The World On Fire

The World On Fire

June 30th, 1974 @ 10:50 AM

2 Peter 3:5-13

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, 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 the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 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? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
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THE WORLD ON FIRE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Peter 3:5-13

6-30-74     10:50 a.m.

 

We welcome you who listen on radio and who are watching and worshipping with us on television.  The First Baptist Church in Dallas, with its pastor and people, are grateful to God for the window we have on the world that reaches you on radio and television.  The title of the sermon this morning is an awesome one.  It is entitled When The World Is On Fire.  And it is a presentation of a revelation that was made to Simon Peter, God’s apostle, in the third chapter of his second letter.  And I read it, 2 Peter, chapter 3, beginning at verse 3:

 

There shall come in these days, in the last days, scoffers—

mockers—

walking after their own lusts—

their own passions and desires—

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 the creation.

[2 Peter 3:3-4]

 

“I do not see any change.  You say the cloud is going to be receiving the Lord Jesus?  I do not see the clouds receiving the Lord Jesus [Acts 1:9].  And you say the heavens are going to be rolled back as a scroll?  I do not see any heavens rolled back like a scroll [Isaiah 34:4].  And you say God is going to call us into judgment?  I do not see any calling of judgment on the part of the Lord [Hebrews 9:27].  For since our forefathers and their forefathers fell asleep, everything goes just as it does since the beginning of the creation” [2 Peter 3:3-4]

           

But this they willingly, knowingly, hide their faces from,

that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

And the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and damnation of ungodly men … But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with a fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation, anastrophais—

way of living, conduct; that is how we are before men—

and you say by us godliness—

how we are toward God—

Looking for and hastening unto the day of God, wherein the heavens shall be on fire and shall be dissolved?

[2 Peter 3:5-7, 10-12]

 

Luō, loosed; the whole thing just comes apart, whatever it holds together, it just dissolves, it falls apart. 

 

And the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 

[2 Peter 3:12-13]

 

It’s easy to see what happened then, because the same thing happens today. At that time, long time ago, when Simon Peter wrote this, the people who did not believe in the Lord, they heard the preaching of the gospel and scoffed at it, and mocked at it, and walked after their own passions and after their own lusts [2 Peter 3:3].  And they said, “Where is God?  He is out there somewhere—if He is, if He exists at all, but He is certainly not here.  Where is the promise of His coming? [2 Peter 3:4].  That is just preaching, that is just words and saying, but there is no such thing.”  And then they made a deduction from that.  They deduced that if there is no God, and no judgment, and no intervention from heaven, “Why, then, we are free to do as we please.”  So men followed their own lusts and their own passions, and they gave themselves to their own carnal desires [2 Peter 3:3]

You would think that Simon Peter lived today.  Did you ever see such promiscuity and permissiveness as characterizes modern society?  And did you ever see a world that reads God out of it more than our present world?  Just exactly as he says: and they say everything goes on just as it always has [2 Peter 3:4].  “The earth turns in its revolutions, and there is the phenomenon of sunrise and sunset, and everything goes on just as it was—there is no God!”

But the apostle, writing of that day and by prophecy characterizing our day, he says, “Your deduction is wrong.  You think that because everything continues as it is, that God does not intervene in human history.  But you are mistaken,” the apostle says, and he gives an example of an intervention of God in human story [2 Peter 3:3-5].  And his example is Genesis 1:1 according to some commentators, and Genesis 6 according to other commentators.  He is giving an example of how God does intervene in human history.

If the reference is to Genesis 1:1, then he is referring to the destruction of the world by water, when sin was found in Lucifer [Ezekiel 28:15], and one-third of the angels in heaven [Revelation 12:3-4].  And when sin was found in Lucifer and one-third of the angels of heaven, the whole created work of God dissolved.  Sin always curses; it damns, it destroys.  It always does, and it did in the beginning!  When God, in the beginning, made the heavens and the earth, if God did it, it was perfect [Genesis 1:1].  It would be impossible for me to imagine that God would do an imperfect or ugly thing.  God made the world and the heavens perfect [Genesis 1:1].  But when sin was found in it, sin dissolved it.  Sin destroyed it.  A great catastrophe overwhelmed it.  And the Scriptures say that our earth was all in a chaotic mass with the water everywhere, up above, around, and all the matter dissolved in it [2 Peter 3: 5-6; Genesis 1:2].

And then you have the story, in the first chapter of Genesis, of the recreation of this chaotic earth.  “The Spirit of God brooded over the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2].  And God separated the waters, some in the firmament—the clouds and the moisture—and then some below.  And then God separated the waters below and the dry land appeared, and the water was gathered into great ocean beds [Genesis 1:9-10].  But the first world was destroyed by water [Genesis 1:2].  The whole thing became a liquid, chaotic mass.

There are other commentators who say that the illustration that the apostle uses here, of the intervention of God in history, refers to the days of the Flood [Genesis 6:12-17, 7:17-24].  Why, I can imagine the mockers and the scoffers in that day looking at Noah and saying, “Who believes such a thing?  Building an ark one hundred fifty miles from any water enough to float it?  Why, the man is crazy!”  And I can imagine the scoffers of that day.  But Noah preached for one hundred twenty years [Genesis 6:3; 2 Peter 2:5], and for one hundred twenty years men mocked, and scoffed, and ridiculed, and sneered, and made fun of [Genesis 6:13-22].  But the judgment came, and God did intervene, and God did interdict [Genesis 7:1, 4-12, 17-24].

Now what Simon Peter uses here of the destruction of the world by water [2 Peter 3:5-6], we can carry that story through illustrations of the intervention of God.  God is not out there somewhere, God is here!  And God is not oblivious to what we do, God knows.  And God intervenes, and God judges; we could carry that through by the hour and the hour.

Simon Peter—who here uses the judgment of God in the days of flood—Simon Peter could have used the judgment of God in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the cities of the plain were burned by brimstone and fire [Genesis 19:24-29].  Simon Peter could have used the illustration of the intervention of God in the days of Assyria.  Sennacherib, the king and military commander of the hasty, and ruthless, and bitter Assyrians, held up Jerusalem as a man would hold an object in a vise.  And Hezekiah, the godly king, cried unto Jehovah God in intercessory prayer for himself, and the city, and the people, and the house of the Lord [Isaiah 37:14-20].  And God heard his prayer, and He sent word by Isaiah to Hezekiah saying, “I will put a hook in his nose, and I will turn him around and send him back.  And I will spare My city, and My temple, and My people” [Isaiah 37:21-22, 29].  And you know, that night, that night, that night, an angel of the Lord passed over the great, vast army of Sennacherib.  And the next morning, there were one hundred eighty-five thousand dead corpses counted in the army of Sennacherib [Isaiah 37:36].

Does God intervene in human history?  He did in 587 BC, when the temple of Solomon and the Holy City were completely destroyed and the people carried away into Babylon [Jeremiah 39:1-10, 52:4-30; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21].  Does God intervene?  He did in 70 AD, when, under Titus and the Roman legions, the city was forever destroyed, and the nation destroyed, and its only resurrection is found out of the graves of the nations of the world on the eighteenth of May 1948.  Does God intervene in human history?  We can carry it through the years and the years.  In 1588, God did something that concerns us.  Why do we not live in a Spanish-speaking world?  Because in 1588, the Lord God called one of His winds and took that wind out of His box of judgments and damnations and said, “See that Spanish Armada?  Strike it against the rocks.  Annihilate it!”  And in no time, the power of Spain was broken, and the ascending star of the English-speaking people began to rise.  That is why you are here, talking English.  And that is why the parliaments of the world have been the great blessing of God to the nations of the world; God did it!

Do you remember in 1812, Napoleon had conquered the whole civilized world except the bastion of little England?  And he took his great army and threw it against Russia.  And Russia lay prostrate before him, which meant that the whole world was prostrate before Napoleon.  And that winter, that winter God looked in His box of damnations and judgments and God took out a pretty, soft, tender, little thing; so soft, and so quiet, and so tender, that if it fell on a baby’s cheek, the baby would not awaken.  And that winter of 1812, God began to send out of His heavens soft flakes of snow and snow and snow, and it fell so quietly, and it engulfed the army of Napoleon.  And the days passed, and the weeks passed, and the temperature went lower and lower and lower; and the soft snow fell quieter and softer.  And by the time that winter was over, there were little mounds all through that long siege area of Russia.  And underneath those little mounds covered in quiet, soft snow, you found the cannon of Napoleon, and the arms of Napoleon, and the guns of Napoleon.  And underneath those quiet, soft mounds, you found more than five hundred thousand of Napoleon’s soldiers.  Does God intervene?  Does He?

Not long after 1945, I stood in the vast cities of Germany; as far as the eye could see, nothing but illimitable piles and piles and piles of rubble.  As the car would drive through a city like Hamburg, a city bigger than Chicago—as the car would drive through, from horizon to horizon to horizon, I saw nothing but rubble; not a building standing, not one!  Does God intervene?  The Lord God looked down upon Nazi Germany, and the Lord God looked down upon Hitler, and the Lord God said, “It is enough!  It is enough!  It is enough!”   And the Lord God looked in His box of damnations and He sent bombs and He sent fire and He sent fury!  And when God was done, the great, vast cities of Germany lay in ruin and in rubble.  Does God intervene?  Does God know?  Does God see?  Does God judge?

That is what Simon Peter is talking about [2 Peter 3:5-13].  And it frightens my soul to its deepest depths as I look upon America.  God blessed America in these years past, and we are coming to the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of our nation and our Declaration of Independence.  And those men—those Puritans, those Pilgrims, those preachers, those frontiersmen—those men who stayed out in the cold, and the wind, and the heat, and the snow, building and fastening the fabric of our nation; they built churches, they built Christian schools, they preached the gospel, they called men to repentance; they built the nation upon the love and mercy and God.  And today we are in the process of dissolving the very fabric of this nation.  And God’s longsuffering looks, and God weighs us, and God watches, and if there is not some turning in America, God will open again that box of damnations.  And whatever detente they may make with Russia, as God used the Assyrian, and as God used the Babylonian, and as God used the Roman to chasten, and to scourge, and to bring heartache and catastrophe to His people, Israel, God will do the same thing to us when we turn aside and say, “God does not look.  God does not care, and God does not know.”

Why doesn’t the Lord do that now?  Why doesn’t God judge us now?  It says here in the text by revelation, it says, “God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” [2 Peter 3:9].  And that is going to be the next sermon that I preach from the passage: The Longsuffering of God, waiting for us to come to Him in faith and in repentance.

“But,” says Simon Peter, “in God’s hand, a day is [as a thousand years], and a thousand years is as a day” [2 Peter 3:8].  And there is coming a time, and he calls it the “day of the Lord” [2 Peter 3:10]; “There is coming a time, and He is coming as a thief in the night” [2 Peter 3:10].  That is, not that it is unheralded, not that God does not speak of it and tell us about it, but it is coming, it is coming.  When men say, “There is no such thing, there is no God, there is no judgment, there is no intervention from heaven,” when men are saying that, it will suddenly come, it will suddenly come.  And when it comes, he says that this very world “will pass away, with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” [2 Peter 3:10].

What a revelation that is, and an awesome one!  God does not fill in the details in so much of the things that He discloses to us.  But He always, in great panoramic outlines, God reveals the future to us.  And the Lord God reveals to us that we are hastening to a great rendezvous, a great judgment day, with Almighty God.  And in that awesome day, this world will be judged by fire [2 Peter 3:10].  As it was judged in these generations past, in the days of Noah [Genesis 7:17-24], in the days of Lucifer [Genesis 6:5], as it was judged by water, “So the final judgment,” Simon Peter writes, “will come by fire” [2 Peter 3:10].  What do you think of that?  You know, when you study it and look at it, what God has in that little box of judgments is awesome, and we live in it.

What does the historian say about it?  Pliny the Elder said, he said, “It is a miracle that the world escapes burning any day.”  He was writing of the evil times in which he lived.  Isn’t it an irony that Pliny the Elder should have died in an explosion, an eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD?  Pliny the Elder wrote that.  “It is a miracle,” he says, “that the earth escapes burning by fire any day.”

What does the chemist say about that; the judgment, the destruction of the earth by fire?  You would think that Simon Peter was a modern chemist the way that he writes.  He says that “This earth shall pass away with a great noise, a great explosion, and the very elements shall melt with fervent heat” [2 Peter 3:10].  He could not have known it at that time, because the books did not teach it, but every element is subject to melting.  There are about a hundred different elements; all of them can be melted.  All of them can be reduced to liquid and finally to gas.  The nonferrous elements—iron, and copper, and zinc, and lead, and aluminum, and gold, and silver—every element can be reduced to liquid.  They can melt, all of them.  And all of these elements, in their ways, are highly volative.  It says here that this earth and the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, a great combustion [2 Peter 3:10].  Isn’t that a strange thing how these elements are?  Look at the vast ocean, made of hydrogen and of oxygen and both of them are highly combustible.  In our chemistry class in school, the teacher took a little thing and put a vial of hydrogen in it, and put a little of vial of oxygen in it, and then set it off.  And it made a great explosion.  And when he opened the container and looked at it, what was left was a drop of water; that is H2O.  And the whole earth is covered in vast places with oceans and seas of water made of highly combustible material.

Look at your heavens; look at the atmospheric heaven, look at the air around us.  Most of it is oxygen and most of it is nitrogen.  Oxygen and nitrogen, and both of them are highly combustible.  When you see something burning, you say, “It is on fire.”  Actually, it is just oxidizing; it is the union of oxygen with whatever element there is in that piece that is afire.  And nitrogen: nitrogen is the basic component of TNT, of dynamite, of nitroglycerin.  The very elements are combustible!  And all God has to do is speak the word and His ministers become a flame of fire.  As His ministers can be water, so His ministers can be the elements of fire when the very elements melt with fervent heat.

Not only the historian, not only the chemist, but let us ask the geologist, “Why, this world, if you were to think of it, it would scare you every day of your life!”  The geologist says that this earth is like a globular egg, and the shell is just about comparatively the same proportion to the egg as this cool crust is around a molten and liquid, lava-like core.  The earth is melted on the inside in fervent heat.  And this skin of the earth on which we live is about like the shell of an egg.  And if you go down, down just a little ways, it begins to get hot, and hotter, and hotter, until finally the great pressure of the weight upon those elements underneath make it liquid.  Once in a while, a little valve will open, and you will call it the “eruption of a volcano.”  We literally live all our days upon a burning mass of molten lava.  And the geologists will say the turning of the earth has flattened the poles somewhat—about thirteen miles on each end—just as you would find a globular sphere flattened by its turning.

That is the kind of a world that we live in.  And all God would have to do, as He did in the days of Noah when He broke up the fountains of the deep and the waters from above fell down and the waters from underneath and around flowed in [Genesis 7:11-12], so it is God can do the same thing about this earth.  He could break the crust of the earth and the whole thing burst into a molten mass.  That is what the geologist says.

What does the astronomer say?  The astronomer looks up into the heavens, and he finds exploding stars and burned out spheres all through these great galaxies.  And the Scriptures say that when that awesome day comes, that the moon will turn to blood red and the sun will be shut out in darkness like sackcloth of ashes [Revelation 6:12].  What does that refer to?  I think it refers to this:  when the moon turns blood red, it’s a reflection of the burning of the earth.  The shadows of the burning fire make the moon look red.  And when it says that the sun is darkened like sackcloth of ashes, I think the fumes, and the fury, and the fire, and the smoke, and the vapor of the dissolving burning earth shuts out the very sun itself, and it turns dark like sackcloth of ashes.

Ah!  This awesome day of judgment, when God makes His final intervention in human history; when is that?  The apostle says, he says, “the then world,” and this is the way that he writes it and the language in which he writes; “the then world” and “the now world.”  He says, “The then world was destroyed by water, but the now world is reserved,” kept in store, “reserved unto judgment and damnation of ungodly and wicked men” [2 Peter 3:6-7].  This is going to come to pass,” the apostle says, “in the day when God judges the ungodly and the wicked.”  Well, it is easy to find out when that day is.  I just turn to the Apocalypse and I find there that that great judgment day of ungodly and wicked men is in the twentieth chapter of the Book of the Revelation:

 And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

And I saw the dead, great and small, stand before God; and the books were opened . . . and they were judged out of the things that were written in the books . . .

And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and Death and the grave gave up the dead that were in them . . .

And Death and the grave were cast in the lake of fire . . .

And whosoever name was not found written in the Book of Life was cast in the lake of fire.

[Revelation 20:11-15]

When is this great conflagration going to happen?  Simon Peter says, “It is going to come to pass in the day of the judgment of ungodly men” [2 Peter 3:7].  And in the Revelation, I read that.  When these ungodly men who refuse the overtures of grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus, when they stand at the great white throne judgment, then it is that the earth and the heavens flee away; and there is no place for them [Revelation 20:11].  That is this great judgment by fire [2 Peter 3:7]; awesome, awesome!  And the earth every day, and our human lives every day, and all creation every day is moving toward that great rendezvous.

You ask the astronomer about our universe, and he will say that our universe is moving through space at a terrific pace—the whole universe together.  Moving toward what?  Moving toward that great judgment day of Almighty God.  You read the annals of history and turn those pages, and you will find that the great social orders and political mechanisms of this earth are moving.  They never stand still.  They move.  Where are they moving?  They are moving to the great judgment day of Almighty God; and our lives are like that—we are moving, we are moving, and nobody fails to move.

That rich man in his limousine is riding to the great judgment day of Almighty God.  And that poor man, barefoot and in rags, is walking to the great judgment day of Almighty God.  And that young man with elastic tread is moving toward the great judgment day of Almighty God.  And that old, feeble man on his cane is tottering to the judgment day of Almighty God.  That little child reaching up its arms in the crib is reaching toward the judgment day of Almighty God.  And that Christian, singing songs of praise and praising God in his heart, is pilgrimaging to the great judgment day of Almighty God.  And that lost sinner, despising Christ, saying “no” to the grace and love of God, is facing the judgment day of Almighty God, for we shall all stand someday before the judgment throne of Almighty God [Revelation 20:11-15].  And when that day comes for the lost and for the wicked, that is the day of the awesome dissolution of this earth and these heavens by fire [2 Peter 3:10].

Now, what is this when Simon Peter says that these elements shall “melt with fervent heat?” [2 Peter 3:10].  And what is this when the Apocalyptic writer John, by revelation, says, “and the heavens and the earth fled away, and there was found no place for them?” [Revelation 20:11].  And what is this when it says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the old, first heaven and the old, first earth were passed away?” [Revelation 21:1].  What is that?

Well, there are learned commentators and Bible scholars who avow that that is the absolute destruction of this whole earth and the whole universe above us.  They say it means the annihilation—the absolute destruction, the going out of existence—of everything that God has made; that the Lord is going to destroy it all.  He is going destroy the earth, and there will be no more earth.  And He is going to destroy the heavens, and there will be no more heavens.  And then God is going to do it all over new again.

Now, I have no quarrel with the exegetes who say that.  I preached through the Revelation, as you know, for two years, and I studied that the best I know how.  And in the years since I have preached that series of sermons on the Apocalypse, I have not ceased to look at it and to be conscious of it in my reading.  And the message that I delivered then, I am even more confirmed after my years of studying now, I do not think that means the annihilation of matter and the annihilation and destruction of this world or of the heavens above it.  I think—according to the best understanding that I can command of the Greek language that describes it here—I think it refers to a rejuvenation.

I do not think matter can be destroyed.  I think matter has the character of God in it.  You cannot destroy anything, you cannot.  “Ah, but, pastor, look at this thing, burned up and it’s gone.”  No, it is still there, it has just taken another form.  But every atom and every molecule that was there in the beginning is still in existence.  Some of it may turn to vapor, to smoke.  And some of it may turn to ash, but it is all there.  Matter is indestructible; matter has the character of God, it is forever.

And I think that of the new heavens and the new earth [Revelation 21:1].  I think what these words mean is that God’s going to purge this old earth of all of its sin and its wrong.  And God is going to purge the heavens.  There will be marvelous new heavens above us, and there will be a marvelous new earth on which we stand.  It will be this earth, but it will be purged by fire.  It will be those heavens, but they shall be cleansed.  You see, the heavens are cursed now.  Some of those stars are burned out.  Some of them are black and dark as cinders.  Some of these planets, our sister planets, as they orbit around our central sun, some of them have vapors that are poisonous.  The whole earth has been cursed, and our earth has been cursed.  Everything in it has been cursed.  The face of the ground has been cursed.  There are great areas of desert that desolate and destroy, where nations now are starving to death by the progress of the Sahara desert south.  The earth is cursed.  The animal world is cursed.  They cry in agony, and in pain, and in birth; and they are carnivorous, they eat one another.  The whole earth was cursed.  The land, the soil, was cursed for the sake of the man.  It brings briers and thistles, and by the sweat of his brow does he live off of it [Genesis 3:17-19].  The earth is cursed.

But there is coming a time—I think the Bible says, I think that is what Simon Peter means [2 Peter 3:10], I think that is what John means in the Revelation [Revelation 21:1]—that God is going to purge it.  God is going to cleanse it.  And there is going to be a new heaven and a new earth; that is, this earth purged and cleaned and this heaven above us blessed and made perfect.  And God is going to give us another heaven and another earth, this time in which the fullness of the glory of God does dwell [Revelation 21:3].  “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the old, first heaven and the old, first earth were passed away … And I John saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” [Revelation 21:1-2].

The Lord is building it now up there in that third heaven; the great beautiful home for His people, He is building it now.  “I go and prepare a place for you.  And if I go, I will come again, and receive you to Myself” [John 14:2-3].  He is building that beautiful home in heaven called the “New Jerusalem” [Revelation 21:2].  And when the earth is renovated and when the heavens are made new, that beautiful heaven will come down from God and rest here in this earth [Revelation 21:1].  And this is going to be our heavenly home—a new day, a new earth, a new heaven, a new home, a new body, a new and precious fellowship [Revelation2 1:5].  “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for these things,” all of them, “are passed away” [Revelation 21:4], O God! to think that our eyes someday will see it and that we shall share in its majesty, and in its praise, and in its glory [Revelation2 2:3-5].

And that is why for God’s people; do not be afraid. The elements may be surcharged with volatile, combustible material.  The very ocean may be composed of the most combustible elements that the mind can imagine.  The very earth on which we walk may be, underneath us, molten lava, and the judgments of God may be hastening upon the world even now, and the whole earth may be judged by fire, but for God’s people, there is no fear, there is no foreboding, there is no dread.  We hasten unto the coming of the Lord and the day of our Christ.  The things that are written in God’s Book, the holy apostle says, are written for our comfort and for our examples [1 Corinthians 10:11].

That is why, in the Book of Daniel, I read about the fiery furnace and the three Hebrew children that were cast into the furnace [Daniel 3:22-24].  As they walked in the tribulation of that world, and that day, and the fire of that time, there was One walking with them “who looked like the Son of God” [Daniel 3:25].  And when the king commanded them to be brought forth, there was not a hair of their head singed, nor was the smell of fire found on their garments [Daniel 3:26-27].  That is the way it shall be with God’s children.  As the world hastens to the great day of fiery judgment [2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 21:1], there is no fear for us; not a hair of our head will be singed, not the smell of smoke shall be found upon our garments.  God shall deliver us from it in rapture [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17].  And when the judgments fall, and when the death sentence is pronounced, and when the great white judgment throne is set [Revelation 20:11-15], God’s children are with their Savior in glory—saved, and safe, and forever [John 10:27-30].

Oh, precious people!  Why shouldn’t we sing?  And why shouldn’t we pray?  And why shouldn’t we praise God?  And why shouldn’t we lift up our voices in gratitude and thanksgiving?  And why shouldn’t we preach the good news?  And why shouldn’t we extend invitations?  Come, come.  The Bridegroom delays His return, come.  And as those that are wise, trim your lamps, keep oil in the vessels, for He comes; today, tomorrow, the next day [Matthew 25:1-13]—we are ready, does not matter, any day, just any day, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, surely I come quickly.”  And the response of the sainted apostle John, “Amen.  Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus” [Revelation 22:20].  If I know my heart, I am ready; any day Lord, any day.  I have made my peace with heaven.  I have given my heart to Christ.  I am ready [Romans 10:9-13; Ephesians 2:8-9].

Have you?  In this moment of prayerful decision, as we wait in His holy presence, does God speak words of invitation to you?  If He does, would you answer with your life?  “Here I come, pastor, and here I am.”  A young man came down the aisle at the 8:15 service this morning and said, “The Lord has spared my life just for this moment, and I am committing my life in faith and in trust to Jesus.”  He is a young fellow, just passing through.  He lives in Natchitoches, Louisiana.  Wasn’t that wonderful?  Wasn’t that glorious?

Does God speak to you?  Does He bid you here?  If He does, answer with your life.  If you are in the balcony around, there is time and to spare.  If you are on this lower floor, come down that aisle.  If you are listening in your home bow your head, maybe get down by the side of the chair, and tell God all about it.  In the moment that we sing our song of appeal, if the Lord speaks to you, come.  Make it now, do it now, answer now: “Pastor, this is my wife, and these are our children.  All of us are coming today.”  Or just a couple you, or just one somebody you, make the decision now in your heart, and when we stand up to the sing the appeal, stand up coming down that aisle or walking down those steps.  Make it now, do it now, while we stand and while we sing.

THE WORLD ON FIRE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Peter 3:5-13

6-30-74

I.          Introduction

A. The reason for the revelation – in answer to the mocking, scoffing question, “Where is the promise of His coming?”

B. Apostle answers in two ways:

1. God does intervene (Genesis 1:1-2, 6:7)

a. Sodom and Gomorrah

b. Assyria, Sennacherib(Isaiah 37:29, 36)

c. Babylonian captivity

d. Jerusalem destroyed by Titus

e. Power of Spain broken in 1588

f. Defeat of Napoleon in 1812

g. Destruction of Nazi Germany

2. Delay of His intervention is due to His infinite longsuffering(2 Peter 3:9)

II.         The truths revealed here

A.  The final intervention – not by water, but by fire(2 Peter 3:8, 10)

1. The historian, Pliny the Elder – it is a miracle the world escapes burning any day

2. The chemist – every element is subject to melting (2 Peter 3:10)

3. The geologist – center of the earth a molten mass

4. The astronomer – exploding stars, burned out spheres (Revelation 6:12)

B. This conflagration will take place in connection with the final judgment of ungodly men(2 Peter 3:6-7, Revelation 20:11-15)

C. Whole universe moving toward great judgment day of Almighty God

D.  Not total annihilation, but a rejuvenation – new heaven and new earth(Genesis 3:17-19, Revelation 21:1-2, 4, John 14:2-3)

E.  The things written in the Book are for our comfort and our examples (Daniel 3:25)