THE BOTTOM LINE OF A NON-PROPHET MINISTRY
2 Peter 2:4-22
Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
November 24, 2013
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness. These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them:“The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
-- 2 Peter 2:4-22, ESV
Who speaks for God? And, if someone is speaking, who’s listening to God these days?
Count out the Atheists and Agnostics. It is difficult to speak for or listen to someone in Whom you do not believe or doubt exists. But what will become of them at judgment day? Their judgment will be just and unbelief nor ignorance will be an excuse.
Many religions and religious people claim to speak for and listen to God. However, if we base their claims on the claim made by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 14:6 and other exclusivist words in the inspired pages of the New Testament, their claims cannot be true. For one cannot speak for nor truly listen to the Lord who rejects our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Their judgment, too, will be just and their own denials of the Lord will testify against them in the last day.
So, it must be the Christians, especially Christian preachers and teachers, who speak for God, and all Christians recognize their voice and gladly listen to them. Well, as someone told me in my early days as a follower of Christ, “Everything in the name of Jesus, isn’t.”
Simon Peter has already warned us in his second epistle that false prophets and preachers and teachers will come in the name of Jesus Christ (ref. 2 Peter 2:1-3). Their end and the final fate of those who follow them will be “condemnation” and “destruction.” In the remainder of this chapter, he tell us that their judgment will be meted out by the Lord much more severely than upon any atheist, agnostic, or adherent of any false religion. For the “prophets for profit” and their followers, the bottom line of such a non-prophet ministry will be beyond any horror one can imagine or think.
A Bottom Line Like Demons, Antediluvians, and Sodomites
Simon Peter reminds us of God’s judgment against demons (fallen angels), antediluvians (those besides Noah’s family who lived and died in the great deluge, or flood), and sodomites (the homosexuals run amuck in the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah). What do these groups of angelic and human beings have in common? They failed to listen to God, or the true prophets of God. The fallen angels preferred Lucifer’s promises to God’s. The antediluvians liked their own lifestyles compared to the religiosity and seeming dementia of Noah the boat builder. And today’s gay rights movements has no moves on the ancient liberties enjoyed by the free citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, who shunned Lot’s advice for their own liberation, a freedom that captured them and led them straight to the fire.
Satan was his own false prophet. No doubt there were sunny prophets of health and wealth in Noah’s day who said it’d never rain. And certainly the homosexual lobby against the God of Lot and Abraham had ordained leaders of their own who demanded their rights and called every opponent a hater and a homophobe.
Listen to their voices. "Be your own god," they say. "Eat, drink, and be merry, fortomorrow we die," they say. “We should be free to love any one any way we want,” they say. Yet God speaks in a different voice, with different words. The verses in this paragraph read their bottom line: “cast them into hell,” “judgment,” “ungodly,” “turning … to ashes,” “extinction,” and “wicked.”
Surely no confessing Christian would suffer this fate. Surely no confessing Christians would listen to devils, licentious party animals, nor the homosexual lobby. Perhaps not directly. But they listen to people who basically preach the same values, and coat their messages with religious words, even throwing in the name of Jesus every now and then.
A Bottom Line Based on Passion, Blasphemy, and Rebellion
Actually, the aforementioned groups of demons, flood victims, and homosexuals never claimed to speak for God nor really listen to God. Their judgment is horrible, to be sure, but not as bad as the ones spoken of in the remainder of this chapter. These are the false prophets and their followers, those who embrace false messages and values in the name of God. Their judgment, which begins with the words “especially those …,” seems especially ominous. And at the end of the day, the Bible says “it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness,” which is probably worse than saying it would have been better for them if they had never been born. What makes their bottom line so bad?
In the name of Jesus they “indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.” In other words, though they claim to speak for or follow Jesus Christ, their financial and sexual morals are no better than those who make no claim whatsoever of living life under the authority of God’s holy word. Look at the obvious greed and many sexcapades of the televangelists. Look at the percentage of professing Christians who engage without shame or second thought in financial misdealings, fornication, and adultery. Listen to the sermons and look at the followers of the philosophy that “God just wants me to be healthy, wealthy, and happy.” I think God cares a whole lot more about holiness than happiness. The passions of the false prophets for money and sex, and that of their followers, have scheduled them for an audit and put them in a bad bottom line position, like Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
Furthermore, such false prophets and their followers engage in “blasphemy.” To blaspheme literally means to speak against. Remember Christ’s words in Matthew12:30, if you are not for Him, you are against Him. If you are not preaching and following the true gospel of true grace through true faith in Jesus Christ, which manifests itself in a true love for righteousness and true obedience, then you are following false gods home, and that home will not be Heaven. Blasphemy against the regenerative and living power of the Holy Spirit is indeed an unpardonable sin.
And finally, what is really killing them and calling them into severe judgment is, ironically, their “freedom.” Freedom to live where you want, work where you can, shop where you choose, vote for the candidate of your choice, etc., is good freedom. It is the fabric of democracy, and in part a product of the Great Reformation. But the freedom to preach and believe in no god, or another god, or in the name of God another gospel or heresy, is a dangerous, poisonous, deadly freedom, which is really not freedom at all. It is better known as rebellion.
Rebellion is what got to Satan. Rebellion describes the people of Noah’s day, Lot’s day, our day. Rebellion is one thing, with a certain judgement attached; but, rebellion in the name of Christ or Christianity, rebellions espoused by false prophets preaching an easy Jesus and a moral-less Christianity, that’s a rebellion that God will take most seriously. The irony is that while they live by the message of “profess it and possess it,” they do not possess the most important thing they profess, namely a saving relationship the the Lord Jesus Christ. In reality they are worse than, as the Scriptures graphically tell, a dog in its own vomit or a pig in its own bed of mud and mire. I’m not exactly sure what mire is, but I guarantee you it is not a Temperpedic. And anyway, it’s just an analogy for a far worse place, a place of condemnation and judgment, a place in the darkest, driest, deepest pits of Hell.
So why is Simon Peter, moved by the Holy Spirit, bringing us down by telling us all of this? Is it to gloat over the destruction of the unfaithful and disobedient? No, I don’t think so. It has nothing to do with spite nor hate. It has everything to do with love — real, holy, godly love.
When you love someone, you warn them, and this chapter is one great warning. It is a warning against prophets for profit. And it is a warning against sharing in their bottom line, the bottom line in the bottomless pit of a non-prophet ministry.
I love my four daughters and I taught them all to drive. The lessons included instructions in the right way and warnings against the wrong way. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, your foot on the pedals. The biggest dangers are the distractions, the messages via texts or loud music or friends talking that divert your attention and can lead to disaster. I also taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the word of God. Keep your eyes on Jesus, your hands on the Bible, your feet and fanny in the church. The biggest dangers are the distractions, the temptations, the televangelists, the talk of easy believe-ism with an easy life instead of the true calling of the cost of the cross of Jesus Christ.
I hope they’ve listened. I hope you are listening now. For life is a highway that has turned in into a freeway and a free-for-all in these latter days. There are a lot of voices, a lot of signs, a lot of temptations out there. Choices must be made. You can listen to the prophets of the Bible or the non-prophets of popular Christian culture. Your decisions will add up and determine the bottom line of your life.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org