“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”2 Peter 3:18a
In Scripture, Peter says he wrote his letters because in them he is “stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder” (2 Pet. 3:2). Peter knew that false teachers would try to distort Christianity by denying a vitally important doctrine—the return of Christ. These “scoffers” will say: “Where is the promise of his coming? Forever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:4). If Peter was concerned that this particular brand of false teaching would influence Christians in the first century, just a few decades after Christ, the temptation is undoubtedly even stronger now. It has been nearly 2,000 years since Christ ascended into heaven. Is he ever coming back?
Though few in the church today would deny the doctrine of Christ’s return outright, perhaps more often we drift slowly into living as if Christ was never going to return. This then becomes the pretext for not pursuing godliness and excellence in the Christian life right now. We assume there will always be another week, another month, another year. Someday soon we can turn up the intensity on our Christian life, get serious, and really dig in. Just not today.
Peter has strong words to admonish us against practicing this form of delayed sanctification. He says, “the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness,” but He is mercifully giving additional time for repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). However, on the day when Christ returns, he will come suddenly and unexpectedly, “like a thief” (2 Pet. 3:10). Because of how sudden Christ’s coming will be, Peter tells us, “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11).
Christians are called to wait expectantly for the coming of Christ’s kingdom. This posture of expectation requires that we “be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish” and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:14, 18). Living a godly life and growing in the knowledge of Christ—these are how we respond properly right now to the future hope we have in Christ.
We cannot live today as if there will always be a tomorrow. We should not presume on God’s mercy, assuming we can straighten things out and get serious about our faith later on. Today is the day. It is a matter of urgency that you jump in and join in a Sunday School class or reengage with your class. When Christ suddenly comes to take you home, may He find you hard at work and fully engaged in the life of his church.