2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord[Jesus Christ]is not slack concerning [is not slow in fulfilling or keeping] his promise [to return to earth--see note below*], as some men [and women and children] count slackness; but [he] is longsuffering to us-ward [or 'is patient toward us'], not willing that any[one]should perish[be tormented in hell], but that all[people]should come to repentance[meaning he wants everyone (not just a chosen few, as is suggested by those who believe in predestination--see note below**) to change their minds, from 'rejection of Christ to faith in Christ,' and be born again, or saved (from hell), according to the Bible]."
End-time events predicted in the Bible are rapidly approaching. They include the following:
-- First will come the rapture (in which born-again Christians will be given spiritual bodies and be taken to heaven in the "twinkling of an eye" (i.e., as fast as you can blink), per 1 Corinthians 15:52).
-- That will be followed by a seven-year tribulation, when the Antichrist and false prophet will be in charge. During the first half of the tribulation, there will be a false peace. Unfortunately, during the next three and a half years, many horrible events (like the plagues in Egypt during Moses' time) will take place on the earth. They are described in detail in the book of Revelation.
-- At the end of the tribulation, Jesus will return to earth with the armies of heaven to fight against the armies of the Antichrist at the Battle of Armageddon. Many of the Antichrist's followers will be killed, and the Antichrist and false prophet will be captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire. Soon after that, Satan will be chained in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years.
-- During that thousand years (known as the Millennium), Jesus will rule and reign as King over all people who were saved during the tribulation, and all children who are born after the tribulation, and there will be peace on earth.
-- After the thousand years are over, Satan will be freed from the bottomless pit. Then his followers will rebel against God and be killed. They'll all stand before God on judgment day and, along with Satan, spend eternity in the lake of fire.
No one knows when the above events will take place. It's easy to be saved now, but someday it will be too late. Consequently, if you want to be saved (and know for sure that you'll be taken to heaven during the rapture, or to to heaven when you die--whichever comes first), you should do it now.
Regarding 2 Peter 3:9, one Bible commentator wrote:
"The fact that the fulfillment of the Lord Jesus' promise to return for His own (John 14:2-3) lingers [is delayed] does not mean that God has forgotten His promise, was lying, or cannot fulfill it. 'The Lord' seems to be a reference to Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Peter 3:15). It means that He is waiting to fulfill it so people will have time to repent. Unbelievers left on the earth will be able to repent after the Rapture, but it is better for them if they do so before that event. Multitudes will be saved during the seven-year Tribulation … , though it will be harder for them to be saved then than it is now (2 Thessalonians 2:11).
"'In Greek the notion of repentance is of a change of outlook, in Hebrew thought a turning round and adopting a new way of life. The two are not incompatible.' …"
**Many people are confused when the Bible refers to "the elect" because they think it means that, rather than allowing us to have free will, God chooses who will and won't be saved. This is known as predestination, or the doctrine of election. To help clear up the confusion, GotQuestions.org wrote the following article: "How can I know if I am one of the elect?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/one-of-the-elect.html.
The Gospel is Never Preached in Vain (Without Success or Results)
Speaking through his prophet Isaiah, God said:
Isaiah 55:10: "For as the rain cometh [comes] down [from heaven, referring to the clouds in the sky], and the snow [also comes down] from heaven, and returneth not thither [do not return there (to heaven), meaning they don't go back up in the same form (i.e., as rain and snow) as they came down], but [they] watereth [water] the earth [the soil], and maketh [make] it bring forth [plants and flowers] and [cause them to] bud [sprout, germinate], [so] that it [the moisture that the rain and snow provide] may give seed to the sower [the person who plants the seeds], and [provide] bread to the eater [or 'food for animals and people']:"
Isaiah 55:11: "So [likewise, in a similar manner] shall my word be that goeth [goes] forth out of my mouth [referring to the gospel and truth, as revealed in the Bible]: it [my word]shall not return unto me[God]void[empty, without results], but it shall accomplish that which I [God] please [take pleasure in, intend], and it [my word] shall prosper [succeed, thrive, flourish] in the thing [purpose] whereto [to which] I sent it."
God has a plan for everything.
* * * * *
Concluding his comments on verse 11, Albert Barnes wrote:
"… This proves:
"1. That God has a design in giving his Word to people. He has as distinct an intention in his Word as he has in sending down rain upon the earth.
"2. That whatever is his design in giving the gospel, it shall be accomplished. It is never spoken in vain, and never fails to produce the effect which he intends. The gospel is no more preached in vain than the rain falls in vain. And though that often falls on barren rocks, or on arid sands; on extended plains where no vegetation is produced, or in the wilderness 'where no man is,' and seems to our eyes in vain, yet it is not so. God has a design in each drop that falls on sands or rocks, as really as in the copious [abundant] shower that falls on fertile [fruitful, high-yielding] fields. And so the gospel often falls on the hard and barren [unproductive, unyielding] hearts of men. It is addressed to the proud, the sensual [pleasure-seeking], the avaricious [greedy], and the unbelieving, and seems to be spoken in vain, and to return void unto God. But it is not so. He has some design in it, and that will be accomplished. It is proof of the fullness of his mercy. It leaves people without excuse, and justifies himself. Or when long presented - apparently long in vain - it ultimately becomes successful, and sinners are at last brought to abandon their sins, and to turn unto God. It is indeed often rejected and despised [hated]. It falls on the ears of people apparently as the rain falls on the hard rock, and there are, so to speak, large fields where the gospel is preached as barren and unfruitful of any spiritual good as the extended desert is of vegetation, and the gospel seems to be preached to almost entire communities with as little effect as is produced when the rains fall on the deserts of Arabia, or of Africa. But there will be better and happier times. Though the gospel may not now produce all the good effects which we may desire, yet it will be ultimately successful to the full wish of the widest benevolence [kindness], and the whole world shall be filled with the knowledge and the love of God."
This was God's message to all people, delivered by his prophet Isaiah. Although applicable to the ways of God in general, its main focus is on forgiveness, especially the forgiveness of sin.
Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your[human]thoughts, neither are your[human]ways my ways, saith[says]the LORD. For as the heavens [the visible heaven, or starry skies] are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher [or greater] than your ways, and [so are] my thoughts [higher, or greater] than your thoughts."
Albert Barnes has some excellent examples of human forgiveness versus God's forgiveness in his commentary on verse 8, which says, in part:
"1. People find it difficult to pardon at all. They harbor malice [hold a grudge]; they seek revenge; they are slow to forgive an injury. Not so with God. He harbors no malice; he has no desire of revenge; he has no reluctance to forgive.
"2. It may refer to the number of offences. People, if they forgive once, are slow to forgive a second time, and still more reluctant to forgive a third time, and if the offence is often repeated they refuse to forgive altogether. Not so with God. No matter how often we have violated his law, yet be can multiply forgiveness in proportion to our faults.
"3. The number of the offenders. People may pardon one or a few who injure them, but if the number is greatly increased, their compassions are closed, and they feel that the world is arrayed against [opposed to] them. Not so with God. No matter how numerous [large a number of] the offenders - though they embrace the inhabitants of the whole world - yet he can extend forgiveness to them all.
"4. In regard to the aggravation of offences. People forgive a slight [minor] injury. However, if it is aggravated [serious], they are slow to pardon. But not so with God. No matter bow aggravated the offence, he is ready to forgive. It may be added:
"5. That his thoughts in regard to the mode of pardon are far above ours. The plan of forgiveness through a Redeemer [the Lord Jesus Christ] - the scheme of pardon so fully illustrated in Isaiah 53:1-12 [click here to read it: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2053%2CIsaiah%201-12&version=KJV], and on which the reasoning of the prophet [Isaiah] here is based - is as far above any of the modes of pardon among people, as the heavens are above the earth. The scheme [plan of salvation] which contemplated the incarnation of the Son of God [in which God the Son (Jesus) took on human form and came to earth to die for our sins]; which proffered [offered] forgiveness only through his substituted sufferings [since he was tortured and punished for our sins], and in virtue of his bitter death [on the cross], was one which man could not have thought of, and which surpasses all the schemes and plans of people. In this respect, God's ways are not, our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts."
In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 13:12: "For now[while we are here on earth,]we[Christians]see through a glass[like a foggy mirror or frosted window], darkly[imperfectly]; but then[when we get to heaven,][we'll see clearly (or our understanding will be complete) because we'll be]face to face[with God, and everything and everyone who is there]: now I know in part [or 'now I have partial knowledge and understanding of all things']; but then [when I get to heaven] shall I know [I shall know][people and things personally, or have a personal knowledge of them,] even as also [just as] I am [or will be] known [personally to others and to God]."
In the above verse, Paul was explaining to Christians the difference between earthly and heavenly knowledge and understanding.
* * * * *
Regarding 1 Corinthians 13:12, Albert Barnes wrote:
"… But then shall I know - My knowledge [in heaven] shall be clear and distinct. I shall have a clear view of those objects which are now so indistinct and obscure [unclear, unknown]. I shall be in the presence of those objects about which I now inquire; I shall 'see' them; I shall have a clear acquaintance with the divine [or 'with God's] perfections, plans, and character. This does not mean that he [Paul] would know 'everything' … but that in regard to those points of inquiry in which he was then interested, he would have a view that would be distinct and clear - a view that would be clear, arising from the fact that he would be present with them, and permitted to see them, instead of surveying them at a distance, and by imperfect mediums.
"Even as also I am known - 'In the same manner' …, not 'to the same extent.' It does not mean that he would know God as clearly and as fully as God would know him; for his remark does not relate to the 'extent,' but to the 'manner' and the comparative 'clearness' of his knowledge. He would see things as he was now seen and would be seen there. It would be face to face. He would be in their presence. It would not be where he would be seen clearly and distinctly, and himself compelled to look upon all objects confusedly and obscurely, and through an imperfect medium. But he would he with them; would see them face to face; would see them without any medium; would see them 'in the same manner' as they would see him. Disembodied spirits [supernatural beings, such as angels], and the inhabitants of the heavenly world, have this knowledge; and when we are there, we shall see the truths, not at a distance and obscurely, but plainly and openly."
Also commenting on the above verse, John Gill wrote:
"… but then shall I know, even as I am known; in the other world and state [referring to heaven], he [Paul] signifies [indicates] that he should know God, Christ, angels, and glorified saints [i.e., born-again Christians who are in heaven], and all truths in a perfect manner, even as he was known of God and Christ perfectly, allowing for the difference between the Creator and the creature; his sense is, that he should have as full and complete a knowledge of persons and things as he was capable of; it would be like, though not equal to, the knowledge which God had of him; and which would be attended with the strongest love and affection to the objects known, even as he was known and loved of God …"
In a letter to the Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote:
Romans 3:28: "Therefore [referring to what Paul said in the preceding verses (i.e., that we are all sinners and can't save ourselves)] we conclude [come to the conclusion] that a man[or woman or child]is justified[declared righteous in God's sight, or saved]by faith[in the Lord Jesus Christ; i.e., by believing that Jesus died on the cross to pay for all of our sins and by receiving him as his (or her) personal Savior]without the deeds of the law[of Moses, referring to God's moral law, which means that we're saved by faith alone, not by doing good works or obeying the Ten Commandments]."
It goes without saying that everyone, especially Christians, should always obey the law and do good deeds. However, the point of the above verse is that we can only be saved (born again) through faith (by believing that Jesus shed his blood on the cross to pay for our sins and by trusting him as Savior), not by doing good things. Paul confirms this fact, and tells us why it's true, in the following verses:
-- Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
This was a prayer to God, probably from King David:
Psalm 119:18: "Open thou[or 'Lord, please open']mine eyes[my spiritual eyes], [so] that I may behold[read and understand]wondrous things out of thy[your]law[referring to the wonderful, delightful, marvelous things that are written in the Bible, such as those listed in Mr. Guthrie's commentary--see note below*]."
*In commenting on spiritual blindness, T. Guthrie (in Speaking to the Heart) wrote:
"… III. The eyes of the blind being opened, they behold wondrous things out of the law of God. Open a blind man's eyes. With what amazement, happiness, overflowing joy, will he gaze, nor tire gazing, on all above and around him, from the sun blazing in heaven to the tiniest flower that springs in beauty at his feet! And let God open a sinner's eyes, the Bible will seem to him a new book, and he seem to himself a new creature. He will see his heart, and wonder at its wickedness. He will see the Saviour, and wonder at His love. He will see how God has spared him, and wonder at His longsuffering. He will see salvation as the one thing needful, and wonder he could have taken a night's rest, ventured to close his eyes in sleep, till he had found peace with God …"
Proverbs 6:6-8: "Go to [observe, watch] the ant, thou sluggard [you lazy person]; consider her ways [learn from the ant], and be wise: Which [referring to the ant,] having no guide, overseer [supervisor], or ruler [or 'without having someone to tell her what to do' (i.e., doing things by instinct)], Provideth [provides] her meat [or 'searches for food'] in the summer, and gathereth [gathers] her food in the [time of] harvest."
Proverbs 6:9: "How long wilt thou [will you] sleep, O sluggard [lazy person]? when wilt thou [will you] arise out of thy [your] sleep [or 'when will you wake up and get up']? "
Proverbs 6:10-11: "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber[a period of light sleep (dozing) or inactivity], a little folding of the hands [bringing the hands together] to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth[one who travels, meaning step by step, or gradually], and thy want[your inability to have--or buy--the things that you want or need][shall come suddenly and unexpectedly,]as an armed man[as when a robber attacks a defenseless person and steals his or her possessions]."
According to Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church, the above verses are about using our time wisely and changing bad habits.
In verses 6-8, we learn that ants are good examples for us to follow because:
-- They are self-motivated.
-- They are diligent (conscientious) and hard-working.
-- They don't pretend to be busy when they really aren't.
-- The don't procrastinate or make excuses for not doing things (such as 'it's too hot')
-- They don't put pleasure above work.
-- They make good use of opportunities to work.
-- They store things up for the future.
This is what the commentary on verse 9 says about the dangers of laziness. To the question "How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard?" the pastor responds as follows:
"3. HOW LONG is a good question! Every once in a while, it might do us all good to chart out what we do with our time…
"• How long do we sleep?
"• How long do we lie on the couch and vegetate?
"• How long do we sit in front of the TV or computer?
"• How long do we spend reading the Word [i.e., God's word, the Bible]? In prayer?
"• After making a chart of how our time is spent, we might see some areas that need prioritizing… rearranging…
"4. WHEN is a good question too. 'When will you arise?'
"a. The lazy man is challenged to consider how long he sleeps.
"b. Then he is challenged to DO something about it--get up!
"c. When? When will you get up? When will you change your bad habits?
"d. If we are wasting time, we too should be challenged: when are you going to do something about it? When are you going to change?
"e. Arising is the answer to sleeping too much--just get up!
"f. Notice how simple God's answer to this lazy man's problem is: Arise! Get up! You don't need a 12 step program to deprogram yourself from old habits… just obey… arise…"
If you want to read one or both of Pastor Delany's commentaries, here are the links:
Jeremiah 17:9: "The heart[or mind, which is the source of our thoughts and actions, emotions, desires, etc.]is deceitful[dishonest, untrustworthy, misleading] above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? [Answer: Nobody but God.]"
Jeremiah 17:10: "I the LORD search [examine] the heart, I try the reins [test the people], even to give [rewards or punishment to] every man [and woman and child] according to his [or her] ways, and according to the fruit of his [or her] doings."
In other words, God knows our hearts (our true character) and judges us--and will reward, discipline, correct, and/or punish us--according to everything that we think, say, and do during the course of our lives on earth.
* * * * *
The Bible says that no one is able to meet God's standards of perfection:
-- Romans 3:10: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:"
-- Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
Consequently, whether we are morally "good" or "bad" in human terms, we are all sinners in God's eyes.
* * * * *
According to the Bible, unsaved people must pay (be punished) for their own sins, which means that when they die, they'll end up in hell and the lake of fire:
-- Revelation 20:12, 13, 14: "And I [the apostle John, in a heavenly vision] saw the dead, small and great, stand before God [on judgment day]; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."
-- Revelation 21:8: "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
-- Revelation 20:15: "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
* * * * *
Jesus has already paid for the sins of all born-again Christians, so after salvation, we may occasionally need to be disciplined or corrected by God, but we'll never be sent to hell or the lake of fire. This is explained in the article entitled "Does God punish us when we sin?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/God-punish-sin.html.
Build Your House Upon a Firm Foundation (i.e., the "Spiritual Rock," the Lord Jesus Christ)
Near the end of his sermon on the mount [see note below*], Jesus said:
Matthew 7:24, 25: "Therefore whosoever[whoever]heareth[hears, as through preaching]these sayings of mine[Jesus was referring to everything that he taught during his time on earth, not only what was preached during his sermon on the mount], and doeth[does]them[Jesus was referring to the person who obeys his words, or does what he says], I[Jesus]will liken[compare]him[or her] unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended [came down from the sky], and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it [the house] fell not [did not fall down, or collapse]: for it was founded [built] upon a rock."
Matthew 7:26, 27: "And every one that heareth these sayings of mine[i.e., the words of Christ], and doeth them not[does not obey my words, or do what I (Jesus) say], shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it [the house] fell [down]: and great was the fall [downfall, destruction, ruin] of it."
Jesus taught that there are consequences to our actions. In the above verses, we learn that wise people read and obey the Bible; foolish people do not.
Mark 10:46: "And they [Jesus and his disciples] came to Jericho: and as he [Jesus] went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people [a large crowd], blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side [or 'on the side of the road,'] begging."
Mark 10:47-48: "And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth [who was passing by], he began to cry out [shout], and say, [because he believed that Jesus was the Messiah,] Jesus, thou [you] son of David [since Jesus was a descendant of King David], have mercy on me. And many [people] charged [told] him [Bartimaeus] that he should hold his peace [be quiet]: but he cried the more a great deal [he shouted even louder], Thou son of David, have mercy on me."
Mark 10:49-50: "And Jesus stood still, and commanded him [Bartimaeus] to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort [cheer up], rise [get up]; he [Jesus] calleth [is calling] thee [you]. And he [the blind man], casting away his garment [throwing off his loose outer clothing or covering, such as a cape, coat, or blanket], rose [stood up], and came to Jesus."
Mark 10:51: "And Jesus answered and said unto him [the blind man], What wilt thou that I should do unto thee[what would you have me do for you]? The blind man [Bartimaeus] said unto him [Jesus], Lord,[I'm hoping]that I might receive my sight."
Mark 10:52: "And Jesus said unto him [the blind man], Go thy[your]way; thy faith hath made thee whole[your faith has made you whole, or 'your faith has healed you, spiritually and physically,' meaning Bartimaeus' faith in Jesus had saved him and restored his sight]. And immediately he [Bartimaeus] received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way [to Jerusalem]."
Concerning the phrase thy faith hath made thee whole in verse 52, Barton Johnson, author of the "People's New Testament" Bible commentary, wrote:
"Bartimæus' faith was shown, (1) by his going to Jesus; (2) by his belief that Jesus was the Messiah; (3) by persevering against opposition; (4) by casting away all that hindered; (5) by obeying Jesus when he was called; (6) by following and praising him [Jesus] after he was cured."