Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 55
The Mark of False Teachers and Scoffers – Part 2
II Peter 2:9 – 3:18
As we study the Scriptures together, hopefully you’ll take it beyond the simple level and study on your own. My, it thrills our hearts when people write or call and say how they have gotten really excited about studying the Word of God because it is the most exciting book on earth! But, as I’ve said before, the scoffer, 99 times out of 100, has never really studied this Book. And he’s just scoffing from ignorance because anybody who really studies this can’t help but understand that it’s the supernaturally inspired Word of God.
All right, let’s get right back where we left off in II Peter chapter 2 (we left off in verse 20), and I think we’ll read it again.
II Peter 2:20a
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge….” In other words, these false teachers have enough understanding; they’re not totally rejecting everything, but after they’ve escaped the pollutions of the world that has the corruptions of it.
II Peter 2:20b
“…through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, (that is by the corruption) the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.”
Remember, in our last taping we went back to Simon, the sorcerer, in the book of Acts – and how that, after Samaria received the Gospel, Simon wanted that power as well. But he never became a true believer. Oh, he made all the outward appearances because otherwise the guys wouldn’t have baptized him, and he made a profession but he never had a heart-born salvation. And, consequently, if we can take a little bit from ancient church history evidently Simon went on to become one of the biggest thorns in the side of the early Church. He just became a complete adversary of the truth.
All right, so now then, we can go on into verse 21 and these kinds of people who had had enough understanding of the truth that they can use it to enhance their own false teaching. Verse 21.
II Peter 2:21
“For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” Now what’s Peter saying? It would have been better, so far as their end-judgment is concerned, had they never had any knowledge of the truth at all. They’d have been better off to go into eternity as an ignorant pagan, than to have had enough understanding to have embraced it and then turn around and reject it.
Now, I think another example of this (and we taught this quite in depth when we were back in the Hebrews lessons, and that) would be back in Hebrews chapter 6, where we have the same kind of a scenario as with this Simon – only Simon was a little more, I suppose, to the extreme. He was a false teacher and a follower of satanic magicians and so forth – whereas these Hebrew people that are addressed here were just simply Judaisers who had been steeped in Judaism and the Mosaic Law (and they saw a little bit of Paul’s Gospel of Grace which is faith in the finished work of the cross + nothing else for salvation). But they, too, turn turned away from that and went back into Judaism. So let’s look at it in Hebrews 6:4.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, (see we’re talking about the same thing. They’ve had enough understanding, they could have latched on to it) and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,” (the Holy Spirit had done His work) 5. And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (my, they got a good view of everything) 6. If they shall fall away,.…” Remember when we studied this, the Greek word was ‘parapipto,’ if I remember correctly, and parapipto was a Greek word that gave the idea of a woman who scornfully turned from her husband to go into adultery. And that’s what these people are doing. They’ve seen enough of the truth; they could have embraced it; they could have had it, but they scornfully turned around and rejected it and went back into their Judaism, and that’s why Paul then uses these words in verse 6:
“If they shall fall away, (if they shall scornfully reject all this) to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
All right, now Peter puts it in a little different language, but it’s the same setting. Only now instead of talking about good mainline Judaising Jews, now he’s talking about Jews who were false teachers. And I’m sure he was talking about Jews – Jews who are false teachers. Now verse 22.
II Peter 2:22
“”But it is happened unto them (these false teachers who had enough knowledge that they could have gone on into the truth and latched on to it, but instead, used it for merchandise, used it to enhance their own monetary situation.) according to the true proverb, (that comes out of the Old Testament economy now) The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” In other words, unless you can actually change the nature of these creatures, they’re still going to go back to their old way. And it’s the same way with a person who partakes of a false salvation. They can make a verbal commitment and they can make an outward profession but, until it comes down into the heart and transforms their nature, they’re going to go right back into their old lifestyle. And we see it over and over and over. But, for the person that is truly born from above, he’s truly had a salvation experience – he’s not going to be like the hog that has just been cleaned up and goes back to his old mud hole. No, they’re going to turn their backs on the old life and they’re going to start growing in the new. And Peter uses the same kind of an example as Paul would use in his writings to us.
All right, so there’s the problem, these people embrace enough to make it merchandisable. The Lord Himself warns us of these false teachers, something that we all have to be aware of. In fact, come back to Matthew 24 where, again, the Lord Himself is warning against the false teachers that would be coming in the last days. And, of course, we know that we’re approaching them. We’re positive that we’re approaching the last days that the Lord is referring to in Matthew 24. Lets just drop in at verse 4. And this is from the lips of the Lord Himself.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, (to the Twelve as they were asking the questions. Watch this carefully) Take heed (or Paul would say beware) that no man (what?) deceive you.” What’s the warning? Don’t be deceived! Don’t be taken in by false teachers. Here’s the reason, verse 5.
“For many shall come in my name,….” They’re going to make no apology for talking in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they’ll drop that Name glibly as part and parcel of their makeup. But the Lord reminds us.
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; (and by it they’re going to what?) and shall deceive many.” And we’re seeing it. My, when you see all these vast crowds come rolling into these places (oh, I’m sure the Lord’s going to save some of them, hopefully), but don’t you believe for a minute that these vast crowds are all experiencing a true born-from-above experience. If they were, we wouldn’t have the problems in the world that we’ve got. It would have an impact on the community, but it doesn’t. Those vast crowds don’t change things a bit, and one of the reasons is that most of these people don’t ever get to hear Paul’s Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4, for the salvation message. Most of those people at the meetings are just taken for their money and get lip service.
So the whole warning is, don’t be taken in by all these who can use the name of the Lord Jesus and seemingly preach the Gospel; and yet, with it, bring in as Paul calls them, “their damnable heresies.” Hey, they’re our sign to beware that this is maybe not the truth that they claim it is.
All right, come back with me to II Peter now; we’re ready for chapter 3. Remember that Peter is writing to Jewish believers of the Kingdom economy. There’s nothing of Paul’s Gospel of salvation in here. You can’t find a single reference of salvation by faith and faith alone in Christ’s finished work of the cross. Oh, he certainly alludes to the fact that Christ is Savior and all that, but it’s not a presentation of the Pauline Gospel of salvation – that Christ died for the sins of the world, and that He was buried and that He arose again the third day, and that we must believe it today. Paul’s Gospel of salvation is not here in these Jewish epistles because this is still Jews who had been under that Kingdom economy. When I say the Kingdom economy, remember, the Jews under Peter’s preaching had to believe that Jesus was the Promised Messiah and King for their salvation. That’s what they were to believe. And when they believed it, they became believers and they became members of the Jerusalem church.
But it was a Jewish church. There are no Gentiles involved whatsoever. And those are the offshoots, then, from the Jerusalem church that scattered because of Saul of Tarsus’ persecution back in Acts 8:1 – and they established other little congregations around that end of the Mediterranean, up along the Galilee. But these churches, I think, were predominately operating in Western Asia Minor, or Turkey as we now know it today, and those are the same seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation. All were in what we know of as Western Turkey. All right, so remember, these are the Jews to whom Peter is writing.
Also remember, when we introduced the book of James, those Jews knew nothing of Paul’s breaking open of the timeline for this Age of Grace for the past 2,000 years. The only thing they knew was the timeline as it was prophesied in the Old Testament (like in Psalms chapter 2), and as Jesus and Peter had continued it. And they looked for everything to be fulfilled within their lifetime, a matter of 20 or 30 years, and Christ would usher in the Tribulation that would bring His Second Coming. He could bring in the Kingdom, and all of these Jews were looking forward to that. But we know that never happened, because Paul’s Age of Grace, which was not prophesied in the Old Testament came into being, thus setting all of that aside for a season.
So II Peter, like I Peter, is preparing these people for the pressures they would be coming under because of their faith and the promises of the prophetic Scriptures. That’s why he’s always going back to the Old Testament. You never see anything from Paul appear in Peter. Peter isn’t quoting Paul until he tells us to go to Paul in the last few verses to find salvation.
So always be aware of this; that Peter and James and John are writing to these Jewish believers in view of the fact that the Old Testament prophecies are just going to keep unfolding – and the Tribulation, Second Coming, and Kingdom Age is right out in front of these Jewish believers. All right, you’ll see it as we come along. Now verse 1, and this second epistle was probably written about 10 years after the first.
II Peter 3:1
“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:” In other words, the true believers that he’s referring to, “by way of remembrance.”
II Peter 3:2a
“That ye may be mindful of the words (now watch this, highlight it, because this fits what I just said) which were spoken before by the holy (who?) prophets,.…” Who were the prophets? Your Old Testament writers. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Hosea, etc. And what did all the Old Testament prophets foresee? The coming of Israel’s Messiah and King and then the Tribulation. Of course, He’d be rejected and go back to Heaven – and then the Tribulation – and then their Messiah would return and set up the Kingdom, and they were looking for that.
Okay, so this is why the constant reminder is “go back to the promises of the holy prophets.” Now let’s show you what Paul says again in Romans 15 verse 8. We’ve read it often enough some of you should just know it from memory now; but this fits right along with what Peter is saying, that everything written by the prophets is now right out in front of them.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (Israel) for the truth of God, (and here’s why He came) to confirm (or fulfill) the promises made unto the fathers:”Well, who were the fathers? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses and then the prophets. And Christ came to fulfill all those promises. And what were the promises? The King and the Kingdom. That was basically what they were looking for. The glories of the Kingdom. My, who wouldn’t? Heaven on earth! That should excite anybody. And so that was the hope of Israel. And it still is for a Jew that has any knowledge at all. What’s his daily prayer? Next year Jerusalem! Next year Jerusalem! And the Jews have been uttering that for hundreds and hundreds of years.
And then the ignoramuses of the world tell us that the Jews have no business there? They’ve been looking forward to their homeland for 2,000 years. Next year Jerusalem! Why? Because that’s where the King will come. That’s where the Heaven on earth will originate. And so all of the prophets were looking forward to that. All right, back to II Peter – and so he is in line with that.
II Peter 3:2
“That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, (the Old Testament writers. And of course, that just carried on through into Christ’s earthly ministry.) and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:” They were all working on that same timeline coming out of the prophetic Scriptures. The coming of the Messiah. Rejected. Crucified. Raised from the dead. And Peter proclaims that in Acts chapter 2, “You killed Him but God raised Him from the dead. He can still fulfill the promises.”
He went back to Glory and He’s going to sit at the Father’s right hand and what’s the next word in Psalms 110? “Until.” Until, and then He’ll arise from that seated position and He’s yet going to fulfill the promises made to Israel. And we’re getting closer every day. That’s why the whole Middle East is in a turmoil. I can’t figure out why people can’t see it. Why isn’t all this turmoil over in the Orient someplace? Why isn’t it over in Western Europe? Why is it in the Middle East? Because at the core of it all is Jerusalem, the Nation of Israel. Verse 3.
II Peter 3:3
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, (false teachers again) walking after their own (what?) lusts,” Well what in the world is their lusts? Desires. And it doesn’t have to be sexual. My goodness, you can lust for money. You can lust for palaces and houses and land. See? And that’s what people do when they start getting money. The more they get, the more they want. Remember the old Texas rancher? Somebody asked him, “When in the world are you going to stop buying land?” Well he says, “When I’ve got everything around me.” Well that never stops. Every time you buy another half-section, there’s another half-section on the other side that’s still there. And so if you’re just going to buy until you’ve got everything that’s next to you, that never ends. And that is the lustful makeup of these scoffers and false teachers, and Peter is warning his people that this is a sign of the last days.
Now, the timeline goes like this: the time of Christ’s first advent, His three years of ministry and His ascension. And then was to come the seven years of Tribulation, Christ would return and set up the thousand-year Kingdom. It would end and then we’d go into eternity. Now you see, this whole ball of wax from Christ’s first advent to the ushering in of eternity in Scripture is called what? Last days.
All of this was to be consummated to bring the world to the place where we’d go into eternity. Now remember that, had it not been for the 2,000 years of the Church Age, all of this, His first advent and then the seven years of Tribulation, would have been a matter of 15 years or so. But when you throw in the thousand-year Kingdom, of course, now we’re talking about more time. But nevertheless, look at all the Scripture the thousand-year-reign of Christ is associated with – these prophecies that are all called the “last days.” Now when you look at it in that light, maybe it makes a little more sense when we talk about in “these last days.”
All right, come back to chapter 3. So Peter says that in these last days as they’re approaching now; the Tribulation, the Second Coming and the Kingdom; one of the signs that they were in the last days was the appearance of scoffers. Well, they had them then. But that doesn’t cancel them out because we’ve got them now.
I told a lady here a while back, and I think it’s so apropos. They were visiting us and we were sitting at our kitchen table and she was talking about an experience that she had had years back – sort of a bizarre experience. A great white light filled her room or something like that and she had always just assumed that that was Jesus and that was her salvation. (II Corinthians 11:14) But after she got to watching our program and understood the Gospel of Grace, she became truly saved. So she’s sharing this with me, and she said, “Les this bothers me. All those years I was thinking that that bright light experience had saved me, and it didn’t. I was lost.”
I said, “So what? The important thing is you’re saved now!” So regardless of what the past may be, if you’re a believer today, that’s what counts. Are you saved now?
Okay, now Peter is more or less saying the same thing. That we’ve got to understand that all of the signs of the soon-coming Tribulation and the Messiah of Israel were right in front of them; they were seeing it then. But don’t chuck that aside just because that’s all past; because here we are 2,000 years later and the whole scenario is back on the scene. Remember I pointed this out, that just as surely as we had the Roman Empire and Israel in the land (as all these prophecies were ready to be fulfilled), here we are 2,000 years later and once again Israel is back in the land; the Roman Empire is reappearing in the Common Market, and so everything is now reset. It’s reset and ready to go again, see?
All right, now keep that in mind then that as Peter is proclaiming this to his Jewish believers in preparation for the end and the last days. Even though we’ve had a 2,000-year interval, we are, once again, in the same place. Israel is back in the land. The Roman Empire is reappearing. The scoffers are coming in like never before in human history. Everything is reset. Déjà vu. Okay, verse 4, and these scoffers will say:
II Peter 3:4a
“And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers.…” These are Jews that are saying this, because who was constantly referring to the fathers? Well, Jews were. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were the fathers of Israel. And so this is what the scoffers are saying, “Why, ever since Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we’ve been hearing this stuff. It’s never going to happen.”
II Peter 3:4b
“…for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” What are they ignoring? Things aren’t always the same as they were from the creation. There’s one great big upheaval that intervened between creation and when Peter was writing, and what was it? Noah’s Flood. See, Noah’s Flood totally revamped the whole earth. And so he goes on into that. That’s the next subject. All right, the scoffers say, “All things continue as they were from the creation, nothing has ever changed.” Peter says, “Wait a minute!” Verse 5.
II Peter 3:5a
“For this they willingly are ignorant.…” I like that term, “willingly ignorant,” because that’s most people. They don’t want to know the truth. They just simply say, I don’t want to hear it. What is that? Willingly ignorant. We get many phone calls from people who say they show some of these things they have learned to individuals that should be able to say, “Well, just let me study this for a while and then I’ll see if I can agree with you or not.” But they won’t. They just slam the Book shut and say, “I don’t believe that!” Well, what are they? Willingly ignorant. All right, now in this case, Peter is talking about Noah’s Flood.
II Peter 3:5
“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:” (and they are willingly ignorant.)