The Trustworthiness of the Prophetic Word

Sermon from 2 Peter 1.19-21 | Pastor Phil Andrukaitis

Introduction

As the Apostle Peter prepares his flock [and the flock of God down through the ages] for the challenges they will encounter, he clearly states that God’s Word is the ultimate source of authority and spiritual knowledge.  While Peter identified four different sources of knowledge[1] (2nd Peter 1:16-21)

  • Illegitimate myths
  • Legitimate personal perception
  • Superior Scripture
  • and being face-to-face with Christ

…the superiority of Scripture deserves our concentrated attention to which all other earthly sources of knowledge must bow its knee.

Last week, we looked at Peter’s compelling testimony when he witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus Christ and concluded three principles regarding faith in the majesty of incarnate truth:

  1. Faith in Christ is not founded on myths or fables (16a).
  2. Faith in Christ is founded upon the preaching of truth (16b).

III.       Faith in Christ is founded upon historical facts as witnessed by others (16c-18).

Transitional Thoughts

Therefore, let us now direct our attention to the superiority of Scripture since Peter declared three affirmations of Scripture:[2]

  1. Scripture is sure. [Referring to the infallibility of Scripture]
  2. Scripture shines. [Referring to the illumination of Scripture]

III.       Scripture is Spirit-given.      [Referring to the inspiration of Scripture]

Central Idea

Scripture is the only guiding light in this world of spiritual darkness.

                                               

Meaning of the Text:

 

This central idea is a bold statement but also very true because the Word became flesh – Jesus Christ.  “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light [Jesus] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).  The spiritual darkness in this world will never dim the glorious light of Jesus or His Word.

Therefore, when it come to the Scripture, there is no other body of “spiritual writings” in this world that sheds light on spiritual darkness that engulfs our world.  There is only one light – the Scripture – our Bible today [all sixty-six books].  And so, let us look at Peter’s first affirmation of Scripture.

  1. Scripture is sure. [Referring to the infallibility of Scripture]

“And we have something more sure, the prophetic word…”

(2nd Peter 19a – ESV)

Students of Scripture are divided over the two views surrounding the interpretation of this verse.  Does apostolic experience [Peter’s eyewitness of Jesus’ transfiguration] fulfill and authenticate Scripture or does Scripture confirm the apostolic witness?

If we adopt the first view, then the objective, absolute truth [Scripture] would be dependent upon signs and wonders to confirm its authority.  In other words, Peter’s eyewitness of the transfiguration gives greater credibility to the Scripture.  I believe this point of view ought not be adopted.

Rather, the second view, Scripture confirms the apostolic witness, is the proper view to be adopted because the word, “sure” bebaios “refers to the certainty and reliability of promises and agreements” made by God.[3]  Here is another way of understanding Peter’s statement:  Even though Peter’s eyewitness experience may have been helpful to him, the prophetic word of Scripture is more sure.  Therefore, Scripture confirms the apostolic witness.

 

  1. Scripture shines. [Referring to the illumination of Scripture]

“…to which you will do well to pay attention

as to a lamp shining in a dark place

until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

(2nd Peter 19b)

The second affirmation of Scripture begins as an exhortation, continues with a description of the world in which we live and concludes with hope for those of us who in this dark world.

EXHORTATION:  Peter exhorts his readers to “pay attention” to the apostolic teachings – the Word of God, not to their eye-witnessing experiences.  In other words, since the church was constantly exposed to the false teachings circulating amid the church, believers were to focus their “concern, care, and commitment” on the teachings of the apostles[4] because the apostolic teachings [which are part of the Word of God] are liken to a lamp.  The psalmist said, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Listen to the exhortation from Hebrews 2:1 – “Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”  And

DESCRIPTION:  Peter describes the world in which his readers live.  Peter identifies this world as a “dark place” where people have turned away from God and His values.  Instead of living for Him and embracing His values, fallen man lives for himself and the values they value.  The results are tragic, creating a murky, hellish environment on earth where sinners live in constant rebellion against God and impose suffering on one another.

HOPE:  But Peter also provides hope for his readers living in this dark world.  When believers govern their lives with the Word of God in this dark world, God will illuminate their paths whereas unbelievers who do not govern their lives with the Word of God will wander throughout this dark world and eventually end up in eternal darkness.  What a sad reality for unbelievers but what a glorious hope for believers; here are two future realities:

  • A new day is coming [the Parousia] – “the day dawns” – when Jesus will end this world’s long dark night by returning to this world and physically establish His kingdom on earth and ruling this world from the city of Jerusalem.
  • The Morning Star will rise in your hearts. The Morning Star is none other than Jesus Christ!  See Revelation 22:16. When Jesus calls believers home or when He returns for His church, whatever is lacking in our character, He will complete the transformation of His image in us.  Listen to the Apostle John’s hopeful promise of God:

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.  And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure” (1st John 3:2-3).

 

 

III.       Scripture is Spirit-given.      [Referring to the inspiration of Scripture]

“…knowing this first of all,

that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.

For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man,

but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

(2nd Peter 1:20-21)

As we examine Peter’s third and final affirmation regarding Scripture, Peter wants his readers to sense the great importance of what he is about to state.

This passage is one of two significant passages that affirm the inspiration of Scripture.  The other passage is 2nd Timothy 3:14-17.  While Paul emphasized the fact that Scripture is the “very breath of God,” Peter emphasized three characteristics regarding the origin of Scripture:

NOT of PRIVATE INTERPRETATION:  No portion of Scripture [both OT and NT] originated / came into existence through prophet’s “own fallible and quite possibly mistaken notions about visions he saw or the words he heard.”[5]  In other words, Scripture is not the record of man’s fallible ideas and interpretations.

NOT of HUMAN WILL:  Scripture is not of human will.  Peter is reemphasizing the first characteristic that the origin of Scripture rests with God, not man.

CARRIED along by THE HOLY SPIRIT:  Therefore, how did Scripture come into existence?  Peter’s statement that men spoke from God implies a dual authorship is in view.  God chose holy men to be his spokesmen and by His Spirit, God carried them along.  Perhaps the metaphor of a ship raising its sails to the wind and going in the direction of the wind may be helpful in understanding how God worked through the consciousness of holy men who penned the words of Scripture.[6]

 

 

Significance of the Text:

Sinners and saints can build their lives on the foundation of God’s Word.

Scripture is infallible, meaning that It is reliable, trustworthy, and exempt from any error.  It is the final and supreme authority over man.  To subject the authority of Scripture to eye-witness experiences (signs and wonders) would lead to gross errors and unbiblical practices, as evidenced by the doctrines and practices of the Faith Movement, today.

Here are two further pieces of evidence to rely more on the Scripture than on personal experiences:

First, there is the testimony of Scripture:  The Scripture is the record of God given to the church.  Therefore, consider the following passages:

  • “The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7b).
  • “Your decrees are very trustworthy…” (Psalm 93:5a).
  • “…all His precepts are trustworthy” (Psalm 111:7b).
  • “…I consider all Your precepts to be right…” (Psalm 119:128a).

Second, there is the limitations of experience:  In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul addressed his boastful opponents who touted their experiences: “I must go on boasting.  Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord” (2nd Corinthians 12:1).  Paul’s point:  Personal visons and experiences are unverifiable, unrepeatable, and incomprehensible;[7] but the Word of God is reliable and trustworthy.

                                                           

Sinners and saints need the illuminating Word of God.

Considering the coming judgment on earth and for those who will stand before the “Bemaseat” or the “Great White Throne,” everyone must pay careful attention to and obey the Scripture.  It is a comfort to know that as we embrace the Word of God in our lives, His shining Word will navigate our lives through this dark world to our heavenly home.

                                                           

Sinners and saints must handle carefully the inspired Word of God.

No passage of Scripture is meant to stand alone in isolation or will ever contradict another passage.  Therefore, since there is one God and Author of the Word, every word breathed out by God is meant to be understood in the entire context of Scripture and in light of other parallel or related passages.[8]

                                                           

Illustration: “In February 1954, a navy pilot set out on a night-training mission from a carrier off the coast of Japan. While he was taking off in stormy weather, his directional finder malfunctioned, and he mistakenly headed in the wrong direction.  To make matters worse, his instrument panel suddenly short-circuited, burning out all the lights in the cockpit.

“The pilot ‘looked around … and could see absolutely nothing; the blackness outside the plane had suddenly come inside.’  Nearing despair, he looked down and thought he saw a faint blue-green glow trailing along in the ocean’s ebony depths.  His training had prepared him for this moment, and he knew in an instant what he was seeing: a cloud of phosphorescent algae glowing in the sea that had been stirred up by the engines of his ship.  It was the ‘least reliable and most desperate method’ of piloting a plane back onto a ship safely, but the pilot—future Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell—knew that was precisely what he needed to do.  And so he did.”

Jim Lovell’s life was saved because of the only guiding light amid total blackness.[9]

 

Application:

You too can save your life, your spiritual life, by submitting to the Word of God.  Unlike a cloud of phosphorescent algae which is certainly the least reliable source of light, Scripture is the most reliable source of light for every sinner and saint for the three affirming reasons Peter has presented.  In fact, Scripture is the only guiding light in this world of spiritual darkness. 

Therefore, consider the following applications:

  1. Handle the sure and authoritative Word of God, carefully. Read it.  Study it.  Memorize   it.  To neglect the Scripture is to place your life in peril.  Therefore, maintain whatever    reading program you have adopted.  God will bless you, seeing that are desirous to       nourish your soul.
  1. Adopt or adapt a memorization program that will enable you to “hide God’s Word in your heart.”  The more Scripture you bring into your soul, by way of reading, studying, and memorizing, the greater your impact in this spiritually dark world.  After all, Jesus calls us to be light and salt.
  1. The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers not to neglect the fellowship and worshipful times with your church family (Hebrews 10:24-25).   Small groups gatherings around the Word of God are essential for individual spiritual maturity.  Seek out one of the several small groups within your church family that gather together for fellowship and study of God’s Word.
  2. Finally, do not neglect worshipping together with your church family.  To underestimate the value of Sunday worship [and your church family despite our many flaws] reflects a  lack of commitment to the Lord and His flock to which He has placed you.  Humble     yourself before the Lord and turn away [repent] from this ungodly attitude.  Give yourself      to the Lord and to one another for His name’s sake and the sake of others.

[1] John Sherwood, The Only Sure Word, [doc online]; from https://www.tms.edu/m/tmsj7c.pdf, accessed 2017 Jan. 9.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 2, (Wheaton:  Victor Books, 1989), pp. 444-445.

[3] Douglass J. Moo, The NIV Application Commentary, 2 Peter, Jude, (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), p. 75.

[4] Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s NT Insights on James, 1 & 2 Peter, (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2010), p. 278.

[5] Douglass J. Moo, The NIV Application Commentary, 2 Peter, Jude, (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), p. 77.

[6] Ray Stedman, Commentary on 2 Peter: Chapter One, [doc online]; from http://www.raystedman.org/2peter/2peter1.html, accessed 2017 Jan. 9.

[7] John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary – 2nd Peter & Jude, (Chicago:  Moody Publishers, 2005), p. 62.

[8] Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s NT Insights on James, 1 & 2 Peter, (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2010), p. 279.

[9] Sam Rodriguez, Be Light, [doc online]; from http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2016/august/7082916.html, accessed 2017 Jan. 9.

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