"... that day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (II Peter 3:12-13).
This Sunday I will begin a twelve-week series of messages outlining the events leading up to and surrounding the return of Jesus Christ, as God reveals them in His Word, the Bible. God has promised that this age will end and He tells us how it will end. Knowing what lies ahead not only prepares us for what will happen, but also gives us hope because we know the One who works all things for His glory and for the good of those who are His children. Understanding what the Bible says about these things strengthens our faith and motivates us to share the one message that is the power of God unto salvation ... the one message that is able to rescue people from the kingdom of darkness and bring them into God's kingdom!
I watch the news every day, not because it is so interesting all the time, but because knowing what is going on in the world continually reinforces the truthfulness of God's Word. Some may be afraid to talk about "the end," and many speculate about it, believing that at any moment Jesus could come to "take us away!" But the Bible says otherwise. Jesus cannot come today. According to the Bible, there are certain things that must happen BEFORE Jesus returns. We will be examining those things over the coming weeks. But what is important for you and me to understand and believe TODAY is that for those who believe in Jesus Christ, "the end" will bring about a new beginning!
Jesus said that those who believe in Him would never die (spiritually), and that those who do die (physically) would rise from the dead and would live forever (John 11). We know that those who leave this world through death enter into eternal life, and that even our bodies will be raised from the grave. This is our sure and certain hope, based on the finished work of Christ on the cross. We are saved from God's judgment by grace through faith ... trusting in Jesus alone for forgiveness and life. The same is true of the entire planet. The destruction of this planet that lies ahead in the near future brings about a new beginning - the new heaven and the new earth.
Most people believe that we will live forever in heaven, but that is not what the Bible says. The spirits of believers go immediately to be with God in heaven at the moment of death (II Corinthians 5), but that is not the end of God's plan. When Jesus comes, God says that we will come with Him to earth and will reign with Him during His 1,000-yr. reign during the millennium (Revelation 20). Then God will create - yes, CREATE, a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, where God will live with His people forever (Revelation 21)!
This is what those who know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord have to look forward to. The "end" of this present age (Matthew 24:1-3), brings the beginning of the new world that God has promised to His people. As we watch the signs begin to happen, the anticipation of Jesus' return and all that the Bible says will happen motivates us to be about our Father's business. I pray that as we begin this new year, YOU will be moved by the Spirit of God to be engaged in spreading the good news and warning people of what is to come on this world. Whether it happens in our lifetimes or not, we will all stand before God and only those who are covered by the blood of Jesus will endure God's just judgment and live with Him in this new heaven and new earth.
This world WILL end ... but for those who are in Christ Jesus it's only the beginning!! If you live in the Allendale area, come and join us for this twelve-week series, beginning this Sunday, January 6th. We are currently meeting at Oakwood Intermediate School, south of Lake Michigan Drive (or north of Fillmore St.), to Pierce, and west on Pierce to the Allendale schools campus ... just follow the signs! For those unable to join us, the messages will be available here on our website. May God use His Word to speak to each of us, whether to encourage, to challenge, or to call you to put your hope in Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ!!