“Remember These Things”      2 Peter 1:12-21                    May 27, 2012

 

SI:  Continuing our 9 week study of the book of 2 Peter.

   Chapter one a great description of the Christian life.

   Peter steps back and reminds Christians of the foundation of what they believe.

First hint of the subject Peter going to deal with in chapter 2.

   People who are attacking the truth of the message about Jesus Christ.

 


 

INTRO:  Have you ever noticed that you tell people to remember things

   for two different reasons?

Sometimes you tell people to remember things

   because you know they are likely to forget.

But sometimes you tell people to remember things

   that you know they will not forget.

 

Week before last week Allison went out of town for a few days.

   Before she left on a Friday she told me:  Don’t forget to pick Will up after school.

   Don’t worry, I said, I won’t forget. 

   Well, she said, I just wanted to remind you because you have a lot on your mind. 

We talked by cell phone several times that day and each time she reminded me—

   Don’t forget to pick up Will.

   Enjoy your trip, I said.  I am a capable father.

 

Wouldn’t you know it, I got to studying and the next thing I knew the old

   wind-up clock in my office, the clock that is always 5 to 10 minutes slow,

   chimed three times

So Allison was right all along to remind me,

   because she knew I was likely to forget. 

 

But Allison also reminds me, quite often, that she loves me,

   and that she is pulling for me.  That she supports me and thinks highly of me.

I know that.  I won’t ever forget that. 

   I don’t have to put an alarm on my cell phone to remind me—

   It’s 3:00 pm and your wife loves you. 

And she knows I know and won’t forget.

   But she reminds me anyway. 

   And she keeps on reminding me because it is a matter of such importance.

 

In this passage the apostle Peter says to believers—

   there are some things about the Christian life that you have to remember.

I know you already know them.  I know you’re unlikely to forget them.

   But I’m going to remind you about them anyway.

And I’m going to keep on reminding you as long as I am alive.

   Even after I’m dead, make sure you are reminded by writings that I leave behind. 

 

These are matters of foundational importance to the Christian life—

   so you need to always be reminded of them.

What are these things that Peters says he is always going to remind his readers of?

   Has to be the things he has just told them about the Christian life, verses 1-11.

What you have as a Christian.  You have to know what you have.

   How through Christ God gives to all believers divine power for moral and

   spiritual transformation of their lives.

 

And how the conduits for bringing that divine power to bear on the struggles of

   your life are the promises of God.

And that by making use of the divine power and the great promises you can truly

   add to your faith and become a productive, confident disciple of Christ.

Those are the things Peter doesn’t want them to forget.

   Those things we might call the dynamics of the Christian life.

 

But Peter doesn’t stop there.  He says—even though you know these things,

   I want you to continually refresh your memory of them.

For your help I want to point you to two sources of truth that you need to go back to

   over and over to strengthen your memory of these dynamics of the Christian life.

   Do you know what those two sources of truth are? 

   The New Testament and the Old Testament.

Peter doesn’t call them that, because they weren’t called that then.

   Plus, the New Testament was in the process of being written.

 

He calls NT, or what would become NT, the eyewitness accounts of the apostles.

He calls the OT, the inspired writings of the prophets.

   And he says, you need to pay careful attention to both so that you will be

   continually reminded of what you know about the Christian life.

 

Now, you say:  That Peter’s message?  Read your Bible? 

   The Old Testament and the New?  I already knew that. 

Of course you did.  But you need to be reminded of it. 

 

Let’s look at what Peter says about particular value of the New Testament

   and then the Old Testament for refreshing your memory concerning

   the dynamics of the Christian life.


 

MP#1  The importance of the NT in the Christian life.

Look at verses 16-18 again:

     16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

   Two points from these verses.

 

1.  The New Testament reminds you that your faith is not based on myth and

   legend but on a real man in real history.

What does Peter say about his own writings and teachings about Jesus,

   and about the writings and teachings of the other apostles—

   the writings that would become the New Testament:

He says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories, but we were eyewitnesses.”

   The New Testament is not myth or legend but eyewitness accounts.

 

As you read the New Testament, you are continually reminded of something you

   already know but can never stop being reminded of—Jesus Christ is real,

   he’s alive.  Your faith is not a myth, it’s history.  He really did those things.

Many reasons why Christians need to be continually reminded that their faith

   is not based on myth and legend but eyewitness accounts of Christ.

   But let me just mention one.

It proves that your Christian experience is not just a placebo effect.

 

You know what the placebo effect is. 

It’s that phenomenon that sometimes occurs when a person takes a placebo—

   even though the placebo is not real medicine, say it’s a sugar pill,

   the person who takes it thinks it is real medicine,

   and for some reason, he actually starts feeling better.

 

My dad has always hated to be cold.  Not a problem in South Florida.

   If he is going to a cold place will often take an electric blanket.

Once they were visiting someone, he took his electric blanket.

   He turned it on.  A little light came on the dial.  He turned it up and felt toasty.

   But in the morning discovered the cord was never plugged into the blanket itself.

That’s the placebo effect.

 

How do you know that the Gospel is not just a very convincing placebo?

How do you know that the promises of God are not placebos?

If you believe you have divine power for moral and spiritual transformation,

   wouldn’t that give you some power to change?

If you believe the promises of God are true, wouldn’t that give you hope,

   and help you with the troubles of life? 

 

If the Christian faith is based on myth and legend then you would have to

   logically conclude that any help or power you got from the Gospel message

   is just a placebo—just the power of religious suggestion and wishful thinking.

It’s not different from someone saying to themselves: 

   I believe something good is going to happen today.

   My fairy godmother is watching over me. 

 

But the great thing about the New Testament as an eyewitness account is

   that we don’t rest our faith on myths and legends—but on a very real man,

   who claimed to be the Messiah and Savior of the world, proved it by saying

   and doing incredible things in the presence of hundreds of witnesses.

If he says that you have divine power through faith in Him,

   then you can have confidence that power is as real as he is.

And the flip side is—and this is crucial for the Christian life—even when you

   don’t feel like it’s real and true—can open the New Testament,

   read about Jesus Christ, and your faith will be renewed.

 

2.  The New Testament reminds you of the Second Coming of Christ. 

Peter says, “We told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

   Then Peter says, I know the promise of the Second Coming is true because

   of something that I saw with my own eyes, not only me, others with me.

What did he see?  He was an eyewitness of Jesus majesty when he was with him on

   the sacred mountain.

 

What’s Peter talking about?  The transfiguration—Mark 9, other Gospels.

   Peter says, I saw Christ transformed, James and John did too.

   Here we have Peter giving an example of one of these eyewitness accounts. Remember—radiant in glory.  Peter, James, and John fell on their faces.

   Heard God the Father’s words of commendation to Christ.

   Peter says, on account of what I saw—a preview of Christ’s glory,

   I know that I can speak confidently about the promise of his second coming.

 

Why does Peter introduce the subject of Second Coming at this point in his letter?

Do you remember what Peter said about the promises of God in verse 4?

   Do you remember that dynamic of the Christian life?

Promises of God the conduit for bringing divine power to bear on issues of life.

   You look at the struggles you are facing, then you find promises that answer

   those struggles, believe them, live by them, become conduit of divine power.

 

Remember the example from first sermon?  Christian struggling with self-pity.

   Could be a number of circumstances—standard of living, health, marriage.

Something in his life not going the way he wants—tempted to self-pity.

   That self-pity becomes a black hole.  Makes you ineffective and unproductive.

   Promises of God are a way out.  Promises of suffering and glory

 

Here’s the reason it is so important to be reminded of the Second Coming.

   Because the Second Coming is the mother of all promises.

   Maybe more accurate to say it’s the summation of all promises.

“Yes, I am coming soon.”  Revelation 22:20.  Next to last verse in the Bible.

   To which the church answers:  “Amen.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

That’s the consummate promise.  All promises are fulfilled in it.

   I know you know Jesus is returning, but you need to be reminded.

   Because it gives you an added assurance that promises you claim are true.

 

What’s your favorite promise in the Bible?

   “All things work together for good for those who love God . . .”

   “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

   “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things added.”

   “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

   “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

   “I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.”

Every promise will be ultimately fulfilled at Christ’s Second Coming.

 

The doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming permeates the New Testament.

   Jesus himself spoke of it in the Gospels.  It’s in Acts, Epistles.

   Book of Revelation is devoted to it.

One of the great values of reading the New Testament is to be reminded—

   even though you know it—Jesus is coming again.

   That knowledge strengthens the promise dynamic of the Christian life.

 

Much more to the New Testament—but isn’t Peter’s emphasis an inspiration?

   Eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ’s life and work, and the promise of return.

   Peter says—remember that.  I know you know it—Just want to remind you.

MP#2  The importance of the Old Testament in the Christian life.

Brings us to the importance of the OT in the Christian life.

Peter doesn’t use the term Old Testament, calls the Hebrew Scriptures

   “the word of the prophets.” 

Look at verses 19-21 again:

   19And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.  21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

   Two reminders here as well.

 

1.  The Old Testament reminds you that the Lord is at work in the darkest times and circumstances.

Might ask, doesn’t the NT remind teach that as well?

   Of course it does.  And the OT teaches us about the Second Coming.

Don’t make too much of the difference between the OT and NT.

   There is one plan of salvation, one Redeemer, one people of God.

But in terms of sheer scope and power—OT truly is a light shining in a dark place.

 

A number of years ago I was preaching through Nehemiah.

Perhaps you remember that passage in Nehemiah

   when the people were trying to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.

It says they worked until wall was halfway done—then got discouraged.

   What discouraged them was the hostility and threats of people around them.

   Also discouraged by all the rubble—from Babylonian invasion years earlier.

   Nehemiah came along side, prayed, encouraged, pushed.

A man came up to me after church that Sunday—

   family in our church who are no longer with us, they moved away. 

He said:  I know just how those Jews felt, there’s so much rubble in my life. 

   I’ve got so many past failures that discourage me from pressing ahead.

   I’m glad I’ve got a Nehemiah—Jesus Christ, to come along side of me.

 

I remember someone once telling me that it was the false accusation that Joseph

   suffered and his patient trust in God to work things out that sustained him

   when he was falsely accused.

A huge part of the Old Testament is history.  I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying

   that history is His Story.  God’s story which is made up of many stories.

 

Stories of God’s people—often in dark places and dark times.

   But always the light of grace and hope of Christ is shining.

Mentioned Nehemiah and Joseph—but there are many, many others.

   Think of our recent study of Jacob’s life—numerous episodes of his life.

Those stories of God’s people are there for your help in the Christian life.

 

You may say—I know those stories—I learned them when I was little.

Peter would say—I know you know them.

   But you need to be reminded of them, need to read them to your children.

   Because there is light shining in those stories.

In those stories you see real people who experienced divine power for moral

   and spiritual transformation.

  

You don’t only find history in the Old Testament, you find poetry.

   Most of the Old Testament is history or poetry.

The poetry of the Old Testament truly is light shining in a dark place.

   Especially the Psalms.

   Believers are drawn to there again and again to find light shining in darkness.

 

Psalms are a place to find comfort:

   “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Also a place to grieve:

   “By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept.”

They are a place to be content:

   “Surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

Also a place to wrestle with temptation:

   “My foot almost slipped when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”

And we could go on and on.  The Psalms explore every experience good and bad,

   about the Christian life.  But all come back to God’s grace in Christ.

 

The reason the OT Scriptures are a light shining in a dark place is because

   they all point to Christ, to the hope of the Messiah.

Don’t neglect the Old Testament.  It is crucial for your Christian life:

   “you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place”

 

2.  The Old Testament reminds you that the Scriptures are the inspired word of God.

Once again, this is not limited to the Old Testament, true of New as well.

   But for Peter, the OT was his only Scripture.  The NT was being written.

What does he want Christians to remember about Scripture?

   It didn’t have its origin in the will of man but men spoke from God,

   and they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

As you read the Old Testament, especially the prophets, there is a refrain.

   “Thus saith the Lord”  “This is what the Lord says.”

   These are not just words of men, they are the words of God.

 

You see it in the passage in Jeremiah 23 read earlier in the service.

   Lord says—Are you going to follow the dreams of men?

   “I had a dream!  I had a dream!”

   Don’t care how vivid and convincing those dreams might be—not word of God.

Their words are straw, my words are grain.

   My word is like fire, it’s like a hammer that breaks rocks.

 

Peter’s pastoral point—as you read the words of the prophets—

   you are reminded over and over—this is the inspired word of God.

Isn’t that one of the most fundamental elements of the Christian life?

   To be able to open your Bible and say—this is the word of God.

I know you already know that and believe it intellectually,

   but isn’t it easy to forget it experientially.

 

When a crisis is looming in your life, isn’t it easy to panic?

   Isn’t it easy to turn to the dubious advice of fallible people?

   To forget that you have the inspired word of God to guide you perfectly?

 

When you are in a time of peace and prosperity, isn’t it easy to adopt

   the values of the world?  To accept its assessment of what is good?

To forget that you have the inspired word of God as a perfect standard.

 

This is really, in one sense the whole key to living the Christian life—

   really believing that the origin of these words is not the will of man,

   but from men who spoke from God as they were carried along by the

   Holy Spirit.

And then taking that word of God and preaching it to yourself.

 

MLJ famously said:  The whole secret to the Christian life is learning to quit

   listening to yourself and learning to start preaching to yourself.  Don’t listen

   to your negativity and fears.  Preach to yourself the word of God.


CONC:  There was an old Connecticut Yankee couple in our Florida church who

   were remarkable people.  They had kept dozens of foster kids and foreign

   exchange students over the years. 

They had been married for decades and were deeply devoted to each other.

 

They once told us that in their family, had a code message used often,

   with each other, their children, and all the other children who came through home. 

Three quick squeezes of the other person’s hand meant:  “I love you.”

 

After praying at mealtime around the supper table—I love you.

Sitting on the couch watching TV—I love you.

Walking around the block—I love you.

In a crowded room—I love you.

 

How many times could you give that code over the course of a 50 year marriage?

   Thousands of times.  Maybe tens of thousands of times. 

Do you think either one ever said—OK, OK, I’m tired of the code.

   I get the message, you’ve reminded me enough.

   I know it, you love me.  I don’t need to be reminded again.

Of course not, they were still giving the code when we knew them and did till died.

   Because there are some things you know,

   but you still need to be reminded of over and over.

 

According to Peter,

   you need to be reminded always of what you have as a Christian. 

You have divine power through Christ for moral and spiritual transformation,

   That power applied to your life through the conduits of God’s promises.

 

The code signal that Lord uses to remind of over and over of who you are

   and what you have, the triple I love you squeeze, is His word.

Eyewitness accounts of the apostles, inspired writings of the prophets.

 

Apostle Peter would say, I know you already know that,

   but be reminded, refresh your memory of God’s word.