Wednesday, September 27, 2017

So, How Should We Then Live? (2 Peter 3:11-13)

“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:11–13, NASB95)

Francis A. Schaeffer wrote a book and prepared a historical documentary film series titled, “How Should We Then Live?” The retailers’ promo of the book reads like this, “As one of the foremost evangelical thinkers of the twentieth century, Francis Schaeffer long pondered the fate of declining Western culture. In this brilliant book he analyzed the reasons for modern society's state of affairs and presented the only viable alternative: living by the Christian ethic, acceptance of God's revelation, and total affirmation of the Bible's morals, values, and meaning.”

After walking us through the problems of and the eventual end of false teachers, Peter wraps up his letter by asking a question quite similar to that of Francis Schaeffer (and nearly a couple thousand years earlier). Since we know that the prevalence of evil will result in the eventual destruction of everything we see, how should we then live? Those who have suffered great loss because of a house fire have known the reality of their possessions going up in smoke. Peter reminds his readers that this earth and all of the heavens will be destroyed by intense heat. It will literally all go away. It will no longer exists, and all who have done evil on it will be judged in the process. Everything that they chased after would have proven to be a total and absolute loss. Their words would have proven empty. Their alters would have served them no good. And, their fortresses would have been worthless. Nothing that they saw as a foundation upon which to stand will remain, and everything that they stood for would prove futile. It will all have been a waste.

There is only one foundation that will remain, and it is Christ. He will destroy evil and He will establish new heavens and a new earth. This is our great hope. When Jesus left His disciples He told them, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:2–3, NASB95) And in Revelation chapters 21 and 22 we get a picture of what it will be like on that day as well as what we are to expect.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”” (Revelation 21:1–4, NASB95)

The room of which Christ spoke were not limited to those He left on that night, but they refer to all who have been saved. We are that bride that adorned for her husband. Paul told us this in Ephesians chapter 5 as he compared the marriage relationship between that of Christ and His church. We read, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25–27, NASB95)

Well, that day will come when we stand before our Lord as His church—His cleansed and glorious bride without any spot or wrinkle. This is His promise and it is our hope, and no persecutor or mocker is going to take that away. We will have a new home specially prepared for us by our God, where He will dwell with us. Death will cease to exist. There will be no more aches and pains, no mourning or crying. All that we struggle with now will have passed away and we will stand perfected before Him. Revelations 21:5 says, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

John’s description does not end there. We continue to read, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:9–27, NASB95)

“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:1–5, NASB95)

What an incredible future He has for us! And, John having been shown this was given these words by Christ for us. ““And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”… “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20–21, NASB95)

Remember Peter that Peter had just told us that to God one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day. We are not to become discouraged because our days seem too long. Christ gives us the ability to stand. He gives us the ability to endure. And, He has given us these words as our great hope that He indeed is “coming quickly.”

In response, and as we’ve seen even in these last words or Revelation, these truths should impact the way we live. Knowing Christ and knowing His promise we are to live in response as people who know His truth and abide by it with hope moment by moment and day by day. “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God….”

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