2 Peter 3:15-16
And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation…
I. ADMIRE THE LONGSUFFERING OF GOD.
1. Admire the longsuffering of God as to peculiar sins. Look, they make images of wood or stone, and they say "These are God," and they set up these things in the place of Him that made the heavens and the earth. How does He bear it — He that sitteth in the heavens, in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways? Others, even in this country, blaspheme God. And oh, how is it that God bears it when they dare imprecate His curse upon their bodies and their souls? Besides, there are those who use fair speech, and yet blaspheme most intolerably. How is it that the Thrice-holy One bears with them? And then there are others who wallow in unmentionable impurity and uncleanness. The moon sees a world of foulness, fornication, and adultery: and yet, O God, thou bearest it! And then, when I turn my thoughts another way, to the oppression of the poor, to the grinding down of those who, with the hardest labour, can scarcely earn bread enough to keep body and soul together, how does the just God permit it?
2. Especially notice that this long-suffering of God is seen in peculiar persons. In certain persons sins are greater than the same sins would be in other people. They have been favoured with a tender conscience, and with good instruction, so that when they sin they sin with a vengeance.
3. It is wonderful that God should have such longsuffering when we look at the peculiar circumstances under which some men sin.
(1) Some men sin against God wilfully, when they have no temptation to it, and can plead no necessity.
(2) Some manifest the longsuffering of God very wonderfully in the length of time in which they have been spared to sin. Remember that it would be easy on God's part to be rid of you. One wish, and the sinner will never provoke Him any more, nor refuse His mercy again. He will be gone out of the land of hope.
II. TAKE THE RIGHT ACCOUNT OF THE LONGSUFFERING OF GOD. "Account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation." What does this mean?
1. Does it mean, first, as to the saving of the many? The Lord Jesus Christ is, as I believe, to have the pre-eminence. Christ came not to destroy the world, but that the world through Him might be saved; and so, as every year rolls by, let us account it salvation, and spend and be spent in the hope that by any means we may save some.
2. The next meaning of this is to any of you who are unconverted. I want you to account that the longsuffering of God in sparing you means to you salvation. Why are you here to-night? Surely it is salvation. I met years ago a soldier who had ridden in the charge of Balaclava. He was one of the few that came back when the saddles were emptied right and left of him. I could not help getting into a corner, and saying to him, "Dear sir, do you not think that God has some design of love to you in sparing you when so many fell? Have you given your heart to Him?" I felt that I had a right to say that. Perhaps I speak to some of you who were picked off a wreck years ago. Why was that? I hope it was that you might be saved. You have had a fever lately, and have hardly been out before. Why were you saved from that fever when others were cut down? Surely it must mean salvation. When Master Bunyan was a lad, he was so foolhardy that, when an adder rose against him, he took it in his hand, and plucked the sting out of its mouth, but he was not harmed. It was his turn to stand sentinel at the siege of Nottingham, and as he was going forth, another man offered to take his place. This man was shot, and Master Bunyan thus escaped. We should have had no "Pilgrim's Progress" if it had not been for that. Did not God preserve him on purpose that he might be saved?
3. This text seems to me to have a bearing upon the people of God. "Account that the longsuffering of God is salvation." I must turn the text to give you really what lies in it. It is salvation to a man to be put side by side with Christ. If you have to bear the jests of the ungodly — if God spares them, and permits them to persecute you, be glad of it, and reckon it as salvation, for now you are made partaker of Christ's sufferings. What more salvation do you desire? Remember, too, that when the ungodly persecute the righteous, they give them the mark of salvation, for of old it was so. He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit. Once more: reckon the longsuffering of God, when it permits the ungodly to slander and injure you, as salvation, because it tends to your salvation by driving you nearer to the Lord.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;