2 Peter 1:12-21
Stephen Caswell © 2003
Making A Strong Cup Of Tea
What is the difference between a weak and strong cup of tea. The ingredients are the same, hot water and tea. The process is the same, you immerse the tea in the water. The difference lies in the amount of time that the tea is immersed in the water. Only a short period of time is required to make a weak cup of tea. A longer period of time is needed to make the cup strong. The same is true of the Christian life. Spending a short period of time each day in the Word will produce a weak Christian. To have strong faith requires that we immerse ourselves in the Word for much longer. Strong Christians are permeated by God's Word.
The best defense against false teaching is true living. A church filled with growing believers, vibrant in their faith, is not likely to fall prey to apostates with their counterfeit Christianity. But this Christian living must be based on the authoritative Word of God. False teachers find it easy to seduce people who do not know their Bible but who are desirous of experiences with the Lord. It is a dangerous thing to build on subjective experience alone and ignore objective revelation.
In the first 11 verses of the chapter Peter commands Christians to be diligent. He tells us to add to our faith Christian character. Peter tells us if we do this that our faith won't be unfruitful. He also gives the assurance that diligent believers will be warmly welcomed into glory. The first part of the chapter speaks of God's Work in our lives. Tonight we will see the importance of God's Word in our lives. We will see three main things today: The Memory Of God's Word, The Majesty Of God's Word and The Meaning Of God's Word.
Firstly The Memory Of God's Word
In these first four verses Peter uses the word remind three times. Remind u&pomimnhskw means to call to mind, to put in mind, to remember, to bring something up. It refers to when we remind people of something they already know. There were at least three motives behind Peter’s ministry as he wrote this letter. The first was obedience to Christ’s command.
a. Peter's Duty
2 Peter 1:12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.
Jesus said to Peter in John 21: to shepherd His sheep. Peter knew that Christ had given him a ministry to fulfill. He was responsible to feed the flock and protect it from wolves. This involved reminding the sheep of the things that they have already been told. In fact they knew the truth and had been established in it. This is the office of the best ministers, even the apostles themselves; they are the Lord’s remembrancers. A problem in many churches today is not that believers do not know what God expects of them, but they either forget it or are unwilling to live out the truth they now have. God's Word is able to establish sthrizw or strengthen believers. However, this will only happen if we obey it. Peter fulfilled his duty by reminding them of God's Word which was able to strengthen them.
The people involved in the public relations department of the church always make Bible study sound as though it is easy. It is not. It takes a great deal of effort to understand this text, and even more to understand how it applies to our lives. We like to think that when we study the Bible, it's like getting a shot of spiritual adrenaline. It gives a spiritual high. Studying the Bible is much more like taking vitamins. You gulp down a couple of vitamins in the morning, but no wave of energy flows through your body. You take the vitamins because they build you up. They protect you against the diseases in the environment. In the long run, they make you strong. Like a good dietitian, Peter prescribed regular doses of God's Word.
b. Peter's Desire
2 Pet 1:13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you,
Peter's desire as long as he lived was to remind them of God's Word. Why? It was the right thing to do. Peter knew that God's Word can stir us up. The words stir up diegeirw mean to arouse or wake someone up. Peter didn't want them to go to sleep. False teachers had moved into the Church so they needed to be alert. Peter's desire was that they would remember His instruction and therefore be alert to these false teachers. It is better to be safe than sorry. Paul felt the same way when he wrote to the Philippians. Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. It is wise for believers to be constantly reminded of God's Word. Peter's desire was to remind them of God's Word. This desire was right because only the Word stirs us up from complacency in the Christian faith.
Out Grown The Bible
The story is told of a South Sea Islander who proudly showed his Bible to an American G. I. during World War II. The soldier replied we've outgrown that sort of thing now. The native smiled back and said, It's a good thing that we haven't. If it weren't for this book, you'd have been a meal by now. We will never outgrow our need for God's Word. Let us remember it!!
c. Peter's Death
2 Peter 1:14-15 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.
His third motive is wrapped up in the words be careful in 2 Peter 1:15. The words be careful spoudazw mean to endeavor, to be diligent to do something, to be zealous. Peter knew that he would soon die, so he wanted to take care of his spiritual responsibilities before it was too late. You and I do not know when we will die, so we had better start being diligent today! Peter knew that he would shortly die a martyrs death. The word decease is ejxodo" and means departure. Because Peter knew his time was short he gave them a permanent reminder of the truth. He wrote them a letter. What was it that Peter wanted to accomplish?
The answer is found in 2 Peter 1:12–13 and 15, remembrance. Peter wanted to impress his readers’ minds with the Word of God so that they would never forget it! Psalm 119:11 says: Your Word have I hidden in my Heart that I might not sin against you. When you are tempted to sin, does God’s Word convict you that its wrong? Peter's two epistles became a part of the Scriptures, and they have been ministering to the saints for centuries. Men die, but God's Word lives on! We must remember it and obey it. Peter's impending death motivated him to leave a permanent reminder for believers to memorize and obey.
Early Church Scripture Memorization
When the Romans began to persecute the Church they sought to arrest as many believers as they could at a time. They would seek to infiltrate their secret meetings. So the disciples devised a method of determining true believers from soldiers posing as believers. Disciples would quote the first half of a verse of Scripture and the other person was expected to complete it. Only if they could not do this were they invited to the meeting. Roman tribunes ordered their soldiers to memorize portions of the Bible to gain entrance to the Church meetings. In the process many Roman soldiers were saved because they believed the message. God's Word has the power to transform lives. Scripture memory is very worthwhile!
Peter knew that God's Word can strengthen us, stir us up and safeguard us against error. Firstly, we must be mindful of it. Our lives ought to be governed by the Word. We should refer to God's Word when making decisions. Secondly, we should meditate on God's Word. Only the Bible is able to transform our minds. Thirdly, we should memorize God's Word and hide it in our hearts. Then we can use God's Word to overcome temptation like Jesus did. Are you mindful of God's Word? Do you read it daily and meditate on it? Are you memorizing it and obeying it? Do you use God's Word to overome temptation? Are you using God's Word to make good decisions? Are you passing the Bible on to the next generation like Peter did?
Secondly The Majesty Of God's Word
a. Christ's Majesty Was Seen
2 Peter 1:16 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.
It's important to distinguish between the written Word, the Bible, and the incarnate Word Christ. They are both major avenues of God’s revelation and therefore both come into focus throughout the remainder of this chapter. A Christian’s faith does not rest on clever stories as did the doctrines of the false teachers Peter attacked. Instead, true faith is founded on historical facts, which eyewitnesses corroborated. They saw Jesus in all His glory. It appears that Peter introduced a new theme here. He plunged quickly into a mention of the Lord’s return: the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
His defense of the doctrine of the Second Coming therefore is based on his eyewitness experience on the Mount of Transfiguration when he saw Christ’s majesty. Several times in his earlier epistle he spoke of Christ’s return. Obviously Peter considered this doctrine of great importance. It was one his readers should be mindful of. But how does the transfiguration argue that the Lord will come again with power? The transfiguration showed the three apostles, Peter, James, and John, what Christ would be like in His glory. It gave them a foretaste of His kingdom, a glorious demonstration they could never forget.
b. Christ's Majesty Was Spoken Of
2 Pe 1:17-18 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. And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
Peter’s lofty language stems from his burning desire to communicate the true majesty of the Savior. He, a member of the inner band of disciples was uniquely privileged to see this. Peter wanted his readers to look beyond Christ’s first coming to the time when He will return with that same honor and glory He demonstrated on the mountain. In Peter’s preaching during the days of the early church he was firmly committed to the doctrine of the Second Coming. Interestingly Peter was more profoundly impressed by what he heard than what he saw on that sacred mountain. The voice that came from heaven, was God the Father, called the Majestic Glory. He spoke approvingly of the His Son. The disciples heard God's testimony of His Son. The Bible is true. It speaks of Jesus the Savior. Truly this book is important.
Do You Know Where God Is?
Karen’s mother was startled to find her five-year-old going through a new Bible storybook and circling the word God wherever it appeared on the page. Stifling her first reaction to reprimand the child for defacing a book, she quietly asked, Why are you doing that. Karen’s matter-of-fact answer was: So that I will know where to find God when I want him. Wouldn’t it be nice to have her confidence that all we had to do was open a storybook and find God waiting for us? The truth is, we do have such a Book — the Bible. Do you know where to find help in the Bible when you need it? Does God speak to you through the Word? How well do you know your Bible? Do you find God in the Bible?
Ÿ Abraham Lincoln: I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.
Ÿ Woodrow Wilson: I ask every man and woman in this audience that from this day on they will realize that part of the destiny of America lies in their daily perusal of this great Book.
Ÿ Herbert Hoover: The whole of the inspiration of our civilization springs from the teachings of Christ and the lessons of the Prophets. To read the Bible for these fundamentals is a necessity of American life.
The work of Christ is not some cleverly devised story because eyewitnesses saw and heard all that He did. They saw Christ's glory and majesty. The Word of God is majestic because it reveals a majestic God through Jesus Christ. Therefore we can confidently believe everything in the Word. Is God's Word important to you? Do you study the Bible to know your Saviour Better? Do you believe God's Word? Do you obey God's Word? Are you looking for the second coming of Christ? Is your faith anchored in the Blessed Hope? It should be!!
Thirdly The Meaning Of God's Word
1:19 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.
Psalm 119:89 says: Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. The prophets foretold Messiah's coming. They revealed the kingdom age which God would usher in. On the Mount of Transfiguration three of the disciples saw Christ's majesty and heard God the Father speak about His Son. God confirmed the prophetic word. The transfiguration is a foretaste of Christ's Second Coming. The Written Word reveals Christ. One day Christ, the Living Word will return and then we can live in His light. It is a certainty. It will come to pass. God's Word tells us how to live in light of the coming of Christ. God reveals a bright future for those who love Him. The prophetic Word gives us hope in a dark place. We do well to heed it. Psalm 119:105: God's Word is a light unto our feet and a lamp unto our path. We ignore God's Word to our peril. Where else can you find hope in dark days?
In Prison With 3 Books
The editor of a well-known London newspaper sent a letter of inquiry to one hundred important peers, members of parliament, university professors, authors, merchants. The inquiry was: Suppose you were sent to prison for three years and you could only take three books with you. Which three would you choose? Please state them in order of importance. Out of the replies, ninety-eight put one book first - the Bible. Few of those men were keen about religion, many were not even churchgoers; others were agnostics or atheists. Yet they knew that no other book could give them cheer and comfort to help in dark, difficult days.
2 Peter 1:20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,
Since the Spirit gave the Word, only the Spirit can teach the Word and interpret it accurately. Jesus confirmed this in John 16:13: However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
D. L. Moody said: The Bible without the Holy Spirit is a sun-dial by moonlight. Of course, every false teacher claims that he is led by the Spirit, but his handling of the Word of God soon exposes him. Since the Bible did not come by the will of man, it cannot be understood by the will of man. In 2 Peter 1:20, Peter wasn't prohibiting the private study of the Bible. Some religious groups have taught that only the spiritual leaders may interpret Scripture, quoting this verse.
But Peter was not writing primarily about the interpretation of Scripture, but the inspiration of Scripture: it came by the Holy Spirit through holy men of God. And since it came by the Spirit, it must be taught by the Spirit. The word translated private simply means one’s own. The suggestion is, since all Scripture is inspired by the Spirit it must all hang together; that no one Scripture should be divorced from the others. You can use the Bible to prove almost anything if you isolate verses from their proper context.
Incorrectly Using God's Word
There is a story of two lawyers on opposing sides of a case. During the trial, one thought he would make a great impression on the jury by quoting from the Bible. So he said, concerning his opponent’s client, We have it on the highest authority that All that a man has will he give for his skin. The other lawyer knew the Bible better. He said, I am very much impressed by the fact that my distinguished colleague here regards as the highest authority the one who said, All that a man has will he give for his skin. You will find that this saying comes from the Book of Job and the one who utters it is the devil. And that is who he regards as the highest authority.
False teachers twist God's Word for their own gains. However, Peter states that the witness of the Apostles confirmed the witness of the prophetic Word; there is one message with no contradiction. Beware of false teachers who twist God's Word.
2 Peter 1:21 For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
This is one of two important Scriptures affirming the divine inspiration of the Word of God. The other is 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Peter affirmed that the Scriptures were not written by men who used their own ideas and words, but by men of God who were moved by the Holy Spirit. The word translated moved means to be carried along, as a ship is carried by the wind. The Scriptures are God-breathed; they are not the inventions of men. D.L. Moody said this: I am glad there are things in the Bible I do not understand. If I could take that book up and read it as I would any other book, I might think I could write a book like that.
The Scriptures’ human authors were controlled by the divine Author, the Holy Spirit. Yet they were consciously involved in the process; they were neither taking dictation nor writing in a state of ecstasy. No wonder believers have a word of prophecy which is certain.
And no wonder a Christian’s nurture must depend on the Scriptures. They are the very words of God Himself! This means they're inerrant and authoritative. We do well to heed its instruction.
How Ramsay Was Convinced
Over 100 years ago, William Ramsay, a young English scholar, went to Asia Minor with the expressed purpose of proving that the history given by Luke in his gospel and in the Acts was inaccurate. His professors had confidently said that Luke could not be right. He began to dig in the ancient ruins of Greece and Asia Minor, testing for ancient terms, boundaries, and other items which would be a dead giveaway if a writer had been inventing this history at a later date as claimed. To his amazement, he found that the New Testament Scriptures were accurate to the tiniest detail. So convincing was the evidence that Ramsay himself became a Christian and a great biblical scholar. We still look upon Sir William Ramsay’s books as being a classic as far as the history of the New Testament is concerned. The divine Inspiration of Scripture means that it is inerrant and completely authoritative.
What is the meaning of God's Word? Firstly, God gave us His word for Illumination. The Scriptures are accurate, they light our way so that we can live holy lives. The prophetic word gives us hope as we live in a dark world. Are you allowing God's Word to shed light on your pathway? Are you looking for Christ's return and the glorious kingdom He will establish?
Secondly, we must seek the Lord's guidance for the right Interpretation of prophecy. Since God wrote the Word it is foolish to think that we can interpret it without Him. Are you seeking the Lord's guidance to interpret the Word? The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth if we seek His help.
Thirdly, we must recognize the divine Inspiration of the Word. It was not written by mere men. God moved the human authors to write the words He wanted revealed. The Bible is God breathed. Are you confident in God's Word? Do you believe it is inspired? You should!
Tonight we saw: The Memory Of God's Word, The Majesty Of God's Word and The Meaning Of God's Word. God's Word should play an important role in every believer's life. How important is God's Word to you?
2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.