Holiness and Godliness
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God ….” (2 Peter 3:11–12).- 2 Peter 3:11–12
Our study of 2 Peter 3:9–10 yesterday reminded us of the important fact that our God is patient with His people, unwilling to bring all things to an end before His elect repent. The return of Jesus will most certainly happen at its appointed time, but it will not happen apart from other events that God has also ordained. God has ordained that all of His elect should not be lost (John 6:39), and so He will not send Christ until all those He has foreknown before the foundation of the world come into the kingdom.
At the same time, we do not know who all the elect are, nor do we know when they shall all be gathered in. Therefore, we should not be complacent when we hear the command to repent. The elect will lead lives of repentance, and those who persistently refuse the command of God reveal themselves to be at emnity with God. Those who claim to know Christ but will not submit to Him as Lord through repentance, faith, and obedience dangerously presume upon God’s grace. We all must repent lest our deaths or Jesus’ return make it too late.
Today we see how the patience of God in waiting for His people to repent is to motivate us to action. We read in today’s passage that in light of Jesus’ impending return, we are to live lives of holiness and godliness “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (vv. 11–12). As we have already seen, God’s patience with us must make us diligently pursue holiness (see also 1:5–7).
These verses highlight the connection between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Peter is not saying that our actions are what ultimately determine the time of Jesus’ return, for he knew that the Father has already determined the day and hour of this event (Acts 1:7). Rather, he reminds us that the ordained return of Jesus will take place in conjunction with other ordained secondary causes, one of which is the holiness and repentance of the church.
Just as the evangelization of the whole world is linked to the coming of Jesus (Mark 13:10) so too is holiness. As the Gospel advances and the people of God progress in godliness, we come ever closer to the return of Jesus.
We must not ever think that Peter’s call to hasten the day of the Lord through holy living means that the future is somehow unknown to the Lord or open to change for our God. However, we must also never think that our actions are not important to God. It is through the response of His people that God typically accomplishes His purposes. Therefore we must take the call to live holy lives seriously lest we are unprepared for the end of this present evil age.
Passages for Further Study