I don’t know where your mind is at this morning. Perhaps you had a crazy week. Maybe you’re already getting ready for Thanksgiving, whatever that means for you. But no matter where we’re at, let me remind us of all of something: we need to hear from God’s Word. Plain and simple. This morning, if you are planning on waiting for something you deem to be relevant, and you feel this not it, let me lovingly tell you: you are wrong. You need to know that. Don’t come here with a consumeristic mindset. Come here with a heart ready to hear from the Lord. Because whether we think it or not, the Word of God is infinitely relevant.
Today we’re continuing in 2nd Peter. Turn there with me. If you didn’t bring a Bible, we have some in the pews. If you don’t have a good Bible, or you know of someone who doesn’t have a good Bible, feel free to take one of those with you today. No catch, we just want people to have good Bibles. 2nd Peter chapter 1:12-18. That’s our text for this morning. If you would, stand with me in honor of the reading of God’s Word.
12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
16 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. 17 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,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
This is the Word of the Living God. Amen? You may be seated. If you were here last week, you may remember Peter listing out several characteristics of someone who is pursuing holiness. That’s what verses 5-11 are all about. Knowing that God has given us everything necessary for eternal life and godliness, we’re to “make every effort” to supplement our faith with Godliness.
We talked about how our salvation is 100% of God. We repent and believe in the finished work of Christ. But our growth in Godliness involves effort on our part. Not at all that we do this on our own, that’s impossible. But with God’s power and help, we’re to strive for holiness.
So, what Peter’s about to do is take a moment and encourage his readers to continue in the truth. We’ll find out in a few weeks that there were false teachers coming into these communities of Christians across Asia Minor. And while we don’t know exactly what was being taught, we know that it was contrary to God’s Word. Let me just say: it is not a new thing for God’s Word to be twisted, manipulated, or even dismissed altogether. That is not new. Perhaps it’s more pervasive in our immediate culture than in years past, but this is not a new trend. This is the natural trend of every human heart!
So how do honor and protect the truth? That’s our question this morning. I’m going to give three answers straight from this text. How do we honor and protect the truth? Three answers; the first is this:
- We leave the Truth as our greatest legacy.
I love Peter’s heart in verses 12-15. He says, “I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” That language of remembering comes up again immediately: He says it’s right to “stir them up by way of reminder.” He wants them to be able to recall these things, that’s what he says in verse 15. He wants nothing more than for them to remember the truth. What is this truth?
Well, it goes back to verse 3: “life and godliness.” Eternal life in Christ, in other words, the Gospel. And our lifelong pursuit of Godliness. And he says this while being fully aware that he’s going to die soon. In verse 14, he writes that he knows the “putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.” He knows he’s leaving them soon, for good. God has made him aware that his death is near. So, what does he want to leave behind? What legacy does he want to leave? The truth of the gospel.
It’s funny even though I have young children, and I would like to assume that I have a lot of life yet to be lived—I still think about and care about what I’m leaving behind. And listen, I think it’s totally ok to be concerned about finances and possessions and opportunities for our kids and grandkids. If we’re able to help and even provide in some ways, praise God! That’s wonderful. But as far as what should take up our mental bandwidth. What should take up our energy and our desires for all those around us—I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that 99% of your concern and energy and desire when it comes to those around you– should be for their spiritual vitality! Maybe even 99.9%.
We can’t control what our kids and grandkids do with their lives as they grow into adults. Some of you need to release yourself from that kind of guilt, and frankly even ownership. Even if your kids are still young, you need to realize: you do not own them. You did not ultimately create them. God created them. You cannot control them. However, you can and do influence them.
I have a hard time giving this as an application because I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I believe that serving our families is one way that we Christ. Absolutely. That’s true. And yet I still think it’s possible that we serve our families in a way that the center of our world is our family and not Christ. What I mean is that I hope one day that my children remember that I was there for them. And that I loved them. And that I cared deeply for them. But I also desperately hope they know I cared even more about Jesus.
That my desire for them was so much more than financial stability, a nice spouse and family. The American dream is not enough, church. I hope they know my desire for them, more than anything, is to treasure Jesus as King and Savior. Because the Truth about who Jesus is and what he’s done for us is the greatest legacy we can live. Peter certainly knew that. His only desire was that we would be established in the truth, that we would remember Jesus.
Peter says, remember these things. This is for us! Continue in the truth. He says, “I’m going to keep making every effort so that after my departure you may be able to recall these things.” Life and godliness granted to us by the righteousness of Christ. We can’t control what the people around us do with their lives. But we can point them to Jesus while we are here. Number 2, how do we honor and protect the truth?
2. We remember that the Truth is not myth.
Now before you say, “Ryan, that’s pretty obvious” and tune out, I want to encourage you to pay attention. Peter says, remember the gospel. Remember our calling toward holiness. Verse 16: “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.”
Peter is adamant: We didn’t make this up, nor did anyone else! We told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus. Not only did we see his power firsthand— walking on water, feeding massive crowds of people with extremely limited food, healing the sick. He’s saying, we saw all that first-hand! And Jesus is also coming back! Peter let the churches know of the power and coming of the Lord Jesus. And he’s desperate for them to know that he saw these things himself.
We need to be absolutely certain that we believe upon Christ, and we pursue holiness, not just because we think this is a good life to live. Or because it makes us happy, because it doesn’t always make us feel happy. We believe upon Christ and pursue holiness because these things are true!
This is the Jesus of history! We do not have a merely therapeutic faith, that helps us get through life and survive and feel good about our decisions. Jesus really did live. Jesus really did perform miracles. Jesus really did walk on water. Jesus really did die on the Cross for our sin. Jesus really did rise again from the grave. Jesus really is coming back again. And this isn’t just one person’s story that we’re believing!
When I told my wife about the racoon and possum fight that happened in our backyard a few months ago, she had a hard time believing me. There was a rumble in our backyard at like 2:00 in the morning. When I told her that, she believed me, kind of. Or it was a very vivid dream I had. Or it was just two possums making a lot of noise. Right? She struggled believing such an unusual story because it was just me who saw it. But if someone else had been there, and claimed to see the same thing, it’d probably be more believable. Even something happening 2000 years ago—do you realize, because of written eyewitness accounts, we have more historical evidence of the life and ministry of Jesus than any other event that occurred that long ago? By far!
Our faith is not a crutch. Our faith is real, and true. People will use a lot of different reasons to dismiss the Christian faith. They will say we’re just trying to control people. No, Jesus is King and Lord, truly. They will say we’re just using our beliefs for political power. Maybe some do this. I do find it interesting when politicians sometimes very suddenly claim the Christian faith. It’s kind-of convenient. So, some do use the Christian faith in that way. But I sure hope not us. No. Jesus is King and Lord, truly.
I’ve heard people say, “Well believe what you want, but don’t let it change who you are.” What?! No, it changes everything about who we are! Why? Because truly is King and Lord. “Well, believe what you want, but don’t let it dictate how you live.” What? No! Impossible!
“Believe what you want, but don’t think it’s the only way.” Yes, we will believe that because Jesus said it! “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “Believe what you want, as long as it doesn’t demand parameters for sexuality, or abortion, or ___.” Again: Jesus is King and Lord. Yes, God does have the right to say what is right and wrong. Because He is God, and He knows what is best for us.
Even the historical accuracy of Scripture. Many “progressive” pastors and theologians will say that it doesn’t matter whether or not it really happened…what matters is what we learn from it. Jesus walking on water. The virgin birth. Even the resurrection of Christ. Let me just say: it absolutely does matter. These things happened and are true. People were there. This didn’t come from one person. This came from multiple eyewitnesses of the majesty and ministry of Jesus.
This is not merely utilitarian or therapeutic. That’s why I hate the argument, “Well, if I’m wrong as a Christian, nothing happens. If you’re wrong though, uh-oh.” What a terrible argument for the Christian faith. You know why? Because we’re saying to people, “Well, you have better chances being a Christian than not being a Christian.” That doesn’t make sense. Any spiritual or religious belief can claim that. We don’t belief upon Christ for eternal life and pursue holiness with the Spirit’s help because it might be true. We center our lives upon the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the Truth. That’s the second answer to this question. How do we protect and honor the Truth? Number 3:
3. We embrace Jesus as the Truth.
Now I know that might, again, seem obvious. But look at the example Peter uses. When he writes these things, he’s writing about all of Jesus’ life and ministry. But he points to one event as an example. Look at verses 17 and 18 again: “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, whim whom I am well please,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”
Peter here is talking about the transfiguration. Now, if you don’t know what that is, it’s this amazing moment during Jesus’ ministry in which he goes up on a high mountain with Peter, James, and John. And he is transfigured right before them. Matthew 17 records that “his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” And then this voice from heaven came booming down saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
As you might imagine, Peter, James, and John freaked out. I don’t know any other way to put it. Matthew records, “When the disciples heard this, the fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’ And when the lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”
This is an incredible event record my Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and now here brought up again by Peter. Now why did Peter bring this up in this letter? Well, part of it is to remind them of the urgency of Jesus coming again. He already mentioned in verse 16 that they made known to them the power and coming of our Lord Jesus. And this point to the urgency of Jesus’ return. How so? Well, we know from the gospels that the transfiguration happened right after Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ. And it was during that episode that Jesus told them he would be going to Jerusalem to suffer and die.
Think about how you would react if the man you’ve been following and obeying and even worshipping suddenly told you he was about to go to Jerusalem and die? We’d be pretty shaken. We’d even wonder, why in the world is this happening. Do you know what you’re doing. The transfiguration was a moment that Jesus could reassure them. He’s reassuring them that I am not just a man, like you! I am God.
They got a sneak peak of the resurrected Christ in all of his glory before he turns and goes to Jerusalem to be crucified. I encourage you to read the whole account sometime today. Matthew 17 and Mark 9. So, here’s the question I have for us. And, frankly, it could perhaps be the most important question we can possibly ask, especially for those of you who claim to know Christ. It’s a question that the Bible often drives us to, and for good reason.
Do you see and embrace the true, biblical Jesus? Or have you created a Jesus in your own image? Because the only way to protect the truth in this day and age. When everywhere you turn, the identity and character of Jesus is being maligned and slandered. Even in the church, we can so easily embrace a Jesus of our own making. We can create a Jesus in our minds that is not the true, biblical Jesus.
So, again I ask: do you embrace and treasure the true, biblical Jesus? God’s Word paints a very clear picture of Jesus. And I would suggest that if you’re not looking to the source yourself, to hear from God Himself—whether you realize it or not, you likely have a skewed understanding of who Jesus is.
The Jesus of history, who walked and talked with the disciples and hundreds and hundreds of others. The Jesus of history, who fed thousands and healed the sick. The Jesus of history, who turned water into wine and showed compassion to those forgotten and ignored. The Jesus of history, who created all things and came into the world as a baby boy. This Jesus of history who lived a sinless life and was persecuted and beaten. This Jesus of history, who died for our sin and rose again from the dead. He does not submit to our revisionist history. He is who He is, and He will always be who He is. We can take it or leave it, as long as we remember that, according to Philippians 2, there is a day coming when every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
He transfigured right in front of Peter, James, and John. Not just one of them, so that the disciples wonder if it really happened or if he ate a weird plant and was hallucinating. They were there. More than one. They got a taste of the glory of the Resurrected Christ. We too, see the glory of Christ. Not all of his glory. But we see him for who he really is.
In 2nd Corinthians 3, Paul writes of a veil that lies over the hearts of unbelievers. And when someone turns to the Lord. When they repent and believe in Christ, the veil is removed. They can see Jesus for who he really is. And then Paul writes this, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
Embrace the real Jesus and be changed. If the veil has been removed for you, don’t unwittingly put the veil back on. Stop making Jesus into your own image, for your own purposes, and living your life like Jesus is smaller than he is. Embrace Jesus for who He really is.