Michael Youssef - It Is Never Too Late - Part 1
I think every one of us can testify to the fact that, at some point in our lives, or maybe you're going through it even now, where you felt defeated, discouraged, and perhaps hopelessly despondent: "I have sinned beyond God's forgiving me". "It is too late for me". "I have blown it big time, and it's too late for me. Too late to restore that broken relationship". Or, "It's too late to seek forgiveness". Or, "It's too late to give forgiveness". "It's too late to be mightily used of God to make a difference in the world". "It's too late to accomplish great and mighty things for God. It's just too late for me".
You know, one of the greatest examples in the Scripture of the fact that two people who equally sinned, and they sinned around the same time, within three days of each other, and their sins are equal in the sight of God. One was restored and mightily used of God, and the other took his own life. The difference? One believed that it's never too late with God, and it's never too late for him to be forgiven and restored and used by God. The other wept bitterly, but then he went out and took his own life. And I'm talking, of course, about Peter and Judas Iscariot. They both equally denied Jesus. They both equally betrayed their Friend and Savior Jesus. They both equally sinned against God, and yet Judas's sin led him to say, "It is too late for me". And yet, his sin was not greater than that of Peter when he denied his Lord.
But the difference was, Judas believed that, "It's too late," and therefore, he took his own life. But Peter believed in the power of God's forgiveness and grace and mighty power to restore him and use the fallen. God specializes in using the repentant sinner. And that is why, in his first epistle, you notice Peter focuses so much on the word hope, the hope, the hope, you see, it's repeated all over the place. Beloved, we worship the God of hope, and that is why Peter, in that first epistle, in chapter 1, verse 3 and 4, he says: "Our hope is grounded in Christ himself, and his resurrection guarantees our inheritance".
In 1 Peter chapter 1, verses 13 and 14, he said: "Our hope is ongoing. It is not temporary, and it's not occasional, but ongoing day in and day out". In 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 21, he said: "Our hope is as sure as Christ himself". And then in 1 Peter chapter 3, verse 15, he said: "The purpose of our hope is our greatest testimony to the world". In fact, it's the greatest defense for the gospel that we can give to the world. Today, I'm beginning a new series of messages from 2 Peter, and I'm calling it, "It's Never Too Late," for a reason, and you will become apparent as we go through the series, but I'm just introducing it today. In fact, as I began to study the passage afresh and look at it with fresh eyes, I am convinced that is written for our day.
Today, my beloved friends, you know this and I know this, that discernment, discernment among churchgoing folks, discernment, discernment on the part, even of some of the elect is so lacking that it is discouraging, at times. The despondency and the lethargy on the part of many a church who refuse to stand up and be counted is enough to discourage us, at times. The attitude, "Well, it's too late, we can't do anything about it," is pervading our society, pervading our churches. It is time for God's people to stand up and rise up and stand for the truth of the gospel. The one thing that you notice I used the Greek word "for," not the English word "for," for a reason.
Most people will skip through it and don't really give it enough attention, but to Peter, this is a very important word. Peter is saying, "Hey, I'm not ashamed to call Jesus my friend". No, he didn't say, "Well, look, I'm not ashamed of calling Jesus, that I'm his follower". No, or he's not ashamed of calling that, "Hey, I was the chief apostle, the chief disciple of Jesus". No, he said, "I'm not ashamed to be called the doulos of Jesus". Can you say that with me? "The doulos of Jesus". And he chooses that word deliberately. Perhaps his mind going back to the doulos who worked in the chief priest's house, the servant, the slave, to whom he denied Jesus three times. "The doulos of Jesus, I'm the bondservant, I'm the bondslave of Jesus".
Peter, who once denied his Savior and his Lord and his friend Jesus to a slave girl, he is saying, "Now, I am proud to call myself the slave, bondslave of Jesus". Why is that so important? Why am I dwelling on it? Listen to me, here's what a "doulos" mean. It's not just at title that you take on yourself, but a doulos of Jesus means that I am totally owned and operated by Jesus, that I'm totally possessed by Jesus, that I'm totally at the disposal of Jesus, that I have unquestioned obedience to Jesus, and that I'm constantly, regardless of what I do for a living, I am in the service of Jesus. Not only that, but he said, "I'm also the sent one. I didn't come on my own authority. I didn't come because I think it's a good thing. I didn't come because it's a lucrative job. I am sent. I am apostles. I'm the sent one".
And, beloved, this is very important in any leadership in the Christian life. It's very important, leadership is serving Jesus's agenda, not ours, not the church, not the denomination. Leadership is serving Jesus's plan, not ours. Leadership in Jesus's service is placing Jesus's Word above man's word. That was not always understood by Peter himself. That was not always the attitude of old Simon, before he became Peter. The attitude of Simon was different from this attitude of Peter, the new Peter. Now, here's a fact, listen to me very carefully, please. The moment you come to Jesus Christ, and the moment you confess your sins, and the moment you receive his forgiveness and his eternal life and salvation, that moment, you're gonna have the old you and the new you, as Galatians said, "In a state of war," the spirit warring against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit.
Here's the Holy Spirit strategy here, speaking through Peter in this epistle, in both of the epistles, in all of the Scripture, but here it becomes so clear. Here's the strategy, it is something simple that most of you would understand, that the best defense is an excellent what? God bless you. You made my day. Here, Peter's greatest concern is he realizes that this is the last word he's writing to the believers, is that for the believers not to be deceived, God's folks not to be deceived. And here, what he wants to do, he wants to explain that their possession of the power of God through the Spirit of God is unquestioned, that when they received Christ, they received everything. Their unquestioned power to be on the offense is God's gift to them. Like the offensive linemen, he is trying to protect all of us who are right behind him. How? By telling us that Christ not only gave us salvation and eternal life, but he also gave us his righteousness, not ours.
The Bible said, "Self-righteousness to God's, in his own sight, looks like a dirty rag". So no one could ever say, no one can ever say, "Oh, it's too late for me," at any point of your Christian life, whether you're young or old, it makes no difference. No one can say, "Oh, it's too late for me". Christ gave us both grace and peace. Why did he do that? To keep on transforming us every single day to the likeness of Jesus Christ. "Seeing that his divine power has granted us everything," how many? "Has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through true knowledge of him who called us by his glory and excellence".
What had happened in your life in the last week, two weeks, quarter, year? Suit yourself, whatever works for you. What happened in your life that could not have happened had there been no Holy Spirit? Please, answer the question to yourself. Let me rephrase it. How did you draw on the divine power that you already received? Hear me right, please, this is important. Having received this divine power when you came to Christ, it's indisputable, it's indisputable. Look at the verse again. Let me give you a different translation. "His divine power has given us all things," how many? "Pertaining to life".
You know, sometimes I hear people when they pray, they say, "Oh, God, give us more power". Now, wait a minute, I wanna stop, stop the prayer meeting. He already gave us all the power we need. The problem is not that he has not given us the power. The problem is we're not appropriating the power that he gave us. Verse 4 tells us how to appropriate this divine power. I know there's some people who actually think that God somehow sort of miserly drip drabs his grace and his power, and he kind of very chinchy God, you know, gives you a little bit, and then you ask for more, and he gives you a little bit, he gives you more. No, no, no, the Word of God, he said, "He gave us everything".
The word "precious" here means not only it's costly, it's priceless, it's precious, but it says, it means also that he generously gave it. And that is why those who say, "Oh, it's too late for me," they're insulting the promises of God. They're insulting the Word of God. They're insulting the gifts of God. And the word "precious" here again is one of those favorite words for the Apostle Peter. Just like in the first epistle, the word "hope" is a favorite word, here in the second epistle, the word "precious" is very important to him. It's very special to him. He tells us about the precious blood of Jesus. He tells us about the precious faith that Jesus gave us. He tells us about the precious promises that we have in Jesus.
And Peter probably is thinking of the time when Jesus said, "It is better for you that I go to the Father because when I go to the Father, I send to you the Holy Spirit". And on the Day of Pentecost, right on schedule, God poured out his Holy Spirit, and he's been dwelling in the believers ever since, amen, amen, amen. We are partakers of the divine nature of Christ because the Holy Spirit came in us, and as we appropriate those promises, and we know that we are become partakers through the indwelling spirit and the divine nature of Christ. When the Spirit of God possesses us, the question is, I wonder, when was the last time did you actually appropriated the blessings and the power that God has given you? Verses 3 and 4, look at them again with me.
Now, here's a Youssef translation. Hopefully, it will help again. Here's the first part of chapter 3: "Please, please realize that divine power that is given to you, appropriate it". Paul puts it the same way in Ephesians chapter 3, verse 20: "Now to him who's able to do far more exceedingly abundantly beyond what we think or imagine," here it comes. Here it comes. Are you ready for it? "According to the power that works within us". Where does it work? You have it. God supplied the believer with his spiritual power. It's beyond question. It's beyond question. It's repeated throughout the Scripture.
Now, when somebody says, "Well, I'm not living in that power," I'll tell you why. What happens is that we choose to distant ourself away from the power of God. How? By continuously living in sin and rationalizing that sin. We don't separate ourselves from Christ, 'cause nothing separates us from the love of God. But we separate ourself from that power. Instead of appropriating it, we're actually separating ourselves from it. There's some people fail to use the power of God or appropriate it because of willful disobedience to the Word of God. Has nothing to do with the fact that God has given it to you. But all of that does not mitigate the fact that he's given it to us.
The word "granted," that he granted it to us is in the perfect passive participle. Well, what's that mean? It means that he gave this to us in the past when we came to Christ, when we came to him by faith and received forgiveness and eternal life. But the continuous results of that gift, it goes on day after day after day until we go to heaven. God's gifts are permanent. God's gift of salvation is permanent. God's gift of justification by faith is permanent. God's gift of reconciliation is permanent. God's gift of redemption is permanent. God's gift of grace is permanent. But the believer who's constantly living in a state of defeat is doing this. What is he doing? Doing this instead of learning how to appropriate the power that's given to them, they think, "Oh, what I need is a new experience".
Have you met some like that? "I need to go on a spiritual high". "What I need is private revelation". Or, "What I need is a deeper life". Or, "What I need is to get myself in the place where I can get into an emotional high, and that's gonna help me". So before you go running around looking for it, whatever it may be, kneel on the promises of God. Kneel on the promises of God. Begin to appropriate what you already have. Start writing checks on that account. Start using that blessing that he already gave you. Please listen carefully. That is why, as believers, we must feel eternally secure, eternally secure. By the way, next week, I'm gonna deal with the eternal security of the believer, and I hope that you're not only gonna come, but bring somebody who needs to hear that.
The eternal security of the believer is of vital importance because that's what make us live and walk and function as children, not slaves. But not only God gave us his divine power, but secondly, he gave us his divine promises. He already said, "All," the verse before, "all," applies for all these things. The divine promises, they're all yours. He has granted us, or he has gifted us, or he has endowed us with all precious magnificent promises. The Lord bestowed all of these incredible blessings and promises on us so that we may become partakers of the divine nature. Jesus came down so that he may take us up. Jesus took on our human nature so that he might impart on us his divine nature. Jesus died so that we may live forever.
You see, Peter was fighting false teaching, heretical teaching. It was sneaking into the church. Well, some of the stuff we see, and many in the mainline churches, and even some Evangelical churches today, because so much of the Eastern mysticism has sneaked into many a Christian church today, where the emphasis on the importance of attaining transcendental knowledge. And Peter is saying, "When you become born again, you got it all, so live like it. You have everything you need for life and for godliness". You have how many? And so, my beloved friend, the moment you find yourself getting into despair, the moment you find yourself becoming despondent, the moment you say, "Oh, it's too late now, it's too late for me," remember the precious promises, the precious promises.
Proverbs 13:12 says: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life". To live victorious Christian life, to accomplish great and mighty things for God in your life, to achieve victory over whatever is plaguing you, to overcome whatever temptation comes your way, you will be able to do it because you know that not only received faith from God, but also the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus gave us what? How many? All. But there may be somebody here today who had never really given their life to Jesus, never surrendered their life to Christ, and they don't know what I'm talking about. "What's this victory you're talking about? I'm living in desperation". Well, today, you can give him your life and you can say: "Lord Jesus Christ, you died on that cross to save me. Forgive my sins and guilt and shame".