God’s Patience… It is Running Out!
God has every attribution that there is to have, and He has each attribution in all-encompassing abundance… there is no argument. However, if I had to determine which attribute of His is tried the most, I would say without losing a heartbeat that it would be…
Holy Scripture is nothing if not correctly introspective on every topic, and the sweep of God’s view of human history as it has played out, and as it will play out, is no exception:
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.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:3-7)
Despite the entry of sin into the world that He had created, and even given the continuing escalation of sin in the world, God was nothing if not patient… but Holy Scripture tells us that in the years following His creation of the world, His patience, after perfect reflection and as a result of righteous judgment, at last came to an end:
The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7)
With the advent of the Flood, all life on earth, with the exception of Noah and his closest family members and selected pairs of animals, was utterly destroyed.
Holy Scripture tells us something critical about God:
“I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Malachi 3:6)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
God does not change… God’s Word does not change. Let us revisit a subset of the passages from 2 Peter 3:3-9 above (italic emphases mine):
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:5-7)
We understand that God once destroyed the world by water. Granted, this is a ‘past tense’, to many more than it should be, it is a historical footnote at best. Many people doubt that the Flood ever occurred as it was described in Genesis Chapter 6. People may doubt that the Flood occurred as described: understand that their personal beliefs and perceptions do not alter realities. In the same fashion, people may also doubt that the present heavens and earth will be destroyed by fire, with the judgment and destruction of the ungodly to follow, but remember what Holy Scripture says… by God’s word… by the same word… and God does not change: as surely as the world was once destroyed by water, it will again be destroyed by fire.
Holy Scripture speaks of God’s amazing patience (italic emphasis mine):
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. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
God is outside of time as we know it; He does not interpret it as we do, therefore we bring God’s Name into disrepute and cast aspersions on His character and intentions when we take Him to task and say things like ‘Well, where is He??’, ‘Why doesn’t He come like He said He would??’, and ‘Why doesn’t He put an end to the evil and suffering in the world??’ God is perfect, and He knows what He must do, which is to put an end to all evil, to all suffering, to punish the wicked and unrepentant, and to destroy death itself. Do we rightly understand what will happen if God were to acquiesce to our short-sighted demands and return immediately to do what He must do as a just, pure, holy and righteous God?
Everyone would be immediately judged.
Think of the consequences… people you love who are not yet saved by faith in Jesus Christ as God’s only Son, who do not yet have belief in Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice that God will recognize for the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus’ blood, and Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us by God through faith… will be lost, forever condemned to the fires of an eternal hell. YOU could be one of those lost forever, should God return before you are ready to stand before Him in judgment.
Is this outcome truly what we want? Really?? If you have wondered… or scoffed… at why God has not returned, you now hopefully and prayerfully have an understanding that it is for the salvation of as many people as possible… that God tarries.
God has made provision for us in His Son Jesus Christ, and Holy Scripture again mentions God’s patience in the days of Noah, when He waited for 120 years while the Ark was being built, before bringing the wrath of the Flood upon the earth:
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. (1 Peter 3:18-22)
Holy Scripture is clear… starkly so:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26-27)
Peter speaks of what will happen in that day, and what God’s people should be doing to prepare for it:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 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. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. (2 Peter 3:10-15)
There are several points to ponder here:
1) The day will come suddenly, without warning. Many people will be caught unawares, and will be utterly unprepared to meet their Creator.
2) Everything… EVERYTHING… will be destroyed, in preparation for the new heavens and the new earth. They will be the home of righteousness, and what does that mean? It means that those who reject God and the salvation that has come by the Blood of His Son Jesus Christ will never inhabit them!
3) In preparation for this day, those who believe in God and the One that He has sent are to strive to live holy and godly lives, that the day would arrive all the more quickly… but part of that holy and godly life (a BIG PART these days) is to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ and salvation through Him to those who are lost.
4) The Lord’s patience means salvation… a blessed eternity with the KING of kings and the LORD of lords. NOTHING on this earth in this present life can compare!
So what do we need to do to get there… believers and unbelievers alike? Salvation is not something that we can earn through our own efforts, because it is a free gift of God, earned for us by the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
When we accept the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives as our King and Lord, Savior and Messiah… when we turn our lives over to Him and not only seek to do what is pleasing to Him and honoring to God the Father and the Holy Ghost, but also do those things, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to we wretched and worthless sinners, and that is what God sees when we stand before Him in judgment… God sees the righteousness of Jesus!
With a true acceptance of Jesus Christ as our King and Lord, Savior and Messiah also and invariably comes something that is woven tightly throughout all of Holy Scripture:
Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines repentance as… ‘A turning away from sin, disobedience or rebellion and a turning back to God (Matt. 9:13; Luke 5:32) … True repentance is a “godly sorrow” for sin, an act of turning around and going in the opposite direction. This type of repentance leads to a fundamental change in a person’s relationship to God.’
Note that the ‘type’ of repentance is important, and that is why a special mention is made of it. A person truly repents and changes if he/she has “godly sorrow” for their sin, which is to say they are grieved to the depth of their soul because what they have done has angered and offended a just, pure, holy and righteous God, has caused His only Son Jesus Christ to weep, and has heavily grieved and sorrowed the Holy Ghost… this is not the “earthly sorrow” because one has been caught in the act of doing something wrong!
Do not doubt that true repentance which leads to permanent changes in one’s life that honor God is important… it is beyond important to central and critical to no less a One than Jesus Christ:
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
There are many passages of Holy Scripture that speak to the importance of repentance. It is core to the faith and the life of the Christian:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15)
O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. (Jeremiah 5:3)
I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. No one repents of his wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle. (Jeremiah 8:6)
If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. (Jeremiah 18:7-8)
Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. (Zechariah 1:3-4)
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:1-2)
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali – to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:12-17)
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Matthew 11:20-21)
And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4)
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15)
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:2-3)
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
It is not only God who has joy in repentance:
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:3-7)
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:45-47)
“Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. (Acts 3:17-20)
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:29-31)
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:4-6)
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. (Acts 20:21)
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it – I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (2 Corinthians 12:20-21)
And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:4-6)
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Revelation3:2-3)
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:19-20)
The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. (Revelation 16:8-11)
If you haven’t clearly understood through the abundant evidence of Holy Scripture by this point… repentance is a big deal.
The Apostle Paul testifies God’s actions in the day of judgment (italic emphasis mine):
Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (2 Thessalonians 1:4-10)
Let’s consider for a moment the faithful, wonderful love of God… even in the harsh light of what we are:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
We were dead. That is easy enough to understand, is it not? It would have been an easy thing for God to simply condemn us to an eternal, living death in the fires of hell, but that is not what our loving and merciful God did. Instead, He did this… despite all of our unworthiness… asking only one thing of us: that we believe on the Name of His only Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who died to pay the penalty for our sins:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
But there is only 1 way:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
This is the love of God:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Jesus was not sent to condemn, but to save:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)
Therefore there is a certain reward for belief, and a certain punishment for unbelief:
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:18)
In a nutshell:
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22-23)
Now, a solemn warning:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
If you are a mocker of God, a scoffer of His Word, an unbeliever in the One that He has sent to redeem you from the fires of an eternal hell… please listen to this watchman today! It is literally this simple:
Believe… and live in eternal Paradise.
Do not believe… and be condemned to eternal hellfire:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)