that relates to the conditions that would exist among the servants of God. Few of the words of prophesy concerning latter day believers are very flattering.

When we look again at Peter's 2nd epistle we see that he also addresses the conditions that would be present in the last days. In fact he makes a very clear statement in this regard:

  1. II Peter 3:1-4
  2. This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
  3. That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
  4. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
  5. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Peter's concern for us drives his exhortation to "stir up". To arouse and awake us by way of remembrance. He stirs our minds first with his warning about the condition that would exists in the last days. It is interesting that Jude carries the same warning:

  1. Jude 1:16-19
  2. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
  3. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
  4. How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
  5. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

Murmurers – complainers – who separate? Look again at the testimony in God's word: "That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: KNOWING THIS FIRST, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts" (II Peter 3:2-3).

This is his first point, to warn us of the conditions in the last days – to remind us that we have been forewarned by both the apostles and the prophets (knowing that being forewarned, we will be forearmed). Part of his warning actually started earlier in the 1st part of his epistle (Chapter 1):

  1. II Peter 1:16-21
  2. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
  3. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
  4. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
  5. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (arouse – awake?)
  6. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
  7. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

'Yes brethren, be mindful of the words of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: we were eyewitnesses. These are not cunningly devised fables. Why should there be scoffers? We are talking about things that have been revealed by holy men who were inspired by God.'

What more could Peter offer for credibility? It may have been enough to turn thousands to the Lord in one day in the first century. But today? We are slumbering. We are no longer fully aware of the words spoken before. Nor of the miracles that demonstrated those words to be true.

The latter day scoffers would be motivated by their own lusts. Their lust would provide the incentive to ignore any evidence that might convince them that the Lord was still coming. They would prefer to believe that there was plenty of time to pursue their own desires.

Who Were These Scoffers?

You have all had this lesson. These scoffers were not (as we might conveniently prefer to believe) the unbelievers in the world. Consider the evidence that Peter supplies (vv. 3-7):

  1. "Where is the promise of his coming" – How many are familiar with the concept of the 2nd coming?
  2. "since the fathers" – How many know who the fathers are?
  3. "Fell asleep" – How many in this world think of death as sleep?
  4. "the beginning of the creation" – How many still believe in it)
  5. "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:" – They knew about the flood but chose to willingly ignore the lessons.

The scoffers (no doubt) are slumbering foolish virgins.

Peter proceeds with his attempt to stir up our pure minds:

  1. II Peter 3:7
  2. But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Just as surely as there was a flood, there will be a judgment by fire. If you want to stir up your minds concerning judgment:

But above all, remember that the Lord will judge his people, and has.

The Lord shall judge his people, and these historical judgments were written for our learning, for our admonition – and now we need to be aroused and stirred by all of the power of his Word. To remember not only that there will be judgment (by fire), but also that he intends to fulfill his promises, to reward his servants.

Peter continues his stirring with some words of encouragement:

  1. II Peter 3:8-9
  2. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
  3. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (All of us slumbering virgins, that is)

Peter has introduced the time element into his stirring of our minds. God is not slack, and there is a time. God's timetable is different than ours. We have our three score and ten in which to impatiently expect the fulfillment of all things. But God has a much larger time frame: 1 day = 1,000 years.

(Article Continued)

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