Tag: Evangelism

Light Under Threat

2 Peter 2:10-22

Advent season one of great excitement, anticipation. Words like merry, joyous, blessed, happy common and essential fixtures in holiday greetings – seen on signs and decorations, included in cards, in ones personally spoken. Repeated theme in our music of joyfulness, celebration, praise to God and warm feelings toward one another. All that is true and right and proper – is a time to rejoice and celebrate what God has done in past, what he will do in future.

Sang about angels in two carols already, they have part in our closing carol. Familiar words: “Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation; O sing, all ye bright hosts of heaven above!” Two Sundays hence will light Angel candle on Advent wreath, commonly think of angels as the choir providing mood music for newborn baby. Was not their only reason for being present there over Bethlehem – hosts of heaven were on guard duty, ensuring the Light which had just come into world wasn’t snuffed out. Remember action Herod took as soon as he found out some important details about Savior’s birth!

Danger didn’t go away when Jesus did, it persisted and Christians have been in line of fire ever since. Peter had seen the Light, wrote about that in chapter 1. Had seen the Light in another way, too – the spiritual light of truth that shined in darkness of his heart. Had been his mission for thirty years or more to bring that light to all who would listen, first fellow Jews and then others. Based on what he saw / heard from Asia Minor, light of true Gospel at risk of being extinguished. No way Peter was going to stand idly by and watch it happen. He proceeded to call out those attacking the Gospel and then turned attention of readers back to truth. We need to do same today… whether false teachers who have crept into the church or those of similar tactics who seduce from outside.

A. do not live in the light  v.10-14

no respect for authority

stated right out by Peter: despise authority – speaking, of course, about authority of others; hold own authority in very high regard

displayed in several ways: self-willed/arrogant/insolent/audacious, make strong statements without knowledge or understanding, expect to be believed and followed

act as if they have authority

they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones” ESV – need to look at next verse for explanation: dignitaries, glorious ones probably reference to Satan and his angels

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

false teachers act (and encourage others to act) as if they have authority over Satan/demons… to bind and command

perform works of darkness in broad daylight

pursue pleasure at all times, seek to acquire more and more for themselves – entice others to follow same licentious lifestyle

in today’s setting: readily speak for God – tell people “God wants you to…” have this, go there, be that, and here’s the formula

are skilled at making the kind of pitch that seduces the weak – just one example, not wealthy who go to Foxwoods, Atlantic City

saddest of all: in spite of respectable outward appearance, are in reality behaving as lowest of brute beasts… living for pleasure of moment, no more valuable to mankind than Ham and Bacon, Steak and Stew

B. not ignorant of the light  v.15-16

were once on the right way

didn’t ignore the right path, they forsook it – means they traveled on it for a while, picked up enough Christian code to sound native

makes them even more dangerous – insiders always sound more authentic – is easier to persuade less discerning to follow

prefer the ways of darkness

weren’t kicked off the path, didn’t get lost in the dark, they made the choice to go a different way intentionally

placed a higher value, had a greater desire for material gain than spiritual wealth – had an understanding of the light, had walked in the light for a time, chose to leave the light for darkness

even dumb animals are smarter

God uses all sorts of instruments – dumb donkey restrained the prophet’s madness; another donkey likely provided transport for Mary; yet another carried Son of David into Jerusalem; will be a white horse that brings him back – each animal willingly follows God’s instructions

false teachers follow example of Balaam rather than the donkey – rushing blindly to destruction when even the donkey could see better

C. attempt to quench the light  v.17-19

have one appearance

things Peter describes here are ones that, when genuine, give great hope – these individuals outwardly appear to have it all together, be able to supply what they promise

is even possible they are themselves deceived – if tell yourself a lie long enough, loud enough, will eventually come to believe it

but are actually the opposite

these false teachers wells without water, clouds without rain, darkness without light, tables without food – could not quench thirst, nourish crops, provide safety, satisfy hunger

Savior was born in Bethlehem – house of bread; the One who called himself the bread of life, who actually delivered what he promised

intentionally draw others away from the light

promise freedom while they are enslaved – everyone who follows their teaching / example will become just as enslaved, hopeless

even if they cannot put the light out in the world, do their best to put it out in individual lives – and here’s what probably got Peter most exercised:

For by speaking high-sounding but empty words they are able to entice …people who have just escaped from those who reside in error. NET, v.18

those who managed to escape getting sucked back in, who had some hope of coming to light suddenly back in darkness

D. no hope of recovering the light  v.20-22

had some understanding of the truth

speaking of those who get enticed – once enslaved to the world, had managed to escape through knowing Jesus, then “fall back”

take an example: Teen Challenge does not have 100% success rate – some complete program (walk the walk, talk the talk) then go back to their addiction

better to have none

as general proposition, would have less bleak future if had never gone through the program – are less sensitive to Gospel, have greater responsibility for knowledge gained and rejected

unlikely to be restored

are in a worse state… but not without hope – false teaching makes it significantly more difficult yet God can and does overrule

cannot take it for granted that God will overrule in particular cases – better if we act up front like he won’t, be bold like Peter against false teaching

Peter was furious with false teachers because everything they did was designed to make Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection of no use. Jesus came to provide light, they work to put it out. Jesus came to give life and nourishment, they work to starve and kill.

Phil. 2:8-10 …He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

False teachers exalt themselves and not Jesus. Jesus is the one who has the words of life, who not only promises freedom but actually sets captives free and heals brokenhearted. Don’t need big words, extravagant lifestyle, any of things people see as attractive and desirable – only need Jesus as he is revealed to us in his word and by his Spirit.

Come and adore Him. Come and trust Him. Come and find hope and healing and joy and peace in Him. Tell your friends, tell your family, hold the light high so all can see.

 

Judgment and Mercy

2 Peter 2:4-10 

This portion of 2 Peter not comfortable to read, especially when considering what author is describing. It gets personal and painful for all of us – Peter describing people close to us and certain doom that awaits them… apart from God’s mercy. That bothers us, don’t like to hear even though know is true. Remember who Peter wrote to, what his purpose in writing was – first audience the people of God suffering and oppressed because of their faith. Intended his letter to comfort and encourage, was not trying to add to their already sizable burden.

Were persuasive people then as now trying to challenge and change core beliefs of God’s people, convince them to live for the moment since was little hope for future. Has already made case that God’s word can be trusted – God has spoken by his prophets, promised certain things. Many fulfilled already, can safely be confident God will do the rest. And don’t forget, same Enemy present in Eden and ancient world and Sodom and Gomorrah and Bethlehem and Gorham.

Peter repeatedly turns attention to God and his word – does not intend focus to remain on evil and circumstances and all that is wrong with world and our lives without full consideration of God and what he is doing. Would be way better if we spent more time reading the Bible and less time reading the newspaper. God’s word the Bible makes plain God has the power and the plan to carry out his good purpose – judgment on his enemies and mercy toward his people.

A. if God… then God…

refutes the Enemy’s argument

God is not involved – if he were, why so much evil, injustice, poverty – how can God of love put up with drug dealers and sexual predators and… must be another reason why it’s all happening

God has not intervened in the past and God will not intervene in the future – what happened just freaks of nature, bad guys like Herod and Hitler and Hussein

the righteous would suffer along with the wicked if God acted – they are now, would be same if God sent lightning strike

with a valid logical argument

based on witness of prophets, human explanation not adequate – was indeed God acting in affairs of men and angels

if God has acted this way in history, then he will act this way in present and future – according to prophets, acted too many times to be accidental

also based on another if…then – if immutability is an attribute of God, can expect him to not change, different in future than past

that leads to a correct conclusion

not every if…then statement does – if conclusion to be correct based on original premise, must be logical connection between

no logical fallacies here – happens often in current culture, something asserted as true when available evidence does not support

Peter did his homework – stays close to beginning, treating Genesis as historical fact not myth and Moses as true prophet

B. three examples

the angels

sinned against God, perhaps mankind too – specific circumstances not identified… God apparently had other point most in view

preserved the righteous angels – know this from numerous places in Bible, some identified by name who retained original position and purpose as God’s messengers

did not spare the angels who sinned – God’s power and authority extends over unseen spiritual world throughout all creation

the ancient world

vast majority sinned against God and against one another – nearly entire population so corrupt and rebellious God had to act

yet God preserved (saved) Noah – went to great lengths to ensure Noah’s safety… way simpler to wipe all out and start over!

and did not spare the ancient world – worldwide catastrophe yet those delivered according to plan – when God acts in big way, can still be particular and save whom he chooses

the corrupt cities

sinned against God – despised his commands, lived by own rules… which weren’t many, turned God’s order of things on its head

and against the righteous – enough they complained so God heard – profoundly immoral, arrogant, harsh toward poor and needy

God turned them to ashes – justly punished them and made them example for rest of humanity: whether whole world or small %

and delivered righteous Lot – yet another method, this time put messengers at some risk of harm – delivered Lot, wife, daughters… until wife turned back

C. a powerful message

hope for the righteous redeemed

God knows the righteous – not only is able to distinguish, he does so in every sphere of his creation from very large to very small

righteous messengers, righteous preacher, righteous sufferer – hope reserved for righteous, those viewed that way by God

God acts particularly – see it by examples Peter gave, hear it said in words by Abraham: Gen 18:25-26 

“Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty (40, 30, 20, 10) righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

God has a plan for the righteous – loves them, uses all experiences for their good, has wonderful outcome stored up for them

warning for the rebellious lost

God has a plan for the lost, too… and is not bright future – all of these historical acts of judgment serve as warning to rebellious

God knows who they are – Santa may know naughty/nice, more important that God knows and will reward accordingly

God will act particularly – no need to worry, bottom line at very end will be this: perfect justice has been carried out

full and just penalty for sin will be paid for all mankind without exception – one trusting in own righteousness will individually satisfy God; one trusting in Christ’s righteousness rejoice Lord Jesus has already satisfied God

desire for the future

those who are oppressed desire Christ’s return – are different sources/kinds of oppression… economic, political, social, religious

v.7, “righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked” – tempting to look at lost, God’s plan for them, rejoice because they’ll get what they deserve

not how Lot is remembered – 2x called “righteous”, “oppressed” by conduct of friends and neighbors, greatly distressed and “tormented” in his soul by their sinful behavior

the righteous desire to see Christ glorified – should be our #1 desire, to see / hear him glorified in every way possible

glorified in conversion of sinners, in deliverance of his people from enemies, “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30) 

and desire to be present with him forever – deliverance from oppression of enemies good, from oppression of sin both in and around us far better

Peter’s conclusion: if all this is true about God in the past, then he knows how to deliver us and deal with his enemies

since prophets have foretold not only first coming but also his return in power and great glory, can/should anticipate with confidence his sure return

Advent season / celebration rightly looks in two directions – behind us to anticipation of increasing light and hope leading up to first coming of Messiah promised by prophets and ahead of us in anticipation of glorious coming again of conquering King, the Lion of Judah. We anticipate, not dread, his second coming because of his first coming, our faith in what he achieved for us by his life, death, burial, resurrection. The better we understand that, the more we will desire Him and his return.

False Teachers Among You

2 Peter 2:1-3 

 “Doctrine divides, love unites. Let’s just love one another and get along.” If only life were that simple, yet we know from God’s word, history, and personal experience it’s not. For those who seriously try to live that way, God’s truth always what gets sacrificed, watered down, set aside.

If you seriously think false teaching in the church is not a problem, consider all the churches we know about that once stood firm for the Gospel… but no longer. Same can also be said for individuals and even whole denominations. Often starts with just a weed seed or two, before long entire field taken over by them, nothing else to be found. Peter doesn’t mince words – tells it like it is, calling out those who promote error that leads only to destruction.

Peter already laid solid foundation for this teaching – anticipated problem by first giving tools to deal with it. Absolute best thing we can do to avoid harm from false teaching: know and love and use God’s word the Bible as standard for everything. Do not need to defend the Bible – God and his word need no defense. God’s word will rather defend us from destructive effects of erroneous teaching.

Here in text Peter describes false teachers and their ways. He also makes very plain that for those who persist in believing their falsehoods, God does not have a wonderful plan for their life. Same holds true for all who follow them in their error.

A. there will be false teachers  v.1a

Satan was the first

earth not very old when he showed up – adapted himself to local culture… not 3-pc. suit, not cutoffs and flip-flops, blended right in with surroundings… just another creature like ones Adam/Eve had been living with

90% of what he said was true… and continues to be – complete falsehood would be unbelievable, rejected immediately

who are the influencers, ones with credibility… is who Satan and agents mimic – wasn’t foreign religious leaders, was prophets from among the ranks that did most harm to Israelites

there will be more

with each major encounter, Satan has lost to arch-enemy Jesus – Bethlehem, temptation, storm on the sea, the Garden, the cross, the empty tomb

methods that worked best in OT era carried on into NT – Satan still has agenda, using false teachers to push it forward

what worked among OT people of God will be effective among NT people of God, the church – even though Jesus won at cross and tomb, still need to be alert and on guard

is even more attractive as cost of following Jesus goes up – they capitalize on people’s desire to avoid discomfort, suffering

they thrive on deception

deceptive about who they are – sometimes fine line between being trusting / gullible… Christians often get on wrong side of line

can be taken in by appearance, convincing arguments – for persecuted people, much easier to play on fears, offer poisoned solution

deceptive about their teaching – some false teachers taken in by own falsehoods, are genuinely convinced of value/usefulness

many know better, have hidden personal agenda, keep that to themselves – maintain pretense of helping others while really helping themselves

deceptive about results of following them – Peter uncovers their motives (v.3a), covetous, intending to exploit audience one way or another – think big pharma, promises and results

B. their ways and wares are destructive  v.1b-3a

they destroy the truth about Jesus

couple ways to influence – what you say (teach), what you do/how you live – Peter warns about those who do both, with success

was Jesus really God? is that possible? is it even necessary to believe? and that sinless bit, good guy, nice guy, probably did sin… some, everyone does

well, it’s ok to believe in Jesus, we all do, are you having hard time paying your bills? are people to help with that, and other things in life… you know, that don’t relate to religion

and then for our Muslim friends, they know the Qur’an so pray they come to know Isa of the Qur’an… the one who did no miracles, who was prophet and no more, who hasn’t died yet

and while we’re at it, translating Bibles for Muslim cultures, probably shouldn’t call Jesus “Son of God”, they’d be offended

they destroy the truth about what Jesus did

of course, we know that’s what the Bible says he did, but you know the writers… to them it looked like a miracle but there’s probably a good explanation for what happened

lots of people in world who never heard Jesus’ name – God is love, if they’ve done the best they can with what they know…

Satan is just a force, sin isn’t that big a deal (esp. the little ones), God helps those who help themselves, Jesus just victim of political plot gone horribly wrong

all these insinuations and statements diminish who Jesus is, devalue what he did, work to make him someone other than glorious Son of God found throughout God’s word the Bible

they destroy the one who believes the lies

and then if you look at how they live… they act as though what they teach is truth – trusting in people and things alongside Jesus for their salvation, their wisdom, their daily needs

bring destruction on themselves and on all who follow them… in this life and the next – living dangerously, trusting in empty promises for both body and soul

Acts 4:11-12 “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

1 Tim. 2:5-6 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

C. they face certain destruction  v.3b

their condemnation is coming

“Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” NIV

may look like nothing bad is happening, don’t be deceived – God has already declared truth… and that those who willfully deny it have no hope, face only certain condemnation

their followers have the same destiny

very persuasive convincing false teachers lead others to the same destination they have themselves – no excuses for either

might seem harsh, that God condemns those who trustingly believed their teachers – remember (1) can/should check the source, God’s word, to see what it says, and (2)

Rom. 1:20-21 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

it will be brought by the one they deny

here’s greatest irony of all: the one whose power and faithfulness they deny is the very one who will come to reward his own, banish his enemies to eternal condemnation

severe warning for false teachers and their followers in those words – at same time great comfort for those who love God and his truth

this deadly deception will have its just reward and God and his truth will prevail – those on Lord’s side will come through safely

Time in which we live one when all kinds of things about all subjects masquerade as truth… in the church, and elsewhere. Peter has given us resources to guard against deception, has given strong and clear warning so we’re not taken by surprise. Still… we need an anchor, something that keeps us from drifting, getting tangled in the weeds of deception and doubt. Have an anchor, the Rock Christ Jesus, and his word that reveals him clearly. Make the most of them!!

What Is Your Authority?

2 Peter 1:19-21 

Are a number ways to understand today’s sermon title – What authority rules your life? What gives you authority to act that way? On what authority do you base your belief system, your worldview, your life? Is the third/last of those in view here. Seems like more frequently these days, people make assertions… expect them to be taken at face value. When hearers not convinced, say it again louder and more forcefully. And again, over and over. Challenge them to substantiate their assertion, either cannot or will not do it.

High school students, give answer to question, “do you really believe that?”, “of course”, “why?” “parents / pastor / friend said so”. Not good enough, for high school students or adults of any age. Beliefs that shape life must have solid foundation. If not, smooth talker can/will shake belief, destroy it, replace with different one. Then are those who make emotion their authority – feels good/right so I do it. Others try to make experience their authority – it worked for them, for me in that situation, must be right thing.

Even Peter, an apostle with right to speak authoritatively, didn’t rely solely on his own eyewitness experience. Was for his own benefit, was his habit, example was for good of others – base beliefs on an authority that cannot be shaken. Is exactly what we as followers of Christ should do. Also have example of Macedonian believers:

Acts 17:10-11 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea (Macedonia, between Athens and Thessalonica). When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

Peter makes clear how we should rank different authorities, reminds how we got what should be our #1 authority, and how we should treat it.

A. keep things in proper order  v.19a

experience is important

Peter not minimizing the significance of what he & J&J saw/experienced – far from that, was big deal for all of them… including Jesus – he needed that experience to encourage for trial/death

is stressing proper role of experience in relation to word – like much / most of life, gotta do things in right order for good result

verifies / confirms validity of word – start with what Bible says, understand what says / means, then read newspaper

grasp first 10 chap. of Genesis, then look at geologic record; know 1-2 Peter/Revelation, then look at current events

similar relationship as archaeological finds – don’t prove Bible is true, instead confirm / reinforce belief in its accuracy – reassure us our belief in plain truth of Bible is justified

the written word is essential

we need it for understanding / interpretation – eyes can be deceived, so can other senses – mirages, etc. – besides, different people see/experience different things

we need it for stability – something that doesn’t change based on circumstances, has one sound interpretation, many applications

objective truth outranks subjective truth – Bible is God’s objective word to us, does not change, says the same and means the same thing regardless of our experience

if something appears subjectively to be true but Bible says it’s false, the Bible wins, we need to go back and reevaluate

B. remember how we got it  v.20-21

prophets didn’t make the first move

prophet didn’t pick his vocation – no true prophet ever knocked on God’s office door, handed in resume/application, got hired

in some cases, didn’t want to be a prophet – Moses made excuses until God lost patience, Jeremiah pleaded youth and ignorance, Jonah sailed west at top speed

“the word of the Lord came…” – often not a good word, not what prophet or people wanted to hear, yet God spoke to his choice of person/prophet

prophets didn’t make it up

Scripture not product of prophet’s imagination – know that because of consequences of being false prophet; even poster child false prophet Balaam didn’t dare make something up

Num. 24:13 ‘If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the LORD, to do good or bad of my own will. What the LORD says, that I must speak’

prophet even if he asked for a word or vision, took whatever God supplied and went with it, often risking personal safety

had “source material” first, then communicated it – none presumed to speak for God before he spoke – like them, we must be careful not to put words in God’s mouth

prophets acted under the Holy Spirit’s direction

they had to make sense of what they heard / saw – Heb. 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets

used messengers, voices, visions, combination – Zechariah saw visions, had angelic messenger who explained what he saw

then they wrote it down – prophet had to process what he received, understand well enough to put into spoken / written word

whatever “interpretation” happened satisfied the Holy Spirit – he so guided prophet’s communication that it accurately conveyed God’s intended message for his people

Bottom Line: is God’s word and it can be trusted to communicate precisely what God intended and comes with his authority

C. hold tightly to the Word  v.19b

it shows the way…for now

primary purpose – show us where to go, how to live  Psa. 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” – vital weapon in guarding against deception / falsehood

essential resource for Holy Spirit’s use – Spirit doesn’t make all up new every time, relies on knowledge/use of Bible for our help

only temporary – Word is our guide for this life only: 1 Cor. 13:10 “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

its light leads to greater light

living in pre-dawn shadows – Christ in his glory concealed from our view – PJ&J got glimpse, we have partial sight in God’s word

anticipating morning star and full dawn – no need of artificial light, will have true light fully displayed, God’s truth fully exposed

now, Word leads us to Christ…and promise of his return – is where we find truth, all we need to know what to believe, behave

most important, reveals Christ himself as he was, as he is, as he will be on that Great Day and all that follow

it distinguishes truth from error

keeps us focused on Christ, not cheap substitutes – lots of them offered for sale: things/people/programs that will save from all our troubles… and maybe the planet, too

mailing, mostly about evils of particular org supposedly described in Revelation and their part in exposing, virtually nothing about lead character in Revelation… the Lamb

is the Lamb, the righteous Judge, King of kings and Lord of lords revealed in pages of God’s word we need to be loving and watching and following

helps avoid discouragement – scariest book in Bible, Revelation, mostly about Lamb’s victory (and ours) over evil and enemies

gets us beyond present circumstances – irresistible pull to get us focused on next big thing, Jesus’ return, and what comes after

We have God’s word – people have died so we could have it. Central character died so we could have what it promises… eternal life. Wear it out, know it, love it, treasure it, follow it, thank God for it, allow it to fuel your love for the One who gave it, for fellow-believers, for the lost. Is the one thing we can count on to keep us from error, from discouragement. Be sure God’s word the Bible is your foundation and your authority.

 

Seeing Christ

2 Peter 1:16-18 

Peter not simply recounting an historical event, Jesus’ transfiguration. Peter puts that event in a context and tells his readers what the significance of it is.

Writing to persecuted believers, pressured from the culture to be welcoming and affirming of opposing worldviews, pressured from the church to question their faith / doubt some of most important beliefs. Both are tools in Satan’s arsenal intended to shake confidence of Christians in promised return of Christ.

Quick rabbit trail, why Satan and friends so interested in challenging belief in Second Coming? Same reason they insist on reading geologic record in terms of evolutionary processes. If the Bible is right, if God sent the Flood, if God sent his Son the first time and will send him back a second time, then there is an all-powerful sovereign God before whom all mankind is accountable. No Second Coming, no Great Day of the Lord, no judgment, no accountability, no problem. If Second Coming is just myth, wishful thinking, First Coming must not have been such a big deal.

Peter’s example in dealing with this kind of challenge takes his focus and ours to Christ. Bible is important, would be lost without it, but why is it important? why our authority? why our source of hope? Because it came from God, is his word, and reveals his Son the Lord Jesus. Why is heaven so attractive to us? Because of reunion with loved ones who have gone on before? Yes, but that cannot be all. Heaven inspires us, gives us something to strive for because Jesus will be there. If he is not there, we might as well stay here!!

What thrills us about Second Coming? Will see Jesus in all his glory, revealed as he truly is in majesty and splendor as King of kings and Lord of lords. Even if host of heaven showed up on that day, if Jesus is not leading the way it would hold little interest for us. What is it that will keep us faithful and on course as children of God? Seeing Christ in his word, in our lives, with the eyes of faith as he will be when he returns.

A. We’re not making it up

the message

communicated by both lips and letter – at beginning of ministry was communicated by word of mouth, still one of most effective means

written testimony intended to carry on communication where and when could not happen verbally… distance, for use by later generations

the power of Christ – this Christ being proclaimed unlike any other hero… this one has real power: creating, sustaining, redeeming

no way apostles’ (Bible’s) message can be viewed as form of self-help, that’s the rage you know – if not in a relationship, can be “self-partnered” (Emma Watson)

every element of hope in apostles’ message depends on Christ and his power alone – a power Peter had experienced first-hand

the coming of Christ – prophets foretold it, Jesus himself promised it, if he not raised from dead and coming back, he is a liar and we most miserable with only fool’s hope

the source

we were eyewitnesses – almost don’t need to be told, their accounts read as from ones who really saw and experienced

they do not use qualifiers like maybe, perhaps, sort of – right out there declaring this is what we saw, the way it was, the way it will be… level of confidence that comes only from personal experience

not reading/hearing it second-hand – no matter how reliable the source, 2nd generation always lacks at least a few details, a little confidence, a little enthusiasm

the confirmation

his majesty – this what gave apostles the fire, determination, endurance to persevere through incredible persecution/hardship

is what they tried to communicate in preaching / teaching / writing about Jesus – his majesty that Peter puts in context by tying three significant events together

transfiguration, ascension, second coming – Christ’s majesty, honor and glory seen in all three – Peter saw first at transfiguration, again at ascension with added promise from angel

Acts 1.8 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

…which brings in third event, second coming – inseparably joined, stand or fall together, and together give confidence and hope to those suffering for sake of Christ

B. He wasn’t making it up

Jesus received honor

not everyone privileged to experience Jesus’ transfiguration, Peter/James/John were – Gospel writers tell us the facts, Peter tells the significance of what happened “on the holy mountain”

it was validation from the Father himself of not only Jesus’ ministry but also authentication of his identity – the Father giving honor to his one and only Son

Jesus received glory

in anticipation of Jesus’ prayer, displayed divine glory belonging only to him – Peter sees that as providing a glimpse of glory he will display at his return

Peter didn’t get significance at the time but later in hindsight – glory shown on the mount guarantees he will keep promise of return

Jesus received commendation

Jesus didn’t fake his resume, either identity or qualifications – their truthfulness / accuracy confirmed by the Father with approval

not done in a corner, rather in front of witnesses – James, the first apostle martyred; John, author of Gospel,  epistles and Revelation, Peter author of two letters

no hint of hesitation about Jesus anywhere in their writing, none in their lives after Pentecost – enabled 2 of 3 to face martyrdom with peaceful confident acceptance

C. We heard God speak

saw the light

was such a profound and life-changing experience that their telling of it convinces us – Peter’s confidence and passion come through his writing and by God’s power change us

was a light that helped Peter and other apostles connect the dots – just as Noah and family entrusted their lives to ark, Peter entrusted his soul to Lord Jesus and… exhorts everyone else to do the same

heard the voice

unlike other times (Sinai, John 12:29) heard and understood the words – no wonder Peter didn’t want to leave mountain top!

those were men who literally heard God speak from heaven – was what gave power and force to their preaching, writing

experienced the power

not only on the mountain, also when were together on Pentecost, and of course Peter “outside the boat” – knew what it was to experience God’s power first-hand

Peter’s priority for those hurting harassed believers to see the light of Christ and his truth, to hear God speak through his word and by his spirit, to experience the life-changing power of God in their lives

Peter had experienced all that, had given his life to proclaiming truth of Gospel to all who would listen, then ended his life as martyr for his faith… never losing sight of Christ

Have you seen the light of Christ and his truth, heard God speak through his word and by his spirit, experienced the life-changing power of God in your life? Share it with everyone who will listen. Are you or someone you love being challenged in your faith? Look for Jesus. You’ll find him in his Word, in his church, with his people… and don’t lose sight of him. He might be on his way back… and if he is, we have only short time and “there are souls to rescue, there are souls to save”. We must do our part to not grow weary in the work of love and send the light.

Necessary Reminders

2 Peter 1:12-15 

Memory one of those things often ambivalent about – sometimes we love it, other times hate it. Love when works up to expectations, hate when it doesn’t… unable to remember/recall bits of important information, unable to forget those things that make uncomfortable. One of greatest trials in our day… whole thing of memory loss, dealing with it whether our own or that of loved one.

Don’t have to be suffering from memory impairment to understand a little bit about how memory works – some things only need small trigger to recall… few notes of a song, particular fragrance, an expression or voice. Usually things most easily remembered are ones used the most or longest. Every time a memory is used, gets refreshed – isn’t time for grass to grow and hide the path to it. True whether is names or email addresses or phone numbers or things of greater significance… the ones we find in God’s word the Bible.

If we are to stay on course, keep making forward progress in spiritual life and likeness to Christ, we need reminding, we need stirring up, and we need to pass it on. Frequently hear of someone, maybe it’s us, who just needs to let it go and move on. Followers of Christ need to keep moving but… must never forget / lose sight of some pretty basic things – the Gospel, truth found in God’s word, faithfulness of God and his promises for starters.

A. we need reminding (3x)

we know it

concepts Peter has reviewed in beginning of second letter not really new – things most any child of God has been introduced to

know God, are righteous because of Christ, experience his grace and peace, his unending supply of all things necessary for life and godliness, promise of deliverance from world’s corruption

if someone asked “don’t you know that…” (fill in with above), would instantly respond with “well yeah, of course, have known that for like always”

we are established in it

have a sense of belonging, know is because God called us “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9)

for the most part at least, live like followers of Christ – basic biblical principles form foundation for most of our decision-making

well-established enough that obvious error gets our attention – something that attacks basic beliefs won’t get by us, more subtle false teaching may escape notice… at least for a while

we forget it

and here’s the problem – these things that are of first importance gradually slide off to the side, no longer front and center, not first things we think about

Peter recognizes our tendency, probably something he had to deal with too – because we forget, need to be constantly reminded

since we’re all in this Christian life together, need to all be working at reminding one another of these foundational principles

is especially true if we are to live counter-culturally – surrounding culture will gradually smother God’s truth if we don’t keep bringing it back to the front

big enough deal that Peter believed would be neglecting his responsibility if he failed to continually include the basics in his pastoral ministry – not the only thing he taught but regularly included

B. we need stirring up

we get sleepy

notice what Peter says: “I think it is right to wake you up” – cannot live counter-culturally and pleasing to God when sleepwalking

common to see people walking from place to place w/eyes glued to electronic device, oblivious to surroundings and what is happening

can do similar with spiritual things, too – unaware/unresponsive to spiritual needs around us, within us, putting one foot in front of other without thinking: where are we going, why are we doing this

need to get poked more than once – esp. during sermon time! start nodding off, get stirred up, pretty soon start nodding off

we get complacent

people are creatures of habit, follow same path day after day – much like pioneers traveling west, Oregon Trail, 150 years later wheel ruts worn 5 feet deep in sandstone

content to do same thing same way expecting same conditions to prevail and achieve same result – not prepared for change

if sudden change, catches off guard, get confused / disoriented – at risk of making poor decisions that lead to further trouble

if gradual change, frog in the kettle kind of thing, can end up way off course in thinking / beliefs / decisions without realizing

we get stuck

often from fear: of the unknown, of failure, of ridicule – so… stay in our rut, plodding along, just trying to make it through the day / till retirement / till Jesus comes back

God graciously gives two things to stir us up, get us out of rut we’re happy to stay in: his word and one another 2 Tim 1:6; Heb 10:24 

have example of Timothy, mentored by Paul himself, was well established in ministry – Paul thought necessary to write and tell him “stir up the fire” so it doesn’t go out

have Peter’s instruction and example: after decades of service, saw need so great that he purposely left written record to keep on reminding them

C. we need to pass it on

time is short

should not be living complacently or carelessly – are far too many lost people in world for that; besides, not pleasing to God

have limited time and opportunities to be influence for God – cannot count on others to communicate God’s truth to next generation

thank God for CEF and YL and similar ministries – there are countless more who still need to hear and see what it means to follow Christ in a godless culture

life is short

Peter was convinced his life nearly at an end – “shortly I must put off my tent” – did not deny, fight against, he embraced it

was proactive, did all he could to ensure pilgrims in his day were prepared / equipped to continue living faithful to God

Peter made sure they (and we) connected with best resource to keep on track, God’s word – need to be sure are passing on God’s truth to next generation while we have opportunity

memory is short

we too easily forget important things: what God has done for us, what God is doing for us, what God will do for us… and how we should live in light of all that

need continual reminders of God’s love and grace, our dependence on him, the precious treasure we have in the Gospel

Lord Jesus has given another reminder… is before us on the table. Every time we gather together in fellowship around Lord’s Table, are proclaiming God’s truth, reminding ourselves and one another of the goodness of God and greatness of the Gospel. Is a large Table, has room for all who will come by faith in Christ, and faith comes by hearing. Lost people need to hear the story, saved people need to hear the story. Is an old story that never gets old, story about Jesus and his love… love that took him to the cross in our place, love that continues to draw us closer to him and one another.

Fully Devoted to Christ

2 Peter 1:8-11 

Takes Peter a little while to get to his focal point here in second epistle, danger to the church from within… that is, doctrinal error and those who spread it. Might expect him to start with list or two of essentials – things to know, things to guard against. Instead, being the direct no-nonsense kind of guy he was, he keeps basic message simple and to the point. He fleshes that point out with other helpful instruction but Peter’s bottom line is Christ – faith in Christ, knowing Christ, being like Christ, living in the kingdom with Christ. He wrote to converts and exhorts them to be fully devoted to Christ.

Peter knew something important: if person has a heart full of Christ, hands committed to working for Christ, a head instructed by Christ, feet that are following Christ… will be no room for error to gain foothold, little desire for what false teachers present. And of course this builds on those things we are to add to our faith – “if these things are yours and abound”.

A. heart full of Christ  v.8a  “yours and abound”

not just what we do

virtues Peter describes have external evidence – just as greatest commandment puts hearts first, God puts heart condition first

Luke wrote Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) – Gospels tell “he was moved with compassion”, had a heart for God and people

who we are

to be truly ours and be increasing / growing, cannot be things we put on and take off in response to given situation

is when Christ and his love fills our heart and overflows that we will possess character like his – his character becomes ours as we partake of divine nature (v. 4)

what we want

only get good and stay good at things we love / desire and… what fits our nature – if heart filled with Christ, he has given new nature (2 Cor. 5:17) “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”

brings along new desires, that would not only grow in these virtues day by day, but grow more like Christ as he fills us

B. hands that work for Christ  v.8b  “neither barren nor unfruitful”

not barren / lazy but useful

talk about blight on our society – people by millions skilled in avoiding honest work and expecting handouts – is not character of Christian

at age 12: must be about my Father’s business; active in ministry at all hours of the day and night, investing in people

not unfruitful but productive

goes all the way back to Creation: original command to “be fruitful”, then renewed with Noah after the Flood – by God’s design and equipping, as made in his image, expected to be productive

action and activity that is purposeful

overflow of a heart full of Christ will be “hands” that labor to please Christ and push forward the causes he is most interested in

for starters… living out vocation he has called you to: student, parent, secretary, business owner, ministry leader

C. head instructed by Christ v.8c-9  “in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”

knowledge 5x

living and loving and working with purpose that pleases Christ requires knowledge – big deal for Peter, had in mind particular knowledge

did not have in view simple facts, not even knowing the Bible – stressed crucial importance of knowing Christ intimately and fully

mindful

statement gotten more use lately: “didn’t think that one all the way through” – follower of Christ needs both heart and head engaged

have innumerable options for filling up our minds – be sure to fill with what pleases Christ, helps us know Christ, keeps true to Christ, equips to continue the work he began while on earth (Acts 1:1-2)

seeing

outcome of that: accurate worldview, perception of reality – same data available to people of all sorts… only one who truly knows Christ can interpret that data correctly

applies to both universe around us and the people who live there – properly instructed mind equips us to see people as Christ does, recognize their true need, offer true help and hope

remembering

does several things: increases devotion to Christ, increases determination to please Christ, enables us to display love of Christ

further serves to keep mindful of greatness of personal need, need for total dependence on Christ to supply by his power “all things that pertain to life and godliness”

D. feet that follow Christ v.10b  “you will never stumble”

characterized by steadiness

common ailment of growing old and weak: unsteady on your feet – don’t like, do accept as part of process we can expect

does not need to be true in regard to Christian walk – all know friends or loved ones, maybe never got name in lights, steadily and faithfully followed Christ all the way to glory

pursuing a direction

staying on the path, following footsteps – he is the forerunner (Heb. 6:20), has already reached our destination, we just keep putting one foot ahead of the other on path he has marked out for us

matters not how many are going another way… vast majority of people are – if trusting him, he will keep feet going right way

assurance of who we are

good to do periodic spiritual health checks: are these things yours and are they continually increasing? talking about general character of your life over time

if true, then… is clear evidence that you are appointed by God for salvation – lost people don’t think about or care about any of this… in fact, is the opposite for them

lost people don’t see value or significance to loving Jesus, following Jesus, pleasing Jesus, learning of Jesus

may recognize it is important to you, might like some of benefits for themselves, are at heart enemies of Jesus

don’t get cocky, not your genius but God’s grace that you are any different from them – pray diligently that God will in due time show grace and mercy to them

and where we are going

if there is credible evidence of “your calling and election”, you can also be assured of your final destiny: an entrance into the eternal kingdom of Lord Jesus that is richly and abundantly presented to you

When we consider state of the world, maybe even own circumstances, only from human perspective, is hard to find hope and encouragement. When we see from heart filled with Christ, head taught by Christ, we recognize not only great need but also great opportunity. And we can be part of it.

God in mysterious wisdom is purposely using us frail human instruments as part of means to building Christ’s kingdom. And he promises us entrance into that kingdom we are helping to build. The more committed we are to Christ, more dependently on him we live each day, more he will be glorified in our lives, our homes, his church. And more Christ’s kingdom will grow.