Scripture and You

The Place Where Righteousness Will Be Permanently At Home

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
With the world seemingly descending into a new Dark Age, where is your focus as a Christian?

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

 

The world is rapidly descending into a new Dark Age of "canceling" authentic Christianity globally - a development not seen since the worldwide persecution during the Roman Empire. At such a time as this, where is your focus as a believer?

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 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, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 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."

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, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 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.

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. 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.

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. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 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? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for New Heavens and a New Earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 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, 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.

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; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter chapter 3)

In the 18 verses of 2nd Peter chapter 3, the Holy Spirit through Peter takes us through the entire scope of God's grand decree for the ages - from eternity before time and the days He spoke this present world into being and in perfection, all the way through to the time of the promised complete renovation of the present fallen universe to make it fit to be the dwelling place of God's people with their Lord forever. Peter then focuses our attention on the imperative of godly living in this present world in light of what God has done from before the foundation of the world, is now doing in the present age, and will do in the world to come. There is perhaps no more vast panorama in a single chapter in all of Scripture.

There are many things we could say in expositing this rich chapter of God's Word. For the moment, I would like to focus our attention on verse 13:

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for New Heavens and a New Earth in which righteousness dwells.

Living in the "Middle Period" Between A Perfect Creation and Future Glory

We live in a mind-boggling moment in the "middle period" between eternity past and eternity to come. (I write this at the beginning of August 2021.) In just 18 months, long-cherished freedoms - of speech, religion, assembly, the right to petition governments for redress of grievances, the right to participate in free and fair elections, and more - have been abridged and have even disappeared in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the United States, and many other places. A secular writer who once lived under communism recently describe the American situation thus:

Make no mistake, you are living under the perfect censorship. We who have lived in communist countries recognize the signs: American freedom of speech and thought are hanging on by a thread.

"Perfect censorship" has already been perfected and is in full operation in many of our western counterparts: the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, and Sweden - all countries where freedom of speech has vanished. Gone. In those countries, anyone who makes jokes will at best be fined and, at worst, jailed.

In Great Britain, through section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, people can now be sent to prison for 15 years just for viewing "far-right propaganda," which is a vague and undefined phrase (much like Germans and Dutch were jailed for listening to the BBC during WWII, and Russians and Hungarians could be sent to the gulag for listening to Voice of America).

In Europe, books critical of Muslims, like Hege Storhaug's Islam: Europe Invaded, America Warned, and Sabaditsch-Wolff's The Truth is No Defense, are being attacked, along with their authors. For all intents and purposes, criticizing any aspect of Islam is officially verboten in many European countries (but attacking Christianity is permitted). The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the Islamic religion should not be criticized in any way, even when simply pointing out historical facts regarding the religion's central figure, the Prophet Mohammed.

I could continue, but you get the picture. In short, Europeans (and Canadians) may have democracy, but, paradoxically, they do not have freedom of speech [or religion]. They have been told, and they have accepted, that such restrictions are for their own good and so certain select groups won't feel offended. In fact, the majority of the citizens of those countries are even unaware that they are living under a regime of censorship - that is how effective it has been.

...

The First Amendment protects Americans from censorship by the government, but has no say in preventing censorship by private institutions, such as social media (YouTube, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook), newspapers (e.g., New York Times, The Boston Globe, Washington Post), and network news (CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, NBC). In the past four years, I have personally collected hundreds of instances of censorship by these entities, ranging from outright deliberate falsehoods ("fake news") to news blackouts to removal and demonetizing internet channels. After I finished writing this essay, President Biden called on Facebook to censor "misinformation" on its site, even more aggressively than it already does, just like YouTube. Since the politics of the Democratic Party and Silicon Valley are congruent, Facebook and its peers will no doubt comply.

We may have the First Amendment, but free speech in America is hanging by a thread. [1]

On April 27, 2021 a British street preacher in his 70s was brutally arrested and hauled off to jail by London police for preaching, among other things, that Biblical marriage is between one man and one woman. Such incidents are no longer isolated.

The Rise of a Universal "Religion"

I believe that these developments, and many others, point to the world's headlong descent into a new Dark Age. The push, under the present pope of Rome, to minimize "Roman" in the name "Roman Catholic Church" and to speak of a universal "catholicism" embracing all organized religion and secular human philosophies, is also a very significant part of this. It is a campaign to return to the politico-religious "Christendom" of the Middle Ages - actually something even worse.

The leaders of much of what can now only falsely be called "evangelicalism" in America and the rest of the world are falling in line with the Vatican's campaign. In 2014 major charismatic/word-of-faith leaders including Kenneth Copeland, James Robison, and Joel Osteen met with Pope Francis to promote this agenda. Also attending these meetings were Mormon Senator Mike Lee of Utah, California megachurch leader Tim Timmons, Worldwide Evangelical Alliance president Geoff Tunnicliffe, "evangelical" Westmont college president Gayle Beebe, and members of the Greene family (the Southern Baptist owners of Hobby Lobby and financiers of the Museum of the Bible), among many others from across the apostate theological spectrum.

They all agreed with Pope Francis when he declared, "Division comes from the devil. Flee from internal struggles, please!" [2] They have been compliantly carrying this message from the papal Antichrist back to their churches, television audiences, organizations, customers, and constituents.

Christian, Where Is Your Focus?

In such a time as this, every believer in Christ must ask vital questions: Where is my focus? Is it where the Lord Jesus Christ wants it - indeed commands it - to be? What about my church and its leaders? What about the Christian school or college my children attend? What about the homeschool program we use?

Many times we have pointed our readers and listeners to Christ's command given to us through the Apostle Paul at the beginning of Colossians chapter 3:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

With this in mind, let me call your attention once again to 2 Peter chapter 3 verse 13:

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for New Heavens and a New Earth in which righteousness dwells.

Let me more specifically call your attention to the last words of that verse: "New Heavens and a New Earth in which righteousness dwells." In the original Greek of this passage, those words signify the fact that the New Heavens and New Earth, the place that our Lord even now is preparing for us (John 14:1-4), is the only place (other than the throne-room of God) where righteousness is not an alien. Righteousness is alien to this present evil world, the world under the curse of sin and the sway of Satan. Because this is true, the righteousness that every blood-bought Christian now possesses is an alien righteousness. It is the righteousness imputed to every believer in Christ by faith alone:

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith (Philippians 3:7-9)

Note also the time and setting in which Peter wrote that "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for New Heavens and a New Earth in which righteousness dwells." The Roman Empire, the pagan precursor of the Roman church-state (whose emperors were known as the "supreme pontiff" as the popes later would be), was persecuting Christians vigorously and seeking to "cancel" Christianity. Today's "cancel culture" is not new - and it will not eradicate Christianity from the earth now, just as it did not then! But Peter himself would soon be put to death for the faith. Could it come to that for Christians in a new Dark Age? I believe it could. In any event, it appears we are rapidly entering a time of intensified worldwide suppression of Biblical Christianity and persecution of the saints. Yet, even when Paul was in chains, he declared with triumph:

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the Word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying:

For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.

(2 Timothy 2:8-13)

Dear Christian, are you seeking to witness to others of the redemption that is in Christ - redemption from this present evil world and citizenship in the world to come, in which righteousness will not be an alien? Are you seeking God's work of sanctification in your own life as preparation for a world in which righteousness is no longer alien? Rely on the fact that "the Word of God is not chained" no matter what the world may do. Let the Word go forth in power from your own mouth in words, and by demonstration from a sanctified life. It remains forever the Word of God that is

living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:12-16)

References:

1. Armando Simon, "Make No Mistake, You are Living Under the Perfect Censorship," Human Events, July 29, 2021, https://humanevents.com/2021/07/29/make-no-mistake-you-are-living-under-the-perfect-censorship

2. "Pope Francis Meets US Televangelists, and the First-Ever 'Papal High-Five' Follows", National Catholic Reporter, July 9, 2014, https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-francis-meets-us-televangelists-and-first-ever-papal-high-five-followsa> <

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