Monday, April 26, 2010

The End of Days as Discussed in Jude and 2 Peter 3

Thought I might share some thoughts from a recent paper. This analyzes the texts of Jude and 2 Peter 3 as they relate to the coming of Christ!

Is there evidence that the Lord Jesus is soon to return? It is a question that should be a concern for every believer and it has been of concern to believers of all ages prior. Are there any hints in the general epistles that we, in this generation, could be near the coming of Christ? This is also a question that needs to be answered if we want to be found diligently doing the work of the Lord when he calls his church home. His return should also cause his disciples to follow Him ever more closely as they await the blessed promise of His return. It does seem that two specific sections of the general epistles address the last days. They approach Christ’s coming as an event that is always to be expected while pointing to a definite future era when we can begin to see the clouds for the storm known as the Great Tribulation building. Together, these two sections—Jude and 2 Peter 3—give the saints a guideline for living in a state of preparedness as they await the imminent return of Jesus to call His church home. These men who walked with Jesus left warnings to remind us that the Lord is coming, that hell is fighting, and that the believer needs to be living in a constant state of expectancy. Also, these similar messages share information that should be of special concern for men today! Did Peter and Jude through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, see the current apathy for God and the rise of atheism worldwide that is a result of the theory of evolution?
At first glance, Jude seems to share only pertinent information for all believers of every age to walk circumspectly. Yet, there is some evidence that Jude also has special revelation to those living near the coming of Christ. It is common knowledge that the believers of the first century church expected Christ to return in their day, but evidence that there is a special message to close out the church age is found in the content of Jude in verses 17-19. Verse 18 pinpoints this by use of the term “last times”. Michael Green makes the following observation, “In the last times (lit. ‘in the final age’) is equivalent to the last days’ of 2 Timothy 3:1; James 5:3.”1 This author goes on to say that this should be understood as looking into the future prophetically, and that it should be understood that they felt the return of Christ was upon them immediately. These same verses come under the heading, “Awareness of Present Situation”, in the Full Life Bible Commentary.2
Jude, then, shares an important twofold insight into all study of Christ’s return. The church needs to understand that all prophetic sections of scripture need to be contextualized daily. Believers should ask, “How can I use this in my walk with Christ today.” By doing so, Christians throughout the entire church age could apply the truths of the word to their lives while carefully following the commands, warnings, and admonitions of the passage. The key is to allow the Holy Spirit to apply the word to the heart regardless of where the church is in relation to the return of the Savior. Yet, there are specific warnings that can be gleaned from the pages of truth for those living near the coming of the Lord. Joined together with the similar chapter of 2 Peter 3, there seems to be a consistent message for that remnant of the church that is alive as the end of days approaches.
Simon Peter directly addresses the last days of the church beginning with verses two and three of the third chapter. Yet, it should also be assumed that he, too, believed he was in the last days. The following quote strengthens this notion, “Although the great apostasy was a generally known fact from all apocalyptic literature, Peter now applies it to his own time and specifically to the reports of the false teachers, giving us a hint at the occasion of the letter.”3 Herein is the problem with trying to understand if the day in which we live is the “last days”. The Holy Spirit purposefully made the books to be applicable to all of the church for the last two thousand years, but there must be a time when clear evidence of the nearness of Jesus’ return can be discernable. Therefore, these texts must be thoroughly studied in depth for evidence that this specific time in the history of the church may be the last days.
The apostle gives unique and valuable information in his letter known to us as Second Peter. Notice verses three to five in the third chapter. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water…”4 Three important observations need to be made. First, the last days will be abundant with mockers and scoffers (more will be said on this later). Second, men will willfully deny the evidence for a global flood and the evidence for an instantaneous creation. Third, they will replace the foundation of biblical truth with a notion that all things observable today give us a clue as to how things in the unobservable past have occurred.
These last two points were not lost to the renowned scientist and Bible scholar, L Merson Davies. Consider the following quote.
Here, then, we come face to face with a circumstance which cannot be ignored in dealing with the subject…namely, the existence of a marked prejudice against the acceptance of belief in a cataclysm like the Deluge. Now we should remember that, up to a hundred years ago, such a prejudice did not exist…as a general one, at least. Belief in the Deluge of Noah was axiomatic, not only in the Church itself (both Catholic and Protestant) but in the scientific world as well. And yet the Bible stood committed to the prophecy that, in the “last days,” a very different philosophy would be found in the ascendant; a philosophy which would lead men to regard belief in the Flood with disfavor, and treat is as disproved, declaring that “All things continue as from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-6). In other words, a doctrine of Uniformity in all things (a doctrine which the apostle obviously regarded as untrue to fact) was to replace belief in such cataclysms as the Deluge.5
This quote also caught the eye of the renowned creationist, Dr. Henry Morris. Dr. Morris summarized the following from Davies’ quote, “Davies then proceeded to show how this remarkable prophecy of Peter has begun to find its fulfillment in the last century, with the doctrines of uniformitarianism, as set forth by Hutton and Lyell, supplanting those of earlier thinkers.”6 The point is that it appears that the time that the Apostle Peter specifically warned men about began somewhere in the 1800s and that the likelihood of Christ’s return is drawing ever nearer with each passing year. Incontrovertibly, the world is ever more filled with those who scoff at the idea of God the Creator and Judge of humanity as revealed in the flood than even Hutton and Lyell observed in their day.
What is uniformitarianism and how does it relate to the popular theory of evolution? Look carefully at this definition as it has very familiar elements.
In the philosophy of naturalism, uniformitarianism assumes that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now, have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. It is frequently summarized as "the present is the key to the past," because it holds that all things continue as they were from the beginning of the world.”7
This definition nearly mirrors the Holy Spirit inspired verses of Second Peter Three. Were it not from a secular source, one might expect it to come from a Bible commentary on 2 Peter 3:3-6.
Notably, the person most responsible for this concept was the geologist, Charles Lyell, who was referenced in an above quote. James Hutton (also referenced) was actually the man that first hypothesized the notion, but Lyell’s work, Principles of Geology, caused the false view to gain popularity. It is also common knowledge that Lyell’s concepts greatly impressed his friend, Charles Darwin.8 Darwin would then use the concept of uniformitarianism to explain that the process of natural selection—an observable natural phenomena—as being the underlying principle involved with the evolution of life. Natural selection and time could “naturally” explain macro-evolutionary change from one species to another instead of document the micro-evolutionary changes in a specific kind over time which is verifiable. In order for these theories to work the Bible time lines of around 6,000 years of history had to be discredited. Soon, the concepts of naturalism, uniformitarianism, and evolution permeated all scientific thought, led men to reassess the biblical age of the earth, caused the clergy to doubt the inspired word, and eventually lead to much of the moral decay and atheism that is currently so prevalent in the world. The conclusion of many caught in this trap is that if man evolved from primordial ooze god is a man made creation. Quoting Martin Lingis, the creationist, Huston Smith, observed, “Martin Lingis is probably right in saying that ‘more cases of loss of religious faith are to be traced to the theory of evolution… than to anything else.’”9
At this point, the above observation of mockers and scoffers should be analyzed.
Both Jude and Peter mention men who would deny the truths of scripture and openly mock and ridicule God. Jude mentions that some of these scoffers will sneak into the church unawares in verse four. Later, He warns that they will change God’s grace into a license to sin and spoil the fellowship of believers. These men will speak terrible and blasphemous words, but his greatest indictment against them is that they have not the Spirit of God. Peter calls them scoffers and notes that they walk after their own lusts. He further states that they are willfully ignorant of God’s word and evidence on His work in the world around them. They choose to ignore the clear evidence presented in nature that gives evidence of God the Creator so that they can hold to their deluded paradigm.
Sadly, it seems that theses mockers may very well come from the ranks of believers, appear to be believers, or be unbelievers who sway unwitting Christians with their lies. Notice verse four of Jude, “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.10 The idea is that they will infect the church with poisonous doctrines that infect the faith of many. This, in turn, will lead to fewer and fewer people accepting the gospel and many falling away from the truth.
It seems obvious that the belief in uniformitarianism did slowly creep into the church and into every learning institution. Many theologians who could not give an informed, educated opinion in refutation to the trend away from understandable biblical teachings, simply changed the word of God to suit the notions of science. Examples of this shift range from theistic evolution, the gap theory, the ruin-reconstruction theory, and similar “respectable” theories that all subvert the truth of scripture and turn the Book of Genesis into a fairy tale. Ironically, many of the proponents of naturalism and uniformitarianism were educated in predominant, formerly Christian colleges and universities. Truly, unbelieving men have crept in unawares with lies that deceive the masses.
As evidence of a scoffer directly influenced by universalism and evolution notice this quote by the atheistic former Oxford Professor, Richard Dawkins:
"Yahweh: The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."11
Truly, we can see the fulfillment of Jude’s prophecy in verse ten, “But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves." Dawkins states that he believed in God as a child but he left his notions of God behind when he found the truth of Darwinism. It is nearly unbelievable to think that he made a similar quote as the one above from the pulpit of a New England church!
Deception is also a common thread that runs through these texts. Therefore, both writers warn believers to stay true to God’s revealed word. Since we know that false teachers will come and subvert many and that Christ may return at any time, believers are admonished to give heed to the word of God and to earnestly contend for the faith. Has deception been on the rise recently? There are around thirty-four thousand denominations calling themselves Christian worldwide.12 Why do so many believers build so many walls between themselves when we are commanded to be one? Many are causing division as Jesus said by straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. During the exact same time period that the theory of evolution gained prominence thousands of false teachings and cults began to arise. It would take pages to list them all, so for the sake of time only a couple will be mentioned. Lyell wrote Principles of Geology in 1830, and Darwin’s Origin of Species was first published in 1859. During the 1800s many cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons arose. Many false doctrines were spawned during this time like the notion that one must worship on the Sabbath to be saved. Also, many were deceived in the 1800s by men who claimed that the rapture of the church would take place at a specific day and time. Since this same era thousands upon thousands of cults and alternative religions have been established. Clearly, deception is on the rise.
Much time could be spent relating prophetic concepts from other biblical writings to strengthen the notion that we are quickly approaching Jesus’ return, but the texts for Jude and Second Peter give us enough to know that we need to pay close attention to God and our relationship with Him. These men also give us clear insight into what men and women of faith should do daily whether Jesus returns today or in another hundred years. Second Peter three reminds us to closely follow the word of god and know clearly what it says (v.2), and to rightly interpret scripture (vs. 15-16). He urges us to seek to be holy in all that we say or do (v. 14). We are admonished to beware of anything that would turn us from following Christ and lead us into error (v.17). We are also given the promise that God is being patient so that as many as possible can be saved (v. 9).
Jude gives many of the same warnings and instructions as well. He exhorts that believers earnestly contend for the faith (v. 3). The Full Life Commentary discusses this verse with a twofold emphasis. First, there is no new revelation in terms of canon. Second, the true faith has been entrusted to believers.13 That saints are to build themselves up “on your” most holy faith by praying in the Holy Ghost (v. 20). Believers are to keep themselves in God’s love by looking to Jesus (v.21). Christians are to be kind and compassionate to those who are drifting towards or are in error (vs.22-23). Finally, he ends by saying that Christians are to wholly trust Jesus as He is able to keep believers unstained and to keep them from falling away (v.24)
So is there evidence that this may be the last generation? If we look at the events of the last couple of hundred years and compare them to these two texts, it seems that there is cause for celebration and concern. It is exciting to think that the rapture of the church could take place at any moment. There is evidence that people no longer believe in a global flood and an instantaneous creation as recorded in scripture. This is also a fairly recent development. Deception is at an epidemic level with many pulpits filled with those who teach men that sin is of no consequence since God loves humanity so much. This is also directly linked to the notion of no flood. By explaining away the concept of universal judgment from a holy God, they have created a god that seems to ignore sin in the lives of everyone. Yet, scripture clearly teaches, as both Peter and Jude attest, that God is loving but holy. He wishes to save, but He must deal with the sin of the rebellious.
The concepts that evolved from universalism have corrupted society in every area. “Why keep an unwanted fetus?” “There are no consequences for sin.” “There is no god.” “Science has the answers.” “Who cares what your sexual orientation is?” We came from a blob of goo through the animals, so we are all animals. Why not live like one?” Many similar statements have their roots in concepts these two inspired men wrote about and so long ago—truly God’s Spirit was warning us then and is now informing us to look to the skies as our redemption is drawing nigh!
1. Michael Green; 2 Peter & Jude—The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries
Grand Rapids, Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing (1987) pg. 197
2. French L Arrington, Roger Stronstad; Full Life Bible Commentary to the New Testament
Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House (1999) pg. 1533
3. Edward Hindson, Woodrow Kroll; The KJV Parallel Bible Commentary
Nashville, Thomas Nelson (1994) pg. 2625
4. 2 Peter 3:3-5
New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
5. L Merson Davies; Scientific Discoveries and their Bearing on the Biblical Account of the Noachian Deluge,
Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute, LXII (1930) pp. 62-63
6. Henry Morris, John C Whitcomb; The Genesis Flood
Grand Rapids, Baker Book House (1983) pg. 90
7. Definition of Uniformitarianism
Internet; Wikipedia
8. Charles Lyell
Internet; Wikipedia
9. Huston Smith; “Evolution & Evolutionism”
Chicago, Christian Century Magazine (July 1982), p755
10. Jude v.4
New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
11. Richard Dawkins; The God Delusion
New York, Bantam Books (2006) pg. 209
12. Mark Evans; The Un-Answered Prayers of Jesus
Grand Rapids, Bethany House Publishers (2003) pg. 43
13. French L Arrington, Roger Stronstad; Full Life Bible Commentary to the New Testament
Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House (1999) pg. 1530

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