"Safe in His Hands"
God knows how to rescue his children from very trying situations. It doesn't mean we never face trials; it means he is with us through the trials and brings us out to solid ground.
Safe in His Hands
(2 Peter 2:4-9)
A. In 1905 Charles Tindley penned the words and music to a song I grew up singing. It is not in our hymnals, but you might remember the words. The verses go like this: (By and By)
B. Peter was an individual who knew about being rescued from sin and wrong choices. At the cross, he denied knowing Jesus three times. Peter had thought that he could stand strong on His own and follow Jesus no matter what, but He found out that he needed help. After the cross Peter gave up and went back to fishing. He was down on himself feeling depressed and distraught because he had turned his back on the one he had given up everything to follow. Peter needed rescued.
C. God did not leave Peter alone to drown in his sea of sin and wrong choices. God knew his heart, and Peter was a righteous man who had done an unrighteous act. God threw him a lifeline – Jesus. After the resurrection, Jesus went looking for Peter not to condemn him, but to rescue him. Peter had learned a valuable lesson in life – God knows how to rescue the righteous!
I. Peter’s Stories
A. Peter loves the OT. He loves the stories and the lessons he learned from them. He told us how valuable the Scriptures were and that the Holy Spirit guided the men who wrote them. Now he wants to use some those stories as an example of how God can rescue the righteous from the wicked.
B. The first story he tells us is difficult to pinpoint in the Bible. There was a time when angles sinned and God punished them. One idea is this might be the story of Gen. 6:1-4. Jude and 2 Peter are similar and Jude says (Jude 5-7). Whatever the situation was with these angels, what we need to know is God was more powerful and did not keep his wrath from sinful beings.
C. Then Peter tells the story of the earth in the days of Noah. Gen. 6:5-9. What I want you to understand is that in the midst of all the wickedness on the face of the earth there was still a righteous man who led his family to God. God rescued him. Gen. 7:1
D. The next story Peter reminds us of is that of Lot. His story is also told in Genesis. While most of that story is told in chapter 19, we are told some about the pre-story when Abraham pleads with God not to destroy Sodom if God could find 10 righteous people. God said he would not for the sake of the ten.
E. But ten were not found. God was going to destroy the wicked, but that did not mean he would destroy the righteous also. God sent angels down to bring Lot and his family out of Sodom. The influence of that city upon his wife, daughters and sons-in-law was horrible. The cost was that the men who were to marry his daughters died, his wife looked back and died and his daughters behaved horribly after they were rescued. Nonetheless, God still rescued Lot, not because he was perfect, but because he was considered righteous.
II. God Knows How To Rescue
A. Now Peter tells these stories to bring us to a deep spiritual understanding. It is found in verse 9. But I want to summarize this whole section down to one sentence. (underlined “if” parts)
B. The point is that God does deal with the unrighteous and with righteous as He see fit. God’s idea of justice may be different than ours. We might think God ought to do more punishing on some and less on others, but God knows and does as he sees the hearts of people. I am not that good at judging a person’s heart.
C. Next week when I talk about false teachers and false stories, it is taken from the verses before and after this section. So the bigger picture is that these Christians were suffering in some manner because they believed and the people around them did not. What Peter wanted them to know is that they are safe in the hands of God. God knows how to rescue godly people from trials and how to hold the ungodly accountable on the day of judgment.
D. Being safe in the hands of God does not mean no pain or trials. Peter did not pass over the troubles these Christians were called upon to endure. In fact, most of the NT talks about suffering as a Christian. John spend much time in the book of Revelation talking about the need to remain faith and how those who do remain faithful have a reward from God in heaven. It would great to say that if you say the right prayers and do the right amount of good works then you will not face spiritual trials, but that would not be true.
III. Faithfulness Has Its Reward
A. Peter knew that he was soon to die. Tradition states that he died on a cross upside down. Paul would tell Timothy that he knew that his time of departure was at hand. These men did not worry about their death even though it was most likely done at the hands of sinful men. Why? They knew what was ahead of them. I love how Paul says to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
B. Righteousness and godliness as used by Peter does not mean perfection. It is a reference to being a disciple of Christ, to following his ways instead of the ways of the world. I have no doubt that both Noah and Lot were imperfect people but that did not make them unrighteous. But I do know that when you are safe in the hands of God you don’t need to worry about you spiritual future. I am saved by faith through and in the grace of God, not by works so that I would not boast. God created good works for me to do, but those good works will not save me. He gave me a direction for walking in the light. Jesus became my example in word, deed, thought and action. I am to be like him in all things. But does my struggle keep God from rescuing me from the punishment he will bring upon the unrighteous? That I answer, no. My failures are not final when live in repentance and not trampling the blood of Jesus underfoot and insulting the Spirit of grace.
A. Are you a godly person? I don’t mean a good, moral person. There are many of those who are not godly. Are you a person who has died to self and been born again in Christ? Do you see your own sin and how it has destroyed your relationship with God and how only Jesus could restore that relationship? If you see that, have you acted upon it by allowing that repentance to lead you to being baptized and born into a new spiritual child of God? Now, are you walking in the light as He is in the light or do you think you rest upon your good laurels and think that’s okay?
B. Being godly is in and ungodly world is not easy. It requires whole-hearted devotion. It requires me to stop looking at me and keep my eyes focused on him. If you have your way in this world, I invite you to come home. Home to a God who can and does rescue you. Come as we stand and sing.