Eyewitnesses to the Truth

by Sean Foster on March 2, 2014

II Peter 1:16-21

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 had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Amen

Martin Luther, the preacher and civil rights leader once said, I have made a covenant with my God who did not send me neither visions, dreams nor even angels. I am well satisfied with the gift of the Holy Scriptures which gave me abundant instruction and all that I need to know both for this life and the for that which is to come.

Today we read from Second Peter chapter one. It has a different tone than the Apostle’s first letter because in his second letter, Peter writes addresses false teachers and the second coming of Jesus.

I want to begin with Jesus today. Last Spring I led a study on the book, Who is this Man, by John Ortberg. Jesus is so unique. He said things that no one ever said before. He did things that no one ever did before.

Until just a few years ago time was centered around Jesus life. BC and AD; it meant Before Christ, and AD meant Anno Domini, meaning in the year of our Lord. AD does not mean – After Death. But that’s how we talked about time. Then it changed to BCE – meaning Before Common Era; and CE – the time we live in now: Common Era.

Two holidays during the year are centered around Jesus. Christmas, His birth. Easter His Resurrection.

There are more songs written about Jesus than anyone else.

Consider that no other religion has God leaving heaven to be with humanity. No other religion or faith has a God like ours. Jesus left all the splendor of heaven to redeem us.

No other religion has their prophet or leader say that they were without sin. Jesus did. (John 8:46)

Jesus even said he was God. Now some religions believe in several or many God’s, just but Jesus said that he and the Father were one. That he himself was God incarnate.

Jesus said he forgives sin. And of course this got him into all kinds of trouble with the religious leaders, because no one can forgive sin except God.

Jesus said He is the way to heaven. No one comes to the Father. No one enters into heaven except through Christ.

In John’s Gospel chapter 10, Jesus said that he would conquer death. (John 10:33-34) And he did. He faced the cross. He faced Death and then defeated death being resurrected from the dead. (Matthew 16:21)

Jesus said things that no one ever said or did.
• So Unique is this Jesus, the one who we worship and adore.
• The One who gave us life.
• The one who gave us our home in heaven.
• The one who reconciled us to God.

But where can the truth about Jesus be found? And this is what Peter is writing about in his second letter. Listen to the first verse of our lesson. 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 had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. (1:16)

Jesus his story, his life, his death, his resurrection, his coming again, is not a cleverly devised story. It is not a myth. It is not folklore or a fairytale. It is the truth. Peter is saying, I knew the man personally. We were eyewitnesses to His majesty. We were eyewitnesses to His death. We were eyewitnesses to his resurrection. The man defeated death! By His Grace, He gives us life!

This letter of Second Peter is for us today. There are all kinds of people who get led astray by false teachings. Go to University today and your faith will be tested. Our society talks down about Christianity and Jesus. Society makes fun of our faith in Jesus. Society say’s that Christianity is outdated and irrelevant.

People are more likely to read and believe the words of Dan Brown than they would be to read the Bible. Remember the Divinci Code? Christians read the book and started having doubts about their faith and the Scriptures. Dan Brown said that the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not the only gospels written. And yes there were other Gospels written by gnostics a couple of centuries after Jesus death and resurrection. There were actually several of these books written:
• The Gospel of Thomas
• The Gospel of Philip
• The Gospel of Joseph
• The Gospel of Mary
• Even the Gospel of Judas.

But the difference between these gnostic gospels and the four Gospels of the New Testament is that the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written just a few years after Jesus death and resurrection, not a couple hundred years later. They were eyewitnesses. They were present. They knew Jesus.

The New Testament is comprised of 27 Books.
• Matthew’s Gospel – Matthew was a disciple of Jesus.
• John a disciple of Jesus.
o He wrote five books of the Bible
o The Gospel of John
o The letters of 1st, 2nd and 3rd John
o The Book of Revelation.
o John was boiled alive and then spent the rest of his life in Patmos where he wrote the last book: Revelation. And it is pronounced: Revelation, not Revelations.
• Paul was the biggest writer of the New Testament and authored more than half of the New Testament; 14 books.
o Paul became a follower of Jesus after Jesus resurrection.
o He lived when Jesus lived and hated the man.
o He persecuted Christians.
o But has an encounter with the risen Christ
o He saw Jesus risen from the dead.
• Peter – disciple wrote two books
• James and Jude – who were they? They were brothers of Jesus. Who came to believe that he was the Messiah. The Son of the Living God.
• Now Luke – who wrote Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts, he was not a disciple of Jesus, but he travelled with Paul on his missionary journeys. He was a Gentile who came to faith after Jesus death and resurrection and wrote the Gospel of Luke, a biography based on the collected accounts of eyewitnesses to the Life, ministry and work of Jesus the Christ.
• And then we have Mark.
o Mark’s Gospel is believed to be the oldest Gospel.
o Mark was not a disciple of Jesus, but a follower of Jesus and worked very closely with the Apostle Paul.
o It is also said that Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark working closely with the Apostle and disciple: Peter.
But what I am trying to teach to you all this morning is that the New Testament was written soon after Jesus resurrection and ascension into heaven. As Peter writes in our lesson this morning, we were eyewitnesses to His majesty. We knew Jesus personally. Trust and rely on the testimony of those who knew him.

Yes they were other so called Gospels written. But these 27 books of the New Testament that were canonized in the middle of the third century was because these gnostic Gospels started to pop up and confused the church and teachings of the Apostles.

New Testament scholar Dr. Fredfrick Fyvie Bruce wrote it well in his book: The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? One thing must be emphatically stated. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing their innate worth and apostolic authority, direct or indirect. The first ecclesiastical councils to classify the canonical books were both held in North Africa — at Hippo Regius in 393 and at Carthage in 397 — but what these councils did was not to impose something new upon the Christian communities but to codify what was already the general practice of those communities. New Testament Canonized

In this lesson that Don read to us, Peter is recalling this encounter of the Transfiguration that was read to us from our Gospel reading this morning.

Verse 17: For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” And continuing at verse 18: We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

Peter is making it clear: we were there!

God’s Word, the Scriptures are the way that God speaks to us. To reveal His love for us. To reveal His will for our lives.

God’s Word: these Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; it is the most important book. My eternity rests in the words of this book. These words brought me and continue to bring me close to God and reveal to me his saving Grace and Love for me. And not only for me – but for everyone.

Do any of you know the name: Lee Strobel. Lee Strobel was a self proclaimed atheist who when he set out to prove that God was a myth found that God had revealed himself in Christ and he became a Christian. He has written several books: The case for Christ and why the resurrection of Jesus is true. It was while working as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, he undertook an investigation into the claims of so-called prophets. He set out to debunk the prophecies of Jeane Dixon, Nostradamus, and the writings of the Old Testament.

Now listen to this: Jeane Dixon was the easiest target. Strobel found she was right about 6% of the time. She predicted World War III would start in 1954 and that Castro would be thrown out of Cuba in 1970. Dixon predicted Jacqueline Kennedy would never remarry and the day after Dixon predicted this, Jacqui announced her engagement to Aristotle Onassis.

When Lee studied Nostradamus, he discovered his writings from 1555 were mysterious and often mistranslated. He was intentionally vague and has been misquoted to make his writings fit modern events. It was easy for him to debunk the prophecies of Jeane Dixon and Nostradamus. But when he studied the predictions of the Old Testament, he was unable to refute the evidence. They aren’t vague or enigmatic, wrote Strobel. He said, They are specific and clear. When Strobel studied them and compared them to the life of Jesus, he became convinced that Jesus was who He claimed to be—the Son of God. And today Strobel is a leading Christian speaker and author.

From a sermon by David Dykes, Jesus is STILL Performing Miracles, 8/31/2011

Recently someone asked me about the ushering in of the Bible. The reason our service begins with the Word of God is ushered in to begin the service is because we want to show that the Word is central to who we are. Like the people of the Old Testament when the Word was brought before the people: they would stand in reverence for the Word. They would stand for the reading of the Word. The Word was central.

And it is central for us.

Praise be and thanks be to God for his most precious and Holy Word.

A-men

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