2021 – The Others
2 Peter 3
The Faith Challenge
We are currently in the New Testament book of 2 Peter. So far…
--We have learned it is a grandiloquent letter started by Peter and completed by an unknown disciple after Peter’s death.
--We were partakers of the banquet of his divine nature. We sat at the table alongside the apostles dining on grace and peace and godly lives and glory and all of his rich promises for dessert!
--But that was not enough. Peter was concerned that we take our supplements. We add to our faith… Doing Good. Learning more. Staying in control. Being disciplined. Worshiping Well with togetherness as we offer your sacrifices to bless the Others!
--If we do this… we will be fruitful. We will grow in the true knowledge of the LORD. We will not go blind nor stumble. Rather, we will stay in the eternal kingdom of our Savior!
As I said, 2 Peter is a grandiloquent letter. It is grandiloquently crafted. The first eleven verses provide the basics for being a Christian and staying a Christian. Then, the bulk of 2 Peter deals with 3 problems. In the early church, their faith was being challenged. Their love was in danger of being perverted. Their hope could have gone blind. Faith, Love and Hope are the three components of what it means to be a Christian. All three were being challenged in Peter’s churches.
In this and my next two sermons, I will deal with each of these… three challenges.
2 Peter 1:16-21 - Faith Challenge: You follow cleverly invented myths.
2 Peter 2:1-22 - Love Challenge: If it feels good, do it.
2 Peter 3:1-13 – Hope Challenge: The Lord isn’t coming back.
This morning, let’s talk about the…
The Faith Challenge.
2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…
NJB 2 Peter 1:16 When we told you about the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were not slavishly repeating cleverly invented myths;
The Challenge… “You, apostles are teaching cleverly invented myths!”
Those who would reject the invitation of to enter the kingdom, typically say some version of this. They challenge the story of Jesus.
--It is doubtful that there was really a person named Jesus.
--Was Jesus really born of a virgin? Those kinds of things don’t happen.
--Jesus was just a good teacher. We can follow his moral teachings… but miracles, I doubt it.
--Jesus may have died on the cross, but the resurrection was just something his disciples made up to keep his movement going.
--The apostles just made up the stories of Jesus after his death.
There is good reason the story of Jesus is challenged.
--If Jesus actually was born of the Holy Spirit to a virgin in Bethlehem… You have to join Joseph and Mary and name him... “Jesus; Savior of the world!”
--If Jesus really healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the leapers… You have to join blind Bartimaeus, “Lord have mercy on me!”
--If Jesus died on the cross to be the grace of forgiveness… You have to join the Centurion, “Surely, this man was the son of God!”
--If Jesus was literally resurrected… You have to join Thomas, “My LORD and my God!”
But instead of believing, those who reject the invitation to the banquet, have to reject the history. “You are just following cleverly invented myths!
Faith was being challenged. Peter, as well as the rest of the apostles, were being accused of making it all up. They were being called liars. “Come on, it’s just myths.”
Our faith is challenged. The most basic tenets of our faith are based in the reality of the history of Jesus. We follow a true story.
Wow, you can see why Peter begins with the faith challenge. Everything we are hinges on his response. Not to fear. Peter offers a grandiloquent response! In fact, Peter gives us two grandiloquent responses.
Response One: I am an Eyewitness
The story Peter uses to affirm the truth of his witness is a fascinating choice.
--Peter witnessed many of the miracles of Jesus. He could have talked about blind Bartimaeus receiving his sight.
--Peter was there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Peter saw the Lazarus-mummy walk out of the tomb. But he doesn’t use that story.
--Peter knew his Lord was dead. He knew where the exact location of the tomb. He witnessed the enemy grave. He talked with his risen Lord. But he doesn’t use the resurrection as his key story.
--Peter saw Jesus gravitate into the clouds as Jesus returned to the Father. But not Peter doesn’t use the Ascension story to affirm our faith.
Listen to the story Peter uses to affirm his eyewitness…
2 Peter 1:16-18 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
The Transfiguration was the touchstone of Peter’s faith! Peter responded to the faith challenge with the story of the Transfiguration!
Mark 9:2-10 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah." For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So, they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.
Let’s think, for a moment, about why Peter chose the Transfiguration as his response to the faith challenge.
--Only Peter, James and John knew this story. It was Peter’s story to tell. No one, but the three, could debate what happened! “I was there! I heard the Voice. I saw the majestic glow. I was enwrapped in the cloud. I was told that Jesus was more important than Moses and Elijah.” This wasn’t a story that could be debated. It was Peter’s story!
--The details of the story have the ring of truth. No one makes up a story about glowing guys and clouds and being stupid. It is not the kind of story that would have been made up later. It has the credibility of a true story!
--Jesus was announced as the Son of God. The king of the world. The one we all must listen to! Jesus glowed. Jesus had his next-age body!
--Peter saw Jesus in the reality of the next age. That is why he wanted to build a tabernacle. The feast of tabernacles was a celebration of coming out of Egypt. Tabernacles pointing to the next hope! The connections are amazing.
Here is the point. Here is our take away. Peter was an eyewitness of the Transfiguration. Peter did not make up clever stories. This story was real. If the Transfiguration is true, we can place our faith in who Jesus is! When 2 Peter was put together by the unknown disciple, Peter had already been killed by Nero for his faith. Those who read this letter throughout the Roman Empire knew that. Peter was crucified upside down by Nero because of the truth of the Transfiguration.
People are rarely willing to die on a cross for a cleverly invented fable. But if that person saw who his LORD in his majestic glory… he would never recant his witness. He knew the promise of his own transformation! Therefore, we can place our faith in the eyewitness testimony of Peter! Bam!
Grandiloquent response! Peter has another…
Response Two: The Prophetic Word
2 Peter 1:19-21 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, 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, 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.
In the Jewish tradition of having two or three witnesses to affirm a truth, Peter appeals to the prophetic word; the scriptures as witness #2. The scriptures point to the truth of the Jesus’ story!
Perhaps, the specific scripture Peter has in mind is Psalm 2.
Psalm 2:6-8 "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill." I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”
Peter’s argument is… I was on a holy hill when I heard the LORD speak, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you!” Peter points to the Psalm 2. Psalm 2 affirms who Jesus is! We did not make up cleverly invented fables… Jesus is the point of the prophetic word!
I am reminded of Luke 24… two disciples returning from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Jesus walked with them without them recognizing him. They expressed their confusion…
Luke 24:21-27 "But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
I’m upset with Luke. Of all the sermons in Luke and Acts that’s the one I wish he had recorded! That sermon is the point Peter is making. The Scriptures are witness to the truth of the story of Jesus!
The Greek word for “carried along” phero is a sailing metaphor… The Holy Spirit carried along those who wrote the prophetic word!
“The prophets raised their sails, so to speak (they were obedient and receptive), and the Holy Spirit filled them and carried their craft along in the direction He wished. Men spoke: God spoke. Any proper doctrine of Scripture will not neglect either part of this truth. --Ben Witherington III
We have a second witness… the holy scriptures were not cleverly invented fables… they point to a Messiah who came to redeem Israel and the rest of the world.
These scriptures were not made up. The writers of these scriptures were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit compelled the writers. The Spirit drove the authors along to truth. The Spirit cooperated with human authors to reveal the truth of Christ as King! Add to your faith the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures… you will never fall!
Faith is being challenged anytime someone claims the story of Jesus is just a cleverly invented fable. We respond as Peter did…
1) The eyewitnesses gave their lives to affirm the reality of the truth.
2) The scriptures give their witness… Jesus is the Son of God!
We join Peter saying… we do not follow cleverly devised myths about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!
August 29, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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