Hold on to the Holy Bible
2 Peter 1:19-21 (Initial reading: vs. 16-21)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - March 24, 2013
*Robert Leroe asks a good question: "Has the bookmark in your Bible moved lately?" (1)
*Verse 19 tells us that we would do well to "take heed" to God's Word. That means to pay attention to His Word and devote our thoughts to it. The word picture is "taking hold of something," holding on to God's Word in our minds.
*God wants us to keep holding on to His Word. And Peter shows us why.
1. First: Hold on to God's Word, because it is the surest source of truth.
*These verses begin with that wonderful mountain-top experience, when Peter, James and John got to see at least a little of the infinite glory of Jesus Christ. Then in vs. 19 in the KJV, Peter said: "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts."
*How do we know that the Bible is "more sure"? -- How do we know that it is the surest source of truth?
 We know first because of Peter's testimony in these verses.
*Yes Peter saw the revelation of Christ's glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. And Peter never doubted that. (By the way: neither should we, because that mountain top experience is part of God's Word today.) But Peter himself testified that God's Word is more sure than the vision of Christ's glory they saw on the mountain.
*And we can see how Peter could say the Old Testament Scriptures were more sure than their time on the mountain.
-The Word of God was more sure because it came through more witnesses.
-And it was more sure, because sometimes we can't believe our own eyes.
*James Merritt explained it this way: "Now only three people saw this vision, and heard this voice, and (Peter) was one of those three. They were on that Mountain of Transfiguration, and saw Jesus in all of His glory. They heard the voice of God who said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'
*Their experience was glorious and wonderful, but Peter also knew something about that experience, and that is: It was one never to be repeated, and one that can never again be experienced.
*So where does that leave us who have had no vision and heard no voice? -- Well, Peter tells us that God has given us something better than experience: the Word of God. The point that Peter is making is this: The word of God is more sure than what our eyes can see, and what our ears can hear."
*On Tuesday, October 13th, 1998, over 100,000 people gathered at a farm in Conyers, Georgia. Why were they there? -- It was because of a 47-year-old Catholic woman named Nancy Fowler. Nancy claimed to have had hundreds of visits from both the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ since 1991. Nancy also said that the Virgin Mary was going to give her a final message that Nancy would speak to the world. Over 100,000 people came by bus, car, and plane, hoping to see an appearance of the Virgin Mary, and hoping to hear what Mary might say to Nancy Fowler.
*But Merritt made the point that if someone had simply said, "I'm going to that farm and read the true Word of God, people would have passed by with a yawn."
*Then Merritt said: "I want to give you fair warning: Never accept subjective experience over objective revelation. The Word of God is more sure than a vision you might see or a voice that you might hear. If I had a vision, I might misunderstand it. I might not remember it. I might misinterpret it. If I were to hear a voice I might miss part of what was said. Neither visions nor voices can compare with the value of the Word of God.
*Between Moses and Matthew, Malachi and Mark, Lamentations and Luke, Jeremiah and John, Amos and Acts, and Proverbs and Paul, we have God's complete once-for-all revelation." (2)
*How do we know that the Bible is the surest source of truth?
-We know because of Peter's testimony in these verses.
 And we know because Old Testament prophecies have come true.
*Think for a moment how hard it is to predict the future. Listen to examples from "The World's Worst Predictions":
-In 1773, King George II said the American colonies had little stomach for revolution.
-In 1939 The New York Times said the problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn't have time for it.
*And tragically, on May 31, 1911, at the launch of the Titanic, an employee of the White Star Line proudly said: "Not even God himself could sink this ship." Less than a year later, 1,500 died as a result of that boastful attitude. (3)
*We don't know that's going to happen tomorrow. But God sees the end from the beginning. And He has revealed it in His Word.
*Consider the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus Christ. One source listed over 350 Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled when He was on the earth.
*Here are just a few examples:
-About 1,000 years BC, Psalm 2:7 prophesied that the Messiah would be the Son of God. Here the coming Messiah said: "I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'"
*This prophecy was fulfilled many places, including the baptism of Jesus. Matthew 3:17 says, "And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
*About 725 years BC, Micah 5:2 prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.''
*About 700 years BC, Hosea 11:1 prophesied that He would be called out of Egypt: "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son."
*This prophecy was fulfilled when King Herod sent his soldiers to murder all the baby boys in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:13-15 says:
13. . . behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.''
14. When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,
15. and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son.''
*About 520 BC, Zechariah 11:12 prophesied that He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver: "So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver."
*This prophecy was fulfilled in Matthew 26:14-16:
14. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests
15. and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?'' And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
16. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.
*And about 1000 BC, by the mouth of King David, God prophesied the way the Messiah would die. Psalm 22:16 says, "For dogs have surrounded Me; The assembly of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet."
*We know that the Bible is the surest source of truth, because these and hundreds more Old Testament prophecies have been literally fulfilled.
 We also know because God's Word has stood the test of time.
*The Bible has been ridiculed, rejected, banned and burned. But it has never and it will never pass away! In Matthew 24:35 Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."
*We know that God's Word is the surest source of truth, because God's Word has stood the test of time.
 We also know because God's Word has miraculous power to change our lives.
*As one preacher said: "The Bible has transformed the lives of millions of people. It has motivated them to be missionaries and martyrs. It has made them better spouses, parents, friends, neighbors, and workers. Countless people would agree with the words of David in Psalm 19:7-11:
7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward." (4)
*Gaylord Kambarami had a wonderful testimony about the life-changing power of the Word of God. He was the General Secretary of the Bible Society in Zimbabwe when he tried to give a New Testament to a very grouchy, hot-tempered man. The man said he would take the New Testament, but only so he could tear out the pages, roll them up, and use them to make cigarettes.
*Gaylord told the man, "I understand that, but at least promise to read the page of the New Testament before you smoke it." The man agreed and the two went their separate ways.
*Fifteen years later, the two men met at a Methodist convention in Zimbabwe. The Scripture-smoking atheist had trusted in Jesus, and was now a full-time evangelist. He told the audience, "I smoked Matthew, and I smoked Mark, and I smoked Luke. But when I got to John 3:16, I couldn't smoke anymore! My life was changed from that moment." (5)
*God's Word is the surest source of truth, because it has miraculous power to change our lives. And there are many other reasons.
-So hold on to the Word of God, because it is the surest source of truth.
2. But also hold on, because it will be a shining light in our lives.
*Here in vs. 19, Peter reminds us that God's Word is also a great light: "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts."
*Verse 19 in the New Living Translation says: "We have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place -- until the day Christ appears and his brilliant light shines in your hearts."
*God's Word is essential light for us in this dark world. It shines in a dark place. It shines for our safety. It also shines for our direction, showing us where to go and where not to go. God's Word also shines to expand our ability. It opens up new possibilities to us. It allows us to do things we could never do in the dark.
*And it shines to take away our fears. Luci Swindoll told about a friend who, along with six strangers, was caught in a stalled elevator during a power failure. Fear was quickly turning to panic.
*But then Luci's friend remembered that she had a tiny flashlight in her purse. When she turned it on, the fear in the elevator quickly faded away. For 45 minutes these strangers sat around the light, talked, laughed, and even sang. The light came on just when they needed it the most. . . (6)
*But that little flashlight could have gone out in a second. God's Word is a shining light that will never fail us!
-So hold on to God's Word, because it will be a shining light in your life.
3. And keep holding on to the Word of God, because it came from God's Spirit.
*Peter tells us in vs. 20&21 that we should be,
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.
*The Holy Spirit of God is the primary author of the Bible. Yes, by the grace of God, He used men to help get the job done. But those men were all moved by the Holy Spirit. They were carried along, so that they said exactly what God wanted them to say.
*In the book of Acts, Peter and Paul both show us who wrote the Bible. Their statements are like great beacons at the beginning and end of that book saying: "This is the Word of God!"
*In Acts 1:16, we hear Peter saying, "Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." Then in Acts 28:25 Paul said, "The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers."
*In John 11 there is another fascinating example of the moving of the Holy Spirit to speak through men. This happened after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and the Scripture says:
46. some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did.
47. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.
48. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.''
49. And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all,
50. nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.''
51. Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,
52. and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.
53. Then from that day on they plotted to put Him to death. (John 11:46-53)
*Our God is so amazing! Surely this is His Word. That's why there is such a oneness to this Book even though it was written through such a wide variety of men.
*Lewis Chafer explained: "The continuity of the Bible is another amazing aspect of this Book. It was written over a period of at least 1,600 years by as many as 40 different authors. They differed in language, culture, background and experience. Nevertheless the Bible, like no other composite book in the world, is one book. . .
*Among the authors of the 66 books in the Bible are kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, physicians, statesmen, scholars, poets, and plowmen of such diverse backgrounds that one could hardly expect their writings to form any continuity. . .
*Obviously the Bible had a divine Editor, the Holy Spirit of God, who guided the writers so that all they wrote would not only harmonize with what had been previously revealed but also with what was yet to be revealed." (7)
*The Bible is surely the Word of God! And we have to hold on to the whole thing, especially the good news of the cross of Jesus Christ:
-How He died for our sins and rose again from the dead.
-How He will save anyone who opens their heart to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.
*Keep holding on to the wonderful truth of God's Word.
-Because it is the surest source of truth.
-It will be a shining light for your life.
-And it was written by God's own Spirit.
*Let's thank God for His Word as we go to the Lord in prayer.
(1) SermonCentral sermon "Can I Trust My Bible?" by Robert Leroe - 2 Peter 1:16-21
(2) Adapted from Sermons.com sermon "The Fountain of Truth" by James Merritt - 2 Peter 1:12-21
(3) "The World's Worst Predictions" - Sources: SermonCentral sermon "The Promise" by Guy Caley - 2 Peter 1:19-21 - And www.archives.gov/exhibits/american_originals/titanic.html
(4) ccel.org - "Why I Believe in the Bible"
(5) American Bible Society Record, March 1990 - Source: Raymond McHenry - "Stories for Preachers & Teachers"
(6) Dr. Shotwell - http://acbc.us/sermons/struckbylight.pdf - Source: Sermons.com sermon "This Little Light of Mine" by King Duncan - John 1:6-8, 19-28 - Christmas 2008
(7) "Systematic Theology" - Volume One by Lewis Sperry Chafer - Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois - Copyright 1988 - "Continuity of the Bible" - pp. 52-53