This week’s message was a continuation of last week’s message in which we noted that Peter seems to clearly believe that Jesus is an entirely successful Savior who somehow implants his Divine Nature in all the children of Adam and is now bringing all of us together in a communion of free and sacrificial delight — Eternal Life in one Body of Perfect Love: Pretty Good News.

But as I shared last week, when I share this with folks who say that they believe the Gospel, they often ask three questions. The first two we addressed last week: “What about evil?” and “Why be good?” The third question is: “Why preach the Gospel? If everyone gets saved in the end (End), why preach the Gospel?”

I used to hate to share “the Gospel” with people who didn’t already say they believed “the Gospel.” The “Good News” didn’t sound like “Good News.” And if they didn’t believe, I figured that it was because I had been bad — a bad “evangelist (Good-News-teller).” With my anxiety, fear, and shame, I think I communicated to folks that they needed to believe the gospel in order to save themselves (and me) from God by means of the knowledge of good and evil, which I was now presenting to them — knowledge for which they could no longer claim ignorance but would now, in fact, be held accountable for on the Day of Judgment.

Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to Hell?”
Priest: “No, not if you didn’t know.”
Eskimo: “Why did you tell me?”

In 2 Peter 2:1 — 3:9, Peter anticipates our three questions. We read all of it; it’s a lot. We have so often broken the Word of God into pieces, assuming that we know what it/He means. And so, we miss the story that God is telling, for we’ve already replaced it with the one that we are telling.

Last week we ended with 2:16, The Story of Balaam’s Ass who spoke with “the voice of a man,” rebuking Balaam and restraining “the prophet’s madness.” Peter is warning against “false teachers” in the church. In verse 17, he continues with the most condemning accusations and surprising threats, “The last state has become worse than the first.” In 3:4, he warns of the “promise of his coming,” reminding them of creation through the waters of chaos, and then writing, “But by the same Word [logos] the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction [apoleia from apollumi] of the ungodly [asebes: “the not worshipping”]. He says something about “days” and “a thousand years” and then writes, “the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but . . .”

At this point, anyone who hasn’t already died of fright would imagine that Peter is about to say, “But he will come and cast his enemies into endless torment and save the chosen few.”

This is what he actually writes: “But the Lord is patient toward you (as if we were our own false teachers), wishing that none should perish [literally: “be perished, be destroyed, be lost, “] but that all should reach repentance.”

Does God get His wish? (And “wish” should be translated as “will.”)
Peter heard Jesus say, “I came to seek and to save the lost [apololos from apollumi].”
Jesus is the Word of God who does not return void but accomplishes that for which He was sent (Isaiah 55:11); He is the Promised Seed. He is the Promise.

You see, Peter is telling a very different story than the one that the institutional church has been telling for the last 1500 years. Peter appears to be writing to the same folks to whom Paul was writing in Galatians and Colossians. They were not simply struggling with the base forms of the lust of the flesh but the most refined forms — the temptations of human religion. They had looked to the tree and seen that the fruit was not only “good for food” but “desired to make one wise.” They were taking knowledge and crucifying Wisdom.

Peter quotes Proverbs 26:11, “The dog returns to its own vomit.” The vomit is pride. The idol is “the self.” It’s the worship of Me-sus (“me” is salvation) that crucifies Jesus (God is Salvation). The false teachers were doing what Peter and Judas had done; they were denying and betraying Jesus as we all have done (Acts 3:13). And yet, those who deny still have been “bought “(2:1). Even the Potter’s field in the Valley of Gehenna, where Judas hung himself, was bought by the blood of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus must’ve believed that there was treasure in that field.

2 Peter 3:10-13, “The heavenly bodies [stoicheion: the elements] will be burned up and dissolved, and the works that are done on it will be exposed… But according to his promise we are waiting for a new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells.”

We assume that God destroys some and saves others.
Peter believes that God destroys all and saves all by filling all with Righteousness, which is His Free Will, the Divine Nature, “effectively present [pareimi]” in us.

We assume that we are our own creators (which is madness).
Peter knows that we are God’s creation and that we are created with his Word; he knows because he’s been known by Wisdom, Living Knowledge, the Gospel in flesh: Jesus.

We assume that we are telling the story (the story of me-sus and we-sus).
Peter knows that we are the story that God is telling (Jesus).

1 Peter 3:8, “Do not overlook this one fact, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

If you take that literally, it literally means that you cannot take space and time literally, but you can take Scripture “literally,” meaning, “according to the author’s literary intent.” And if you do, it reveals that we are living in the sixth day of creation, still being made in the image of God.

Temporality exists in eternity like a womb, and eternity exists in that temporality like a seed — an imperishable seed planted in a field…. Perhaps temporality exists in eternity like a bad dream in the mind of a child who is dearly loved. A nightmare is a cosmos constructed with fear in a child’s imagination — and the child awakens to a word whispered into their lonely dream.

And perhaps that sheds light on the greatest of mysteries. For six days God speak his Word which manifests his Will, and creation happens, and all that is created is Good. Until, on the sixth day, God speaks his Word, it doesn’t happen, and something is not good — us, “Adam.” We don’t do His will, until, in a garden, the last Adam prays, “Father, if it be your will [boulema], let this cup pass from me, but nevertheless not my will, but Thy Will be done.” Jesus assumed our bad will and surrendered our bad will to God’s Will, which is Good Free Will, and now He is giving that Will to each one of us. Even as we took His Life, He gave His Life — the Life is in the blood; it is the Divine Nature, the Word of God, the Gospel.

“Why preach the Gospel?” If you ask that question, you’re a dumb ass.
If you ask that question, you haven’t heard the Gospel or seen Him.
Most of the time, I am — or that part of me that asks the question is — a dumb ass.

Balaam was a dumb ass (a religious beast) hired by the King of the Moabites to curse the Israelites, but the Angel of Yahweh (the Word of God, Jesus) stood in his path. Balaam couldn’t see the Godman, but his donkey could. After Balaam struck his donkey three times, the Angel of Yahweh gave his dumb ass the voice of a man. Then Balaam saw the Godman, and when he opened his mouth to curse the Israelites, all that came out was Blessing. He actually sang Gospel. He prophesied the Messiah who would “break down all the sons of Seth” (that’s us.) And now we know that He breaks us down — He empties us — that He might fill us with Himself; He is “our righteousness.” The Gospel is how God gets everything done. . . including, and especially, us.

“Why preach the Gospel?” If you ask that question…Don’t! Don’t preach it — because it won’t be the gospel but the anti-gospel. And the last state will be worse than the first. It’s better to be a thief or prostitute than a Pharisee or a Scribe. Instead of taking God’s life and using it to justify yourself, just sit at the base of the tree until you see that God has given His Life and justified you, until you see Jesus. When we see Him, we can’t help but sing the Gospel. In the End, everything is Gospel — “Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea and all that is within them praising the Lamb on the throne.”

It’s time (the week after Mother’s Day) to plant the seed. My dad would always pay for the seed, till the ground, and do all the real work. But then in his kindness, he’d say to me, “Hey Peter, do you want to plant the seed?” He didn’t need me to plant the seed; he wanted me to share in his joy.

You don’t even have to use words to do it. Just let people know, “God is Salvation,” in a Word: “Jesus.” You are His body. Why Preach the Gospel? Because . . . you want to.

And oh yeah — Wisdom loves to ride on dumb asses, but then you’re no longer dumb, are you?

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