Prepare Yourself for your True Home
Intro: Well morning South Sydney Anglican Church. My name is Matt Johnson and today as we come to the end 1 of 2 Peter I want to think about our true home as Christians. A key idea in 1 & 2 Peter is this world is not our home. We are simply STRANGERS AND FOREIGNERS passing through as we head for our true home in heaven.
PRAYER: Well I’m sure you’ve all seen signs in people’s houses – that say HOME SWEET HOME. The saying “HOME SWEET HOME” actually comes from a song, written by Sir Henry Bishop in 1823. The song goes:
Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there
Which seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere
Home! Home! Sweet, sweet home!
There’s no place like home
There’s no place like home!.
There is something about coming home that suddenly makes everything right with the world. Perhaps you’ve been away on a long trip; or you’ve had a hard day at work. But the moment you walk through the front door, kick off your shoes and flop on the lounge – all the tension and pain just falls away. (PAUSE). Sadly, the feeling never lasts very long. But if you could only bottle that feeling and make it last a lifetime – you’d have some sense of heaven.
When we began this SERMON SERIES looking at 1 and 2 Peter – I said that these books (by the apostle Peter) had some similarities to John Bunyan’s famous allegory; “A PILGRIMS PROGRESS.” The book; A Pilgrims progress tells the story of a man named Christian who becomes a Christian and he begins a journey towards a celestial city – where he is told he will find peace, joy and eternal happiness.
So Christian sets out on a journey towards this celestial city. But along the way – 1) some people lead him off course, 2) sometimes his own mistakes set him back and 3) sometimes he just gets lazy and just stops. But despite all these setbacks (little, positive solutions always miraculously present themselves). So Christian pushes on and eventually arrives at the celestial city. Soon after Bunyan wrote this book – Christians around the world realised it was an allegory for the Christian life and it became one of the best selling books of all time.
John Bunyan was a puritan minister and he wrote the book while he was in prison. He had been a pastor for a while – but in the 1650’s and 1660’s the British government in partnership with the Church of England passed laws saying you could only be a pastor if you were an Anglican minister. All other pastors and priests were arrested – including Bunyan. Anyway, while John Bunyan was in prison for 12 years he wrote a Pilgrims Progress. And the story has the feel of finally coming home. I can imagine Bunyan wrote the book with the eager expectation of that day – he would finally come home – 1) see his beloved wife, 2) hug his children again and 3) flop on the lounge. And this is what it will be like when we get to heaven. We will finally come to our true home.
This is what Peter wants us to hold out for. Although we are strangers and foreigners in this world, we will soon arrive at our true home if we hold on just a little longer…
Point 1: Our True Home will be a place of Holiness & Godliness
Show: 2Pet.3:11-13 (READ)
Explain: Well as you can see verse 13 talks about a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. This verse is, in my opinion, the climax of 1 & 2 Peter. Peter has made much of Christians being aliens and strangers in this world. So notice that verse 13 – we are looking forward to Jesus keeping his promise. This is NOT the promised land of Israel. Jesus has given us the PROMISE of heaven – a whole new creation where righteousness dwells. But I think most Bible translations miss the point. The word DWELL is not technically wrong. The Greek word does mean a house or a dwelling. But in Peter (against the backdrop of us being aliens and strangers) the word is emotive. The house will be a place where we no longer feel like strangers or foreigners or outsiders. It will be a place where we finally feel at home…
WHAT’S MORE, heaven will not be a place where righteousness dwells. That misses the point. Heaven will be our home, where we dwell forever – in righteousness. I think the old 1984 NIV translation – is actually closest to carrying Peter’s sentiment. The 1984 NIV says – in keeping with God’s promise – we are looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth – the home of righteousness. This will be the place where Christians finally kick off their shoes, relax and find the rest our souls have been longing for – all our life. The biblical concept is SHALOM PEACE. In an instant – all of us will be finally and completely at peace with God, with each other and with the world. Aaahhhhhh.
I believe it is against this idea of coming home that Peter finishes this-two part book. FIRST, he says (verses 11-13) – our true home will be a place of holiness and godliness. SECOND our true home (verse 14) will be spotless and blameless. THIRD our true home (verses 15-18) will be reached through faithfulness to God’s Word in Scripture. Now in some ways this is just repeating key ideas – Peter has already stated in his books. But these ideas are now set in the context of coming home and being ready for our true home.
So if you look again at verse 11 you’ll see it says; (Slide 2 – 2 Pet.3:11-13 (READ)) What Peter is saying is that 1) the things of this world and 2) the trophies of this world are all going to go bye byes in a big bonfire. So what sort of people should we be? Well obviously we shouldn’t aspire to the things or the trophies celebrated in this world. That’s simply chasing smoke. RATHER, we should aspire to the things that will be celebrated and honoured in heaven. And Peter reminds us that the most honoured and valuable things in heaven will be holiness and godliness.
Illustrate: When you build a new, designer home – you don’t want to take crap furniture with you that you picked up on the side of the road. Sure, when you’re A) just trying to survive as new parents or B) living on a pension – the beige lounge off the side of the road, with gaffer tape over the vinyl arms and the dining table with one leg that is too short – is probably good enough. But when you build a new home or you’re moving into a place with a bit of style – you start to realise your rubbish furniture is just not going to work. You begin to realise you need to get new furniture that will kind of complement and showcase your new pad or new digs. Otherwise – it’s all going to look – just wrong.
Apply: And this is kind of Peter’s point. 1) You’re about to get a mansion in heavern, so get some furniture to match. 2) Your about to get a Dolce & Gabbana dress with Jimmy Choo shoes – so drop a few pounds and get some matching lippy. Or to put it another way – your moving from Mt Druitt to Vaucluse – so stop being a western suburbs yobbo and get some decorum. (I know the last one is a stretch because a) yobbos from the Druitt may have more class than B) the coke sniffers from Cammeray). But you get the point). The only sort of behaviour fit for our heavenly home is holiness and godliness.
NOW HOLINESS is about life truly set-apart for God. HOLINESS is about life that is NOT LIVED for self or power or money, but life lived for God’s glory. This is what will be celebrated in heaven.
So A) we are to be holy because God is holy. But B) we are also to be holy because everything in heaven will be holy and set apart – for God’s glory. So if you are not holy (and have not aspired to be holy) – you may end up being the spiritual beige sofa with vinyl arms and gaffer tape on the corners in an architecturally designed home. (I’m thinking, Frasiers dad’s sofa in Frasiers fancy house). So, you have to ask yourself are you truly holy and obviously different to other people in the world? Or are you pretty much the same as everyone else, chasing the same dreams and trophies, with just a superficial covering of Christianity?
NOW THE SECOND THING we are to work on is godliness. You can see this also in verse 11. Now when it comes to godliness – we usually think in terms of being like God. But the word godliness is actually a WORSHIP WORD. The Greek word is EUSEBIA. The prefix “eu” means to do well or do good AND the ending “sebeia” means reverence, adoration or worship. So godliness is actually about being good at worship. In heaven – we are going to be joining with the angels in endless worship of God. Now that doesn’t mean – we will be forever singing or only singing. But in heaven – we will forever have THE POSTURE of worship, THE ATTITUDE of worship and THE CONDUCT of worship. Everything we do will be to magnify the name of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So again, Peter is urging us to cultivate here and now – a lifestyle – that is oriented to worship. We are to have a life that is HOLY and SET APART for God AND what we are set apart for is WORSHIP. Now again, this is a challenge. Does your life and choices demonstrate to the world A HEART of worship, gratitude and praise or do you still have A HEART set on comfort, possessions and money?
Point 2: Our True Home will be for People Blameless & Spotless like Jesus
Show: 2Pet.3:14 (READ)
Explain: Well Peter now adds further instructions on the same basis that we are headed for a heavenly home. He says; “since you are looking forward to this… “THIS” thing we are looking forward to – is the heavenly home. We are just like Israel passing through the Sinai wilderness. It was painful in the desert. It was hard and at times God’s people were attacked by enemies from without and false teachers from within. But God’s people pressed on because they were looking forward to the promised land, a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. AND AT THE VERY END (when they felt like they couldn’t go forward and they couldn’t go back) Yeshua appeared… I mean Joshua appeared – as the strong and courageous leader they needed to vanquish their enemies and help them cross the Jordan river – so they could enter the Promised Land. Aaaaahh. Home at last…
Peter is kind of saying Israel’s story of pilgrimage through the wilderness towards the promised land is our Christian story too. Yes, it is hard. Yes, we are like – strangers and aliens – with no true home in this world – a nationless people. But eventually, our Yeshua will arrive, he will vanquish our enemies and he will lead us (through the final fires) and into our promised land of heaven.
So Peter says (since we are looking forward to all this) we should MAKE EVERY EFFORT (doing words) to be found spotless and blameless and at peace with him. Now this language of SPOTLESS and BLAMELESS – was used to describe Jesus in the opening chapter of 1 Peter. Let me show you (Slide 6 – 1Pet.1:18-19). Now these are the exact same words – spotless and blameless. Jesus was the spotless and blameless lamb who died in our place to redeem us from judgment day. As you all know this is the gospel message. And when the Bible speaks about Jesus as the spotless and blameless lamb it means he was without sin, without guilt, or any wrongdoing. Jesus was fully human like us, but he never sinned. THIS MEANT Jesus was worthy to go to heaven.
But instead, King Jesus offered to exchange his perfect life for our sinful lives. (GOSPEL) In love for you – Jesus died and went to hell – to pay the penalty for your sin. He didn’t deserve to die – because he did nothing wrong. But nonetheless, he died to take the punishment for your wrongdoing. The Bible then says – that if you believe Jesus died for you and you accept Jesus as your Saviour and Lord – God will forgive you. What happens in the sinner’s prayer (or as you take that step of faith) is that you exchange – your spotty, blemished, sinful life, for Jesus’ spotless, blameless, sinless life. This then makes you fit for heaven.
Illustrate: Trying to get into heaven covered in sin, shame and guilt – is like trying to get into the 5 star Intercontinental Hotel at the Rocks dressed as a homeless, beggar or bag-lady. There is no way you’re getting passed the doorman. It’s the same with your spotty, blemished, sinful life. There is no way your getting passed the doorman of heaven. But as you come to Jesus – YOU SWAP your messy life for Jesus’ perfect life – so that you are properly dressed and suitably attired for heaven.
Apply: Now first question is have you done that? If you think you’re going to be good enough to get into heaven based on your own good works, you need a reality check. You are nowhere near good enough. But come to Jesus, accept his perfect life (by faith) – and this will open the front door of heaven for you. (If you want to know more speak to me or Seti after the service). But given Peter is speaking to Christians, he is assuming you have already done this. What Peter is now saying is we need to MAKE EVERY EFFORT A) to make our actual life, B) match our new identity in Jesus. Jesus has made you spotless and blameless for heaven, so to the best of your ability be spotless and blameless like Jesus. And the best way to do that – is to live in a way that is consistent with Jesus’ spotless and blameless life. I know it’s a bit cliché – but it’s still worth asking; WHAT WOULD JESUS DO – in my situation – according to the Bible? What would Jesus do? Now we’ll never be as blameless and spotless as Jesus. But this is our aim. This is what we are striving for – to be just a little bit more like Jesus – each year…
Point 3: Our True Home is reached through Faithfulness to Scripture
Show: 2Pet.3:15-18 (READ)
Explain: Well as Peter has done throughout 1 & 2 Peter – he finishes by reminding us yet again to be faithful to God’s Word in Scripture. If something is written in the Old Testament it is Scripture and it is to be treated as the very words of God. If something is in the New Testament and it is written by an apostle (or authorized by an apostle) it is Scripture and it is to be treated as the very words of God. And even if it comes from an apostle – who was abnormally born, like the Apostle Paul – it too is Scripture and is to be treated as the very words of God. This is not insignificant. The apostle Peter (the lead apostle, upon whom Jesus said – I will build my church) is now saying Paul’s words are no different to his or the other apostle’s words.
Now this raises interesting questions about what letter of Paul, had the Jewish churches in northern Turkey read or got hold of? Maybe Thessalonians? Maybe Galatians or Ephesians? What’s more, the reference to “ALL PAUL’S LETTERS” also suggests that perhaps churches were making copies of apostolic letters and circulating them more quickly and more widely than modern scholars generally accept.
But either way – Peters point is that THE ONLY WAY to keep moving forward in our pilgrimage towards heaven is to stick with God’s word. End of verse 16 tells us that ignorant and unstable people distort the Scriptures to their own DESTRUCTION. Messing with Scripture ends in destruction. But (verse 17-18) tell us those who stick with the Scriptures will A) not fall from their secure position in Christ and B) they will continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Hold up Bible) This is God’s truth given to man. This is the roadmap and directions to heaven. But sadly, the world around us, (including much of the church) is now throwing truth and especially God’s truth to the ground. We know this is happening and the Bible warns us that in the last days this would happen…
What’s more, because THE COST of being faithful to God’s Word is going up – Christian leaders and churches are getting better at a kind of double talk. They say things like; we know the Bible says this, but we’re going to do this because… and then all sorts of clever philosophical, ethical and rational answers are given that have nothing to do with the plain meaning of Scripture. So Peter warns us not to be carried away by the errors of lawless men. BUT SADLY, I think this is getting harder and harder to do… if you don’t know the Scriptures well.
Illustrate: Just this week – the head of Australia military stated; (Slide 10). Now in this speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, General Campbell made it clear that its not just AI. The reality is there is now so much competing information and disinformation on the internet (and mainstream media) – that sorting truth from error is getting ridiculous. Campbell said (ENTER). He also said (ENTER). I think these days are already – and AI – hasn’t even hit yet.
Apply: In such an age – where even non-Christians admit truth has been thrown to the ground – I’d say – more and more – we need to get back to just relying on the basic, simple and literal understanding of the Bible, that the Holy Spirit gives us – as we pray and read God’s Word in our quiet places. We don’t need experts. We don’t need big name pastors giving us the next date for Jesus’ return because they cracked the code. What we need is faith expressing itself in 1) holiness, 2) godliness and 3) spotless living as we are guided by the Holy Spirit in simple, prayerful meditation on the meaning of God’s Word. So, get a healthy cynicism. Question everything. And be wary of high falutin, clever and tickle our ears argument designed to keep us friends with the world and avoid the cost of being faithful to Jesus. But do not worry. Do not be afraid. Jesus warned us that all these things would happen and hopefully soon, but just at the right time – our Yeshua will appear, our enemies will be vanquished AND we will cross the Jordan and enter into our promised land – our forever home of righteousness Let me pray…
Addressing an Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference
15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience (2Pet.3:9) means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of THESE MATTERS. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 BUT GROW (1Pet.2:2) in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Jesus has given you his perfect life what Peter is now saying is to make every effort to live in a way that is consistent with your fulfilment of Jesus’ promise talks about being spotless and blameless AND these words are probably significant – because in 1 Peter – they were used to describe Jesus.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort (excuses for sin; or real effort…) to be found spotless, blameless (These two words occur in reverse order in 1Pe 1:19, where they refer to Jesus; cf2Pet.2:13 – false teachers opposite) and at peace with him.