Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SCOFFERS”

Second Peter 3.3-7

 

“The Christian message does not begin with ‘accept Christ as your Savior’; it begins with ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’”[1]

Though you may recognize the truth of this statement, as well as the necessity of it, most churchgoers in the United States simply do not recognize the importance necessity of building a proper presentation of the gospel atop the Genesis account of creation, as well as the Genesis account of God’s early dealings with mankind. This is because Christianity has so affected the thinking of mankind that most people do not realize that before Christianity most people thought the physical universe was eternal. In fact, pantheism, the notion that there is no real distinction between God and the universe, can only exist on the foundational principle that the universe is eternal.

As well, such well-known scientists as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking insist the universe is eternal, because if it had a beginning then it must have had a Beginner, if it had an origin it must have had an Originator, and if the universe is an effect it must have had a Cause, requiring the existence of God. That is something they do not want to admit. However, despite the opposition of the most famous and the most well publicized scientists, advances are being made by creationists and Bible believers in their struggle for admission to the marketplace of ideas. One energetic opponent of Christianity, a philosopher named Quentin Smith, reports that professors in universities around the country consistently say that one-quarter to one-third of their [philosophy] departments now consist of theists, generally Christians.[2]

Here is another example of the kind of advances being made in the marketplace of ideas: “Herbert Benson of Harvard, who claims no religious faith, is famous for his catchy saying that we are all ‘wired for God.’ Our bodies simply function better, he says, when we believe in God.”[3] Quite an admission from a Harvard university professor in a Boston Globe interview.

We have seen our share of challenges to the secular humanist worldview that used to have an absolute lock on scientific credibility. We know that the facts used by the secular humanists, the Bible rejecters, are a better fit to the Biblical account of creation than to any other view. However, we are being naive if we think most scientists, most philosophers, most intellectuals, most teachers and academics, most people, are objective and rational and that they arrive at the positions they hold from any firm commitment to the truth at any cost. There will always be what God’s Word refers to as scoffers.

To that end, turn in your Bible to Second Peter 3.3-7, where we will consider those types of lost people every Christian eventually crosses paths with, people termed scoffers. If you have that passage before you, stand and read along with me:

 

3      Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

4      And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

5      For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

6      Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

7      But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

 

Three simple hooks to hang your thoughts on this evening concerning scoffers:

 

First, CONSIDER WHAT A SCOFFER IS

 

The Greek word translated scoffer in our text, empaiktai, is a word that is translated “mockers” in Jude 18. Jude 18 reads, “How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.” If you will look at Jude 19, you will see that scoffers, mockers such as these, are most definitely lost: “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” I say this because in Romans 8.9 the Apostle Paul declares to his readers, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

The kind of people dealt with in this passage, however, is not only scoffers, what are also labeled as mockers. We have also seen good evidence in God’s Word that they are lost. As well (and this is particularly important, I think), it is of particular concern to Peter that his readers know that such as these surface “in the last days.” In Jude 18, we see that the mockers come to the fore “in the last time.”

“The last days” and “the last time” refers to that entire period from the arrival of the Messiah to His return.[4] Therefore, though there have been scoffers, mockers, in times past, it is a particularly serious problem in this era in which we live. We are living in “the last days.”

 

Next, CONSIDER WHAT A SCOFFER DOES

 

First, notice what they do. According to verse three, they walk after their own lusts. Peter is referring in his comments about scoffers, of course, to their manner of life, to the course of their lifestyle. These people have given in to their appetites and succumbed to the enticements of their urges. In their pursuit of sexual pleasure they will tolerate no barriers, will permit no restraints. In the passage, we are considering we become particularly aware of their aversion to any thought of future judgment, of God in any way holding them accountable for their wickedness. “They want an eschatology that fits their conduct.”[5]

Next, notice what they say. Notice what Peter tells his readers in verse 4: “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” You know Christians have been waiting for the return of Christ for almost 2,000 years. Scoffers capitalize on the disappointment Christians have had to deal with by ridiculing us and making fun of our unfulfilled hopes and desires. The Christian faith embraces an understanding of the Bible that teaches of God’s miraculous creation in the beginning, and of God’s judgment by means of a worldwide Flood. We call this catastrophism. Scoffers, on the other hand, cling tenaciously to what geologists refer to as uniformitarianism, the belief that all physical processes, especially the slow processes of erosion that we presently see, have always occurred at the rate we see them occurring now. We say the earth is young, while they say the earth is very old. We say such things as the Grand Canyon were formed by a great amount of water over a brief span of time, while they maintain the Grant Canyon was gradually formed over a very long period by small amounts of water. Some people wonder what difference it makes. The difference it makes is whether the Bible is trustworthy, whether the Bible records history accurately, even if it does not record history using scientific language.

Finally, notice what they know, or willingly refuse to know.

 

5      For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

6      Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

 

The great propaganda that so many people are tricked into believing is this false notion that scientists are interested only in the truth, wherever it might lead them, and that college professors are noble guardians of man’s wisdom. Of course, that is utter nonsense in most cases. With respect to those who disagree with the Bible, we are specifically told what is at work. Scientists are willingly ignorant of the truth about origins. Notice to two major truths the intellectually dishonest refuse to remember, choose to ignore: First, they will not come to grips with evidence of creation, verse 5: “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.”

Next, they will not come to grips with God’s judgment of mankind by means of a worldwide Flood, verse 6: “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” Why are scoffers willingly ignorant of God’s creation of all things and of the worldwide Flood? Keeping in mind that these are people given over to their own lusts, they want no claims upon them that God has a right to order their lives because He created them, which is why they studiously avoid any evidence leading to the conclusion that the earth is young, that the universe was created, thereby admitting there is a God Who created it all. As well, they tenaciously cling to the uniformitarianism that denies a worldwide Flood because they want no evidence pointing to God’s judgment of man’s past sins.

They simply do not want to admit that what they are doing is sinful (How dare anyone question the rightness or wrongness of what they do?) and that God, by right of creation, is fully within His rights to judge misbehavior and disobedience. Understand that scoffers are not always articulate, just as Christians are not always articulate. Therefore, they may not always have completely thought through the logic behind their ridicule of the truth, their denials that God created or that God judged the world by Flood in the past. What identifies them, however, is not their thinking processes, but their behavior. They mock our belief in God’s supernatural intervention in the creation of the existing natural order. They ridicule any suggestion of His past judgment of sin. Therefore, when you think to yourself, “How can he not see this?” you need to understand that he does not want to see this. He does not want to recognize the obvious. He does not want to be held accountable for his sins by God. He is hoping against hope that if he denies admitting the truth it may turn out not to be true after all.

 

Finally, CONSIDER HOW A CHRISTIAN SHOULD RESPOND

 

You recognize, of course, that scoffers can cause a great deal of damage to our efforts to bring the lost to Christ. As well, they have been responsible over the centuries for an astonishing amount of persecution that has led to unimaginable suffering on the part of God’s people. Therefore, it is appropriate that we consider how we should respond in the face of scoffing, in the face of mocking.

Before we address the Christian’s response to scoffers, let us agree about the dynamic that exists between the Christian and the scoffer. The Christian witnesses. That is what we do. We engage people in conversations and eventually work our way around to spiritual matters. Knowing that discussing the things of God with someone who denies God created everything, we find that the battleground of ideas is most frequently related to creation, to the Flood, and our conviction that the Bible can be believed.

Thus, the Christian is rightly seen as initiating things, with the scoffer proper seen as most generally reacting to what the Christian has said or done. The Christian makes some kind of a statement that the scoffer finds objectionable, so the scoffer reacts by ridiculing, berating, or in some way voicing his strong opinion that actually believing the Bible is stupid, that you can’t prove God created everything, that there is no evidence for the Flood, etc.

So, you are chatting with this nice person you have recently met, you mention how you enjoyed a DVD you recently watched that showed strong evidence favoring creation over evolution, and this person has a conniption fit. Now, what do you do? To figure out what you should do, why don’t we look at what others have done in the past when faced with similar types of situations?

Turn to the little epistle written by Jude, where we learn about Enoch:

 

14     And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15     To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

16     These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

17     But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

18     How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

 

We know from verses 14 and 15 that Enoch preached about Christ’s second coming to execute judgment upon the ungodly. We see what sinners were like in his day, in verse 16, and we are reminded that the Lord Jesus Christ warned His apostles about such mockers. However, do we see Enoch doing anything other than what he normally did? I do not think so. In other words, I do not think Enoch altered his behavior one bit because of the mockers.

Then, there was Noah. We know God warned Noah that there would be a Flood, and that Noah exercised faith by building the Ark. We learn that in Hebrews 11.7. In Second Peter 2.5, we learn that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. Thus, it makes sense that Noah preached about God’s impending judgment of the world while he built the Ark for deliverance from God’s judgment. So, what was Noah’s reaction to the ridicule and the scorn that he had to have faced as he preached and as he and his sons labored to build the Ark? I find no reaction in the Bible. In the face of obvious opposition, Noah simply continued to do what God wanted him to do.

Then, there were the Apostles. Keeping in mind that when they dealt with Jewish listeners they were dealing with those who did not deny either God’s creative work or God’s judgment by means of the Flood, scorners in the New Testament would therefore be Gentiles. How did Peter, Paul, and the others respond to the resistance of the scorners? They simply continued to do what they were already doing. They certainly did not let the reactions of scorners and mockers stop them from evangelizing in any way.

Finally, what about the martyrs since the days of the Apostles? Do we read of faithful Christians being stopped by the opposition of their persecutors, many of whom were scoffers? Quite the contrary. The great gains that are being made throughout Africa and Asia are gains that are being made in the face of terrible persecution, intense opposition, brought on by wicked men who want no accountability to God and who deny both God’s creative work and His past judgments. This should not surprise us, since we know from colonial days great advances were made by Baptists despite great persecution. Harassed, beaten, frequently jailed, Baptists continued to preach and evangelize wherever they happened to be, allowing no obstacle to stop their efforts to bring the lost to Jesus Christ.

 

What, then, are we to conclude? We are to conclude that scorners will be encountered in our service to Christ and in our spreading of the gospel. Their opposition will be strong and fierce, but we cannot allow their opposition to stop us.

Perhaps an understanding of their motives is helpful in dealing with them, though apart from God’s intervention by convicting their hearts no success can be guaranteed. We know they are driven by their lusts, and they want no god to be accountable to. This is why they deny creation, reject the notion of past judgment, and resort to mocking and ridicule instead of a reasoned discussion of the issues.

They reject the authority of the Word of God out of hand. This is sad, since verse 7 tells us, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

Thus, we who believe the Bible know that God’s spoken word brought the universe into existence, and presently sustains the universe, reserving it against the day of judgment in the future, a judgment that will be by fire instead of by water.

Decide now that you are going to do then, Christian, when a scoffer challenges you. I am not suggesting that you stand face to face with the guy and win an argument. I am suggesting that you decide now that you will not then allow anyone’s ridicule or mockery to stop you from serving God, or to stop you from seeking to bring the lost to church.

Scoffers are simply a last days fact of life that we must learn to deal with. Can scoffers be saved? They certainly can be saved. You see, I was once a scoffer. I ridiculed the notion of creation and a worldwide Flood. How did I get over that? God bothered me. That is the real solution to the scoffer’s problem with the truth, God bothering him.

However, what do you do until God bothers that scoffer? Just keep doing what you ought to be doing anyway. Help us get people into the church house and under the sound of the gospel.



[1] Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), page 45.

[2] Ibid., page 58.

[3] Ibid., page 60.

[4] See footnote for 2 Peter 3.3 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1958.

[5] Ibid.



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org