Sermon Manuscript . . .
These Words are from God!
Trust your Bible as superior and sufficient–2 Peter 1:19-21, part one
I recently took a bike ride where I went down an alley that was pitch black. It was a 100-yard-long dirt path to the beach, about 6 feet wide, and the fences which border each side of the path are made of either sharpened metal poles with rusty chain link, or boards sharpened into impaling poles. Plus, lurking in the tall weeds on either side of the path were vampire crabs and land sharks–a scary moment.
The good news was, I had a powerful flashlight–not only could I adjust the beam size, but as my favorite flashlight, it could burn your retinas and permanently blind you, making it a flashlight which will dispel the darkness and turn night into day. Like that alleyway, you and I are living in a dark place. This is a dark world, filled with sin, evil and corruption. But we have the light, and the lumens of your light are so bright, it can turn the night of this world into day.
Your light is sitting in your lap right now–it is your Bible, the Word of God. As it is learned, lived, and used as a guide, it will dispel the darkness which surrounds you. Your light shining in the darkness of this world will also cause you to long for permanent day. As you shine your light in the ugly, dirty night of this world, the more you will want the day to come. You will begin to long for the One who will bring permanent day to this world which is enslaved in night. The return of our Lord Jesus Christ will end the night and bring everlasting light to this world forever.
This is what Peter reminds his readers as he wraps up chapter 1 of 2 Peter. Open your Bibles to 2 Peter 1 and read aloud from your outline verses 19 to 21, as Peter celebrates the written Word of God and anticipates the return of the living Word of God. As we read aloud, notice the three references to the prophetic Word/prophecy.
“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:19 to 21).
Peter tells us in verse 19 that the written Word of God is the light from God for a dying, dark world without God until the return to Christ. Peter tells us in verses 20 to 21 that the Scriptures are supernaturally God’s exact breathed words, given to us via His chosen prophets and apostles. And today, as verse 19 is exposited, Peter will challenge every genuine Christian to use the written Word now, until the living Word arrives.
In the first chapter of 2 Peter, the apostle expresses his deep concern for the continuing growth and spiritual maturity of his readers then, and you readers today. Peter sees your growth in knowledge of God and the development of Christ-like character as the best safeguard against being misled by false teachers. So Peter reminds believers they have everything they need for life and godliness. They already have the character of Christ germinally placed in them through their new nature given at salvation.
They already have the ability to live Christ-like and to overcome the corruption of the world as well as defeat the strong desires of their own flesh. And all of this ability is guaranteed by two great realities of God’s revelation–1) is the apostolic witness in verses 16 to 18, and 20 is God’s written Word in verses 19 to 21. We know Christ and this Christian life is all true because it is all revealed in God’s Word.
The first guarantee is the eyewitness accounts of the apostles in verses 16 to 18. The apostles personally witnessed the life, ministry, deity, death and resurrection of Christ. Three of the apostles witnessed the second coming glory of Christ on the mount of transfiguration. This guarantees what the apostles teach about Christ and His second coming, because they witnessed all these events personally.
And for today, the second guarantee is the origin of God’s written revelation in verses 19 to 21. Peter describes the supernatural process in which gave us His Word without error through the prophets and apostles. Eyewitness accounts and God’s written Word guarantee the truth of what the apostles teach. The Word is superior to the witness, because the Word is also the means of developing the character of Christ in order to grow stable and strong in our faith. The readers know this is true, because it is God’s supernaturally given, written Word, which was also witnessed by the authors, used to give us this same Word.
The validity of the Christian faith is rooted in the self-revelation of God to mankind. The call to spiritual maturity and stability is founded upon the understanding of and reliance upon God’s witnessed and supernaturally written Word–inspired prophecy. Peter points out the character of the prophetic Word (verse 19a)–it is the most trusted. Peter pictures the present function of biblical prophecy (verse 19b)–it is the most dependable. Peter stresses the origin of prophecy (verses 20 to 21)–it is the most supernatural. Today, the exposition of verse 19 will declare points one and two.
#1 God’s Written Word is to be the Most TRUSTED
Verse 19a, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure.” The written Word of God is the living Word of God for a dying world without God. Peter is stating the nature of God’s revelation–it is more certain. When Peter says, “so we have,” he’s not referring to merely Peter, James and John, nor even all the apostles. The context seems to point to Peter describing all believers. This is for you–“so we have.” All Christians share in this incredible treasure–each of you, and all of you have the sure Word.
Now this description of “prophetic word” doesn’t merely describe the Old Testament prophets–you know, the Old Testament major and minor prophets. No, the phrase “prophetic word” is one way to describe the entire Old Testament, since the entire Old Testament was written by prophets, just like the New Testament was written by apostles. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke and wrote God’s Word, which was the task of the prophet. So it is best to see the “prophetic word” as referring to the written Word of God–it is the Old Testament and also most likely includes all the New Testament written thus far, since Peter later confirms Paul’s letters as the Scripture in 2 Peter 3.
We know it refers to the Bible, because the Greek word prophetic is used only twice in the New Testament–once here, and once in Romans 16:26, where both are used to describe the written Word. Plus, “the prophetic word” is singular, describing one unit, the whole enchilada, the entire Scripture–which all witness Christ being God, Christ returning in glory, and Christ sacrificing Himself for the sins of others on the cross. Like Jesus reminding His men in Luke 24:27, “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” So “the prophetic word” is best understood as referring to all the Scriptures–the written Scriptures, your Bible, the Old Testament and New Testament are all, verse 19, “more sure” . . . more certain.
Now this entire phrase, verse 19, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure,” is understood in two different ways. One) is describing the eyewitness account of Christ’s majesty at the Transfiguration, which is what confirms the Scriptures–what was seen at the Transfiguration in verses 16 to 18 made the prophetic Word more reliable. Two) the other view of interpreting this phrase is to embrace the Old Testament and the New Testament writings as being far more certain than the true experience of the Transfiguration. All you believers have a more reliable testimony than the witness of the apostles–namely, “the prophetic Word.”
Pick it apart and you’ll discover Peter’s intended meaning–the Bible is more reliable than even true experiences–even the true experiences of an apostle, like Peter. Peter is telling Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland and all other men like them–the Scriptures are more sure than any vision, feeling, or dream they come up with. How do we know this? The verb “more sure” is declaring the Word is not likely to fail or give way. “More sure” is durable, unshakable, guaranteed and certain. “More sure” is an unbreakable promise that will not waiver.
“More sure” does not indicate that the eyewitness account of Christ’s majesty at the Transfiguration confirmed the Scriptures. No, the original arrangement of the sentence supports the interpretation that Peter is ranking Scripture over experience. The “prophetic word” (all of Scripture) is more complete, more permanent, and more authoritative than anyone’s experience–including an apostle. Get what God is saying through Peter–the Bible is a more reliable verification of the teachings about the person, the atonement, and the second coming of Christ than even the first-hand, genuine experiences of the apostles themselves. Trust the Bible over spiritual authority.
Now, be wise–if I spend 24 hours a week studying a passage, but you reject my interpretation because you have a differing opinion which comes from a single glance at the Word, or is the result of your lunchtime discussion, or some blogger you read once, that is not wise. If you reject the viewpoint of someone who has invested their life seeking to determine the author’s intended message and who seeks to establish their doctrine from the biblical text and not a school of thought, that is most often not wise. But generally, it is most important to take what the Bible says over what I say, or any other teacher, because the written Word of God is the most reliable–even over Peter’s true experience.
Don’t read the book about the little boy who went to Heaven–the Bible describes Heaven. Don’t trust a subjective vision you had in the past. Don’t freak out over a dream you had. Don’t put your confidence in some unexplained, providential coincidence, where everything came true–put your trust only in the objective, written, Word of God. Don’t wait for an emotion in order to obey God’s commands. Don’t wait for a feeling in order to feel spiritual. Don’t live your life by your emotions or experiences. No, dependently obey the written Word of God–it is more sure.
Never forget, it is the written Word of God which alone can bring salvation to the lost sinner. Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” And it is the written Word of God which alone can bring sanctification to the born again believer. John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” The written Word of God is the living Word of God for a dying world without God. Verse 19a, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure.” The written word of God, your Bible, is the most trusted.
#2 God’s Written Word is the Most DEPENDABLE
The Word of God is the only light in a dark world. How does Peter state it? Verse 19b, “to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” Peter is graciously warning all believers. Because they will be exposed to false teachers, genuine believers must pay attention to (study) and depend upon the Scripture.
First RELY on the written Word (as the light in a dark world) Verse 19c
Verse 19c, “to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place“
“You do well” is an adverb which characterizes the need of all believers to sustain focused attention on God’s Word. “You do well” is Peter telling you, this is right and this is correct, to alter your life in every way in order to depend on the Scriptures.
This is the plight of the well-taught church–people focus on the Bible, but don’t study it. Believers esteem the Bible, but don’t rely upon it every single day. People respect the Bible, but don’t do anything with it. So Peter says, “Don’t do that.” Do well, do what is right and correct–meaning not only hear the Word, but heed the Word. Pay attention to the Word in order to practice the Word. The Bible was meant to enable you to overcome that bad attitude, your fear, anger, or lack of patience, plus stop those harsh words, lack of gentleness, or inability to listen, husbands.
“To pay attention” is a continuous action participle, picturing believers who are continually focusing their minds on the Word in order to learn it and live it. Peter’s readers are not to be wasting their time with any false teacher trends. Don’t focus on their weird theories, conjectures, their speculations on God and unsound theology. Refuse to get sucked into their creative and errant focus on numbers, riddles, secrets or spellings–no, you focus on the actual Words of God, Old and New Testament.
Why? Peter reminds you–because the Word of God is the light in the midst of darkness. This world is dark and all non-Christians live in darkness. Only believers have the light. Peter describes the Bible in verse 19, “as to a lamp shining in a dark place.” Can’t see a purpose in your current trial? Can’t understand why that relationship is so difficult? Can’t figure out why your situation is so dark? Then turn on the lamp, my friends. Turn on the light–look to the Word of God for wisdom and clarity.
Peter compares the Bible to a lamp. The lamp here is a portable hand lamp, usually placed on a stand in the house. One of the functions of God’s Word is to enlighten those who are surrounded by moral difficulty and spiritual darkness. Your Bible opened and applied is literally a shining light. The Old Testament was now alive to New Testament believers, who were still living in a dark place. The portions of the New Testament now completed are seeing for believers living among the blind.
The adjective “dark” is only used here in the New Testament, and it actually means dry and parched, and then it came to mean murky and dirty. Dark is describing a condition of dirt and filth produced through neglect. There is a lot of speculation as to what the “dark place” means. One commentator said it was the dimness of the Old Testament compared to the brightness of the Gospel age. Another said it was less enlightened believers, another actually said dark was the house of heresy believers would live in if they followed the teaching of the false teachers described in chapter 2.
All of those sound reasonable, but they’re forced interpretations. The most natural understanding of dark is the view of the “dark place” as this world as it presently exists, since the New Testament regularly characterizes the world as darkness. No matter how high civilization may rise, no matter how comfortable you are on this planet, no matter how easy life is–this world, in its willful alienation from the God of light, lies in the darkness of sin, ignorance, despair and death.
At some point, you will suffer on this world. You will be attacked, abused, maligned or mistreated in this life–you will. And unless raptured, 100% of you are going to die. This planet is dark–fallen, corrupted, and filled with sin, evil and death. Just ask a police officer, or go on a ride along. Find out what happens every day and every night in our community. This mention of dark surroundings prepares the believers Peter writes and believers today for the sad picture of false teachers in 2 Peter 2. This world is a dark place–therefore, this world desperately needs the light of God’s Word.
You know that piece of furniture you have that is just too big and heavy to move? Remember when something rolled underneath it and you used your flashlight to look for it–and you were completely disgusted by what you saw? Dust bombs, dead bugs, moldy food, Lego pieces, your favorite pen, your lost uncle Fred–you finally face reality. You resolve to move that monster, because you’ve seen what’s breeding underneath it.
Just like your flashlight exposes the disgusting condition under your unmoved furniture, so the Bible exposes the disgusting condition of this world. Plus it can also cause the unbeliever to be drawn to God, as they see the disgusting condition of their heart. The murky darkness of this fallen world keeps people from seeing the truth until the light shines. And the light is the lamp of revelation, the Word of God. Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” And the Bible, your Bible, will be the only lamp that will shine “until the day dawns and the morning star rises.”
Second REST in the written Word (until Christ returns) Verse 19d
The diligent use of the prophetic lamp is essential
Verse 19d, “until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” Until is literally until which time, indicating that believers right now are in that time, waiting until prophecy is fulfilled. Keep using the Word, keep learning the Word, keep applying the Word until the day arrives. And when will that day arrive? What is the exact date? Write this down–January 24, my anniversary! No, March 22–my birthday! No, August 4–Jean’s birthday! We don’t know. Peter uses the subjunctive mood for the verbs dawns and arises, indicating that the time when that day breaks and the star rises is presently unknown. Peter is telling you to use the Word of God as a lamp now, until God brings His Light to this world.
Use the lamp I gave you, until I bring you the Sun. Think about it, friends–use the written Word now, until the Living Word arrives. Peter says, use the written word until the day dawns. The statement, “the day”, is used without an article–there is no the. The reason for that is to serve as a contrast. Peter contrasts the awaiting coming day in contrast to the present night/dark. You live in the dark among people who are in the dark now, awaiting the day and light. The verb dawn, “until the day dawns,” is a compound verb, used only here in the New Testament from dia through/agazo to shine, literally translated “to shine through”–dawn, to shine through. It pictures the first gleams of the morning breaking through the darkness with light. Peter is looking forward to the return of Christ in all His blazing glory, but his reference here, “until the day dawns,” is to the first signs of that coming day.
Do a study of every reference to the Day of the Lord and you will discover that Day begins with the Rapture and ends with the ending of the 1,000-year earthly kingdom of Christ and the beginning of the Eternal State. The Day of the Lord begins with all the events of eschatology, last things–begin that DAY brings the Light. That Day includes the return of Christ to rule this planet.
Peter is going to tell us in chapter 3:7 to 13 that the second coming of Christ will not only dramatically transform the universe in an external manner, but also Christ’s return will internally transform all those believers who are alive when Jesus returns–forever removing any doubts. The perfect, but limited, revelation of the Scriptures, will be replaced with the perfect and complete revelation of Jesus Christ at His second coming.
Are you tempted right now? Are you tempted to think, “If my family and friends would only see Christ in all His glory, then they would have faith. If they only could see Jesus risen from the dead, then they would repent”? Friends, no–Jesus already told the true story of the rich man in Hell, who begged to have the poor man Lazarus warn his brothers of the torment of Hell. And Abraham responded in Luke 16:31b, ” ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” If they don’t respond to the Bible now, they will never respond to any miracle. We have a more sure word. Use the written Word now until the Living Word arrives. But when Christ does arrive, it will change everything.
The Scriptures will be fulfilled–each believer here will be made like Christ. You’ll no longer sin, you’ll have perfect knowledge and body, and all prophecy will be abolished. But until that day, while you and I still live in the darkness of this world, you study, learn, live and shine the light of God’s Word. In other words, use the written Word now, until the Living Word arrives.
To make this clear, Peter adds a colorful expression at the end of verse 19, “until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” That expression “and the morning star arises” adds a further element of anticipation. “The morning star” is the Greek term which gives us our English term phōsphoros–it’s only used here in the New Testament. It means light-bringer, light bearer, or light giver. Notice the usage of star and the usage of day in the Bible.
“A star will come out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17). “The day is almost here” (Romans 13:12). “As you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). “ ‘I am … the bright Morning Star’ ” (Revelation 22:16). Each usage pictures the return of Christ or refers to Christ Himself. The very last title given to Christ in the Bible is the Bright and Morning Star. Peter is pointing to our Lord Jesus Christ and His soon triumphant return.
The reference in 2 Peter 1:19 is to the morning star arising on the eastern horizon before the break of day. I’m certain you understand what Peter is describing. The morning star is usually the planet Venus (sometimes it can be Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, or Saturn)–that bright morning star reflects the light of the sun, which is still below the horizon, and so that morning star becomes the herald of the dawn. Both the dawn and morning star indicate the coming of a new day, announcing the day.
It is Christ, the Morning Star, who will bring the dawn of a new prophetic day. Like other writers, Peter is exhorting his readers to pay close attention to the prophetic Word of Scripture, and to do so with reference to Christ’s imminent return. Saturate yourself in the written Word now, until the Living Word arrives.
Peter ends verse 19 with an encouraging and optimistic phrase–do you see it? Verse 19d, “until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” This “dark place” will not be dark forever. A new day will soon dawn–Jesus is coming back! It must have seemed to those who were being terrorized by Nero’s monstrous campaign of persecution, that the world, always a gloomy place, had suddenly become very dark, evil and menacing. To those “getting darked”, Peter says, “Jesus is coming back soon.”
Peter also knew a terrible death awaited him, one from which there was no escape. Yet Peter was joyful and optimistic. Peter had God’s certain, dependable and most trusted Word, that Jesus was coming again. “The day dawns and the morning star arises” is the objective reality. It is a certainty that there will be a Rapture for His Church and Christ will physically return to rule this planet. Objectively, Peter affirms this is true–it is a fact.
But subjectively, Christ’s return must make an impact on your hearts. With the phrase “in your hearts,” Peter is concerned about your inner attitude as you await the glorious day of Christ’s return. The truth that Christ is coming again must first arise in your heart, like the morning star, giving inner assurance, proving that great dawning day, the coming of Christ to rule, is a certainty. Once you are assured in your heart of Christ’s impending return, you’ll automatically be alert, looking to detect the gleams of the dawn breaking through the darkness. You will look for and anticipate the signs pointing to the return of Christ. And once you own in your heart that Christ is returning soon, once you genuinely anticipate the morning star and the dawn of a whole new day, you will live differently here in this dark world.
When you know the light is coming, that every wrong will be made right, Christ will rule in righteousness, a whole new world of light awaits this dark planet–then you will live differently now. This world will be less important, relationships will be viewed differently. When you look for Christ to change everything, then what He values you will value now. What He wants you will want now. You will live now as if He would return any moment. You will live now as if Christ were already physically ruling this planet.
“In your heart” means the imminent return of Christ will impact your everyday life. This morning, do you have that hope in your heart? And if you say, “Yes,”–tell me truly, in what way has the return of Christ effected your daily lifestyle, your attitudes, your spending, your priorities, and your relationships. Can you truly say the Morning Star has risen in your heart?
“But Chris, how do we know this is all true. How can I trust the written Word that Christ is actually returning? How do I know God’s written Word is recorded supernaturally, so that it truly is God’s breathed Word?” Peter answers that in verses 20 to 21. Come back next year/week to find out.
TAKE THIS HOME TODAY
A Brighten your LIGHT so as not to live in FEAR
Too many students are anxious. Too many young Christian moms live in fear. Too many believers are afraid of things in this world. It is time for you to brighten your light. Learn the Word, live the Word, study theology, read the right books, listen to messages. Ask your community group or ministry leader for first steps and go after it. The more you hear and heed the Word of God, the brighter your light is in this dark world–then the less you’ll be afraid. The brighter your light, the less afraid of the dark you are.
B Beware of the DECEPTION of something MORE
Peter labored to remind his readers they have everything they need for life and godliness. You have all you need in Christ. The indwelling Holy Spirit and your new nature enable you to live like Christ and overcome the corruption of this dark world and to conquer the dirty desires of your own heart as well. Life might be bad on this dark planet, but when God’s light returns, life for you will be awesome. Remember, for the Christian, this life is the only Hell you will ever experience. Remember, for the non-Christian, this life is the only Heaven you will ever experience.
Don’t seek more, a secret, a path, a process, a feeling, an experience or a system–seek the Lord through His Word. Learn it, apply it, memorize it, live by it, lean on it, and search it for answers–and trust in it with dependent prayer. Don’t seek more when you have been given all you need.
C The more you RELY on the written Word, the more you will ANTICIPATE the return of the Living Word
As you shine the light of God’s bright Word on this dark world, as you expose the darkness with light, it will make you long for the dawn of the day when the Morning Star will return and remove the darkness forever. You will want an end to the darkness, moving you to hope for the true light to return. But if you don’t learn and live the written Word, then you will not long for the Living Word to return.
There should be tangible ways where you see your hope in Christ’s glorious return dramatically affecting your everyday life. If you really long for Christ to return, it will affect areas like your finances, your family, and your fears–does it?
D Make certain you are serving the right MASTER
Everyone of you is a servant, God made you a servant–the only question is, who do you serve? Some of you serve sin and some of you serve the Savior. Either you serve the Lord of this world or the Lord of lords. Either you follow Beelzebub or the Bible. You say, “I follow myself, I do my own thing, I am the captain of my own soul,” which is declaring to all you are a slave to sin. That’s what the Lucifer thought when he fell.
The only way to be free of self and sin is to trade masters. Turn from your sin, placing it on Christ–believing He died for you and rose from the dead. Exchange all that you are for all that He is. He is the true Master of all who follow Him. Those who claim Him, but don’t follow Him, are lying to themselves and are still enslaved to self and sin. Today, make certain you are truly a genuine believer and cry out to Christ to save you from your sins, as you submit to the Lord of all lords, the true Master, Jesus Christ.