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If I could only preach one sermon… (from 2 Peter 1:12-19) August 2, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Jesus, Rapture, Religion, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Second Peter, Sermons.
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If I Could Only Preach One Sermon…
2 Peter 1:12-19

George Whitefield preached over 18,000 sermons during his life. While traveling through Exeter, New Hampshire on September 29, 1770 he was asked to preach on the village green. After praying for strength to preach one more sermon, he managed to preach for two hours on “Faith and Works.” After supper as a guest, Whitefield preached one more sermon to a group gathered at that home. At 2 a.m. he awoke, talking about his desire for strength to preach again the next day. Four or five hours later, he died in his sickbed.

Whitefield did not waste his last time preaching current events or moral improvement but rather dealt with a subject with eternal ramifications. We find much the same situation here with Peter. He knows that the time of his departure from this earth was at hand (verses 14-15). Today, we will see what subject Peter felt was so important that he devoted to it his last “sermon” (if you will allow me to use that term).

A. Peter wanted to “preach a sermon” that makes a life-changing difference (verses 12-15). He did not want to “preach a sermon” to be remembered by but rather a subject that would change those who remembered it.

1. The subject of this “sermon” will change the way you live your life (verse 12a). Peter has told them that if they live life in a certain way it would make them spiritually fruitful and would prove the reality of their faith and would be worthy of entrance into heaven. In verse 4 he has already made it clear that a change has to take place for this to happen. Everything must change. The heart, the lifestyle, the destiny of a person all can be changed by the subject that Peter will soon announce.

2. The subject of this “sermon” is already known to you but he wants to remind you of life-changing, eternal truth (verses 12b-15).

He calls it a present truth. This is not something new-fangled. It has been known for many years now. His listeners are not new to this truth but he dared not neglect reminding them of it. This truth is vital for the believer. It must be remembered and when remembered it will stir up, that is, wake up the believer to live the lifestyle that is worthy of entrance into heaven (see also 2 Peter 3:1).

Also these believers are established in this truth. They were not wobbly. Now this may seem strange to preach to strong Christians that they need to live in such a way as to prove their faith but it reveals to us something of the danger of assuming that someone is steadfast in the faith. Not just new believers, not just young believers, not just struggling believers but all believers need this truth so that they will remain set and fixed in the faith and in the lifestyle of our faith.

B. Peter wanted to “preach a sermon” that confirms Jesus as the Son of God (verses 16-18).

1. This is what Peter had preached before (verse 16).

He had proclaimed the power of Christ. Verse 3 tells us specifically what Peter means by the power of Christ. It is divine power, power from God, in fact, it is the power of God. A power that gives to men and women all that they need to walk the lifestyle that Peter describes as characteristic of the called ones of God. It is Jesus that enables us to live worthy of entrance into heaven and it is the importance of His power that is the theme of Peter’s last sermon.

He had proclaimed also the coming of Christ. Now this could be talking about the first coming of Christ but it is more likely referring to the second coming of Christ. Second Peter 3:3-14 indicates that some who had heard the truth and perhaps had even professed the truth of Christ’s coming were rejecting it. Thirty-five years ago (more or less) Jesus ascended to heaven, promising to return. Where is He now? He’s not coming back. Like the children of Israel, who within forty days began to doubt that Moses would return, these scoffers have no patience with God or His ways. Why? According to verse 3b, they walk according to their own lusts.

Now you may ask what difference does this doctrine make? Verses 11 and 14 make it pretty clear. Those who believe in the imminent return of Jesus Christ will live differently than those who do not. The scoffer walks according to his own lusts but the believer in the Lord’s coming has a holy, godly, peaceable, and blameless walk in this word. It is not only important that we have the power to walk worthy of Christ, it is also important that we be ready when Christ comes.

There is another reason why these two doctrines are important. They are the majesty of Christ. His power is the power of a divine king and when He returns, He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords.

2. With this majesty is how the Father identified Him (verse 17). Verses 17-18 speak of the Mount of Transfiguration experience that is recorded for us in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a mountain and God showed Jesus Christ in glory and honor as the divine Son of God, the King of glory. Now there are other times when God identified Jesus as the Son of God. He did so at Jesus’ baptism. John 12:28-29 tells of another occasion where God glorified Jesus Christ. Only on this occasion though did the Father identify Jesus with the honor and glory with which He will appear when He comes to receive His own to Himself and to judge those who rebel against Him. This is likely why Peter chose this particular occasion. It made the exact point that Peter wanted these believers to grasp. He is powerful enough to help you to walk worthy of entrance into heaven and He is coming back, be ready!

3. This is confirmed by our eyewitness testimony (verse 18). Peter is not talking about something he heard. This not some legend or cunningly devised fable. He saw Jesus in His majesty with His own eyes. He walked up the mountain with Jesus, He climbed back down after the transfiguration was over. He had seen Jesus in His earthly body and had seen Him in His glorified body. He knew what He was talking about. The power of God to change my lifestyle and the promise of Christ to return are based on fact. I can pray with confidence for strength to live holy because His power to give that strength has already been demonstrated. I can look forward to His coming, not because of the signs of the times being all around me but simply because He promised to come in majesty and His coming majesty has already been revealed to mankind through eyewitness testimony. I find it interesting that the only sign of the last days that Peter even brings up is that of scoffers and false prophets and he brings them up not to indicate that Jesus will soon return but rather points out that we should not be surprised when scoffers and false prophets appear. After all, Jesus will return.

C. As perhaps you can now see, Peter‘s message was a prophetic message but it was not an impractical reading of tea leaves but rather a message that demands obedience (verses 19). Negatively, this word means beware. Positively it means to pay attention, listen. Hear my word and then act appropriately! Peter intends for them to obey verses 5-7 because of the eyewitness confirmation of the Father’s identification of Jesus as the Son of God. Hear the truth and obey it!

1. It demands obedience because it is true. Peter says that the prophetic word was confirmed, that is, by eyewitness testimony and the testimony of the Father. All of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah are true in Jesus Christ and we know this because of what God did to identify Jesus before men as the Son of God and because hundreds, if not thousands of eyewitnesses, both followers and enemies, attest to the truth of the facts as they happened. God said it through the prophets, confirmed it on this earth multiple times, and eyewitnesses confirmed both the testimony of the prophets and of the Father.

2. It demands obedience because it dispels spiritual darkness. Peter has already mentioned in verse 4 that men’s hearts are doomed. Here he points out that they are also dark. Faith in God’s truth dispels darkness like a morning star in the dawn. Men grope spiritually in darkness but the power and the coming of King Jesus brings light to those who believe and obey.

When I was a kid, we used to listen to a camp meeting preacher and revivalist by the name of Sammy Allen. Sammy Allen would get down from the platform and preach at the front of the aisle and he would look you dead in the eye and ask, “Are you listening? Are you listening?”

Are you listening this morning? I am not asking if you can hear me or if you understand me. Are you going to take heed to the Word of God and live according to the power of Christ, living ready and looking forward to His coming for you.

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Revelation 4 (Q and A) July 5, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Eschatology, Praise, Rapture, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Throne of God, Worship.
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A bit late this week with the Q&A. I am also posting the Q&A for chapter 5 which we didn’t quite finish and for chapter 6 which we should get to this Sunday evening.

Revelation 4 

1.     To what do the phrases in verse 1, “these things” and “after this”, refer (Compare with Revelation 1:19)?

The events following the present situation in the seven churches described in chapters 2-3 as well as following John’s vision of Jesus Christ in chapter 1.

2.     Who is the voice speaking with John in verse 1 (Compare with 1:10-13)?

 Jesus Christ

3.     Is there any reason within the text to believe that verse 1 refers to the Rapture (Compare with 11:12)?

No. Although a voice like a trumpet (Christ’s voice) says, “Come up here…” there is no indication in the text that John is intended to symbolize the church at this point. This does not mean that the Rapture does not take place at this point in the eschatological chronology, only that it is not to be found (as thought by many) in verse 1.

4.     Everything in chapter 4 is described in relationship to the throne of God. What do we already know about this throne and what is the significance of this knowledge so far (1:4-5; 3:21; see also Ezekiel 1:26-28)?

The Trinity is pictured as directly related to each other and equal with each other at the throne of God. This is also the hope of those who overcome (believers in Christ), to be with the Father and with Christ throughout eternity. Many of the things mentioned in relation to the throne are also mentioned in one or more Old Testament passages that describe the presence and glory  of God.

5.     What is the significance of the number of elders seated around the throne (Compare with 21:12-14)? What is the significance of the white robes and the crowns, i.e. victory laurels in verse 4?

The twenty-four elders seem to symbolize the unity of Israel and the church as represented by the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles. The God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New Testament. The white robes are worn by the true believers both from the Old Testament and the New Testament (testament = covenant in this context). They are also united in their victory as “overcomers” over the wicked one.

6.     What is the significance of the lightnings, thunderings, and voices (Compare 8:5; 11:19; 16:17-18 with Exodus 19:16)?

This seems to be an Old Testament allusion to the presence of God on Mt. Sinai. In the book of Revelation these phenomena also seem to be connected to the coming judgment from God on the world.

7.     What is the significance of the seven lamps of fire representing the seven Spirits of God, the sea of glass, and the four living creatures when taken together as one picture (See Exodus 37:23; 38:8; Number 2:2ff compared with Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah 6)?

These all allude to the furniture of the Tabernacle and the Temple where God’s presence housed itself during the time of the wilderness wandering through the time of Ezekiel. There were visions of God’s glory by Ezekiel and Isaiah. Isaiah’s was connected to the temple but the vision in Ezekiel 1 is apart from the temple although chronologically, the glory had yet to depart.

8.     Is there any reason in the text to assume that the four living creatures are referring to the four gospels or the four aspects of the character of Christ?

No, this is allegorical interpretation which should be avoided even when the interpretation seems to be benign or perhaps even inspirational.

9.     What purpose do the elders and living creatures serve?

To worship and glorify God throughout all eternity.

Questions concerning Revelation 4 June 28, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Eschatology, Holy Spirit, Praise, Rapture, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Throne of God.
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1. To what do the phrases in verse 1, “these things” and “after this”, refer (Compare with Revelation 1:19)?

2. Who is the voice speaking with John in verse 1 (Compare with 1:10-13)?

3. Is there any reason within the text to believe that verse 1 refers to the Rapture (Compare with 11:12)?

4. Everything in chapter 4 is described in relationship to the throne of God. What do we already know about this throne and what is the significance of this knowledge so far (1:4; 3:21; see also Ezekiel 1:26-28)?

5. What is the significance of the number of elders seated around the throne (Compare with 21:12-14)? What is the significance of the white robes and the crowns, i.e. victory laurels in verse 4?

6. What is the significance of the lightnings, thunderings, and voices (Compare 8:5; 11:19; 16:17-18 with Exodus 19:16)?

7. What is the significance of the seven lamps of fire representing the seven Spirits of God, the sea of glass, and the four living creatures when taken together as one picture (See Exodus 37:23; 38:8; Number 2:2ff compared with Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah 6)?

8. Is there any reason in the text to assume that the four living creatures are referring to the four gospels or the four aspects of the character of Christ?

9. What purpose do the elders and living creatures serve?