Of all people in the New Testament, Peter perhaps speaks most soberly of the coming of the Lord. He says that we must be diligent to be without spot at His coming, and not fall away from our steadfastness.
2Pe 3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…
Many ask – why has the Lord waited so long? Especially in this generation when His return has seemed so imminent, why does He delay? It is His mercy – His longsuffering toward us. Peter said
2Pe_3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God’s longsuffering is toward us – that we would come to repentance. This is not just for the world – it’s for us! Consider what he said about the days of Noah, using the same word:
1 Pe_3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
The longsuffering of God in the days of Noah waited for the ark to be prepared through which salvation would come to 8 souls. The longsuffering is toward the Church. Why?
1Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
What can he mean that the righteous “scarcely” be saved? I do not believe that we can be plucked from the Lord’s hand. However, as it relates to the Lord’s coming, we must be awake. We cannot lose our salvation. But it does seem that in the scriptures there is a consequence for not being watchful and awake when He comes. Someone said that it as the Lord’s approach is obviously closer and closer, less and less people seem to be concerned about it! The enemy, the world, religious activity and systems, anxieties and cares, pleasures and pursuits all are conspiring to lull believers (especially in the West) into a deep slumber right before the Lord approaches!
Again, we must be awake. We must abide in Him so that we can have confidence at His appearing and not shrink back in shame. God is waiting in His long suffering toward us that we may be prepared for Him. He is waking up His watchman who know the signs and understand the time we live in. Many of these are possibly going through painful and strange inward soul searching as they wake up to the lateness of the hour and their condition before the Lord. I know I am.
Paul says we must judge ourselves so that we will not be condemned with the world. I am not speaking of works salvation here. Nor am I speaking of sinless perfection. I’m speaking of waking up to the necessity of being up to date with the Lord. To be freshly repentant and relying wholly on the mercy of the Lord. To maintain fellowship with Him by walking in the Light and confessing our sins. To come to the realization of our utter inadequacy and inability and our desperate need for salvation.
We realize as Jude said that we must “keep ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” And as Peter said we must “set our hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” As the Lord deals with us He brings down the high places of self-confidence and self-sufficiency and every form of pride. And by drawing our attention to our desperate need, He begins to transfer our hope onto Him – the one who desires to come and rescue us. We look exclusively to His grace and His mercy. Even if it means we’re standing at the back of the house beating our chest like the Publican crying “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner”!
While I do not subscribe to the idea that the Lord will come to find a glorious church without spot here on earth (He will make us glorious when He raptures us into His presence and clothes us with immortality), I do believe that He will work in His believers in such a way to make them ready for His coming in a great display of His mercy and grace. I take comfort in the fact that Paul said even to Church in Corinth which was at that time encountering many sinful things in its midst and was corporately expressing what seems to be only carnality:
1Co 1:7… ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.