Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com
Sermon #2311 — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “A More Sure Word”
Text: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Date: Sunday Evening — February 12, 2017
Subject: The Inspiration, Authority, and Finality
of Holy Scripture
Readings: Rex Bartley and Merle Hart
The title of my message is — “A More Sure Word.” My text is 2nd Peter 1:16-21. Let’s read the text together.
2 Peter 1:16-21 “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (17) For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (18) And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. —— (19) We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
I hold before you in my hand the Word of God. I make no apology for saying that every word of this volume is absolutely true. It contains no errors, no flaws, no defects. When you read it, you are not reading the self-taught compositions of poor, imperfect men like yourself, but the words of the eternal God. When you hear it, you are not listening to the erring opinions of feeble-minded men, but to the unchanging mind of the immutable King of kings. These are “the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” With unswerving confidence, we stand by the words of the Apostle, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
This Book alone is the verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God. Men, chosen and sanctified by God, wrote the Scriptures, only as they were carried along and directed by God the Holy Ghost. The divine Spirit dictated the very words of the eternal mind to men who infallibly recorded exactly what God had purposed. The Bible is a message from God the Father to the fallen sons of Adam. Its subject is Jesus Christ, God the eternal Son, and its author is God the Holy Spirit.
The Bible itself is its own best witness to its inspiration. The inspiration of Holy Scripture cannot be explained and accounted for from any other point of view. This Book is the greatest standing miracle in the world today. If anyone dares to deny the inspiration of the Bible, let him give a reasonable proof of his denial, if he can. Let him explain the peculiar nature and character of this Volume, if he can, in a way that will satisfy any person of common sense. The burden of proof is upon the infidel, not upon the believer. The Word of God stands unshakably upon its own ground. It is not our job to prove its validity, but to proclaim its message and press its authority.
I say that the Bible is the most amazing phenomenon in the world today. Anyone who has studied history and the origin of the divine Word must be overwhelmed at the mysterious methods of its formation. Just think of this — Never was there an order given to any man to plan the writing of this Volume. Nor was there any concerted plan on the part of men to write the Bible. The way in which the Bible gradually developed through the centuries is one of the mysteries of time. Little by little, part by part, century by century it came out in fragments and portions written by men separated by time and space. Yet, it stands as one unified volume, each part intricately related to every other part. This is the Word of God!
Š The Bible was written on two continents, in countries hundreds of miles apart, without the convenience of modern communication.
Š The Bible was written under every imaginable circumstance, by men under extremely differing conditions. It was written in the wilderness. It was written in caves. It was written in palaces. And it was written in prisons.
Š The Bible was written in three different languages — Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
Š The Bible was written by men who lived over a span of 1600 years.
Š The Bible was written by scores of men from every possible background variation.
The Bible has stood the test of time. It has been scrutinized, analyzed, and criticized by men and women of every generation for more than 2000 years. Many have been the attempts to discredit its claims, denounce its teachings, overthrow its authority, and destroy its existence. Yet, here it is, as fresh, new, and powerful as ever.
There is a marvelous, heavenly unity in the Bible, not to be found in any other book in the world. Every part of the Bible fits every other part. It contains one system of doctrine, one system of truth, one rule of conduct, one plan of salvation, and one rule of faith. How can this be explained? There is no explanation but this, — “All scripture is given by inspiration of God!” This is the Word of the eternal, unchanging God, which liveth and abideth forever! Let the infidel rage and decry us as fools. With confidence we sing…
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word:
What more can He say, than to you He hath said,
You who unto Jesus, for refuge, have fled?”
Yet, there is a religious movement afoot today which threatens the authority of this Book in the church of Christ. That which is called Christianity today is plagued with a new Pentecostalism. Pentecostalism is no longer an obviously fanatical and small sect of “holy rollers,” looked upon with scorn by orthodox “Christians.” It has taken a new name. It is called “the charismatic revival,” or “the full gospel fellowship.” It has refined its actions. And it is a militant, aggressive, widespread movement, which has infested every “Christian” denomination. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Mormons, Adventists, and even Catholics are finding these sweet sounding, smooth talking deceivers in their midst. This movement has reached an epidemic stage. There is now a whole denomination of people who call themselves believers in the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace, a denomination utterly gin over to Pentecostalism. Sadly, most preachers are afraid to denounce the Pentecostal heresy for what it is — Utter Heresy! It is time for the servants of God to send forth a beacon of truth. This day, I raise a clarion voice of protest. I hope that you who are the children of God will see the dangers of this modern Pentecostalism and shun it as our forefathers have for centuries.
Modern Pentecostalism strikes at the very foundation of our faith — The Word of God. It is offering the religious world a new approach to authority and absolute truth. The Pentecostals boldly claim to have apostolic gifts and powers. They speak of receiving a word from God, seeing angels, speaking in tongues, and performing miracles of healing. They claim to heal family troubles, financial troubles, and physical troubles.
Pentecostalism is the supplanting of Holy Scripture. — If these men and women have the gifts which they claim, they also possess apostolic authority, and they can receive infallible revelation from God, as the apostles did.
And this they actually claim. The Pentecostal claims that when a man is speaking in tongues, his body becomes the instrument of the Holy Ghost and he is speaking the very words of God. It is not too difficult for the modern day miracle worker to get a following. His terribly heretical doctrines are received, because of his ability to perform miracles and wonders. After all, who would dare question the doctrine of one who has such power?
I make no effort to disprove the validity of their miracles. I have no question about it, some of these men can perform miracles. They do have visions. They do speak in some kind of babble called “tongues.” But this does not prove that they are of God. They are of that wicked One — “Even him whose coming is after the work of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders? (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
A survey of the Pentecostal movement reveals a very low esteem for the Word of God. Those who attend their meetings are more elated by the dreams and visions of their supposed 21st century prophets than by the words of Christ and his apostles. As their pretentious charismatic gifts increase, the exposition of God’s Word decreases. Their views of God are pathetic. Their views of man are great. Their views of Christ are sissified. Their views of the world are carnal.
And their attitude toward Scripture makes the Bible of secondary importance, at best. Charismatic meetings are filled with “sharing experiences,” with only an occasional reference to the Word of God. Pentecostalism is built and lives upon the physical, the tangible, and the emotional. It is all experience and feeling. And it has little use for the Word of Truth. The Pentecostal interprets the Word of God by his latest experience. Whereas, he ought to interpret his experience by the Word of God.
Proposition: Here is my subject. This is what I want you to see — “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.” — The Bible alone is the foundation of our faith. It is God’s complete revelation of his will and purpose to man; and it is sufficient and authoritative as our only rule of faith and practice.
Divisions: We once again raise the cry of the Reformation, “God alone, Christ alone, the Scriptures alone!” But the charismatics would raise this question — “If you do not have these gifts, how do you know that your faith is true?” This is answered for us by the Apostle Peter in our text. Here God the Holy Spirit lays down a threefold testimony to the truth of the gospel.
How can we be sure that the gospel of substitution if true? How can we be certain that the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ is true? How can we know that our faith is the faith of the gospel? Peter gives us three reasons.
1. We believe the gospel upon the divinely affirmed testimony of the apostles (vv. 16-18).
2. We believe the gospel upon the infallibly inspired Word of God (vv. 19-21).
3. We believe the gospel upon the revelation of Christ in our hearts (v. 19).
1st — We believe the gospel of Christ upon the divinely confirmed testimony of the apostles. —
“We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount” (vv. 16-18).
Before we look at what these verses teach, let me set before you some warnings of what I consider the greatest dangers of Pentecostalism, with respect to the Word of God.
Š Pentecostalism adds speaking in tongues, ecstatic visions, perfoming miracles, and holy trances to the message of the Bible. In other words, they make their experiences to be revelations equal to, and even greater than, that of the Bible.
Š In practice, Pentecostalism is a denial of the sufficiency of the Scriptures. Pentecostalism implies that the Bible alone is not able to make a man “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” They would have us to know that something more is needed — Something more than the gospel — Something more than redemption — Something more than salvation — Something more than eternal life — Something more than Christ!
Š The Pentecostal does not seek enlightenment from the Holy Spirit in the study and understanding of the Word of God. He seeks an additional word from God, an additional revelation, an additional source of truth, an additional basis of faith.
Š These deluded souls fully believe that there are prophets and apostles today, possessing all the gifts and powers of Elijah and Paul; and they are seeking a message from heaven by these men. For them, the Bible alone is not enough.
Modern day miracle workers flat out deny the sufficiency of the Word of God. — Let me read a direct quote to you from Henry W. Frost’s book on “Miraculous Healing.” These are the words of a pentecostalist.
“It may confidently be anticipated…that Christ will manifest his deity and lordship in increasing measure through miracle signs, including healings. We are not to say, therefore, that the Word of God is sufficient. It is so to those who know and believe it; but it is not to those who have never heard of it, or who, having heard, have disbelieved it. To these persons a dramatic appeal may have to be made, and on the plane where such will most easily be understood, namely, the physical. The missionary abroad, therefore, may have it in mind, in a case of the sickness of others, that God may choose to make him a miracle-worker.”
The charismatic looks upon signs, wonders, and miracles as being superior to and more powerful than the Word of God! — If men do not believe the Bible simply as the pure Word of God, and submit to it as such, perhaps they will believe if they see a miracle. But our Lord rebuked such a thought saying, — “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
The miraculous spiritual gifts of the apostles were never intended to produce faith in men. They were temporary gifts, confirming the faith of God’s elect and the authority of the apostles.
This is the thing that I want you to see. — We believe the gospel of Christ upon the divinely confirmed testimony of the apostles. The apostles were the men separated by God to be the infallible recorders of the gospel, and he confirmed their heavenly authority to deliver his message by the supernatural gifts of the Holy Ghost.
The gospel of Christ is not a mere invention of men, but the revelation of God (v. 16).
2 Peter 1:16 “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
It was the purpose and responsibility of the apostles to preach Christ unto men, and make him known as God’s Messiah. — The apostles were to make known the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and obedience. — They were responsible to declare his power.
Š They preached the power of Christ over creation.
Š They proclaimed the power of Christ over men.
Š They proclaimed the power of Christ over Satan.
Š They proclaimed the power of Christ to redeem.
Š They proclaimed the power of Christ to save.
Š They proclaimed the power of Christ to preserve.
Š They proclaimed the power of Christ to conquer all evil, prevail over all his enemies, and bring all his ransomed ones to glory.
These divinely appointed apostles were sent forth into the world in the name of King Jesus, under his royal authority, to press upon fallen sinners the claims of his sovereign Lordship, calling upon sinners to bow down and worship him, believing the gospel.
Being ordained of God as the apostles of Christ, these men were identified by special privileges; and their authority was confirmed by supernatural signs. Our Lord chose twelve apostles, and only twelve, to make known to his church the full revelation of God. Before the early church would receive a man as an apostle of Christ, he had to meet three qualifications.
Š He had to be a man who had seen Christ in the flesh.
Š He had to be a man who received the gospel directly from Christ himself.
Š He had to be a man who had seen Christ in the flesh after his resurrection.
And there was another mark of an apostle, identifying him as God’s infallible penman. — He had to be a man who possessed and was able to communicate to men the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Now, Peter tells us in our text that he, James, and John had even greater privileges than these.
Š They were eye-witnesses of Christ’s transfiguration. They saw his glory!
Š They heard the voice of God from heaven, proclaiming Christ to be the Son of God.
Š They saw Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, as it were, standing by Christ, pointing to him as the fulfilment of their words.
But this special, supernatural revelation of God was complete in one generation, and the gifts confirming that revelation ceased with that generation. — In patience, because of the weakness of men, the signs were given, confirming the apostolic ministry. But the gifts were dependent on the apostles. We no longer have apostles with us, because God’s revelation is now complete. And we no longer have the signs because the apostles have all died. Let me show you that this is necessarily true from the Scriptures.
The revelation of God in these last days is complete in Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s final word to man. — “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of God. That is to say, he is the embodiment of everything God has to say to man. — “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).
The revelation of God in his Son was so complete that the apostles, in the books of the New Testament, do not tell us anything new. They simply confirmed and interpreted that which Christ had taught. They set forth that salvation, “which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him” (Hebrews 2:3).
The purpose for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was to make known unto men the teachings of Christ, confirming his messiahship.
Š The Holy Spirit came upon the church as the result of Christ’s ascension to the Father.
Š One sure confirmation that the Messiah had come, done his work, established his kingdom, and was set down upon his throne was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Jews and Gentiles. And this gift of the Holy Ghost was identified by supernatural signs. God showed wonders in heaven and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. — As Joel had prophesied, so it came to pass in Acts.
Š It was the work of the Holy Spirit when he came to bring back to the apostles’ memories all that Christ had taught while he was upon the earth, and to guide them by infallible inspiration to record the meaning of our Lord’s teachings. Hear the words of Christ – “When the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, is come, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you…When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 14:26; 16:13-14).
The Holy Spirit does not show men cancers inside the body of another, or problems of their families, or the amount of their income. He shows to men the things of Christ.
Š As Christ is the full embodiment of the Father’s will, he has fully revealed that will to us in the pages of inspiration. — “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father…all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 14:9; 15:15).
Š The miraculous gifts of the apostles were given only to confirm their message, as the Word of God. That being complete, the gifts have ceased.
This great gospel “at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will” (Hebrews 2:3-4). The perfect Word of God has come, and the temporary gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased (1 Corinthians 13:9-10).
When John, the last apostle, died, so died the apostolic gifts, for only apostles could communicate those gifts. For example, Philip had the gifts of the Spirit; but he could not give those gifts to anyone else. Only an apostle had that power (Acts 8:14-17).
So then, we believe the gospel of Christ upon the testimony of the apostles, which was confirmed by God.
2nd — We believe the gospel upon the testimony of the infallibly inspired Word of God. Notice the language Peter uses. He says we have seen the Lord’s glory; we have heard the voice of God; we have seen Moses and Elijah, but “we also have a more sure word of prophecy.” Peter, what can be more trustworthy than such experiences as these? — The Word of God!
Here Peter tells us that the Bible alone is sufficient to be the foundation of our faith. We believe, because God has spoken.
Š The Word of God alone is that light which shines in this dark world.
Š This Book alone causes light to shine in your sin darkened heart.
Here Peter is referring specifically to the Old Testament prophecies. But what he says of the Old Testament is equally true of the New Testament.
How did we get the Bible? It was given by divine inspiration. – “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” No one will ever believe the gospel and receive Christ into his heart, until he first recognizes that the Bible is God’s inspired Word.
Where must we go to find confirmation of God’s Word and learn its meaning? We do not go to seek visions and dreams. We do not go to a priest. We do not simply formulate our own opinions. The Word of God is a commentary upon itself. You learn its meaning by prayerfully comparing Scripture with Scripture. And the Bible is its own confirmation. There is no defense for Scripture like Scripture. Knowing this first, that “no scripture is of any private interpretation.”
What are we to do with the Bible? We must submit to its authority, bow to its claims, and believe its message. — “Whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.” God has spoken. Let us hear what he says.
Š Hear what God says in the Bible, because there is no knowledge absolutely necessary for a man’s salvation except that knowledge which is found in the Bible.
Š The Word of God tells us the truth about God. God is holy, just, righteous, sovereign, and majestic.
Š The Word of God tells us the truth about man. Man is sinful. He is a traitor. He is doomed. He is helpless.
Š The Word of God tells us the truth about Christ.
Š The Word of God tells us th truth about salvation.
Every type, figure, and metaphor in the Bible is a portrayal of Christ.
Š The offering up of Isaac by Abraham is a picture of the offering up of Christ at Calvary.
Š The lifting up of the brazen serpent in the wilderness is a type of the lifting up of Christ on the cross for the healing of his people.
Š Joseph being sold into Egypt is a portrayal of Christ being betrayed by Judas.
Š As Adam is the head of the old creation, Christ is the Head of the new creation.
Š As Melchizedek is a priest without beginning of days or end of years, so Christ is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Š As David is the king of Israel, so Christ is the King of his purchased kingdom.
Š As Aaron is the high priest of Israel, so Christ is the high Priest of the House of God.
Every institution of the Old Testament portrays the work of Christ on our behalf.
Š Noah’s ark is a picture of the believer’s safety in Christ, being delivered from the judgment of God.
Š The cities of refuge represent Christ our Refuge from divine justice.
Š The tabernacle in the wilderness exemplifies in its ministries the atoning work of Christ.
Š The mercy-seat represents Christ the place of reconciliation with God.
Š The manna in the wilderness is Christ the Bread of Life.
Š The water from the rock is Christ the Water of Life flowing from our smitten Surety.
Yes, the Bible is a Book with one message. It has one revelation, one redemption, one hope, one salvation, one Way, one Truth, one Life, and that is Christ! The Old Testament is the story of the preparation for the coming of Christ. The gospels record the facts of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and glory. The Acts recounts the ascension of Christ the King, the propagation of his gospel, and the spread of his kingdom. The Epistles explain the message of Christ. And the Revelation presents the consummation of all things in Christ.
Hear what God says in his Word, because no book has ever produced such great effects upon the world as the Bible.
Š This is the Book whose doctrines turned the world upside down in the days of the apostles.
Š This is the Book whose message broke the arm of papacy in the Reformation.
Š This is the Book whose doctrine produced the Great Awakening in our own land.
Š This is the Book whose message will bring revival and power to God’s church today.
Hear what God says in his Word, because no book can do so much for you as the Bible, if it is applied effectually by the Holy Spirit.
Š The Bible will make you wise unto salvation.
Š The Bible is God’s instrument of conversion.
Š The Bible is God’s means for sanctifying the church.
Hear what God says in his Word, because no book can settle matters of doctrine and duty for believers except the Bible.
Hear what God says in his Word, because no book in all the world can strengthen a man while he lives and comfort a man while he dies except the Bible.
3rd — We believe the gospel upon the revelation of Christ in our hearts (v. 19). You may see signs and wonders in heaven and in earth. You may hear the Bible preached three times in a week. You may read the Bible through twenty times in a year, and yet die in your sins. This is the one thing essential to salvation. The day of grace must be made to dawn in your heart; and Christ the Day Star must arise in your heart. Why do we believe the gospel?
Acts 22:14 “And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.”
Š We believe because God has chosen us.
Š We believe because God has made us to know his will.
Š We believe because God has enabled us to see Christ.
Š We believe because God has made us to hear his voice.
How does God accomplish these things? He does it through the preaching of his Word (1 Peter 1:18-25).
1 Peter 1:18-25 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, (21) Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (22) Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (23) Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (24) For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: (25) But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
Beware of the charismatics, or anyone else, who tries to add to the Word of God. Remember the last warning of this blessed Book. — “If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this Book” (Revelation 22:18).
Oh, perishing souls, hear me! — The only thing you need is Christ. Search for him where he may be found, in the pages of Inspiration.
Š You do not need to change your ways; you need Christ the Way.
Š You do not need a deeper life; you need Christ the Life.
Š You do not need to speak in tongues; you need Christ the Word of Life.
Š You do not need some ecstatic vision; you need a vision of Christ crucified!
Š You do not need to fall in a trance; you need to fall at the feet of King Jesus and sue for mercy!
And I will tell you this, if you can get Christ, you will get everything you need, for Christ is all.
Let us return to the cry of the Reformation, “Sola Scriptura!” “The Bible Alone!” As our forefathers broke the shackles of Roman tradition, let us cast aside the superstitious emotions of Pentecostalism.
Today we need a greater measure of the power and influence of the Holy Spirit to understand the Word of God. We must pray for this. But we do not need a new message. God has spoken with finality by his Son. That is sufficient! — The Word of God is sufficient!
Š It is sufficient for evangelism.
Š It is sufficient for spiritual growth.
Š It is sufficient to guide us.
Š It is sufficient to cleanse us.
Š It is sufficient to teach us.
Š It is sufficient to sanctify us.
Š It is sufficient to protect us.
The Word of God is authoritative in every matter.
Š This is our only creed.
Š This is our only weapon.
Š This is our only power.
Children of God, leave the poor souls who must drink from the polluted cisterns of their own emotions to their charismatic experiences. — “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.” Its promises are sure. Its hopes are sure. Its salvation is sure.