I took a "break" one day this past week from studying Revelation to listen to a sermon by Francis Chan, a pastor of a church in California and the author of the book "Crazy Love." I listened to a sermon entitled, " The Most Important Lesson I Could Teach." It was over 2 Peter 1--a chapter that I had never really read and introduced several topics that just challenged me so much in how I approach reading God's Word and how I live it out in my life. One of these areas that I felt challenged in was what I do with my life before I die. In this passage of scripture, Peter knew the type of death he was going to have because Jesus told him in an earlier passage. Peter says in verse 12-14:
"Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder,since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me." ESV
Those words in italics, I believe are important to highlight because it shows the kind of mindset Peter had: always reminding the believers of the qualities listed earlier in verses 5-7 (faith, virtue, self control...) "as long as I am in this body." Peter knew that he was going to die a cruel death. Don't you think that if he was in today's society, he would enjoy and live it up as much as possible before a death upside down on a cross? We invest, plan and save for retirement to "enjoy" the last few years we have on this earth before we go into the true Paradise. I don't know, I am not saying that you can't save money so that you're not a burden to your family when you're unable to take care of yourself, but don't you think we should have the mindset of "until I leave this body, I want to be reminding everyone, my family, friends, co-workers, people on the streets--everyone about how to live a life for Christ?" Maybe if you struggle with this concept, you should first pray that God would deliver you from a fear of death. It's ok, there are days where I am like "What if this happens....or I get sick and this happens.." and I panic but then I am reminded of the victory I have in Christ Jesus and that passage that speaks of "Oh sin where is thy victory? Death where is thy sting?" And that we have no fear in death!
Second Peter says something intriguing about how he saw Christ (in Matthew 17) with his face shining like the sun, his body turning to white and Moses and Elijah appearing by his side. God comes along in a huge, bright cloud (like the one in the OT that was with the Israelites...cool how he is permeated throughout right? I love it!) and God says "This is my Son, whom I am well pleased." So Peter has witnessed an INCREDIBLE thing and yet his words in verse 18-19
"....we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation."
Did Peter just say that the prophetic word, is something more sure than all of the glory and splendor described earlier in verse 18? YES! Is that not crazy--but so so true? It is also neat how he says "knowing first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation." Ha. How often we hear "Well, that's just how you interpret the Bible...I interpret it like this..." Ah! We must be careful! Francis Chan did an awesome job in emphasizing this in his sermon of how to study God's word. We must work so diligently at looking at text asking God to "put aside my desires, give me the truth."
Lastly, Chan highlighted Isaiah 66:1-2 which states this:
"Thus says the Lord: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." ESV
But this is the one whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Humble. Contrite. Trembles. When I approach reading God's word, am I humble? Do I have a contrite or broken Spirit? Do I tremble at the power in His Word? This is my heart's prayer for the rest of my study in Revelation and well, the rest of my life: To approach reading God's word with reverance,humility, brokeness and with trembling--knowing that I have a privilege everyday to encounter something greater than the physical splendor of Jesus and God in a cloud. Don't get me wrong, ha! I want to see that and I will, but really---God's Word is just as powerful and amazing as that.
Get the sermon at:
11/27/09 "The Most Important Message I Could Teach" Francis Chan