Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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Our FATHER We thank you that those of us who have believed have a new name written down in heaven that will be revealed to us and that will be characteristic of that which has been characteristic of us. Lord, we pray that even as Peter desired that there should be diligence in our lives and in our purpose, so we do ask that there shall be diligence in the study and in the understanding of Thy Word. Prepare us Lord to be disciplined in listening and in heeding all that you have for us from Thy Word in this hour, whether we be here in the actual audience or in the radio audience, may there be a responsiveness prompted by the Spirit of God to Thy Word this hour. We pray in Jesus Name. Amen.
Now since today, we cannot deal with the entire epistle of II Peter, were taking sort of the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending that is the first chapter and the third chapter; and in this third chapter, possibly, well have time to deal only with two paragraphs of it. The chapter itself is divided into three paragraphs: the first, in verses 1-7 which deals with Reminders; and then verses 8-13 A Word of Reassurance; and then in verses 14-18 A Word of Reevaluation. But the theme that I have taken from the chapter is Our Disposition in Light of the Worlds Dissolution by that, the world itself will be dissolved, and the text for our theme is found in verse 11, Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness. Sometimes we complain that the American economy is planned with designed obsolescence, in other words, its built-in that the thing will wear out and youll have to get rid of it. An automobile will last only so long, and a washing machine, and all this. Sometimes this disturbs us and maybe rightly so. We wish that some of these things could and would last longer than they do. However, in a very real sense the world has planned obsolescence built into it. And, one day, this world that we now know shall be dissolved. In light of that, what should our disposition be?
Now Peter begins this chapter with some Reminders. First, the reminders of a saint, verse 1, This second epistle, beloved,... [By the way, each of these three paragraphs begins with this address of beloved, and certainly Peter did love the saints and wanted to communicate Gods best to them.] He said, This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. One thing that you find in teaching, it is essential to repeat and to review lest people forget. In fact, its important even in knowing the Word of God, to review it.
I know that our son learned the twenty-third Psalm when he was three years old, and then he learned it again when he was four, and learned it again when he was five. The problem was that he didnt review it in between; so each time he had to learn it over again. I think that this is something of a problem with many of Gods people. They dont keep up with their study of the Word of God, and thus they need to be reminded in regard to the Truth of God.
So, we have the reminders of a saint, of Peter himself, and then a reminder of the scriptures, in verse 2, 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. To what is Peter referring? I believe that here he is referring to both the Old and the New Testaments; for in the Old Testament, you have the words of the prophets, and in the New you have the words of the apostles. Now I realize that they were not all apostles who wrote the New Testament, but all who wrote the New Testament were in contact with the apostles. Consequently, the New Testament is referred to as the words of the apostles.
Now in the light of the dissolution of all things, there is only one thing that God has promised will not pass away. The Lord Jesus Himself said in Matthew 24 and verse 35 in speaking about heaven and earth He says, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Dr. Barnhouse used to say that we should never say, Heaven and earth may pass away. He said that the Bible says, Heaven and earth shall pass away. And this is true, but what shall remain? The words which the Lord Jesus Himself has given to us, even indeed the Word of God.
In I Peter 1:24 and 25 we have this statement, For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you. What then will endure for ever even when heaven and earth shall pass away? The Written, Eternal Word of God! We therefore ought to give earnest heed to the Scriptures, to the Written Word, for these shall last for ever!
Thirdly, he reminds us of the skeptics. In every age there have been those who do not believe and who will question Gods Word and Gods Truth; and he says of them, Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers [or mockers or skeptics], walking after their own lusts [Now the words scoffers and lusts are the same in the original; and consequently, it might be better to translate it mockers, walking after their own mockings] a little bit like a donkey following a carrot on a stick they get led away with their own deceiving and become so fascinated with their deception that they cant see the Truth. Now concerning these skeptics, in verse 4, something is said concerning their criticism, for they say, Where is the promise of His coming? [I like Williams translation of this which reads, Where is His promised coming?] In other words, this coming of Jesus Christ again to the earth which Christians have talked about Where is it? After all, all things continue as they were, and he goes on to say, First there is unbelief, and this unbelief is based upon a so-called law of science. Any of you who have studied science know that there is a law called the law of uniformitarianism. It means that things that are now continuing in process now have continued in that way in the past and will continue to operate that way in the future. But Id like to ask, Who says so?.....Who says so?....Why? Do you know why I believe that things continue in a uniform manner? because God allows them to; and God has ordained that they shall. Now Peter reminds his readers concerning this. He says, For this they willingly are ignorant of [in other words, they want to be ignorant of this], that [Notice] by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water [In other words, God created the earth; and secondly the catastrophe that came upon the earth was also by the Word of God]: [Verse 6] Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. It perished in the flood.
Three weeks ago, The Saturday Evening Post featured an article by Stuart Alsop in their section, The Affairs of State in which Mr. Alsop dealt with the phrase from Genesis chapter 8, following the Flood....in which God says, Neither will I again smite any more every living thing. In fact, this was the caption, the headline of the article; and in developing this article, Mr. Alsop pointed out that the power for destruction is now in the hands of men. He said that whereas at the end of World War II in 1945, when the two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, some one hundred and fifty thousand people were killed by those two bombs. He said, Now, if there were simply one atomic unleashing, it is expected that simply in the initial onslot the number of people killed would not be one hundred and fifty thousand, but one hundred and fifty million people......in the first unleashing of atomic power.
Now in light of that, he concluded his article with this statement. He quoted the scripture reference here in Genesis 8:21, Neither will I again smite any more [and he had in italics the word] every living thing. And he expressed the hope that somehow something would live to survive the atomic onslot that is lying in the hands of men at this very hour. Now the thing that Mr. Alsop missed, he was not a good exegete of scripture; for the stress of this passage is not upon every thing, but upon the next phrase in Genesis 8:21 which says, Neither again will I smite any more every living thing...as..I..have..done. For, Peter points out that the world is going to be dissolved, not as God had done the first time by water, but as He will do in the final dissolving....by fire.
Now a number of years ago, before the invention of the atomic bomb or the discovery of atomic power, many of us wondered how this could be. How can you have the things of which Peter speaks here in II Peter 3 when he speaks of the world being dissolved and of the heavens and the earth reserved unto fire and the elements melting with fervent heat? And some of us were naive enough to say, Well, we believe it anyway. Now, we say that we know its possible, because man himself has in his own hands the power to melt the elements by atomic power. We see then, how possible this very thing of which Peter speaks is in the day in which we live. Thus, according to Peters writing here, ....the world that then was, [was] overflowed [by] water. The world that now is, the world in which we now live, is being reserved as he says here, ....reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
I was referring to this text a few weeks ago, and I said to the congregation, Supposed you go home tonight and look at everything that you have. Look at your home. Look at your automobile. Look at your clothing, your furniture, your rugs, what-have-you; and write across all of them in your minds eye These things shall be dissolved! I tell you it will give you a little bit of a different perspective on life! Because, the essential religion of America is materialism. The desire to havethings but, to recognize from scripture that all these things shall be dissolved certainly changes your perspective on these things! You might also look at yourself, and realize that you too will be dissolved!.......But, I have hope for you from scripture, that even though this body be dissolved [Paul speaks of it in II Corinthians 5, We have a house eternal in the heavens not made with hands.]. You see, the believer and only the believer has that which can give him hope and security even though all things perish; and all things be dissolved.
So the criticism, that the Lord is not coming, they are ignorant of the fact that the world of creation was overthrown by the flood, by a catastrophe; and that the world in which we now live is waiting for another catastrophe the overthrow by fire.
Now I believe that in the plan of God, and we dont have time to unfold all of this, that there will be a first purging of the earth by fire, prior to the Millennium; and then at the end of the Millennium in the conclusion of the day of the Lord, there will be a dissolving of heaven and earth; and then there will be new heavens and a new earth. Now in regard to this then and all that is involved, [and by the way, the reason that the atom does not come apart now, and even the scientists cant tell you exactly why, but the Christian can] from Colossians chapter 1:16 and 17, For by Him [This is speaking of the Lord Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible [these things that we see and even things we cant see], whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, [and notice this next statement] and by Him all things consist [literally, all things hold together]. And it is by the power, of the Word of God, that the atom holds together today. One day by the Word of His power, these will disintegrate.
Now in light of this, we do need some Reassurance; and He gives this in verses 8-13 of II Peter, But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing,... [Now the skeptic can be ignorant, but the saint cannot afford to be, for he has the scriptures to enlighten him concerning Gods Truth and Gods future for the world.] ....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. Now whatever you do, dont make this an exact equation. This is simply a likeness, a comparison, that God is not in a hurry.
A friend of mine has in his study this statement, The great God is very calm with all. How irrelevant then is haste among His creatures. Thats true. In other words, God is not in a hurry. God has the ages of the ages in which to work out His plan and purpose. Now in this age, God is delaying the coming of His Son in regard to those who have not yet repented. Notice verse 9 His Purpose, The Lord is not slack [or late] 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. I like the translation there that all should have opportunity to repent. In the Greek, its have room to repent. ....that all should have opportunity to repent, that is, to change their mind concerning this life and concerning God and concerning faith in Jesus Christ. Now our perspective then, in light of this, verse 10, But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. You notice the definiteness of this, that there will be a purging and a dissolving eventually of the earth. Then verse 11, Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness. Our perspective, in light of future dissolution, ought to be resulting first in Holy Living in living that is characterized by separation from sin and cultivation of righteousness in our lives; for holiness involves both the negative and the positive aspects.
Secondly, there ought to be Helpful Living. Verse 12, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God [Now theres a lot of controversy whether you can hasten the day of the God and whether this means that you can advance the coming of Christ.] The only thing that I would say, is that if you are busy, time passes rapidly, and if youre helpful in serving and reaching the lost for Christ and doing your best to let your light shine for Him His coming will be sooner than you think. And, I do personally believe that we are living in the end times; and if the coming of the Lord draweth nigh and it could be tonight.....in light of this, my one desire is that my living be not only holy, but also helpful.
And thirdly, that my living be Hopeful. Notice verse 13, Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. You see, what we now know shall be dissolved, but this does not lead us to despair. Actually, this is the best that some current philosophers can offer. Bertrand Russell, the great philosopher of England, says that in the light of the present situation, we should assume an attitude of confident despair. Isnt that something? An attitude of confident despair. Is that all the best we have to offer? Ah, no. We who have believed in the Word of God can assume an attitude of confident hope, because we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
In the book of The Revelation, chapter 21 it speaks of this. It says, And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea [no more separation]. Then John sees the holy city, [the] new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And then verse 5, And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. Let me assure you that you can have no hope for time or for eternity unless you also have been made new. Now I would say this to you here in the audience in the church, as well as to those in our radio audience tonight Unless you know that you have been made a new creation, in Christ Jesus, youll have no part in the new creation that God will have for His own the new heavens and the new earth. II Corinthians 5:17 says, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [or literally, a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. If you have become a new creation in Christ, then you are ready for this new creation that He is going to make for us in the future. If you have not received Christ as your personal Savior, if you do not know that He has died for your sins on the Cross, and that He was raised again from the dead for your justification unless you have known and believed, that is, accepted that and appropriated it as your own, youre not yet a new creature, and youre not yet ready for Gods new creation. But, if you have, you have something to look forward to. In fact, you have something that will empower you, even for this life here and now. In II Corinthians chapter 4, verse 15 you will recognize that even now, All things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
For three years my father-in-law waged eventually an unsuccessful fight against cancer. In 1958 he went home to be with his Lord. I saw him literally waste away during those years, and I often used to pray with him and time and again I saw his radiance in Christ even as his body wasted away, I would be reminded of this, ....though the outward man perish, yet the inward man [can be] renewed day by day; and I saw that in practical demonstration and this hope can be yours! the hope of glory beyond this life.
I was raised in rather a simple home. My folks were not, I would say, well taught in the Bible. They didnt even know much about the Rapture, the return of Christ; but they did know about glory and they talked about this from the time I was just a little child... in fact, this was the favorite spot they were headed for. [I go into homes today and I hear people talk about whether they are going on vacation.....were going here and were going there; but my folks never went very much, went hardly any place... but they always talked about going to glory; and it gave me a perspective on life that Ive always praised God for, because from the time I accepted Christ as my Savior, I lost the fear of death and Ive been looking forward to glory.
Were trying to pass this on to our children. Im not so sure how successful we are, although on one occasion I was very much encouraged. We just built a new home in 1963 I suppose about as nice a home as you could expect this side of glory; and after we had shown our former pastor through the house, our little boy who was then five said, We have a nice house here, but we have a better home in heaven! I hope somehow in the midst of these things which we have, we can communicate this Truth to our children... that despite the goodness of God to us in this land of plenty, that we have a better home in heaven... that there is glory by and by!
I wonder....have you passed from death unto life? Do you know what it means to be a new creature in Christ Jesus? Do you have this new perspective, so that though all things be dissolved, you know that there is glory ahead for you, and....indeed that there is glory in your soul right now?... because you know that He has transformed you and made you anew? Shall we pray?
Our FATHER We thank You for this Truth of which Peter wrote, he himself knew that very shortly he must put off his own body, knew that he was going to die; and yet in light of this, he reminds us of these tremendous Truths that the Lord Jesus is going to come back again and that there is going to be a dissolving of all these things with which we are familiar.....but, for the child of God, there is only glory by and by. Father, if there is anyone within the sound of my voice, who has never believed in Christ, and never come to know the joy of salvation, and the glory that can be ours now and hereafter, may the Holy Spirit vouchsafe to them Thy Truth for now and for eternity, we pray in Jesus Name. Amen.
Rev. Stuart E. Lease