Many years ago, I arched more than a few eyebrows (no surprise) when I preached a sermon that didn’t just hint at or suggest, but outright stated that there is something we can do to hasten the return of Jesus. To some, the audacity of such an idea was borderline blasphemous.
But for those who occasionally pray, “Lord, come quickly,” I say that same thing to you now. There absolutely is something you can do to help bring that about.
Jesus has delayed his return for 2,000 years, and the scoffers today are in full voice.
First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
– 2 Peter 3:3-4, NIV-1978
There is an answer to the scoffers’ question. Peter gives us that answer just a few verses later.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
– 2 Peter 3:8-9, NIV-1978
With whom is God being patient? Why is the return delayed?
The answer is “us.” Note that God is patient with “you” and with me. He is patient with those of us who know the gospel because God does not want anyone to perish.
In the next few sentences, Peter describes the Day of the Lord coming like a thief, the heavens disappearing with a roar and the earth being laid bare. It’s a nasty scene. Then he asks the penetrating question:
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
– 2 Peter 3:11-12a, NIV-1978
Do you see it? God is not slow about the return of Jesus. He is patient with us! He is patient, because we have the gospel message and God doesn’t want anyone to perish. Then Peter says, we “speed the coming” of the day of the Lord!
We need to be about the proclaiming of the gospel for two compelling reasons.
- God doesn’t want anyone to perish
- We have been commanded to do so and we need to be obedient to that command.
Look at the bold obedience of Peter and John in this regard.
Then they called [Peter and John] in again and commended them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
– Acts 4:18-20, NIV-1978
Our brothers and sisters around the world are being tortured and put to death for the gospel. The apostles in Acts were undergoing similar treatment and ultimately every one of them but John was put to death for their faith. But rather than shrink back, the persecution made them all the more bold.
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
– Acts 4:29-31, NIV-1978
We, likewise, do not cower in fear, but rather we also speak the word of God with boldness because that is the Spirit within us.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
– 2 Timothy 1:7, NIV-1978
We are too filled with a love for God and for those for whom he died to ever be conquered by the fear of men. We do not fear men’s rebuke, and we do not dance for their praise.
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise from men than praise from God.
– John 12:42-43, NIV-1978
Pray for boldness to speak the good news among the perishing. Pray for the courage to stand unashamed.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
– Romans 1:16, NIV-1978