Sermon #15 Series: Who Is God?
Title: The longsuffering of God
Text: II Peter 3:9
Date: Tuesday Evening - April 24, 1990
There was a day when the depravity of
the human race had plunged to such depths of corruption that “every imagination of the thoughts of (man’s)
heart was only evil continually.” So
great was the wickedness of man that when God saw it, “It repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and grieved
him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created
from the face of the earth” (Gen. 6:5-7). And at the appointed time the
wrath of God swept across the earth in a great, universal flood, destroying
every soul, except Noah and his family who were saved in the ark God had
Once there was a pair of twin cities,
rich, populace, and influential, perhaps the most wealthy and influential
cities in the world. But the wickedness of those cities was great. Not only had
the vile, disgusting practice of homosexuality become an acceptable lifestyle,
it had become the predominate and preferred lifestyle! In those twin cities of
Sodom and Gomorrah, homosexuals were no longer queer people They were normal!
Sexual perverts were in the majority. It appears that there was only one man in
that vast metropolis who neither practiced nor condoned the wicked practice of
homosexuality. Righteous Lot vexed his soul from day to day with the deeds of
those godless people. And Lot’s God was vexed too. One morning, as the
inhabitants of the city awoke and began the day, God rained fire and brimstone
out of heaven, scorching every man, woman, and child to death in his hot anger,
except Lot and two of his daughters who were delivered by the hand of his
If God destroyed the world with a
flood because of the wickedness of Noah’s generation, and if God rained fire
from heaven upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their crimes
against nature, why has he not yet sent his Son in judgment to destroy this
world? In Noah’s generation, men and women were no different than they are now.
And the moral debauchery of Sodom was nothing compared to the perversion of our
society. At least in that day homosexuality was confined to two totally godless
cities. Today the perversion is worldwide, openly promoted by men and women who
claim to worship and serve God! Why then is the world still standing? Has God
changed? Has he altered his law? Has the Holy One become tolerant of man’s sin?
Will God no longer punish the wicked? Let none be so foolish as to imagine such
things. God never changes! His law still stands! He must and shall punish sin!
Why does God tolerate this world and
the wickedness of men and women who openly defy his holiness and blaspheme his
name? The answer to that question is found in II Peter 3:9. “The Lord is not slack concerning his
promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not
willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
It is the longsuffering of God toward his elect that
prevents him from destroying the world in his wrath at this hour.
Tonight I want to talk to you about The Longsuffering of God. It may be
that some of you are yet without Christ. If so, I want you to hear what I have
to say. The only thing that keeps you out of hell at this moment is the
longsuffering of almighty God. If I had nothing else to say, that ought to
cause you to fall down before him and sue for mercy through the Lord Jesus
Christ. God waits to be gracious to sinners for Christ’s sake. Today is the day
of salvation. But there is a day coming when he will reserve mercy no longer.
The day is coming when he will no longer restrain his wrath. He has said, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man”
(Gen. 6:3). The days of God’s patience with man are numbered. Then you will
know the terror of his fierce anger and inflexible justice. What will become of
your soul in that day no tongue can describe. God help you now to trust his
I want to raise and answer four questions which, I trust,
will help us to understand something about The
Longsuffering of God.
How does the
Bible describe God’s longsuffering?
Why is God
longsuffering with sinners?
What has God
promised to do?
become of those who despise the goodness and forbearance of God?
I. HOW DOES THE BIBLE DESCRIBE
Whenever we think of God’s longsuffering, we must not
suppose that it is a mere passion or weakness of nature with him. Longsuffering
is an attribute of God’s nature. It arises from the goodness of his Being. It
is the patience and forbearance of God.
When God revealed his glory to Moses,
he said, “The LORD passed by before him,
and proclaimed, the LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering
and abundant in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6).
Moses used God’s longsuffering as an
argument with him in prayer, making it the grounds of his intercession for
Israel - “The LORD is longsuffering and
of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression...Pardon, I beseech thee,
the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of thy mercy” (Num.
David wrote, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in
mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever. He
hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our
iniquities” (Psa. 103:8-10).
God, speaking by the mouth of Isaiah,
said, “For my name’s sake will I defer
mine anger, for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off” (Isa.
The Apostle Paul reasoned with the
unbeliever, who vainly imagines that he shall escape the judgment of God,
saying, “despisest thou the riches of his
goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of
God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).
In Romans 3:25 he tells us that God
has setforth the Lord Jesus Christ “to be
a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the
remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”
And Peter tells us that we are to “account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation”(II Pet.
These seven passages that we have read in the book of God teach us five things
about God’s longsuffering.
It is the
glory of God to be longsuffering toward sinful men.
longsuffering arises from the goodness of his Being. God is longsuffering
because he is good. Longsuffering is the exercise of his mercy and kindness. It
is a part of his purpose and graced in salvation. God’s longsuffering
encourages faith and hope in him. And the design, purpose, and intent of God’s
longsuffering is to bring men and women to repentance (II Pet. 3:9).
longsuffering of God is the moderation and restraint of his anger.
longsuffering of God is an extension of his mercy to men and women who deserve
Grace is extended only to God’s elect.
Mercy is extended to all while they
live in this world.
The longsuffering of God is the deferred execution of his justice for a season.
The Scriptures abound with illustrations of God’s longsuffering.
For 120 years
God warned the old world of his sure judgment and called them to faith by the
mount of his servant Noah (Gen. 6:3).
For many years
God allowed the Sodomites to persist in their sins. He warned them of his sure
judgment. But they would not heed his warnings (Gen. 18).
showed great longsuffering with Pharaoh. But Pharaoh hardened his heart and
defied God (Ex. 5).
longsuffering with Israel for 2000 years.
And the Lord
God has been very longsuffering with you who yet believe not. (Illustration: The barren fig
tree (Lk. 13:6-9).
II. WHY IS GOD LONGSUFFERING WITH
If God does not immediately execute his wrath and justice
upon those who break his law and despise his gospel, there must be some reason
for it. He must have some purpose and motive for deferring his anger. What is
it? Why is God longsuffering with wicked men?
God is longsuffering with wicked men and women for Christ’s sake.
Every blessing of grace comes to sinners through the hands
of Christ, the Mediator between God and men. Were it not for the mediation of
Christ, every sinner would perish immediately.
God bore with
the sins of his people in the Old Testament, with great patience and
forbearance, not imputing their trespasses unto them, in anticipation of
Christ’s sacrifice (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:15).
longsuffering with sinners today for the same reason.
a. There stands between us and God the
God-man Mediator; and our names are written upon his heart.
b Between God’s elect and the law of
God stands the cross of Christ.
c. For Christ’s sake God was and is
longsuffering to us.
He has put up with our sins, born our
insults, and been patient with our unbelief because Christ died for us; and he
must have us!
But I want you to see this too - God
is longsuffering with sinners for their sake.
It is the good pleasure of God to show mercy to sinners upon
the earth. God allows the wicked to live that he may give them space for
repentance. Do not despise his goodness and forbearance.
You deserve to
be in hell right now!
But God has
put off the execution of his wrath for a season.
He has done so
because he is willing to be gracious - God is willing to save sinners (Isa.
30:18; Ezek. 18:23, 33; 33:11).
Let us be precise in our theology. But
do not let your understanding of God’s sovereignty, predestination, election,
effectual redemption, and irresistible grace become twisted and perverted,
causing you to imagine that God is hard. He is not! Our God delights in mercy!
a. He invites the guilty to repent and
believe on his Son.
b. He promises salvation to all who
c. He has given you the means of
d. He has given you opportunity to
e. He has warned you of wrath to come.
God is longsuffering to sinners, not
because he is unable or unwilling to punish, but because “he delighteth in mercy!” Judgment is his strange work.
God is longsuffering with men for the sake of his own glory.
By his longsuffering and willingness to save, the Lord God
vindicates himself from all charges of unrighteousness, cruelty, and injustice.
1. If you die in your sins, your guilt
Your damnation is just and righteous.
God has given you light. But you despise the light. God has shown you Christ by
the gospel. But you despise his Son. You are without excuse (Rom. 2:1, 4, 5;
2. In the day of judgment, no one will
charge God with injustice. He will stop your mouth!
And God is longsuffering with sinners for the elect’s sake (II Pet. 3:9).
You will notice that Peter makes a
clean and deliberate distinction between “us” who believe and the scoffers who
believe not. God is longsuffering with them. But his longsuffering is “to us-ward,” his own elect. He is not
willing that any of his elect should perish, but that they all repent and
obtain salvation by Christ. Therefore, he is longsuffering with all men.
Lot in Sodom)
God is not
willing for one soul to perish whom he has chosen to save.
God is not
willing for any to perish for whom Christ died.
God is not
willing that any perish to whom he has promised eternal life (II Tim. 1:9).
To us the
longsuffering of God is salvation (II Pet. 3:15). Because God is not willing
for us to perish, we shall not perish!
III. WHAT HAS GOD PROMISED TO
Peter says, “The Lord
is not slack concerning his promise.” That is to say, What God has promised
, God will do. And the promise here spoken of is the glorious second advent of
the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ will come again, the second time, without sin, unto salvation.
This is the blessed hope of God’s saints (Tit. 2:13). We
sometimes grow weary of waiting. But we should not. Let us wait patiently for
our Redeemer (Hab. 2:3; Heb. 10:37).
will come again...
At the hour
To gather his
elect from the earth.
In his glory.
To judge the
But this is also promised - Christ will not come to destroy this world until
all of God’s elect have been brought to repentance by his almighty grace.
We sometimes get into a hurry. But not God! He will not send
his Son to judge the world until the time appointed (v. 8).
1. When will Christ come again? I can
tell you exactly when he will come - Christ will come again when...
a. The last sheep has been brought
into his fold.
b. The last stone is place in his holy
c. The last member has been united to
d. The number of those who believe
tallies exactly with the names registered in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
e. The last jewel has been placed in
the King’s crown.
2. Until then we will patiently wait,
for God is not willing that any perish, and neither are we!
a. God would not send the flood until
Noah was safely in the Ark.
b. God would not destroy Sodom until
Lot was safely out of the city.
c. God would not allow the Red Sea to
close until every Israelite was safe on the distant shore.
d. And God will not destroy this world
until everyone of his elect have been saved by his grace.
IV. WHAT SHALL BECOME OF THOSE
WHO DESPISE THE GOODNESS AND FORBEARANCE OF GOD? (Prov. 1:23-33).
It is written, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be
destroyed, and that without remedy” (Prov. 29:1).
The day will come when you will seek mercy, but none shall be found (Lk.
In the day of judgment everything and everyone will proclaim the justice of God
in your eternal damnation.
The law of
The gospel of
The Son of
The people of
The angels of
Even your own
conscience! “Righteous and true are all
thy ways, O King of saints.”
The hottest place in hell shall be reserved for you who have heard but refused
to believe the gospel of the grace of God.
God, give thanks to God for his longsuffering, by which you are saved!
warned (Gen. 6:3).