Evidence and Assurance of the Truth


Gil Rugh

Copyright © 1978
Indian Hills Community Church
Lincoln, Nebraska

GR950  - 2 Peter 1:16-18

(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh on April 21, 1996)

So far in the first chapter of 2 Peter, we have seen how Peter has been encouraging and exhorting his readers regarding the salvation they have received by faith in Jesus Christ. Peter has reminded them that God graciously, fully and abundantly made complete provision for them for everything necessary for life in godliness in Christ. Look at verse 3: "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." We have received complete salvation, but it is not static salvation.

Peter went on to encourage the believers to always be growing and maturing and developing in their new life in Christ. The character of their God should now be more fully displayed in every act and activity in which they are involved. In verses 5-7, he encouraged them to grow in different areas of their lives. He reminded them that as they continued to grow and mature, the conclusion would be that they would have a glorious and abundant entrance into the coming kingdom of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That was emphasized in verse 11. In this letter, Peter is anticipating the coming again of Jesus Christ in glory and the kingdom that Christ will establish on this earth when He comes in the fullness of His glory.

In verses 12-15, Peter told them that his purpose for the rest of his earthly life would be to continually remind them of these marvelous and essential truths concerning Christ - what Christ has done for them, the way they need to continue to grow and mature in Christ, that their lives need to be focused on the coming again of Christ in glory to establish the kingdom of which they, in glorified bodies, will be a part.

All of this has as its premise - or foundation - the fact that what Peter says about Jesus Christ is true. If what he has said about Christ is not true, then everything dissolves, and there is no glorious future and hope. So throughout the remainder of chapter 1, Peter will offer them the evidence and assurance that, indeed, what he has been saying about Jesus Christ and their relationship to Christ is true. He will offer two lines of support: First, apostolic eyewitness testimony in verses 16-18, then the authority of prophetic Scriptures in verses 19-21. Both join together to give firm assurance that the truth is the truth, that the message concerning Christ can and must be believed.

As we move through these passages this week and next week, It is important to observe how Peter bases and develops his argument. He does not base it on subjective, personal, inner experience. In other words, he does not join with the hymn writer in saying, "You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart." Obviously, those words are true. He does live within the heart of the believer. And there is a confirming experience that we enjoy as believers, through the testimony of the Holy Spirit, that we are the children of God. But Christianity is not founded upon such subjective inner experiences. Note that I am not saying those inner experiences are not real and genuine. But they do not form the foundation of biblical Christianity. We meet people in the cults and other religions who share an inner conviction and confidence that they know God and that He is working in their lives, yet we know from Scripture that is not the case. So while there is a place for our inner personal experience and our walk with God, that is not a valid foundation for our faith in Christ.

Nor does Peter base the message of Christ upon the changed life that the gospel brings about. In other words, Peter does not offer the testimony that "I was a rough and rugged and somewhat profane fisherman, then the Messiah walked by me one day, called me and changed my life, and I have never been the same. And I have gone from being a fisherman on a physical sea to being a fisher of men and a powerful preacher of the gospel." That is true. But it does not provide a valid foundation for the Christian faith. 

1. Teaching of Apostles, Prophets Is Our Foundation

Yes, the gospel changes lives. It makes you new. You are radically different when you are born again. But changed lives is not the foundation for our Christian faith. I was watching an advertisement about families on television. There were a husband, a wife and a little baby. They looked like a lovely family, and they wanted to help you have a right family. Boy, boy, these must be Christians. Then it comes on: "Presented by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" - the Mormons. I have known some Mormons and have admired their family lives and family relationships. But that is a reminder that we need to be careful about trying to base our Christianity on changed lives. There is a place to give our personal testimony and testify to the power of God when He changes our lives. But that does not provide a valid reason why someone ought to believe in Jesus Christ. It is not what Peter offers here, either. Our faith - and the church that Jesus Christ is building - is founded upon the doctrine and teaching of the apostles and the prophets.

Ephesians 2:20 says we have "...been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets..." The facts to which the apostles and prophets testify are the foundation of our faith, and that is what Peter is going to offer in the portion of Scripture before us today. Peter will relate the basic facts to which he can testify. After all, he was an eyewitness, which is a role the apostles were to play. They were to be eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ, His person and His power. Under the direction of the Spirit, God has preserved a record of their testimony so that we might respond in faith to the facts concerning Jesus Christ. Be careful that we do not end up turning the message of Christ into a message of self. He is the focal point. He is the object. He is the one who must be believed because of who He is and what He has done. That alone is the foundation of biblical Christianity.

So Peter's first line of argument here is what he observed and heard as an apostle of Jesus Christ, and this was experienced in the context of other apostles. He is going to tell us what he saw with his eyes and heard with his ears, which will validate the message that is proclaimed, particularly in regard to the future coming of Jesus Christ. You will note that verse 16 begins with "For" so he is connecting what he will talk about with what he has been talking about. Verse 15 said: "And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. For... It is important that I remind you. It is important that you be able to call them to mind, for the summary is that they are true. I was an eyewitness." You see, after the apostles pass off the scene, we will not have the eyewitnesses any longer. We simply will have the written record of the eyewitnesses, which is just as true and just as valid. We must keep that as the focal point of the faith which we have.

"For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ..." The we here refers to the apostles, as the context will make clear, and in particular the three apostles - Peter, James and John - who were with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration when the events, that Peter now is going to share, took place.

2. Plan of Salvation Stands or Falls as a Unit

"For we did not follow cleverly devised tales..." He's going to talk about the coming of Jesus Christ. The focal point of what he will say is the culmination of our salvation. Now I want you to understand that any time a part of God's plan for salvation - any aspect of the work of Christ - comes under attack, the whole plan is under attack. Why? Because it stands or falls as a unit. Many people are piece-mealing their salvation today. As a result, their salvation is so broken and divided that it is clouded by all kinds of confusion and difficulty. The salvation that God has accomplished in Jesus Christ is a package. It is a plan. It hangs together. It began in eternity past with the electing work of God and was accomplished in time through the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ on the cross, His glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven. It also includes His future coming again in glorious power. The particular focal point that Peter is dealing with is the last aspect of our salvation, the coming again in glorious power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Already some were ridiculing the idea that Jesus Christ would come again. Turn to 2 Peter 3:1 where Peter said that he is just stirring up their pure mind by way of remembrance. In verse 2, we see their responsibility is to remember the words spoken by the apostles and the prophets. That is where we must keep returning - the words spoken by the apostles and prophets. It is not our experiences, but we base everything on those concrete, objective words. Verse 3: "Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying 'Where is the promise of His coming?...'" Peter here uses the same word for coming - parousia - that he uses in the verses we are looking at in chapter 1. Verse 4 continues: "...For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." So the process of denial was already underway.

Peter first says he and the other apostles were not tricked by clever people into believing something that men devised and made up regarding the coming of Jesus Christ. When he says in chapter 1, verse 16, that "...we did not follow cleverly devised tales...", the word translated tales is the Greek word muthos, from which we get the English word myth. We did not follow cleverly devised myths, fables or stories that are not true in contrast to the truth. We were not tricked by clever people. The phrase "cleverly devised" conveys the idea of individuals who with the cleverness of their minds and their worldly wisdom concocted a fable that the apostles accepted as true and were now passing repeating. Peter says that did not happen.

3. Unbelieving Jews Embellished Scriptures

This word tales - or fables or myths - is used by Paul when he refers to those things with which we are to have nothing to do. Turn back to 1 Timothy, chapter 1. Here we find the only other uses of this particular word. Paul is telling Timothy in verse 3 that his responsibility is to "...instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor..." - verse 4 - "...to pay attention to myths..." That is our word - tales, fables. The practice of the unbelieving Jews was to embellish the Old Testament Scriptures with all kinds of fanciful developments and stories. The simple, clear word of God just is not thrilling and exciting enough for us. We want to embellish it. That is nothing new. The Jews were doing that with their Old Testament Scriptures as well. The embellishments made the stories more interesting, more appealing and more compelling, but it is something that the true believers are to avoid.

Turn to 1 Timothy 4:7: "But have nothing to do with worldly fables..." - there is our word; you see it is translated like tales, myths - fables "fit only for old women..." That is not a putdown. It is like a grandmother who sits down and reads the story of Peter Rabbit to her grandchildren. That is fine. But if I were to get up and preach the story of Peter Rabbit, that would be stretching it. That fable is fit for Grandma to tell the grandchildren, but it has no place in the ministry of the church. Churches need to be reminded of that. We are not there to entertain the kids; we are there to minister the word of God. We have nothing to do with these things.

Sadly, the church is going to lose its ability to discern between myths and the truth. Look at 2 Timothy 4:3-4: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." They will turn to tales, fables. They will want to hear stories that men make up rather than listen to someone teach the pure word of God. We are now on the right on the brink where people think you need to be a good story teller in order to be a good teacher. The simplicity of the word of God no longer holds the attention of people. But we are to have nothing to do with these things - myths, tales, stories, fables.

This word is used one other time, and it is found in Titus 1:14. The context is that in verse 13 Paul is telling Titus to rebuke the churches. Paul tells Titus to "...reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths..." Here again the myths are the Jewish ones, the embellishments of the Scripture. Why is it that the people of God are so easily turned aside from the simplicity and the purity of Christ and their devotion to His truth? They want to hear the stories, the myths, the fables. Why is it more interesting for someone to stand up and tell stories about personal life experiences than it is to hear what the living God has to say? Paul says to reprove them severely so that they don't do these things.

So Peter takes a strong stance in 2 Peter 1. He says, "When we apostles preached to you the second coming of Jesus Christ, we weren't following cleverly devised stories that men had made up. No! Rather, "...when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ..." The context here is when Peter unfolded to them the revelation of Christ at a previous time. The word translated made known is used repeatedly in the New Testament concerning the giving of revelation. Paul uses it in Romans 16:26 about when he made known the Gospel to them. Paul said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 15:1 when he refers to the fact that he made known the gospel to them. It is used often in the epistles to refer to making known the revelation of God among men.

  4. Christ's Power to Be Revealed When He Returns

That is what Peter had done by saying he and the other apostles had made known to them the revelation of God concerning "...the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ..." These two words grammatically are linked together and focus on one event - the power and coming. Some would translate it the coming in power. We're talking about one event, the time when the power of Christ is demonstrated at the second coming. Peter is saying, "When we talked to you and made known to you the truth concerning the future coming of Christ in fullness of power and glory, we hadn't been duped into believing stories that someone made up. No. That is not where we got that information. Rather we were eyewitnesses of His majesty."

Furthermore, verse 18 will say, "We heard God speak from heaven." The two things go together. "We saw it with our eyes; we heard it with our ears." This is a first-hand, eyewitness account of what took place. The power and coming. Parousia is a word that we see often in English in books dealing with such things as prophecy. Para means to be alongside of; to be present. The last part of parousia is a form of the verb to be. So it means to be present, to be along side of. Christ's coming, then, refers to the time when He will be present, when He will come to be with us. It becomes a technical expression used of the coming in power and glory of Christ. It goes back that great discourse in Matthew 24 when the disciples asked, "...when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your parousia - coming..." That word is used three more times in that chapter, and it continues to be used down through the epistles whenever a writer wants to refer to the time when Christ will be present personally and bodily again. He is coming in glory.

Verse 16 continues: "...but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty." They were eyewitnesses.They beheld it with their own eyes. They saw it for themselves, and no one tricked them with their stories. His majesty is a word that denotes majesty, splendor, grandeur. The reference is to the transfiguration of Christ, recorded in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9. It is the time when Christ was transfigured - underwent the metamorphosis - and the display of His glorious power as the coming Messiah was fully manifested and made clear before Peter, James and John. So they were eyewitnesses, but look how Peter goes on in verse 17: "For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic glory, 'This is my beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased.'" Christ received honor and glory from God the Father, and was distinguished from Him. Christ was identified as God the Father's beloved Son. God the Father bestowed glory and honor upon Christ.

I take it that all the events of the transfiguration are in view here because of the way it is developed by Peter. The apostles were eyewitnesses of His majesty, His great glory and splendor. We read how His garment shone brilliantly. The apostles also now hear the voice of the Father, who identifies Christ as the object of His love and His appointed Messiah. Christ is the one with whom He is pleased. Christ received honor and glory from God the Father. Such an utterance as this was made by the Father, described here as the Majestic Glory. Peter says, "We were eyewitnesses. We were there to see it and experience it. Moreover, we heard an utterance from the Majestic Glory."

5. "Majestic Glory" Is Awesome Description of God

What an awesome way to refer to God the Father. It is a reminder that this is the presence of the living God. The glory of the presence of the God of the Old Testament is now displayed. The word Majestic here differs from the word majesty at the end of verse 16. The word Majestic has to do with glory fully suitable and proper for God. The voice came from that Majestic Glory, saying, "...This is My beloved Son..." It identifies the uniqueness of Christ's relationship with God the Father. Being called the well-loved Son is more than just an expression of the Father's affection. It identifies Christ as the Messiah of Israel.

Turn to Psalm 2, which is a Messianic Psalm regarding the coming reign in glory of the Messiah of Israel. Verses 6-9: "But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware." The coming Messiah was called "My Son" in verse 7. So Christ was clearly identified to these Jewish disciples when they stood on the Mount of Transfiguration and heard the voice say, "...This is My beloved Son..." That spoke of the fullness of glory and of His importance, which is recorded in Matthew 17. In Matthew 16, Jesus told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and be rejected and crucified. But that does not mean there will not be a kingdom. It does not mean that He will not reign in power and glorious majesty. It means that it will not happen right now. So the voice from heaven is a reminder to them of His glory and power.

Isaiah 42:1 is another Messianic prophecy. "Behold, My servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations." The idea here is the one who pleases God has been chosen. He is the Messiah of Israel, the object of God's electing good pleasure, if you will. Because of what they see and hear, there is no doubt that the apostles are in the presence of the one who will reign and rule with glory and power. So when Peter and the other apostles talk about the coming in glory and power of Jesus Christ to rule over all creation, they are not merely passing on what they have heard. They had been given a preview to see something, of what it would be like at that time.

Come back to 2 Peter 1:18. "And we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain." These are not devised tales. We heard it ourselves. The apostles "...were eyewitnesses of His majesty" at the end of verse 16, and in verse 18 they "...heard the utterance..." So Peter is saying, "We saw the display of His glory, the majesty that will be His when He comes to reign. We heard the confirming voice from the Majestic Glory, the voice of God the Father, who said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.'"

6. God Spoke for Human Ears Three Times

This occasion - the transfiguration in anticipation of the crucifixion - is one of three times that God spoke audibly from heaven to Jesus Christ so that others could hear. The other occasions were at His baptism - recorded in Matthew 3 - which signaled the beginning of His public ministry, and in John 12:27-28 when the Greeks came to seek an audience with Christ during what we call Passion Week, that last week of Christ on earth. In anticipation of the crucifixion, the voice of God spoke from heaven like thunder declaring that He would glorify Himself. Peter writes as an eyewitness of this. We have the record of Peter and the apostles as eyewitnesses.

I want you to note the importance of what Peter is saying, that what the apostles experienced on that mountain is essential to the truth of the gospel. Turn back to Matthew for a couple of observations. In Matthew 16:21, we are told that Jesus began to tell His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem to suffer many things, including to be killed, and then to be raised up the third day. That is when Peter intervened and said, "Lord, that will never happen." But Christ said to Peter in verse 23, "...Get behind me, Satan..." Christ then told Peter that he was not focused on God's interest and God's purposes. Verse 28: "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

Six days later, according to chapter 17, verse 1, Jesus led Peter, James and John up a high mountain, and He was transfigured before them. During a sort of metamorphosis, something of His glory as the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God, was allowed to display itself. His face shown like the sun, His garments became white as light and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. Verse 5: "While He was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them..." - this is the Majestic Glory - "...and, behold, a voice out of the cloud said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!'" The combination of the manifestation of the glory of Christ and the voice from heaven bewilders Peter, James and John. Terrified, they fall on their faces. The splendor and awe of the scene is overwhelming. They have been given a glimpse of the glory and power that will be manifested when Jesus Christ comes to earth again to rule and reign. Peter now writes that nobody made up a story. Nobody fooled him about this matter. He was there. He saw it. He heard it. It happened. You can believe it because it is true. That does not mean men and women do not scoff at it, ridicule it, refuse to believe it. But it is true, nonetheless. We have the testimony of eyewitnesses.

As we step back and look at this a little more broadly, I want you to note that Peter is saying in his second letter that the second coming of Christ is an essential part of the gospel. It is an essential part of God's plan of salvation. It is a part of the gospel that Peter proclaimed and defended because if Jesus Christ is not coming again, then what is the purpose of His first coming? Why did we believe in Him? It becomes meaningless. It is an event with no climax. But the second coming of Christ brings all of this to completion. It is the goal toward which it is all moving. Otherwise, it has no reason. Now you and I, as believers, need to keep this before us. We quickly forget that God's salvation is a package. It is a plan.

Turn over to Romans 8:28. Note the context here. Some of us memorize verse 28 and forget verses 29 and 30, which is where verse 28 is going. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew..." - He takes us back in His plan for creation before the beginning of the world - "...He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son...." Now He carries us to the future. Those foreknown before time are foreknown and predestined to be conformed at, if you will, the conclusion of time "...to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." You see, it is a plan, a program, a package. If you remove glorification, if you remove being conformed to the image of His Son, you have nothing.

7. All Facets of Salvation Must Be Considered

Now a danger that looms for believers is that we have studied parts of our salvation. We could study the foreknowing, the predestination, the calling, the justification and the glorification, but we must not piece-meal our salvation. The result of piece-mealing is that we have people who are totally consumed with the today portion of their salvation. They say, "I do not want to study prophecy. I do not want to study the future. I want to study today; this is where my problems are." You cannot grapple or resolve the problems and face the trials with that kind of perspective of salvation. You must understand that God causes all things to work together for good in the context of his overall plan to glorify his children. And this wrong sense of being absorbed with self and the present time, not worrying about tomorrow - I am not talking about what Jesus said in Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount - but it is an absorption of "I want today's problem solved today. I am unhappy. I am miserable. Things are not going the way I want it." That is a failure to step back and say you are living out God's plan of salvation.

The ability to look at salvation has to be seen in the context of culmination. It is somewhat like the birth of a child; you just do not focus on being pregnant. I have never been pregnant, but I have lived with someone who has been. That is enough for me. You have to look toward the culmination of the event - the birth of the child. I have to look toward the culmination of all that salvation means. It puts the trials and difficulties of this life in the proper perspective. Furthermore, the focus on the second coming of Christ is a reminder that righteousness will not rule and reign in this sin-cursed earth until Jesus Christ personally, in power and glory as demonstrated on the Mount of Transfiguration, rules and reigns over this earth.

1 John 5:19 is still true - "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." All you have to do is turn on the news or read the newspaper to be abundantly reminded that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. It is a cesspool. Sometimes you get the idea from Christians that it ought to be different. But you must understand the creation will not be set free from its bondage to sin until Christ comes in power and great glory. Beginning with Romans 8:18, Paul talks about the glory that is to be revealed to us. The whole creation groans in anticipation of that time when we will be unveiled in our glorified state as the sons of God, because then the curse will be lifted from creation. Until then, however, It is not going to get better. It is going to get worse.

8. History's Atrocities Pale Before What Is to Come

In some ways there is a paradox. It is not for us as believers because we understand the best is yet to come. But for the world, the worst is yet to come. As vile and wretched as this world is, the atrocities that have been done and continue to be done, it has not seen anything yet. We can read about what will happen in Revelation, chapters 6 through 18. Then comes Armageddon and the return of Christ in chapter 19. Jesus said It is going to get so bad that if He did not intervene, there would not be a person left alive on the face of the earth. We hear or read the news, and occasionally people will ask how human beings can do that to one another. Just as the transfiguration was a little glimpse of the coming glory of Christ, so what we see in the world today is just a little glimpse of the coming tribulation. So we need to understand that we are viewing the world and what is going on around us in light of the fact that Jesus Christ is coming again. This place is not going to get better. It is going to get worse, and will continue to get worse until Jesus Christ dramatically intervenes like the lightning that flashes across the sky and brings an abrupt halt to it all.

Do I believe that? Of course. It is in our doctrinal statement. Do I live like I believe that? Or are my problems, my trials or my view of the world conditioned by that? Do my kids see me wringing my hands, saying "Oh, boy, what is going to happen to the generation that we are raising? Oh, I just hate to think about my grandchildren growing up here." I guess the Lord is sufficient for us but not for our grandchildren. Is it any wonder the world does not think we really believe that Jesus Christ is coming again? Or that His coming really is important, significant and the ultimate solution? It becomes a somewhat empty piece of paper if I do not really live it out in my life.

Our responsibility as the redeemed is really clear. Paul wrote in Titus 2:13 that we are to live "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." That is how we live. My whole life is shaped by that. All the problems, the trials and the difficulties are sifted through that coming event. The mess of this world is seen in that light. So you see, my salvation is not yet done. It is finished, but it is not yet done because Christ has not come in glory. We have not yet been glorified. But we are on that path, and our responsibility, like Peter, is to continue to proclaim and remind people of the great facts of the gospel as recorded by the apostles and prophets. We have nothing to offer but the truth concerning Christ.

To some, that just is not enough. I think, "Boy, this morning I have to get up, open the Bible and tell people how Jesus Christ is coming in glory. Peter, James and John saw that glory and heard the voice on the mount. But those are just words to people. If I could just call down some lightning, Lord. If that majestic glory, the cloud, just come below the center cluster speaker there and strike the flowers with lightning, now that would wow them." Or if I could just say, "Piano, levitate across here. Come on over here and settle back down there by the organ." Then I would say, "How is that? Are there any of you who do not believe yet?" Remember what Abraham said to the rich man in Hades? They do not believe Moses and the prophets, and they will not believe even if one is raised from the dead.

9. Simple Message of Christ, Not Signs and Wonders

The church of Jesus Christ is sinking in the pit by trying to make the message of the apostles appealing to the unbeliever. We have been promoting today what is called power evangelism, the premise of which is that you cannot evangelize the world unless you can display the power of God in visible form with healing, signs and wonders. But I say we have forgotten something. The gospel is the power of God. Jesus Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. We are left to be fools before the world because we preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and that is all we have to offer. If you came to be entertained, to hear engaging stories or to hear stories of life experiences, I am sorry; I have nothing to tell you but what the apostles told us. We have a message of Jesus Christ.

Turn to 1 Corinthians 1:17: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel..." - note that Paul has a driving, consuming passion to preach the gospel, which is the message of Jesus Christ - "...not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void." You see, what happens when you put the message of the cross in the context of man's cleverness is that you nullify the cross. That is what is happening in the church of Jesus Christ. Oh, in the midst of putting on their entertainment and telling their stories, they mention the cross, and It is made void. It is like a Jehovah Witness who comes to your door and talks about the cross in the context of his foolishness. It is meaningless. Verse 18: "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God." There is the dividing line. We constantly struggle, and the world views the cross as foolishness. We think, "If we keep preaching the cross, they will think we're foolish, stupid, and nobody will come." Well, let me tell you, It is not foolishness and stupidity to those who are being saved. It is the power of God. Look at verses 23-24: "But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

Do you know what is wrong with the church of Jesus Christ today? It is trying to be popular with the non-elect. It is trying to be popular with those whom God has not called. It is trying to fill its seats with those who are not being saved. "If I can fill the auditorium, if I can pack the place and cover what I am doing with a veneer of Bible, then I can have the best of both worlds. I can be popular with the world and highly esteemed by the churches." Paul says you cannot work it out that way. When you do, you make the cross of Christ void. Paul said in Romans 2:2: "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." Why? He did not preach men's wisdom, verse 5, "so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of man, but on the power of God."

10. Peter Avoids Stories, Miracles

You know what we do? We take the simple message of the apostles and prophets, and we proclaim it in its simplicity and in its purity. Then God takes that message and carries it to the hearts and minds of those whom He has chosen. And they, by His grace, recognize it as the power of God and the wisdom of God. They believe in the Savior. The rest of them go away and say, "That is foolishness. You are not getting me back there." That is fine. This is the message we have. You see what Peter does. He does not fall back on all kinds of glorious stories. He does not say, "Let me come over there, and I will do some miracles. Then you will see who is telling the truth."

No! He says, "Let me tell you what happened. I was an eyewitness. I saw His glory. I heard the voice from heaven. Jesus Christ is coming again. You can base your life; you can base your sole hope for eternity on that truth. What do we have? The same simple message seen again in Hebrews 11:6: "...he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Of Him all the prophets bear witness, that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. That is the message. That is all I have to offer, but that is everything necessary for life and godliness. Praise God we have a living Savior who died, has been raised, and is coming again.

Let us pray together. Thank You, Lord, for who You are, the one who resides in majestic glory, the one who is the eternal God, the one who has provided for us an eternal salvation beyond human wisdom. Lord, thank you for Jesus Christ. Thank you for the plan of salvation and its completeness. Lord, may we who have experienced that power in our lives, who have bowed before that cross and believed in that Savior - the one who is coming again - may our lives be shaped by this reality. May the problems, pressures, trials, heartaches, blessings and prosperity all be experienced day by day and be placed in the context of Your plan of salvation that will culminate in the glory of Your presence. Lord, may our ministry in the world be one of proclaiming Him in the midst of darkness, that You might call out those You have chosen for Yourself. Lord, may we not cater to the whims of men and women who are opposed to Jesus Christ and have no time for Him. May we carry to them the message of life, begging them to be reconciled to God. Lord, I pray for those who are here this morning who would like something more exciting, more interesting, more entertaining, and I pray for any who are here who do not know the Savior, that they might see the simplicity of the message of the gospel, turn from their sin, believe in Him and experience Your power in their lives so that they might come to understand and believe that Jesus Christ is the power of God. He is the wisdom of God, and in Him is found the salvation of our God. We pray in His name. Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.


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Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
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