Dear church,

We ought not to overlook the fact that ungodly people will be judged and destroyed by God. This is part of God’s big plan for his creation, which he put in motion by speaking it all into existence.

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

There is some comparison and contrast to pay attention to here. During the days of Noah, God swept the ungodly away with a flood. On the day of judgment, God also will sweep away the ungodly. But he will do it by fire.

I don’t know that any of this will make much difference to the ungodly. They still will perish.

Fortunately for every ungodly person on earth today, God is patient in bringing his judgment. He doesn’t want anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.

A word of context is in order here. Everyone who ever has been born (except for One) fits into the category of “ungodly.” This includes me and you. We are ungodly because we sin and because the core of our being is sinful. We don’t have to try to sin. We do it naturally. Humans aren’t inherently good. They are inherently sinful.

A little boy was at our house this summer. He was being watched by my daughter, and the little boy threw a ball over the neighbor’s fence. Who threw the ball over the fence, my daughter asked. “You did! You threw it over the fence,” the little boy answered.

It was funny. But it also is a reminder of what is inside each of us. We are ungodly people, willfully looking out for our own best interests instead of the interest of others. Sinfulness runs in our veins.

But Jesus Christ took all of that away. He went to the cross on our behalf. All of the ungodliness of humanity was poured out onto him, and he died a sinner’s death for us. Anyone who believes in him won’t perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

And so somehow, ungodly people like us can live in godliness – by the grace of God and through faith in Jesus Christ.

Because of this, we know that we won’t perish on the last day of judgment and destruction. We have been promised eternal life with a new heaven and earth that God will usher into existence after the ungodliness of this world has been swept away by fire.

I’ve heard pastors call this “global warming.”

But I guess 2 Peter 3 is a stark reminder that ungodly people will perish. They are set for destruction. But God is patient. He wants them to be saved – to get in the ark (or the fireproof shelter) that is Jesus Christ. All they must do is put their faith in Jesus. He has taken care of the rest.

So what do we do as Christians? We live in holiness and godliness from here on out. Our lives must be set apart for God. Our actions must be aimed to please God rather than ourselves. We push sin out of our lives so that we are marked by no spots or blemishes. (Peter doesn’t tell us how to do that in this passage, but we know the Holy Spirit leads us in this area.)

And I suppose we thank God for his patience toward us. And I suppose we share the gospel with those who do not yet know Christ. We plead for them to repent – because the day of the Lord will come like a thief. It could be today, for all we know.

This passage seems to be speaking to me about the very stark nature of the final judgment. The people in our lives who do not know Jesus Christ will perish. They will face judgment and destruction.

It used to be that pastors would preach “fire and brimstone” sermons on Sunday morning. They would scare people into repentance. That’s gone by the wayside for the most part. Our culture has changed, I think. We now want to woo people into a relationship with a loving Father.

I think a pendulum exists here. We can swing too far in either direction. The loving Father is also the righteous Judge, and some people simply aren’t motivated by very much wooing. Some people need to see in very stark terms what the future is without Christ.

It’s very hot.

Chris

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