God “created the heavens and the earth” and all life on it (Gen. 1:9-28). The evidence for creation compels us to honor the Creator who is blessed forever (Rom. 1:20, 25). The earth serves God’s purposes: “You laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever” (Ps. 104:5). Among these purposes is the earth sustains our life (Gen. 1:29-30). Some make doomsday predictions of the earth’s demise unless we stop changing the world’s climate. We have an impact on our environment, no doubt. As stewards of God’s creation, we ought not carelessly abuse the earth but carefully tend to it (Gen. 2:15; Ps. 8:3-8). Its resources are God-given and blessings to be used with careful responsibility. We should also admit that climate changes. It has done so since the beginning of time (Eccl. 1:3-11). Weather events, seismic shifts, volcanoes, animal extinctions, and human development impact the earth. They result in droughts, famines, diseases, and many catastrophes. Despite all this, God said He rules the earth. Man will not turn the planet into a utopian existence. Earth remains because of God’s kindness toward us, not due to humanity’s rule over it (Acts 14:15-17). Instead of being driven by fear that the world will end through human-made climate changes, let us be responsible stewards of God’s blessings and put our faith in Him. He renews the face of the earth. His glory endures forever. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22).
Beginnings. Every New Year’s Day, people worldwide reflect on the previous year and resolve what they will do during our next 365-circuit around the sun. It is a perfect moment to remember who created the heavens and the earth and, therefore, time itself. With the precision that defies random chance, the earth sits on its tilted axis, rotating to produce night and day (not to mention gravity). This well-arranged order also gives the earth its seasons, protecting us from the sun’s otherwise harmful and deadly effects while sustaining plant, animal, and human life. God did that (Gen. 1; Psa. 33:6-9; Jer. 51:15-16). The hubris of humanity dares to think humans control this globe. God said to Job, “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place” (Job 38:12)? We neither control the morning light nor the dark of night; God does. How foolish it is to think humans control the heavens and the earth! “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:4-7)? Pause as another year begins to give thanks to God, our Creator, and Sustainer. Thank God for your life, and especially for the life He gives you in Christ (Rom. 6:23). There is no better beginning to your new year.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 4:16–5:1, NKJV)
The inspired apostle uses a series of contrasts to buoy the faith of Christians during uncertain, turbulent, and trying times. Let us meditate on these points of truth and “not lose heart” (be discouraged), but be refreshed daily by the sure hope we have in Jesus Christ.
1) Outward person perishing v. Inward person renewed daily.
2) Momentary light affliction v. Far more abundant, eternal glory.
3) Visible things are temporary v. Unseen things are eternal.
4) Our earthly house (the tent of our mortal body) destroyed by death v. An eternal, heavenly building from God inhabited by our immortal bodies).
The Christian’s hope is not on earth, and never will be. Our hope is laid up for us in heaven (Col. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:3-4). Therefore, live for heaven with joy in Christ (Matt. 6:19-21).
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. (2 Peter 3:10, NKJV)
What is God’s plan for the earth? Jehovah’s Witnesses say the earth will become a paradise on which “God will bless obedient people with perfect health and everlasting life” (“What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?”). The Seventh-day Adventists claim, “God will recreate our once-stained world, and live with us forever. We will finally achieve our true potential, living in the love and joy for which God created us” (“The New Earth”)? Modern advocates (N. T. Wright, Douglas Moo, and John Mark Hicks) have restored these views of the earth’s future. This New Creation Theology is being accepted and advanced by some brethren, but it is not new at all. It is an old false doctrine that reconstructs the “new heavens and a new earth” with forced definitions and materialistic narratives (2 Pet. 3:13). It says we will not go to heaven. Instead, heaven will come down to earth. Let Peter settle the matter. On the day of the Lord’s return, 1) The heavens will pass away with a great noise. The sky and space will perish, even as the “old things” of sin “passed away” when we became new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). 2) The elements will melt with fervent heat. The fundamental elements that form the material world will evaporate. 3) The earth and its works will be burned up. God’s fiery judgment will disintegrate the planet and everything on it (2 Pet. 3:7, 10, 11-12). A new habitation (“new heavens and a new earth”) – “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” will be the eternal home of the redeemed (2 Pet. 3:13). New Creation Theology is old error.
10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10–11, NKJV)
Jesus will come from heaven in the same manner the apostles saw Him ascend into heaven – visually, personally, powerfully (Acts 1:9; 1 Thess. 4:16). Scriptures plainly tell us what will happen when Jesus returns. We do well to learn and reflect on what will take place when the Lord returns, then conform our hearts and lives to the will and word of the Son of God (Matt. 7:21-27). These things will happen when Jesus returns: 1) Resurrection of all the dead (Jno. 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:20-22). 2) Change of all the living from mortal to immortality (1 Cor. 15:52-54). 3) Judgment of every person (Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 9:27; Rom. 2:5-11; Rev. 20:11-12). 4) The fiery destruction of the material realm (2 Pet. 3:7, 10-12). 5) Delivery of the kingdom to God the Father – eternal life in heaven (Matt. 25:46; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; 2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 21:6-7). 6) The eternal punishment of the disobedient – eternal death in hell (Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 20:13-15; 21:8). Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God, and He will return. May the truth convict us to faithfully serve Him and attempt to persuade others to prepare for that great day (1 Thess. 5:1-11; 2 Cor. 5:11).
Our last Sword Tips (#2203) emphasized the certain steadfastness Jesus affixed to His words – they will “by no means pass away” (v. 33). Jesus set the enduring nature of His words in opposition to the temporary nature of the “heaven and earth” that “will pass away.” Just as the generation that saw the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple passed away (no longer exists), this physical universe (heaven and earth) will also pass away. Some gospel preachers are teaching planet earth will not “pass away.” They are saying the earth will be renovated or restored, and that heaven (God’s dwelling place) will come down to earth. We are being told we will not go to heaven, but that heaven will come to us. Here are a few of reasons why this is a false doctrine. 1) The things we see are temporary, not eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). That includes planet earth. 2) The material world will “pass away” with a great noise and fervent heat (2 Pet. 3:10, the same word in Luke 21:32, 33). 3) The heavens and earth God created will perish, but He will remain (Heb. 1:10-12; Psa. 102:25-27). 4) There will be no place for earth and heaven before God’s great throne of judgment (Rev. 20:11). Scripture exposes this error as a perversion of the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6-10). So must we (Eph. 5:11, 13-17; 1 Jno. 4:1, 6).
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Matthew 5:13, NKJV)
Have you heard the expression, “he’s not worth his salt?” It comes from the days of the Roman Empire. “A soldier’s pay—consisting in part of salt—came to be known as solarium argentum, from which we derive the word salary. A soldier’s salary was cut if he “was not worth his salt,” a phrase that came into being because the Greeks and Romans often bought slaves with salt” (“A Brief History of Salt,” Time, March 15, 1982). Salt flavors and preserves food. It made a useful antiseptic before modern medicine. Israel offered salt in its offerings to God, perhaps as a token that their sacrifices were seasoned and preserved by the Sinai covenant (Lev. 2:13). Jesus said His followers are the salt of the earth, a timeless and easily understood metaphor. Christians (citizens of the kingdom of heaven), must be influences of righteousness in a world of sin and death. Our lives must flavor the world around us, influencing others to turn to God. We must guard ourselves against sin because it destroys godly influence. As contaminated salt lost its usefulness to flavor food and to disinfect was cast onto the foot trails (to avoid destroying fertile soil), the Christian who loses his godly influence is ineffective (even destructive) to the cause of Christ. A godly influence is needed and powerful. Protect your influence and season the world with righteousness (Eph. 4:20-24).
And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; (1 Peter 1:17, NKJV)
Christians sing the old spiritual song, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…,” reminding us our stay on earth is transitory. Life is temporary, and when we live as if it is permanent we forget key components of a life well-lived in preparation for eternity. First, we forget we are immortal beings. Created in the image of God, we are not defined by the physical realm, but by the spirit, the inner spiritual person. We call on our Father in heaven, not on lifeless gods craved by the art and design of men. We live before God, and therefore we must live with an immortal perspective. Second, we forget what we do on earth will be judged by God, fairly and impartially. God sees and knows everything about us. We will each give account of ourselves to God. That should persuade us to live in His favor right now (Rom. 14:11-12). It should cause us to dread sinning against Him. God’s judgment of our lives will be personal, fair, and impartial (2 Cor. 5:10). We are convinced by God’s goodness and severity to do His will faithfully each day (Rom. 11:22). We are choosing what our judgment will be by the way we live. Remember, this world is not our home. So, live for heaven (Matt. 6:19-21).
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22, NKJV)
Following the worldwide flood, God made this promise to Noah and us, his descendants. It gives us sufficient assurance that climate change will not destroy the world. Weather cycles are a constant reality of God’s continuing care of the planet He created (Eccl. 1:3-7). Climate changes over time – that is an observable fact. While we can affect it, we do not control it. Yes indeed, we are to be good stewards of the earth, since God made us to have dominion over the works of His hands (Psa. 8:6-8). When people refuse to acknowledge the Creator, their respect for His creation also falters. We should be respectful of God’s earth. Let us be thankful to God for the rain and fruitful seasons He gives to sustain our lives, which also testify to His presence and good will toward us (Acts 14:17). We ought to respect the earth, not as our mother, but because our Creator blessed us with it. We answer to Him as we live on His earth. Let us take care of its resources and gratefully honor God who gave us “dominion over the works of (His) hands” (Psa. 8:6).
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1–4, NKJV)
“A study entitled ‘A Limited Habitable Zone for Complex Life’ and published in The Astrophysical Journal drastically cuts the number of planets that could potentially host intelligent life” (“Extraterrestrial life could be scarcer than first thought, study says,” foxnews.com). After this more than 3-year-long study of 1,327 stars close to the earth, “no ‘glaringly obvious’ evidence of extraterrestrial life” was found (“No signs of alien life in closest 1,300 stars, study says: ‘We are left with zero candidates,’” foxnews.com). It is truly ironic that while humans search the distant stars for evidence of and messages from other life forms, they refuse to listen to the clear message the heavens communicate of God’s glory, power, knowledge, and wisdom. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). When people refuse the evidence of God’s power and deity in the material world, they are left searching aimlessly for the very answers they refuse to see. And, by refusing His gospel of salvation, they remain under God’s wrath against their sins (Rom. 1:16-19, 22-25).