Rev. Heys is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
The coming of our Savior Jesus Christ is not mentioned literally in this verse. We do, however, find Him presented literally in the second verse of this chapter. There He is called our Savior: It is plain, then, that when our God speaks of the “new heavens and the new earth” He refers to the day in which Christ Jesus our Savior comes and God’s most blessed promise is fulfilled. Christ’s most blessed kingdom, which is promised, will come.
What is more, in the verse preceding this statement of the coming of the new heavens and new earth we have God’s promise to us that the present heaven and earth will be dissolved, melting away with a fervent heat. For in verse 12 our God, through Peter, states: “looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.”
Now here, in verse 13, our God through the apostle Peter presents the awesome truth that the new heavens and the new earth will come into being as a wonderful realm, wherein righteousness will everlastingly dwell. We do have here our God’s manifestation of the coming of the blessed glory that He promised us and that is coming to pass in its fullness.
Peter begins this epistle with that truth in mind. For in the first verse of this second epistle he writes that we have with us a “precious faith” through the righteousness of God and of our Savior. Still more, this 13th verse of chapter 3 begins with references to God’s promise of what He intends to do, and what He will truly give us, namely, a new life of righteousness in the kingdom of Christ where we will live with Him. And He will bless us, not merely with a life like that comfortable life which Adam and Eve had when they were created. We will have more glory than the highest angels now have in heaven; and we will have it in the new creation of which our text speaks.
Our Savior did not die for any of the angels; and He did not earn for them glory above the glory they already had. We will by God’s grace be brought into a far richer glory than that of the angels, and far richer than Adam and Eve had before they fell into sin. The believers are all together members of Christ’s body. And He uses the angels for the good of His elect. Of these angels we read in Hebrews 1:14: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
The righteous earth on which Adam and Eve were created was a realm where Satan could come with unrighteousness, and could tempt man, and cause the whole human race to fall into corruption and guilt. Now, through Christ Jesus our Savior, all those chosen in Christ shall have the fulfillment of that blessed promise of dwelling where righteousness dwells everlastingly.
In the text quoted at the beginning of this article, we are assured that what is coming for us is not merely a place where there will be no sin and punishment. It is the place where all the citizens of the kingdom of heaven shall love God and serve Him constantly and joyfully with their hearts, minds, and strength every minute.
There is so much emphasis in the church-world today on deliverance from punishment. That deliverance is surely a blessed gift from our God. Acts 16:31 clearly makes it part of our salvation. But the basic element of our salvation is deliverance from sin, not merely from that punishment. It is deliverance from -the love of sin. It is granting us the desire to walk in love to God, and to serve Him eagerly and thankfully in all our thinking, willing, and acting. Only in that way can there be salvation from punishment.
What is more, the, basic element of our salvation is being born spiritually. Thus in John 3:3 we read, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” We are not saved basically for our own glory. We are saved basically for God’s glory. It is good and wonderful that we are by God saved from the punishment which we deserve. But God saves us for His own glory. According to Psalm 149:14, we are “fear fully and wonderfully mad” and therefore we praise Him. What is more, the righteous earth on which Adam and Eve were created was one on which there was not one sin committed until Satan came to begin it. But in the new heavens and earth there will be for us, as members of Christ’s body, no sin. The new heavens and earth will be a holy place where saints shall walk in love toward God with heart, mind, soul, and strength, every minute, by God’s promise in His grace.
Still more, in the verse wherewith this ‘article begins we read that the elect are by God’s grace already looking for the “new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.” We are not merely saved from punishment. Basically our salvation is deliverance from our love of sin, and of sinful deeds. And Christ will come to raise our bodies so that we can, and will, in love of God, desire to do nothing else but serve God with heart, mind, and soul. Very rightfully we sing in God’s church: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
All this takes place because of God’s promise to bring forth the new heavens and earth, wherein righteousness will eternally dwell. And the text above calls it dwelling in “righteousness,” which means dwelling where we will do only what is right in God’s eyes. That we will do because of perfect love for Him which He has implanted in our hearts.
The day we fell our God declared that He will make all the elect love Him, and hate Satan. And, looking for His return, we are looking for a blessed, beautiful kingdom, where we will by God’s grace live forever.
Looking for Christ’s return, we are looking for that blessed, beautiful life in a new realm, where we will stays forever. For we will be righteous everlastingly. Satan and all the fallen angels shall everlastingly be in torment in hell. We do well to take note of the fact that the almighty and unchangeable God will have realized what He had in His heart and mind before He even created the heavens and the earth and all that they contain.
Our calling, therefore, is to be r concerned with the basic element-of our salvation. God promises us that Christ is coming to bring us with body and soul into the blessed life which He eternally decreed to give us: Peter, in the text quoted above, is used by God to bring to us the rich, heavenly blessedness which He realizes through His Son, and for us. It is extremely important for us, through His Son, to keep in mind, and to search with our hearts and minds, the joy that God realized for us, and will fulfill through His Son. Salvation is the blessed gift of God’s grace, whereby we will love Him fully and constantly, so that we will never get the slightest desire to commit a sinful thought or desire.
That is why our Savior Himself said, as we find it inMatthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Likewise inEphesians 4:24 we read: “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” We do well to take note of the fact that we are created in righteousness. We did not change our own spiritual being. God changed us; making us righteous by His grace. And so correctly we sing: “All that I am I owe to Thee. Thy wisdom, Lord, hath fashioned me.”
Now, to create is to bring into being that which does not exist. We create absolutely nothing spiritual or physical. We owe all that is physically and spiritually good to God, as the gift of His grace. The awesome fact is that righteousness did not, and cannot, come into any man or angel except as the gift of God’s grace. Sin began in heaven as the work of Satan and of the fallen angels. Sin began in heaven before it came on this earth. And our Savior had to be born without an earthly father, and be born on this earth, to pay for our guilt, and to ascend up into heaven to save all those who were eternally chosen in Him.
What a blessed and wonderful gift of God’s grace do we now see. For it we must be, and by God’s grace we are, thankful. What a blessed promise do we have here in this 13th verse of Peter’s second epistle. God’s promise is going to be fulfilled, for He is the almighty, unchangeable God, whose name is Jehovah, which means I AM. Every one of His promises to His elect is going to be fulfilled, at the exact time that He eternally decided to fulfill it. A new heaven and a new earth are most assuredly coming.
Let us then, by His grace, praise God from whom all blessings flow. We do have such a blessed promise; and we have it given to us by the almighty, unchangeable God, so that we can be, and by His grace are, sure that all things work together for our good. Our salvation is absolutely sure.