“Above 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 ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 2Pet.3:3-4.
The Spirit of God through Apostle Peter warned the Church about the ‘ministry’ of scoffers in the Church of God at the time of the end. Please note, the fulfillment of this prophecy is reserved for the end time. But, even during the early stages of the Church scoffers were already present.
Jude, in his writing to the saints, said, “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”
Note the phrase, “…follow natural instincts…” It is not necessarily sinful desires, but reasoning like a natural man. Their arguments would be based on sound logics, their insights are nothing short of ‘educated man’s guesses’. They are good in philosophy, psychology, law and ethics, social justice and common sense, but they lack spiritual insights.
When they preach and motivate, they elevate the soul but do not edify the spirit. Their inspiration is natural, not spiritual. It would take spiritual discernment and rightly dividing the Word of Truth to recognize the nature of their words … merely natural. (Heb.4:12) “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
In the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians he also mentioned the hurts these scoffers would inflict on the Church. They would say, “… These things we heard in the times of our fathers also, but behold, we have grown old, and none of them has happened to us” (Epistle to the Corinthians, xxiii).
A scoffer is a mocker. Both words are translated from the same Greek word. To scoff means to deride, reproach or ridicule. It means to jest; to make fun of or to make light of something. Scoffers would have little or no regard for the message of the soon coming of Jesus Christ. The implication is that, these people would treat with contempt and indifference, or out rightly refute the message that Jesus Christ is coming soon.
The connotation of the Greek word used suggests that these scoffers are actually teachers; false teachers. Ministers of the Gospel would preach and teach their congregations not to be worried about the message of the soon return of Jesus Christ; they would exhort their congregations to focus on making the best out of this present life, after all, Jesus may not return so soon. The premise of their earthly minded theology is that the alarm that Jesus is coming soon has been sounding for several hundreds of years but nothing has happened. They would be quick to cite examples of those who were so bold as to set times for this event, but it never happened (There would be more detail about this in part two of this article). Their argument would be rational, plausible and so convincing, but only to their fellow earthly minded souls.
These scoffers have every opportunity to know better. Apostle Peter said, (2Pet.3:5-7), “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being 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 the ungodly.”
To forget deliberately implies that they would school themselves to believe something else. They know the truth but would choose not to accept it. So, scoffers are not found among non-believers, but among Christians, especially the preachers, teachers and Church leaders. It is not who they are but what they preach and teach about the return of Jesus Christ. They would be so bold in their error that they cannot be corrected, and they would command large followership.
Proverbs 9:7-9, says, “Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt. So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you. Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.”
When it was time to destroy Sodom, even the Ministry of Angels could not make much impact. The people of Sodom had become so hard-hearted and so educated in logical reasoning that spiritual matters were incomprehensible to them. When the in-laws of Lot were given the message of imminent judgment on Sodom, they mocked. “So Lot rushed out to tell his daughters’ fiancés, ‘Quick, get out of the city! The LORD is about to destroy it.’ But the young men thought he was only joking.” (Gen.19:14). They had educated themselves to believe that it was impossible for judgment to fall. If the decadence in the world today is comparable to those of Sodom and Gomorrah, then scoffers would abound.
The main force that drives scoffers is the desire to please the people and desire for self-indulgence. They are preachers and teachers who would do everything to please their congregation, even at the risk of displeasing Jesus Christ. They are people-centered, not God-centered. They like crowd and know exactly what kind of messages that would attract crowd. They have personal ambitions that would be disrupted if they should believe and live in the consciousness that Jesus Christ is coming soon. Apostle Paul knew the Church would be in this state of mess and warned Timothy (2Tim4:1-5),
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
We could deduce from the warning of Paul that at the end of time false teachers would outnumber the true teachers of the Word. If majority should win the vote, the Truth would be voted out.
What is it that the people want to hear? It is something “positive”. They want to listen to sermons on peace, prosperity, blessing, and comfort, without being reminded of their sins and its consequences; impending judgment and God’s requirement for holy living. To preach the Word of God as found in the Bible would be deemed critical, judgmental and extremist interpretation. They would evolve theological rules that would kill the life application of the Word of God. Thriving churches would be mostly those where preachers concentrate on earth oriented messages. One of the most popular preachers in the USA once said, “There‘s no reason for me to teach you about heaven if you’re living through hell right now.” And millions of Christians echoed it! This is certainly not the gospel delivered by the Apostles.
The patience of God would be interpreted for weakness. Peter went further to say, (v.6)
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Yes, God wants everyone to repent but ironically not everyone would be saved. Some would live in disobedience and would be condemned. The book of Hebrews stated,
“God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.’ This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’ … for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” (Heb.4:7-11).
The Apostles of old not only preached about the return of Jesus Christ, but they also believed He was coming back in their days. Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth and said, “… we shall not all sleep…” (1Cor.14:51). He believed he was going to be translated until toward the end of his ministry when he began to exercise faith towards death. When he realized he was not going to witness the return of Jesus Christ in his life time he said, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2Tim4:6-7).
Scoffers use the experience of Paul to argue in favour of their earth centered theology, but the lesson here should rather be that, believing in the soon return of Jesus Christ should be the rule for believers even if it does not happen in our time.
Irrespective of the popular opinion, Jesus is coming soon just as He said.
“Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” Luke 12:35-38.
Angles declared that He is coming back again! “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ’Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’” (Acts 1:9-11).
Let all saints far and wide, proclaim with earnest and solemn voice, let the chorus resound in every land that, JESUS CHRIST IS COMING SOON!
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