Sermon on 2 Peter 1:16-21
Text: For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
In our Gospel lesson, we heard about Jesus’ transfiguration. Jesus led Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain. While there, Jesus was transfigured in their presence. He allowed them to see a glimpse of his glory. We also heard that Moses and Elijah appeared. They talked about what would happen when Jesus reached Jerusalem, bringing to a finish the work of redeeming the world. As Peter saw and heard all of this, he exclaimed, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17:4) One can hardly blame him for his excitement. After all, it was a glimpse of heaven. Jesus was shining in his glory. Two heroes of faith were there. He did not want the moment to end. Also, as Peter was there on the mountain, he was in the presence of what you could call a living Bible. Here was Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible. Elijah was a representative of all of the other prophets, who spoke throughout the Old Testament. Jesus was there; whose life is the focus of the New Testament. Peter knew it was good for him to be there, as he heard from these men the truths that are found in God’s Word. In his grace, God has made sure that his Word was passed down from one generation to the next, until it has come down to us. As we study our text for this morning, we are encouraged to CHERISH YOUR BIBLE 1. Because It Is An Accurate Account Of God’s Dealing With People, 2. Because Of Its Promises and 3. Because Of The Change It Works In Your Life.
In Peter’s Second Letter, he addresses a church that is undergoing persecution for its faith. There were many people who were mocking them for their faith. For example, they made fun of them for believing that Jesus would return. They asked, in a mocking tone, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ (2 Peter 3:4) Peter wanted to reassure his readers that what they believed was the truth.
Peter begins by saying, “We did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power.” (Verse 16) This was in stark contrast to what many of the other religions of that time. We might think of all of the mythology of the Greek and Roman gods. They would come and interact with the people, sometimes to help, other times to hinder. There were even some Jewish religious leaders that had added stories to the Bible.
Some people today claim that the Bible is a collection of cleverly invented stories. They look at the Bible as a book that teaches some good moral lessons, but is hardly to be believed. After all, who would believe in a six day creation, miracles, and resurrections? They try to show how, logically, none of this could be true. How can we answer their objections? We tell them the same thing that Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power.” (Verse 16) He, then, gives us three points to share.
The first is found in verses 16-18: We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” Peter said that he was an eyewitness of the events that took place on that mountain. He saw it with his own eyes and heard it with his own ears. He didn’t hear about it from someone else. He was an eyewitness of this event. Think of all of the other eyewitnesses that wrote the Bible. Moses was an eyewitness to the events that led the people of Israel from Egypt to Palestine. Matthew and John were with Jesus every day. Luke spoke to people who had seen the events of Jesus’ life and accompanied Paul on several of his journeys. This wasn’t just conjecture or speculation. These people were eyewitnesses and they shared what they had heard and seen with others. The Bible is full of eyewitness accounts. It is an accurate account of God’s dealing with people.
Peter goes on to show why we can trust what we find in the Bible. He wrote, “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable.” (Verse 19) It’s almost as if Peter was saying, ‘If you don’t believe me, go to the Scriptures. They are completely reliable. Why is that? “You must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (Verses 20-21) The teaching that is described here is called “Verbal Inspiration.” This means that the Holy Spirit gave the writers the very words that they were to put down. He didn’t give them a general theme, such as a teacher might say to their students on the first day of class, “Write a paper on what you did during your summer vacation.” The Holy Spirit told them exactly what they were to write. There are many examples of the writers of the Bible acknowledging this fact. For example, David said in 2 Samuel 23:2, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.” God told Moses in Exodus 19:2, “These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” We know that what is written in the Bible is not the result of some person’s imagination. They are the very words of God.
Think of what that means! It means that you can count on every word that is found there. There are no mistakes. There is nothing that you have to take with a grain of salt. It is all true. This means that when you read about a promise that God makes in the Bible, you can count on it. There is no other sacred book that can make this claim. All of them contain errors. The Bible doesn’t contain errors because every single word was given to the writers by the Holy Spirit. You can count on everything that you find in the Bible.
Finally, Peter points to another reason why the Bible is so unique and to be cherished: Look at the change it works in your life. We read in verse 19, “You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Peter speaks about a light shining in a dark place. That dark place is where we all were, by nature. That darkness is the darkness of sin and unbelief. We were helplessly and hopelessly lost in this darkness. Every single sinful action, word, or thought would have kept is in this darkness. We would have wandered in this darkness for our entire lives leading to the eternal darkness of hell. However, a light has shined in our darkness. That light is Jesus Christ. He came to rescue us from our darkness. Through his perfect life, innocent death on the cross, and his glorious resurrection, he brought the light of forgiveness. We have been taken out of our darkness into the light of salvation. No other book tells of salvation that is fully and freely given to us by God. The Holy Spirit works through the gospel that is found in the Bible to bring us to faith. The Bible is unique because it is through its message that we are saved.
We, further, see the uniqueness of the Scriptures because of the way it changes how we live our lives. There are many self-help books that are available. When you read one of them, it might change your life. However, what is the reason for the change? It is because you want a better life. It is because you want to get rid of some bad habit and develop a positive one. Sometimes, those changes will stick with you. It is just as likely that they will not. The message that we find in the Bible changes our lives. When we see what God has done for us and all that he has promised us, we want to live our lives differently. We want to do those things that please God. They are not done just so that we have a better life. They are done to thank God for all that he has done for us. In the Scriptures we find the motivation and the strength to live such a life. The message that is found in the Bible truly is life-changing.
We, also, see the Bible as that light shining in the dark, when we go through difficulties in life. There are many books that you might read to try to find comfort at those times, but they are only encouragements to keep going. It’s never as dark as it seems. In reality, they are of little to no help, at all. Look at the wonderful promises that you find in the Bible. You have God’s assurance in verses such as Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” There God promises you that, whatever might come your way, he is going to use it for your benefit. You find Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The Bible is the soft glow that sustains and comforts us throughout life’s journey.
Finally, we know that this light of God’s Word will guide us to the very end. “You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (Verse 19) Through the strengthening that we receive in God’s Word, we continue on the path of our lives until the darkness of this world is gone. Through every twist and turn that still lies in front of us, we have the steady light of God’s Word to guide us to our heavenly home. There will be no more darkness then. There will only be eternal light. We know that this is waiting for us, because God has promised it in his Word.
The Bible truly is a unique book. You could point to the fact that it has been translated into so many different languages, but so have other books. You could point to the many quotes that are used in our everyday language. However, you can find other books commonly quoted, as well. None of these things makes the Bible truly unique. What does make it unique? First of all, it is an accurate accounting of God’s dealing with people. There were so many eyewitnesses that wrote down exactly what they heard and saw. It is unique because it is God’s Word. Though there were many different human writers, ever single word that they put down on paper came from God himself. This means that we can count on every single word being true. Finally, look at the change it has brought about in your life. Its message took you from an eternity of separation from God to an eternity of bliss with him in heaven. It changes your outlook on life, as you trust that God will keep you all of your days. It changes the way that you live your life as you react to what God has done for you. This is what we find in God’s Word. Because of this, we find our encouragement to become more and more familiar with the Bible. In it, we find everything that we need for this life and for the life to come. Dear Christian, cherish your Bible. Amen.
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