We’re going to read from 2 Peter chapter 1 verse 12, through to chapter 2 verse 2.
This word of God. Let’s just have a word of prayer.
Lord, we thank you for your Word. We thank you that it is the truth. We pray Lord, that you bless the reading of your Word. We do pray also about Lynette again, pray for your Hand to heal. And we pray that you open our eyes as we hear your Word now. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Starting from verse 12:
12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. 16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.2 Peter 1.12-21
17 For He received from God the Father honour and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.2 Peter 1.12-21
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.2 Peter 2.1-2
Peter knew that his time to die was at hand. So, he wanted to pass on some information which would be helpful to the believers in Jesus, to make them sure of their salvation and of the truth which he’d been teaching, which the apostles had been teaching after the time of Jesus’ departure.
When looking at this passage you see there were three things which Peter wanted them to be sure of, to make sure they were building on this foundation. Three things which God wants us to be sure of as well.
First, that the Word of God is trustworthy. That It was given to us by eyewitnesses, people who actually saw Jesus. Therefore, you can trust in It.
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.Luke 1.1-4
Second, that there’s a prophetic word which is given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, something which is uniquely given by God, and which confirms to us the truth of the Word of God so that we can believe in It.
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.1 Corinthians 14.1-5
Finally, Peter says you should recognize and reject false teachers, and the characteristic of false teachers is that they would deny the Lord who brought you Jesus, who, in turn, bought us by shedding His blood for us; in other words, false teachers will find some way to deny the cross, that Jesus died for us.
8 “How can you say, ‘We are wise,Jeremiah 8.8-11
And the law of the Lord is with us’?
Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood.
9 The wise men are ashamed,
They are dismayed and taken.
Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord;
So what wisdom do they have?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to others,
And their fields to those who will inherit them;
Because from the least even to the greatest
Everyone is given to covetousness;
From the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
Peter is affirming here the importance of the cross, that Jesus died for us, that we should believe in Him, and through Jesus, know that we have been bought at a great price: the blood of Jesus.
Let us have a look at those three themes. We’re going to look only at the first one, the Word of God and the fact that it is an eyewitness testimony.
It’s very important that we believe that this Word was given to us by eyewitnesses because when we read this Word it tells us about our salvation, it tells us about how Jesus came, how He lived a perfect life, how He died for our sins, how He rose from the dead.
The primary source we have of information for this is, of course, in the Bible. Therefore, God wants you to believe it, and the devil wants you not to believe it.
The devil wants to go around saying (remember that first thing which the devil said to Adam to Eve) “Has God indeed said…?” So, the devil is going to do what he can to make you question the Word of God and question its validity.
Peter says here that you should have good reasons to believe that this is the Word of God.
One of the reasons he gives is: because it’s been given to you by people who are eyewitnesses, who saw it happen.
He says in verse 16,
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.2 Peter 1.16
A fable is a story which someone has made up and, if it’s a story which someone’s made up, then, you don’t have to believe it. But if it’s an account of what’s really happened in time and space, and there are people who’ve seen it happen, and they’ve recorded it for us, then, you should believe it because these are trustworthy men who are telling you the truth and explaining to you what really happened.
And Peter gives his credentials, he says,
I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed1 Peter 5.1
He was giving his credentials that he was a witness of Jesus Christ, of his death and resurrection.
We have the testimony here that this book is given to us by eyewitnesses.
You’ll find that the enemies of the Gospel will do what they can to attack this view. Someone will come from within the church – and here is one of the problems we have in Christianity today – a lot of churches have been infiltrated by what we call ‘liberal theology’ which can undermine your faith in the validity of the Word of God.
One thing they’ve undermined is the fact that this was given to us by eyewitnesses, saying it was written several years later by other people. In fact, there’s a man called Asher Norman who I’ve written an answer to, who wrote a book called ‘26 reasons why Jews don’t believe in Jesus’. (If you go on my Messiah Factor website, I’ve given some answers to his 26 reasons).
But one of the things he says is that the epistles and Gospels were not written by actual witnesses to the events they describe. He says the Gospels were written by unknown men who took the names: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John up to 150 years after the events they describe.
In fact, Norman is saying that the Gospels were written by people who made up the story 150 years later.
Muslims also claim that the Bible we use today has been changed so that we have a book which has been corrupted they say. And they’ve got the true version which is the Quran.
There was also a book which was a bestseller quite recently called the Da Vinci Code by a man called Dan Brown. Has anybody read it?
I don’t advise you to read. It is quite a good yarn, in terms of literature, but what he says is historically false.
He says the Bible is the product of a man, not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds, men created it as a historical record of tumultuous times. It has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions, histories. It was never defined or had a definitive version of the book.
He says the four Gospels were chosen out of about 80 accounts of Jesus at the time of the council of Nicaea in the year 312.
He says his own account is historical.
Well, it’s not, it’s fake. I’m going to tell you why it isn’t fake in a moment.
The dating of the scriptures is quite important. If the writers were eyewitnesses, then they saw it happen. If they were latter writers, they could have made it up and it could be untrustworthy.
If they were latter writers, you have got to ask the questions: ‘How did they know? Where did they get their facts from? How did they get it all right about geography, history, and the customs of the time which you have in the New Testament?‘
They didn’t have Google to research information on. Where did they get the information from if they made it up 150 years later? Who would have believed them?
For example, if I said that my grandfather was in the First World War and saw somebody who was shot in the trenches and, magically, came back to life and revealed himself to be God, who would believe me? Nobody. It would be a story made up.
But, if somebody who saw it happen, wrote it down, and preached it from the beginning, then, you could have faith that this was a message which was true.
19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
Of course, the message of the Gospel was preached beginning on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus, and has spread from then and it was written down in the recent history of the events taking place.
We also have something also called ‘apostolic authority testimony’. How do you qualify to be an apostle?
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.1 Corinthians 12.27-31
We have some people who say they are apostles today. Now, in one sense the word ‘apostle’ does mean ‘somebody who is sent’. So, somebody can say that they’re an apostle if they’re a missionary or they are sent to plant churches. But an apostle in the sense of being one of the people who had seen Jesus, you can’t have any today, because only those who were there at the time could.
When Judas fell and the Book of Acts says they had to make a decision to replace Judas with a 12th apostle, Acts chapter 12 verse 21 says,
21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”Acts 1.21-22
The qualification to be an apostle was that you be a witness of Jesus, of His life, of His death, and, above all, of His resurrection. That was something which was only available to people who had been alive at the time, and Peter himself says that he is such an eyewitness.
In this passage which we just read, it says,
17 For He received from God the Father honour and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.2 Peter 1.17-18
What was that event which he was referring to? You’ll find it in Matthew 17, the transfiguration of Jesus. And Peter says ‘I was there, I saw it. It’s not a story I made up. I was there.’
In fact, if you read the account, he was there with John and with James; three of the disciples saw this happen. By the time Peter wrote this, James was already dead because in Acts chapter 12.1-4, he’d been put to death by Herod.
Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.Acts 12.1-4
So, Peter and John were the only people left who had been eyewitnesses of the transfiguration of Jesus. That’s what he wrote down. This is what Matthew wrote about it.
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.Matthew 17.1-8
Peter says, ‘I’m an eyewitness, I saw that happen, I saw Jesus on the mountain.’ And there’s a significance in that event.
When Jesus became man and dwelt amongst us, He laid aside His glory. He came from heaven where He had all the glory of heaven (you have a description of Jesus glorified in heaven in Revelation chapter 1 with His tremendous power and glory),
9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. 19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.Revelation 1.9-20
Yet, when Jesus came to earth, He laid that aside and He became man. He appeared as a normal human being. He grew up as a baby, from a baby to a young man, to the time when He ‘came out’ as the Messiah at the age of 30 and began His ministry. But as He was going around Nazareth and Jerusalem, and all the places He went to, He looked like anybody else.
Had He looked like He did on the day of transfiguration while walking around Nazareth with His face shining like the sun, it would have been a bit difficult to miss that He was the Messiah, wouldn’t it? But it says He laid aside His glory that He might become the suffering servant and suffer and die for us on the cross.
At the time of the transfiguration, Jesus’ veil was torn away, and Peter saw Him in His glory. He saw Him with His face shining like the sun, His clothes dazzling white. And they saw Him as He really is.
They saw Him and were, I guess, overwhelmed by the sight. Peter didn’t really know what to say and he said,
“Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”Matthew 17.4-5
God spoke from heaven and said, ‘This is my Son, listen to Him, believe Him, He is the unique One’ He is the Son of God. Also, Jesus is the ‘son of man’ and so this story is an affirmation of the glory of God and of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ as ‘Son of God’ and ‘son of man’.
Peter says he was an eyewitness of this which gives him authority to write about it. If somebody was an eyewitness, they saw it happen, they can say that this is the truth: ‘this really did happen‘. And God wants us to believe that this really is the truth, that Jesus really is Son of God, son of man, the new Saviour who died for us and rose from the dead.