2 Peter 1:16-21

Postmodern
sages would have us believe that certainty is only an illusion in the minds of
fanatics and fools. Despite such aspersions, the human mind continues to seek
after certainty because the human heart craves security. Certainty begets security.

Because
we live in such uncertain times, we are prone to feel insecure. Every change of
color in our National Homeland Security alert system ratchets up our sense of
insecurity. We increasingly find ourselves interpreting the world by a hermeneutic
of suspicion.

Our
personal psychological make-up further compounds feelings of insecurity by predisposing
some of us to doubt. Bitter experiences have conditioned others among us to the
same end.

God
understands the desire for certainty. Doubts don’t offend Him. I wish a seasoned
saint had told me as much in my early days of following Christ. Like many new
converts, I vacillated between confidence one minute and suspicion the next.

How
did I know for sure that what I felt, what I believed, was real? Maybe what I
took to be the Spirit’s assurance that I was a child of God was really just
my mind calming anxieties wrought by a belief in superstition and myths. How could
I know for sure?

The
Bible doesn’t give irrefutable proof for the claims of the Christian faith.
(Otherwise, it could no longer be called “faith.”) The Bible does, however,
substantiate many of its claims with a preponderance of evidence.

At
the core of the Christian faith is belief in the deity of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus
Himself encouraged such a belief and often provided evidence for it. To Peter,
James, and John He gave special proof when He allowed them to witness His Transfiguration.

Jesus’
Transfiguration verified His identity.

We
first read about this monumental event in Matthew 17:1-9. (Read the text.) All
the glory Jesus manifested before His incarnation, and all the glory He will manifest
at His return, was manifested on that first century mountaintop. As if the visual
splendor of the moment were not enough, the voice of the Father sounded forth
the praise of His Son.

Years
later Peter recalled the event and what it meant for him as well as us. (Read
2 Peter 1:16-18.)

Had
there been any shred of doubt in Peters mind about Jesus’ identity, even
following his wonderful profession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the
living God,” in Matthew 16:16, the Transfiguration erased it. Peter knew
that he had not followed “cunningly devised fables.” Furthermore, he
knew that neither he nor the apostolic band had preached such fables. They were
eyewitnesses to Christ’s divine glory.

How
much historical uncertainty would be set aside if only an eyewitness had come
forward? What if an eyewitness had looked over Lee Harvey Oswald’s shoulder?
saw what really happened to Jon Benet Ramsey? or stood post in the Oval Office
for 200 years of history? As significant as such eyewitness testimony might have
been, none of it approaches the level of significance of the eyewitness testimony
that verifies Jesus’ deity. Our eternal destinies are inextricably bound-up
in the reality of His deity.

God’s
Word verifies Jesus’ identity.

As
sure as that eyewitness testimony was, we have a “more sure Word” from
God. (2 Peter 1:19-21). All Scripture bears witness to Jesus of Nazareth. He invites
us to “search the Scriptures . . . they are they which testify of Me”
(John 5:39). To two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “beginning at Moses
and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things
concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).

Who
appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus? Moses, the Law-giver, and
Elijah, respected by the Jews as the greatest prophet of all. Long before He was
born in Bethlehem’s manger, Moses, Elijah, and all the other God-inspired
writers of Scripture testified of Jesus.

To
that Word we must continually give heed until the day of His return dawns, and
doubt’s darkness is forever erased.

We
posses eyewitness testimony and an inspired record, and still we struggle with
doubt. Like Christian and Hopeful in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress,
we moan and groan in the dungeon of Doubting Castle, pummeled by Giant Despair.
How are we ever to escape?

Christian
remembered that he possessed a key of Promise that would unlock all the gates
of Doubting Castle. When he finally inserted it into the lock, the door sprung
open.

Faith
in the promises and claims of God is the key. “Faith is not belief without
proof,” wrote Elton Trueblood, “but trust without reservation.”
To paraphrase Elisabeth Elliot, “True faith goes into operation when there
are no certain answers.” As we so often sing, “Faith is the victory
that overcomes the world,” even a world as uncertain and insecure as ours.

____________________

Sermon
brief provided by: Greg Hollifield, Chaplain with Youth for Christ and instructor
at Crichton College in Memphis, TN

Share This On: