A New Heaven and a New Earth

2 Peter 3.10-18

Peter finishes with a final warning and encouragement for us to avoid the false teachers and stay on Torah Road…knowing that judgment is sure and Jesus will soon return. We are to live with the end in mind.

We don’t often talk about judgment when it comes to believers. We focus on whether or not we’re “in”, and pursuing Jesus is a good idea if you want to live the abundant life today. We can make it sound like a good but optional idea. But throughout both the OT and NT, there is a common refrain…each man will be judged according to what he has done, whether good or evil.

Now let’s be clear…when you trusted in Jesus, your sins were forgiven, you experienced peace with God, you were adopted into His family, you received the Spirit, you became a kingdom citizen…all the things that Paul talks about in Romans are true of you. You’re a new creation. You’re not who you used to be. When it comes to sin, Jesus paid the penalty for everyone of them. He satisfied God’s wrath.

But that doesn’t mean that you will not have to give an account for how you lived your life as a believer. Luke 19. You’ve been entrusted with a mina. And when the King returns He’s going to ask you how you invested it and what’s His return on your investment. Paul talks about our works being tested by fire. We will have to stand before our King one day, so what you do today matters.

We’ve talked a lot about Torah Road in 2 Peter and the importance of staying on it. But what if I’ve fallen off of it? What do I do if I am experiencing the “living death” of having my righteous soul tormented because of the lifestyle I’m choosing to live that is clearly not what God would want for me? What do I do?

And the answer is…you need to get back on Torah Road. It starts like it did in the beginning. Turning away from known sin. That may be hard…especially if, as I said earlier, you’ve developed some bad habits or addictions that you were hoping would numb the pain of living a life contrary to your new nature. That’s where “we” come into the picture. The Christian life is not intended to be a solo gig. It’s not just me, my Bible and a cup of coffee. We go together. We help each other, encourage each other, challenge each other, pray for each other, love each other. One of the best ways to do that is to get into a small group. Find some other believers to come alongside you.

We’ve been given everything we need to live the life that God calls us to…the Word and the Spirit and each other. God wants you to experience life to its fullest. He wants you to have a useful and fruitful life. It won’t be easy. It will be hard at times, but if you stay on Torah Road you can be confident you are right where God wants you to be. And what an entrance into the kingdom you have to look forward to!

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

War in Heaven, Persecution on Earth

Revelation 12.7-17

We said this last week, but in the cosmic conflict…the heavenly war that is raging…there are only two sides. You are either for the King or against Him. There is no middle ground. And there’s only One/one to whom you can fall on your knees. Either the true King or the pretender. The tricky thing is…the pretender is good at what he does. Pretending. He’s a deceiver, so often while it might look like he’s winning…our world in chaos…the truth is, he’s a defeated foe. He’s already lost.

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. We, as believers, overcome because Jesus overcame. He has already done the heavy lifting. He defeated Satan at the cross…the basis for accusation was taken away. And now our job is to share our story…the word of our testimony…about how Jesus rescued us and brought us from death to life.

The final piece of that overcoming is not loving our lives even when faced with death. Sounds a lot like Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 16.24-26, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?” It means that we love God more. We love Him more than anyone or anything. He has our greatest devotion, and He is our highest good.

It means that we live a life worthy of the calling with which we have been called. That’s not always easy to do. And when we do, get ready…opposition won’t be far behind.

And when the world persecutes us, it sure doesn’t look or feel like we are on the winning side. The pressure to conform to this world is everywhere present, and the fear of persecution is real. But that’s when we have to remember that we are no more like Jesus than when we are being persecuted for His sake. That’s when we truly overcome.

So we don’t give up, and we don’t give in…why? Because we know that Jesus wins.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

My Grace Is Sufficient for You

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…’” 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

As we come to the close of our reading in Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth, I cannot help but be drawn to the sufferings Paul experienced for the Gospel in 2 Corinthians 12.

Five times Paul received 39 lashes in ministering to the Jews. Many times a person would die during the punishment. Paul survived 5 times.

Paul was also beaten by the Gentiles with rods 3 times.

He was stoned by a mob in Lystra (see Acts 14) and left for dead.

The dangers on highways, seas and other travels were always a real part of his journeys.

Paul was also attacked within the churches verbally by false teachers.

It is hard to imagine the physical pain Paul must have felt, but the spiritual struggles of his ministry seem to have been an even greater burden.

Despite the pressures he felt from the churches he founded and the opposition that faced him everywhere he went, Paul pressed on.

How could he continue? What made him press on for the Gospel?

He believed the things he wrote. He understood and believed in the reality of heaven and eternity, the potency of the Gospel, and God’s mercy and grace.

For Paul, the reality of heaven was real. He knew his citizenship was eternal and in heaven.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Paul understood the potency of the Gospel.

“For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” ! Corinthians 4:20 ESV

“For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:16 ESV

Finally, Paul understood the magnitude of God’s mercy and grace.

Paul was a blasphemer, persecutor and enemy of the followers of the way. Yet God granted Paul mercy and grace, calling him to a lifetime of service.

It was the love of Christ that enabled him to absorb the beatings, persecutions, imprisonments, and challenges of ministry.

Paul understood that in his weakness, God’s power was demonstrated.

This enables us to understand that our trials and sufferings actually qualify us to proclaim the Gospel and teach others about Jesus.

He uses our sufferings to demonstrate His sufficiency. God can use our afflictions to provide comfort to others.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…’”

His power is made perfect in my weakness. Amen!

Until next time… keep reading!


Sources used for this blog: ESV Study Bible, Courson’s New Testament Application Commentary, Gospel Transformation Bible