The Truth about Prophecy (2 Peter 1:16-21)
When I first started road cycling, I’d see a big group of people riding together on Saturday morning, and I’d think about how much fun that would be. Then, one day on Facebook I learned that group was Space City Cycling Club, and I joined the club back in June. On a Saturday morning, weather permitting, you’ll find me meeting with other cyclists in Clear Lake to ride to the levee in Texas City or the dog track in Alvin or the monument or Morgan’s Point. I have much more fun riding in a group, and I’ve made some really good friends—the type of friends who would drop everything and come to help me.
But for many of these new friends, Sundays are for riding, not worship. Weekly I get a Facebook message about a ride on Sunday morning. This past Sunday, a friend who is a bike mechanic held a class on how to repair your tire on the road—I really need that skill, but the class took place during Bible class.
The Scriptures are clear—God’s people do not forsake the assembly. I ride every single Sunday morning before Bible class. I hurt when I see people neglect God’s word.
Don’t you also know people who neglect Scripture? How many people do you know who are forsaking this assembly? How many unmarried couples do you know who live together? How many people have lied straight to your face? How many people do you know who are rude and use their tongues like a knife?
People have long refused to obey the word of God. In fact, Peter dealt with some folks who even twisted God’s word; he said, “There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies” (2 Pet 2:1). Therefore, Peter wrote about the truthfulness of Scripture. He said: “You follow Scripture because it came from God, not man.”
Scripture (2 Peter 1:16-21)
Peter and the other apostles did not “follow cleverly devised myths” as they made known the “power and coming” of Jesus. Peter mentioned scoffers in chapter 3, and he might have had them in mind here when he said he did not preach a fairy tale.
Peter and the other apostles—viz., James and John—were “eyewitnesses of his majesty.” The ancients valued eyewitness testimony. The Law required crimes to be established by two or three witnesses. Instead of preaching a myth, Peter himself had seen Jesus’s glory.
Peter, James, and John were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration—they saw Jesus’s glory, and they heard the Father declare that Jesus was his “beloved Son.”
Peter was preparing to move from discussing the Transfiguration to the inspiration of Scripture. What does the Transfiguration have to do with the inspiration of Scripture? The answer can be found at verse 18: “We were with him on the holy mountain.” With that phrase Peter connected the Mount of Transfiguration with Mt. Sinai.
Peter connected Mt. Sinai and the Mount of Transfiguration two ways:
- Moses saw God’s glory on Mt. Sinai; Peter, James, and John saw Jesus’s glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.
- Moses, the lawgiver, received the Law on Mt. Sinai; Jesus is the new Lawgiver, and his word now stands. Matthew recorded God’s words this way: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matt 17:5). With the Transfiguration, the Father established Jesus Christ as the new Lawgiver.
“We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed.” The Transfiguration established Jesus’s identity as God’s Son, which in turn established the truthfulness of the Messianic prophecies. However, the Jews used “prophetic word” to mean the whole Old Testament. The preaching of the apostles as eyewitnesses of Jesus established the truthfulness of the Old Testament.
“To which you will do well to pay attention.” In Peter’s day, “you do well” politely said “you should do this.” Peter told his readers to heed Scripture.
“As to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Peter said that Scripture illuminates the darkness. Notice the mention of the dawn and the rising of the morning star. With that reference, Peter suggested a new day was dawning, a transition from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ.
Peter’s readers needed to know “first of all,” of primary importance, “that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” The Greek grammar here means that not even one prophecy derived from someone’s own interpretation.
In this context, the word “interpretation” means something like “inspiration.” Peter explained the source of prophecy, not someone’s explaining it. The New International Version does well here: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.”
“Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The Greek term for “carried along” denoted the wind’s moving the sails of a boat, and the prophets here are pictured as sails and the Holy Spirit as wind which took them to the exact spot God wanted.
“You follow Scripture because it came from God, not man.” Every word of Scripture originated with God, not man.
You know that, but this morning, I wish to call upon you to live that truth daily. How do you live the truth that “You follow Scripture because it came from God, not man?”
You must recognize—see—that Scripture came from God, not man. Throughout the prophets, you find the phrase “Thus says the LORD.” When the apostles gathered to replace Judas, Peter said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas” (Acts 1:16). “We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” (1 Cor 2:13). “When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess 2:13). “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).
You believe that, but you need to believe that deep in your soul. Read Psalm 119, where the author praised God for the truthfulness of Scripture, this week. The lengthy psalm is divided into 22 stanzas; divide it up and read through the stanzas throughout the week. As you read through Psalm 119, think long and hard about what the author was saying. Then pray to God and ask him to help you understand the truthfulness of his word.
Spend time in Scripture—study the word of God. Bible study is vitally important. When the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, the Lord said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matt 19:4). When the Sadducees asked about the resurrection, Jesus said, “As for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?” (Matt 22:31-32). The Pharisees and Sadducees were both wrong because they failed to read the Scriptures.
If you don’t read the Scriptures, you will be wrong about much; the only remedy is spending time in Scripture. How much time do you spend in the Scriptures? Spend at least fifteen minutes every day this week reading the Scriptures. I know you’re busy, but you can surely take half the time of a sitcom to read the words of eternal life!
You must obey—submit to—the words of Scripture. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matt 7:24-25). Speaking of Jesus, the author of Hebrews quoted Psalm 40 and said, “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book’” (Heb 10:7). Could your life be summed up simply by saying, “I have come to do your will, O God?”
How is your obedience to God? As you study Scripture this week, ask yourself some questions.
- How have I lived this text in my life?
- Where have I failed to live this text in my life? Where do I need repentance?
- What must I do to live this text?
When you see what you need to do to live a text, you do it—period. No, not every word of Scripture is easy to obey, but God calls upon us to be an obedient people.
How is your obedience this morning?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.