Monday, August 06, 2007


BE SURE OF YOUR SOURCE 2 Peter 1:12-21

Aussies facts: (Source: NCLS)
Two-thirds of Australians claim that a spiritual life is important to them and 33% pray or meditate at least weekly.
Most Australians believe in God or a spirit, higher power or life-force (74%) and around 40% accept conventional Christian beliefs such as life after death, the resurrection and divinity of Jesus
Most Australians have some contact with the churches (70% in previous 12 months) and see them as having a wider role, primarily as moral guardians, but also to provide public worship and a range of social services.
Australians are not looking to the church for spiritual guidance
Pilate asked: “What is truth?” John 18:38
Is truth relative or absolute?
I BELIEVE THIS (John Marsden)
“100 eminent Australians face life’s biggest question.”
Peter Goldsworthy “I believe I will never find an answer to two fundamental mysteries.
One: why is there something rather than nothing?
Two: what is consciousness, and how could it arise in a world of unconscious matter?” (p. 106)
Michael Kirby (Judge) “I believe in rationality because it shines a light of scientific truth on our world and on our species.” (p.171)
Carmen Lawrence “Although I am no longer a believer, I still heed Christ’s admonition that we have an obligation to our fellow citizens and that we are all equally deserving, no matter who we are or we come from.” (p. 182)
Jesus knew . . . “Your word is truth.” John 17:17
The epistle of second Peter is about apostasy. Its about those who have turned their back on the truths of the gospel and are proclaiming myths in their place.
In these days of confusion it is vitally important to have an anchor for our souls in the Word of God. Today there are varying views on what is truth. But the issue of truth is vital.
You are called to believe. John 5: 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Believing results in salvation.
What you believe is vitally important. What you believe about what you believe is vitally important.
The churches of New Testament times were affected by apostasy. Acts 20:28 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Even elders in the New Testament churches were leading people away from the gospel. Some of them were apostate!
Apostasy affects churches in Australia today.
The term “evangelical” has now broadened to include many who are in no way evangelical (gospel oriented) in their beliefs. But our culture of acceting all things has dominated our thinking.
Some of our forebears from 40 or 50 years ago would not recognize many Baptist churches in our city as Baptist churches. Could they feel at home with some of the new trends affecting our worship and witness in our city?
There has been a movement away from the authority of the Word of God of recent days.

* A phrase some believers constantly volley back and forth is "God told me ... " Usually the people who use this spiritual-sounding phrase don't like to be quizzed on the details of exactly how God spoke to them. Why? Because when you look at the source of their revelation, it often lacks either good common sense or biblical justification.
Some Popular Sources of "Divine Revelation"
Here's a sampling of some of the surprising ways people claim to receive a word from God.
The Natural Realm
Oftentimes what is interpreted as a revelation from God is nothing more than our own superstitions at work. Like the fellow who decided, while driving, that if the next four lights were green, then God was telling him to go to the mission field. The lights were green and the fellow went, but he didn't last two years.
Or how about the man who earnestly prayed before going on a date, "Lord, if she wears that red skirt to dinner this evening, I'll know she's the one for me." The woman wore the skirt and the man felt he had a sure word from God to marry her.
Once a woman went to sleep struggling with whether she should take a trip to Israel. When she awoke the next morning, the time on her digital clock read 7:47. Immediately she knew God was telling her to go. Why? Because the plane that was to take her was a Boeing 747.
Another popular method many use to interpret God's voice is astrology. Far from being the vice of only a few uneducated people, many Christians are now attempting to divine the will of God from the arrangement of the stars.
The Supernatural Realm
People also dabble in the supernatural realm to hear God's voice. Some claim to have dreams and visions. Others rely on spurious methods such as crystals and tarot cards. And still others turn to the occult, using mediums and channelers to allegedly contact the dead.
Why do people do this? Why are so many of us eager to follow the latest guru who claims to hear the voice of God? Primarily because of a desire to know truth. We would like to know the truth about our future, our marriages, and other major concerns in our lives. But seeking truth from traffic lights and tarot cards is not where God promises we'll find it.
Let's turn to Peter's second epistle and listen as he talks about truth-the truth and where we can find it.
A Personal Reminder of "The Truth"
Peter exhorted us to "apply all diligence" in developing specific character qualities so that we might live useful and fruitful lives (2 Pet. 1:1-11). Now, beginning in verse 12, he addresses the subject of the truth ... what it is and what it is not.
What IS The Truth
Simply stated, the truth is God's revelation, His Word. Being God's children, we should establish ourselves in that truth, as Peter reminds us.
Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. (v. 12)
God hasn't hidden His truth so that we must grope for it in the stars or behind superstitious feelings. He has given it to us in written form so that we might continually read, study, and apply it.
Knowing that his death is imminent, Peter wants his readers to
remember that there is truth they can rely on.
And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind. (vv. 13-15)
For Peter, truth was objective, something he could leave behind with the assurance that it would provide everything pertaining to life and godliness (see 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
What It Is Not
Based on his own experience and that of the other apostles, Peter now explains what the truth is not.
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. (v. 16)
The word tales comes from a Greek root which gives us our word myth. According to commentator Edwin A. Blum, “The [New Testament] always uses mythos in a negative sense and in contrast to the truth of the gospel (l Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:4) .... It is likely that the false teachers claimed that the Incarnation, Resurrection, and coming kingdom the apostles spoke about were only stories. “
Peter's preaching didn't rest on clever myths, as did the doctrines of the false teachers.
Here among our Australian Baptist churches we have witnessed of recent days the resurrection of an old myth of the 1940’s. it was called Barthianism.
Karl Barth, a German theologian, taught that it really didn’t matter too much whether critical events in Jesus’ life actually happened. Events like His Virgin Birth or his resurrection were important events, but they were events that may or may not have happened in actual real time history.
The story of what happened is what is important, not whether the events actually happened. By immersion in the story of what happened you can have an experience of the resurrection of Jesus.
I remember interviewing one lady to be a pastor of our Baptist churches. I asked her a question: “Do you believe that the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ was a real time historical event.”
She answered basically that it was something that explained the uniqueness of Jesus. But so far as it being a real event that occurred in human history, no she could not agree to that.
Another interviewer then said, “aah but you do believe that the resurrection of Jesus was a real time historical event” and she basically said that same thing: It wasn’t whether the event actually happened in real human history, but it was whether we participated in the event by faith.”
These folk are saying that so far as real history is concerned, it is irrelevant whether these events happened in history. But it was important that they happened in “salvation history” and that we can participate in these events now”
Basically they are ssaying that the events of Jesus’ miraculous birth, life, miracles, death and resurrection partake of the nature of myth, rather than of true truth. It doesn’t really matter whether you believe these are real events as long as you participate in their “salvation history”.
Peter is saying these events are true truth! He witnessed them! He saw it happen! He testifies to it! It’s a fact!
Everything Peter taught concerning Christ's power and second coming came directly from his firsthand experience on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8). Peter could legitimately say, "God told me." And then the apostle repeats the direct revelation God gave him.
For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"-and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. (vv. 17-18)
He is saying its trute truth! And its vindicated by the Old Testament Scriptures.
General Statements regarding Scripture
Recalling that unforgettable experience on the mountain sparks Peter to give us three helpful assurances concerning God's truth.
It Is Called The Sure Word
The audible revelation Peter had received gave him even further assurance concerning the written words handed down by the Old Testament prophets.
And so we have the prophetic word made more sure. (v. 19a)
The word prophetic here refers to all of Scripture, not just the books or passages specifically dealing with prophecy. Peter is saying, "We have in the Old Testament an even more certain word from God than I received on that mountain." Samuel Cox wrote,
Peter knew a sounder basis for faith than that of signs and wonders. He had seen our Lord Jesus Christ receive honor and glory from God the Father in the holy mount; he had been dazzled and carried out of himself by visions and voices from heaven; but nevertheless, even when his memory and heart are throbbing with recollections of that sublime scene, he says, "we have something surer still in the prophetic word."
He is calling a second witness to confirm the truth of Jesus’ Sonship to the Father, and the second witness is all the Old Testament scriptures!
When we rely on sources other than Scripture for truth, we are casting our lives upon a sea of uncertainty. Feelings, circumstances, stars, these all fluctuate. And to trust in them is to open ourselves to being seriously deluded and led into error. God's written Word, however, never changes and, when properly applied, will never lead anyone into error.
Psalm 19:7-8 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Psalm 119: 89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
140 Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it
160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
Prov 30:5 5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

It Is Called The Authoritative Word
The experienced apostle then urges his readers to cultivate more than a casual reliance on God's Word.
And 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. (v. 19)
The Greek term Peter uses for dark means "murky." The prince of darkness has turned this world, which began as a garden, into a murky swamp. And if we're to avoid becoming mired in that darkness, we must heed the light of God's Word until the Morning Star, the light of the world, returns (see Rev. 22:16 and John 8:12).
Peter then concludes his exhortation with an important explanation.
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation. (v. 20)
Many interpret "one's" as referring to the reader of Scripture.
But if that were so, it would mean that no one has a right to interpret God's truth. And yet one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to illuminate the Word so we can interpret and apply it. So what does the apostle mean? Possibly Peter is saying that no statement from Scripture is meant to stand on its own, unrelated to the rest of Scripture. Every individual passage must be understood in light of all the rest.
Another possibility, which ties in best with the following verse, is that Peter means all Scripture originated with God and not with the writers themselves.
Psalms 119:105 (KJV) Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
Psa 119:60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
Psa 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

It Is Called The Inspired Word For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (v. 21)
Unlike myths born of human authors, the Scriptures originated from God. How? The key unlocking the mystery of how fallible men could write God's infallible Word is found in the word moved.
As the authors of Scripture wrote their prophecies, they were impelled or borne along by God's Spirit. What they wrote was thus inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.). "Borne along" or "carried along" translates the word pheromenoi. Luke used this word in referring to a sailing vessel carried along by the wind (Acts 27: 15, 17). The Scriptures' human authors were controlled by the divine Author, the Holy Spirit. Yet they were consciously involved in the process; they were neither taking dictation nor writing in a state of ecstasy.
God superintended what was written, even down to the individual words used (see Matt. 5: 18-19; 1 Cor. 2: 12 -13). He did this by using each of the biblical writers' personalities and styles of writing. For example, if you read the Scriptures in their original language, you would see a great difference between the simple style of John and the scholarly style of Paul.
Like the living Word who became flesh (John 1:14), the written Word is a sure and authoritative source of truth. No wonder Satan is so determined to destroy our faith in the Word. And no wonder Peter was so determined to strengthen our faith in it.
Remember Two Things
Like Peter, we also want to stir you up by way of reminder se that you may be able to call to mind two important truths at an) time in the future. First: Remember; when you turn to God's Word, you're consulting the most reliable of all sources. And second: Re member; when you make other sources-experiences, dreams, feelings, stars-equal to or more reliable than the Scriptures, you will soon fall into error.

If you have followed the views of Barth. please let me ask you to carefully look at your own heart. Has your commitment to a Barthian view of things merely been a cover up for your own personal unbelief? Please look again at John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
What you believe does matter. What you believe about what you believe is a matter that affects your eternal destiny.
Wil you turn today and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The real Lord jesus Christ. he who truly came to this world to die for our sins and be resurrected. that these events really and truly happened.
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

* I acknowledge a strong reliance upon Charles Swindoll's message in "Conquering Through Conflict" in this sermon. His outline and thoughts provide more than half of this message.

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