Godliness and the Word of Christ - Radical

Godliness and the Word of Christ

God’s Word is a divine revelation that tells of a coming king who will judge the world in righteousness and will save those who take refuge in him. In this message on 2 Peter 1:12–21, Bart Box tells us the world stands in rebellion against God’s king and the king stands in judgment against all rebellion.

  1. We should hear the Word as certain news.
  2. We should hear the Word as saving news.
  3. We should hear the Word as sustaining news.

Well, good morning. Let me invite you to take your Bibles and open them to 2 Peter 1:16, 2 Peter 1:16. This morning we are going to continue looking at the Book of 2 Peter. Last week we looked at godliness and the Kingdom of Christ and what we saw is that a godly life is not the earning of salvation. We talked about that in verse 3 in particularly. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness and so a godly life, godly life is not the earning of salvation but it is one way of seeing that salvation truly belongs to us. So godliness isn’t the basis of our salvation but it is one way that God shows us that we indeed have been changed by His grace. I say one way because obviously, there are other ways in scripture we see, for example, that we can have the witness of the Holy Spirit. We ought to see, are we trusting in Christ, even now. It is not the only way, but indeed, it is one way that we see that God is at work in our life if we see progress in godliness.

And what you see is Peter is writing to really a mixed congregation and in fact, really, all congregations are mixed. Jesus talked about “wheat and tares” in the Gospels. He is writing to a mixed congregation, he knows there are some that are straying, there are some that are struggling, there are some that are strong and so he is writing to make sure that they persevere into eternal life and that’s, that’s really what you see in verse 13, it’s kind of the bridge and that is why I put it at the top of your notes on your page.

You see verse 13 that Peter says, “I think it is right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder.” And so Peter is intentionally trying to stir these believers up to eternal life. And one of the ways that he is going to do that is by driving us to the Word of Christ this morning.

I want you to look with me if you would in 2 Peter 1:16–21, Peter writes, “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.” You will see that a number of times, “eye-witnesses”, they were eye-witnesses, ear-witnesses, they saw and beheld the glory of God, how did they do that? Well, verse 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,’ we ourselves…” [He is speaking of the apostles there in particular.] “We ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, [or we have] the prophetic word, [more fully confirmed—as some translations said] 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, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 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.”

Would you join me as we pray together? Our Father in Heaven, this morning we come to thank you that you have spoken to us. That you have spoken to us in your Word. And as we come this morning, we do not, we do not come, asking that you would make your Word alive—your Word is alive—rather we pray that you would make us alive to your Word this morning. We ask that you would make us attentive. We pray you would drive away distractions even now. Give us attentive hearts to what you would say to us. Speak to us, we pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

This passage in 2 Peter is probably—2 Peter is kind of an obscure book—but this passage is probably the most well-known of all the passages in 2 Peter. Defenders of the inspiration, the authority, the inerrancy of scripture often point to this particular passage as proof of those particular doctrines along with 2 Peter, excuse me, 2 Timothy 3:16, remember where it says that, that God speaks, or, all Scripture is God-breathed. It is one of the few places in the Bible where we see the Bible talking about the Bible. In other words, what does the Bible say about itself? We see that particularly in verse 20 and 21 and so, there is no doubt that Peter is both defending his message and the message that he has preached that is consistent with what the Word of God says. And so this morning we are going to take some time and we are going to see what the Bible says about the Word of God.

But what I want you to see this morning, in particular, is, is that Peter is not just defending the Bible for sake of the Bible. And what I mean by that is that there are, there are false teachers that have crept in to this congregation. We have talked about that last week. You see it over in chapter three, verse four, there is a pretty good example of the false teachers and what they are, what they are saying. It says, “They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning…” And so they are denying the teaching, the apostolic teaching, the Biblical teaching of the second coming of Christ and we actually see in chapter two if you will look over there in verse one, you will see that they are “denying the Master who bought them, they are bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” Verse two: “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” And so what we see is that Peter is not, as I said, defending the Bible for the sake of the Bible, rather, in these predictive verses, Peter is seeking that the undermining of the Word of God, the undermining of the promise of His coming is a threat, brothers and sisters, to salvation and to our endurance; that the undermining of the coming of Christ is a threat both to salvation and to perseverance in the faith.

In other words, there are going to be some people in this congregation that Peter is writing to and not doubt, in this congregation and in any congregation, when they hear that Jesus isn’t coming, that there is no judgment they are going to be lulled into sleep. They are not going to prepare themselves for the judgment that is to come. And at the same time they are going to be, in congregations, believers who are straying, believers who are struggling, believers who are not adding to their faith virtue as we looked at in chapter one. And Peter is writing to hold out the promise of the coming of Christ as a means of dragging us along, as a means of enticing us to finish the race that God has set before us.

You say, well that’s not the way that we kind of think about it normally. I mean, we think about, we think about perseverance we think about this doctrine about eternal security. Often times we think about that in sort of a mechanical fashion that God has saved us and therefore we will go to heaven and that is absolutely true. If God has saved us, by His grace, by His Son there is no un-saving. We are saved and we are secure. But when we talk about the idea of perseverance there is the idea in scripture that God uses means to accomplish that end. That God entices us, that God brings us along and one of the ways that God increases our faith and one of the ways that God grows us in godliness, one of the ways God makes sure that we endure unto the end is by holding forth this doctrine of the return of Christ.

And so this morning what I want to do is I want to walk you through this passage and I want us to see two things, you see them there in your notes. I want us to see what it is that, what it is the Word of God is, in other words, the Word of God in our hands. What do we have? When we talk about the Word of God or the Word of Christ, what is it that we hold and what does it say? And then I want to ask—I think an equally important passage, an equally important question at least for Peter—and that is why does it matter? Why does it matter if we understand what the Bible is and if we understand what the Bible says? In other words, how does the Bible, how does the Word of God function in your life as you fight for the faith.

The Word in Our Hands

A Divine Revelation in 2 Peter 1:12–21

And so this morning I want us to begin by looking at the Word of God in our hands. Notice (2 Peter 1) verse 16, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then skip down if you will, down to verse 20–21: “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 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.” We notice first that the Word in our hands, you see it there, it kind of outlined it for us, first of all, the Word of God is a divine revelation, that the Word of God is a divine revelation. In other words, it is from God and it is something that we cannot make up, it is something that we cannot produce of our own accord.

Now obviously this is one of the main points of this passage. If you don’t walk away with anything else this morning—that’s always a terrible thing to say as a preacher, like hey, if you get this you can go—no, there are other things that we will say but one of the things that we want to walk away with is that this is the Word of God; that we possess the very words of our God.

Peter says it negatively at the top and then positively down at the bottom. Negatively he says it this way, that “we do not follow cleverly devised myths.” We do not follow cleverly devised myths. The word that is used for “myth” is “mythos” that is why I went to seminary so I could do things like that. Mythos: myth. It is a very difficult construction to make. It is, it is really indeed, the word that is used for Greek mythology, same, think of things like Athena and Hera and Poseidon and Zeus and Apollo. So really a current idea in Greek society – this idea of mythology. And so, Peter says we do not follow cleverly devised myths. Indeed that is, that is how some—not only in Peter’s day, but also in our day—view the Bible.

Mark Twain, a not so great theologian, said that the Bible is a mass of fables and traditions. “The Bible,” he said, “is mere mythology.” There may be some of you here this morning who, who once understood the Bible that way or maybe there are people even today who still understand the Bible as a book of mythology. After all, you think about the Bible talks about things like, like talking snakes and a worldwide flood and seas that part and walls that fall down with music and a man who was swallowed by a fish and ultimately, supremely, a man who rises from the dead after three days.

Some have claimed that the Bible is just a myth. They say, if you just, if you just kind of get the idea, it’s not really the facts, it’s not really the history that is behind it that’s so important, it’s just the moral behind it. If you just get the big picture, you don’t have to worry about the details.

But Peter makes an astonishingly different claim. He said, “We did not follow cleverly devised myths.” In other words, what we say and what we believe hangs on history, whether it happened or whether it didn’t. He said, “We did not follow cleverly devised myths.” Rather, instead, he said we adhere to divinely inspired truth. We don’t follow myth, rather we adhere to truth. Notice what he said there again in (2 Peter 1) verse 21, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man.” I think what he means there in verse 20 and 21, I think he is saying that in the Old Testament when a prophecy was given, it wasn’t just the idea that a prophecy was given, I mean, there was a vision given and the interpretation was given. So, from first to last, the very vision and the interpretation, all of it was secured by God, such that he says, “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God”. I want you to notice that phrase, “…but men spoke from God.”

There are two things that I think Peter is obviously communicating to us, one: that men really did speak. It really was Jeremiah and Amos and Obadiah and Matthew; men really spoke, they wrote, they thought, they remembered, they reasoned, they argued, they erased—well they didn’t have erasers—but they, they crossed out, I mean, they really did sit down and they wrote documents. They spoke. But he doesn’t just say that men spoke rather he says that “men spoke from God.”

When he says there that “they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” it is the same word—if you want to cross-reference—it is the same word that is used in Acts 27:15 and Acts 27:17 when it is talking about the ship that Paul was in was “carried along” by the wind. It is the same idea here in 2 Peter 2, that “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” such that, brothers and sisters, when we come to the Word of God whether it is in our daily reading, whether it is when we hear it quoted, whether it is when we hear it this morning: read, or when we hear it preached, we are hearing the very words of God.

Martin Luther said this, he said, “The magnificence of the Word of God is never-ending and indescribable. We can never thank God enough for the Word. Human reason thinks this. Oh, I would walk to the end of the earth if only I could hear the Lord, our Creator, here upon the earth.” He said, “Hear dear brother, God the Creator of Heaven and Earth does talk to you. He talks to you through His Word and the Word of God is not to be compared to the words of Plato or Aristotle or any other but rather God Himself speaks.”

You think about, you think about this in the context of this letter. Peter is saying that there are eternal issues at stake. Whether one spins, whether one gains, it says in verse eleven, gains entrance into the king, eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ or whether they do not, and by implication, they die and they go to Hell and Peter says, we need something that is more sure. We don’t need cleverly devised myths; we have the Word of God. Eternity is at stake then and eternity is at stake this morning and we have God speaking on it. He said, “We don’t follow cleverly devised myths.” The Word of God is a divine revelation.

2 Peter 1:12–21 Tells of a Coming King

That begs the question, what is in the Bible? What does the Bible say? And Peter kind of, in these verses, I think, kind of walks us through in some sense what exactly the Bible says. It’s certainly not comprehensive. There is a lot more than what Peter says here but I want you to notice here that Peter says that the Bible, the Word of God, it is a divine revelation that speaks then or tells of a coming King.

One thing that the Bible does, the Bible tells of a coming King. Notice 2 Peter 1:16, I think we see it clearest, most clearly in verse 16 there, he says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known [notice what he says] when we made known to you [he is talking about when he came and he preached the gospel then, no doubt, when others, the Apostles came, they preached the gospel, he said] when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I want you to think about this. I have told you before, that I was a bit of a prophecy nut in the past, alright? And I had all the charts and all those kinds of things and I knew more about the state of Israel and the Beast in Daniel than any 18 year old ought to know. I knew all those things. Kind of as a knee-jerk to that, in the years after that, I just kind of avoided those issues and I don’t think that is right either because what we see is that in Peter, in Paul, in all the apostles, central to their proclamation of the gospel, certainly is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, but also central to their proclamation of the gospel is the fact that Jesus will come again and He will establish His kingdom on the earth. And so we see Peter says two things, he says—we will take them together—he says we talk about this coming King we await a personal return and we await a powerful return.

You say, well why, well why did you take those two together; why do you, why do you lump those two ideas of personal and a powerful return together? Because they are so in the text. If you look there again he said, “We made known to you the power and coming….” The word “the” there, the article “the” it encapsulates both of those and so, so it is an idea that is captured together. You might want to, you might translate it, “We made known to you the powerful coming of the Lord.”

And we know that Peter here is not talking about, catch this, he is not talking about the first coming of Christ, you know we could look at it that way and say well when he says that we made known to you the powerful coming of our Lord, well maybe he is talking about, maybe he is talking about the miracles that Jesus did. Maybe he is talking about; maybe he is talking about the preaching of Jesus, it was powerful. Maybe he is talking about Jesus’ dying on the cross, a great demonstration of God’s power. Maybe he is talking about Jesus rising from the dead, a great and awesome display of the power of God. But in fact, we know that he is not talking about the first coming, he is talking about the second coming because the word that is used for “coming” there is used 18 other times in the New Testament and in every single one of them it refers to the second coming of Christ, not the first.

And so, Peter is saying that we came to you and that, and central to what we were saying, central to our message was the idea that Jesus is going to reign one day physically upon the earth, that there will be a powerful coming of Jesus.

You say, well how does he know that? How did, how did Peter have such confidence—how did the rest of the apostles—but how did Peter have such confidence? That he could say that I absolutely know, there is no doubt about it, I would put it on par with the idea with scripture that Jesus is returning again. How did he know that? Well I want you to look at the rest of the verse and I think you’ll see. Look at 2 Peter 1:16, the end of it, he says, but, “We made known to you,” “We did not follow cleverly devised myths… [but rather] we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” The word that is used there for “majesty” is a word that speaks of divinity. It’s a word that speaks of God often in scripture and so “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” He continues, “For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain” (1 Pet. 1:17–18).

What is Peter, what is Peter talking about? He is saying Jesus is coming again, and you know how I know? He is saying I know because I have already seen it. He says I have already seen it in the event that we call the Transfiguration. Now that’s probably not high on our list of events that we know well in the life of Jesus, in fact, most of us if asked what happened in Jesus’ life? You said, well He was born, He grew up, He was baptized at some point, He was tempted in the wilderness, He did a lot of miracles, He did a lot of preaching and then He died on the cross and He was raised from the dead and He ascended to the Father. But tucked away in Matthew, Mark and Luke, is this event known as the Transfiguration.

I’m going to read just, in fact, I want to encourage you turn back if you would to Matthew 17 and I want you to see what Peter is referring to when he, when he says that we heard it and we saw it and, “We were with him on the holy mountain.” I want you to hear and see what it is that Peter heard and Peter saw. Matthew 17, in fact, I want you to back up because I think this is so instructive. You may want to make a note in your Bible. Look at verse 27 of chapter 16 because it is here that we get the context, what’s going on in the Gospel of Matthew. And I would, I would add—we are not going to look at Mark and Luke—but they all proceed in the exact same manner, they all have this exact same context, the same statement of Jesus and then the Transfiguration that follows.

I want you to notice, I want you to notice the context in verse 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. 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” (Matt. 16:27–28). Have you ever read that and thought, what in the world is Jesus saying? I mean, that seems to say, because we know that Jesus hasn’t come back and we know that Peter is not 2,000 years old, he is dead. The apostles have not lived, or so it seems, to the coming of the Son of Man. What does, what does Jesus mean when He says, “There are some standing here [today] who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom?”

He means what follows immediately after, look in chapter 17:1, “And after six days Jesus took with him [notice who is here: Peter our writer] Peter and James, and John [He takes the inner circle here] his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. [And here it is in verse two] And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (Matt. 17:1–2). He goes on to say in verse five that, “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said [notice this], ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified” (Matt. 17:5–6).

What is the Transfiguration teaching us? What is it all about? What is, is this, is this kind of an obscure, isolated event in the life of Jesus, in the life of Peter, James and John? No, the Transfiguration is, to put it kind of in our, in our modern day vernacular, it’s kind of like a, it’s kind of like movie preview or maybe even a movie trailer. You know, when a movie is coming out they will release a couple of clips or release a couple of minutes and it just kind of gives you a foretaste of what is to come, it gives you a glimpse of what is to come in that movie.

In the very same way, the Transfiguration served for Peter, James and John, as a foretaste, as a glimpse of the coming of the Son of Man in all of His glory and all of His power. A reminder that even though He came first in humility and died upon a cross, His second coming will not be so, rather in His second coming He will be crowned with glory and honor and praise and majesty. He will be shown to be the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus is coming back and He will reign.

The Transfiguration pointed them forward. And it reminded Peter, it reminded the readers that Peter is writing to, that there is coming a day on which Jesus will come to judge the world. Can you imagine the contrast in the minds of Peter’s listeners? Think about those false teachers over there that are saying, hey, you are in Jesus, you kind of got that Jesus thing taken care of, you are good. You are in the community and there is no worries, you are through with Jesus, you don’t have to deal with Jesus anymore; He isn’t coming.

Who Will Judge the World in Righteousness

Contrast that with Peter who says, yes, you may have come into contact with Jesus, you may have dealt with Jesus, but hear me brothers and sisters, there is more of Jesus to deal with yet. There is still more Jesus to come. He is to reign on the earth and indeed, when He comes, He will indeed judge the world in righteousness. He will judge the world in righteousness.

You say, well where do you get that idea? I don’t see anything here in 2 Peter 1; I don’t see anything about the judgment of God, necessarily. Well I want you to notice, I want you to notice—maybe you want to underline this in your Bible or make a note of it in your notes—I want you to look at that phrase in verse 17, ‘This is my Son,” this is what God, obviously we just read it in the Transfiguration account in Matthew 17, but this is what Peter highlights, one of the things that Peter highlights—he doesn’t’ talk necessarily about the white clothes or the face shining, he does though remember or recall for his readers the voice from heaven which says this—”This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” (2 Peter 1:17).

It begs the question, why does Peter quote that? Why does Peter make mention of that particular phrase and maybe not some of the other things? Well, I want to show you, I want you to turn to one other place in your Bible. I want you to turn back to Psalm 2; I want you to turn back if you would to Psalm 2. And I want you to look at where, where this particular phrase, “This is my beloved Son”—now remember this is God saying this—and so what you are going to see is that God is quoting God here. Alright, and so He can do that, alright and He does it perfectly, but what you see in Psalm 2 verse, I want you to look if you would, in verse seven, “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’” Notice that first part, “You are my Son.” It is the same construction that is used in the Transfiguration and the same one that is used in 2 Peter 1:17.

Now what we often do—and this is something that I think this, it will help you I think understand 2 Peter, what he is doing there but also make maybe in the future as you are reading your Bible-one of the things that we do when we see or when we figure out, you know, a New Testament writer is quoting an Old Testament writer, often times we will say, Okay, we will get a cross-reference or we will figure that out somehow and we will go back and we will look and we will look in Psalm 2:7 and we will say, well it says, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Yep, He said it, He quoted it, He got it right; and we will go right back to reading our text.

But one of the things you see over and over in the New Testament is that when they quote an Old Testament passage, often times, not always, but often times it is more than just that verse that they have in mind and so when you have, “This is my beloved Son.” “This is my Son,” it is not only a reference to Psalm 2:7, but rather a reference to the entirety of the Psalm. See what I am saying? So it is not just one verse that is being picked up. When God says to Jesus, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” no doubt all those around Him would have heard, not just that particular verse, but they would recall all of the rest of the Psalm.

And what you see when you begin to pick on that, when you begin to pick that up, you begin to see a couple of things in this Psalm. One: that the world stands in rebellion against God’s King. Psalm 2 teaches us that the world stands in rebellion against God’s King. Look if you would in verse one, “Why do the nations rage,” this is in Psalm 2, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed.”

Now obviously this is a Psalm of David, but it is what is called a Royal Psalm or an Enthronement Psalm. It is a Psalm that they would read when they enthroned a king and what he is saying is all of the world is arrayed in—in David’s time, in Jesus’ time, in Peter’s time and in our day—all of the world is arrayed against God and His Anointed in our sin. And so we see that the world stands in rebellion against God’s King. But at the same time we see that the King stands in judgment against all rebellion.

Look if you would in verse, in verse four of Psalm 2; the same idea, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’ I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Ps. 2:4–7).

You see, when, when God quotes Himself at the Transfiguration, when He quotes Psalm 2:7 and He says, “This is my beloved Son.” What I want you to realize is that is not just, that is not just a cute verse that indicates that the Father liked the Son. It is rather a reminder that God has established His King and His name is Jesus and He will judge the world in righteousness.

It is a reminder that there is coming a day as the Book of Revelation says, a day in which the people will cry out for the rocks to fall on them and to crush them rather than to face the Lamb (Revelation 6:16). It is a day on which 2 Thessalonians 1:8 reminds us that a day in which He will inflict “vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”

2 Peter 1:12–21 Tells Us He Willl Save Those Who Take Refuge in Him

It is a reminder that God will judge the world in righteousness and it is also a reminder that He will save those who take refuge in Him. It is a reminder that God will indeed save those who take refuge in Him.

I want you to look at verse 12 again in Psalm 2 then we will come back to our text. I want you to look at Psalm 2:12, this is one of my favorite verses in all of the Old Testament. Notice what He says, “Kiss the Son…” bow before the Son, love the Son, love the King that God has established. “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.”

Two things that this Psalm teaches us; two things that are, I think are implied when we hear, “this is my beloved Son”, in 2 Peter 1: that we will be spared of His wrath and we will be saved by His death. We will be spared by His, spared of His wrath and will be saved by His death.

The glory of Psalm 2, the glory of the gospel, the glory of the Bible is that the King that God has established has died in the place of sinners, that He has risen from the dead and He offers free and eternal pardon for all those in David’s day, in Jesus’ day, in Peter’s day and in this room this morning. The King offers free pardon for all those who will take refuge in Him. He offers free pardon this morning.

There is a lot of confusion. There is a lot of confusion about the Bible. Some think that it is primarily a book of morals and certainly we can learn morals from the Bible. Some think it’s a book of principles that we learn how to live better in marriage and finances and certainly we can improve our marriage and finances by looking to the Bible. But that’s not the point of the Bible. The point of the Bible is Jesus: crucified, buried, risen again and coming to judge the living and the dead. And if that is so, and I believe it is, if that is so, I think there are at least three things this morning that follow by our way of response. You see them there in your notes.

The Word in Our Hearts

We Should Hear the Word as Certain News

Number one: we should hear this Word as certain news. We should hear the Word as certain news. A few months back, you might remember that a man named Harold Camping made national news about predicting the end of the world, the coming of Christ, the return of Jesus. On May 21st and not to be vague at all, May 21st at 6:00 p.m. In anticipation, it’s said that many of his followers, we know this, purchased billboards of advertisement, they sent the message all across the country, they painted RVs with “May 21st, 6:00 p.m.” rode them all across the country. His foolish prediction gave the world every opportunity that it was already looking forward to, to disparage the message of Christ and to dismiss His coming altogether. News agencies that wouldn’t give Christianity a second thought, suddenly latched onto the story of the return of Christ, said that an Atheist group offered to take care of pets for those who were raptured: but with a fee.

And so the date has come and gone. And maybe you are all too happy to write off the possibility altogether. I don’t know, I don’t know when it will happen. I don’t know in what exact circumstances, I don’t know exactly what it will look like. I only know this: that the law of the Lord is perfect. That men spoke from God, that it is impossible for God to lie and if His Word says that He is coming again, brothers and sisters, book it – He is coming again. And if that is so, if it is certain that He comes, He will come not just for the purpose of display, He will also come for the purpose of judgment. And so it begs the question, does it not, are you ready?

2 Peter 1:12–21 Teaches Us that We Should Hear the Word as Saving News

Peter makes the obvious point in chapter three (2 Peter 3:11), we will look at it in a couple of weeks, he says, in light of all these things “what sort of people ought you to be?” In other words, we are, we are certain that there is a coming of Christ and it ought to affect the way that we live. But, but even more than that, if there is indeed a coming of Christ and He will judge the living and the dead—and there will be no second opportunity, there will be no second chance—are you ready for heaven? Have you trusted in Christ fully for the forgiveness of your sins? We should regard this as certain news. He said we do come to you with cleverly devised myths rather God has spoken once and for all, it is true. Regarded as certain news and also regarded, regarded as saving news.

Listen to verse 19 again: truly the heartbeat of the application. If you say well what is this passage teaching us? Certainly there is, there is doctrine that is taught on the front and the back end, but more than that what, what we, leading into that we see the application verse 19. This is what he is telling us to do, he says, “We have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which [notice the phrase, the first phrase there] to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Pet. 1:19).

I don’t fly a lot, but I have flown a good bit in the past and I am always intrigued by, by the safety presentation at the beginning of the flight. Some of you are chuckling, you don’t listen either. But it’s always amazed me; I thought about this about five or six years ago and ever since then, every single flight I always look around and take note of this—that you have a stewardess, man or woman, whatever, steward, stewardess up there and they are going through the safety instructions. And, and they are talking about really important things, things that can save your life: floatation devices, so you won’t drown; air things, masks—I don’t know what you call them—so you can breathe. Talking about exits there, there, so you can get out in case of fire.

But when they are talking about those things, things that would scare us to death: drowning, burning, suffocating, if you look around you will always see people reading the first thing they can get their hands on, the newspaper they have brought, a magazine they have brought, or that SkyMile thing where you see all those strange inventions. Or, they have got their iPod going so they can’t hear the person at all, they are checking their email—although they should have already turned that off—or they have that gift that I can tell you first hand, our pastor has, to sleep right away, to go and just sit down and go to sleep. If you are talking about things that can save our life, and routinely—and almost across the board, not quite but almost—we just tune them out.

That is the same way that many, particularly here in the South, who by God’s grace have heard the gospel over and over and over and over and many of you this morning who have heard the gospel time and time and time again hear that there is a cataclysmic and catastrophic judgment that is to come and that God has provided only one means of escape: His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sin and is risen again and we routinely tune it out.

Isaiah 55:3 says, “Incline your ear and come to me; hear that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant.” My friend, if you are here this morning and God has caught your attention and He is saying to you “Incline your ear” to what you are reading and what you are hearing. Hear this, Paul said in Acts 16:31, it is this simple, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Don’t; don’t tune out the gospel one more time. Hear the gospel, not only as certain news but as saving news.

We Should Hear the Word as Sustaining News

And then last, I think we see that Peter encourages us to take the gospel, to hear the Word, not only as certain news and saving news but also as sustaining news; to hear the Word as sustaining news. This is where I want to remind us, this is where I want to remind us as the church that the gospel and the news of His coming is not just an evangelistic appeal, it is that, it is at least that. But what I want to remind you of is that the promise of the coming of Christ—and this is what Peter is laboring to show—that the promise of His appearing, the promise of the coming of Christ is not just for lost people, it is for saved people. It is to bring us to, it’s to, for us to fix our eyes on Jesus to fix our eyes on His coming and so to be able to tune the world out in all, in all of its messages.

You say, well what do you mean? Look at verse 19, “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well” (2 Pet. 1:19). And notice, Peter doesn’t just say, here is how you, this is what you will do, you will do well, he tells us how we will do well—in other words, how are we to hear the Word of God this morning. How are we to apply this particular Word. He says you pay attention to it, “as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns [by which he means by the way, the coming of Christ, it is a beautiful way of saying it] until the day dawns and the morning star [which I take to mean Jesus there as well from Numbers 24 as well as Revelation 22] until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

Peter says, you “pay attention to the Word like a lamp shining in a dark place,” the word that is used for “dark place” is a word certainly that does mean dark but it has moral overtones, in other words, it has to do with the idea of sin and of evil and of the persuasion of the world. It is a reminder that we live in a sinful world, that we live among sinful people, that we have a sinful society, sinful patterns of life, sinful attitudes and above all, we have sinful hearts and that the only remedy for that darkness is the promise of Christ. The only remedy for you and me this morning is the promise of Christ.

The world is saying to you this morning, Satan is saying to you this morning: “It’s not true. Has God really said? It’s not true; He’s not really coming back. There is not going to be a judgment, you are not going to answer for all of those sins. It doesn’t matter how you live. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see progress in your life.”

And what Peter is telling us is that the answer is not to pull ourselves up by our ethical bootstraps or to dig deeper into our moral resolve, the answer for us, brothers and sisters, is to hang the lamp of the promise of the return of Christ. To hang that lamp in front of us and to let that light guide us all the way “until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts.” To put the coming of Christ in front of us to let it pull us along by the hope and the promise and the goodness and the righteousness that is to come in and through Jesus.

Piper said it this way, he said, he said, “As we keep our hearts content in the promises of God, we are guarded from sinful allurements and are drawn in on in paths of righteousness into eternal life.” In other words, these, the promise of His coming is, it is the thing that draws us on to eternal life. And he said, “Where are these promises to be found? Where shall you go to fan the flames of your hope?” He said, “Peter’s answer is in verse 19, the prophetic word of scripture, do you need encouragement that the day is really going to dawn, that this life of self-control, of patience, of brotherly affection and of love is leading to glory?” Piper’s advice, Peter’s advice: “Then go to the scriptures: go daily, go long and go deep.”

Brothers and sisters, I want to ask you a question this morning. Is there any, is there any unbelieving way in you? Is there any sin or any set of sins that is besetting you? Is there anything that is causing you to stray in your purity, your pride, your marriage? Do you see, to put it in Peter’s terms, do you see the virtues in 2 Peter 1:6, 7, and 8. Do you see these virtues in Christian, do you see a hunger in your soul for the Word of God? Do you see self-control, do you see steadfastness, do you see godliness on the increase, do you see brotherly affection, do you see love in your heart

If you do not, brothers and sisters, let me encourage you to go to His Word. Go to His Word. Hear of His death in your place, hear of His pardon for sin, hear of His coming again to judge the living and the dead. Hear the promises of Christ. You say, well how long and how often do I have to do that? It just seems that this is just a never-ending thing. Amen and amen! Until the day dawns, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts. Even so, even so, come Lord Jesus.

Bart Box

Bart is the Senior Pastor at Christ Fellowship Church. He is an Alabama native and has lived in the Birmingham area since 2009. Before planting Christ Fellowship Church, Bart served as Pastor for Biblical Training at The Church at Brook Hills.

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