We look for new heavens and a new earth where righteousness shall dwell. And these new heavens and that new earth shall really be new; the former things shall be remembered no more. We shall not return to the former paradise in which Adam lived; but we shall bear the image of the last Adam, the Lord from heaven!
There is one outstanding characteristic of that eternal state, which is, at once, comforting and also assuring, that it shall never pass away, as did the bliss in the first paradise, where man fell. It is stated by Peter in verse 13b, which reads as follows: “In which dwelleth righteousness.”
We are no doubt, correct to say that the negatively outstanding characteristic of the new heavens and earth shall be that all the works of the Devil shall be there no longer. There the father of the lie, the Liar from the beginning, the murderer of man, can not come. Nor will his demons be able to be present in that new Jerusalem, the city of peace. And, finally, the evil man, who loved the lie and hated the truth, and who mocked with the fond hope of the righteous, shall there no longer be able to torment them with his evil reproaches. Only they who receive a new name, the name of God, upon their foreheads, and have the name of the city of God, shall be there. That shall be our eternal resting place!
However, Peter points to the positive element of that new heaven and new earth. He singles out the “righteousness” that shall dwell there. How could it be different! Shall not the King of righteousness there reveal His throne established in righteousness forever? Is He not the King after the order of Melchizedec, that is, King of righteousness? And then shall the King live and reign forever in righteousness.
What is this righteousness?
Contrary to all the vain hopes of proud man, it shall not, be a righteousness and a kingdom which is brought about in any sense by the endeavors of sinful and fallen man; it will not be the realization of the dream of Post-Millennialism. This is the view and error which holds that somehow on this earth the kingdoms of this world will beat their swords into plow-shares; the world will live in universal peace; man will no longer hear of wars and rumors of wars. And when all armaments for war have ceased and all nations shall be one, then shall the Kingdom of Christ be realized here upon earth. This is, of course, contrary to the plain teaching of Christ in such passages as Matt. 24:4-8. We should give heed to Christ’s warning, “Beware that no one deceive you.” Matt. 24:4. Certainly the Post-Millennial view is nothing less than an idle dream, as was so strikingly evident in the world-shaking event of the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy. Natural man can, at best, but have some understanding of externally orderly deportment, but, even so, keeps down the truth in unrighteousness, even in things natural and civil, by which he becomes inexcusable before God.. Canons of Dordrecht, III, IV, 5; Rom. 1:18-22.
This, Kingdom is quite other! It is the Kingdom which is of the Son of Man as he appears in Daniel 7, approaching to the Ancient of Days, to receive the Kingdom in the way of His suffering and death and resurrection; and it is given to the Saints, and to them alone! In this Kingdom righteousness dwells.
This righteousness is basically the righteousness which was manifested without law; it is not a righteousness brought about by the endeavors of mere man to keep the law, but it is brought about by God Himself in the setting forth of His Christ, His Only-Begotten Son, a propitiation for our sins! It is the righteousness which Christ came to fulfill on the Cross of Calvary. And it was completely fulfilled in Christ who became to us from God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and complete redemption. This is the righteousness which is ours, as heirs of the promise, by faith. Of this we read in Scripture, “And Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3. It is the righteousness which is ours so completely by faith, that God deals with us as if we ourselves had fully satisfied for our sins, yea, as if we had never sinned, since we receive and embrace it with a believing heart!
Furthermore, this righteousness is also such that it is ours, so that we fulfill the commandments of God by faith that worketh by love. The Covenant of God is such that He writes His law in our minds and in our hearts. Heb. 8:8-12, 10:16. Does not Jesus call the church the light of the world, the salt of the earth? And does He not instruct His disciples and tell them not to think that he has come to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill it, so that heaven and earth will pass away rather than the least jot or tittle of the law should not be fulfilled in the hearts of His saints? Matt. 5:14-20. Heaven will certainly be the place where the law of God will be perfectly kept. Here shall be a righteousness which is diametrically opposed to all the legalism of the Pharisees and essentially different from the moralism of the pagan world, both ancient and modern!
In every heart shall this righteousness be exhibited in the Kingdom of glory! That will be the perfection of the saints, so that we shall be without spot or wrinkle; there we shall indeed be spotless and blameless.
Such is the prospect which is ours; the lines have fallen unto us, in pleasant places; a goodly heritage is ours!
Peter says significantly that righteousness shall “dwell there. This means that it shall have the new heavens and new earth as its permanent abode. Such is the meaning of the term employed in the Greek and translated “dwell.” Because righteousness shall be the gift of God which is ours in the last Adam, we cannot lose it. There we shall have the gift of grace, the trulynon posse-peccare. It reminds me of the hope of a dying sister, who had attained the age of 105 years. She said, “And the wonderful prospect is that there I shall sin no more!”
Let then the mockers mock; ours is a hope which will not put us to shame because His love is shed abroad in our hearts. Rom. 5:5. If we have been saved through His death, we shall much more be saved through His life!
Had Peter shown a strong motive for our walking in godliness in verse 11 from the fact that all things will be destroyed, here he elicits a strong motive for a walk of godliness from the positive hope and expectation of the new heavens and earth where righteousness shall dwell! Writes he in verse 14, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.” Such is the godliness and holiness which is fitting for those who set their affection upon the things above, because their life is hid with Christ in God. Presently it shall be openly manifested in that day of His Parousia. The “beloved” of the Lord are they whom God so loved that He gave His Son for them, and prepared for them righteousness. Being such, partakers of the life of God and created after His image in Christ, they must shew this in their, entire life, living according to all of God’s commandments in hope! They must “be diligent.” If is really the key-note of this entire letter. See II Peter 1:5, 10. This diligence must not be confused with mere outward industriousness; rather must we think here of the moving force of the love of God in our hearts that reveals itself in a holy clinging to God’s commandments.
Such are spotless and blameless. They keep their garments pure and, therefore, are not blamed for faults. Such are truly pilgrims and strangers, pressing the footsteps of Abraham, seeking the city which hath foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God. They know that God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city. And the purpose is: to be “found in peace.” Here we hear the words of Christ echoed, as recorded in Matt. 24:46: “Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall findso doing.” Hence, this is a warning unto watchfulness, which reckons with the certain return of the Lord, but does not know the exact hour or day of that return!
Such watchfulness “accounts the longsuffering of the Lord to be salvation.” It is the proper evaluation of the seeming tarrying of the Lord. It is the time in which, by grace, we work out our salvation with fear and trembling! Here is the patience of the saints!
At this point Peter refers to the writing of the apostle Paul, whom he calls “our beloved brother Paul!”
It should not escape our notice what a fondness and love is here expresed. All the vying for being the greatest is gone. Had Peter and the apostles quarreled at the table of the Lord about this point, here Peter exhibits that he has learned to show all “diligence” to add to faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance brotherly kindness and love to all. How the aged apostle himself has grown in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. How grace has sanctified, mellowed and prepared him soon to be with his Lord, where it will be “good to be,” and where he will not ask to build three tents for Jesus, Moses; and Elijah respectively. Luke 9:33; II Peter 1:16.
Peter says that Paul too wrote. Peter wrote according to the wisdom which the Lord gave him. And so did Paul. And Paul too wrote of the doctrine of the last things. He too spoke of the longsuffering of God and de perfection of the saints in glory. In these writings of Paul were some things “hard to be understood.” However, these things are understood by the proper spiritual enlightenment, and the earnest attempt of the godly to understand. It seems that the “hard to understand” elements in Paul’s writings were the stumbling-block for those who had difficulty understanding any Scripture at all. They were those who twisted the meaning of all Scripture to their own destruction. They were, no doubt, such who made the doctrine of grace a reason and occasion for the flesh, who did not make their calling and election sure, but who walked in rash presumption, or in idle and wanton trifling with the grace of election. Peter here speaks of the antinomians who are called “wicked,” because they simply set aside the ordinances of God.
The brethren must not be carried away together with this flood of unrighteousness. They must not be “carried away from their own steadfastness.” Verse 17. They must stand in the living hope and account the longsuffering of the Lord to be salvation, and not a time of remaining in sin that grace may abound. God forbid!
On the contrary, they must “grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Verse 18. Only by growing in knowledge of the will of God will they be able to grow in grace: the grace of sanctification, of reaching out in living hope! Not by twisting the meaning of Scripture will they grow in grace; but by adding to faith knowledge, and to knowledge virtue! Such will indeed be an ever deeper and more accurate knowledge and spiritual understanding bf Christ, in the power of His death and resurrection, and the poker which will be manifested to our salvation in the day of His Coming!
To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.