2 Peter 1:1-11, 19
Over the past nine years we have spent a relatively small amount of time discussing prophecy.
Weíve spent most of our time finding ways to grow in the light of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and in shining that light forth to others.
Weíve talked about living in love.
Weíve simply accepted the Word of God as being true; and thus, whether it presented a word of direction or of prophecy, we followed it, at least in theory, if not always in practice.
But, throughout the world, there are always people who counter the word of God, or try to make it sound as if its not wholly true, or that it doesnít really say what it says.
Hardly a week goes by, when I donít encounter some of this.
A case in point: last week on the radio, they were interviewing a man who translated the book of Genesis, and part of his contention was that God lied and that the serpent told the truth to Eve, for she and Adam didnít die after eating the forbidden fruit.
Well, thatís completely out of context and untrue; and if people believe that, then heaven is for everyone, and there is no need for repentance, and no need for a Savior, for it is the place of dishonesty.
Nothing is further from the truth.
Anyone who teaches such things and everyone who follows such teachings are only fooling themselves and are really separating themselves from God, and possible the heaven they desire.
For if we begin to distort, or misapply, or say that even one portion of the Bible is not true (we're not talking about translation errors), then we leave ourselves open to allowing someone else to say another portion is untrue, and so on until nothing is to be believed.
This is exactly what Satan is trying to get us to do, and he has even infiltrated the Church with his lies.
This is why you keep hearing me encouraging you to read and study your Bibles, the whole Bible, for if we are well grounded in Godís word, we are far less likely to be led astray by false teachers, no matter how golden their tongues may seem.
The reason that Biblical prophecy, in particular, is so important is because the fulfillment of past prophecy should strengthen our faith in the truth of the Bible and in the prophecy which is yet to be fulfilled, such as Christís return and our eternal life in heaven.
Letís look at an example: (Isaiah 44:28-45:7)
This is a prophecy that foretold of the return, by the hand of the Persian king, of the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity.
Isaiah prophesied 100 years before Babylon took Israel into captivity, and well before Persia was a mighty enough nation to overthrow Babylon.
Letís read what he said, and listen carefully to who is really speaking, for no prophet speaks for himself:
28. "It is I who says of Cyrus, ĎHe is My shepherd!
And he will perform all My desire.í
And he declares of Jerusalem, ĎShe will be built,í
And of the temple, ĎYour foundation will be laid.í"
1. Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him,
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
2. "I will go before you and make the rough places smooth;
I will shatter the doors of bronze, and cut through their iron bars.
3. "And I will give you the treasures of darkness,
And hidden wealth of secret places,
In order that you may know that it is I,
The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
4. "For the sake of Jacob My servant,
And Israel My chosen one,
I have also called you by your name;
I have given you a title of honor
Though you have not known Me.
5. "I am the Lord, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
6. That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other,
7. The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the Lord who does all these.
Some modern, so-called scholars claim that this passage wasn't written by Isaiah, but by some later writer, whom they refer to as "Second Isaiah."
They claim this, in part, because they say that Isaiah couldnít have known the name of the king of Persia, and thus it had to be written after the return of the people from Babylon.
But we must remember that Isaiah isnít speaking for himself, but for God, and most definitely God would know the name of the future king of Persia.
Listen to what Paul says in Romans 13:1 about such kings and other authorities:
1. Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
Now, if Paul, a Biblical scholar of his day, accepted this understanding of ruling entities 1900 years before our modern scholars, then we should believe the confirmation of the Bible of itself.
Letís look at another example of the Bible confirming itself through its various writers:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all quote from portions of the Book of Isaiah, such as that which speaks of the function of John the Baptist in preparing the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3), which some of these modern scholars claim to be by another author, but which these Gospel writers credit to Isaiah himself (Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4, John 1:23).
If we begin to doubt that Isaiah foretold of the release of Israel from captivity by Cyrus the Persian, then we might doubt the function of John the Baptist, for he is foretold by the same writer.
But if we believe that Isaiah is who the Bible claims he is, and we believe the Word of God proclaimed through him, then we are led to the Suffering Servant aspect of Jesusí ministry, and the fact that He died for our sin, that we might live.
Isnít this the hope of all Christianity?
So, if we begin to doubt even one portion of Scripture, we are tempted to disbelieve another, until all truth is gobbled up in lies.
But if we believe these three things that Isaiah foretold, and which were fulfilled, then we are strengthened in our faith, and have the hope of the future return of Jesus Christ and our eternal life with Him and the Father in Heaven.
Listen to Peter express his faith as amplified by Godís past and present promises and deeds: (2 Peter 1:1-11)
1. Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
3. seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
Remember that a great deal of this true knowledge of God comes from the Bible itself.
The Bible set forth the basic promises. Jesus confirmed them, and Peter further confirms them because of their fulfillment in his life.
4. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
5. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge;
6. and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness;
7. and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Isnít this the basis of the whole Church, or what the true Church is to be like?
And this is why Peter adds the following caution:
9. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
What he is really saying is that these so-called modern scholars are not really scholars, but blind guides to the blind and short-sighted.
This is why we need to be knowledgeable in the word of God, that we not fall prey to these lies.
10. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
11. for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
It is our faith and knowledge of the truth of God's word that leads us to live in the unconditional love of God, for we have no other place to confirm it.
This is the way we even confirm that the unction of the Holy Spirit is really from Him.
This is the culmination of our faith, isnít it?
But without faith, where is our hope?
But with faith and belief in the past truths, we have faith and hope in the truths to come.
Listen to how Peter confirms this in verse 19: (2 Peter 1:19)
19. 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.
Each and every one of us has been called to be bright shining lamps casting forth the light (truth) of the Lord into dark places.
But the fuel for our lamp comes from the word of God, and His love, and if we lack fuel, our lamp will eventually sputter and go out.
Sure, the Lord Himself lights our lamp, but if we lack fuel it will just go out.
I smile when I hear someone say, "I feel the Lord calling me into some ministry, but I also feel Iím lacking something."
I smile, because I, too, have been there, and to some extent I'm still there.
Truly strong Christians are always those who have their lamp full of fuel at all times.
And the only way that they can do this is to constantly refuel their lamps through the renewing of their spirits in the Word of God.
This brings about our growth and gives us the assurance to fulfill our own ministries.
Our refueling service will continue at 7:29 tomorrow evening at our Bible study.