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#4 Navigation for the Journey

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(A Godly People – Series in II Peter)

Westgate Chapel 4/8/01                                      2 Peter 1:16-19

PROPOSITION:  The markers for navigating the Christian life are seeing God, hearing His voice, experiencing His Presence, understanding His Word, and following His Light in a dark world.

I.    introduction

-     I DID most of my flying before Global Positioning equipment was available in General Aviation planes.

-     I DID my private pilot’s license training in a Cessna 182….and the principle means of navigation were two VOR radios.

-     WITH one radio you would dial in the VOR you were flying towards, and the heading you wanted to fly to that VOR….and the needle would tell you if you were on course.

-     I HAD a second VOR that could be dialed in to a VOR off to your left or right…and it would actually track you progress along your route of flight by triangulation.

-     SO, right there you had two references by which to navigate your location and your progress.

-     AS long as you were flying VFR (clear of clouds), you also had visual navigational points that you would mark on your chart along your path of flight.

-     TERRAIN features, significant structures could tell you if you were on course (TELL story of red barn en route to Boone, Iowa airport).

-     TERRAIN features could also tell you how you were doing with time….and time en route is very important. It is your most reliable indicator of fuel spent. It tells you if you will have enough fuel left to arrive at your destination...which is always a good thing.

-     GOOD and safe navigation requires the effective use of all of these means coming together for your trip…

*     To confirm your current position.

*     To confirm your progress en route to your destination.

*     To confirm your destination.

-     PLANNING and navigation was my favorite part of flying.

-     NOW, the people to whom the apostle Peter was writing his second epistle were trying to navigate through life on earth to heaven….which is exactly what you and I are doing.

-     BEFORE we come to Christ we navigate life by….

*     What feels good.

*     What the world considers important.

*     What’s in style.

*     The values of the important people.

*     Money.

*     Power.

*     Greed.

*     Sexual gratification.

-     NOW that we are Christians we have a totally different navigational system….which is the whole purpose of the Christian life.

-     THE problem that the apostle Peter has run into is that the false teachers had crept into the church, and had gotten the new Christians all confused.

-     SO he sets up for them four navigational markers….markers that had guided him through all kinds of victories and even some defeats.

-     THESE markers had been so faithful for him, so accurate, that he had to pass them on in his final counsel to these churches in Asia Minor.

-     SO, he picks up his pen in that Roman prison and writes 2 Peter 1:16 (page 1204),

      “We did not follow cleverly invented stories….”

-     THE false teachers were saying that the physical body was not important, so it didn’t matter how you lived your life.

-     THE only thing that mattered, they said, was to enter into special and mysterious speculation about spiritual realities.

-     BUT the spiritual realities of the early Gnostics (false teachers) had no support, no substance, no evidence….it was esoteric….available only to a select few philosophers who could grasp it.

-     AND they had developed all kinds of fanciful stories to support their teaching.

-     IT is similar to what Timothy was facing in Ephesus, when Paul wrote him and said,

      “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (4) They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

-     DON’T be misled by people in fancy suits who jump from book to book in the Bible.

*     They quote so many verses that you couldn’t possibly properly discern the context…

*     Much less do you have time to discern the verse itself.

*     And then they throw in a bunch of stories to dazzle you with a point that would not survive the light of honest Biblical scrutiny.

-     THOSE are not the kind of navigational markers that will get you through life.

-     PETER says,

      “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

-     BUT here is what we did follow…..says Peter

-     HERE are the navigational markers.

-     LISTEN carefully! They will work for you too.

ii.   SEEING Him

-     MARKER #1, from verse 16b,

      “…we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

-     THERE is the first navigational marker.

-     PETER had seen Jesus with his own eyes.

-     HE was there the day the paralyzed man was let down through the roof on a mat….and was healed by Jesus and walked home.

-     HE saw with his own eyes the dead son returned to life and restored to his widow mother.

-     HE saw the woman touch the edge of Jesus’ robe and be healed of 12 years of hemorrhaging.

-     AND specifically, in this passage in 2 Peter, the apostle is referring to the time he, James and John were invited up a mountain with Jesus…..and saw Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus and He glowed with the glory of the Father.

-     MATTHEW 17:2 says of Jesus on that occasion that,

      “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.”

-     IN verse 17 of our passage in 2 Peter 1 this morning, Peter says of that moment,

      “For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”

-     NO wonder Peter says, “I didn’t follow cleverly invented stories about some bogus spirituality…..I saw the Lord with my own eyes.”

-     IT was a marker for Peter. He saw Jesus.

-     WHAT do you see? I mean, what fills your vision?

*     Friends?

*     Your career?

*     Things?

*     Personal goals?

-     THE writer of Hebrews says,

      “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

-     IN 2 Corinthians 4:18 the apostle Paul wrote,

      “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

-     IN Ephesians 1:18 Paul writes,

      “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (19) and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

-     IN fact, 2 Corinthians 4:4, the apostle Paul connects being unsaved with spiritual blindness. He says,

      “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

-     BUT it is not a condition reserved only for the unsaved.

-     IN Revelation 3:18 Jesus says to the Christians in Laodicea,

      “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

-     WHAT is it that you are seeing?

-     WHAT is it that fills the horizon of your life?

-     HAVING your vision filled with Jesus is one of the markers of navigation, but it is not the only marker.

-     THERE is more.

iii. hearing his voice

-     MARKER #2, from verse 18a,

      “We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven…”

-     THE second marker for navigation is hearing God.

-     PETER heard the voice of the Lord from heaven.

-     NOW this may seem weird to you.

-     BUT believe me, if you are not hearing God’s voice you are out there minus one incredibly important navigational marker.

-     GOD has things He wants to say to you….in a personal conversation with you.

*     He speaks through His Word.

*     He speaks through a song.

*     He speaks through a friend.

*     He speaks through nature.

*     He speaks to you in prayer.

*     He speaks to you in crisis.

*     Sometimes in a still small voice.

*     Sometimes in the thunder.

-     THERE is no question that God speaks.

-     ALL through the Gospels Jesus says, over and over again,

      “He who has ears, let him hear.”

-     AND He repeats the same phrase to the believers in each of His letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3.

-     IN John 8:47 Jesus said,

      “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

-     NO wonder the writer of Hebrews 3:7-8 says,

      “Today, if you hear his voice, (8) do not harden your hearts…”

-     THAT is the second marker for navigation, and like the first, it is not effective if it is used alone.

-     IT must be used in combination with the other navigational markers.

-     PETER wasn’t following clever stories. He was following what he saw and what he heard from the Lord.

iv. experiencing his presence

-     MARKER #3, from 2 Peter 1:18,

      “We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”

-     THE third maker is being in His presence….being with Him on the sacred mountain.

-     MANY Bible scholars argue over exactly which mountain is being referred to in this verse.

-     WHY does it matter.

-     IT wasn’t the mountain that was sacred, any more than Sinai was sacred when Israel was camped there after the exodus and God called Moses up to talk to Him.

-     WHAT made Sinai sacred was that God met with Moses there. Before that meeting it had been just another mountain in the dessert.

-     THIS mountain is 2 Peter is another example of a place on earth that becomes sacred only because of an encounter with the glorified Christ.

-     WHERE are those places for you?

-     WHERE are those places that have an almost sacred memory to them because God revealed Himself to you there?

-     IS it a church altar?

-     IS it a campsite in the woods?

-     IS it that physical place where you commune with God on a regular basis, and draw near to Him there…..a chair in your bedroom….a section of the floor in your house where you regularly talk and listen for His voice?

-     THIS is another marker….being with Him.

-     IF Peter had not responded to the invitation up that mountain, he would have missed so much of what shaped his life….and sustained him at his death.

-     MARKER #1…..seeing the Lord.

-     MARKER#2…..hearing His voice.

-     MARKER#3…..being with Him in places that later come to be sacred because of His revealed glory.

v.  confident in his word

-     MARKER #4, from verse 19a,

      “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain…”

-     LOTS of controversy about what this verse means.

-     BUT I really think it is pretty simple. And the NIV translation helps with our understanding.

-     THESE men and women of the New Testament period were steeped from childhood in the Old Testament Scriptures.

-     IN our study of 1st and 2nd Peter I have not had the time to walk you through the heavy borrowing the apostle does of Old Testament Scripture….in concepts as well as in actual wording.

-     FOR a simple fisherman it is amazing….contrasted with Paul who was trained as a Pharisee.

-     BUT it only points up the saturation every Jewish child received in the Old Testament Scriptures….in their home as well as in the synagogues.

-     THE Psalmist David, who wrote many of his psalms while taking care of his father’s sheep wrote,

      “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. (11) I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:10-11)

-     BUT listen to what the apostle Peter says about the Word of God as a marker for navigation…

      “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain…”

-     WHAT is it that makes the Old Testament more certain to Peter and the believers of Asia Minor?

*     Having been eyewitnesses of the Lord’s glory and power.

*     Having heard His voice with your own ears.

*     Having been there in the Lord’s presence when He revealed His glory.

-     JUST like I needed the two VOR’s for navigation…one dialed in to my course, one triangulating for location and progress.

-     JUST like I needed ground reference points to work with the two VOR’s.

-     SO Peter gives us four markers to navigate the Christian life…

*     To know where we are at any given moment.

*     To be sure we are on course.

*     To be sure of our destination.

*     And to be sure of arriving at our destination with sufficient fuel in reserve.

-     AND those marker, working in harmony with each other are…

#1. A personal vision of the Lord.

#2. A personal hearing of His voice.

#3. A personal encounter with His presence where He reveals His glory.

#4. The Word of God made certain for you by all of the above.

vi. conclusion

-     NOW look at the rest of verse 19. It takes this navigation theme all the way home.

-     SPEAKING of the Word of God made more certain to you by your vision of the Lord, hearing His voice, and being with Him in His glory….Peter adds,

      “…you will do well to pay attention to it (Word made certain by all four markers), as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

-     THESE spiritual navigational markers with the Word are like a light shining in a dark place….the dark place being the world you and I are living in.

-     AND this world is going to get increasingly darker….as sin runs its course in nations…in the USA.

-     BUT these markers will continue to navigate you and me through the Christian life….all the way until two things happen.

-     UNTIL the day dawns and the morning star rises.

-     WHAT is “the day” that dawns?

*     The Day of the Lord.

*     The finish line. The final chapter for this world.

*     Peter says in a couple of chapters that it is a day that will come suddenly like a thief in the night.

-     WHAT is the morning star and when will it rise?

-     IN Revelation 22:16 Jesus says,

      “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

-     SO these navigational markers will guide you and me through life in a dark world and all the way to the end of time.





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