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ES2PEJ09 2 Peter 1:16–21 The Sure Word

2 Peter and Jude  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:08
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2 Peter 1:16–21 NKJV
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
This week we move on into the next passage and here Peter is setting out his stall in defence of the faith and in defence of what is written in this letter.
This passage is one of the strongest we can find that defends who Jesus is and the reliability of the Scriptures. The Bible is not simply a collection of stories and writings and ideas collected over thousands of years but is the very Word of God.
Peter spent at least 3 years with Jesus, saw His works, heard Him speak, lived with Him, got to know Him, saw Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. He is putting himself forward as an eyewitness, and as His apostle. He says that all the eyewitnesses are a reliable source of proof of the many wondrous things that happened and the witnesses agree with one another. Therefore they are not unreliable in what they report.
It is plain that there are false teachers and since the age of the apostles is now passing away, they are trying to undermine what they stood for and taught and they were claiming that all this stuff about Jesus is much less than has been claimed let alone the so-called promise of His return to judge them for every moral and ethical choice. And not only that but, the false teachers claim, they made their living off this story of Jesus. They deceived you they say. To summarise they accusation of the false teachers against Peter was like this:

The apostles’ belief in the final judgment, a day when Jesus will hold each of us accountable for moral and ethical infidelity, is simply the stuff of fairy tales that stems largely from the fertility of Peter’s imagination. Therefore, following the strict ethical and moral force of his faith is unnecessary.

Peter seeks to put the record straight here and throughout the rest of the letter.
Suffice to say that there have been false teachers, even today, who I also warn about - especially those who seek to line their pockets from you with false promises. Now I have mentioned a few before but we have to be aware of those who mix truth and error for it is more difficult to see it and one such person is Joyce Meyer. She has a number of false teachings which are not found in Scripture such as Jesus paying for our sins in hell - when it was the cross where He paid the price and said it is finished. I cannot go through all her false teaching but just a couple of other things: She also teaches that your reward is in the here and now and said: “if you stay in your faith, you are going to get paid. I’m living now in my reward”. She also speaks a great deal about self and liking yourself better and always having health, wealth, and complete wholeness. Scripture teaches the opposite and says: deny yourself. I know it is one thing to say and another to do but it is also not OK to say and teach you don’t have to deny self. This whole love yourself is not found in Scripture. And so, it leads to what these false teachers who accused Peter in his day who said:

you are free to do whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want, without fear of divine punishment. This insidious teaching rests upon the false premise that insists that because God is love, God will forgive all vices that were once thought of as incompatible with godly virtue. In essence, the doctrine of the Second Coming was jettisoned because people want to secure the ability to live as they please.

16
And so, in verse 16 he says ‘we’ did not follow invented stories or myths when telling others about Jesus. Of course, the Greeks and the Romans had plenty of these myths and legends as attested to by the many stories about their gods that we have access to today. Who hasn’t heard of Minotaur and the Maze, or about Zeus and Hercules, and so on? Who hasn’t heard the name of Venus? Or Poseidon or Hades? All our planets are named after Roman gods: Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and so on. But knowing all these things cannot save anyone – there are no eyewitnesses who can say they have ever seen Hercules and what he did, no, we just have stories which are not based in any reality. This is fake news.
This is not the same kind of thing that Peter and the other Apostles have been declaring – no, what they declare is real, they have been eyewitnesses, and what they declare can save you. Jesus is the only one who can save us from sin, who came to earth to die on a cross.
We can believe any story we like and today that is the thing – we’ve all probably heard it – I believe what I believe and you believe what you believe and good on you for that – but I tell you now stories and beliefs of themselves cannot save you – only One is true and that is Jesus – trusting Him is the way to salvation – he is the only one who can save from hell, He is the only One who can give eternal life. His is the only name given to men by which it is necessary to be saved.
We can trust in the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles and we can also trust in Scripture. All these have outlasted time and the assault against them.
These eyewitnesses saw Jesus heal the sick, walk on water, still the seas with a word, overcome demons by casting them out, overcome death by raising people from the dead, fed the multitudes – who also witnessed Him die and be buried and then rise again, be among them for 40 days, and then ascend into Heaven. And who witnessed Him say He will return again. We can have complete confidence in these eyewitnesses. Another way to know this was true was that they were willing to suffer and die for these beliefs – and no one would willingly die for a lie they knew they had made up.
17
In verse 17 Peter was privileged along with James and John to witness Jesus in all His Majesty clothed with light, when Jesus was revealed for who He really is. This was on the Mount of Transfiguration. This event was pivotal in the faith of Peter - nowhere else did these men see Him in His earthly ministry in all His glory. From then on Peter believed on the Lord Jesus.
18
Not only did they see Jesus shining in such glorious light but they also heard the voice of Heaven. A rebuke of sorts: Hear Him! And a declaration: He is my dear Son with whom I am well pleased!
The apostles were privileged to have seen and heard all the things that they did but above all on the Mount of Transfiguration they got a glimpse into the Lordship of Christ – the One who rules over all in glory and honour and majesty and power – and because Jesus is all this we should hear Him; we should listen carefully to all that He says; to all that He did for they are witnesses that these things are true.
19
Then Peter goes on to say that the Scriptures are confirmed – Jesus is the answer and was the One it prophesied of. In fact, Peter makes clear that the written Word that we have is more certain for we can go and read it for ourselves. We don’t need to take the eyewitness word for it we can discover for ourselves: The Word of God is a lamp to our feet, it shines in dark places and the revelation of it is like the morning star that rises before the sun indicating that the day about to dawn – and it dawns on our hearts opening up more and more until it is like the sun in noon-day strength. In other words as the revelation of God’s Word opens our eyes we also become reliable witnesses of Jesus and His Word. The prophetic word is completely trustworthy.
The Chinese say that it’s very difficult to prophesy, especially about the future!
I have said many times before that God’s Word accurately predicted Jesus’ first coming and many other things that have come to pass – for instance Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5.2), He was born of a virgin (Isa 7.14) at a specific time (Dan 9.25). That the children would be massacred (Jer 31.15). That Jesus would go to Egypt and return (Hos 11.1). He would go into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey (Zech 9.9), would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech 11.12-13), and Psalm 2 and Psalm 22 and Isaiah 52 and Isaiah 53 also gives a detailed picture of the crucifixion and His rejection and death all between 1000 and 700 years before it actually happened.
Dr. Charles C. Ryrie has pointed out that, by the law of chance, it would require two hundred billion earths, populated with four billion people each, to come up with one person who could achieve one hundred accurate prophecies without any errors in sequence.
But the Bible records not one hundred but over three hundred prophecies fulfilled in Christ’s first coming.
I, personally, think he got it wrong – there could never be enough planets with enough people to ever come up with even 30 prophecies in sequence let alone 100 let alone over 300. The prophecies were too accurate about time, place, nationality, and cultural detail – only One could ever fulfil these prophecies and it was not something you could even plan to do even if an individual prophecy many could fulfil, the problem is that when you get to five prophecies you are stretching the realms of possibility to breaking point. Jesus fulfils every prophecy to the letter.
So, the Bible got these prophecies right about His first coming therefore it also accurately predicts the last days and Jesus’ second coming. And it will come to pass just as the Scriptures have said. To the letter even if we have headaches working out exactly how.
A man who lived on Long Island, NY, bought a high quality Barometer long before we had satellite weather forecasts. When it was delivered to his home, the arrow appeared to be stuck, pointing to the section marked “Hurricane.”
The man shook the barometer, but the indicator stayed the same. So the man sat down and wrote a scorching letter to the store where he had bought it. The following morning on the way to his office he mailed the letter. But you know what happened…yep, later that day a hurricane struck the East Coast including NY. That evening the man returned to home to find that his barometer was missing – along with his house!
It is a ridiculous but true story. The weather forecasters did not predict it – it was before the sophistication we have today with satellites etc that still cannot get it right. But the moral of the story should not be lost on us. God’s Word says it and that is enough as long as we understanding what it says. The problem is when we think that God’s Word is not telling things accurately that we go astray and we, one day, discover that it was telling the truth all along. The barometer of God’s Word is never wrong.
20
Scripture was not invented by man like the Greek and Roman myths and stories I alluded to earlier. Now Peter says that we need to take care how we understand what it says. It is not of private interpretation. This means that it can only have a certain meaning and this is understood with the help of the Holy Spirit and in the community of faith. We cannot put our own spin on what a verse says – this is very popular today – we ask someone, how do you understand this and we get one answer, then we ask someone else, and we get a different answer and so on and so forth such is the dangers of group Bible Study without a Bible Teacher.
Now there are complicated verses in the Bible so it is one of the reasons why God has given us teachers to help us understand – but it is not open to any interpretation we desire to give it as has become a normal method in our day and age. We understand Scripture from the context it is in, to whom it has been written, and in comparing Scripture with Scripture and with the help of the One who wrote it. And the only way anyone of us can do this is if we know the Scriptures both Old and New Testament. And we, among all who have ever lived, have no excuses with the myriad of ways we can access the Scriptures.
21
And just in case we did not know it, here in verse 21 it is made clear that the Scriptures came from God working in people by the Holy Spirit. Prophecy is not just the foretelling of what is to come, though 26% of our Bible is exactly that, but the word ‘prophecy’ contains in it the forth-telling of God’s Word. It is God’s declaration to man of God and His nature and works. In universities in our nation we sit in judgment upon God’s Word tearing it apart whereas, in fact, it should sit in judgement upon us.
Hebrews 4:12 NKJV
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The moving of the Holy Spirit upon people brought about the Scriptures that we have. Despite the different languages, despite the different personalities that come through, God directed the hearts of all in such a way that through their differences we have God’s Word to us without error.
We are not good at realising the special gift that God has given us in His Word.
It is like the story of a young boy giving his grandmother a Bible for Christmas. He wanted to write something special on the inside cover but wasn’t sure what to say. So he decided to copy what he had seen in a book that was highly valued by his father.
Christmas morning came and grandmother opened her gift. She was not only pleased to receive the Bible, but she was amused by the inscription in it. It read: “To Grandma, with compliments of the author.”
What a thing to write but oh so true! We have been given His Word and we have been given so many tools to understand it along with the help of The Helper, the Holy Spirit. All Scripture is God-breathed. It transforms lives and it should also have that effect upon us too.
Most of us pick up books by our favourite authors or buy one because we know them. I like Bill Bryson and John Grisham among others who write humorous travel guides and novels and books by many good Christian authors such as Ryrie and Ryle. We pick books up because they were written by them.
Well, we have one that is written by the Word of God, Jesus, God Himself. Not only that but it is a gift to you and me. This book has stories but ones which actually happened and stories that are parables – a complete book of books that shares with us His plan of salvation from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation.
Peter wrote to us so that we don’t just rely upon him as an eyewitness but to discover for ourselves who the Saviour is and what He is like through the pages of Scripture. To do this will safeguard against the false teachers that he speaks about in the next passage. You can only know the fake by really knowing the genuine article.
Peter says we have his word for it as an eyewitness as well as the Scriptures as evidence of the working of God. I believe the central character, the Son of God, and the testimony to Him is true. This is not a fable of deliberately invented events and the Apostles and Prophets, are not fabricator,s frauds or liars. I believe this is the Holy Word of God! Written by holy men! Written under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit! ... What do you believe? And if you believe it will you read it, will you believe it, will you obey it?

Benediction

Colossians 3:16–17 NKJV
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Bibliography

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUunXrBY8yc
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