2 Peter 1:16-21
21 October 2012
Main Text: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Point of Emphasis: The written Word's trustworthiness
Memory Verse: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22)
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.
It should come to no surprise that many of us are a people who are cynical and untrusting. We hear accounts of stories from others and immediately question them. We know that we exaggerate stories and we expect others to do the same. Discuss with your class a time when they struggled trusting that people were telling the truth, it may be a fish story or a serious story. Ask why they were untrusting.
Let them know this morning we are going to look at a passage that makes some very strong statements about the nature of Scripture as it pertains to being trustworthy. These statements lead us to realize that if Scripture is not trustworthy then we cannot be sure that our faith is true. On the other side, if Scripture is trustworthy then we are certain that the gospel is true and have assurance of our salvation.
So this morning we will approach this passage of Scripture by answering from 2 Peter 1:16-21 the question: Why Trust Scripture?
Not Based on a Myth (16)
The first point of this text about the truthfulness of Scripture is that it is not based upon a myth. Look at verse 16, "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths . . ." The religious environment of the Roman Empire was one filled with pagan worship. In addition to Greek and Roman mythology, with the pantheon of gods, those living closer to Israel would still have remnants of other mythologies: Egyptian, Persian, etc. It was common at this time to have many different gods that were imagined in the minds of men. In Acts 17 Paul speaks to the Athenians about the "unknown god." In a setting of thousands of god he "observed the objects of your worship." The culture then was used to man made myths. Peter is countering that argument in this passage. He claims that he is not one who has made up a story about Christ, rather he is telling the truth. He is imploring people to believe his story.
In our day we also are wary of religious stories. Recently our own country has officially become a place where Christians are the minority. We have every religion under the sun and are asked to tolerate all belief under the name of tolerance. Truth has become something we define. In this culture it is no wonder people have a hard time believing the gospel. But we must also understand that the Bible is not talking about some myth like Zeus or Thor. The Bible is talking about the one true God and his plan of saving humanity. We have in it a religious story we must trust.
What difficulties do you have had in trusting the stories in Scripture?
More Sure than an Eyewitness (19)
The second thing we note in this passage is that Scripture is more sure than an eyewitness. In verse 16 Peter makes the statement that he (along with others) were eyewitnesses. The story he then conveys is the story of the transfiguration, "For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,' we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain." This is the story from the Gospels (Matt 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36), the story of Jesus showing his glory to Peter, James, and John, where they all heard the voice of God. I don't know about you, but if I heard the voice of God I think I would believe. It is like Moses coming down from the mountain and having to wear a veil over his face because it shined from God's glory (Exod 34) or Paul's conversion experience in Acts 9. I would be a believer. I would know I saw something great—I saw God.
Now contrast these stories to what Peter says next: And we have something more sure, the prophetic word. The nature of Scripture is that it is so trustworthy that we can trust it more than seeing an event itself. In essence, this text is saying, "Do you want to see God? Read Scripture, there you will find God." When we encounter Scripture we encounter God. Because of that truth we should trust in it. We do not need to have proofs for God other than his divine Word, he is speaking to us through it.
How have you seen just through the reading of Scripture the miraculous work of God in their lives?
Not from Man's Interpretation (20)
We also see in this passage that Scripture is true because it is not from man's interpretation, "know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation." What this means is that when we are reading a text of Scripture we know the truth it is bringing to us comes directly from God—we hear from God. When we read the Bible we are not confronted by the philosophies, thoughts, and opinions of others. This is an important belief for Christians, for if the Bible contains just the opinions or thoughts of man then it has lost authority. But if the Bible contains God's thoughts and opinions then we know it is truth and are to obey.
Think of a difficult text for us to obey, like Matthew 5. In this chapter Jesus says, "you have heard it said . . . but I say to you." Jesus properly interprets the Law in ways that are difficult to follow. For instance, he says that anyone who lusts after another person has committed adultery. It would be easy for us to take this verse as just the opinion of a man, and therefore be just another opinion among others and dismiss it. But as truth from the Bible we cannot ignore it, skirt, reinterpret it, all we can do is trust it. When we trust that the Bible is true then we obey it, in this case by stop lusting. In other cases we must see that marriage is between one man and one woman and that homosexuality is wrong, that we are to attend a church and tithe, that we are seek forgiveness for every offense we have made. The list goes on and on, but we must see that the Bible is God's Word to us, his interpretation, opinion, thought, and we must obey.
How have you tried to reinterpret the Bible according to your own interpretation?
Not from Man's Will (21)
Finally, we see in this text that the Bible is true because it is not from man's will. This goes to the heart of how we received Scripture. The Modern Era has tried to convince the world that the Bible was written by men, not God, with man's own agendas and wills. This text negates that. "For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." This is what inspiration is, at least Christian inspiration. Sure we are inspired to do different things from time to time, but inspiration from God is when we have received his trustworthy, inerrant, infallible word. Only the BIble fits that category, it is the Holy Word of God. This is why we can trust it, it is not a text that came from anyone else besides God. Though we read the personalities of the writers in it these writers did not accomplish their task apart from God. God, through the Holy Spirit, was with them through the entire writing process because he was leading them to write his words, not theirs. When we read Scripture we can trust that it is God's word to us. We must read it as God's word to us
Do you believe you are hearing from God when they read Scripture? Why or why not?
So What? (19)
Given these four reason from 2 Peter 1 on why we need to trust Scripture, what now? Theology, the doctrines from Holy Scripture, are not intended to be sets of data to be used on Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit, or as facts one know to impress at dinner parties. The teachings of Scripture are to prompt us to act in this world. The trustworthiness of Scripture does the same thing. This text tells one important thing to do pay attention to Scripture. Read it! Meditate on it! Ponder it! Pray it!
We cannot add enough exclamation points behind that. Because Scripture is trustworthy we must trust it, but how? As to a lamp shining in a dark place. Think about this allusion. If you have ever been in a pitch dark place (a cave, camping, a blackout) you know that you are searching for anything that provides light and when you find it you are drawn to it. This is what Scripture is—light. When we are lost in a situation we must look to Scripture. When we are hurting, look to Scripture, when we are in turmoil, look to Scripture. We are prone to look everywhere else. We call our friends, we indulge on food and entertainment, none of it satisfies, but when we turn to Scripture we find answers, solace, healing. Scripture, the Word of God, is the only truth we have.
Read your Bibles more; find a Bible reading program, through Hallmark or elsewhere. .By reading the text, and trusting it to be authoritative, we have the word of God that provides the light we need to be the light for the world.