AKSARAHIJAU– You have all seen the buttons some Christians wear, haven’t you? It’s an acrostic — PBPGINFWMY — “Please Be Patient God Is Not Finished With Me Yet.” It’s a request for others to be patient with us as we are growing by God’s grace. But it is also a request for patience based upon the fact that God’s patience has been displayed toward us.
God is patient. I am not. I am learning patience. God is patience. I am developing patience. God is displaying His. Clearly, the patience of God toward us is absolutely staggering. It has been extremely helpful for me to think about God’s patience as it is displayed in the Scriptures, in history, and toward me as I continue to seek the fruit of the Spirit in my own life, including that illusive, yet glorious, element called “patience.”
I see God’s patience in dealing with Adam and Eve as they fall into sin and as He grants the initial revelation of His covenant of grace. I see the patience of God with the patriarchs and Israel, even with their grumbling in the wilderness. I see His patience throughout the Gospels as Jesus, the Son of God, is being rejected and forsaken. And I see His patience in the establishment of the church in the New Testament. I see His patience in the ebb and flow of the church throughout history.
Perhaps we can gather up the majestic display of God’s patience from a few areas of Scripture that would focus our thoughts. First of all, the Bible says, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come …” (2 Peter 3:8–10a).
Here Peter refers to the mocking of the world concerning the Second Coming of Christ. Since He has not come yet, the skeptics say this is the evidence that there is no Christ and there is no Second Coming. In reality, Peter informs us that the fact Christ has not come is a display of God’s patience. Why has He not come? Because all of His people are not yet saved, and He is long-suffering and will continue to be until all of the elect have been gathered into a saving relationship with Christ. The key text is “He is patient toward you,” not wishing for any of you to perish. Who are the “you” in this verse? The text itself tells us that it is the “beloved.” If we go back to 2 Peter 3:1, we see that the beloved are now receiving their second letter: “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder.” If we go to the first letter of Peter’s writing to the “beloved” we will find out that the beloved are the elect. Peter writes: “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1–3). So this patience of God toward “the elect” is patient and long-suffering, and thus He will not send His Son to bring all things to a consummation and final judgment until all of the elect are gathered. That is why Peter indicates that the ministry of evangelism is “hastening the day of the Lord.”