Right now, we are living in an age of information overload. Not only that, but we’re experiencing a time when it is extremely difficult to know what is true and what is hyperbole. When we see something on a video, is that truly what was taking place? Or is it possible that what was presented was only what they wanted everyone to believe? When we’re given various models of “scientific” research, with multiple differing statements from various fields, who does one believe? Is there anything or anyone we can fully trust? Which deodorant is the best? Which car really is the most reliable?
Today, as we study 2 Peter 1:16-21, I believe that we can agree that the Bible is the one thing we can completely trust, because it is from God, whom we can trust. I understand there is a degree of faith involved to have absolute trust in the Bible. Then again, there is an element of faith involved in trusting anyone or anything.
We can have complete confidence that God’s Word is always true and trustworthy.
Objective Observation - 1:16-18
Objective Observation - 1:16-18
We know that various people can see the same event and truthfully report differing reports on what they saw. It’s often referred to as looking at life through different colored lenses. There’s a whole movie that portrays this reality, called Hoodwinked. However, when Someone, Who is Truth, namely God, Who cannot lie, gives the words to be written down, that should give us a sense of confidence.
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales 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, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
We might think it strange that Peter goes back to earlier in his life when he was with Jesus at the time Jesus was transfigured. However, he does this intentionally, as the Spirit directed him, in order to make a point. You’ll recall that Jesus told them to share their experience with no one until after He was raised from the dead.
Peter lets his readers know that this was not a fable or a fairy tale, in that he and others were actually eyewitnesses. In other words, Peter states, we were there and saw it for ourselves. Not only that, but God had him and others write down exactly what they had experienced. They actually observed Jesus in His glory, interacting with Moses and Elijah, who represented the Law and the Prophets? Why is this so important?
You see, those who taught false doctrine were quite adept at creating quite believable tales and stories which could cause individuals who were not grounded in God’s Word to get sucked in quite easily. These false teachers would do whatever they could to gain popularity and power; and in this way, gather money from those who would believe their heresies. Peter is saying that he and the other apostles were not like that. So what exactly were these false teachers doing?
They used Cleverly devised tales. It carries with it the idea of a concocted idea that was carefully crafted and seemed actually quite intelligent and sophisticated. It also was used when there was deception involved. So, in order to lead the flock astray, the false teachers would present this in such a way that it actually might appear like it came from God Himself. The word tales is actually where we get the word for myths. It’s almost like believing that superheroes and Marvel characters are real. Many a child has believed that Superman was real and as a result, experienced broken bones by jumping off a roof while wearing a cape. Unfortunately, gravity and the ground make quite an impact as to the real truth. Paul and Peter both used this term in a negative meaning and usually referred to the false teachings which were filled with lies and deception. What specifically were the false teachers teaching?
It seems from the total context of this letter, that the false teachers were denying what Peter and the others had been sharing about Jesus returning in power and glory. They were not only teaching other things, but were denying that Christ was even returning. We remember that the readers to Peter’s 1st letter had already heard the teaching that Jesus Christ was indeed coming again. At this point, Peter is letting his readers know that he and the other disciples had already seen Christ’s glory while He was on earth and specifically at the transfiguration; so they knew they were going to see this glory again.
Peter uses the term majesty, which was normally used to describe the greatness of God. What did they observe? He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory. The Father was stating that Jesus was and is of the same nature as the Himself, which means, all that the Father is, the Son is. The Father is completely righteous and so is the Son. The Son does everything the Father has called Him to do. Thus, as was planned from before time began, the Son has a right to come back and take His kingdom as His very own.
Revelation speaks to this as well in chapter 5.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
Some might say that was the subjective experience of Peter—or was it? Yes and no. Peter experienced, as did James and John, thus making it an objective observation. The other disciples experienced many other miracles that only God could do.
However, you and I have not experienced actually seeing the glory of God. That is why the Holy Spirit moved Peter to write this down. I appreciate what Warren Wiersbe says about this: Experiences fade, but the Word of God remains! Experiences are subjective, but the Word of God is objective. Experiences may be interpreted in different ways by different participants, but the Word of God gives one clear message. What we remember about our experiences can be unconsciously distorted, but the Word of God remains the same and abides forever.
Even with all the horrors going on in the world all around us, we can count on the Bible being absolutely trustworthy. Even though, many would love to have the believer second guess that Jesus is really coming again, we can count on it. Even from those who have new or enlightened words, we do not need to shrink back from holding tightly to God’s enduring Word.
Divine Delivery - 1:19-21
Divine Delivery - 1:19-21
Many times, I long for the old days with a simpler pace of life. Yet, I love our vehicle which is comfortable in all kinds of weather. I am grateful for the medical advances, even as I think of my father-in-law having a quadruple by-pass. I really appreciate the technology as I prepare sermons, communicate in seconds with people all over the world, face-time children and grandchildren, as well as siblings and parents. In spite of all that, the world is really not any better. Humanity loves darkness. Technology has created easier ways to spread fear and lies and cause animosity between those who should know better. Medical knowledge has caused some to think that anything can be taken care of with a pill rather than simply praying and taking care of yourself. The Bible states that the Word of God is a light and a lamp.
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
As I’ve stated many times, I am so thankful for the written Word of God which has been kept throughout the years. If it were only up to our memory, what confusion and chaos we would have. This is not to deny what Peter had experienced, because that was very real. It was such that the Bible records this as true. In fact, Peter responds to those who might have questions because of the false teachers that we have the prophetic word made more sure. In other words, even though Peter and the other apostles had personally experienced Christ’s majesty, whereas, others had not, Peter reminded them that we have the Scriptures. We know the inspired Word of God is all that we need for faith and life. It is inerrant and infallible. Simply put, it is incapable of being wrong because it comes from God’s very being. It teaches absolute truth and cannot teach anything false.
When Peter speaks of we in this verse, he is speaking to all believers. So, while we consider that fact, we can understand more clearly our absolute confidence in the reliability of the Bible. Because we have been tainted by the darkness of sin, anything we can observe and remember or come up with has the potential to not be 100% true. Just because someone says they experienced something, you and I must always check it out with God’s Word. They may have experienced something, but if it does not line up with God’s Word, then it is not from God. God cannot contradict Himself or His Word.
The prophetic word, Peter speaks about in verse 19, covers the entirety of the Old Testament. But it is not limited to just that, but includes all of the Bible, which the Holy Spirit inspired writers to put down in print. It comes directly from God. So what are we to do with this? Peter tells his readers and us that we would do well to pay attention to it. The best way to know if something is erroneous or false, is to know that which is true. That is why Peter goes on to illustrate by showing how the lamp or God’s Word, which we recognize from the Psalms and Proverbs, it actually illumines or reveals that which has been darkened by this world, or the dark place. And one day, Jesus will return again to establish His rule. Thus, the phrase, until the day dawns.
Peter is not speaking about the planet Venus, when he talks about the morning star arises in your hearts. He is speaking of Christ, the One who brings the light, because He is the Light. Right now, Christians are taking a bad rap, just as they were in Peter’s time. However, when Christ returns, we will be seen by all as reflections of Jesus Christ. That will be the culmination of the Christian’s life.
Verses 20-21 is so powerful in it’s teaching that this is not a fabrication from a flawed human, but is indeed God’s Word. Let’s read it again.
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Literally, nothing in the Bible originates from any human creative thought. That is totally different than what was happening with the false teachers, as well as the false prophets we find in the Old Testament. They were creative, but they were not from God. So, how did the Bible come to be? It came from God making it happen. The idea is found in the idea of something that exerts no effort, but instead, finds that the wind or the water carries it along. The Old Testament prophets would often speak by starting out with: The Word of the Lord came to me saying.
My friends, it is in knowing the Bible that we can recognize the lies of the false teachers and the things which might seem right, but when compared to Scripture, they are obviously not. Light removes darkness. We can completely trust in the Word of God, because it is God-breathed, 2 Timothy tells us. Since the Spirit gave the Word, we can be confident that He will also help us in understanding and living out the Word.
Almost all false teachings, which I am aware of, carries this common thread. They do not like when you use other parts of the Bible to try to bring clarity or to discern if their teaching is of God or not. They choose to take the Bible out of context, which can obviously lead to a multitude of false teachings. The Bible always interprets itself.
I heard this quote years ago at a Pastors’ Conference at MBI, and I’m guessing it was from Warren Wiersbe, since he always seemed to have memorable quotes. Isolated texts, apart from contexts, become pretexts.
There are a couple of tests to see if what is being taught is of God or of false teachers. First of all, it is essential that we know what they say about Jesus Christ. Do they truly agree that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? If they cannot wholeheartedly state that Jesus is God’s Son, then they are not of God and they are false teachers.
Another question would be to ask for them to explain Jesus purpose. Why did Jesus come to this earth? What exactly did Jesus do? If they suggest that it was just to set an example, they are not of God. Jesus came to die on the cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins.
Even Jesus spoke frequently of different Scriptures. So we can be assured that He believed the Bible. After all, it is His Word, which the Holy Spirit moved men to record and write. Again Wiersbe states: Those who question the truth and authority of the Scriptures are not arguing with Moses, Elijah, or Peter, but with the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you and I will choose to live our lives based upon the Bible, we will not be prone to being deceived by false teachers. They will come and go. However, God’s Word Endures forever. We can have complete confidence that God’s Word is always true and trustworthy.