FAKE OR FACT
Fake news. It’s sometimes hard to tell fact from fiction. What we hear on the news, or read in the papers, or especially what we get off the internet or social media. How can we know something is true? That we can trust the source? That what we read or hear is reliable? How do we tell fake from fact?
It’s even common these day for media companies to employ fact checkers. Who assess the truthfulness of statements made by politicians or activists or social commentators. Truth to be told, some fact checkers need to be fact checked ‘cos they’re so biased.
It’s fair to say that most information we hear will have little lasting impact on us, regardless of whether it’s true or not. But. When it comes to Christianity or any religious beliefs the stakes are eternal. In such matters it’s critical that our source of truth is completely and absolutely reliable. That it’s true and trustworthy.
Which means we got to ask ourselves. Is the Bible true? Is the Bible reliable?
This is Peter’s final letter. He will soon set aside his ‘tent’, his body. His death or departure is imminent.
And the church, as always, in all ages, is threatened by false teaching.
Peter’s big concern is that they will remember. Verse 12.
1:12 I will always remind you of these things
1:13 it is right to refresh your memory
1:15 I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
He reminds them while he’s living, so they’ll be remembering after he’s dead. And this isn’t nagging. It’s loving reminders. So they’ll be helped to think straight. Chapter 3 verse 1.
3:1 [I’ve] written both of [my letters] as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome [healthy correct] thinking.
B. These Things
And what’s he reminding them of? Verse 12.
1:12 these things the truth you now have.
1:15 these things.
Which refers back to the verses before. Where ‘these things’ is clearly the gospel.
Chapter 1 verse 2.
1:2-3 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our lord. [verse 3] His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him.
Gospel knowledge, God knowledge, as revealed in Scripture about His Son, is all we need in order to Come to know Jesus, and to become more like Jesus. It’s all we need to know and grow. To know Christ And to grow in godliness.
The ‘things’ Peter reminds them of is the gospel, the knowledge of God, of the lord Jesus.
C. Coming of Christ
Though in particular Peter has in mind the return of Christ. They’re to think straight, but also to think ahead. It’s a big theme in chapter 3. But it’s also what’s uppermost here. He’s just spoken, verse 10.
1:10 [of receiving] a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In verse 16 he specifically mentions
1:16 when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
The word ‘coming’ is the word parouisa
. A word always used of Jesus’ glorious coming. That is, when He returns.
In verse 19 they’d
1:19 do well to pay attention until the day dawns “
There is a particular emphasis on the glorious mighty coming of Christ Jesus.
Though why remind them, verse 12, of the truth they already know and are firmly established in? These Christians are stable and secure in their faith. So why beat the drum ‘same old same old’ again and again?
Perhaps four quick reasons.
Because we’re forgetful. ‘Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.’
Or as the hymn “Tell me the old old story’ goes. ‘Tell me the story often, For I forget so soon. The early dew of morning Has passed away at noon.’
Those prone to forget need constant reminders.
Secondly, because the gospel that saves us is the same gospel that grows us. Yes, the Christian life is one of maturing, learning, growing in our love and knowledge of God. And yet, we don’t move on from the gospel upon which our faith is founded and grounded. The way we stay strong in the truth is that we stay in the truth. We stay in the same gospel pot that we’re planted.
You have to keep saying what’s obvious. Otherwise, what’s obvious will cease to be obvious!
Thirdly, when we’re half-blind or forgetful, then we’re complacent and in serious danger. When we’re just not reading the Bible or we’re neglecting to meet with Christians to hear His Word, we’re in danger. Without realising we become susceptible to being carried away or falling away into error.
Fourthly, we need to hear the ‘same old same old’ ‘cos a call to remember is a call to action.
A reminder of something is a reminder to do something. To keep trusting Jesus. To make every effort to live for Christ.
And so, four good reasons to remember. Repetition is key. Repetition is key. Repetition is key.
2. THE TESTIMONY OF THE APOSTLES
So Peter reminds us of the gospel. The Knowledge of God. The Coming of Christ. But why listen to peter?
How do we know that our knowledge of God is actually true? Can we trust the source? Is the basis or ground of our faith reliable?
A. Not Make Believe
Yes! The gospel is not make believe. It’s not made up, it’s backed up. Verse 16.
1:16 We did not follow cleverly devised stories
Secularism argues that God is the figment of our imagination. We invent God. His the stuff of fairy-tales.
Yet secularism is the myth. It’s fabricated. It’s built on the absurd idea that something came from nothing. At best, it’s inept guesswork.
In contrast. Peter deals with facts, not invention. With truth, not interpretation. With evidence, not hearsay.
As Colin Buchanan so brilliantly sings, ‘Jesus is no fairytale. He’s real as real can be. No one made Him up. No, He’s as real as you and me.’
B. Eye Witnesses
So why listen to Peter? What’s the source of truth, the ground of our faith?
First off. The apostolic testimony. Peter and the apostles, verse 16.
1:16 were eye-witnesses of His majesty.
The evening news may report a car accident.
And they’ll interview the traffic police. Who’ll give some facts. But they got there after it happened.
The person we most want to hear from is the eye witness. Who can tell us exactly what happened because they saw it with their own eyes.
Hearsay isn’t acceptable in a Court of Law. Argument must be backed up with evidence. And there’s no better evidence than a group of people who saw it unfold before their very eyes. Who can testify to what they saw.
The apostles spent years with Jesus. They saw first-hand The enormous catch of fish, The storm tamed with a word, lepers touched, healed, the blind given sight, the deaf given sound, loaves multiplied to feed thousands, the dead raised. Peter and the apostles,
1:16 were eye-witnesses of [Jesus’] majesty.
Yet, Peter singles out one event. Jesus transfigured. His form changed such that:
Matthew 17:2 His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
And along with Jesus appeared Moses and Elijah. Representing the law and the prophets.
And Peter, James and John watched on. With front row seats. Witnessing a snapshot of Jesus’ future post resurrection glory. A glimpse of Jesus’ mighty power and majesty.
At that moment God gathered together His saints from the past, Moses and Elijah With his saints from the present, Peter, James and John. Gathered so as to witness for the saints of the future what God had to say about His Son.
C. Ear Witnesses
The apostles weren’t just eye witnesses. They were ear witnesses. They heard the voice of God the Father.
1:17 ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’ [And Peter says] we ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
These are first hand, eye witness accounts.
They hear the Father affirm His Son. By quoting OT Scriptures. Of Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42. Jesus is God’s chosen king of Psalm 2. Set on Zion, who defeats the raging nations. The only escape is to ‘kiss’ the Son, to bow before Him as King. And Jesus is the suffering servant of Isaiah 42. God’s chosen one in whom He delights. With whom He is well pleased.
In the transfiguration the dazzling glory of Jesus is on display. Which is all too much for Peter, James and John. Who do a face plant. Awe-struck. An experience they’ll never forget. And which they’ve passed on. retold. Witnessed to. So that we’ll never forget.
The apostles didn’t invent myths. They witnessed to what they saw and heard. Jesus is an historical person. Born. Lived. Died. And rose victoriously. And reigns gloriously.
And we can be confident that what we have in the bible are eye witness accounts.
Peter had absolute certainty about Jesus’ power and majesty. He saw what he saw. Though God wants us to have the same certainty about the truth of these things. Not by being there. But by reading and relying on the accounts of those who surely were.
3. THE TESTIMONY OF THE PROPHETS
But Peter takes it one step further. By pointing back to the testimony of the OT prophets. Verse 19.
1:19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable
Literally it reads, “we have the made-more-sure prophetic word.”
Made more sure! What’s Peter mean by that? Well, while the Old Testament Scriptures could also be trusted by previous generations, their trustworthiness is richly validated by apostolic testimony. The New Testament records events that give a ‘big tick’ to Old Testament predictions. The eye witness account that peter gives simply confirms what the pages of the old testament said. the prophets spoke about what Jesus would come and do. Peter was an eye witness of what Jesus said and did.. So what the prophets said has been confirmed in what Peter saw. If you read any gospel with cross references in the footnotes or in between the columns, you’ll get an idea of just how much the gospel events are fulfilling Old Testament prophecies. The Old Testament predicted it. The New Testament proclaimed it. The Old Testament is God himself telling us about Jesus.
Peter likens the OT to a lamp in verse 19. It brings some light to the darkness. Though when Jesus arrives, it’s as if the floodlights are switched on.
Each Testament can stand alone, But when read together they validate each other. And help us to more fully interpret the other.
Perhaps you’ve been in a conversation where you’ve had the opportunity to explain why you believe Jesus is Lord, and the other person says, ‘Yeah. But that’s your interpretation. That’s your view.”
But it’s not just my view. The Scriptures were written by around 40 people – from fishermen to military generals to tax men to doctors to politicians – and written over a period of more than 1,400 years. With one clear coherent unified message.
Besides, strictly speaking it’s not my interpretation at all. It’s what the bible teaches. It’s God’s view. It’s his interpretation.
1:20-21 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from god as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The OT Word is not the author’s own invention. Or the author’s own interpretation. The OT Word is from God.
How did this work? Were the Prophets who ‘spoke from God’ possessed by Him, or acting like human typewriters mindlessly writing what God dictated? No!
John Stott puts it well when he writes, ‘God spoke His words through their words in such a way that their words were simultaneously His
. As a result, what they say, God says.’ You see, what we have in the OT Scriptures, and the NT, is the God-breathed Spirit-inspired Word, without error, clear, And intentional, today pointing to and ultimately floodlighting Jesus.
CONCLUSION: TAKE AWAYS
So what? What are the take aways today?
A. Remember These Things
It’s clearly important we remember! And that we remember these things. That we bring to mind the gospel, the knowledge of God, the coming of Christ.
Truths that come to us from the completely reliable testimony of the apostles and prophets. We can have the same certainty that Peter had.
‘Cos this is truth to trust. To stake our eternity on. We can trust that the one who died for sin is King. And that Jesus will return coming in power and glory.
Which is why, verse 19.
1:19 [we’d] do well to pay attention to [the testimony of the prophets and the apostles]
Remember. Remember. Remember. So important that we hear again and again. That we’re exposed and re-exposed. It’s not possible to over exposed.
And so, God urges us to do two things.
First, let’s hear the Word of God. Let’s be moths. When you’re sitting on the deck, and it’s the dark of night, and a light’s on you can be sure there’ll be moths. They always drawn to the light. That’s where they gather. Let’s go to the light of His Word. That’s a lamp to our feet, A light for our path.
Ponder personally for a moment? How much time spent do you spend reading the Bible? How often do you read God’s Word? When you wake up do you reach for your mobile or your Bible? Have you got a plan for reading? And do you tend to avoid certain parts, perhaps the Old Testament? Or do you seek to read all of Scripture?
Perhaps today is a good day to rethink and recommit to some godly habits. Set aside a time to read, meditate and pay attention to God’s Word. To hear God’s Word.
And secondly, to heed God’s Word.
A call to remember is a call to action. To listen and obey. To think ahead and live in the light of God’s coming.
On the 26th
December 2004 a massive Tsunami slammed into the coast of Asian countries surrounding the Indian Ocean killing 284,000. Sadly there was little to no warning. People were completely unprepared. When they did run for their lives it was too late.
Thankfully, since then teams of scientists and experts have worked on an early warning system. Which will give people sufficient warning so they get to safety.
Well, if you think a tsunami is powerful. You haven’t seen anything yet. Jesus will come in power and glory. And He will come to judge. And to save.
‘Cos ever since Genesis 3 God has been implementing His own early warning system. All the way through the OT the prophets warned of the coming wrath and pointed to a Messiah or King who would rescue. The Apostles in the NT continue to warn and continually warn that the Lord Jesus came to rescue from God’s impending wrath, and that He will return to judge.
And as the prophets and the apostles speak, and as others throughout history repeat their message, the lights and sounds of God’s early warning system are going off. Warning people of the danger. The coming judgement. And urging people, ‘Get to safety! Run to Jesus. ‘Kiss’ the Son. Bow the knee before Him.’
1:19 until the day dawns and [Jesus] the morning star rises in [our] hearts.