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DELIVERANCE OR DAMNATION
(SERMON #3 ON II PETER)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 3, 2015

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:9).


The Emperor Nero set the city of Rome on fire in 64 A.D. Nero (54-68 A.D.) was a cruel and bloody man. He killed several members of his own family. When Rome burned the people suspected him of setting the fire. He had to find someone else to blame. He blamed the Christians for setting the fire! In the early second century Tacitus (56-117) said, “Those who confessed to being Christians were arrested...in their deaths they were...covered in skins of wild animals, torn to death by dogs, crucified or set on fire – so that when darkness fell they burned like torches in the night” (Tacitus, Annals 15:44, early second century). A few months after that the Apostle Peter wrote this epistle of II Peter. Then tradition tells us that Peter was crucified upside down at his own request – because he did not feel worthy of dying the same way Jesus did.

In the wild and terrible persecution, hundreds of Christians died. Nero had Christians tied to the top of poles and set on fire to light his garden! Just before Peter was arrested and crucified he wrote II Peter.

In II Peter the Apostle speaks of the inspiration and authority of the Bible (II Peter 1:19-21). He warns us that there “shall be false teachers among you” (II Peter 2:1-3). He reminds us that God judged “the angels that sinned” (2:4), that God turned “the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes” (2:6). But He delivered “just Lot, vexed with the filthy [sensual conduct] of the wicked” (2:7). And then the Apostle gives our text,

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:9).

Before I preach on this text I want you to know how much Satan hates II Peter. The Devil hates this little book more than almost any other book in the New Testament. You don’t have to go to Hollywood or Las Vegas to see the Devil at work. All you have to do is drive over to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Nearly all the major seminaries in America are attacking the Bible today. And they hate II Peter probably more than any other book in the New Testament. When I was studying at the Southern Baptist seminary north of San Francisco, the teachers there called II Peter “a forgery.” Bible-rejecting liberal teachers have been saying that for years. But Dr. A. T. Robertson, the great Greek New Testament scholar, defended II Peter. He pointed out that there are quotations and references to it in Aristides (died c. 134 A.D.), in Justin Martyr (died c. 165 A.D.), in Irenaeus (130-202), in Ignatius (35-107), Clement of Rome (died 99 A.D.), Athanasius (296-373), Augustine (354-430) and the great Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546), (A. T. Robertson, D.D., Litt.D., Word Pictures in the New Testament, volume VI, Broadman Press, 1933, pp. 139-146 – Dr. Robertson’s defence of II Peter).

Dr. Robertson pointed out that, “There is in this Epistle, no startling new ideas... it is rather full of edifying and orthodox teaching” (ibid., p. 140). Dr. J. Vernon McGee, America’s most well known and beloved Bible teacher, said, “Today it is well established that Peter wrote this letter” of II Peter (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, volume V, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, p. 714).

But the liberals at schools like Fuller Seminary keep right on ripping it to pieces! Dr. Henry M. Morris said, “This resistance [is] because of [II Peter’s] strong condemnation of false teachers in the church... [II] Peter warns against ‘cunningly devised fables’ (II Peter 1:16), hypocritical, Christ denying teachers (II Peter 2:1), profiteering [money loving] preachers (II Peter 2:3, 15), antinomian teachers (II Peter 2:13, 19), and especially evolutionism and uniformitarianism (II Peter 3:3-6)” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, p. 1401).

No wonder Satan and his false teachers attack II Peter! Another reason the Devil hates II Peter is because it gives one of the two strongest statements about the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, in II Peter 1:19-21 (the other one being II Timothy 3:15-17). No wonder the Devil hates II Peter!

II Peter contains strong meat! Back in September of 1961 I enrolled in Biola College (now University). During that Fall semester the college had a week-long series of chapel services each morning. The special speaker that year was Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge. Dr. Woodbridge was one of the founding faculty members of Fuller Seminary. He had resigned from it a couple of years earlier because he could tell that Fuller was moving toward liberalism, a denial of the authority of the Bible. Of course the administrators of Fuller denied it. They called Dr. Woodbridge a troublemaker, and other bad things. But no one ever goes back and apologizes – at least not among new-evangelicals. Over fifty years have gone by, and what Dr. Woodbridge predicted has become literally true. Today Fuller produces preachers like Rob Bell. He wrote a book saying that everyone (even Hitler) will go to Heaven. Recently he has written another book in which he endorses the most vile and obscene sexual practices. Dr. Woodbridge saw it coming way back in the late 1950s. Give a hand to Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge! (applause).

Dr. Woodbridge came to Biola and preached to us in Chapel services every day for a week. He preached straight through II Peter! That was the first time I heard preaching like that! I had only heard topical sermons, without much “meat” in them. My goodness! Dr. Woodbridge had my full attention as he plowed through II Peter – the inerrancy of the Bible in chapter one; the false prophets in chapter two; the angels that sinned cast out; the Great Flood and the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah! He laid it out flat and preached it all with great power. I was converted on Thursday of that week – on September 28, 1961 – praise the name of Jesus!! My course was set from that day on! From the very first day I was converted I knew I would preach against liberal attacks on the Bible, on salvation, and on sin! I knew it then, and I know it this morning! Praise the name of Jesus!

Peter said the Bible is “a more sure word of prophecy” (II Peter 1:19). Peter said that false teachers would rise up in the churches and bring in apostasy and destruction (II Peter 2:1-3). Peter said that God judged the whole world in the Great Flood, “but saved Noah the eighth person” (II Peter 2:5). Peter said that God sent down fire “turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes” (II Peter 2:6). Peter said God “delivered just lot” from the burning of Sodom (II Peter 2:7). And now Peter gives our text,

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:9).

Yes, sir! Peter proved his point! The Lord knew how to save Noah and drown the lost world in the waters of the Flood. The Lord knew how to save just Lot, and burn the city of Sodom to ashes! So,

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:9).

In other words, God has the same power today that He had in the days of old!

I. First, God has the power to deliver the godly out of temptation.

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations...”

God knows what He is doing – and He can do it! When I was just a boy I loved to hear the great voice of George Beverly Shea belting out those words,

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

God is almighty! God is in control. Yes, there is great evil in the world. But evil is only here because God permits it. Why does He permit it? I don’t know. It’s as simple as that. I don’t know. But in the incomprehensible, unknowable mind of God, He allows evil.

“How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).

“God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation!” The first Christians in the city of Rome certainly went through great and terrible temptations and trials. As I said, Nero burned them alive, tied to the tops of poles. He lit his garden with burning Christians every night.

Someone says, “That’s a contradiction. He didn’t deliver them.” You’re wrong. He did deliver them “out of temptation.” He gave them the strength to go through the trials, and power go to through the flames! A great old hymn says it all!

When thro’ fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
   My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt Thee, I only design,
   Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
(“How Firm a Foundation” George Keith, 1638-1716,
     “K” in Rippon’s Selection of Hymns, 1787).

It was my privilege to personally know a man who was a living martyr. His name was Richard Wurmbrand. He was the greatest Christian I have ever known, and I knew him quite well. Pastor Wurmbrand was locked up in a Communist prison for fourteen years for preaching the Gospel. The Communist guards put him through medieval tortures. His body had eighteen wounds made by red-hot irons. Throughout his years of suffering he shared the Gospel with many other suffering prisoners, and many of them were saved. For two years he was placed in solitary confinement. He never heard a human voice. He nearly went insane from the drugs they put in his food. Finally he began to preach the Gospel to others who were placed from time to time in a cell near his. He tapped out Bible verses and prayers to them in Morse code.

Finally he was put into “Room Four” – the “death room.” They left him there, dying of tuberculosis. No one ever left “Room Four” alive. They were sent there to die. But Pastor Wurmbrand kept living. In that “death room” he led one dying prisoner after the other to Jesus Christ. He said, “It was as if the cell was ablaze with the spirit of self-sacrifice and renewed faith. In such moments the angels seemed all around us.”

When I feel depressed or sad I often pick up Richard Wurmbrand’s book Tortured for Christ and read a few pages. Last week I read again another of his books, In God’s Underground (Living Sacrifice Book Company, 2004). These books are horrible. They give details about the torture of Christians. But they always encourage me. I am encouraged by knowing this man, Richard Wurmbrand, who experienced our text. This is a text that gives great encouragement, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations...” (II Peter 2:9).

Tens of thousands of Christians are being tortured and murdered by Muslims right now, in our time. All they would have to do to escape from death is to say these words: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.” But they refuse to say that and become Muslims. Their churches are burned. Their houses are burned. Many are beheaded. Many others are burned alive. Yet they refuse to give up their faith in Jesus. And in the Muslim world thousands are turning to Christ, even though it is very dangerous for them. You can read some of their stories by going on your computer to www.persecution.com. They know by experience what most Western church members do not know – “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations...”.

When thro’ the deep waters I call thee to go,
   The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy trials to bless;
   And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

We celebrated the 40th anniversary of this church three weeks ago. We had a great time of praise, and even laughter! People who watched the video told me what a great church we have! But they do not know the suffering we went through to give birth to this church. They do not know that “The 39,” who paid for the church, often went through mind-snapping pain and trouble, as 400 people left us. "The Thirty-Nine" paid for this two-and-a-half-million-dollar building. Now that trial is over. God brought us through it. But there will be other trials in the future, some of them perhaps even worse. But we are not afraid because “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations...” (II Peter 2:9).

II. Second, the Lord reserves the unjust unto the day of judgment.

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:9).

In his classic book of apologetics, Therefore Stand, the great Dr. Wilbur M. Smith said this about the coming judgment,

The Scriptures do definitely speak of one great single event of judgment to come, and we have sinned in almost robbing the preaching of our day of this terrible but divinely revealed truth... Many of us...have been afraid to stand up and use scriptural language concerning the day of judgment. Our blessed Lord uses the phrase “the day of judgment” again and again... The Apostle Peter talks about “the day of judgment,” and “the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” The Apostle John speaks of “the day of judgment,” and “the time of the dead to be judged” (Wilbur M. Smith, D.D., Therefore Stand, W. A. Wilde Co., 1945, p. 443).

The Apostle John spoke of the Last Judgment. He said,

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12-15).

The only way to escape from punishment in the “lake of fire” is to repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. He died on the Cross to pay the full price for your sin. He shed His precious Blood to cleanse you from all sin. He rose, flesh and bone, from the dead to give you eternal life. But you must trust Him now, in this life. It will be too late, after you die, to be saved.

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:9).

The “godly” are those who repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. The “unjust” are those who refuse to trust Him. I pray that you will turn to Jesus now before it is too late! Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: II Peter 2:1-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Faith of Our Fathers” (by Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863).


THE OUTLINE OF

DELIVERANCE OR DAMNATION
(SERMON #3 ON II PETER)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:9).

(II Peter 1:19-21; 2:1-3, 4, 6, 7; 1:16; 2:1, 3, 15, 13, 19; 3:3-6;
II Peter 1:19; 2:1-3, 5, 6, 7)

I.   First, God has the power to deliver the godly out of
temptation, II Peter 2:9a; Romans 11:33.

II.  Second, the Lord reserves the unjust unto the day of
judgment, II Peter 2:9b; Revelation 20:12-15.