A LAMP SHINING IN A DARK PLACE
2 Peter 1:16-21
In recent decades, there has been so-called experts who deny that there was a Holocaust initiated by the Nazis. To overcome this denial of tragedy, those who survived the holocaust have made an effort to tell their stories. Whereas the deniers attempt to gather scientific evidence and patch together historical information, the survivors tell their stories. They relate the events that they and others experienced. They are eyewitnesses.
(Robert Clary: In 1980 Robert felt the need to talk about his experience during the war; he began speaking publicly through the Simon Wiesenthal Center's nationally acclaimed outreach program. "For 36 years I kept these experiences during the war locked up inside myself. But those who are attempting to deny the Holocaust, my suffering and the suffering of millions of others have forced me to speak out." from RobertClary.com )
Peter: The Eyewitness of Christs Majesty
- There were scoffers and false teachers within the church who claimed that the apostles fabricated the expected return of Christ. They claimed it was a myth something that the apostles devised to impose morals on the church.
- Epicurus among others in antiquity who opposed myths. They claimed they were nothing more than fanciful tales meant to goad superstitious people.
- Peter makes a point to assure the believers that the things that he and the other apostles taught are no myths ...
- His appeal is to something he himself saw, and the word of God ... They witnessed to something outside themselves, something from God:
1 Peter 1:16-18
16 We 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. 17 For 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." 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
Peters Witness- This is No Myth!
- I saw the majesty!
- Peters first response to the charge that Christs return is a myth is that he is an eyewitness to the glory and power of Christ, the Son of God.
- He saw the "transfigured" Christ on the mountain ...
- The Transfiguration (Mark 9:1-13)
- The apostles are headed up the mountain. They have hopes that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is filled with the glory and majesty of God. It changes his appearance hes radiant! Moses and Elijah speak to him. The appearance of these two figures triggers awe and hope! They are the heralds of the Messiah! This is the installation of Christ as ruler over the earth! This is his crowning as King!
- Heres a vision that stirs the apostles passion and hopes but they dont quite understand. Peter speaks up ready to make three tabernacles to establish the presence of heaven on earth the beachhead of the invasion from heaven! And since Peter, doesnt quite grasp everything that is taking place, the voice of God from heaven booms out "This is my son, listen to him!"
I heard the voice!
- What Peter saw was not left to his interpretation. Peter saw it and heard it. The voice of God from heaven declared that Jesus is the Son of God. Gods approval and appointment of Jesus is made clear.
- And this is more than simply the Father affirming the Son. He is exalting Jesus as the Christ the Messiah, or the Anointed One. This means that Jesus is invested with the authority to rule and he takes on the power and glory of heaven to accomplish this mission.
- (To assert his power over Scotland nearly 700 years ago, Edward I of England took the crown of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny, upon which the Kings of Scotland were crowned. Nevertheless, Robert the Bruce threatened the rule of Edward when he declared himself to be King. The pronouncement of a king is a profound event!)
- For Peter, the eyewitness, this voice gives meaning to what he sees. This is no mystical vision or dream left open to his interpretation. The voice of God gives it a clear caption explaining the event.
Pay attention to Scripture Scripture confirms Peters experience, and his experience confirms Scripture!
19 And 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. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
- The event that Peter witnessed, the majesty of the Son of God and his appointment as King and Judge of all the earth, is confirmed not only by Peters witness but also through Scripture. And notice that he considers Scripture to originate from a source outside of any individual prophet it originates from God!
- The nations rage against God. But God is not threatened. Instead he laughs. He establishes his king, the final king, on the holy mountain and this king will subdue the earth.
- When did this happen? Peter understands that God established his final, end of time king at the transfiguration. (Christ was approved, anointed, appointed - He saw it, He heard it - Reading Psalm 2 [vs 6-9] it must have all come together.)
- This king will subdue all the earth and bring it under the authority of God. When did that happen? The subjugation of the rebellious world is still in the future. Therefore, since Christ was appointed the end-time king, and that king MUST rule the world, he MUST come back to finalize the rule of God. His return is inevitable.
The expectation of Christs should be certain to the believer. Its not optional.
- Living with hope and eternal expectation. The aim of Epicureans and Humanists is to seek pleasure in the ordinary human lifespan. But their philosophy has no hope. The witness of the apostles and Scripture is a light shining in a dark place. It is a beam of hope for our hopeless and despairing world.
- But this lamp is just for the darkness. The glory of Jesus, his rising and his return is like the morning star that signals the coming of daylight! The word of God is like a lamp shining through the murkiness of the hopelessness and ignorance of this world. And when the morning star rises, we know that the Day is coming soon!
- Paying attention to the lamp and reflecting the glory Peter witnessed means sharing in his divine glory. It means growing in godliness and excelling in love.
As newsman Clarence W. Hall followed American troops through Okinawa in 1945, he and his jeep driver came upon a small town that stood out as a beautiful example of a Christian community. He wrote, "We had seen other Okinawan villages... down at the heels and despairing; by contrast, this one shone like a diamond in a dung heap. Everywhere we were greeted by smiles and dignified bows. Proudly the old men showed us their spotless homes, their terraced fields... their storehouses and granaries, their prized sugar mill."
Hall said that he saw no jails and no drunkenness, and that divorce was unknown in this village. He was told that an American missionary had come there some 30 years earlier. While he was in the village, he had led two elderly townspeople to Christ and left them with a Japanese Bible. These new believers studied the Scriptures and started leading their fellow villagers to Jesus. Hall's jeep driver said he was amazed at the difference between this village and the others around it. He remarked, "So this is what comes out of only a Bible and a couple of old guys who wanted to live like Jesus."
- If we will pay attention to the lamp shining in the dark place (the apostles message and Scripture) then we can reflect the hope of the Christs return in a hopeless world. Church, we need to be the diamond in the dung heap.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 1 August 2004
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