Why 2 K?
Larry Kirkpatrick. Price Seventh-day Adventist Church. 1 January 2000
Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 3:9-14
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Still Planetside After 6000 Years
Well, here we are. Morning on day-one of the year 2000. And where is here? Planetside. Earthside. Not the new earth, mind you, but the original, still bearing the curse of sin. Six-thousand years ago our Creator made a promise to the rebel race that He would send a Savior who would crush the head of Satan and put enmity against sin back into the human heart. He promised to send His Son and then He did. Genesis 3:15. And He died on the cross. Afterward our resurrected Lord came to His disciples and told them that all authority in heaven and earth had been given to Him, and on the basis of that authority He commanded us to go and fulfill the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). And He promised finally to return (John 14:1-3).
All of that was about 2000 years ago.
And still we are here.
So today we consider a timely question, namely, Why 2 K? Not “year 2000,” but “Why [year] 2000?” Why hasn’t Jesus ended sin in this universe and returned? A fair question. Let’s look at it.
Does Humanity Really Have Any Meaningful Role in the Conflict Between Good and Evil?
To begin with, we need to know whether God has hard-wired and hard-coded the great controversy, or not. Has God pre-arranged and pre-destined every element of the conflict between good and evil from the beginning? Is, for example, what Joseph Smith said true, that “Adam fell that men might be?”[2 Neph 2:25], and that God created a dualistic universe to fulfill His eternal purposes? [2 Neph 2:17] For if God has pre-arranged the whole drama between good and evil, and humans have no part in the ultimate outcome, then there is little point in having a conflict at all. But before we ask if there can be a delay in the second coming of Jesus, we need to ask why didn’t God just finish this conflict the first day it sprang up? He could simply have erased the memory of every being that He had made and started over. No one would have been any the wiser.
But then, that’s the problem, isn’t it. No one would have been any the wiser.
You see, if God can, in the end, throw up His hands and tell the universe “O.K., it is true; I have never been able to really change human beings through My gospel of grace. But I’m going to end this thing anyway,” then all of the suffering and sorrow of the past 6000 years was in vain. But that cannot be, for the Scripture says that the creation was only made subject to the effects of sin within the sphere of the hope of restoration (Romans 8:20). The whole creation is trapped in the bitter impact of the conflict and waits in hopeful expectation for the day when the gospel of God will be conclusively manifested through the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:22, 19).
But all of this is reduced to a meaningless torture if all of this has been predetermined. If it is all predetermined, then what use of investing 6000 years into the matter? Thus, the very fact that heaven has invested such a vast reservoir of time and energy and interest into permitting the concrete demonstration of righteousness and of evil suggests that there is a significant part that God would have us play in the proceedings! The whole of the matter cannot be hard-wired, or the conflict is merely the equivalent of a video-taped program: finished, unalterable, un-influencible, and predetermined. The great controversy, if it is thus, is no more than a mandatory torture for all of the universe.
But it is not that.
God is all powerful, and thus could force the outcome to go His way. But He knows that this is not about power; it is about morality, ideas, and truth. Raw, overpowering might cannot conclusively decide such a conflict.
The Bible does not say “You are purchased with a price: Therefore, sit back and watch the conflict passively.” Rather, “You are bought with a price: therefore glorify God…” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Notice the teaching of the block of Scripture (2 Peter 3:9-12) selected for the foundation of this message:
1. God is not lazy about His promise (2 Peter 3:9).
2. He is giving every opportunity for repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
3. The day of the Lord will come, and judgment against evil will be fully carried-out (2 Peter 3:10).
4. With our awareness of this, we are called to live in a holy manner (2 Peter 3:11).
5. We are to look toward and speed-up the arrival of the day of promise (2 Peter 3:12).
From these points we extract the following principles:
A. Heaven urges us to live in a way that morally harmonizes with His government.
B. Living this way can accelerate the time when Jesus returns.
Which immediately leads to the question: why?
Why Do Our Lives Matter?
Who Has Seen God?
It is worth our wondering why God has centered the conflict here. What differences are there between us and every other being in the universe? One is that we have all sinned and very few of them have. But another is that they have all seen God; they have all, every one of them looked into the face of God, directly, and beheld His unveiled, streaming glory. They have seen goodness at its source. They have looked into the most unselfish eyes in all that is. And some of them have seen all of the riches of what God is, and have said, “no. I’ll not have this God to rule over me.” When you have seen it all, how do you develop faith?
But, you and I, we can develop faith. We have seen God by faith. But there is a lot more to see. We haven’t seen it all yet. “Been there, done that” is something we can never authentically utter when it comes to the beauty of what God is. God is love. And “love never faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:10). And if this love will never cease, then who among us can say they’ve plumbed the depths and seen enough? Don’t you realize that the only way that the fallen angels could be legitimately condemned is if they have committed the unpardonable sin? if they have seen the brightest light and built up a numbing spiritual callous so thick that they have utterly and entirely deadened their spiritual faculty to the influence of God? Before God condemned the rebel angels, we may rest assured that He shed upon them with fullest wisdom all of His glory that they could stand. Surely heaven left no stone unturned in trying to reach them.
What more could He do than show them all that He is? What more reserve power does He have for them? But we live out our lives under a darker light. Our world is veiled. We do not see very well or very clearly. Heaven still has mighty revelations for us, if we are willing to receive them. We can learn and grow and develop trust in our unseen Creator.
So you see, it is true, we do stand in a different relation to God than any other beings in the universe. You look out into the sky at night and you see the stars. And you wonder what’s out there. But it works the other way too? Many of those points of light out there may have planets around them populated by beings looking our direction, and wondering ever-so-curiously how our race could have rebelled against God? Their eyes open in awe at the mercy and power of God expressed to us, the wonder of grace. This is a mystery friends, that we get to live–the fullness of the plan of redemption.
We Get to Live It
And so Jesus didn’t go somewhere out there, but He came right here, and set up His tent here on this rebel planet in a human body. He came to seek and save the lost. Obviously then, “the lost” are seekable and saveable! Amen to that!
See, Jesus can kindle faith in our dark hearts. He can light the fire of faith in a race that has never seen God face-to-face. Humanity can do something–can help all of the beings in the universe understand something that no other race can. No other creatures that God has made have stood in the place where we do. What about the fallen angels? Oh, they are very different than us. From their initial creation they apparently do not experience sexuality as we do, they do not have fathers or mothers, they do not have children, or experience childhood. They are created physically mature. The first thing they probably ever saw was the glowing face of their Creator. They cannot do what we can do: learn to live by faith in our heavenly Father.
We Are the Test-Case
And because of this, we are the test case for God’s grace. We present to the universe a unique laboratory for the working out of good and of evil.
Seventh-day Adventists are probably the most studied religious group there has ever been. In order to isolate what makes a difference, you need a control group–a group that is consistent, and subject to the same variables as another group. Physicians and scientists have studied our diet, and with fascinating results. But may I suggest that what you have there is merely a microcosm of what is actually happening at a whole different level. Because really the universe is watching the earth. Here we have two groups, two control groups. So experimental results may be obtained by looking into the lives of those who keep God out and let Satan in, versus those who let God in and keep Satan out. Who’s right, God or Satan? Measure the groups when its all said and done and the universe will know. I’m sure they are brilliant mathamatitians out there; if they needed to measure tiny fractions they could do it. But they won’t need to. The outcome will be plain to all.
Selfishness or selflessness are concretized in our lives. We’re showing who is in charge of our lives. We are living-out the evidence-story of God and of the great controversy. And we even get to “write” our own ending in the sense that we freely choose whom to trust: God, or ourselves. We must inevitably be radical humanists or radical thiests. Jesus is “exhibit A,” and of that there is no question. But we are “exhibit B.”
What does the evidence show?
Sometimes we wonder why the church has “standards.” Why does the Bible make any mention of how we appear, what we eat, whether we tithe and give offerings, or whether what we let penetrate our senses makes any difference. After all, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
But see, that’s really the reason why there are standards. Because the Lord looks on our heart, He reveals to us the points of indulgence where we are damaging ourselves. Remember, the Bible says that the thoughts that God has toward us are thoughts “of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV). What is written in the Desire of Ages is so true: “God reveals to us the plague spots in our characters, that by His grace we may overcome our faults…God’s ways are ways of mercy and the end is salvation.” DA 301.
Jesus called these things to mind repeatedly. Do you remember the fellow with the wonderful crop-yield? And what was his solution? “I will build bigger barns to hold it all.” He was too selfish and indulgent to spread out the bounty. He kept it for himself. But God said he was actually a fool, because when he thought he was rich “this night thy soul is required of thee.” (Luke 12:16-21). But we do that all the time. What was the rich man doing? Accentuating the positive. And we have our “riches.” What are yours? Is it your possessions? Your wealth? Your family? Your beauty? Your hobby? Your hubby? What are you keeping for and building up for yourself?
Jesus Our Helper
Jesus said that if you and I would be His disciples, we must be willing to give up all. Not because He wants to take it all away from us, but because if we set our heart upon it, then it will become a God to us, and it will be the means of our destruction. Because as soon as something acquires that much “pull” upon us, Satan has a lever to destroy us. So Jesus gently comes to us, and He puts His hands upon ours, and if we will let Him, He will carefully apply His strength and help us pry our hands off of the wire that is electrocuting us and crispening our soul.
And don’t think that He doesn’t feel it. Remember, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus suffered unselfishly for us. He presented compelling evidence to the universe that God’s ways really are best. But the devil hopes that it will all stop right there. He redoubles his efforts to block and to distract us from living out what Jesus is like, because if we do, then God will have His ‘exhibit B’ evidence, and an enduring, compelling case for the vindication of God will have been made. We are really getting at the bottom line here.
Character Witnesses for God
Unselfishness, the principle of God’s kingdom, is the principle that Satan hates; its very existence he denies. From the beginning of the great controversy he has endeavored to prove God’s principles of action to be selfish, and he deals in the same way with all who serve God. To disprove Satan’s claim is the work of Christ and of all who bear His name. Ed 154.
Thus we see that it is a real part of heaven‘s mission for us that we join Jesus in disproving the idea that God is selfish. This is just as much part and parcel of our work as the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). In fact, this is “built-in” to the great commission! And thus when the watchers, be they humans or angels or whomever, turn their gaze upon us, it is exceedingly legitimate for them to expect to see people who are different from the picture that Satan has presented to the universe. He has put forth the claim that “God is selfish and His people are selfish too. But no one, not even God operates unselfishly. This is a lie. Actual unselfishness is a fiction that does not exist.” Our adversary is gambling that even God will be unable to produce witnesses to unselfishness.
And so far, those witnesses have been few.
God Has a Number in Mind: 144,000
Oh, there have been witnesses. There have been and continue to be, a steady stream of Enochs; but it has been just a tiny trickle of witnesses spun out through time. Satan can still point to each of them and say, “this is an aberration, and besides, God didn’t let me really lay my temptations on this person. God can’t produce a whole people who are this way.” And so God has announced that He will produce, at the end of time a whole group completely willing to follow the Lamb Jesus where ever He goes–completely willing to be made unselfish like Jesus (Revelation 14:1-5). They will sing “a new song” before the throne (Revelation 14:3). A song that, we understand “none but the hundred and forty-four can learn,” because “it is the song of their experience–an experience such as no other company has ever had.” GC 649.
Have people been ready before? Yes. But not in quantity. But in the end-time God combines empowering with quantity . Heaven will thus demonstrate that the gospel of God is not a fluke–not just a machine that sometimes works and sends a few encouraging bubbles up to the top. He will produce— in His people—the evidence that perfects His case for unselfishness . And only then will He say, “The defense rests its case.”
When we live in a way that harmonizes morally with God’s government, it makes a difference to the universe, because it shows all who are watching that God is telling the truth about sin and Satan is lying about it.
But we haven’t covered the other question. Can we accelerate the second coming of Jesus, or delay it?
What do we mean when we speak of a “delay” in the context of an all-knowing, all-powerful God?
“Delay” means not that God was caught unawares and changed His plans, but that He knowingly incorporated human interaction into His plan to demonstrate the power of unselfishness and the evil of selfishness to the universe, and that it was possible to end the conflict previous to this if His people had chosen to demonstrate those principles. “Delay” does not mean that God had to stop everything in its tracks, but that in order to render the universe secure from sin once and for all, He chose to let us bring everything to a halt. And that makes sense. After all, if you had invested 6000 years in making a point, and the payoff would be infinite love and peace, then you too might be willing to invest a few more decades in the project instead of nullifying it all in the closing moment of the home stretch!
I can give you strong Bible evidence for this point from Numbers 32:15. But instead I am going to give you some very plain statements from the writings of Ellen G. White. I could lay out the whole biblical context of the story from Exodus 32 or I can just lay these on you without having to add much.
(1883) Had Adventists, after the great disappointment of 1844, held fast their faith, and followed on unitedly in the opening providence of God, receiving the message of the third angel and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming it to the world, they would have seen the salvation of God, the Lord would have wrought mightily with their efforts, the work would have been completed, and Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward. . . . It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. God did not design that His people, Israel, should wander forty years in the wilderness. . . . The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years. 1 SM 67-69.
(1901) We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel; but for Christ’s sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with their own wrong course of action. Letter 184, 1901, Ev 696.
(1900) Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for, but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain. COL 69.
Those are very plain words. Our spiritual forefathers delayed the second coming of Jesus. Period. There remains no question about it. The questions that we must answer about it are, (1) how they managed to miss the opportunities, and hence, (2) how we can meet the same opportunity if it arises for us.
Remember, the Bible tells us that “All these things happened to Israel” and were recorded as examples for us–“for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Remember why Israel didn’t enter? Four reasons are pointed out: unbelief, worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among themselves. Remember, it was written that “The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan.” So that’s how the opportunity was missed. “Why 2 K?” Why are we still here some 2000 years after Jesus first came?
We don’t believe strongly enough. We are too prone to worldliness. We have not given ourselves over to God as we truly must, and we have let ourselves limit God by strife over ridiculous points that we all ought to be settled on. And if we don‘t make some adjustments, then perhaps 1000 years from now our bones will be moldering in the grave while a preacher yet unborn presents a message entitled “Why 3 K?”
A Hopeful Ending
Nevertheless, someone will go through, and I am not content to let it be someone else! Now is our hour. And we can all be there. If we let God move.
Now is our hour–not because of technology or because God has a pre-determined, pre-locked-in, unalterable click built-into the clock of eternity–but because the universe is ready to say “it is enough.” As Israel said “it is enough” that Joseph is alive. I will see him before I die (Genesis 45:28); as Pharaoh said, “It is enough,“ ask God to stop the plagues (Exodus 9:28); as Jesus said “it is enough” for a disciple to be like His master (Matthew 10:25).
Jesus said “it is finished” when he offered His life for us on the cross; He had made a complete sacrifice. But He didn’t say “it is enough.” He still had to offer that perfect sacrifice for us in heaven. But He also said “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself” (John 14:2-3). He is presently ministering before the Father in our behalf. He calls us to tap into His power through faith, and become all that He can make us. He longs to rest His case.
And take us home.
The Bible makes it clear that we will not enter heaven because of “our righteousness” (Deuteronomy 9:3-6). But if we let Him, then He will go over before us, as a consuming fire, rooting sin out of our lives, conquering the fallen nature that constantly strives to rise and express our demon-likeness. Our lives will instead echo in a way unique to each of us individually, what Jesus is like. We will become unselfish.
And we will cross over.
The great controversy will be over.
Why hasn’t Jesus ended sin in this universe and returned? Very simply, because if God ended the conflict right now, He would not have conclusively demonstrated that unselfishness is the best way for the universe to be operated. To us goes the mission–filled with hope and wonder–to become more fully than any other generation ever has–His ambassadors of unselfishness. When the universe sees Jesus in us, then the end will come. This creation groans in pain, awaiting the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God. (Romans 8:19). When He comes, “we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is“ (1 John 3:2).
Much of the trouble in the world can be laid right on our doorstep. But at the same time, if we are resolved, we can now, at this time, truly do something about it. So much of what we do is like chasing the sparks to put them out, while the fire rages on. But our Maker would like to put out the fire, once and for all.
And so I call you and myself, to a fresh commitment. Let us explore and lay hold of whatever it takes to solve our unbelief and to believe. Let us explore and take hold of whatever it takes to solve our worldliness and replace it with holiness. Let’s explore and take hold of whatever it takes to terminate our unconsecration and instead commit ourselves fully to the Lord. And when it comes to strife among ourselves, let us put it away and instead seek for harmony among ourselves. If we remove the conditions that keep Jesus waiting, our wait can be over.
It is time for Jesus to come. Therefore, it is time for us to come to Jesus.
Like never before.
Don’t just make new-years resolutions, but resolve to give yourself to Jesus like never before. Sin must go out of our lives so that Jesus can come into them.
There is no better time than now. Let us bow our heads in prayer for a few moments of silence, and take to Him our special individual case. And let’s make this the best year of our whole Christian experience. If we will look up, then things will be looking up. Then all the universe will say, “It is enough.”