Those who have already been glorified in heaven, and those who have been saved and are still living here on earth are not the only ones who belong to the body of Jesus Christ, the church invisible. There are also those who have not yet been born or saved, but who have been chosen by God. They, too, belong to the church by election and by the shedding of Christ's blood on the cross, though not yet by regeneration and faith.
Christ speaks often of those the Father gave Him who had not yet been saved (Jn. 6:37, 39, 10:16, 29, 17:2). They were given to Him before He gave them eternal life (Jn. 17:2), but it is for them and them only He prays (Jn. 17:9) and dies (Jn 17:13, 19). Their salvation and place in His church, therefore, are guaranteed.
It is for these that Christ delays His coming. Before He can come again in the will of God, all these must be born and saved. This is what we read in II Peter 3:9. Most take it as referring to a desire on God's part for the salvation of every person without exception (He is "not willing that any should perish"), but the passage has nothing to do with such a supposed will of God for the salvation of every individual.
The verse clearly speaks of "us." He is long-suffering (merciful) to us. His mercy means that He is not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance. The word "us" is clearly inferred in the last two phrases of the verse.
But what is so striking is the fact that the "us" referred to are those who have not yet come to repentance. They are part of us - part of those who have "obtained like precious faith . . . through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (1:1): who have been given "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" as well as "exceeding great and precious promises."
Now, we understand that they have all this only as chosen in Christ and purchased by Him, not as those who themselves enjoy these blessings through repentance and faith. Nevertheless, election and the blood of Christ are so sure that they can be said to have these things with us and to be part of us.
Indeed, it is along these lines that the verse must be understood. To think that the verse speaks of desire of God for the salvation of every person, is to make nonsense of the verse. Christ's promised coming (vss. 4, 10) cannot take place until "all have come to repentance." For that, God in His mercy is waiting.
But, if God is waiting for the salvation of all without exception, then Christ will never come. All men without exception have never and will never come to repentance. There have always been and always will be those who do perish.
Rather, the coming of Christ is tied to the salvation of the whole of the elect church - the bringing of those "other sheep." When all of them have been brought to repentance by the grace of God then we can be sure that Christ will come.
To that end the church in heaven prays (Rev. 6:10, 11) and the church on earth joins with them (Rev. 22:20).
- Volume: 6
- Issue: 3
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address13823 Clear Lake Rd.
State or ProvinceWA