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Resurrection I

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We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  For He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”  We ourselves heard this voice that came from Heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain.  Poignant words of an apostle in the final days of his ministry.  We can say final days because earlier in verses 13-14 Peter wrote:  I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

So Peter knew He would die soon because Jesus had told him so, just as God told Aaron and Moses at the end of their respective ministries.  It is uncertain however whether Peter wrote those words because Jesus had told him decades ago on the shore of Galilee, “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” or whether Jesus had appeared to him to tell him that his life would end soon.  What is sad was not the apostle’s impending death and departure.  What is sad was that he had to write these words to us:  We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power… and even sadder is what instruction he then left us to follow:  And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it…   Sad because by his own admission Peter could only tell those he was writing to that he had told them about the power… rather than being about reminding them that they (his readers) have the power to remind themselves that they have not heard cleverly invented stories.  It is obvious from those words that the power was not with the readers and for that matter, was no longer with Peter, thus he could only tell them about the power.  How different are those words and the tone of the letter from that of Paul’s to the Corinthians:  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

There is a huge difference in the effectiveness of one’s life for Christ if your faith rests on stories told to you compared to your faith resting on God’s power that has been demonstrated before you and more importantly, power that has been imparted to you so that you can routinely and regularly do the things that Jesus has been doing and even the greater things.

Peter also told them of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but again, for his audience they were reminded by words.  Indeed, Peter then backed up his words by sending his readers to the word of the prophets… words that even for Peter were more than 500 years old.  Words, words, words to convince and to remind instead of the daily presence of God’s power to remind.  You do not have to be a genius to realise a church that is brought up on stories of the miracles of old and the words of ancient prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel may see little relevance of those words to their daily grind of earning a living to stave off starvation and sickness as well the seemingly random violence that all men, believers and non-believers, are subject to.  As such, even the relevance of the return of Jesus Christ has little impact on their daily lives.  These believers tend to plan for a life of three score and ten, death and then an eternity of bliss in Heaven.  Such is the attitude and hope of most ‘Christians’ whom you will meet in the various denominational churches.

Sadder still is Peter who then directed his readers:  …you will do well to pay attention to it… (the word of the prophets)  Sad because the reader could not read these words instead:  We have the words of Jesus made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it.  However, those words cannot be written to your audience if you have not been teaching the words of Jesus and making them certain for your audience by confirming them with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

Even though Peter warned us of false prophets and false teachers, and rightly so, this warning is mooted in the light and knowledge that we now know that he did not direct his churches back to the words of Jesus made certain by the confirmatory power of the Lord.  For when the disciples first went out and preached everywhere… the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it.  If the readers of Peter’s letter… that is, those to whom his letter was first intended, had the words of Jesus that Peter taught them confirmed with signs from the Holy Spirit’s power, then verses 16 and 19 would be inappropriate.

Indeed, Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians was firstly based not only on their immorality, but also on the improper use of the gifts, including tongues.  You see, this often neglected and rejected gift confirms and makes certain these words of Jesus:  “And these signs will accompany those who believe:  In My Name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues…” which means those who believe the Gospel the disciples preached would be able to speak in tongues… just as the Lord said they could… the word made certain!

The saddest of all is that Peter, when he recalled the words he heard on the Mount of Transfiguration, forgot the most important three – “Listen to Him!”  However, had Peter remembered and had actually put those three words in his letter, then truly the instructions of 2 Peter 1.19 would be outright ridiculous.  For anyone who has listened to Jesus knows that He already testified that He has fulfilled the prophets, not to mention the psalms and the law as well, and that we would do likewise by obeying His command to “…do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  And that was the only words from the Mount of Transfiguration Peter had to recall for us, for in the first instance he grew sleepy, and in the second instance he forgot the instruction that they were to tell those things after Jesus had risen, and furthermore, we now know he missed the second appointed time.  As such, there is nothing more that Peter could have told us about his experiences on the sacred mountain even though he wrote:  We ourselves heard this voice that came from Heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain.  And even then he left out, “Listen to Him!”  (However, when you have a habit, it is difficult to change.)  If indeed the words of the prophets are important, then how much more important are the words of Jesus?

The truth is we were not there on that sacred mountain as Peter was, neither did we walk with the Lord Jesus Himself for three years in personal eyewitness discipleship.  No, we have no such testimonies as Peter did.  We cannot say in our defence as Peter could… We ourselves heard this voice that came from Heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain.  We have nothing like that.  Like Peter, at best we have a spiritual experience that may be personally life changing, but it is at best a personal experience so that those who hear our testimony can say as Festus said to Paul, “You are out of your mind…”  As such, even our testimonies can be said to be cleverly made up stories, and if you think living a moral upright life will impress people of the truth of your testimonies, you are surely wrong.  An upright and moral life is a great convenience for those who have no interest in morality or uprightness, for those who are upright and moral rarely have the fortitude to resist those who are immoral and wicked.  Hitler proved that conclusively in the 20th century.  The uprightness and morality of the German Christians did not stop his maniacal rise to power.  If you say, “But we have the Scriptures, for all Scriptures are,” and you quote Paul… “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” let me remind you… ‘solo Scriptura’ did not help Martin Luther, and the return to the Scriptures to clean out the heresies of his days did not prevent the worst civil war to date within the church, one that still rages… albeit without the battles of the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

No, morality and social uprightness are insufficient, even Scriptures are insufficient, which is why you have not read yet that Jesus directed any of the disciples back to Scriptures only.  Indeed, Jesus directed Satan back to the Scriptures, yes.  And when He first taught disciples, He directed them to some Scriptures so that He could teach them what He had to say, which is why He said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you…” in Matthew 5.21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44.  Six times He directed them to “But I tell you…”  It is clear that for His disciples Jesus considered what He had to say to them far more important than what had been written by Moses, the prophets and the psalmists.  And if you want to argue about that, even the Father agrees, for on the Mount of Transfiguration… with Moses and Elijah present, that is, the law and the prophets, God said, “Listen to Him!” to the disciples, Peter, James and John.

Indeed, as part of His final instructions, Jesus said, “…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” and the directive He gave the Holy Spirit was this… “…the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  There was no directive for the Holy Spirit to remind disciples of the law, the prophets and the psalms, but only what Jesus said.  There was no directive to disciples to make disciples of the nations by teaching them the law, the prophets and the psalms, but only what Jesus commanded.

As such, it is clear, very clear, Jesus never instructed Peter that …you will do well to pay attention to it… (the word of the prophets) but rather, Peter’s real work was to pay attention to the words spoken by Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit.  As such, even though our conclusion may be that only the Scriptures that remind us of what Jesus said are of utmost importance, what we have found would still be construed as another set of doctrines and we can find ourselves in a war of words as the rest of the church has been in, except when they also had access to swords and guns.

No, we too hold to the value of an upright and moral life, and we also hold to this truth that we are sinners and like Paul we confess… When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Certainly too much of a wretch to rely on any morality and uprightness to testify on my behalf.

And we too must hold to the value of written Scriptures, for even Satan fell back to the use of what is written when he saw his schemes to tempt Jesus failing.  ‘Solo Scriptura’, yes… and building our foundation on what is written, yes… because our Lord used what is written to overcome Satan each time, saying, “It is written…” but beyond what is written… we have the Holy Spirit who tells us what He has heard and what is yet to come, even things that were more than the eleven could bear to hear in John 16.12… but then if we rush forth, saying, “The Lord told me this… and that,” and people find no basis to confirm our words in what is written… then we should rightly be dismissed as one and ones who cleverly make up stories… to persuade and to deceive… false prophets and false teachers indeed.

So how then can we reconcile this dilemma, for like Paul we know what we know, what we have heard and seen, and it would all appear to be unlawful for men to speak of.  The answer to our dilemma lays then in the very words of Jesus Himself who clearly told the disciples at the Mount of Olives, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” so that our message and our preaching will not only come with wise and persuasive words based on what is written for all to see, and our testimony that declares the grace of God to miserable wretches as we are the worst of sinners, but will also be as Paul said… with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power… so that the faith of those who see and hear us will rest on God’s power, but not only their faith, but also their knowledge.  For it is with power that our words will be confirmed by the Holy Spirit, or it will be like the baseless doctrines of previous generations… hollow sounds coming out of empty vessels espousing rules that bind and enslave, instead of teachings that set free and commands that lead to eternal life.

If Peter went to Galilee after he saw the tomb empty instead of going home, and even more amazingly, if the disciple who accompanied him who also entered the tomb and believed, as it is written – Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside.  He saw and believed. – went because he believed, then Peter himself might have much more to write about before he faced death as Moses did in Deuteronomy.  He might have had more to say then a shortened version of the few words from the sacred mountain, for unlike Peter, Moses went up his sacred mountain twice, and as such, could recall to Israel all he had heard on that mountain in Deuteronomy. 

No, Peter did not go up that sacred mountain at the appointed second time.  When he did go there finally, the glory had left… and so all he had to remind us was these words:  “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”  By the grace of God we have restored to us the missing words of Peter’s letter – “Listen to Him!” – and because we have listened to Jesus, we know, not believe, we know that the Scriptures about Jesus are not cleverly made up stories, but are all true.  For we ourselves have seen the blind restored to sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, believers drive demons out of themselves, speak in new tongues and heal the sick.  We have the words of Jesus made certain by the power of the Holy Spirit and all these to remind us of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As such, we are privileged beyond measure and this we truly confess and have no doubt that we will be judged ever more severely if we fail.  We are privileged to be reading more Scriptures breathed by God than the eleven had, and better still, Scriptures that are obviously breathed by the Holy Spirit, for we have nine books that contain the very words of Jesus as the Holy Spirit reminded them to the writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Corinthians I and II, Peter and the Revelation – so that if we have read and listened, we would emulate our senior sister, Mary, and do as she did… anticipate the need of the Lord.  As she anointed His body for burial, so we can arouse the church, the present body of Christ, for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And this arousal will be done not only with words as Jesus aroused the sleeping disciples, saying, “Get up and pray…” but it will also be accompanied with the sweet aroma of the knowledge of God confirmed by the power of the Holy Spirit in signs and wonders done not only by the Holy Spirit, but also by us as Jesus said we can.

But even a demonstration of God’s power will not suffice as it did in Paul’s days, for the church is frightened and wary because of the impending arrival of the false ones with power to do signs and wonders to deceive the very elect.  So what then must be the fullness of the resurrection of the Galilean congregation if not morality and uprightness of life, Scripture’s truth and God’s power?  It has to be and can only be motive.  A clear and uncompromised motive to have that which God intended from resurrection morning brought forth and revealed so that Jesus Christ can come as He promised and soon!

For no false prophet, false teacher or false apostle would want Jesus to return and soon.  Not especially their master Satan, for he knows all too well the day Jesus appears above Jerusalem on clouds of glory is the day his freedom on Earth ends and his thousand years of incarceration in the abyss begins before he joins the false prophet and the beast in the lake of fire.

For our sister would not have come down that sacred mountain with the law of Christ’s kingdom burning in her heart to see the restoration of Israel or the raising up of the kingdoms of the church, but to see her Love return on clouds of glory to say these words to her, “Come up here.”  Then neither will we, for the Jesus Law is written on our hearts and seared into our minds, and together with Magdalene, we yearn to hear these words… “Come up here,” and so we say to the Resurrection, “Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.”

And so it begins when the end is nigh!

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