God’s Word More Fully Confirmed
November 27, 2023

God’s Word More Fully Confirmed

Passage: 2 Peter 1:16-21

Introduction to God's Word

2 Peter is the second letter written by one of Jesus Christ’s closest disciples, Simon Peter. And Peter writes this letter shortly before his death in order to make sure that the next generation of Christians after him will be grounded and growing in their application of God's Word. So please turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Peter 1. Tonight we’ll be picking back up at verse 16, and we’ll read through the end of the chapter. 2 Peter 1, verses 16 through 21. But before I read our text, please pray with me:


A Message We Can’t Ignore

Earlier in this letter, Peter reminded us that God has provided all we need for life and godliness. He then urged God’s people to pursue godly lives in light of what Christ has done. In our text tonight, though, Peter explains why this message is so significant to him – why it’s reliable – why it’s something we can’t ignore.

And the very fact that Peter does this shows that many people in those days faced the same issues we faced. They were vulnerable to doubt. They were afflicted by apathy. They were easily distracted by the ups and downs of life. They needed someone to remind them that the message of the apostles was important – that it was true. In verse 15, Peter reveals his own passionate commitment to the good news of Christianity. He says, “I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.”

And in verse 16 he tells us why he’s making every effort to do this. It’s because he and the other apostles did not follow cleverly devised myths. He wasn’t just inventing a theory. He wasn’t just giving them his opinion. Instead, Peter knows that he’s speaking the truth of God. Peter was earnest to proclaim the importance and worth of knowing Jesus. Because He knew that all people are naturally corrupt – we are disloyal to God, we break his commands, and we worship and serve ourselves instead of him – we don’t deserve any of the good things God gives us – and our failure to thank him for his kindness makes our ungodliness all the more wicked and hideous in his eyes.

But God sent Jesus to rescue us from our sin. On the third day, after Jesus really died as a substitute in the place of ungodly people like us, his tomb was truly empty. Jesus literally rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. And through the work of Jesus alone – through trusting in him – God grants us freedom from judgment and Hell, and He grants us access into his favor, starting now and lasting forever.

This message was precious to Peter and the other disciples, not just because it sounded nice, but because they knew it was real. They told other people about Jesus, even though they knew they’d suffer contempt and abuse for it, because they recognized the power and importance and authenticity of the Christian message.

Peter wants the recipients of his letter to hold firm to the good news of Christianity, so gives two pieces of evidence to defend the trustworthiness of the gospel.

First, Peter points to his own personal experience. And second, Peter points to the prophetic utterances recorded in the Holy Scriptures. After I deal with these two pieces of evidence Peter uses here, I’ll wrap things up with a few closing remarks on how to apply this passage.

The Testimony of Personal Experience

So first, Peter speaks of his Personal Experience. At the end of verse 16, Peter declares that he and some of the other disciples were eyewitnesses of Jesus’s majesty. What is this majesty of Jesus Peter wants to draw our attention to?

Well, interestingly, Peter isn’t talking about the majesty of Jesus on the cross, or even about the majesty of the resurrected Jesus in his new, immortal body. Instead, Peter is points to an event that took place in the middle of Jesus’s ministry – an event that’s often called the Transfiguration. The word Transfiguration is made of two parts – trans- is a prefix that means across or beyond, and -figuration referring to someone’s form or appearance. So in the transfiguration, there is a change in Jesus’s appearance to something beyond what it once was. For a short window of time, Jesus reveals his divine glory to his disciples.

Let’s take a moment to read about this. So keep your finger here in 2 Peter, but turn with me briefly to Mark 9:2-8 [Read Text].

You just have to imagine this happening here: Peter, James, and John are together on this mountain, and suddenly Jesus has new clothes and a new appearance of dazzling brightness. And in addition to the glorified Jesus, the ancient heroes, those great prophets of the Jewish religion, Moses and Elijah – they show up on the mountain, too. Yet you’ll notice, nothing is said about the glory of Moses and Elijah, because the majesty of Jesus outshines them both. And a cloud swirls over the mountain, and the Divine voice thunders through the mist to recognize the preeminence of Jesus.

Peter was there. He saw Jesus shining with honor and glory from God the Father. He heard the words of the Majestic glory saying, “This is my beloved Son.” So one reason he can speak with confidence about the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is because of his own personal experiences.

The Testimony of God's Word

And yet – this might be surprising to some of us – Peter doesn’t put forward his personal experiences with Jesus as the primary reason his message should be trusted. Instead, in verse 19, Peter insists that there’s something that’s even more firm than human experience – something that’s even more reliable than human testimony. He says, “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed…”

We shouldn’t think, here, that Peter is contrasting his own testimony, as an apostle, with the testimony of the prophets. He’s not saying that the Old Testament writings somehow have more authority than the New Testament writings. But his main contrast here is between human testimony and divine testimony.

See, Peter is aware that there are going to be false teachers rising up in the church – there will be superstitious pagans and Jewish mystics who will say, “I’ve had a spiritual experience! I’ve had a vision! God has given me special insight and knowledge,” and Peter is concerned that these early Christians he’s writing to will be led astray by reports of these peoples’ experiences instead of holding firmly to the truth. And so Peter emphasizes that there’s something that’s more firm and more certain that we should be holding to. He points us to the prophetic utterances which have been handed down to us in the Bible.

Toward the end of verse 19, Peter tells the church they will “do well to pay attention” to the Scriptures. And he compares the Bible to a lamp that shines in a dark place. In other words, he implies that without the Bible mankind would be left in spiritual darkness – without spiritual knowledge. But why does Peter have such a high regard for the Bible? Why does he value the testimony of the Bible more than someone’s eyewitness testimony and personal experiences?

It’s because the words of Scripture don’t come from human experience, but from divine knowledge. The Bible doesn’t contain a human message – but it comes to us from God himself.

Some people may object to this. After all, aren’t the prophets also human? Isn’t the Bible just a collection of writings from human authors?

Notice, here – Peter doesn’t deny that the prophets were human, and he doesn’t deny that they were involved in the writing down of Scripture. But in verse 20, he wants the church to know, first of all, that that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation – that is, from someone’s own explanation. The prophets didn’t just look at random signs and omens, and then make wild guesses about what those omens meant. Instead, the prophets received all that they wrote from the Spirit of God.

This is made clear in verse 21. “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The Bible here tells us that – men spoke – they spoke in their native language, in a way that was natural to their personalities and circumstances – men spoke. And yet they were carried along by the Holy Spirit in their speaking – they were upheld and guided and governed in their speaking – so that the words they spoke were not ultimately their own words, spoken on their own behalf, but men spoke the very words of God.

And Peter points to the prophetic utterances – he points to the Bible – and he earnestly confirms to those churches that they must pay attention, not first and foremost to human experiences, but to the God's authoritative Word. And Peter knows if they believe the words of the prophets, they will ultimately believe the Christian message of good news – because the prophets wrote about the same power and coming of Jesus Christ that He is now testifying to.

Now, I want to affirm – we should ultimately listen to the Peter’s eyewitness testimony recorded here in 2 Peter. But this shouldn’t be because our confidence is in human experience. Instead, we should listen because the Holy Spirit carried Peter along as he wrote this letter, just as he carried along the prophets. The same Spirit that produced Scripture through the prophets is the same spirit who gave us the New Testament writings. As a Christian, bible-believing church, our confidence isn’t in human insight, but is instead in God, and his power to produce and preserve His Word.

Concluding Remarks of Application

So let me give a couple concluding remarks on how to apply a passage like this.

First, we should trust God’s Word more than we trust our experiences or emotions. There are many people who have had something happen to them that they can’t quite explain – some sort of sacred experience or spiritual encounter. And it can be tempting for someone to make that experience the center of their religious life. Yet we must be careful to recognize that God’s Word is more sure – more clearly confirmed – more reliable, even than our own experiences.

And this is because of who God is. God knows everything. He speaks out of perfect wisdom and knowledge. He cannot deceive, nor can he be deceived. Whatever God says is true, and right and good. By comparison, our knowledge is incomplete. We’re vulnerable to making mistakes and jumping to wrong conclusions. And so it’s essential for our faith to be anchored in God’s truth, which is clearly and securely granted to us in the Bible.

I also want to press home here the importance of actually embracing God’s Word as truth – as reality. We should really take to heart, that Peter was a historical person. He actually went to the top of a mountain with Jesus. He really caught a glimpse of the Lord Jesus’s Christ’s divine power and majesty. And he watched as Jesus ascended to heaven to sit down at the right hand of God – and that’s where Jesus is now, shining with that same power and majesty as he rules over human history.

And Peter is convinced of these things. He knows that the message he’s been entrusted with is the one and only message of salvation for sinners. Peter proclaims the same Redeemer that the prophets predicted. And so Peter is earnest. He wants us to be confident in the realness of the gospel. And he wants to make sure that the Church in every age will faithfully stand on God's Word and pass it on until Christ returns.

So as we close, let’s pray that God would help us in these things:

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