The Book of 2 Peter

Watching for the Lord's Coming

February 27, 2022 Series: Scripture: 2 Peter 3:14-17 by Chris Strevel

Be Diligent to Be Found in Him (v. 14)

Since We Watch for the Lord’s Coming

The Lord constantly exhorts us to watch for his coming and be ready for all that will transpire when he returns: the resurrection of the body, the judgment of the nations, the burning up the present heavens and earth and the fulfillment of God’s promise (Isa. 65:17) of a new heavens and earth. His disciples are marked by this watching – not a lazy, wistful longing to get out of our scrapes and sorrows, but a desire for him, to know and be with him forever. A Christian must not live even one day without thinking of Jesus Christ and asking to know him better. He is precious to us (1 Pet. 2:7), for the Father has set him forth as our righteousness and propitiation (Rom. 3:25-26). Through faith in his blood we are justified – cleansed and forgiven. Whatever our differing views about the historical timing of these events, it is love for Christ and desire to be with him that unite all believers. It is something we look for and expect and hope happens today, for we want nothing as much as to be with the Lord forever in joy, love, and holiness. Are you waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus? Do you long for his appearing?

Make Certain Your Salvation in Christ

Waiting for Christ is marked by diligence – a diligence that needs encouragement. Sinful responses to our troubles in this world obscure the glory of the return of Christ behind the clouds of our worries and sorrows. If you know an important guest is coming to your home, you make preparations. We know the Lord Jesus is returning, and it is necessary to prepare for his coming. How will he find us? What will matter most when he comes is that we know him, are at peace with him. We must make sure our interest in Christ now, that he is our Savior and represents us as our Mediator before the throne of God. When the King returns, is he coming to redeem or judge me? Is he returning to bring me to heaven or send me to hell? Thus, to be diligent to be found in him means to make sure of our interest in Christ. It is another way of saying what Peter has already written: “give diligence to make our calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10). We must be sure that we know him, that we have a share in his saving work by faith. Is he coming as my Savior or as my Judge, to reward or to condemn? 

Live in Quiet Holiness

“In peace” suggests that we must be at peace with the returning Savior. He is the King and the Judge. To be at peace with him is described as “without spot and blame.” Spotless means cleansed; blameless means nothing of which to accuse. These precious gospel blessings are highlighted by the reality that Jesus Christ is coming to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30). We cannot make peace with the Judge when he comes. Or, if you die before he comes, you cannot make peace with him when you stand before him. You have nothing of which to make that peace. Your sins scream for judgment. But he offers us cleansing now, and one way we watch for him is to come to him now for cleansing. Lord, cleanse my spots; forgive my sins; purge my dead works by your precious blood. And then, help me to live blameless before you, without giving you any offense. Holiness has been one of Peter’s main concerns in this letter. The false teachers were undermining holiness on two fronts – cheap grace and no return of Christ. The true gospel proclaims cleansing and God’s grace unto holiness. God’s promise of the return of Christ motivates blameless living. When you see his bombs of judgment fall, repent. When the tower falls on sinners (Luke 13:3,5), repent. Cleansing and holiness is the way we live at peace with the reigning Lamb and the main way we watch for his return. Thus, a real expectation of the return of Jesus Christ powerfully transforms daily living in your zip code – from indifference to zeal, from laziness to a valuable and contributing member of society to those around you – because you live as one who will soon give an account before the Lord of glory.

Reject Scripture Twisters (vv. 15-16)

Know the Reason for the Delay: Salvation

Peter had to write this letter because the believers were not watching for Christ’s return as they should have been. They were being influenced by the false teachers. Never think that the church is as she should be on earth or that there have been golden ages in the past that were so much better than today. All ages have their strengths and weaknesses, but all ages of the church struggle with being too “right now oriented,” too obsessed with what is happening in the “big things” that we forget the main reason for the apparent “delay” in the return of Christ (Ps. 131:1-2). The Lord is giving us time to repent. His longsuffering is our salvation. The delay tends to put us to sleep, but it should actually have the opposite effect. Do you have another day of health and mental clarity? Are you hearing this sermon, and what will you do with it? Will there be another generation on earth before the end of all things? How will you work tomorrow because Jesus Christ is coming to judge the world? The Lord is giving us time to repent. He is withholding the final wrath, the wrath of the Lamb, the opening of the books, the throwing of sinners and Satan and sin into the lake of fire that burns forever. It is mercy, therefore, that our Father is offering to us this morning – not sleepy worldliness or go about your life after this service in the same way you were before. No, think seriously that many will die this afternoon and have no more mercy, no more opportunity to repent. You have sins in your life that require your diligent attention, priorities that need serious adjustment. Jesus Christ delays his coming to give you opportunity to repent and bring his grace to bear upon all these things.

“The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” is such a precious sentence. It hearkens back to v. 9 – the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” We are quick to call down fire and judgment, but the Lord is looking to show mercy to sinners. He wants every one of his sheep to be brought into his fold. I hope we have not forgotten how much we need the longsuffering of the Lord, his patience. We provoke him in so many ways, and our age, I am sure, gives its own provocation against his majesty. We waste many opportunities to speak his truth and allow temporal, political divisions to deceive us into lining up the goats now. But we do not know who they are, or will be. We must not judge the present by the final and the eternal, for God’s mercy is operative and changes many who look like goats into his lambs. I encourage us all to consider how much we need the Lord’s patience – this will shape the way we talk to others and about others. Consider also how much you have personally provoked him, but he has not sent lightning down from heaven to smoke you. And you would have his anger smoke against those who do not know as much as you, have not received mercy like you have? You want souls to go to hell, when there is still time for them to repent. If the church is humbled by the Lord’s longsuffering, it will alter her perception of the world, of her mission in the world, and her self-perception. Nothing for us, no good in us, no wisdom in us – all in Christ. Blessed be the Lord who has shown such mercy – let me be patient with my husband, my wife, my parents, my children, church members who irritate me. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Our Beloved Paul Wrote the Same Things to You

With the painful encounter between Peter and Paul in Antioch, it may seem strange for Peter to bring forward Paul’s witness to support his teaching. It is not strange at all, unless you are a critical student of Scripture and history who cannot imagine there is any such thing as reconciliation. Even godly men make mistakes and give way to fear, which Peter temporarily did (Gal. 2:12). The apostles were unified and respected one another’s specific callings and spheres (Gal. 2:9-10), but this respect did not prevent confrontation, which Peter received. Nor did their apostolic office and authority prevent practical errors and personal sins. They were weak and sinful men, as Paul so pitifully attests (Rom. 7:14-25), and as such struggled to understand and apply the glorious gospel. They needed one another and had to submit to one another in the Lord. 

Peter references one of Paul’s letters written specifically to these believers. Given that the subject matter is the second coming of the Lord and even more specifically “looking for the new heavens and earth,” we might think of the Thessalonian letters. I think Hebrews might be in mind. Both 1-2 Peter and Hebrews have Jewish recipients primarily in view. Hebrews may be anonymous exactly because Paul wrote as a Jewish believer to Jewish believers, thus somewhat out of his “bounds” as the apostle to the Gentiles. His authorship would explain the detailed understanding of the Jewish system that marks that letter. As it includes, Paul speaks of Abraham “looking for the heavenly country,” and the final warnings in the letter are prompted by our present sufferings and need to look unto Jesus as the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 11:16; 13:14), thus tying the letter to the themes of 2 Peter.

But we do not know for sure to which of Paul’s letters Peter refers. Many views have been suggested and debated. The certain points are, first, that Peter and Paul give a unified witness to our Lord’s coming and our duty to live watching. Second, Peter speaks of the wisdom the Lord gave Paul, which is one apostle certifying another! Third, Peter references an already known corpus of Pauline letters, of which the specific letter is but a part, and he calls those letters “Scripture.” This is vital for our understanding of the “canon,” as we call it, the rule or standard of our faith. In the years before Peter and Paul passed off the scene, and remember that Peter is the “apostle to the circumcision” and Paul to the Gentiles, their writings are already considered “Scripture.” The whole set of inspired writings were not known everywhere or all at once, for they were hand copied, but when they were known as coming from an apostle, they were “Scripture” on par with the rest of Scripture, the Old Testament. The church since Moses has never been without a written Scripture to guide her, which truth is taught by Scripture itself and completely opposed to false teachers, past and present!

Unstable Men Twist Scripture to Support Error

To warn us against being led astray by false teachers is the reason Peter speaks of some of Paul’s letters as being hard to understand. It is not that all believers have equal clarity of understanding of Scripture. Nor are we to think that because a sincere believer misinterprets a passage of Scripture that he is therefore a false teacher. False teachers who are unlearned and unstable twist Scripture, particularly the more difficult portions, to sustain their false doctrines. The sovereignty of God’s grace, for example, of which Paul wrote, when it is not understood correctly and used by false teachers, might actually be twisted to support fatalism on the one hand, or cheap grace on the other (Rom. 3:8). The reality of the “heavenly country” we are to seek might be used by Gnostics to dismiss any concern with what happens on earth or to the body, which led to the errors of the Nicolaitans in Pergamum and the hyper-spiritualists in Corinth (1 Cor. 6:13-20). But these doctrines are not found in Scripture. False teachers look for support for them in Scripture by twisting Scripture. “Unlearned” means an untrained and undisciplined mind, which does not look at God’s word to restrain our lusts but for justification to encourage them. “Unstable” means morally unstable, which stresses the connection between personal holiness and being able to rightly interpret and humbly submit to God’s word.

Beware of Being Led Astray (v. 17)

Believers know these things – the coming of the Lord and the duty to live watching and waiting in the light of his coming – but we must guard against being led astray. “Error of the wicked” is strong and pointed, especially since it refers not to pagan philosophers but would-be Christian teachers. How can we not be led away with their errors to destruction? We must steadfastly hold to Scripture. Notice that Peter supported his own Scriptures by referring to Paul’s Scriptures. He did not say, “Consult your feelings about these things.” Or, what do you think? No, Scripture. He did not tell them to follow popes or decrees of councils, but Scripture. Hold fast to them. False doctrine and sinful living, which were the stock and trade of the false teachers, are personally and eternally destructive. It matters what we believe about Jesus Christ, the doctrines we profess, for they control the way we live, either carefully and humbly or flagrantly and lustfully. If we are the Lord’s, he gives us the “love of the truth that we may be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). And especially when we know God’s word we must hold fast to it as a great treasure and not be moved away from it one inch.

Grow in the Grace of our Lord and Savior (v. 18)

The Surest Way to Avoid Falling Away (2 Pet. 1:10)

I pray we learn to take our faith this seriously. The realization and conviction grows upon believers the longer they live that any half-hearted approach to Christian discipleship, any non-serious, non-consecrated pursuit of holiness, dooms you to worldliness and defeat. It truly is Christ or the world, light or darkness, Christ or Satan (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1). And thus, Peter concludes his letter by encouraging us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. This is the only sure way to avoid falling away and being led into the errors of the army of false teachers that Satan has unleashed into the church. We must keep growing in him, abiding in his word, and calling to him for healing. The way we grow in grace is to live in his true grace – denying ungodly lusts, denying self and what we want, and living soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Tit. 2:11-12). He came to deliver us from this present evil world (Gal. 1:4), and if we abide in him, we shall bear much fruit. We will grow, for he is raised, reigning, and living at the Father’s right hand, present by his Spirit with believers, and supplies from his fullness all we need.

 

 

Know Jesus Christ More and More (Phil. 3:8-14)

Grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Being his disciple, or follower, a Christian never tires of learning of Christ. This knowledge is practical and transformative, for it is learning of him as my Lord. How does he want me using my time? Ask yourself this moment: is he pleased with the way you are treating your husband or wife? Are you doing his will in the use of the time he has given to you? The way you spend money, or your expectations about money? Are your life and career choices driven by your personal feelings and desires or by allegiance to him? Knowing Jesus as Lord and growing unto submission to him. “Why do you call me Lord, and do not the things I say” (Luke 6:46)? And knowing him as Savior must also be a growing reality – that I need your cleansing blood each day, that coming to you as my Savior before the throne of grace is the way I “wash my hands in innocency” (Ps. 26:6), that you are the only name by which I may approach the Father with confidence and acceptance. And each disciple must grow in the knowledge that we are complete in Christ – that he is our righteousness, that we are raised with him and even reigning with him (Eph. 2:5-6). The best and only way to avoid being led astray by the hosts of errors that surround us is to keep growing in knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Never in this life feel you have attained (Phil. 3:13), arrived at the finish line, that there is nothing else to know of him, that your obedience is complete, your devotion to him its highest, that you are giving your utmost to him.

All Glory to Christ Forever

To Christ be glory forever! This is not merely a closing ascription of praise. It is a declaration of life, the meaning of our lives, the meaning and aim of history, the outcome of God’s grace and the purpose of Christ’s return – that he may be glorified! That all men may honor the Son even as they honor the Father (John 5:23). Personally, the glory of Christ motivates our pursuit of holiness, resistance to false teachers, and patience in waiting for his coming. If there is one thing that should characterize and unify every believer is that we are desiring, seeking, and living for the glory of Jesus Christ. “So shall Christ be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20). Whose glory are we pursuing? Do those closest to you think that the glorifying of God in Christ means anything to you? Drives you? Do they hear you talking about his glory, making decisions and denying yourself so that you can glorify him? This is where God’s saving grace always leads – the glorifying of Jesus Christ in the church, over all ages and generations of saints, with increasing clarity and desire, come, Lord Jesus, so that we may behold your glory, give you glory, be glorified with you, and God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be all in all, our joy and praise forever.

 

Living in the Light of the End

February 20, 2022 Series: Scripture: 2 Peter 3:11-13 by Chris Strevel

 

Since Everything Will Be Dissolved (v. 11)

The End Calls for a Certain Way of Life

What is the Christian faith? To many, it is a way to find God – as in Eastern religions. To others, it is a way to make your life better, to see God in your problems, and to realize your maximum potential. For others, it is a way to intellectual stimulation about religious questions, philosophies, and the world of ideas. Still others view faith as seeking emotional wellbeing and heightened religious feeling. Christianity has become like the local buffet – find what you like and gorge! There is an emphasis in the Bible that has become quaint at best, but lost to most. The Son of God, Jesus Christ came into the world, died for his people, rose again, and ascended to heaven to rule over all and intercede for his people. He did and does these things to deliver us from the wrath to come. This present order of things will end – today, tomorrow, next year, a century from now, we do not know. But it will end, and he is the only way to enter joyfully into the new heavens and new earth. He is the only one who will deliver us from the burning that will consume this present heavens and earth. To view one’s faith, therefore, as a way to personal betterment or “build the kingdom on earth,” is horribly misguided and a perversion of the religion of Jesus Christ. He came to deliver us from this present evil age (Gal. 1:4).

We should consider first how deeply a Christian way of life is rooted in the end, in Christian eschatology. You will find nothing in Scripture about building castles and cathedrals as a way to build the kingdom of Jesus Christ, nothing about popes and religious centralization, nothing about interceding saints and holy days, personal betterment and emotional fulfillment or progressive morality as central to our faith. You will find abundant witness that you and I, if we are followers of Jesus Christ, must live our present lives in light of the end that is coming. It is shocking that this wealth of teaching receives so little emphasis; this proves how utterly saturated the present church is with “kingdom now” philosophies of various kinds and her own worldly concerns rather than with the actual reign and return of Christ, which will bring a jarring end to the present order and inaugurate a new order of righteousness.

After describing this present period of history as “man taking a far journey,” which refers to his reign in heaven, the Lord urges his servants to watch, “for you know not when the master of the house comes” (Mark 13:32-37). The danger is that he will find us sleeping, unprepared for his return. Several of Jesus’ parables emphasize the theme of watchfulness, patience, and diligence in the light of his coming – use your talents faithfully, for the accounting is coming (Matt. 25:14-30). Do not let the oil run out of your lamps – keep up faith and hope and love in the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 25:1-13; Luke 12:35-37). Leaving the Gospels and coming to apostolic letters, we find the same theme spelled out and urged upon us. In Romans 13:11-14, we are told that our salvation is nearer than when we first believed, and therefore we must walk not in the darkness but in the light, honestly, not drinking and carousing, but putting on Christ, being clothed with him so that we do not fulfill the various lusts of the flesh. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, after speaking at length of the coming of Jesus Christ and the certainty of our physical resurrection from the dead, he concludes: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Christ’s coming and our resurrection is not spiritual anesthesia but motivation to faithfulness!

In light of Christ’s coming, we are to “walk as children of light,” “redeem the time,” and maintain an intentional separation from the works of darkness (Eph. 5:6-16). Since “the Lord is at hand,” we must be moderate, self-controlled (Phil. 4:5). In an extended commentary on Christian eschatological ethics, the way we are to live in light of the end, the Spirit instructs us in 1 Thess. 5:1-11 to remain awake, which means to watch and pray (Matt. 25:41), not go to sleep in sin and worldliness, but to walk as children of the day or light in faith, love, and hope. Christ’s coming in glory is to be a regular theme of our Christian conversation. Since Christ is coming, James instructs us to sow good seed and wait patiently for it to ripen at his return and keep our hearts fixed upon him (James 5:7-8). In his first letter, Peter says that since the end is near, we must “be sober, watch unto prayer, and have fervent charity among ourselves” (1 Pet. 4:7-8). These are but a sampling of pervasive truths taught by our Savior and his apostles. He is coming, and the way we live must be informed and controlled by his coming.

A Holy and Godly Lifestyle

Here two descriptions of the Christian life sum up the way we are to live in light of the end: holiness and godliness. “Holiness” is the word for saint, but do not think of so-called saints of Romanism who supposedly did more than was required of them and whose merit procures favor with God. This would not be a saint but a devil, for anyone who leads us one inch away from the sole mediation of Jesus Christ is an enemy of God and of righteousness. To be a saint is simply to be holy before God. We are holy in Christ by virtue of his righteousness; we are being made holy in life by virtue of his sanctifying Spirit. To be holy is to be set apart to God. This is the best way to live in light of the end – set apart to the Lord, dedicated to pleasing him (Col. 1:10), holy unto him (Zech. 13:20), not asleep in the world and enslaved to sin. “Godliness” stresses a reverent, pious, God-ward oriented life – not the standards of the world and the flesh but that which shows reverence for him. This is to be our lifestyle in light of the end: holy and godly lives, loving, watchful, patient, pure, sober-minded, prayerful, pious, as those who will soon stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ.

Since the Present Order Will Melt Away (v. 12)

The End is Something We Look For

“Looking for” might also be translated “expecting” or “waiting for.” Because this new heavens and earth are God’s promise to us (Isa. 65:17), we expect them, look for them, and wait for them. God’s promises show us what me must expect and for what we are to pray. Believers do not expect this present order of things to continue forever. Yes, we do our best to serve the Lord here, and heavenly-hopefulness never creates earthly paralysis! It is because we know the Lord is coming that each of us seeks to use each talent he gives to the utmost, spend each ounce of his grace well, and neglect no opportunity to serve him. At the same time, we are not easily deceived by promises of heavenly kingdoms on earth, and none of our efforts to serve Christ and advance his kingdom are ignorant of the passing, transitory nature of this present order of things. There will never be a heaven on earth, or anything that even approximates heaven. We are in the reign of Christ, his millennial kingdom (Acts 2:30-36), and what will prevail now and endure into heaven are works of love and righteousness done in Christ’s name, by his power, for his honor.

The End is the Day We Hasten Toward

It seems strange to “hasten the coming of the day of God?” Can we speed up our Lord’s coming? Do we really want to speed up the dissolution of the heavens? “Hastening” can mean “desiring,” and we should all desire the Lord to return. Christians do not have a universe death wish but a Christ-longing. We want to be with him, for his church to be perfected in holiness, for his kingdom and his personal glory to be revealed in fullness and for the living God to be all in all. I hope there is room in our daily lives for a few thoughts like this – O, Lord, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end (Ps. 7:9)! You be exalted, for “of you, through you, and to you are all things” (Rom. 11:36). At the same time, there may also be here an element of “hurrying,” for consider God’s reason for delay – that all of us have time to repent. In one sense, it might be said that we hasten the day of the Lord when we personally repent of our sins and encourage others to do the same. The reason for the delay is repentance – repent, and the day is hastened (v. 9). This does not mean, of course, that we can hurry up the plan of God, but his purposes include our responses to his word. The overall point is clear – the day of the Lord must be near or at the forefront of our thinking – encouraging us to forgive one another, live patiently and purposefully and prayerfully, and lead holy and godly lives so that our Savior is glorified and the world readied for his return in glory. Are we expecting and hastening his return? Do we want him to return quickly? If so, this desire will lead to a certain kind of living.

Earth-bound expectations make our lives miserable. Are you trying to keep your youthful beauty and strength going? Your independence? Life on your terms? Controlling your finances and relationships so that you have no surprises? Some think they can control what happens to them or does not happen to them based upon their thoughts and decisions. It is shocking how much we do exactly what John the Baptizer once said: “He that is of the earth is earthly, and speaks of the earth” (John 3:31). We must think more heavenly, more of Christ and our expectations of his coming and his glory and of our complete holiness and happiness in him. Take one day, this Sabbath afternoon. Spend it in the light of eternity. If this is your last afternoon before you meet Jesus Christ in the flesh, how do you spend it? How do you relate to him and his word? Where do you find joy? Do you know Jesus Christ? What do you think about? Who do you serve and how? And after today, we must begin living this way with our work and families and relationships, for this is the way we expect and hurry toward our Lord’s coming.

Since God Promises a New Heavens and a New Earth (v. 13)

The End is Not Simply Negative

God began human history, and he will conclude it. Peter takes the creation, Flood, and final fire seriously and literally. This is God’s world. However, the Bible is not apocalyptic in the sense of anxiety about the end of the world. The end of this world is the beginning of the new and promised order. It is a better world, not in the utopian sense men dream but in God’s purposes in history and redemption. All of nature groans under the weight of our curse and sin (Rom. 8:22). Nature is waiting for renewal. All the end of the world movies are dark because there is nothing after the darkness but bare survival, a living hell. God’s end of this world is bright, for it will give way to a new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells. The physical coming of Jesus Christ brings the renewal of all things by his power when he returns in glory from heaven. History without redemption in Christ does end in pointless apocalypse – hell. This is as far as the guilty conscience can take sinners. God’s grace in Christ shows us that the fires of judgment are unto renewal and our own resurrection to walk in newness of life.

God Promises a New Physical Order

What is also important to see is that there will be a new heavens and earth. Since the beginning of this present gospel age of the Spirit, there has been a constant fight with what we might describe as an anti-physical, hyper-spiritual, salvation by hidden knowledge or secret pseudo-gospels. It has gone under various names and with diverse emphases: Docetism, Gnosticism, Theosophy, and the various branches of New Age mysticism. At the heart is a denial of the real incarnation of the Son of God in human flesh and a denial of his physical life on earth, his physical resurrection from the dead, and his physical return from heaven. The Christian faith under these half and false gospels is more of a spiritual principle of enlightenment, thus leaving the body free to sin, as in Corinth (1 Cor. 6:13,19), Pergamum (Rev. 2:14-15), and Thyatira (Rev. 2:20-22). This anti-physical, disembodied cult is making a return in the “virtual church,” experiences of worship done through virtue reality devices. But note: the physical earth will be renewed, for we shall have resurrection, physical bodies in which to serve the Lord forever. It is half a faith and therefore no faith at all to disembody our faith and practice. We are to serve Christ in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Thess. 5:23), which are the Spirit’s temple and have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Life in the world to come will not be disembodied, but body and soul perfected and in perfect harmony serving the Lord in ways and abilities and satisfaction we cannot now imagine.

Righteousness Will Mark that Order

The Lord is righteous. We easily forget this, for we are fallen, and everything around us partakes of the curse of our unrighteousness. Unrighteousness, filth, and depravity look and feel normal to us, and the more so if we give ourselves in any way to it. Our Lord warned us of this: “When iniquity abounds, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). How easily we forget the righteous Lord! “Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments” (Ps. 119:137). “For the righteous Lord loves righteousness; his face beholds the upright in heart” (Ps. 11:7). In the new order coming, there will be only righteousness. Nothing that offends the Lord’s majesty, no sin or mixed motives, no impurity of any kind, nothing but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, upright men and women living to his glory, using his gifts and callings unfettered by sin. This is something to think about often, for motivation and encouragement, and also to rebuke our sluggishness and correct our sinfulness. The old world is heading to dissolution and fire because of its unrighteousness; a new world is coming in which righteousness will reign and pervade, which will bring everlasting joy to us. The sin that so grieves now, burdens the conscience, disturbs the soul, and destroys lives will one day be thrown into the lake of fire. A new day of peace through righteousness is coming (Ps. 72:3; 85:10; 119:165; Isa. 48:18; James 3:18).

Our Calling and Privilege to Live in the Light of the End

Remember the reason the Lord tells us these things so that we live in light of the end. “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone that does righteousness is born of him” (1 John 2:29). Those destined for heaven bear the marks of heaven – by grace alone, in union with Christ (John 15:1-8; Phil. 1:11), imperfectly in this life (1 John 2:1-2), not without warfare and weeping (Rom. 7:14-25), and by continual repentance and following our Lord (1 John 2:6). The Lord tells us what he is going to do to the heavens and the earth so that we will be about his business of imitating his life of obedience to his Father. This is our best preparation for the days of renewal ahead. This righteousness like Jesus Christ is the family mark that the Spirit implants upon all who belong to Christ, who will be citizens of the new heavens and earth. Let us seek it from him now…

 

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