Sunday, November 22, 2009

From the Pastor's Desk: part 7: 2 Peter 3:9

In the next portion of Pastor Butler's sermon, he attempts to show "balance" in his own theology by listing apparent contradictions in the Bible, showing that the Christian must embrace things that appear contradictory when they are not. Although none of the things in his list shows anything that a Calvinist would necessarily disagree, he still comes to a conclusion that is as dogmatic as any of those whom he criticizes. He makes reference to four verses which are in his mind irrefutable. The first one, 2 Peter 3:9, is the topic of this post. He states,
So instead of closing one eye or the other, and swinging to Calvinism or Arminianism, let's see God with both eyes.

Let me leave you with a few verses that are absolute!
They are irrefutable.

To come against them would be a clear contradiction of Scripture:

II 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."

The Sovereignty of God speaks directly to His Will

If His will is not that any should perish????
Proof texting is not something I have a problem with as long as the text under dispute is not the verse being used to proof text. Proof texting only works when everyone agrees with the proper understanding of the text. Yet here is a great example of proof texting without the necessary exegesis to support your view.

Pastor Butler says this verse is irrefutable. Has he ever interacted with a Calvinist on this verse? Does he provide in his sermon an exegesis of this verse in its context? This is the danger of his position. (see the third post in this series)

What is being assumed in 2 Peter 3 is what needs to be proved. This is another example of importing a tradition into a text without even realizing that one has traditions. The verse is being read in this fashion.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering [waiting and hoping and knocking on the door of your heart, begging you to let Him in since your will is the ultimate factor in salvation being able to work] toward [every single person ever equally], not willing [with His eternal secret purposes] that any [person that has ever existed] should perish but that all [of every person ever] should come to repentance [hoping that He does not fail].
Now does 2 Peter 3:9 really mean God hopes but fails to save billions of men and women? The simple answer is no, but demonstrating that is vitally important. In order to do so, we must read the whole text. If you start with the first verse and follow the pronouns and the contrast throughout the text, the assumed free will tradition falls away.

The context of chapter 3 is that Peter desires to stir up in believers by way of reminder a call to holiness of life due to a delay in Christ's Second Coming. Therefore, since there is a delay, we must be exhorted to the Christian life and duty. Since we know of the coming Final Day of Judgment,
"what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness"
In the first verse Peter speaks to the "beloved". This beloved is then replaced with the terms "you", "us" and "we".

Then notice the contrast of the beloved with the "Mockers". Mockers is substituted with "they", "ungodly", "untaught and unstable" and "unprincipled men".

Peter's thought is quite clear. During the delay of Christ's coming, God is forming a people and saving them. He is not wanting any of them to perish but for all to come to repentance. Therefore, Peter uses one of the godly means of grace to encourage the people of God to remain faithful during times of distress and suffering.

Peter reminds the people of God with the hope that is within us of the new heaven and the new earth. He speaks of the Second Coming and the Final Judgment.

So if Pastor Butler is looking for balance, then in one sense, it could be argued that all men are to repent and believe in Christ while in another sense all that God intends to save perfectly will not perish but come to repentance.

Let us, who trust in Christ, surely be glad God was patient with us, not destroying us in our sin but instead was longsuffering with us in our ignorance. Therefore, 2 Peter 3:9 is not about God waiting upon free will creatures to make up their minds about Christ. Instead it is about God being patient with us while using the means of grace which He has ordained to bring His lost sheep to Himself. It is also about keeping the flock tended to while this work must continue until the Last Day.

Therefore, let us be about the work Christ has called us to. Let us be prepared to endure difficult times while waiting for our Lord's return. Let us be exhorting one another to remain faithful in holiness of conduct. Let us be about calling the lost to Christ, that all for whom Christ died will come and repent of their sin and trust Christ.

1 comment:

RichardS said...

It is interesting how reading a verse in its context can change the whole meaning from what it appears to be saying when read on its own. The so-called obvious meaning is no longer quite so obvious. In fact, it becomes obviously wrong. Your treatment of this section, while having a specific objective, is also a great warning/reminder to us all to look at verses in their context and seek the mind of God for what they really mean.