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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

The Pre-Identity of Jesus

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091129_pre-identity_of_jesus.mp3

11/29/09 – the pre-identity of Jesus

We are in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Christmas is a time we use to celebrate and honor the birth of Jesus the Christ. Of course, honoring Jesus is what we seek to do every week, and we should be honoring and celebrating Jesus every moment of every day throughout the year, but there is nothing wrong with using this season to focus our attention collectively on Jesus. So I would like to take the next several Sundays and reflect together on who it is that we gather together every week to worship and honor. I would like to take some time to look at the character and personality of Jesus, to gaze into the wonder of the incarnation, and to meditate on the appropriate response to this man who claimed to be God, who was born in a stable. But today I want to begin our meditation on Christ by going back; way back; all the way back to the beginning. The Bible starts this way: ‘in the beginning God…’ and I want to go back at least that far, to stand together on the brink of eternity, to peer back into eternity past and see if we can get a glimpse of who Jesus is.

We have Jesus’ own warrant for asking who he was before he was born, because he is the one who said things like ‘the Father has sent me’ and ‘before Abraham was I AM’ and ‘I and the Father are one’ and ‘Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.’ We’ll start with some of these statements that Jesus made about himself, and then we’ll look at the testimony of the apostles about the identity of Jesus, and we’ll take just a moment to look back into Old Testament prophecy to see confirmation about who this child is. We’ll be looking at large chunks of several texts and I want God’s word to speak for itself, so I’d like you to follow along in your bibles.

Let’s begin by looking at some of Jesus ‘ own words in the Gospel of John:

John 5:16-19 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

God created the world in 6 days, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” [Gen.2:2]. God rested from his work of creating the world, but he has never taken a break from maintaining and sustaining the universe that he had made. That’s what Jesus is referring to when he says “My Father is working until now”, and then he adds, as justification for why he was doing mighty works on the Sabbath “and I am working.” If we are ever confused by what Jesus says, the Jews let us know exactly how we should understand him:

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise… 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

Jesus claims to do everything the Father does. Whatever God the Father does, I can do too. And to clarify what kinds of things he’s talking about, he gives a concrete example: giving life. Jesus here claims to be the life giver. Jesus can grant life according to his own sovereign will. But he goes on:

…23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Jesus claims to deserve the same honor that the Father deserves. This is a stunning claim! Not secondary honor, not even slightly less honor, but the very same honor. In fact, Jesus says that if you don’t honor the Son with the very same level of honor that the Father deserves, you are dishonoring the Father. Jesus demands the worship that the Father deserves, and when we read the gospels, we see on several occasions that he gladly receives worship as God.

John 8:14-24 Jesus answered “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going… 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me. 23 He said to then, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM he you will die in your sins (cf.13:9; 14:10)

Jesus claims to know where he came from and where he is going. I know where I came from – I was born in Minnesota and I came from my mother and father. I had no existence before God knit me together in my mother’s womb. Jesus claims to have been sent from the Father – to be from above. As it says in Luke 1:35 …”The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.”

John 8:53-59 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, He is our God.’ …56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Jesus again claims to receive glory or honor – this time glory from God his Father. The question of the Jews is the question we should be asking – who do you make yourself out to be? And we should receive Jesus’ testimony about himself and the Father’s testimony about Jesus – ‘before Abraham was I AM.’ Here Jesus clearly claims to predate Abraham – in fact he identifies himself as the self-existent one – YHWH – the great I AM. The Jews got it – they picked up stones to throw at him. Any mere man making the claims that Jesus made would be blaspheming and worthy of immediate execution.

John 10:27-33 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

Jesus here claims again to be the life-giver. And he claimed to be one with the Father. The Jews again clarify what Jesus was claiming – ‘you, being a man, make yourself God.’

John 17:3-5,24 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. …24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Here, in Jesus’ prayer to his Father, he claims that eternal life consists in knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ. Eternal life isn’t a place, and it isn’t defined by length, but by being in the presence of the Holy One. And Jesus puts himself right beside the only true God – eternal life is knowing the only true God and knowing Jesus Christ. Then Jesus requests that his pre-existent glory be restored. “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Jesus is the glorious one that will satisfy our deepest longings.

Revelation 1:4-8 …Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so, Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Here we probably have a reference to the triune God – The Father, the Spirit and the Son. Eternal glory and dominion are here attributed to Jesus, and the Lord God claims to be the Alpha and Omega – the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet – ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’ Then, down in verse 17, Jesus claims to be the first and the last when he says:

Revelation 1:17 …”Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. ‘

In chapter 3, Jesus claims to be victorious and seated on his Father’s throne in glory.

Revelation 3:21-22 “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Then in Revelation 22, Jesus says:

Revelation 22:12-13, 16 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” …16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright and morning star.”

Here, Jesus clearly claims to be the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. And he claims to be not only the descendant of David, but the root of David – the source from which David came – predating David.

So Jesus claimed to be the eternal all glorious pre-existent self existent one, sent from the Father, equal to and one with his Father and worthy of the same honor as the Father. Let’s look now at the Apostolic testimony about Jesus. We’ll start back at the beginning of the gospel of John.

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. ..9-10 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. he was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. …14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ “) …18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

The Word is identified in verse 14 as the one who became flesh and dwelt among us – Jesus, the only Son from the Father. This verse begins the same way Genesis 1:1 does – ‘in the beginning…God’ but it draws our attention backward. Genesis starts at the beginning and moves forward with what God did in creation. John brings us to the beginning and points us to who was already there. The Word, Jesus was in the beginning. It doesn’t say that he came to be – he simply was – he existed. He is the self-existent one.

And he was with God in the beginning. Here is the distinction between Jesus and the Father. Jesus is not the Father and the Father is not Jesus. Jesus was with his Father. They are two distinct persons each with his own mind, emotions and will; two centers of consciousness. It is because of this truth that we can say God is love. There can be real communication, real affection, real relationship, real enjoyment of one another, true intimacy. And this is before God said ‘let us create’.

In the beginning the Word was, and the the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Here is the unity of the trinity – there is only one God. Three distinct persons or centers of consciousness, one self-existent uncreated creator of all things. God, the ultimate existence or being has for all eternity existed as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

John here claims that Jesus, the Word, is the Word that spoke all things into existence, and he is the source and origination of life and light. This passage, like the others we are glancing at, are worthy of a hundred sermons, but today we will keep moving.

Colossians 1:13-20 …to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Here Paul says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. If we want to know what God is like, we can look to Jesus, who is God with flesh and blood on. Firstborn of all creation does not mean that Jesus was the first created thing – the rest of the verse prevents us from drawing that conclusion. Jesus is the creator of all things – both the visible and invisible, in fact every authority that exists. In fact not only is he the creator of all things physical and all things spiritual, but he gives meaning to all things – all things exist ‘for him’. All creation, visible and invisible exist for the pleasure of Jesus. All things that exist exist to bring him praise. But he goes on – he is before all things. So he cannot be the first thing created among many – before anything existed he existed – he is the self-existent one. Firstborn points more to the position of primacy or preeminence than it does to the event of birth. And the concept of birth in the word sets him apart from creation. The relation of Jesus to God is more like that of a son to his father; not creature to creator. The Father and Spirit and Son together created all things. And these verses tell us that it is Jesus who is holding all things together. When Jesus told the Pharisees that “my Father is working until now and I am working”, there was more to what he said than simply that he was doing mighty works on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees had no idea that it was Jesus who was at that very moment holding together the protons, neutrons and electrons that made up every atom of their bodies. The point is that in everything he might be preeminent. In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. This is human language groping for other ways to express this great truth – Jesus was not partial deity; he did not become God; he was not a human that had deity grudgingly granted to him. Jesus is all the fullness of God pleased to dwell in a human body.

Hebrews 1:1-4 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Jesus receives honor from his Father. He is the crowning act of God’s communication to us, and everything is for Jesus – he is appointed heir of all things. It is through Jesus that God created the world. It is Jesus that displays the glory and nature of God to us, so that if we want to understand what God is like, we can look to Jesus for an accurate display of his character. Oh, and by the way, Jesus is upholding the universe by the word of his own power. That’s who Jesus is!

There’s so much more that could be said, but let’s conclude by looking at just two Old Testament prophesies that point to the identity of who the Christ was before he was born.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

The virgin birth – that Jesus did not have a physical human father – is essential to Christianity. Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin by the Holy Spirit. The name he was to be given displayed his true identity – Immanuel means ‘God with us’.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

A child is born – that’s part of the truth of Christmas – but we must understand the other part – to us a son is given. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son’. His Son given – Mighty God, one with the Father, the eternal all glorious self-existent one, who is worthy of all the glory that the Father is worthy of, this dearly loved eternal companion of the Father was sent to be born, sent to live a perfect life in our place. Sent to be beaten and bruised and abused. Sent to die in our place so that we could be given the infinitely valuable gift of eternal life – life that consists in knowing this all glorious God, knowing this Jesus!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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November 29, 2009 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 1:19-21; Pay Attention to the Prophetic Word

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091115_2peter1_19-21.mp3

11/15 2 Peter 1:19-21 Pay Attention to the Prophetic Word

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 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,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 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.

Peter is writing into a situation where false teachers were denying the future literal coming of Jesus as judge and king to rule and reign. They were advocating a disregard of moral restraint because this talk of a king coming on a white horse with a sword is mere fairy tale, and we are much to sophisticated to believe that sort of thing. They would reject as myth things like 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, where Paul says:

2 Thessalonians 1:7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

That’s just the sort of thing that someone would make up to scare you into listening to them and doing what they tell you to do.

Peter is arguing that a life lived in earnest pursuit of holiness really does matter; and it should be motivated by the expectation of the return of Jesus and the hope of entrance into his eternal kingdom. His first line of argument went like this: ‘No, Jesus really is coming again as judge and king, we can say this with confidence because we were eyewitnesses of the transfiguration; where God the Father installed Jesus as that coming messianic King who will rule and judge the nations. We were at his coronation ceremony. We were there for his inauguration. God himself sealed it with his own words.’

In verses 19-21, Peter lays out his second line of reasoning why we know for sure that Jesus really is coming back and living a life of godliness really does matter. We have the prophetic word – the Old Testament – that all points to Jesus the coming King, and that word is ratified by the installation of Jesus as king on the mount of transfiguration. Peter says that we do well to pay attention to it – it is a lamp to light our way until Jesus comes back. We must pay close heed because the word is not the product of human invention but rather it is divine communication. Peter points us here to our bibles. He wants us to keep our noses in them and to base our lives on them. He gives us great insight into the origin and intention of our bibles. Let’s look at what he has to say.

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 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.

The prophetic word; We have clarification on what this phrase means in verse 20, where the ‘prophetic word’ is referred to as ‘prophecy of Scripture’ or ‘prophetic writing’. For Jesus, ‘It is written’ was decisive in any argument. In Judaism, all of Scripture was considered prophetic. The singular refers to all Old Testament writings as a unity pointing to the coming Messiah.

More sure; The NASB has “So we have the prophetic word made more sure” and the NIV has “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain”; The ESV has “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word”. There is a subtle difference in the understanding of the original phrase that is represented by the different translations. What is clear is that the prophetic word is absolutely sure. The question is; does the transfiguration make the prophetic word more certain, or is the prophetic word said to be more certain than even the eyewitness accounts of the transfiguration? If you have a healthy respect for the scriptures you might opt for the second choice and ask ‘how can the scriptures be made more sure by any experience? – they are absolutely sure in themselves’. And I think Peter would agree, but his grammar points to the idea that the prophetic word is made more certain or confirmed by the transfiguration event. Not that scripture cannot stand without external testimony; it can. The scriptures are trustworthy because of what they are and who they come from, as Peter will make explicit in the next verses. But here he is saying that they are demonstrated trustworthy in that we actually saw the fulfillment of the prophecies unfold before our eyes. This is not the first time Peter has used this word ‘made more sure’. In verse 10, he tells us to “be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure” – and in that context it raises some of the same questions.. We cannot change what was done in the hidden councils of God before time began, but we can validate that decision and demonstrate that we are elect by doing what elect people do (and that starts by embracing Jesus). Just as my life demonstrates what (or whose) I am, the unfolding of prophetic events does not make the bible more trustworthy, but it demonstrates and puts on display what it inherently is.

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

And here Peter gets to his main instruction for us. Pay attention! Pay attention to the prophetic word! Pay attention to your bibles! There is a note of encouragement here – you do well to pay attention – so keep it up! Don’t waylaid by false teachers who would turn you aside from studying and believing and obeying your bibles.

Peter compares the word of God to a lamp shining in a dark place. The word is compared to a light in Psalms and Proverbs:

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

If you’ve ever been in a really dark place you understand the importance of a reliable light. There was a system of caves a few blocks from our college campus that I and some of my friends enjoyed exploring. I got to be relatively familiar with the small winding passageways. There was a tight entrance that opened into a large room with the ceiling covered in bats. Then there was a low crawl-way that led to another large room with many small tunnels leading in different directions. Once past the crawl-way there was no natural light that filtered in. Turn off your flashlight and there was absolute darkness. We would inch along on our bellies through these tight tunnels. On one expedition, we took some novice classmates in to explore, and half our little group lost interest and decided to turn around and head out while I and a friend wanted to continue. After the novices were out of earshot, I suggested that we hurry and take a turn in the tunnel we were in which I knew led back to the first room, where we would wait in the dark to terrify our novice friends. But in the rush to beat them out, we missed the critical turn and several hours later realized our little joke was on us. We had brought extra lights, but it was still sobering to see our flashlight beams dim as the batteries wore down. I enjoy the challenge of exploration, but the thought of trying to find our way groping in the pitch blackness was somehow not appealing. Our lights held up and we were able to eventually find our way out. But once we climbed out in broad daylight, our trusty lights that had served us so well in the winding little passageways were now completely irrelevant. Their weak beams were drowned out in the overwhelming light of the sun.

Peter tells us ‘pay attention to the prophetic word – it is a lamp shining in a dark place. But Peter has the end firmly in view. He uses that hope-filled word ‘until‘. As Isaiah predicted:

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. (c.f. Matthew 4:16)

We dwell in a land of deep darkness. The word of God lights our path. But one glorious day, the light will dawn.

Isaiah 60:1Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Revelation 22:5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

But until – until that day when we look up from our bibles to see Jesus face to face. Until then ‘your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Ps.119:105); I find my delight in your commandments, which I love (Ps.119:47); Every word of God proves true (Prov.30:5); All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable (2Tim.3:16); whatever was written in former times was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom.15:4). Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture (1Tim.4:13).

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 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.

Peter wants us to know something that is of critical importance. In a day when false teachers are undermining the word of God, it is essential that we understand the nature of the Scriptures. It is somewhat ironic to me that in a verse that says ‘no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation, there is a great variety of interpretation as to what exactly Peter meant by the words he chose. The two main views are represented in these different translations:

20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, (NKJV)

20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. (NIV)

The King James Version represents the standard Roman Catholic interpretation, and the NIV represents the standard Protestant understanding. The Catholic church would say that this verse refers to the interpretation by Christians of the written word. The scriptures are not to be put into the hands of the common people, because they are not authorized to interpret them correctly. The scriptures must be interpreted by the Church, not private individuals.

The historic Protestant response was to say that this verse has nothing to do with modern day biblical interpretation; what this verse is talking about is the process of writing the Scriptures; the prophet’s interpretation of historical events or his dreams or visions was not his own invention.

Some modern day Evangelicals (Schreiner, Piper) have taken the first interpretation that this refers to present day biblical interpretation and taken this to mean not that the scriptures can only be handled correctly by the Pope, but that the scriptures are not open to any personal whim of interpretation. You can’t make a verse mean whatever you want it to mean. It has a definite meaning intended by its Author.

Although there is not a shred of evidence in these verses to point to the church as the official interpreter of Scripture, both of the evangelical views have been defended by good men. And both represent a correct understanding of Scripture. The bible did not originate by the prophet’s own invention, and the bible does not leave its meaning open to every reader to be manipulated into whatever shape they fancy. Words mean things and there is one right and many wrong interpretations. But in the flow of this passage, the focus is on the origin and authenticity of the prophetic word, not on its current interpretation. When the prophets spoke of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, they were not throwing around their own opinions of what their visions and dreams meant. He goes on to explain:

21 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.

Genuine prophecy was never borne along by the human will. This is where false prophecies came from:

Jeremiah 23: 16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.”’ …26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?

Notice there is a moral (or immoral)aspect to prophecy – they say ‘it will be well with you’ to those who despise the word of the Lord. This is exactly what the false teachers were doing in Peter’s day, and this is why Peter highlighted the moral responsibility of genuine believers.

No prophecy was carried along by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. This is why you do well to pay careful attention to the prophetic word – because it has its origin in God. Yes, men spoke – there was a human element to the prophetic word. Moses and Jeremiah and Isaiah and Daniel and David were all unique individuals with distinct personalities and styles that come through in their respective writings, but they spoke from God. And they spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The word ‘carried along’ is also used in Acts of a ship being driven by the wind:

Acts 27: 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. … 17 …Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along.

This is also the word used in verses 17-18 of the voice carried or borne from heaven to bestow honor and glory on the Son.

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was carried to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice carried from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever carried out by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit blows men along to speak from God in such a way that the author of Hebrews can quote Psalm 95 and say:

Hebrews 3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,

And then again quoting the same passage, he can say:

Hebrews 4:7 again he [God] appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

So the mighty coming of the Lord Jesus Christ was attested by the voice of God the Father himself when he installed Jesus as King on his holy mountain; and his powerful coming is attested by all of Scripture which originated in God as he impelled men to write by his Holy Spirit. So pay attention! Jesus is coming back! Pay attention to the prophetic word! Pay attention so that there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1:11). Pay attention when the prophetic word commands that you make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. You will do well to pay attention to God’s word which is a lamp shining in a very dark place. Pay attention, because the day is ready to break!

November 15, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 1:16-18; Eyewitnesses of His Majesty

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091108_2peter1_16-18.mp3

11/08 2 Peter 1:16-18 Eyewitnesses of His Majesty

10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 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,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Peter is holding out to us precious and very great promises as incentive to make every effort to grow in godly character. He insists that we be all the more diligent to make our calling and election sure by practicing these qualities. He tells us that if we lack these qualities we are so focused on the present that we are blind – having forgotten that we have been cleansed from our former sins. Peter is making every effort to put down a permanent record before he dies that will serve as an enduring reminder to stir us up to a pursuit of godly living. He tells us that if we practice these qualities we will never fall, and in this way there will be richly provided for us entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Peter is warning us that if we don’t grow in holiness, we may have no part in the promises, we demonstrate that we are not part of his elect, called out people, we will ultimately fall, and we will not gain entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter knows that the false teachers would scoff at this motivation for holy living.. The false teachers were denying Jesus and following their own sensuality. They were saying things like

“Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” [3:4].

They would argue that the ‘eternal kingdom’ is simply a fairy tale invented to control people with fear and manipulate behavior. There is no eternal kingdom and there is no coming judgment. Jesus is not coming back and you will not have to answer to him. You have been set free by his grace, so you are free to pursue your desires and live in whatever way that you see fit.

Peter has said that God has provided everything we need for life and godliness. Eternal life and godliness are a package deal. You can’t have one without the other. The false teachers would argue that eternal life is a fairy tale so there is no need for a godly life. Peter’s first defense of a life in earnest pursuit of holiness motivated by the hope of entrance into the eternal kingdom goes like this: ‘No, Jesus really is coming again as judge and king, we can say this with confidence because we were eyewitnesses of the transfiguration’. This may sound like strange logic at first, but lets look at what he says and we will see how it fits together.

Peter says that he is making every effort to put down in writing for future generations the apostolic testimony to the truth of the life-transforming good news of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Peter feels urgency to make a written record because he is one of a small group of eye-witnesses, and he will shortly be putting away his tent. Peter says ‘we did not follow cleverly devised myths’. This is a response to the accusation of the false teachers. The apostles were just followers of fables and fairy tales. These are crafty cunning myths, because they are designed to manipulate behavior and subject people to their authority. If you can get people to believe that Jesus is coming back and everyone will stand before him as judge and ‘give an account of every careless word’ [Matt.12:36] that has compelling power to control behavior. Peter flatly denies that the apostles were followers of myth. Instead, they were eyewitnesses of his majesty. The facts were not manipulated and handed down to them; they saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears the historic event. False teacher seek to undermine the gospel message by attempting to disprove the historicity of the bible. So-called ‘Christian’ liberals who are educated beyond their intelligence have attempted to deny the historicity of some of the biblical narrative, while holding on to the religious teaching. The stories of the Old Testament and of Jesus are fables designed to teach truth. They are not meant to be believed as literal historical events. They are simply a literary device used to communicate morals. If that were true, the bible would be teaching by example that lying is a great virtue. The problem for the liberal is that the historical narrative and the theological truths are inextricably woven together. And the bible has over and over and over again proven itself to be the most reliable historical document that exists.

Peter says we were not following myths; we were eyewitnesses. The content of the message that is in dispute is ‘the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’. ‘Coming’ when used of Jesus in the New Testament is a term that is used exclusively for the future coming of Jesus in power and glory:

Matthew 24:3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

These two words ‘power and coming’ could be translated ‘the powerful coming’ or ‘the mighty coming’; his ‘coming in power’.

2 Thessalonians 1:7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Notice Peter says ‘we’. Peter identifies himself with the rest of the apostles. We all teach the same message. When we were teaching you about the future return of Christ in power and glory, we were not passing on myths; we were passing on what we had observed first hand. He stands shoulder to shoulder with the others who were also eyewitnesses together with him. And they were eyewitnesses of his majesty; his power and coming. If we look at the account of the transfiguration in all the synoptic gospels, we see that in each one, the promise that they would not ‘taste death until they had seen the kingdom of God after it has come with power’ (Mk.9:1) comes directly before the fulfillment on the mountain.

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

So the transfiguration of Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise that these disciples would see the Son of Man coming in power and glory.

…we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 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,”

Here’s how Matthew records it:

Matthew 17:4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” [c.f. Mk. 8:38-9:9; Lk. 9:26-36]

Peter and James and John were eyewitnesses of his divine majesty. And they were ear-witnesses of the honor given him by the Father. Peter doesn’t bother to mention here that the voice of the Majestic Glory interrupted his own blubbering. This was no deep resonant James Earl Jones movie voice. This was the voice of God himself that caused these three grown men to be terrified and fall on their faces. And what the Father said was ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’. If we are unfamiliar with the Old Testament, we might miss the significance of these words. God is using the words of Psalm 2:

Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

This is a Psalm describing the installation of the messianic king on his royal and judicial throne. Jesus is the one whom God set on his holy mountain and declared to be his Son and King. We can also see a connection to Isaiah 42:

Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Jesus is the only begotten Son and King, as well as the servant (in Isaiah, the suffering servant, who will be wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities [Is.53:5]); the chosen servant in whom my soul delights. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”. Jesus received honor and glory from God the Father – this is yet another indication that Jesus is indeed one with the Father –very God of very God; because just a few verses later in Isaiah, God says:

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

And yet Jesus receives glory and honor from God the Father. His Majesty received glory and honor from the Majestic Glory.

Peter takes this historical event that he personally witnessed, and says that the future coming in power of Jesus is not a fairy tale or myth, because God the Father has already installed Jesus as that coming messianic King who will rule and judge the nations. We were at his coronation ceremony. We were there for his inauguration. God himself sealed it with his own words. The authority for the certainty of the future coming of Jesus to reign and judge is the authority of the very voice of God the Father. We didn’t make this stuff up. ‘we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain’. You false teachers can set yourselves against the Lord and against his anointed, but God is laughing at you, and he will speak to you in his wrath and terrify you in his fury, because he has established his King on his holy mountain. Jesus is King and he is coming and he will inflict vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 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,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 8, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 1:12-15; Reminding the Established

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091101_2peter1_12-15.mp3

11/01 2 Peter 1:12-15 Reminding the Established

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self–control, and self–control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Intro:

Peter knows he is going to die soon. Jesus told Peter:

John 21:18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter, now an old man (60’s), is in prison in Rome under the maniacal emperor Nero, awaiting his execution. Peter knows he has little time left in this world, so he evaluates how best to spend his remaining days to the glory of God. It’s interesting what Peter doesn’t do – he doesn’t pick a new pope or call a council to appoint a new apostle. He doesn’t say ‘I’ve worked long and hard and now I am going to rest and retire, take a break and enjoy my last few moments. Instead he takes pen and parchment and drafts the document that we now today, 2000 years later hold in our hands. And we can say ‘thank you Peter for running the race with endurance to the very end and leaving us a legacy that we can learn from and be blessed and encouraged by’.

Purpose:

Us studying this letter 2000 years later is no accident. This is exactly what Peter intended to do; he says ‘I intend always to remind you of these qualities; to stir you up by way of reminder; I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.’ Peter intended that this document be a reminder long after he was gone to stir us up and to keep us from straying. And the issue is urgent. Peter’s concern was not peripheral. Peter doesn’t waste his last words on some side issue of the Christian faith. He is talking about the main thing – entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and the alternative of non-entrance or access denied. As Jesus taught:

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The issue on Peter’s heart is our final rescue from God’s righteous wrath forever. He wants to remind us and stir us up by way of reminder. At the end of his letter he expresses his concern:

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

Paul said the same thing about his writings:

Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

The apostle John also talks this way in his writings:

1 John 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, …24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.

I write, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, to encourage you to abide in it and to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. To write the same things to you is safe for you. We need to be reminded so that we will stand firm and not stray.

Paul wanted to preach the gospel to the believers in Rome:

Romans 1:15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. …for it is the power of God for salvation to believers.

Romans 1:12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

Who, Me?

Notice who Peter is addressing so you don’t tune this out and think ‘I don’t need this’. He is not writing only to brand new believers that do not yet have their feet firmly planted in the truth of the gospel. He is not writing to flaky Christians who don’t have a firm grasp of basic bible doctrine. He says ‘though you know them and are established in the truth that you have’. Peter thinks that established people, people with a good understanding of theology and biblical truth need to be reminded. I can think of a few people that really need to hear this message. My inclination is to think that these truths are great for people who are immature in the faith and don’t yet know all the things that I know. I was in a good Christian church the week after I was born and attended bible camp before I was one year old. I learned to read out of the King James Bible. My parents taught me the truths of the bible from day one. I was learning bible stories from the flannel-graph every Sunday of my life. I embraced Jesus as my Savior when I was seven years old. I went on a mission trip to Europe and I’ve done lots of evangelism. I went to bible college. I’ve served in churches for some 15 years. I even pastor this church! Certainly I of all people am established in the truth that I have and don’t need any reminders. Peter says, ‘No, you’re the one I’m talking to. You who are established in the truth you already have – you need to be stirred up by way of reminder so that you don’t lose your stability and make shipwreck of your faith. You must make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. You must be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure. IF you practice these qualities you will never fall. You must never become so blind that you forget that you were cleansed from your former sins.’ This is why we gather as the church every Sunday. This is why we must stay connected throughout each week. This is why every one of us must be daily reading and studying our bibles, spending time in meditation and prayer. ‘Yeah, but I’ve heard it all before.’ If I have any degree of spiritual maturity, I will recognize that I need regular reminders from my brothers and sisters to spur me on in my walk with Jesus. To say that I can do it on my own is evidence of arrogance, foolishness, rebellion and immaturity. John says ‘I write to you …because you know the truth’ Paul says ‘to write the same things.. is safe for you’. That means that it would be unsafe to live without constant reminders. None of us have outgrown the need for reminders.

Salvation by Works?

Peter reminds us to make every effort; to supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love; to constantly increase in these qualities; to be all the more diligent; to never forget; to be effective and fruitful; to practice these qualities; to make your calling and election sure. How is this not salvation by works? That all sounds like we are the ones making it happen. If we fail to do all this work, we don’t gain entrance into the eternal kingdom. That certainly sounds like we are earning our own salvation.

But it only sounds that way if we dislodge these verses from their context. In the context of the chapter, our effort is the required response to what God has already done. He granted us the faith, he poured out grace and peace on us, he has given us everything we need for life and godliness, he called us and he has given us great and precious promises that he must fulfill. We have in this chapter a beautiful interplay between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. God is the main actor and the initiator, we are the recipient and the responder, but our response is not optional. He calls; we must answer that call. He creates new life in us, but we must walk in the newness of that life. He overcomes our hard rebellious hearts and gives us a new heart that is inclined toward God, but we must love God with that heart. He removes our blindness and gives us eyes to see him for who he is, but we must look with amazement and affection on him who loved us and gave himself up for us. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness and we must make every effort to live a godly life. In this way, our response, our effort, is essential, but it is not to our credit. I can’t do what is required of me and then say ‘there, I did it.’ That’s not how the bible talks. Here’s how Paul puts it:

Colossians 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

We do not work in order to earn God’s favor; we work because we have been given God’s favor. We do not attempt to reflect God’s nature so that he will want to adopt us; he has caused us to be born again so that we naturally reflect his character. I must make every effort with all diligence, but I am only able to make that effort because he has already given me everything I need for life and godliness. I must supplement faith with fruit, because God’s Spirit is bearing his fruit in my life. I must toil; I must struggle; I must work, yet it is not I, but the grace of God that he powerfully works within me.

We are to make our calling and election sure, but it is

1 Peter 5:10 …the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Peter’s departure

Peter knew what it meant to be a recipient of undeserved grace and to have his faith upheld by the sovereign hand of God:

Luke 22:32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

So Peter is at the end of his life, and he pictures his body as a tent – a temporary dwelling place that he is about to take off like an old winter coat and put away. Peter is practicing what he preaches. He has told us to make every effort to supplement our faith with love, and now he is making every effort to do what he knows is right, what he knows to be the highest good for us whom he loves – to stir us up, to slap us awake by way of reminder. And he will make every effort to put down a permanent record so that even long after his departure, or literally his exodus, we today may be able to recall with accuracy these things.

The Truth

He refers to the content of the message as ‘the truth that you have’. Peter believes that there is such a thing as truth – real objective factual information – true truth – that we must know, and that we must embrace and remember. The truth is simply the gospel message

Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Colossians 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,

The truth of the gospel is not only to be known and understood, but obeyed:

Galatians 5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

The truth is not only to be believed and obeyed, but loved and embraced

2 Thessalonians 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. …12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

Our manner of life is to be shaped by what we believe; the truth of the gospel must transform our attitudes and actions:

2 John 1:4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.

What is the word of truth, the gospel?

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross …is the power of God.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures

And this is what Peter is devoted to seeing in us. He wants us to remember what we know and be what we are. He wants us to see and remember and love and embrace and reflect on and live out the truth of the gospel.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 1, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment