Living anticipating Christ’ return

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Living anticipating Christ’ return

Riverside Indonesian Fellowship
Published by Stanley Pouw in 2011 · 30 October 2011

Now let's turn back to 2 Peter 3 which we did not finish a few months ago, and let us look at the last section of this epistle, starting with 11 through 13 first. Peter received divine revelation to safeguard the church from the onslaught of false teachers in this letter.

Remember that in chapter 1 he gave us very important instructions about how to make sure that we're in a right relationship with God. Then in chapter 2 he described the characteristics of false teachers. And in chapter 3 he has been refuting their attacks against the Second Coming of Christ.

We should be thankful to him for explaining that history has a goal, that history has a purpose. God will intervene through the coming of Christ and bring history to its proper end. When there is no goal in human history, when there is no end, when there is no future, hedonism prevails in some hearts and they live anyway they want to live and life has no meaning.

But beyond that, Peter is concerned that we as believers have a proper understanding and a proper response to the return of Jesus Christ. The final words begin in verse 11. “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?”

Now Peter uses the phrase in verse 12 "the day of God," which refers to the eternal state. Don’t confuse this with “the day of the Lord” which is the judgment day. He says if you're longing for that eternal state, a new heavens and new earth, it ought to have an impact on your life right now.

When Jesus is coming to reward you, when Jesus is coming to give you a new heaven and a new earth, when Jesus is coming to deliver you out of judgment and to usher you into the great eternal day of God, that should impact your life. In other words, if you have been created for that, redeemed for that, sanctified for that, then you ought to begin to live in the light of that.

In fact, in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Paul would add to this when he says, "We have as our ambition whether at home or absent to be pleasing to Him, 10 for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

We're going to all stand before that judgment throne when we're going to receive our eternal reward. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:5, at that point in time when the Lord judges the secrets of our hearts, every one of us will have differing praises from God and we will enter into our eternal reward.

So how should we live then anticipating His return? Peter lists a number of attributes which we'll talk about tonight and the next Sunday evenings. First of all, we read in verse 11, "What manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” Holy conduct refers to action and godliness refers to attitude.

Holy conduct refers to the way I live my life, godliness refers to the spirit of reverence within me by which I live my life. Holy conduct refers to that which rules my behavior, and godliness refers to that which rules my heart. And so he is saying what kind of person ought you to be in heart and in behavior, in motive and in action, in attitude and in duty.

The answer starts in verse 12 all the way through verse 18. What should it be that characterizes us? Let me give you Peter’s little list, then we'll cover it one by one: expectation, pacification, purification, evangelization, discrimination, maturation and adoration. I just want to give you a little feeling for the flow. Those are the things that should define us in holy conduct and godliness.

First, let's call it expectation. Notice verse 12-13, “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

That verb "looking for" has the idea of expectancy, alert to the Lord's arrival. That word "hastening" adds the idea of eager desire. That means that I'm going to be dealing with some issues in my life so that I won't be ashamed at His coming. 1 John 2:28 talks about not being ashamed when Jesus comes, "When He appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming."

That little phrase "the coming," again that wonderful word parousia, it literally means the personal bodily presence of Jesus Christ. It's not about the presence of a place, it's about the presence of a person. And if we have no unconfessed sin, then we can eagerly anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ. We aren't eager for the day of the Lord, but we are eager for the day of God.

So if you're hastening the day of God in order to bring it, something else has to happen first. God has to destroy the present universe. So we can say then that before we make way for the day of God (eternal state) there must be the day of the Lord (judgment day).

Just as we learned back in verses 5 and 6, that the Lord destroyed this earthly part of the universe once by water, drowning all of the people that were in it from waters underneath and waters above the earth, so in the future He will destroy it by fire.

The day of the Lord is not the result of any natural calamity. It is not the result of some nations using nuclear weapons. It is not the result of any man or any natural event or natural cataclysm. It is divine judgment by Almighty God through the power of Christ to whom He has committed the judgment work.

Now keep in mind that the day of the Lord comes in two parts. It comes when Jesus returns in the Second Coming at the end of the time of Tribulation. And then He sets up His thousand-year Kingdom. And then at the end of that thousand years, the second phase of the day of the Lord comes.

Look at Revelation 8:7, the trumpets are blown to pronounce the judgment at the end of the Tribulation time. "And as the first trumpet is sounded, there came hail and fire mixed with blood and they were thrown to the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, all the green grass was burned up.”

And then Revelation 16:8, where you have the final judgments at the end of the Tribulation, just before the Lord Jesus comes, "The fourth angel poured his bowl upon the sun and it was given to it to scorch men with fire 9 and men were scorched with fierce heat and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues and they did not repent so as to give Him glory."

This is some kind of figurative description of a great fiery force. Maybe God opens the earth a little and exposes its volcanic capacity, which goes to about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and consumes a third of the world. That's just a preview, that's just a little taste of what's going to come at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom.

Look at Revelation 9:16-18, “Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths.”

And that is the starting point of the final devastation of fire. And the Lord has given us ample warning, Old Testament, New Testament, very descriptive previews coming at the end of the seven-year period of Tribulation, just prior to Jesus' return to set up His thousand-year Kingdom.

Then lastly Revelation 20:7-10, “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog (people who have lived through those 1000 years and rejected Christ), to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

And then comes the time when all of the universe is consumed and the elements melt with intense heat. What do you mean that elements? It means the components that make up the building blocks of matter, it's all going to be consumed. First John 2:17, "And the world is passing away." The universe, the physical earth and the world means the system, social, economic, cultural, religious, it's all consumed.

When God's day arrives the final destruction has taken place. Man's day is over. That's why it's the day of God. It's not man's day anymore. His corruption of the universe and that of fallen angels is finally judged.

According to His promise, the Lord is going to bring new heavens and a new earth, paradise regained after the fire. That is God's promise. And according to His promise, He who cannot lie, who always speaks the truth, we're looking for a new world and a new universe.

That promise goes way back. The prophet Isaiah said it in Isaiah 65:17, "For behold, says the Lord, I create new heavens and the new earth and the former thing shall not be remembered or come to mind."

Listen, one of the great realities of eternity is you will have no memory of time. You will be consumed in the new heavens and the new earth and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. Be glad and rejoice forever, He says, in what I create.

And then in Isaiah 66: 22 he says it again, "Just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me, declares the Lord, so your offspring and your name will endure."

Yes, Peter says, according to His promise, there will be new heavens and a new earth. The word "new" is the word kainos, it means new in quality, not new in chronology, not just new in order, but new in quality, different, not like anything we've ever known.

And how does Peter sum up the character of its newness? In 2 Peter 3:13 it says, "In which righteousness dwells." And so he is saying that this is a new world in which righteousness is no longer strange, a world in which righteousness is no longer foreign, a world which is the home of righteousness, a permanent and perfect existence.

That's the world that has been promised to us in Jesus Christ. That's where our history is going. That's what's prepared for those who love Him. In Isaiah 60:19, it says, "No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light. You will have the Lord for an everlasting light and your God for your glory."

20 Your sun will set no more, neither will your moon wane, for you will have the Lord for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be finished, then all Your people will be righteous."

Look at Revelation 21:1-7, "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.”

Verse 4-7 says, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

“And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

Go to Revelation 21:23-27 again similar to Isaiah, "The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.”

All the peoples who have been redeemed of all nations will be there basking in this glory. But verse 27, "27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

And you see, if we know that we're headed for the new heaven and the new earth, if we know that we'll be delivered out of the day of the Lord, phase one and phase two, if we know that we're going to escape the judgment because we have been elected unto eternal life, eternal glory, and eternal righteousness, and that our dwelling place forever will be in the eternal day of God, where righteousness is all there is, if that is God's plan for us and that is the reason He redeemed us, what kind of people ought we to be?

First of all, we ought to be people characterized by expectation. The sequence of events is as follows: the Lord Jesus comes to Rapture His church out, then comes phase one of the day of the Lord, the judgment at Tribulation. And then we come back with Him to reign with Him in that thousand years in our glorified bodies.

At the end of that time He destroys the universe, preserving the already made righteous and redeemed through that destruction and ushers us finally at the end of the thousand years into the day of God. We should live in expectation. The best is yet to come. Let us dive into that next week. Let's pray.


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