In my sermon on Sunday, I disagreed with the popular idea that God is going to burn up this world, but I didn't have time to explain where that view comes from or why it's incorrect. To be fair, there is a biblical basis for that view in 2 Peter 3:7-13. On the surface, that passage really does seem to teach that this whole world--atomic "elements" and all--will be destroyed by fire. But this is not the only possible interpretation or the most faithful interpretation in light of the whole Bible. To summarize, Peter is talking about the destruction of the Old Covenant world, which was centered around the Temple in Jerusalem, in 70 AD. The "elements" of the Old Covenant world were the fundamental aspects of culture: holy places, purity laws, sacrifices, etc. Human "culture" flows out of "cult" (worship), and the death of Jesus destroyed the very structure of society under the Old Covenant (Col. 2:20ff.). When the Romans burned Jerusalem, the basic elements of the Old Covenant world were indeed burned up. This is why Paul can promise that "the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21). God is not saving us from this creation. He is saving into a redeemed and restored creation.
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