The Fruit of Future Hope in Your Life Now
Peace, holiness, share–2 Peter 3:14-15
I do a little bit of gardening. in the past I have especially loved fruit trees—why? Because of the fruit. I rescued a neglected orange tree in Arizona and it produced the best orange juice ever from December to February. I had an apple tree at our first house here. I trimmed it for easy access. It took me four seasons of care to get it just right so it would produce and wow it produced incredible amounts of apples–just in time for us to move to a different house.
I have never had one, maybe someday–but I would love a dwarf fruit tree which produces all different kinds of fruit on one single tree. I’m not certain they come in the dwarf model, but they do have trees which produce plums, nectarines and peaches all on the same tree from grafting–all different kinds of citrus on one tree. Lots of different fruit on one single tree.
The same thing is true of each of you. The Bible uses fruit as an X-ray to expose the heart of those who claim to know Christ. Christians produce fruit that looks like Christ, and those who don’t produce fruit are not Christians–even though they claim the name. Jesus teaches this truth in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:16, “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20So then, you will know them by their fruits.“
There is a biblical expectation that if you are saved, then you will produce Christlike fruit–others will see Christ through your service, sacrifices, and words that can only be produced by Christ living through you. What’s sweet about those single trees with all kinds of different fruit on them? That is what the Lord does in the life of a Christian. He produces all different kinds of fruit on one Christian.
In our study of 2 Peter the apostle declares, if you are looking daily for Jesus Christ to come again, then it will result in some unique and healthy fruit blooming and coming to maturity in your life–and not merely apples, but oranges, cherries, and peaches. I realize you don’t want to be fruity. But I do know in the heart of every one of you here is a desire to be more like Christ–to see more of Christ through you.
So today, open your Bibles to 2 Peter 3 and follow along with your outline. See if you can identify the fruit God produces in the lives of those who anticipate the return of Christ in verses 11 to 15a. “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.”
Peter talks about your core, your character and your calling. Anticipating Christ’s return is going to change everything about you. In addition to your life being focused on eternity instead of today, last week–there are three additional fruits today. So far, like a single tree producing four different fruits, Christians who long for the Second Coming will be . . .
#1 preoccupied with eternity over this life Verses 12 to 13
#2 the core of their heart will grow to be at peace, even in the midst of an unstable, hostile world
#3 their character will grow uniquely holy
#4 their calling will increase with a passion to look for every opening to share the Gospel
You know how important the Second Coming of Christ is? If you don’t believe in the literal and physical return of the glorified Christ to planet earth, then you are not a Christian. Jesus’ return is explicitly referred to 1,845 times in the Bible. Jesus’ Second Coming is mentioned 8 times more than his first coming. Believers are exhorted over fifty times to be ready for the Second Coming.
In verses 1 to 10, the Scripture focuses on the certainty of the return of Christ.
In verses 11 to 18, Peter makes it very clear the Second Coming will radically change the way you live.
Peter begins the second half of chapter 3 with an explosive summary statement in verse 11, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” Peter is literally declaring a statement. If you truly anticipate Christ’s coming, “How astonishingly excellent you ought to be.” What sort of people you ought to be–what kind of people you ought to be. The Greek word sort means foreigner—“This world is not your home.” You’re a foreigner. You act differently, you speak differently–not oddly, but uniquely, attractively.
Coming judgment causes you and I to live, verse 11, holy and godly. Holiness is unique and separate, and godliness is Christlike and pleasing to God. Following the verse 11 summary, now verses 12 to 18 describe the fruit that comes from anticipation. Last week we saw that longing for Christ will cause you to be . . .
#1 Living for ETERNITY; Longingly
Read verses 12 and 13, “Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
Looking means a sense of excited anticipation for the return of Christ. Then notice “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” The word hastening means to hurry up–used six times in the New Testament. First in Luke 2, the shepherds “came with haste”. Second in Luke 19, Jesus told Zaccheus to “make haste and come down.” Then third, “he made haste and came down.” And fourth in Acts 20, Paul “hastened … to be at Jerusalem” and fifth, Acts 22, the Lord told Paul to “make haste and get … out of Jerusalem.”
Do you know what this means? We want Jesus to hurry up. For what? See it in verse 12, “the coming of the day of God.” This is after God destroys the entire universe–and now at the day of God, He sets up a new heaven and new earth. Can you say, “Amen,” to, “Hurry up, Lord–we can’t wait”? You are not looking forward to the judgment of your lost friends, but you are looking forward with a hurry up heart to eternity with Christ in a totally new Heaven and Earth.
At the Day of God, our King promises to create a new universe. God will triumph over all who oppose Him. He will eradicate sin and our God will destroy death. Christ wins. And the best part is the Greek word coming–it means presence, speaking of the personal presence of Christ. We are looking forward to being with our Savior, to live with Christ face-to-face, up close and personal as all believers will now exist, verse 13, “in righteous perfection.”
It will be so mindblowing, so good, so satisfying–you and I in the future will choose to not recall this former world. Isaiah 65:17, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.” And now, as you anticipate Christ’s coming and focus on the world to come, you ’ll begin to value your future home more than your present home. You will change now, because of Christ’s coming in the future. What you value will change–and friends, your heart will also change.
#2 Living with sweet internal PEACE; Diligently
Verse 14, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace.” Peter’s readers lived in a hostile world under terrible conditions. There was way too much to fret and worry over. So Peter brings the readers back from the world to come, where God is all-in-all, to this world where Nero thought he was all-in-all and Rome could do whatever it wanted. It was a mad, bad, sad world–full of fears, tears and spears.
Peter is talking to Christians here, since he calls them, verse14, “beloved”. Beloved is the same term our Father calls the Son, “This is my beloved Son”–a tender, intimate, affectionate term, meaning very much loved. So Peter is talking to believers here, which helps us understand what kind of peace Peter is describing. Peter is not describing the peace that comes from salvation, but the peace which grows in sanctification.
At salvation, Jesus says in John 14:27, He gives you peace with God. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” In sanctification, Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:22 the fruit of the Spirit is peace. But as Peter is talking to beloved believers, this peace is the peace of heart we can experience as Christians.
Peter adds when in verse 14—believers are “looking for these things.” What things? When you are anticipating the Second Coming, when you’re more excited about the new earth than the old earth, when you can’t wait to be forever face-to-face with Christ–then you can verse 14, “be diligent to be found by Him in peace.” When Peter says “be found by Him”, He’s telling the beloved to be in an ongoing condition of peace. When Christ arrives, your heart should be already at peace.
But wait a minute–to enjoy this internal peace, you and I have to be diligent? Yes, Peter actually commands you here to be diligent–to live diligent. Peter is pressing his readers to develop a sharp desire, an impatient expectancy and make every effort to live in a continual condition of peace. Doesn’t that sound crazy? Peter commands beloved believers to try really hard to be peaceful in heart. It’s like he’s saying, “Start panicking for a heart of peace.” Or, “Stress out to live in peace.” What does Peter mean?
The Bible clearly does teach you and me to pursue peace. Psalm 34:14, “Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Second Timothy 2:22, “Flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and pursue peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” But it still seems contradictive to be fighting for peace–aggressively striving for peace. Until you realize what Peter is saying.
Peter is not saying to work up peace. He’s saying work toward those disciplines which result in peace. Diligently pursue those areas of the Christian life which will cause your heart to be at peace. What are those disciplines? What results in peace? One major ingredient of peace in your life is assurance of salvation. You will not be anticipating Christ’s return if you are uncertain you’re part of His redeemed family. You must be convinced you are born again, forgiven for your sins, and part of his protected family to enjoy peace in your heart and anticipate His coming.
How do you gain assurance which leads to peace? Write these verses down. Second Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” Second Peter 1:10, “Brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”
God says you are assured of your salvation by examining your life for evidences of genuine spiritual life. Assurance doesn’t come from the church you attend, the family you belong to, an emotional decision you made once, or a comfortable notion that you must be a Christian cause you know some Bible, like Jesus, and don’t worship Buddha. Assurance comes from evidence Christ is in you and living through you by His Spirit–that is the path to peace. That assurance evidence comes from . . . write these truths down.
1) The DIRECTION of your life
Assurance is not based on a decision once where you stepped into the salvation box. No, true believers follow Christ. John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” True believers follow Christ–they head toward Christ, not away.
2) The GROWTH of your life
As Peter said above in 2 Peter 1:10–you practice these truths, you are growing. Hebrews 12:14, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” If you are not growing in some manner, even a little, you are not God’s true child.
3) The REPENTANCE of your life
To come to Christ, you repent of sin–to grow in Christ, you continue to repent of sin. But friends listen carefully, repentance is not talking about your sin–repentance is turning from your sin.
4) The FRUIT of your life
The letter of 1 John instructs Christians to look for the fruit of right doctrine, the fruit of love for God and love for others, the fruit of endurance, and the fruit of obedience. John is so pointed, he slaps your face with 1 John 2:4, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Friends, peace comes from assurance and assurance comes from genuine evidences of spiritual life. Assurance comes from direction, not decision. Growth, not merely a Gospel understanding. Repentance from sin, not merely reasoning about sin. And fruit through your life, not merely a feeling in your life. When a believer remains intimate with Christ, they’re not easily shaken.
Even as human history moves toward final destruction, the intimate believer who lives in prayer, who lives by the Word, who lives by dependency on the Spirit, who lives in community to the local church, who lives daily anticipating Christ’s coming will live with a settled peace. Which is what Paul commanded the Philippians in 4:6 to 7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God’s peace banishes earthly worries and all Covid fears. Be diligent to enjoy God’s peace by walking dependently obedient upon Christ. Part of that peace will come from . . .
#3 Living for Christ-like PURITY; Genuinely
Verse 14 ends with “spotless and blameless”. These qualities are in contrast to the false teachers who Peter calls not spotless, but stains–and not blameless, but blemishes. To be spotless means living without any mark or stain–free from defilement before God. I don’t know about you men, but I don’t know how to live without spots or stains. Any shirt or pants I really love will get a stain on it. Some pen will leak in my pocket, some mustard will drip right on my center mass–not off to the side, but dead center.
But when you live expecting the King of the universe to show up any moment, you will seek to live spotless. Spotless has to do with character. It is how you live when no one is watching you. It is how you invest your time when you have extra. It’s how you behave when your parents are not around. It is how you spend money after you’ve paid all the bills. When you expect Christ to return at any moment, it changes the way you live when no one else is around.
The word blameless means not open to censure or adverse criticism. Blameless describes your Christian reputation. Do you have a reputation as a person who doesn’t live in overt, defiant, or ongoing sin? Blameless asks, “When people think about you, do they think of you as someone with a blatant sin problem, or someone in a Savior pursuit? It never means perfection, it means your life is headed toward Christ and He is your first love. People know you as one who loves what Christ loves and hates what Christ hates.
Are you at peace with God and with man, because you’re clean without spot before God and blameless before men? The Bible teaches you everywhere to live spotless and blameless. Psalm 15:1 and 2, “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? 2He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.” Psalm 119:1, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.”
Ephesians 1:4, “He chose us … before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” Philippians 2:15, “Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” Are you seeking to live spotless and blameless? John MacArthur says, “There are some who are neither, and others who publicly appear blameless, but whose private lives are actually far from spotless. Like modern-day Pharisees, they work hard on looking good, but fail to truly cultivate a heart of righteousness. Although outwardly they maintain an honorable reputation, they do so only by hypocritically hiding their unrepented sin.”
There are some who attend church, whose lives are characterized by secret, ongoing, unrepentant sin. The Bible warns, they will not inherit eternal life. Jesus says in Matthew 7:23, “You who practice lawlessness, I never knew you.” But here Peter emphasizes that future accountability and heavenly reward motivate believers, young and old, to continually forsake sin and obey God’s Word in their daily life. They will be diligent to live for Christ. Live knowing you are accountable, and you will be rewarded.
Romans 14:12, “Each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” Second Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” You are accountable, and you will be rewarded. Why else should you aggressively pursue this kind of holiness? To demonstrate the transforming power of the Gospel. To glorify God by living the character of Christ who is pure. To continually be ready for Christ to rapture you—like now. But understand, my family–you will stand before Christ!
Right this instant, as I stand you up in front of this entire congregation, if God were to say to you, “I ask you, what deeds have you done for God’s glory in the power of my Holy Spirit?” What will you say—how will you answer? Remembering Jesus knows all your motives and all your thoughts? This will happen to you–except it will be Christ, which will be more terrifying, and also more gracious. In fact, perfectly loving, merciful, gracious, and also true and righteous.
My family, that is why you seek to live pure now. The apostle John put it this way in 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Peter calls it spotless and blameless.
You cannot live spotless and blameless unless you are saved. You can’t do it in your own strength. You must be filled with the Spirit. But you can make progress and live genuinely pure. Peter is teaching, if you live expecting Christ to return, you will live more holy, ready for His return. Finally, the fourth fruit on your tree . . .
#4 Living for Faithful Gospel PROCLAMATION; Evangelistically
Without question, Peter wanted his Asia churches to wait eagerly for Christ’s return. At the same time, he did not want them to grow idle or isolated from people. No, you all have spiritual responsibilities in this world. You are to be in this world, not of it. And you have time right now to accomplish His mission–to call His chosen children to respond to the Gospel. God’s judgment has not come yet–His wrath had not been poured out yet. There is still time to proclaim the good news to the lost.
Peter says in verse 15, “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” Consider Christ’s delay in returning as an opportunity to proclaim the message of the Gospel to all. When you live each day awaiting Christ’s return, you live each day knowing that the Lord delays only because He is patiently awaiting His chosen to come to salvation in Christ. The Greek verb regard is Peter commanding those churches and you to act upon yourself–to consider, think, and believe that our Lord’s patience is meant for the salvation of His chosen ones. Christ will not come back until every person whom God has chosen is saved.
Verse 15 is connected here to verse 9–remember that sweet verse? “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Not only should you be joyful the Lord was patient and waited for you to be born, then born again. But you should rejoice that Christ is daily adding to His family through the Gospel until it is complete.
As you daily expect Christ to return, you will increasingly buy up every opportunity you have to call lost men and women to be reconciled to God, to turn from their sins in repentance and trust in His person and work through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone. And that opportunity is only right now, while God is still exercising His patience–but not forever.
When you expect the Lord to return, you know that when He does, those you love without Christ will have little or no opportunity to hear about Christ and to embrace the Gospel message–that Christ took the punishment you deserve for your sin on the cross, then rose again to offer you new life now and eternal life forever.
As you live each day anticipating His return and embrace your coming joy in His presence, but also accept the reality of the torment for those who are not yet His family, then act on your present spiritual responsibility to share the Gospel with the lost. If you live in the reality of Christ’s soon return, you will share the Gospel with the lost. Verse 15, “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.”
As God remains patient during this season of mercy, you will buy up every opportunity to explain the only way of salvation. The Lord only delays His return in order to save the remainder of His elect. The Lord is waiting for all His chosen family to have time to come to salvation in Christ. Like the father of the prodigal son, your God responds to repentant sinners with massive mercy and lavish grace–joyously and generously given to those who come by faith. Luke 15:10, “And all Heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents.” Who is it the Lord is calling you to share the Gospel with?
TAKE THIS HOME
A Embrace the TENSION of fruitful living
Philippians 2:11 to 12, “Work out your salvation, for it is God who is at work.” There are two extremes you must avoid. One is the attitude you are locked into God’s sovereign plan in such a way that nothing you do will make any difference. The other extreme is to think God can’t get anything done unless you do it. While God’s sovereignty must never become an excuse for laziness or inactivity on your part, neither must your efforts, plans or activities try to take His place as the sovereign Lord. Listen to the way Paul balances His responsibility in fruitful living. Colossians 1:29, “I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”
B Pursue the fruit most NEEDED
I am confident all of you who know Christ are growing more in anticipation of Christ’s return, but the fruit of that anticipation varies from saint to saint. And today, the Spirit of God grabbed a hold of your heart in one area of fruit more than any other. It could be eternity, a peace-saturated heart, a pursuit of purity and holiness, or growing in a passion for proclaiming the Gospel to lost family or friends. The fruit the Spirit most emphasized in your heart is the one you should fertilize. Memorize the Scripture, pray about it each day, share with a friend or disciple your desire to see that fruit more manifested in and through your life for God’s glory. This is one way to grow more like Christ. Respond to the Spirit’s proddings to obey His Word.
C Thank Christ for His season of MERCY
This time—TODAY, before Christ’s return was not only for our salvation, but for our reward. This is our opportunity to give to the One who gave everything for us. This is our window to faithfully serve the One who came to serve. This is our season to produce Christ-like fruit which will last for all eternity. This is our opening to share the Gospel message with those who are lost. And this is your moment to turn to Christ in repentance and trust in Him by faith.
Like a tree, examine your own life to see what kind of fruit you have? Are you producing righteous or religious fruit, Spirit or flesh, fruit or fakery, repentance or reasoning? Spiritual growth or just a sort of Church understanding? Is Christ in you? Do you pass the test? All genuine Christians are born again–meaning their sin was judged on Christ. His righteousness covers you and God has transformed you internally, indwelt you with His Holy Spirit, causing you to want to follow Christ and allowing you to obey His Word and produce Christlike fruit. Is Christ in you?