Grace Community Church,
Sunday 9th November 2014
Wholesome thinking about the truth:
(Tell me the old, old story!)
2 Peter 1:12-21
Before we look at the passage and seek to find truths contained within I would like to thank Jim for the series so far and also for the opportunity to open up this passage for us as the church gathered here. I have to confess at the outset that this passage was preached on my recent visit to South Wales by our good friend Tom Holland. In saying that the emphasis was very different to what my brief is today but it was both stimulating and helpful for my preparation for today's message.
Finally last weeks message set the scene perfectly and was endorsed by Gill's testimony that followed concerning her love for the bible. All of these things having gone before are the springboard for all that is to now come.
The flow of 2 Peter so far has been that Peter has encouraged his readers to make their calling and election sure. He has reminded us that we are saved as a sovereign work of God's grace and that if we are to be effective as servants of Jesus Christ then we must work at our knowledge and understanding of all that being a Christian entails. I am a scientist by profession and so I love equations and finding the balance that makes the equation work. This first chapter of 2 Peter is to the scientific mind a great example of a balanced equation. It begins with a greeting that is for the people of faith and continues to remind us that if we are that people then certain things are true of us. That is a bit like A+B of the equation then we move on into vs10 where we have part of the product of A+B in that as we learned last week there is a responsibility to make sure that A+B are in place but the final part of the equation which adds up to C is that there is a declaration to be made also which is found in verses 12-15.
You will see that verses 10 & 12 both begin with a “therefore” this in scripture ought to cause us to ask the question:
“What is the therefore there for?”
This is where our subtitle “tell me the old, old story comes in!” Peter is in the last days of his life, he knows that his unceremonious end as promised by the Lord Jesus is soon to take place and so he has vowed to do something. He is not busying himself with putting right all of the mistakes that he has made. That of course is important but for Peter and I believe all believers there is a legacy of far greater importance than reputation that needs to be passed on. Even in his latter days Peter's thinking is wholesome and is a great example to us and a timely reminder of what is truly important.
Now to the passage in hand. Peter tells us that we need to be wholesome in our:
- Respect towards others.
- Testimony of faith.
- Presentation of scripture.
1: Wholesome in respect towards others.
I am greatly privileged to be getting older in age. Many might scoff at that but scripture clearly teaches that as we get older we continue to have a gospel responsibility. That is nowhere more to the fore than we see from Peter's words in these verses. I am sure that we have all been guilty of saying to our children (just as our parents did to us) “I have told you a thousand times before, my repeating is for you benefit!” “I will keep banging this gong until you have got it!!”
The poppy is a reminder of disastrous days that have gone before and hopefully a warning not to go there again!
This is exactly the sentiment of what peter is saying in these verses. Catherine Hankey had the same sentiment when she penned the following words:
Tell me the old, old story
of unseen things above
of Jesus and His glory
of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply,
as to a little child,
for I am weak and weary'
and helpless and defiled.
Tell me the story slowly,
that I may take it in-
that wonderful redemption,
God's remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often,
for I forget so soon:
the early dew of morning
has passed away at noon.
Tell met story softly,
with earnest tones and grave;
Remember!I'm the sinner
whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always,
if you would really be,
in any time of trouble,
a comforter to me.
Tell me the same old story,
when you have cause to fear
that this world's empty glory
is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world's glory
is dawning on my soul,
tell me the old, old story:
“Christ Jesus makes you whole!”
Peter long before Catherine Hankey said I will tell you the old,old story often in order to stir you up to be the Christians that God intended of you. It is not vain repetition or an incantation. It is the story of salvation that we need. The gospel of course to Peter was all embracing it begins with Moses and continues throughout the law and the prophets and finds perfect fulfilment in Jesus of Nazareth and He has adopted us into the family of God and as such we need constant reminders as to the cost and implications of our salvation. Peter unashamedly said I will keep on keeping on with the old, old story because you need it.
He says that he intends to make it his dying breath, we can imagine that day when he went to his own cross, curses came from his lips at the cross of the Saviour because Peter was a complete and utter failure but at his own cross he has become victorious! Death no longer had a sting for Peter, he was entering into glory and so we can imagine the words he had for his executioner and for the spectators gathered!
But he has also made provision, he had made every effort to leave a legacy for others to know the old, old story and that is what we have in front of us now!
Praise God for Peter's legacy; but what of yours and mine? Are we as focussed on the importance of the old, old story for the benefit of others?
We must be wholesome in our thinking towards others.
How do we accomplish this?
It starts in the church:
- This is the place where we gather together in order to learn what the old, old story is and this inspires us to worship God aright.
- It comes from this pulpit which is to be more like a poppy or a memorial stone where memories are brought to the fore in order that lessons from the past might be constantly before us. This is much more than a lectern, I have heard many things from lecterns but from this place there is only one subject: The old, old story! This stage is not a place of performance it is in reality holy ground where the old, old story is proclaimed, taught and made ever new to all who will hear. This lectern you see speaks of Jesus and His love and nothing else. Therefore says Peter let me tell you the story in order that you might take it in so that in your time of trouble you might remember God's remedy for sin. That Peter was coming to the end of life, this Peter is getting old and so we together say keep on keeping on telling the old, old story because as I get older I need it to be told me more and more and so I will tell it until I cannot any longer and then will rely on you to keep reminding me.
- Our wholesome thinking concerning truth reminds us of this great responsibility to others, they need the old, old story therefore you must tell them.
2: We must have a wholesome presentation of our testimony:
It is amazing in this day and age that people would rather believe fantasy than they would truth. Some believe that a fairy tale concerning a man that comes down a chimney with presents on 24th d
December is absolute truth and yet completely discount as impossible the truth that God became man, was born of a virgin and dwelt amongst men and that He died and rose again not simply as a present but that in order He might present beneficiaries of His coming and sacrifice to God as perfect and holy.
People believe the most bizarre of things and yet reject out of hand God's truth.
Peter was saying that they did not fall for fanciful myths carved out of the thumbs of intellectuals or of anybody else but that they testified to the TRUTH. They declared and made known TRUTH.
They persuaded people as to the truth of the power of Jesus Christ:
- The power of His incarnation.
- The power of His humanity.
- The power of His sufferings.
- The power of His death.
- The power of His resurrection.
- The power of His ascension.
All of which Peter had been an eye witness, this is fact and he testified to it. He said earlier in this chapter (vs 3) that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
Peter testified to the truth of the:
- Lordship of Jesus Christ.
- The humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Jesus which means Saviour.
- God's anointing upon Jesus, He is the Christ, the One and only sent by God.
That was the testimony of Peter, to Him it was the old, old story fulfilled and made new in the person of Jesus Christ. All that Peter knew of the scriptures had found fulfilment in Jesus and His New Covenant people which is the church and so the old, old story has a completely new focus. It is all about Jesus whom Peter knew and loved and now witnessed to.
He had seen His majesty as recorded in Matthew 17:1-8. He had seen Him on the mount of transfiguration. He along with James and John had never seen Jesus like this before. Peter certainly had a story to tell. They were on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, both of whom had had their own mountaintop experiences.
Moses had seen God's back and reflected the glory of God, his face shone so brightly that he had to veil it for days afterwards because it was too much for sinful people to bear. Jesus who is greater than Moses shone brilliantly throughout and as such fulfils completely what Moses pointed to.
Elijah's mountain top experience was very different, we all remember his meeting with the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth where by God's help they were defeated, but Elijah had another mountain top experience recorded in 1 Kings 18. He met with God at the top of Carmel again and on this occasion he met in humility, prayer and faith. He prayed for an end to God's judgement upon the people and asked for rain to come. Elijah interceded on behalf of the people and god answered favourably
On the mountain in the presence of Peter, James and John; Moses and Elijah faded away in the presence of Jesus. Peter was a first hand witness to the glory and supremacy of Jesus and so many other things and so has every right to testify to them and so that is what he does.
“There is no other name under heaven by which you must be saved!” That was Peter's testimony, it is also ours. It might be an old, old story but it is God's remedy for sin. God said of this Jesus “He is my son in whom I am well pleased!” Peter heard it and we know it and so like Peter we must testify to it!
Revelation 12:11 tells us that it is by the word of our testimony and the blood of the Lamb that the devil is defeated, which reminds us that testimony is vitally important.
What is testimony?
It is the old, old story of Jesus and His love as we have experienced it.
That is important but there is something of even greater importance:
Our wholesome thinking about the truth must come primarily from the scripture; therefore we would do well to:
3: Present truth from scripture:
There is something even more sure than an eager desire to encourage the church with the old, old story. It is even more sure than testimony of the great things that god has done no matter how spectacular they are. It is the clear presentation of scripture. Scripture is a lamp on the dark way of life. By scripture lives are changed, hearts are renewed, sins are forgiven it is wholly reliable and perfectly true. It is now as other sacred books the thought of whoever, scripture is God's book.
Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that it is exhaled by God who through the Holy Spirit inspired men of old to write down the old, old story of Jesus and His love. It tells of Him who from before the foundation of the world purposed to enter into this world, His glory veiled and to do a great work that none other could do. You wee there was no other good enough to pay the price of sin, He Only, could unlock the gates of heaven and let us in.
God inspired the prophets to speak of Jesus, He inspired the priests to declare Jesus through the sacrifice by which forgiven sin was pointed. He inspired Kings to be like Jesus and to declare Him by their life, their word and their authority.
You see the bible is all about Jesus. Moses and Elijah just like us were sinners who were blessed by God and empowered by His Spirit to speak of Jesus: See Hebrews 11:23-26 & 33
But they were not God's Beloved Son!
Peter says that we would do well to pay attention to the Word of God, which is all about Jesus. Just as we need a torch in a dark place. It is foolishness to close your eyes to it's beam. Don't be a fool today, listen to this old, old story because it is all that you need in life, it is the way of salvation and the way of life.
Do you love the bible as Charlie Simpson did?
Sermons and bible studies are vital, do you agree. The preacher and teacher needs to rely on the old, old story, the musicians and all who take part must do so also because we need it.
I beg of each of us to “Tell me the old, old story!
(This message was preached in the church where I currently worship and is available to hear at: www.gracecc.org.uk/sermonfiles/whols/10_Wholsmtruth_091114.mp3