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In this message, Todd focuses on 2 Peter 1:12-21, reminding us of our responsibility to respond to the resources that God has made available to us, namely the Truth of His Word.
A Diligent and Right Response to "These Things"
A Reminder of How and When "Joy to the World" Comes
Saints and Scoffers Running out of Time
False Teaching and False Teachers: the Difference and the Danger of Both
False Teaching is a Trap
Lot: the Trampled Spring That Is Wonderfully Saved and a Horrible Warning
The Grace and Truth False Teachers Miss and the Judgment They Won’t
The Words and Ways of the False Teacher and What to Do about It
Stirring Truth That Makes Men Useful
The Choreographed Christian Life
Persecution From Without Is Not Near the Threat as Is the Poison From Within
Welcome to Watermark, home of the overly dramatic bumper videos to get us started! Or maybe not. Maybe not. Maybe there is something going on that is so significant that if you don't hold fast you're going to get washed to sea. You're going to be blown here and there by every wind or wave of doctrine and error, and not just error in terms of intellectual or theological misunderstanding, but you're going to be swept away into a current of self-destruction and pain that a God who loves you doesn't want you to experience.
Or maybe you're going to be swept away into a sense of hopelessness where there's nothing you can do in the midst of this storm that would ever make a difference. What God's going to say is, "No, I want you to be firmly planted. I want you to be strong. I want you to be a lighthouse of hope that others can be directed by." That is what's at stake in our culture, that is what's at stake with your life, and that is why God, in his kindness, gave us 2 Peter. Let's pray and see if we can't learn something this morning.
Father, thank you for this book, and for your servant, Peter, who is a great encouragement to us. You took this disaster of a man and made him dependable. You took this wreck of a person and used him to bring revelation that can strengthen us and give us peace, because it's not about Peter, it's not even about us; it's about you, who has revealed himself to us in a way that we can comprehend, know, experience, and be transformed by. So Lord, I do pray that we would deepen our understanding of who you are, our love for you, and our right response to it. Would you teach us now? In Jesus' name, amen.
Well, we are in this book, 2 Peter. I love the book because of not just what it says, but because of who said it. I don't want to move off the fact that Peter is a guy that whenever we come around him, we always feel a little bit better about ourselves because he was impulsive, impetuous, prone to failure, and prone to wander. We kind of go, "Ha! There's Peter. If God can use Peter, then maybe he can use me." He can use you, and he does want to use you.
Peter is not ashamed of where he came from. He's not ashamed to tell you how he got to where he ended. So what we're going to look at, again, in this book, is Peter imploring you to know that what God does is he takes guys who take live fish and make them dead (and smell of it), and will take dead men and make them alive. He'll take guys who are impulsive and will make them steadfast, that are worldly and make them wise, and that are cowardly and make them courageous.
God wants to do that with you. He wants your life to be useful and fruitful. He wants you to have purpose and meaning and security and peace. Peter knows that the only way that all that happened to him is through Jesus. That is why he is running the race to the end, letting you know that Jesus is what you're looking for, Jesus is who you need to know, and Jesus is still available to you, not just in the form of some idea or philosophical putting forth but in terms of a personal relationship, because he is not dead; he is alive.
Not only is he available for you in a personal relationship, but he is coming back and you will be personally accountable for how you served him as the Sovereign of the universe. He will demand from you an accounting. Peter wants you to finish strong. He wants you to be a rock. He wants you to be a light in the midst of a dark and perverse generation. This is his final salvo to you.
Let me just walk you through one of the last exchanges Peter ever had with Jesus. It will help you understand why he wrote this book. Then we're going to take a look at the rest of chapter 1 and find our hearts, I think, deeply encouraged. Here we go.
This is John, chapter 21. When we talked through the gospel of John and got to this section, it was a real encouragement to a lot of you because even though it's a familiar text that's about to come up, one of the things that is true of the English language is that it's not as colorful as some of the other languages.
I speak in English, and no one ever applauds me just because I said English. Ramir gets up here and speaks in Spanish, and you guys go, "Oh, wow! The guy speaks Spanish!" Yes, it's his native tongue. What you should have been doing is applauding him because his English is more fluent than mine and because he can keep up with Spanish in my fluent, confusing English, as he's doing back there right now.
Peter, in the story of the gospel of John, in his last interchange with Jesus, there's some lack of color in the English language that when we see in the original language and the difference in words that are translated the same, it means something to us. Watch this. It was after the resurrection event. Peter had already seen the risen Lord. I love what Jesus said at the resurrection moment when the women first saw him.
The angels gave the message to Mary, "…go, tell his disciples and Peter…""Specifically tell Peter that his story is not over. I know he denied me three times. I know he thought he was a rock and that he'd never disappoint me. I know that he's disappointed that he failed me in a colossal way that will become, frankly, a euphemism for the rest of history, that when the cock crows, people will think of Peter and his denial of me, but tell him that it's not over."
So after that appearing when Peter and the other disciples saw Jesus, it had been some time now. Peter had returned back up to fish, and he wasn't having a lot of success. One of the observations I made when I went through John 21 is I said, "Listen. If you've come to know the resurrected Lord, return back to your former life that you were doing before you met the resurrected Lord, and you're having great success in your former life, then it's not a good sign for you. Peter wasn't having much success fishing.
Then there was this man from the shore who just said, "Hey, you want success? You'd better do something different than you're doing." Peter recognized who it was, and he was so excited to go and be with his master. He swam to shore very quickly. Go back and listen to that last message we did in John, chapter 21. I think you'll be encouraged. Let me just give you one little reminder of something that happened right there, and this is the guy who is writing to you.
It says, "So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me…'" Unconditionally, in the way that love should ultimately be defined and displayed. That's the word there, the word agape. It's the word for God's unconditional, unrelenting, unwavering love for us.
The way Peter responds is, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.""I love you like a brother.The word there is a different word for love. It's the word phileō. He's saying, "I love you like men love men. I love you like a friend." Then Peter heard from Jesus, "Tend My lambs."
Then Jesus comes back to him again and says, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?""Do you love me with an unconditional, unrelenting, perfect love?"And Peter said, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.""I'm your brother, and I'm your friend." It's the word phileō again. "It's not God-like love, but it's the best I can do as a man." Jesus said, "Shepherd My sheep."
In verse 17, the third time, Jesus said, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?""Do you really love me like a brother loves a brother, like a man can love a man? Because I want you to know something, Peter. I know who you are, and I don't expect you to be perfect, because you're not perfect; you're a fallen human.
Even though, if you abide with me, I'll strengthen you and make you do things that you could never do by yourself, I know you can't love me the way that I can love you. So Peter, it's enough that you just love me the way that a man should love a man who has given himself for him the way that I have for you." It says that "Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord…You know that I love You.'""Yes, I do love you that way."
I really think that was Jesus was doing right here is he was saying, "Peter, it's enough. This really isn't about you. This is about my love for you. That's why I went to the cross, remember? I'm not expecting you to love me in a way that I would go, 'Hey, that's some serious love right there. I think I'll welcome you into the Trinity.' No.
Your love for me is going to be failing. Peter, I told you that you were going to fail me. By the way, everybody else failed me too; it wasn't just you, Peter. But I love you all, and I've prepared a way for you. But here's the deal now. Do you love me enough to yoke with me? Are you going to run with me? Are you going to still follow me? Are you still going to be my disciple and learn from me?"
Peter said, "Yes, I will," and Jesus said, "Well, then you tend my sheep. You care for others with the same brotherly kindness that I have shown you. Ultimately, as you yield to me, you'll love the world as I have loved the world, but it's only going to happen, Peter, by the way that you depend on me, yield to me, and trust me."
You're going to find this idea show by up in what Peter said is the progression of our sanctification and faith. Jesus said, "Peter, you need to know something." He said, "I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you…" They're going to tell you where to go. "…and bring you where you do not wish to go."
It says in verse 19 of John 21, "Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, [Jesus] said to him, 'Follow Me!'" Peter must have been overwhelmed and trying to think, "Lord, I want to follow you. I want to serve you. I want to be faithful. I don't want to keep failing you." Peter heard from Christ, "You won't fail me as long as you abide with me." All the words that Jesus had taught this fisherman, the overwhelming flood of experiences, and the repetition of the life that Christ lived out before Peter…
Jesus always told Peter this, "Hey, don't you worry. The Holy Spirit will come and will remind you of everything you need to teach others. Just follow me. Just trust me. Remember everything that I've told you, and wait for the Helper (that's the word for the Holy Spirit) that will complete you and sanctify you and help you accomplish what it is that I've called you to do." So this is Peter. This is what he's heard. God has said, "Peter, I'm going to use you in significant ways."
Now Peter, at the end of his life, is about to now go be girded by Nero and by persecution. He is going to be led to death because of his faith in Christ. He is going to follow Christ all the way to the end and be crucified upside down because he didn't feel like he was worthy to be sacrificed the way that his Savior was. This Peter is telling you, "Hey, I want you to know, before I go, that everything you need is Jesus. That's all that I've needed. Jesus is the one who has changed me."
So here's the review of where we are so far. There's a person who gives you grace and peace, and by his power, in his glory and excellence, he has promised that you could partake of the divine nature so that you could escape the corruption that is in the world by lust. But I want you to know something. There's work for you to do. Christ has already done everything necessary to reconcile you to God, but now you must build on this faith.
You must fully…with all diligence, fully supply…bring all of your gifts and resources and talents to bear toward this purpose of building on the foundation which none can lay except the person of God, who, in the person of Jesus Christ, has reconciled you to God and now has given you the Spirit that, as you yield to the power of a relationship of God in you, you can partake of his divine nature, and you will not be like the rest of the world. Church, mark my words: you don't work for your salvation, but you must work out your salvation.
So if I could review for you 1 Peter, chapter 1, verses 1 through 11, I would review it for you simply this way: we have resources that create responsibility. Jesus says, "I want you to go into all the world. I want you to make disciples. I want you to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I want you to teach them everything that I've commanded you. But remember, I will do this through you." He ends with, "I am with you…even until the end of the age." Matthew 28:20. "I'll do it through you," he says.
In John, chapter 14, Jesus said, "Listen, the things that I've done, you're going to do. Even greater things than I've done, you're going to do. If you ask me, I will do these things through you." Then in John 15, "…for apart from Me you can do nothing." Jesus says, "So if any man tries to establish his own foundation of righteousness, it won't work because the foundation has to be perfect and unblemished, and all of you are blemished. But what I want you to do is, with all diligence, fully supply everything that you have to build on that which I have done."
That is the beginning right there, of the second book of Peter, as he writes to us and ends up his life. This is the purpose of the book, if I could just give it to you. In verse 12, Peter says, "Therefore, in light of all the resources, I'm going to remind you of your responsibility." He says, "…I will always be ready to remind you of these things…" Of what things? That the person has given you peace through his power. He has paid the wages of sin and death, and he has promised that you could partake of the divine nature.
Don't scoff at these things. Be diligent to supply to your love for God…that's the word for moral excellence…knowledge. Learn more about who God is. To that knowledge, self-control. Disciple yourself to be an individual who says, "Okay, now that I know these things, I'm going to make sure I'm attentive to them.
Persevere. Don't shrink back when it gets hard. To your perseverance, he wants to make sure that we are godly. It's not just an internal commitment, but it's an externally manifested goodness that shows itself first in our tolerance for one another. That's phileō. In the same way that Jesus modeled an acceptance of all that we could do to love him, you accept the way that other people love you in their imperfection, and as they abide with you, ultimately they will love the way that you love.
Now watch. He's saying that you have a responsibility in every way to respond to the resources that are given to you, because these resources are what make you spiritually alive. There is nothing that you can do to make yourself spiritually alive. It's a work of God, from beginning to end. It is a gift, but now that you've received this gift, make your calling and choosing sure.
In other words, the way that you can know that you, in fact, have heard the wooing love of God, his calling and electing you, is that you now deepen in your relationship with him. You respond to this offer of love, and you say, "Yes, I want to move toward you." We don't believe that God is going to love us because we're good; we believe that God is good and so he loves us. As Tim Keller well said, "We're far worse than we ever imagined, [but we are also, by the testimony of Peter] far more loved than we could ever dream."
So now Peter is saying, "If you know the love of God, run to him." Don't scoff at that. Don't waste it. Don't say, "Hey, if it's true that Christ's payment on the cross covers a multitude of sins, then the more I sin, the more glorious the cross is." No, that's not the way of people who know Jesus. People who know Jesus purpose to love him as best they can, knowing that it's his perfect, unrelenting love that reconciles them. That's the gospel.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For [you] are his workmanship…" You are the crafting of God, church. "…created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that [you] would walk in them." Peter is saying that this is his entire purpose: "I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder…"
I love the illustration of when you have people over… When we have people over we do a couple of things. We break out the Blue Bell, but before we get to that we break out the Velveeta cheese and Ro-Tel dip. We throw it in a Crock-Pot, and we melt it. If we're really ambitious that day we'll grill some meat. We'll fire it in there. We'll make it just all right. Then we'll get that nacho dip out. It's all good and fine, but if you leave that stuff for 15 minutes and walk away, there's about a quarter inch of it returning to its original inanimate form of lifelessness.
What is Velveeta anyway? It just always coagulates. If no one has been in it lately and you go back to it, you look at it and go, "Ew, is that left over from the last Super Bowl or is that this year's?" What is takes is for someone to walk in and say, "No, it's fine. It's fresh." You just stir it up by way of reminder, and it just kind of disappears back into it. Then you go, "Oh, okay, now I feel good about dipping back into that again."
What Peter is saying is, "I'm not going to let you look gross. There's joy here. There's really good Ro-Tel dip, and we have to just stir it up so that people are attracted to it, all right?" He saying, "I'm going to keep that thing moving, right? We have to constantly till the ground. I'm going to stir you up so that you would be productive."
He says this same thing at the very end of the book, in chapter 3, verse 1. He says, "This is…the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder…" There's a constant need to be reminded of the love of God and the right response to it. Peter says that it's a stirring up so that you would be diligent. This is chapter 1, verse 10: "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you…"
In chapter 3, at the very end, he says, "…beloved, since you look for these things…" Meaning, the return of Christ, where he, as Lord and Savior, is going to say, "How did you do at loving me?" "…be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless…" Because you've abided with him. Peter knows what's at stake.
D.L. Moody said this a long time ago, "Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible; the other 99 will read the Christian." The truth is that this is a crazy, lost world. They don't know what right looks like. You are right. You are the light. Don't just walk around condemning the hell out of people. Be a lighthouse. Lighthouses don't sound sirens; lighthouses just invade the darkness.
Now look, you have to be careful here. Don't buy the lie…that Saint Francis of Assisi never said but is often quoted as saying…that you should preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words. He never said it, first of all, and secondly, the gospel is lived out and delivered in word and deed.
What Peter is saying is, "Look, we can't just be a bunch of blowhards and not give off light. So you have to know what truth is, and you have to live in a way that people see that truth has affected you…just like it has affected me. You should move from coward to courageous. You should move from impulsive to steadfast. You should move from worldly to wise."
He's going to tell us how that happens today. We just have to remember that we have resources that create responsibilities. These resources make us spiritually alive. We're no longer dead men. He's brought us out of death and into life. They make us socially transformed. This spiritual resource has allowed us, now, to escape corruption.
I love where we get words. The words society and social come from the Latin words societas and socius, which basically mean those united for a common purpose and partner or comrade. It's not a long walk from socialism to communism, comrade. All right? I love what Margaret Thatcher said, "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." Okay?
But here's what Peter is saying: "You ought to be socially transformed." It's like what Paul said in Romans 12:2, "…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…" so that you can experience the richness of life in God and so that others can see, now quoting Jesus, "…your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
You ought to be a different mate. You ought to be a different partner. You ought to be a different comrade. You ought to live differently in this community, and the world ought to take note of you as shining stars in the midst of a dark and perverse generation. The only way that's going to happen is if you cling to this truth. There's a lot at stake, so hold fast. Hold fast.
We have resources that create responsibility. I'll just say… Look at verse 13. Peter says, "I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder…" In other words, "While I'm here, while I'm alive, I know why I'm here." And I would encourage you guys: don't do anything else while you're in your earthly dwelling except what Peter did, which is to live, to stir up to others, truths about Jesus and his Word.
I don't know what you did this week, but I'm going to tell you that if you love Jesus, if he's called and chosen you, if he's shown you his love and you don't just know about his love but you are experiencing his love, if you're somebody who has been grafted deeply into that… Knowing about something only helps you if you do something with what you know.
So Peter is saying, "Look, if you know the goodness of God, add more understanding to the goodness of God. Make sure you don't just know about the goodness of God and have never done something with it. But if you've done something with it, if you have true knowledge and have taken that true knowledge and knowingly applied it, then God will and wants to use you."
You are the hope of the world. The world is going to be filled with storms and chaos, but Jesus is saying, "I'm leaving you here to do what I did. If you ask me, I will do it through you, and you will save people by lifting me up." It will give your life meaning and purpose, and you will be useful and fruitful. You won't shrink back when you meet the sovereign King because you'll be at peace with him through his provision. You will be prepared to meet him through your faithfulness. That's what this book is begging you to do.
So I just want to remind you that you are in this earthly dwelling right now for this purpose. It's not to win your fantasy football league. I know that I've been saying that a lot lately, because you can't help but watch DraftKings or FanDuel be pounded at you. My sons are kind of like, "Hey, Dad, everybody else is winning all this money. Why aren't we doing FanDuel?"
I go, "Do you see how many times they're advertising FanDuel and DraftKings? Do you know why they're doing that? Do you know what it costs to advertise? It's because they're making more money spending more money than they are giving money away." Those casinos are not there for you. Yes, they put their winners on television. They just don't put the 2,999,999 losers on television.
So I don't know why you exist. Play your little fantasy football if you want, but don't live in a fantasy world. The real world is this: there is a God who has revealed himself. He's coming again. He has people that he has called and chosen. He expects them to be faithful. While you are in this earthly dwelling, you should stir other people up.
What did you do this week? I want you to look back over your week and ask yourself, "How did I stir people up?" First of all, by prayer. Have you prayed for one another? You know, I will tell you guys this. I really believe that if there's anything good that is happening here, it's happening because people are praying for me.
Charles Spurgeon was a guy who was such a renowned communicator of the gospel that they literally built him the largest room that had ever been built for a guy to communicate God's Word. It was so amazing because he would fill the room up and then would say, "Are you here and are you saved?"
A bunch of people would say, "Yes, and we love the way you talk about the God of our salvation." Then he would say, "Would you please leave, because there are people out there who aren't saved whom we need to let in." The room would empty out and fill back up again. That was Spurgeon.
Someone asked Spurgeon one day, "What do you think the reason that your ministry is successful?" and he just simply said this, "My people pray for me." You know, here's what I would tell you guys. If you don't like your pastor, pray for the one that you have. If you don't like your spouse, pray for the one that you have. If you don't like your country, pray for the one that you have.
Don't just be people who say certain things and niceties but don't live prayerful lives. We're supposed to pray without ceasing,so part of the way that God is going to answer our prayer is by us being the people that prayer will allow us to be. I have to tell you that one of the prayers that I pray for you guys all the time is in Philippians, chapter 1, verses 9 through 11, where it says, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment…" In other words, not knowledge that shifts and blows here and there.
This is what Peter was saying, "To your basic understanding of the moral goodness of God, add more knowledge of who he is." So I pray all the time for you that something would happen that you would "…abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment…" Discernment is knowing what matters and what doesn't matter.
Why? "…so that you may approve the things that are excellent…" That you wouldn't be distracted by other things. "…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence… [that your mind would] dwell on these things." That you would "…be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."
So I pray that for you. I pray the same thing from Colossians, chapter 1, in verses 9 through 14. Watch this again. Here Paul says, "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…" Do you see this? That you would learn still more of God "…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects…" Not so that you might be saved, but that you might be useful and fruitful, pleasing God in all respects.
Watch this. Here's where Paul gets to it. "…bearing fruit in every good work…" Do you see how Paul and Peter are stepping all over each other and saying the same things? "… increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power…" It's not what you do for God; it's what God does through you. "…according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness…"
Not impulsive, being blown here and there by everything. "…and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who…" Who, through the person of Jesus Christ, gave you peace. Who, Paul would say in verse 13, "…rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son…" Through his power, you become partakers of the divine nature. Do you see this?
Pray Colossians 1:9-14 for your kids. Pray that for each other. Pray that for the church. If you don't know how to pray for the church, open your Bible. Read your Bible and ask, "God, what do you want for your people? What do you want for me? There is no illusion about what's happening here. If something good is happening, if there's power in this place, then it's because God is at work. God won't be at work unless we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, pray for each other, and practice what prayerful people should practice.
So here we go. In Colossians, chapter 1, verse 28, Paul says, "We proclaim him…" Just like Peter is doing at the end of his life. "…admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor…" Watch this. "…striving according to His power…" It's not me for God, it's me with God, yielding myself to him. "…His power, which mightily works within me."
If there is anything good in me, it's Christ. If there's a light coming through me, it's Christ. If there's truth coming out of me, it's the Word of Christ. If you are still in your earthly dwelling…if you're here, you are…by prayer and by practice, you ought to be stirring up others. Peter is saying, "I'm about to be out of here. I'm about to be crucified, but guess what? God wanted me to build in you so that you can share with others.
Look at what it says right here in verse 14. "…knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me." I will say this: if it's not clear to you that the laying aside of your earthly tent is imminent, you're not listening to Jesus.
Sociologists have taken a look at this, do you know that? That have looked at this over history, and it's an amazing statistic. For every person that is born, their death is imminent. It's always happened, with two glaring exceptions: Enoch and Elijah. Then there are others who have died more than once, right? Lazarus was resuscitated and then died again. The widow's son was resuscitated and died again, and there are several others. So it's more than one death for every man born, okay?
So you're going to die. When you die, it says in Hebrews 9:27, you're going to give an account. Death is not an end; it is an eternally fixed beginning. "…it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…" Scripture says in James 4:14, "…you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." Psalm 144 says, "Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow."
I hope you do that. I hope you look at your shadow as a picture that's is here and then it's gone. Moses said, "…teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom." That's what Peter is saying, "Guys, I don't know how much time I have, but I know this: every day that I'm here I'm going to stir you up by way of reminder.
This is amazing, because what he says right here is, "I want you to know this. When I'm gone, I want for you to be able to call the things to mind that men need to know for their life to count." This is really interesting. Let me read verse 15 to you. It says, "…I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things…" What things? The things that lead to usefulness, fruitfulness, purpose, and peace. "…to mind."
Now this is what this means. Because you might blow over that and go, "Okay, that's nice, Peter." Peter is saying, "I'm going to die. I'm going to be gone, and guess what? There's no new information coming. You don't need anything else. There's no greater revelation that's going to happen later that's going to somehow CLEP you into a higher spirituality than what I'm already giving you."
What Peter is going to say is this, "I'm giving you everything you need so that when I'm gone, you can call to mind everything that you need for life and godliness." That means, gang, that truth is knowable, it is unchanging, and it is trustworthy. It also means that God is anxious to give to you what you need for your life to count, so anxious that he himself came and revealed it to you.
I love this. When we talked through the gospel of John, the very first week I quoted John, chapter 1, verse 1, where it says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John didn't just grab this idea of the word out of nowhere. The word was this widely understood Greek phrase that represented the unshaking, unchanging, uncompromising, absolute truth that existed and that philosophers sought continually.
There was always this tournament of narratives, like, "How do we know the word? What is the true word?" They were always trying to hear from somebody who had a greater insight into the word. In other words, the truth that, if you scoff at it, will cost you everything. They acknowledged that it was there.
Now in our day, part of what we're doing is we're suppressing that eternity that is in the hearts of all men. We know that God's "…invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen…through what has been made…" We look around and know that we're not here as a result of nothing plus time plus chance. We know that order and design suggests a Designer. We know that things don't naturally move to greater and greater beauty but that they move from greater to greater disorder.
We know that the laws of thermodynamics teach us that, and even if we never know what a law of thermodynamics is we know that because we have teenagers. We make their bed and fold their clothes, and then we walk back in there and entropy has destroyed all sense of order and beauty. We know that if we don't work hard to make our relationships beautiful things, they don't naturally move toward oneness; rather, they move toward insecurity and dissolution. It takes works to make beauty. We know that's there.
We can suppress that truth in unrighteousness and hide behind some Oxford PhD who thinks he knows a way to explain how we got here, but even he goes, "I don't know. I know this doesn't make sense, and all I know is that probably there's something. Maybe there are aliens who have created aliens who created aliens who created us." So that's his solution, if you follow Richard Dawkins, which takes more faith than just believing that there's somebody that human history is pivoted on.
This is what John is saying, "I know the Word. His name is Jesus. The Word became flesh. It's not just some idea. He is God, and God has made himself known." Truth is knowable. It is unchanging, and it is trustworthy. Quit seeking truth, and start seeking Truth, the one who is the way, the truth, and the life. His name is Jesus. Get to know him more.
Peter was saying, "Do what I did. I stopped following everybody, and I followed him. I made him my rabbi. I learned of his ways. He's the One who has done this in me." "Who is that guy speaking? He's an uneducated, untrained man." "I don't know. All I know is that he's been with Jesus."
"Hey, what's going on in your life? You used to be a jerk. You used to be a guy that just blew off your kids and moved through women, and now, all of a sudden, there's a tenderness in you and a humility and a brokenness. Who are you?" "I don't know." Word would be he's just been with Jesus.
I heard that story this week, of somebody just saying, "I kept running into these people and kept asking my friends, 'What's going on with these folks?' I got the same answer about two or three of them: they've been hanging around this church. I kept asking which one, and they said, 'It's this one over here called Watermark.'" I hope every church in the country has that experience. They were telling me because they had heard that about us.
I had a guy come up to me this week, and he said, "Todd, I was down there at University of Texas with a bunch of my buddies." There, he had another guy come up to him who said, "Hey, Mike, do you know what I've been doing? I've been talking to a bunch of folks, and they've been asking me, 'What's going on with Mike? He's completely different.' Do you know what I told them? I said, 'You know what? A couple of years ago, Mike started to change, and it was because he started hanging around this church.'"
Hey, it's not the church, meaning Watermark. It's the church, meaning followers of Jesus. I pray…Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-14…that this is a church filled up with followers of Jesus. Look at this. Truth is knowable, unchanging, and trustworthy. Peter is saying, "But there are some things that you can't always trust."
Watch this. He goes, "This is what's great. You're not following some cleverly devised tale. This is not just a bunch of myths where a bunch of guys sit and make stories and write morals. We're not going to make up Poseidon and Zeus and all the other pantheon of gods to explain the chaos that is out there. We're not following cleverly devised tales." The Greek word for tales is mythos. It's where we get the word myths.
Peter is saying, "This isn't just Rome with Jupiter or Greece with Zeus. This is God, who is more anxious for you to know him then you'll ever be to seek him. He doesn't come down off Olympus to tell us a tale; he's left the very throne of God to walk with us. His name is Jesus." Peter is saying, "I knew him."
Now watch this. This is so great. He's saying in 2 Peter 17, "…we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased.'" **Verse 18 continues,"…and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain."**
What's going on there? What Peter is saying is, "Hey, guys. I'm not just making this up. I saw it with my own eyes. I'm an eyewitness. This is not a cleverly devised tale. This really happened. I went with him up Mount Hermon. I saw him pull back his flesh. I saw why he could calm the wind and the waves, why he could call the graves open: because this was God in the flesh. I heard God speak, 'This is my Son. That's the Word made flesh. Listen to him.'"
Now you might go, "Okay, there we go. That's why Peter was just all in. That's why he was fully committed to being faithful, because he saw that transfiguration thing. If I saw that transfiguration thing, then I'd be all in too." Well, guess what. Peter is saying that there's something better for you than his fleeting experience on Mount Hermon.
This ought to really encourage you. Do you remember what Peter said? "You have the same faith as me. If your faith is in Jesus, you have the same faith in me. In fact, blessed are you who believe and don't see. But one of the things that you can see is the change in me. I'm going to tell you that this is why I've changed."
Peter said, "It's not because I've experienced something, but because grace has sought me. I've been hanging around the Christ who is building the church on our teaching, which comes from the Holy Spirit, who brings to remembrance everything that we need to know. The Word of God is more certain than any experience you can have." He's saying, "You can bet your life on it."
What you're about to read is maybe the greatest verse in your entire Bible. It explains how we can get an infallible, inerrant book even though it is written by fallible men, a book that speaks about eternal truths even though there are finite human authors. We mentioned already that there are 40 different authors, 3 different languages, 10 different civilizations, and 3 different continents, and yet there is one question in this book that is answered. People want to know…
Why are we here? This book answers it. What has gone wrong with this world that God created? This book answers it. What do we do about this problem that's in this world? This book answers it. What's the solution between the enmity between God and man? This book answers it, all the great questions that men and philosophers have always asked. Where did we come from? Why are we here? Who are we? Why is the world in the condition that it's in? What has gone wrong? What can we do to fix it? How now shall we live?
These are all the great questions, and they're all answered right here. What's amazing is that they were written by 40 different men, and yet it works together as one story. How is that? How can that happen? Answer: Because there's one Author behind those 40 men. Look what it says in 2 Peter, chapter 1, verses 19 and following: "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."
In other words, "I want you to be absolutely committed and dedicated to knowing everything you can about the Word of God. Why? Because the Word of God is the lamp in the dark place, and it's going to guide you in this world. You have everything that you need to know. Do you know what I did when Jesus was around? I hung out with Jesus every chance that I got.
Guess what we're doing? God is using us to bring to mind all that he taught us when he was here, just like he worked through the prophets in the Old Testament. He made those prophetic words more sure through the Word that became flesh. That Word that became flesh reconciled me to God, and now his Spirit works in me. I am diligent to write things down so that when I'm gone, everything you need to know is already here."
This is the beauty and the miracle of how our Bible came together, right here in verse 21. Peter writes, "…for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." It's called concursus. It's a phrase that we still use in legal language.
What you have in a concursus legal argument is a running together, a conflict between different creditors, and the question is, "Who actually owns the liability to this account? Who are the creditors that should get paid?" If there is a dispute about who the primary creditors are, who should get money back first, it's called a concurrence lawsuit. It's the legal problem of concursus, okay? What you're saying is, "We don't really know who gets the credit."
Peter is saying, "Look, the reason my writings are different than Paul's and John's are different than Peter's and Luke's are different than Mark's and Mark's are different than Matthew's is because none of us stopped being who we were, but God, in his sovereignty, decided to work through us to produce what only God can produce. None of us wrote anything on our own, but everything that we wrote was brought about by the Spirit of God who "pherōed" us along.
It's the word right here, in verse 21, which says, "…men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." This is the claim of Scripture. It's the same word that was used in Acts 27 when Paul said, "We were on this ship. We were caught in it and could not face the wind, so we gave way to it and we let ourselves be driven along." In other words, this ship was moved by this invisible force that just drove it along.
Peter is saying, "That's what happened with us. We're just a bunch of dumb men, but we yielded ourselves to God. God worked in us, not in some transcendental state, but we were diligent to study the prophets, to follow Jesus, and to pray, and God chose to use us to produce for you something that is more reliable than our experiences." That's the claim of Peter.
Let me just say this to you. This is what's great about this. Every now and then I'll come across some people who will say this, "Well, God told me…" Or they'll say, "I had this experience…" Or, "I had a buddy in Africa, and this is what went down with him…" Or, "I sense the Lord is leading me to…" Or, "I have a word from the Lord…"
Here's what I'm going to tell you. Whenever somebody says that, say, "That's great. I'm not going to argue with you about your experience, but I will argue with you what you make of your experience, because there's something more true and sure than your experience, and that is the Word of God."
Let me just walk you through why the Word of God is better than experience, okay? I'll just give it to you in four ways, if you will, because human experience, while it can sometimes explain from your perspective that something happened, it can't explain why it happened. All right?
Whenever somebody is telling me they've had some experience, I just go, "Look, I'm not going to argue with your experience. I believe that's your experience. I believe that's your opinion about some miraculous manifestation or revelation. But I will argue with you what you make of that experience because I have something more sure than your experience or my experience. I have the revelation of the Word of God." This is what I would tell you about experience.
Experience is selective. In other words, it's imperfect and incomplete. We remember what we want to remember. When I'm having an argument with my wife about something that went down, I usually argue from what I want to remember in the disagreement. Human experience and testimony is very selective.
Experience is suspect. It's not just selective, but it's also suspect. Have you ever seen somebody cross-examined? I mean, when somebody is telling you what they believe happened, until somebody comes and pushes and leans into that, you may not always get the actual full story. In other words, a lot of times it's self-serving.
Experience is self-serving. The Bible says, "The first to plead his case seems [just] , until another comes and examines him."
Experience can be a source of pride. It divides us. Someone might say, "Hey, you can't speak into my life. You haven't experienced what I've experienced. You haven't been through what I've been through." Sometimes that's a great deal of pain, or sometimes it's some miraculous manifestation of some enlightened goings-on.
What Peter is saying is, "Look, I had the transfiguration experience, but you have something even better than my remembrance of an experience that I had. You have the prophetic word that has been made sure by what God has done, just like he said he would, that he would use fallible men to produce his infallible word. His Spirit worked in us to produce these writings."
He then says, "And you can test them. Every word is true." Here's how you can know something is true, by the way, and not nonsensical. Because the Bible is verifiable. It's written in the context of history. Over one-third of the Bible was prophetic when it was written, meaning they were things that were yet to happen. If one of those things hasn't happened or doesn't happen, you can dismiss the whole thing.
The Bible is God's provision for you today to continue to learn the goodness of his will and his way. We can have a mind that is spiritually enlightened through the provision of Christ, but then we are called to be diligent to build on that by adding, to our understanding of the story of the grace of God, knowledge.
Now let me just give this to you just as simple as I can. I have never seen anybody, ever…at Watermark or outside of Watermark…grow to become a healthy and useful and fruit-bearing believer, who has not done four things. Okay? I want to just show you, even from Peter's own example, that he is a guy that has lived out exactly this. It's why he is so zealous to share with us this thing.
In Philippians, chapter 2, verses 12 through 15, I want you to watch what it says: "So then, my beloved [brethren] …" Watch this. This is Paul writing. "…just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out…" Not work for your salvation. "…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work [within] you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
So while you're in this earthly dwelling, stir up others. Let God work in you and through you. Don't do it with grumbling or disputing. "…prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…" This is what Peter did.
He's getting ready to leave, and now he's saying to you, "You do what I did. God has taken me, and impetuous fisherman, and made me the foundation of the church. I am writing down what God has given to me: that you can still be with the mind of God and that you can know the Word of God, Jesus, who still lives and who, through his Spirit, quickens you and supplies you with everything you need. But watch this. You will not be useful and fruitful unless you…
1._ Pay attention to the Word of God._ Do exactly what he says there in verse 19: pay attention to the Word of God, like a lamp shining in a dark place. You just go, "You know what? I'm not going anywhere or doing anything until God's Word directs me."
I've never seen anybody grow who was not a student of the Bible and who said, "God, I want to know you more. I want to know what your Word says. I want to be trained by it. I want to be rebuked by it. I want to be corrected by it. I want to become adequate and equipped by giving attention to the Word of God. I will be careful to walk according to it. I will memorize it and meditate on it."
I'm going to tell you, if you're Bible intake is not consistent and purposeful you will not be able to hold fast and will not be useful or fruitful. Your life will move toward disorder. As Charles Spurgeon said, "The Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to a man whose life is not." So if you want to know why you're not experiencing all that God wants you to experience and why you're not the shining star that you should be, it's because you are not building your life on the foundation of God's Word and giving yourself to it.
2._ Have somebody who is stirring you up regularly by way of reminder._ I've never known anybody useful or fruitful who doesn't have a Peter who is stirring them up regularly by way of reminder. This is why we call you to community and to connect. Do you have Peters in your life who say, "I'm committed to you"?
Do you have people who are committed to coming around every day and asking, "What are you learning?" and who are saying to you, in a loving way, "Hey, that's adrift from what you said you wanted to be. I'm going to admonish you and teach you, that I might present you complete in Christ. For this purpose I labor. With the love of Christ dwelling in me, I will manifest brotherly kindness toward you so that you would be complete, lacking in nothing."
If you don't have a Peter in your life, your life is not going to be what God wants it to be. That is why "He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom." Church, do you want to know why you're not being more useful? It's because we have just this amulet view of the Word of God where we just kind of rub up against it like a rabbit's foot and think we're okay, instead of being careful to do according to all that is written in it.
We don't walk in the counsel of the wicked. We don't stand in the path of sinners. We don't sit in the seat of scoffers. But we delight ourselves in the law of the Lord, and on that law, we mediate day and night, so that we might be careful to do according to all that is written in it. And we invite other people in and say to them, "How am I doing? Speak to me, Peter, by way of reminder. Admonish me faithfully. Pursue me relationally. Counsel me biblically.
3._ Discipline yourself._ I've never seen it happen. I've never seen anybody who did not fully supply their heart's affections and attentions toward spiritual things… Right? You're going to give yourself to something.
This is the word that Peter used earlier. He's saying, "Choreograph your life. Design your life. Bring all your resources to bear; work with the resources that God has given you to design this beautiful life by giving careful attention to the Scripture and other spiritual disciplines that will make your life light in the darkness, that will make your life good and pleasant and right and true to you." But you have to be all in.
Do you want to know if you're all in? Here's how you know if you're all in. You find people who don't know what you think your life should be about, and you just say, "Hey, let me just ask you a question. If you just had to answer this question, what's the one thing I'm most passionate about?"
By the way, if you have kids, they're the best in this. If they say, "Dad, that's easy. It's your job." Or, "Dad, that's easy. It's the interior of your car, because when I spill my juice in there, you go ballistic. You care about nothing in the world as much as you care about your car." Or, "Dad you care about your job because you work hard to provide us good things."
Or, "Daddy, you care about the Longhorns. You were miserable and not very happy, and then yesterday, the Longhorns won, and I got my daddy back for just a little bit." Or, "Dad, you care about your body. You work out. You're the strongest dad. I talk all the time at school about how you're Mr. CrossFit, Dad." Or, "You care about my grades, Dad. That's what you care about."
Or are they going to say this? "Dad, do you know what you care about? You care about your heart. You care about knowing Jesus. You care about stirring others up in their love for Jesus and understanding of the Word of God. You help me with so many things, but if I had to say my dad was most passionate about one thing, I would say my dad is most passionate about Jesus.
Everything in your life really starts there and ends there. It spills out into other things. You work hard. You have a good job. You care about my grades. You want me to do well. You encourage me in sports. You take care of our belongings. But do you know what you care most about, Dad? You care about Jesus. I see you look to know him more and show self-discipline and perseverance. There's godliness in your life, and when it's not there, you even bring guys into your life to help you there."
I've never seen anybody whose life was useful to Christ who didn't do that. You want to know what you're really serious about? Ask others, "What do I seek? What's the one thing you would say defines my life."
4._ Evaluate your experiences and circumstances by looking at the Word of God._ This is key. People that I see doing really well are people that evaluate their experiences and circumstances by looking at the Word of God, not vice versa. In other words, they don't take their life experience, or something they just saw or thought, and try to find justification for it in the Word of God. They don't have their experience knock them off what the Word of God says is true.
They start with the Word of God and that informs every circumstance and experience that they go into. They know that the Word of God is surer than whatever transfiguration moment they might have had. If they're exposed to something, they ask themselves, "How is that true? It's not true because I feel a certain way. Feelings are real, but they just aren't reliable. Do you know what is reliable? The Word of God, and I'm going to stake my life on it."
That's how you become people that God is going to use, and Peter is saying, "Look, I don't have much time, so I'm stirring you back up. I am sharing. I am laying down the truth. It's knowable, understandable, and trustworthy. You feast on it."
Father, I pray for this church. I pray for my friends, that we would not look for some other new, exciting source of knowledge or revelation or transformation, but that we would be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
I pray that we would not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the path of sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers, but that we would delight ourselves in the law of the Lord, and on that law, we would mediate day and night. I pray that we would invite Peters into our lives, and that we would be a Peter to others. And I pray that because we know that you love us we would tend your sheep and that we would know that we are sheep, be humble, and ask others to tend to us. I pray that we would bring our full supply of attention and energy toward that purpose.
I pray, by your power which works in us, choreograph this life that would make us shining stars in the midst of a dark and perverse generation. I pray we would hold fast to your Word because we would know it and build our life on it. When life throws us crazy experiences and circumstances that want to throw us off course, I pray we would go back to your Word and see what your Word would say: you have not forgotten us and that you are coming quickly. I pray we would always interpret our experiences and circumstances by your Word and not vice versa.
Would you make us those men and women, and in doing so, help us to continue this good work which you began and that you will bring about to completion in the day of Christ Jesus? Lord, we don't want to work for you, we want to let you work in us and through us according to your will and good pleasure. For the glory of God, for the good of others, and for the usefulness and fruitfulness of our lives, we pray, amen.
God bless you. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.