************ Sermon on 2 Peter 1:19-21 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 27, 2020
2 Peter 1:19-21
"The Christian's Night Light"
IntroductionLeonardo da Vinci’s Codex of Leicester is billed as the world's most valuable book. It was purchased by Bill Gates in 1994 for $30.8 million; its inflation-adjusted price today is $52.8 million. This 72-page linen manuscript includes Leonardo’s thoughts, theories and observations of the world, like the movement of water, fossils and the luminosity of the moon.Regardless of the price that is paid, Christians say the world's most valuable book is the one found in our pews, on our pulpit, in our homes, and on our smart phones. I am talking about the Bible, Scripture.
To fight false teachers and false prophets Peter says we need to know Scripture; we also need to know Salvation, Satan, and Sanctification. We've looked at salvation. Today, we look again at the world's most valuable book; today, we look again at Scripture.
Peter is answering a question in verses 16-21. He is answering a challenge. He is answering an accusation. How do we know what Peter preaches and writes about Jesus and the Gospel is true, reliable, trustworthy? How do we know he is not saying "cleverly invented stories about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"? Peter gives two answers. First, last week, we learned about his supernatural experience -- he emphasizes he is an eyewitness, an earwitness, to the majesty of Jesus. Second, today, we learn about his supernatural revelation.
I Scripture Makes More Certain
A Last week we heard Peter say, "Trust me, believe me, because I am a firsthand witness to the majesty of Jesus. Trust me, believe me, because of my supernatural experience." Think of what Peter all experienced: he walked and talked with Jesus, he saw the miracles of Jesus, he heard the teachings of Jesus, he saw Jesus at the Last Supper, he saw Jesus betrayed in the Garden, he saw Jesus before the Sanhedrin, he saw Jesus on the cross, he saw Jesus after His resurrection, he watched as Jesus ascended into heaven. And, the event Peter emphasized in last week's Scripture reading: he was an eyewitness and an earwitness to the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus.
The problem with this is that lots of people have spiritual experiences. Some of them are real. Some of them are nothing but drug or alcohol induced ravings. Others of them are nothing but "cleverly invented stories" (2 Pet 1:16). So Peter's supernatural experience is not enough. More is needed.
B Peter tells us more in verse 19: "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain." What is the word of the prophets? At the time of Peter it was used for the Old Testament. But the New Testament is also a prophetic word. So, the "word of the prophets" is a phrase that refers to all of the Bible.
"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain." In the Bible "we have the word of the prophets made more certain." So whether it is the word of the Old Testament prophets, or the word of the New Testament apostles, it is a more sure word.
C A literal word-for-word translation of the Greek says, "And we have more certain the prophetic word." By putting it at the start of the sentence, Peter emphasizes the phrase "more certain." That is, "more sure, more reliable, more trustworthy, more dependable."
More certain that what? More sure than what? More certain, more sure, than the supernatural experiences of Peter and the apostles. So Peter's final and ultimate reply to anyone who wants to question what he says and writes is that there is a more reliable source than any personal experience. That source is the Word of God. That's why we need to believe Peter. Because of what is in the Bible.
II Scripture Requires Our Attention
A Note what Peter says next: "and you will do well to pay attention to it." "Well." It means "rightly, correctly, accurately." You do well, you do rightly, you do correctly, you do accurately to pay attention to this word.
"Pay attention." That is, "give heed, consider carefully, continue to believe, hold to, turn to, attend to."
"And you will do well to pay attention to it." Why? Because of the false prophets and false teachers and their "cleverly invented stories about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is not always easy to pick out their lies and heresies. Sometimes they are so subtle, so clever. So you have to know Scripture. You have to pay careful attention to the truth of Scripture. You have to pay attention to its sure and certain word.
"And you will do well to pay attention to it." Do you? Do you pay attention to it? Do you give it your time? Do you let it soak into your thoughts? Do you have regular devotions? Do you put yourself under the preaching of the Word?
I had a man in my ministry who was in church twice each Sunday. When his wife kept challenging him about what was in the sermon he said, "It doesn't apply to me." Week after week he would say that. "It doesn't apply to me."Do you think he was paying careful attention to Scripture? Of course not! To protect yourself, dear people, to protect yourself from what is false and heretical you need to pay careful attention to Scripture.
B Verse 19 continues with a wonderful comparison. Scripture is compared "to a light shining in a dark place." Peter borrows from the language of Psalm 119 here:
(Ps 119:105) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.Think of someone wandering in the dark. He needs a lamp, a flashlight, to safely move around. Otherwise, he may stumble and fall and badly hurt himself.
The word "dark" originally meant "dry" or "dusty," and then it came to mean "miserable" or "squalid," and finally it came to mean "dark."
The dry, dusty, miserable, squalid, dark place is this fallen world. The events of the last six months have shown us over and over again how dry, dusty, miserable, squalid, and dark is this fallen world. Think of the manslaughter of George Floyd. Think of the riots that followed and continue to take place. Think of the Marxist philosophy that underlies the organization going by the name of Black Lives Matter -- a philosophy that hates America, our freedoms, our religion. Go back further in time to the approval of gay marriage, abortion on demand, even the killing of babies after they are born, the legalization of marijuana and lotteries; make your own additions to this list. All of this proof that ours is a dark, dark world of sin. All of this proof that every part of life has been infected by sin. All of this proof that we are conceived and born in sin. All of this proof that man has no fear of God.
What is Scripture? It is "a light shining in a dark place." It is a kind of night light. We have a couple of them at home for the grandkids. I think Ruth even turns one on for the grand-dog. A night light lets you see when it is dark. A night light gives comfort, encouragement, and hope. A night light keeps darkness, discouragement, and fear away.
A night light does no good if you don't turn it on because then you remain in darkness. Similarly, Scripture does no good if you don't listen to it.
C Verse 19 ends with "until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts." "Until." "Until." Do you know what "until" tells me? Though the Word of the Lord endures forever, like a night light it shines only for a temporary time; it only shines while it is dark.
There is coming a dawning, my brothers and sisters. That means the sun is going to rise. The sun is not the Word -- we all know that. The sun is Christ Himself. When He comes in all His glory we don't need the night light anymore because we will be living in the full blazing light of the eternal Son.
Not only will there be the physical, outward glory of the returning Christ but there will also be an inward glory that "rises in your hearts." An outer transformation. An inner transformation. All darkness will be chased away -- outside and inside.
Did you hear the phrase used to describe Christ? He is called "the morning star." The Greek word is "phosphorus" -- an element that shines in darkness. It literally means "bringer of light." I didn't know this before I studied for this sermon, but the planet that precedes the morning sun is Venus. It is seen just before sunrise in the eastern sky. So Christ is Venus; He is the bringer of light. He is the star that shines just before the morning light comes. This is not the only time this symbolism is used for Christ. Numbers 24 speaks of a star that comes out of Jacob. Revelation 22 speaks of the bright morning star.
But until the morning star comes, what do we have? We have the night light. We have the Word, the more sure and certain Word.
III Scripture Comes from God
A This brings us to verses 20-21. "Above all, you must understand ..." We can also translate this as, "First of all, you must know ..." Above all. First of all. This means Peter is about to say something really important.
What must we know? What must we understand? "No prophecy of Scripture" -- remember, this means all of the Bible, all of the Old Testament, all of the New Testament. "No prophecy of Scripture came about ..." Literally, "came into being." "No prophecy of Scripture came into being, arises, came about by the prophet's own interpretation." A better translation, "by the prophet's own origination."
So, then, what must we know? What must we understand? "No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own origination." That was the problem, remember, with the false teachers and false prophets. They followed "cleverly invented stories." They followed myths, fables, fabrications from man and not from the Word of God.
Peter is concerned with the source of Scripture, the origin of the Bible. Prophets didn't invent it. "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man." No prophecy was ever at any time made by an act of human will. The Bible is not the product of man. Let me say one name. I can say so many others. But let me say one name of an example of prophecy -- heretical prophecy -- that came about by the will of man. That name is Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion. He claims an angel told him where golden scrolls were buried. He further claims he could read the scrolls, not by digging them up and holding them in his hands, but by looking into his magical stovepipe hat as he held it over the spot the angel indicated. As he read his servant wrote it all down. "Cleverly invented stores." "Prophecy [that] had its origin in the will of man." That describes Joseph Smith and the Mormon religion.
B "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but ..." But what? "But men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."
How many books in the Bible? There are sixty-six of them. None of them had their origin in the will of man. All of them from men who "were carried along by the Holy Spirit."
"Carried along." In the book of Acts, the phrase is used for the ship Paul was on as it was carried along by the wind. That is the way to look at this. The Holy Spirit blew the human authors in the direction He chose for them to go. They wrote as they moved along under the power of the Spirit.
And so, they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible, not man. The Bible is not a book written by men. Human thought, human will, human imagination is not the producer of the prophetic word. The Bible is a book recorded by men, but authored by God the Holy Spirit.
C Men were carried along by the Holy Spirit. So what they wrote, what they said, was "from God." "Men spoke from God."
There is a phrase that repeats itself throughout the Old Testament. "The word of the LORD came to me ..." Over sixty-six times we come across this phrase. All of the prophets make the same claim. What they say is from God. What they say is the very words of God.
"Men spoke from God." "Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." In order to speak from God, the Holy Spirit was required. Why? Because 1 Corinthians 2 tells us, "No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God" (1 Cor 2:11). Only the Spirit could move the writers along so what they speak is from God.
Because of the Spirit, then, we have a more sure and certain word. Because of the Spirit we have a light shining in a dark place.
Peter, how do we know what you are preaching and teaching is true? Peter's answer? "I had a supernatural experience; I was an eyewitness to the majesty of Jesus. But even more sure than that, I had a supernatural revelation; I write as one moved along by the Holy Spirit."
The result? We have a light, a night light, in a dark place. And it is going to be our night light until the dawning of the new day. We need this night light, brothers and sisters. We need this night light, this sure and certain word, to stand against error and heresy.
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