2 Peter 1:16-21
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.
First Peter deals with problems from the outside, Second Peter deals with problems from the inside. Peter writes in his second letter to warn believers about false teachers and false teachings, who promote damaging doctrine.
Peter begins by urging the church/brothers and sisters, to keep close watch on their personal lives. The Christian life demands diligence in pursuing moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, and selfless love.
By contrast, the false teachers are trying to seduce unsuspecting believers. Peter does not want his fellow believers to forget that the Lord Jesus is most certainly coming back to earth in power and great glory, bringing both His judgement and His rewards with Him.
False teachers may spread doctrine that appeals to the flesh, but they will face the judgement of God in doing so. And so will those who follow them. Sometimes attacks on the Bible come from cynics, but sometimes—if we’re truthful—we have doubts ourselves. Is the Bible real? Is it really God’s word? What about the seeming inconsistencies that people point out? And how come there are so many translations? Can I really trust it?
This afternoon, I want to borrow from the verses we just heard from 2 Peter chapter 1 and give you three reasons why you can trust that the Bible is the word of God.
2 Peter 1:16-18
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.
First: It was written by direct eyewitnesses at risk of their lives (vv. 16-18)
Peter was one of the three disciples Jesus allowed to be present at the Transfiguration, that mountaintop experience when God transfigured His Son Jesus to His fully glorified self as deity in the flesh. It was such a supernatural experience that the gospel of Mark records about Jesus, “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them” (Mark 9:3). Most scholars believe Peter helped Mark write his gospel.
Peter is that great disciple that, when he doesn’t know what to say, he just says something! (“Open mouth and insert foot!”) Here he was so awestruck that he began to babble about putting up tents for Jesus and his two companions, Moses and Elijah, so they could stay a while. A dark cloud covered the three, and a voice boomed from heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). After the cloud dissipated, Jesus alone remained. Understandably, Peter and his two companions were shaken to the core.
It was this story that came to mind when Peter wrote today’s letter. Listen again to verses 16-18… “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.”
This was a case when truth was stranger than fiction. Peter says basically, “Hey, we saw it! We did not make this stuff up!” In a Jewish court of law at the time, if you were to bring a charge against someone, you needed a witness or two to corroborate your story. I find it interesting that Jesus provided that for Peter. He allowed Peter and two witnesses to be present. And here’s the thing…Peter, James, and John would all die violent deaths for their belief in Jesus as the Messiah. And all three would go all the way to their death not once wavering in their account of Jesus Christ.
Lee Strobel, in “The Case for Christ,” makes the point that people will not die for a lie. They will not go to the grave defending something that is untrue. Yet, Peter and others wrote what happened to them, knowing that in their lifetime, with the paranoid Roman government and the corrupt Jewish leadership, their words would not be well accepted. Yet they never wavered in their account.
You can trust the Bible as the word of God because it was written by people telling the truth, putting their lives at great risk by penning the words we read today. We benefit from their courage.
Secondly, you can trust scripture as God’s word because...
It reflects God’s single message through a variety of human writers (vv. 20-21)
1 Peter 1:20-21
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.
Think about this: The Bible consists of 66 books by 40 different authors covering about 1600 years of history. It contains poetry and prose, history and prophecy. Some books are dry, while others are downright riveting. And yet, with all this variety, this Bible has one unified them of God’s love for humanity. It is the story of a God who created a people to be in fellowship with Him. It is the story of that people’s betrayal of their God, and God’s efforts to woo them back and account for their sin, no matter how high the price. It’s a love story through and through.
Peter writes, in verses 20 and 21, “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.”
That last phrase, “were moved by,” is used elsewhere in scripture to convey the idea of a ship carried along by the ocean’s force. All these 40 human writers were “carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Yet their writings still reflect each of their unique human personalities. Guess which gospel writer pays the most attention to healing miracles? Well, Dr. Luke of course. Mark writes his gospel with hard hitting common Greek. Contrast that with John’s formal, polished Greek. For instance, read the beautiful Prologue in the first 14 verses of the gospel of John. Remember this phrase? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). Very polished and beautiful.
Yet, even with their own unique personalities, the Bible writers were keenly aware that God was speaking through them. It wasn’t their message; it was God’s. The Apostle Paul reminded a young preacher, in 2 Timothy 3:16…
2 Timothy 3:16
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
That’s what our English word “inspired” means, to be God-breathed. So… you can trust this as God’s word. Why? Because people died to write it. And because God used ordinary everyday human beings to capture his message of love. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, because...
Thirdly: It will change your life as you read it (v. 19)
2 Peter 1:19
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.
Peter notes in verse 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.
“you will do well to heed.” Indeed. To be honest, sometimes we read without paying much attention. When we pay attention, we find that God uses His word to grow us. The Holy Spirit shines a light on our sin, exposing it. The Holy Spirit shines light on the path of our lives, showing us the next step, how to proceed. The Holy Spirit offers the light of hope, when scripture urges us to not give up.
Peter says to pay attention to the Word like we would a light shining in a dark place. If you’re not confident in the authority of the Scriptures, you will be a slave to what sounds right. Trust God’s word to keep you on the right path.
And then Peter gives an image of hope. He says to keep paying attention until the “day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” A new day, a new sunrise, brings hope, as life starts anew. And the true Morning Star is Jesus, according to Revelation 22:16. Jesus himself rises in our hearts. He brings about change in our lives, as we stay in His word daily.
Consider Bill, who was just a young man at the time. He had tried preaching but didn’t always feel the power of God or see any results. One of his contemporaries, Charles Templeton, got into academia and started to believe scripture as flawed and outdated. Bill wondered about all of this. A friend of his, Henrietta Mears, invited him to speak at a Christian retreat center called Forest Home. The night before, he went off alone into the nearby woods, put his Bible on a stump, and had an honest talk with God. He prayed, “O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science.
I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.” And then he fell to his knees and the Holy Spirit moved in him as he said, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word!”
He later wrote that, as he stood up, his eyes stung with tears, but he felt the power and presence of God in a way he hadn’t in months. “A major bridge had been crossed,” he said. The next day he preached with a new vitality. His Mears noted, he “preached with authority” that she hadn’t seen before. And some 400 people made a commitment to Christ that day. A few weeks later he would preach the historic Los Angeles Crusade. It was planned to go three weeks but ended up going eight. And the career of an upstart evangelist took off. The world found Billy Graham, as Billy found the Word of God.
Let Us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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