2 Peter 3:1–18 (NKJV)
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 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? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
We are most certainly in the last days of this world. Scoffers walk according to their own lusts—for physical pleasure, power over others, prestige in their own eyes, riches, and the like. They imagine there is no end to this world, no judgment, and no return of Christ, if they believe there is a Christ at all. They see the fact that Christ has not yet returned as slackness. But what scoffers see as slackness, the eyes of faith see as patience. God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”—contrition over their sins and faith in the gospel—so that they may escape the wrath to come when the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up and dissolved with fire and fervent heat.
Those who live lives of repentance—daily contrition over their sins and faith in the gospel—look forward to Christ’s return. “We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” In the new heavens and earth there will not be any unrighteousness—no sin, temptation, and no consequences of sin. The unrighteousness of this world will be destroyed in fire. The unrighteous themselves—unbelievers who do not have Christ’s righteousness by faith—will be eternally punished.
Since we look forward to the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells, how should we we live? “Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” We will be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless, by living lives of repentance. God justifies us by faith in Christ and gives us Christ’s perfect righteousness, which is without spot and blameless. Knowing all this is to come when Christ returns, be steadfast in faith. Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by adhering to His Word and Sacraments, looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, give us your Holy Spirit to live as those who look for the new heavens and earth where righteousness dwells. Amen.