2 Peter 1:3-15
Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
November 10, 2013
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. 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. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, 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.
-- 2 Peter 1:16-21, ESV
My freshman English teacher was Mrs. Lassiter. Her favorite subject was Greek mythology. I secretly loved the class, but I didn’t tell anyone because all the students through Mrs. Lassiter was crazy. She did have very peculiar ways of walking and talking. And when she taught on Greek mythology, she spoke as if she really believed in Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite, and the other gods of Mount Olympus. Surely anyone who really believes in the Greco-Roman gods as a means of explaining the origins of the universe and the meaning of life would have to be a little touched, wouldn’t they?
Today, people like us, who believe in the Judeo-Christian God, who credit Him with the origins of the universe and go to Him for the meaning of life, are looked on by the world at large as being at least a little bit touched, too. Just like the civilizations before us, atheism is present and rising, religion is largely relegated to the mythological side of life, and a small minority of even professing Christians seem to take God’s word seriously. So what are we to do? Let’s ask Simon Peter, who has a good word for us in and about God’s word in 2 Peter 1:16-21.
The Gospel is Not a Myth
In the early days of Christianity there were a lot of erroneous ideas about God. The Romans still believed in or gave lip service to the pantheon of Greek gods. The Jews believed in the one true and living God, but considered Him to be monolithic, and in no way tri-une. He could be transcendent, but not imminent. Therefore, the Romans and the Jews throughout the Lord Jesus Christ was an encroachment upon their idea of God or gods. It is no wonder then that a Roman-Jewish conspiracy led to the crucifixion of Jesus and the ensuing hostility towards His followers. Somebody in this picture was crazy, but most people thought it was the Christians.
So, Peter in this passage takes great pains to point out that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a system of “cleverly devises myths.” Like his counter part John, and others, Peter spoke of a Messiah named Jesus “we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands” (ref. 1 John 1:1). Peter could honestly say “we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” Peter was there for virtually every day of the public ministry of Jesus Christ. Simon Peter watched Jesus work, saw Him get arrested, bailed at His trial, wept through His crucifixion, and was an eyewitness of His resurrection. Peter knew Jesus Christ and Peter knew what he was talking about when he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are pure pagans and professing Christians who deny the historicity of Jesus Christ and dispute the accuracy what the gospel and the word of God teach about Him. The so-called search for the historical Jesus seems to be gaining steam as true believers await His second coming to provide the punctuation mark to His first. All I can say is, in agreement with Simon Peter and other Apostles and authors of Scripture, Jesus Christ lived, Jesus Christ died, Jesus Christ rose again, and Jesus Christ is Lord! Eternal salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in the gospel of Jesus Christ, alone. This is no myth. This is the meaning of life.
The Bible is the Final Word
Of all the experiences and proofs Simon Peter could have offered, the one he chose to recount was the transfiguration of Jesus Christ (ref. Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke9:28-36). He did this to prove his first point, that reliable eyewitnesses were there to accurately record the things that Jesus said and did. Therefore, the gospel is not a myth. And, it enables Peter to make a profound second point, that the Scriptures, the Bible, God’s word, is the final word on any matter.
Can you identify the three ways in which God speaks in this passage?
Obviously, God the Father spoke out loudly and proudly at the transfiguration of His one-of-a-kind Son. The Father did the same thing at the baptism of the Son, and the Holy Spirit was there for good measure, too. There are other times recorded in Scripture where God the Father spoke in an audible voice, but they are quite rare. Far be it from me to put God in a box, but I honestly do not believe He speaks in an audible voice to people today.
It is mentioned here that God also speaks in “the prophetic word,” or through select spokespersons called prophets. Old Covenant and New Covenant faith both record the ministry of the prophets, persons specifically called by God and given a message to communicate about and for God. Moses, Samuel, Elijah and Elisha, were prophets. The Old Testament closes with the words of four “major prophets” and twelve “minor prophets.” The Apostles were prophets of the New Testament. Various others, like Simeon and Phillip’s four daughters, prophesied for the Lord. Ironically, at the same time Homer and others were inventing the Greek gods around 700 BC, Isaiah was prophesying about the Suffering Servant who would become the Savior of the world. I don’t think Zeus ever showed up, but Jesus did! Prophets preach prophecy that was, is, or will turn out to be true. When called and commissioned by God, prophets speak words for God that are as good as God’s word from Heaven.
There are God’s audible words, prophets who audibly speak God’s words, and a special written collection of all of words called “Scripture.” As great as it was to hear God speak, as great as it was to himself have the gift of prophecy, Simon Peter refers to holy Scripture hear as “the prophetic word more fully confirmed.” Christianity confirms a closed canon of Scripture, the sixty-six books of your Holy Bible, as the ultimate word of God. It is not a myth. It is not a myriad of messages merely made up by one's “own interpretations” or by the “will of man.” It is the inspired, infallible, inerrant word of God, produced and directed by “the Holy Spirit,” and it contains the meaning of life.
Would you pay attention if you hear a voice right now, a voice you knew to be God’s, if it came down from Heaven? Would you pay attention to a person who spoke to you, if you knew that person was a prophet, and if that person had a word to you from God? Well then, you should pay equal attention to the word that you can hold in your hands right now, the word of God, the Bible. Think of it that way as you hear it taught and preached, as you read it for yourself, and as you stake your very life upon it.
Trust and Obey
If the gospel is not a myth and the Bible is the final word, then the meaning of life can be summed up in three words: trust and obey. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life; and, live by the Bible for an abundant, honorable, holy, and useful life. It is only when we look to the gospel and the word of God as “a lamp shining in a dark place” that “the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Trust and obey.
This, by the way, is the title of one of my favorite old hymns: “When we walk with the Lord, in the light of his word, what a glory he sheds on our way! While we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey” (John H. Sammis). I might change one of the last words, happy, for holy, but it is still a great song that captures the message of the meaning of life.
Distorted versions of Christianity tell you to tackle the seven sacraments or walk and aisle and pray a prayer to be saved. Those are myths. God’s word says to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only then will you will be saved, forgiven, granted eternal life. But “believe” could better be translated “trust” in modern English. It means total commitment of your life for the eternal life that Jesus brings. Trust and obey.
If you have trusted in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then it is time to obey. You do not have to obey to be saved, but if you are truly saved you have to obey. The source and standard of your obedience is the word of God, the Bible. Obey the Bible for your spiritual life. Be baptized, be integrally a part of a local church, use your time and treasure and talents to expand the kingdom of God and strengthen your church. Obey the Bible for every aspect of your life, because every aspect of your life is now a spiritual matter. Let God’s word guide you when you make vocational decisions, financial decisions, sexual decisions, and all ethical and moral decisions. Let it speak to you as if God were speaking to you, for in actuality, He is.
Simon Peter could have paraded his experiences into a multi-million dollar religious enterprise. Instead, he submitted his select experiences to the Holy Spirit as he influenced the Gospel of Mark and wrote 1 Peter and 2 Peter. He affirmed the authority of the other books of the Bible also, and commended them to our use. Look to the Bible, he says, for in it you will find life, the meaning of life, and eternal life. Trust the gospel. Obey the Bible. Trust and obey, and truly live.