Is the world completely hopeless?

I’m about to make a shocking statement, and I believe it with all of my heart: Jesus Christ is not the hope of the world.

 

If you don’t agree with me, I don’t think you understand the Bible clearly. The Bible never says Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the hope of those who turn to Him in repentance and faith, and cast themselves upon the mercy of God, accomplished through the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

What the Bible says about the world is that it is under the curse and judgment of God. It says that hope for man and woman is to be separated from this world in Jesus Christ.

 

If you cherish, in your heart, great hopes for this world, I don’t know where you got them, but please be sure you certainly didn’t get them from the Bible. Let’s get that clear in our thinking.

 

The world is under the curse of sin through our rebellion against God. Satan will be utterly destroyed. The earth will be utterly destroyed. Peter says that God will keep His promise.

 

This is stated clearly in 2 Peter 3:10, But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

 

Do you see any caveats that the earth will not be destroyed? No. There is no way of avoiding this.

 

Peter does not say, “unless you repent, the earth will be exposed.” He doesn’t say, “Unless the Church in America gets its act together and returns in prayer, then the world will be destroyed by fire.”

 

There’s no condition in this statement. It is unconditional. It is inevitable. There is nothing you or anybody else, now or in the future, can do to stop or change it. The earth is under the curse of sin. God will keep His promise. Cursed is the ground. It will be destroyed and brought to nothing.

 

Where does this take us? What are the implications?

 

Does this mean Christians should be careless about the environment? “It’s going to be destroyed, so who cares?” Absolutely not. As we engage in discussion about caring for earth, think of it this way: We care for the planet like we care for the dying. We do not care for the dying because we think we can save them. We care for the dying because we love them. We care for the dying because we value them. We care intensely for the dying because their time is short. That is how we care for the planet. No Christian who reads the Bible can cherish hopes within their heart that the planet can be saved from what God has said will happen. We care for the planet like we care for the dying.

 

  1. Ponder Your Priorities

 

Peter tells us where this truth does take us. 2 Peter 3:11 says, Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,

 

I don’t know about you, but I often find it hard to think on the global scale due to its vastness. Suppose a revelation was given to you that at some point in your life, your home would be destroyed by fire and everything in it would be laid bare. What would you do?

 

You’re not told which home . . . your starter home when you’re first married, or your family home where you raise kids, or your retirement home. You’re told that at some point in your life, the place you live will be destroyed by fire. It’ll happen one night. What would you do if you knew that to be the case?

 

I’d move as much as I possibly could, of what I value, to another place. Like my computer files I’d be so scared of losing, I’d leave the computer at the church every night.

 

My wife would take all of our family photos and she’d say, “We’re not keeping them in the house since the house will go up in fire some time.” That’s what she’d do. You’d do the same.

 

Try and spread this out to the macro scale. Isn’t this the point the Lord Jesus is saying, in Matthew 6:19–20, 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

 

If everything in this world is going to pass away, then wisdom says that you and I should seek to live radically God-centered lives. The way you and I use our time, talent, and treasure should be moved to the greatest possible extent to investment in that which will last for eternity. Make it your mission in life to invest yourself in things that will count for eternity.

 

If you know the future of this world, it changes your whole priority system for living in this world. It also changes your attitude.

 

  1. Assess Your Attitude

 

What is your attitude toward the future right now? Knowing this truth from Peter gives us a clear perspective.

 

2 Peter 3:13 says, But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

 

There is joy, anticipation, and hope here. Why would Christians have a happy attitude despite knowing the earth will burn?

 

2 Peter 3:12a says, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God

 

Scholars debate this phrase, “day of God,” found in verse 12, and wonder if it’s the same thing as the “day of the Lord” found in verse 10. After much study of this, I believe these days are different. John MacArthur said, “Some commentators equate the ‘day of God’ with the ‘day of the Lord,’ but they are not synonymous expressions. The ‘day of God’ refers to the eternal state when God will have permanently subdued all of His enemies.”[1]

 

Christ’s people have a different destiny. Our destiny is not to find ourselves consumed in the judgment of God. The destiny of those who are in Christ is to be with Him and to enter with all the community that He has redeemed together into the joy of everlasting life.

 

That is why those who are in Christ find ourselves praying, “Lord Jesus, come quickly.” We long for His appearing and live in anticipation of the day when we who have shared in His death and resurrection will share in His ascension as we are caught up to meet the Lord together in the air. This is the day He will bring us before the Father. Hebrews 2:13 says, 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

 

If you are in Christ, you will stand there on that day. No wonder Peter says you look forward to the day of God. You speed its coming.

 

God is holding back the judgment until all of His children are gathered whom Christ will present before the Father. God gathers His children through the Gospel. The Gospel is trusted to whom? Us.

 

We have the inestimable privilege of investing our lives in living the Gospel. The day when all of God’s children will be gathered, from all over the world, will be awe-inspiring. Isn’t it a blessing to be a Christian?

 

This world is hopeless. That is why, if you live for this world, and you continue to do so, you will face a total loss. You’ll face a loss that is inevitable, unavoidable, and eternal.

 

Do you see from what we need to be saved? If it was just that we need saving from ignorance about knowing the right way to live, then a Christian education program could fix that.

 

If it was just that we needed saving from bad behavior, then morality could fix that. If what you and I need saving from is the destruction of the heavens and the burning up and melting of the earth in fervent heat, what will save you from that? How could morality save you from the destruction of the world? It is impossible.

 

Only God can save you. Saving you means pulling you out from this world, which is what is promised to all who are in Jesus Christ.

 

This world is completely hopeless. Christ came to save us from it and its destruction.

[1] John MacArthur, 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2004).

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