Things That Do And Do Not Burn

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, on account 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)

Peter’s point is fascinating! He is writing Christians (1:1) who faced and endured struggles (1:10, 11; 2:1; 3:3-7). He did not say it would be easy to be a Christian! He was honest about the hardships! Never did he say Christianity is the “easy way to live.”

After assuring them that God knew how to rescue the godly from temptation (2:9), and stressing the importance of remembering the prophets’ words, the commandments, and Jesus’ words (3:2), he affirmed judgment’s certainty. However, he did not ask them to live in the terror of punishment. He did not try to scare them to heaven. It would have been the ideal set up for some type of message about, “You are going to pay for godless living!” or “Do you not realize what God can do to you?”

Peter acknowledged (1) God keeps His promises. (2) God’s judgment is a certain reality. (3) Judgment will be a surprise. (4) The judgment will be a devastating, destructive event for the ungodly. However, for the godly it will be a pleasant, victorious event. The godly will become part of an environment where the righteous belong and the unrighteous do not—the exact opposite of this existence!

With this reality, Peter asked a question. The question was not associated with the “turn or burn” philosophy which attempts to scare people away from hell and into heaven. The question: “Should you invest life in things you know are temporary, things you know will burn?” Or, is it wise to knowingly invest yourself in something you thoroughly understand cannot and will not last?

Heaven is not a destination for a person who goes kicking and screaming because he/she fears going elsewhere. It is a place for thoughtful, righteous people who trust God. Make the journey with us—the destination of the righteous is worth the price!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 14 March, 2010


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