Thursday, October 24, 2013

Eye Witnesses of His Majesty


20th October 2013, Passage: 2 Peter 1:16-18 
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.  (2 Peter 1:16-18, ESV)

We live at a time when sensational stories are so easy to sell. The guys in the media know how to make their stories sensational to attract buyers. They have catchy titles so that they may catch your attention. This is the reason why they put half-naked women on the front covers or on billboards so that they may get your attention. More recently, there has been a proliferation of comedians – Churchill live, Churchill Raw, Kenya Kona, etc. these programs, shows and comedies sell like hotcakes- its big business! Have you been attracted to them? The sad story, though is that churches have started borrowing a leaf from the world and are now out to attract the world by entertaining them with the worldly stuff. Why shouldn’t we join in?
We cannot join in because of what we are – we are the church of Christ, not the church of the world. We also know that you cannot use the world to attract the world – they soon will be taken up by something else so that sooner than later you will discover that you cannot keep the crowd. We stand for truth – verifiable truth. We do not follow cleverly devised myths, or comedies. We have no interest in fairy tales because the gospel is not a fairy tale. The gospel is factual and historical. The gospel is powerful to save those who believe in Christ, because it is the power of God for salvation for those who believe. We have no interest in entertaining sinners to hell. Our intention as a church is to lead you heavenward. We will not withhold anything that is profitable for you – but will declare to you the whole counsel of God. You may like it – this to the prosperity of your soul, you may hate it – this to the damnation of your soul. Pick your choice. We refuse to be pragmatic.
This evening we affirm what we will not do and what we stand for:
1)     We are not interested in fairy tales
 There are many who consider the Bible as a fairy tale. But the Apostle of the Lord, who lived in time, in a specific geographic location, is here disputing such an opinion as unfounded because he here affirms that we did not follow cleverly devised myths. We have no interest in myths or fables because they cannot save any sinner, no matter how interesting they may be. Myths cannot comfort anyone – at best myths can only amuse and entertain. Christians should not be amused by myths because myths are not true. We have been made to believe that myths are neither false nor true – this is what my CRE teachers taught me and this is what I was taught in college. But what is a myth? It is a story invented by man to express his own desires and fancy without the necessary regard to reality. Myths are man-centric and the truth is God-centric.
Peter is saying that even myths that are cleverly devised are not good enough, either for himself or for others and so he talks of ‘we’. Clever fables are no good at all – they can do no spiritual good. Peter is defending himself from false teachers and he is saying that what he preaches is not nice stories. False teachers are peddlers of destructive heresies – this is the difference between Peter and false teachers.  False teachers are hawkers of stories that they made up and scoff at the second coming of Christ. On the other hand what he is making known is the power and the coming of Christ in splendor and majesty. What we declare is the present power of Christ in the salvation of sinners, and the future glory, honor and majesty of His coming. The power we proclaim is the power of the risen Lord that is effective to equip Christians for holy living.
In this passage he is speaking of the accuracy, the trustworthiness and reliability of the gospel that we affirm and defend.
Scripture originates from God, it is breathed out by God (2Tim. 3:16) and it is revealed in history for the glory of God and good of man. The Scriptures have something to do with the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This means that anything that purports to be the truth and is not centered on Christ is a man made fable. Christ is the sum and the center of the Scripture. If Christ is taken from Scripture then what is left cannot be the objective truth that sinners need to be saved from their sorry state.
Throughout the Old Testament there is the promise of His coming. Then the New Testament fulfills the promise of His coming so that Peter together with many others were eyewitnesses of His majesty. Peter was there. He saw Jesus Christ, he talked with Him. He dined with Him. He knew His family. Other apostles were eye witnesses of His majesty. This is why John writes,
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you, the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us…” 1John 1:1-3

2)    We declare historical facts about Christ and His power
In this passage Apostle Peter puts a lot of emphasis on the firsthand nature of the information that he is declaring to us. Many attest the historicity of Christ, but who would a more firm and trustworthy testimony than His own Father? The Apostolic witness by the inspiration of God is of most important, and is what we must rely on – not archaeology (as important as it is). There is no question that Christ was born in time because “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that WE might receive adoption as Sons.” (Gal. 4:4). It is for this reason that Luke records that he undertook to follow things closely from the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word so that he could present an orderly account of things as they happened. So it was during the days of Herod as the King of Judea… in those days of Caesar Augustus (Luke 1:1-5; 2:1).
When Christ received honor and glory – Peter was there. James and John were there – they saw everything. They saw Moses and Elijah and they made the request to make a tent for each one of them so that they could spend more time together! They heard the voice from heaven by the Majestic glory declaring the identity of Christ “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”. (1:17) He emphasizes that “we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”
 Peter says that he was with Jesus when the voice came from heaven. He did not hear from a second or third person – he was personally there. He had the experience. This is a clear indication on the authorship of this letter by Apostle Peter and refutes the claim by the liberalists that this was done a pseudepigrapher. He was in the holy mountain – a mountain that was occupied by the majestic glory of God the Father! The incidence at transfiguration left Peter with no doubter about him being an eyewitness of the Majesty of God. John was also as affected for reports, “We have seen His glory, the glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
The specific focus of Scriptures about Christ is His first and second coming.  Christ was vested with the power from on High – power that could not be mistaken… power that flowed to bring good to sinners, power that was demonstrated in healing, in casting out demons, in doing extra-ordinary things like calming the storm etc. but more especially power that was made manifest in forgiving the sins and in setting the captives free from the fetters and bondage of the evil one. Peter as an eyewitness of Christ’s power in His ministry and it was most glorious in its manifestation during the transfiguration and in ascension. It will be exceedingly glorious at His second coming. Possibly this is why Peter uses the word parousian. This word is never used to refer to the first coming – it always in reference to the future coming of Christ. This is how he uses it in 3:4, 12 – to refer to the second advent of Christ. So we anticipate the second coming of Christ on the basis of His first coming. Who is willing to dispute with such witness? This is factual and trustworthy and reliable. This is what you need and this is what we must trust. In this testimony is life.

3)    We exist for the honor and glory of God!
If the Father gave the Son honour and glory and testified of how much He was pleased with Him, shall we give Christ anything less? Shall we give Christ dishonor when the Father has given Him honour? Shall we not worship Him when the Father has given glory to Him? The voice was borne to Him by the Majestic glory when the God the Father gave Him such honour and glory. This single fact that Christ, whom we have placed our faith, whom we trust and depend upon is enough to help us know that our hope rests on a solid foundation.
What is the significance of the proclamation of the Majestic Glory? In this statement, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”. (1:17) God the Father revealed Jesus to be His Son or to be equally God with Him. In this case then God has placed upon Christ the most glorious divine crown. He did not only give Him a title and a status, but also in this statement God also declares that He loves Him. there exist such mutual love in the Godhead that human words can never describe. This is what Jesus said when He said, “… and loved them even as you Loved me…that the love with which you have loved me may be in them and I in them.” (John 17:23, 26). Moreover, God the Father was well pleased with Jesus His Son. God was pleased means that Jesus had achieved the earthly righteousness. He had perfectly obeyed the Father – He had perfectly obeyed all the demands of the Law… He had done what Adam could not do… He had secured the righteousness of God for His elect. It was done and finished by Christ! Halleluiah what a Saviour!
The glory of Christianity is not so much on the facts or on the uniqueness of its teaching. The glory of Christianity is vested on the Person of whom it is directed. The honour and glory of Christ is the reason for it to be so unique. Jesus Christ is God. He is worthy of all glory and honour both in heaven and on earth. God has glorified Him and He will glorify Him again when He will come a second time on earth.
Not only so, Christ has all power and authority  in heaven and on earth vested on Him so that He has power over all things – things visible and things invisible. He declared that all authority in heaven and on earth was given Him and this same authority He gave to us… so that we can make disciples of all nations baptizing them in His great and holy Name! The point is that we live to honor and exalt His Name because of the way God has exalted, glorified and honoured Him.

Applications:

v The Scriptures are all we need to be made wise for salvation. We must learn to open its pages every day and read them and study them, and memorize them, and meditate on them day and night and apply them. Scriptures are sufficient. Scriptures are enough – they are all we need to survive spiritually. We must keenly live on the diet of the Scriptures that we will be made wise for salvation. We become eyewitness of His Majesty by linking ourselves to the testimony of those who faithfully delivered them to us. We must not listen to any other voice (Because everything else is only a fairy tale) – but the prophetic and apostolic voice, that form the foundation of the church.
v Christ is the sum and centre of the Scriptures. Our reading and study and memorization, and meditation as well as application of Scriptures is all in vain if it does not lead us to Christ. Whatever we see or do not see in Scriptures, we must see Christ. Scriptures ought to lead us to a Person called Christ. We must be brought to the cross by the Scriptures. All statements in the Bible must be telling us one thing – trust Christ enough to serve Him.
v We must come to fully submit to the testimony of Scripture, so much that we do all we do in order to yield glory and honour to Christ. We must not live for ourselves. We must not live for anyone or anything else other Christ and Christ alone. What is it that excites us most? Is it Christ? Is His service? It is His people? Do you think what excites you will excite you in heaven?

v May the Lord grant us to look forward to the revelation of His coming. That we may forever, groan come Lord Jesus Come!

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