The Time Of Salvation
The apostle Peter wrote something about the coming 'day of the Lord.' While some of the things he mentioned in 2 Peter 3 are hard to understand, one thing is clear: "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).
Peter then adds: "And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters" (2 Pet. 3:15-16a).
We need to understand that one reason Christ has not returned yet is to give time for the people of God to be saved. What Peter is saying in 2 Peter 3:15a is a recapitulation of what he already said in 2 Peter 3:9. Peter is saying that the Lord is not unfaithful to His promise.
The very reason, Peter says, why our Lord Jesus is not coming back yet is to show that the Lord "is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9b).
Through the proclamation of the gospel God is patiently calling His people from all over the world to repent from their sin and to return to Him in faith.
Verse 15 of 2 Peter 3 is God's word on how to interpret the time between the first and the second coming of Christ. In biblical terms, this period is called 'the time of salvation.'
The first time the Savior has come He has opened the way for God's people, His sheep, to return to His fold. While our Lord Jesus has not appeared the second time yet, the way to God is still open. But when He comes back the way will be closed and the time of salvation will be over.
Notice that, according to Peter, this is also what Paul taught and wrote in his letters (2 Peter 3:15).
Peter says, “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation.” Paul says in Romans 2:4, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
So both the Apostles Peter and Paul teach that the postponement (at least, from our perspective) of Christ's appearing is an act of God's forbearance. It should be interpreted as "giving more time", so to speak, for our repentance and salvation.
God is restraining or withholding His final judgment upon the wicked in this world to give ample time for His people to hear the gospel and repent and live in holiness.
What a gracious and forbearing God we have! His mercy is so great to those whom He loves and redeemed in Christ Jesus.