I Will Always Remind You Of These Things
2 Peter 1:12-21
Key verse 12:19
“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
By now Peter was an old man. Before he met Jesus, his life was practically meaningless, as a fisherman who barely made a living in order to survive. Then one day God called him to follow Jesus, and Peter left everything behind to begin a new life following Jesus the Messiah. Ever since that day, his life had never been the same. He lived with Jesus for almost three and the half years, and heard him preach and teach the good news of the kingdom of God. Then one day, Jesus was taken away from him, beaten and was crucified. When he was recognized by some people as one of Jesus’ disciples, he denied even knowing Jesus. But when Jesus rose from the dead, and offered Peter forgives, Peter began to change into the man God wanted him to be, a bold and courageous fisher of men. He spent his life then teaching the Bible and preaching the good news of the kingdom of God to everyone. In time, he had many pockets of Christian believers who had been touched by his gospel message and whose hearts had turned to the Lord. He wrote them a letter a while back to encourage them because they were suffering some tremendous persecution from the world around them. In his first letter to them, he reminded them that they were aliens and strangers in this world— on a pilgrimage to the kingdom of God— that their hope should be there— and that they must endure suffering and persecution just as the Lord himself endured it. He reminded them of many other things as well.
Read verses 12-15. “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.”
When we read these verses 12-15, it seems that Peter knew, whether by divine revelation or through what Jesus had once told him, that his time to die was at hand. He was concerned that they not be deceived by the rise of many false teachings. So he wrote them some absolute truths that they already knew through his teaching, and have accepted in their lives, for he tells them “even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth.” He had taught them such things many times before. And he says “I will always remind you of these things”. “And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” What things did he feel that they needed to be reminded of? The many promises of God. Peter had taught them much of what the prophets had prophesied about Jesus. He had also taught them everything the Lord Jesus himself had said during his earthly life.
They were now familiar with the promises of God laid out in the gospels. They had also escaped the corruption that sin had wreaked in their lives before they came to know Jesus. Naturally they had begun to yearn for godliness, to be godly, because God had given them a new heart after that of our Lord’s. They were struggling to mature in all the virtues he had just listed for them in verses 5-7. Now Peter reminds them that they needed to remain rooted in these truth— in all that Peter had passed on to them. They were words of life that would help them mature in godliness and in the Christian life.
“I will always remind you of these things”. “And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” It is amazing that Peter did not think that his Christian responsibility as a shepherd and Bible teacher would end in death. He felt it his duty to remind them of the word of God. He made it a point to refresh their memory from time to time in the gospel faith. He tells them: “I think it is right” that I do that. He had no reservations or second thoughts about reminding them of these things, even though he had reminded them many times before. How great it is that Peter, the selfish and hardened fisherman, had become like his Master Jesus in every way. He was a shepherd— a good shepherd like Jesus who constantly taught the word of God and planted faith in people’s hearts. He felt it his duty to uphold the truth of these precious promises even to his last breath, with a sense of responsibility that goes even beyond death. He was a good shepherd whose duty was to keep the flock of God reminded of God’s wonderful truths. They were precious to him, because they were bought with the precious blood of Jesus.
Look at verse 16. “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” He wanted also to remind them of the truth of gospel of God. He felt it necessary to remind them that the gospel— the full gospel— the promises and all the truth they had been established in were not a fabrication of clever men. The wonderful teaching about the power of our Lord Jesus that defeated death, and the promise that Jesus would come again, were not a fairy take, a story concocted by the apostles. It is the truth. When people hear the gospel, especially about what Jesus did for us on the cross and in the resurrection, it brings them to a decision. They must either believe this to be true or file it away as a myth. If it is a myth, a fabricated story, they everything we are doing in church and in our Christian lives is a farce. All that God had promised through the power of the resurrection is a joke on those who believe. It would be a waste of life. But if the gospel story is true, then there is nothing more hopeful and precious to us than this truth. It is the very thing that we need to escape sin and live the godly life we are called to live.
But when a person refuses to believe the gospel, it is not that their intellect resists it, but their sinfulness and sinful nature resists it. We need to know that. We need to know that the problem of refusing the gospel message is not an intellectual problem but the sin that is within our hearts— which resists the gospel message. So it goes also with all the promises that come from the gospel. Intellectually for example, evolution is nonsense, a theory, a fabrication of the human mind. Yet brilliant minds receive it without question. But when we talk about sin and the love of God displayed on a cross for you and me, and a day of judgment that ever human being will have to face his creator, people scoff at these things. The sinful nature hates the gospel, because the gospel speaks to our inner person, calling each of us person to see himself or herself as we really are, corrupt and hopeless on the inside, fallen, wretched. When the gospel speaks to the inner person it tells us that we cannot change on our own— that we are hopeless without God— it tells us to repent and believe the gospel.
Read verses 16-18. “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”
In these verses Peter says that we did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power of Christ Jesus and of his second coming. Jesus defeated death. He rose from the dead. He also promised to return some day to take us back home with him. Peter tells us that they/he was an eyewitness of his majesty. They had seen Jesus in his glory. They had seen him on the mount of transfiguration when his appearance changed and he was visited by Moses and Elijah. That story is good to be told time and again. He probably told that story everywhere he went. Peter must have told that story a thousand times to ten thousand people. It was part of his preaching and sermons. Jesus transforming right before Peter’s eyes into what Jesus is like in heaven— the dazzling brilliant God. Peter must have also taught that this same Jesus who was once transfigured is now in his glory sitting on his throne in heaven. He probably told the story as part of his life testimony. It was real, it was vivid. It was heart moving. Peter must have also told everyone what he learned from it. His stupidity when he requested to make shelters for these three men. How dull he was spiritually to imagine that you could contain glory in shelters made by human hands. Peter reminisced about the past, when his heart was still in and on an earthly kingdom. Now the kingdoms of this earth are nothing compared to Jesus’ majesty in heaven— and what Jesus had prepared for them who believe. Who would want to build a home here when heaven is so much more. Peter probably cried when he gave his testimony. “I was young and foolish I was worldly, but Jesus loved me and bore me and gave me a vision of heaven.” I think every Christian has a testimony like this, when heaven became real, and this world became as nothing.
Peter also insisted on the second coming of Jesus as part of his gospel story. He preached the transfiguration because it revealed Jesus as to who he really is. And he preached the second coming because the second coming is very much part of our faith— part of what we believe. We believe that Jesus will come again to take us to be with him. There are so many promises that spell this truth out so clearly. We cannot ignore them. The promise he gave his disciples the last day he was with them that necessitate his departure in order to send the comforter the Holy Spirit. The promise that Jesus is coming back to redeem his people and to take them home. These are not myths, nor man made stories. Peter clearly refutes the false teaching he mentions later on in 3:3-4 where scoffers ridicule the second coming. People still ridicule the second coming. Centuries have passed since the promise, so they think it another myth. But when we don’t believe the second coming, we really don’t take anything else the Bible teaches seriously. It gives us a license to live according to the sinful nature, while preaching a God who has no power to do anything except to love— like a giant sweet grandpa in the sky who wants all his children to get along together. Without faith in the second coming, we cannot live out the power of the gospel which teaches us that one day, God will come and every man and woman will have to give an accounting for their lives.
Peter also mentioned what God had told the three disciples— especially Peter— on the mount of transfiguration. He had said “This is my son, who I love, with him I am well pleased.” He also said, “Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5) These are incredible words. They are a part of peter’s personal testimony. Peter listened too much to his own emotions. He was impulsive. He trusted himself too much. He had too much self confidence. What he needed to do is to listen to Jesus— much more than he listened to his own thoughts and other people’s many ideas. Jesus’ words are life because they are the Father’s words. Peter needed to listen to Jesus and honor him.
The voice of God also said: “with him I am well pleased.” God was really pleased with Jesus— with everything about Jesus— his life and his words and with everything he did. Peter may have doubted whether Jesus was doing the right thing in rebuking the authorities rather than making peace with them in order to ease the tension. Many Christians are like this today, compromise the gospel and faith and the Christian life to make peace with those who hate the gospel. Peter may not have been pleased— with the way Jesus did thing— with the way he ran his ministry— with the way he carried out the work of God— with the kind people he associated with— with the teachings on suffering and on sacrifice and on self denial— on humility. But it did not matter whether anyone or everyone was not pleased with Jesus. The Pharisees were not pleased with Jesus either. He threatened their authority and challenged their life style and their faulty faith. The disciples were also not so pleased with Jesus at times when he challenged them to live by faith and sacrifice the world. But God was pleased with Jesus. Everything Jesus did pleased God, because Jesus loved God and listened to him even to death. This then was Peter’s testimony. On that day, he understood that everything Jesus said and did, regardless of how it sounded and what effect it had, was pleasing to God. It really does not matter whether anyone is pleased or not as long as God is pleased — and he is pleased when we honor and listen to Jesus.
Read verses 19-21. “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Peter says that we have the words of the prophets made more certain. The promises were real, not fabricated. All that the prophets spoke of about Jesus came to pass. Every prophecy came true. Peter’s vision on the Mount of Transfiguration was real, and certain. But the word of God in the Bible was even more certain than the eye of Peter witnessed on that day. Peter knew that what he saw was real. He saw Jesus. He experienced him. But Peter tells us that there is something even more certain that what Peter saw with his own eyes. The word of God given through the prophets. The word of God spoken through Jesus. The word of God that fills the New Testament about Jesus. Jesus once told us: “Heavens and earth will pass away but my word will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) That is how sure the word of God is.
He says about it: “You will do well to pay attention to it.” He tells God’s people— his sheep— the early church— and the church of all time— and all true believes— to pay attention to the word of God— to all of it. To listen to it with your heart. Study it daily as the source of your life. Jesus promised us “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35) There are people today that are starving spiritually. There are Christian people starving because they do not pay enough attention to the word of God. They pay attention to the way they look. They pay attention to the money in their pockets and in their bank accounts. They pay attention to the hobbies they have in their lives. They pay attention to the TV and internet. They pay attention to the worldly events, and to the stock market, and to the latest fashions, and to the gossip they hear around them— both the outward gossip and also the inward gossip they have with themselves— their opinions and pet peeves, and complaints and all else. The inner gossip is much worse than the outward gossip. What your mind tells you— the criticism— the hatred— the anger— the bitterness— the jealousy— are all inner gossip that depletes your lives from the necessary spiritual food you need to eat. If you are not studying the Bible— if you are not paying attention to the word of God— if you are not listening to the word of God— if you are not searching for truth— you will starve spiritually and your soul will shrivel. That is the truth. We cannot afford to lay off the word of God. It is not enough that you listen to a sermon, or read a verse here and there to ease your guilt. If you do not give attention to the word of God in your life, you will not grow spiritually, nor be productive nor effective in your Christian life— worse yet you eventually fall away.
The word of God contains all the promises, and the promises are those certainties in your life that will bring about your inner change— bring you closer to God and give you the insight to see beyond your narrow world into the kingdom of God.
How much attention must I give to the word of God? “As to a light shining in a dark place.” Our world is dark. Darkness is everywhere. If we stroll in the darkness we will stumble and fall. Darkness in this world is really devastating to the world and its people. People are dying because they live and die in the darkness. They walk in darkness. They consume dark thoughts. They release dark thoughts to everyone around them. [dark does not necessarily mean evil— but anything that is not from God— and godly— even if it good— is bad— it is dark] People walking in the darkness say “I’m okay” but they are really not okay. They have a burden they are carrying that is too much for anyone to carry. They have a sin that is bothering them to death. A burden they are not sure how to get rid of. But they carry it, blindly thinking that it is the way of things. But it is not the way of things— not when God wants to unburden their hearts.
We were never meant to walk in darkness. We were never meant to ingest the darkness around us. God is light and he wants to shine light on everything in our lives. He wants us to be certain about many things. He wants us to rejoice even in our pain and sorrow. He wants us to trust him in faith even when the world is crumbling. But how can we do that if our day is surrounded by the darkness of human thoughts and feelings— by the worldly standards of good and bad— by the worldly ideas about what is right and what is wrong. We cannot! Even Christian stumble in this world. The Bible tells us don’t stumble. The Bible is full of promises that help us in every situation of life to be godly, to live godly. The word of God tells us “Here is a way for you not to stumble”. But people are not listening. We think we are self sufficient just because we studied the Bible for a couple of years, and know the stories, we think we can actually handle it but we cannot.
But he says give it attention as to a light in a dark place. Do you know how precious is a light when the lights are out? So you know how precious is a good sound advice when you really do not know what to do. Do you know how good is a light when the darkness of life surrounds you, and you really feel as if there is no hope, no way out of my situation, my circumstance! Peter says look to the word of God as to a light in a dark place. But not many are listening to this advice— To this admonition— to this beautiful command. In a fast pace generation like this when everything must come right now, people have no patience to pay attention to the word of God as a light shining in the darkness. It is really the only lamp we have to walk from day to day. It is the lamp that shines when we do not know how to help our kids. When we do not know what our jobs are going to be like to morrow. When I seem to have no friends, when I have gone over the edge and am battling with my depression. When I seem not to be growing any more. The word of God is with us. There is no secret. There is no magic. There is no rain dance nor ritual to follow. It is the word of God, that is the light in our lives.
Until when must we give attention to the word of God? He says: “until the day dawns and the morning star shines in your hearts.” Until the light finds its way into your heart, and until the darkness is no longer darkness. Until the light of God’s word drives away whatever darkness is bothering you and keeping you from being a productive and effective Christian. The morning start is another name for Jesus. So he seems to be saying, until Christ Jesus fills your heart with assurance and hope, with love and peace, with all that you need to stand as a child of God, undaunted by the world and its troubles. When we listen to the word of God attentively— when, in our trouble, we don’t go astray to look for some relief from our trouble in the world, and we instead give our attention to the word of God— to his promise— to his counsel— when we do that, the word of God has the power to dispel the darkness. And when the darkness is dispelled, we see Jesus in all his glory. The darkness hides the face of Christ from our hearts so that we see the darkness rather than Christ. But Christ is there, and he is always with us, encouraging us in our day to day struggle to beat this world and its temptations and to grow in his image. And when we pay attention to the word of God, the light shines and we can see clearly Jesus. And when we see Jesus in our hearts, there is nothing that you cannot endure or do. Because Christ is our hope of glory.
In verses 20-21, Peter assures them once again that the words of God are no myth, and the promises spoken for us were spoken by the power of the Holy Spirit working in the servant of God’s heart to bring light into the darkness. Let’s remember the word of God always, and remind each other of it. And let’s pay attention to Jesus’ words, until the day dawns and the morning start rises in our hearts not only today but ever day. Amen.