The Bible: Studies by David Frampton

Defending the Faith

2 Peter 1:1-21 ESV

Introduction

David Frampton

A wise attorney knows how to present his or her case properly, in order to win the desired verdict. This involves knowing the law, what evidence is admissible and what is not, what questions to ask the witnesses, what “buzzwords” to avoid that might turn the case in the undesired way, etc.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we too should know how to properly present the message of Christ to people, especially when its truthfulness or final authority is being opposed. In this matter we have the example of the apostles.

Let us examine how Peter answers the people in these verses. He will present two lines of evidence. The first is found in our text for tonight, and the second will come in the following paragraph.

Exposition:

I. Arguments that Peter does not use

A.The argument of antiquity

1.People tend to get attached to things that have been around for a long time, and they can be very sentimental about them. Or people might simply see no compelling reason for change.

Illustration: Sometimes the Department of Transportation in a state will present as its argument for doing nothing something like “that intersection has been safe for a long time.” But has the traffic situation changed?

2.Though the truth has been believed from the earliest days of human history, Peter makes no appeal on this basis. In fact, later in the letter he will oppose an argument based on antiquity (cf. 3:4-7).

B.The argument of numbers or prestige

Illustration: “More doctors recommended….”

1.This kind of argument is an appeal to the symbols of success. Sometimes, evangelicals wrong use this method. “Look at this! This celebrity has believed in Jesus.”

2.But you cannot determine truth by counting heads or by saying what fine heads they are who agree with us. Many times true Christianity has been accepted by only a few and despised people. Who were most of the first apostles? They were fishermen, tax collectors and revolutionaries. Consider 1 Cor 1:26-29.

C.The argument of “exalted teaching”

1.This kind of argument says something like the following. “Look at the good life that Christianity teaches. It is a good basis for society. The idea is to appeal to the morally concerned person like we read of in Romans 2.

2.But this misrepresents Christianity, which is far more than morality. It is supernatural and godly and focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. This kind of argument also gets in deep trouble when there is a moral failure in the church.

D.The argument of experience

1.This argument says, “Look at the change that has occurred in me. You can say anything you want scientifically and intellectually, but I’ve had this amazing experience.”

2.But other religions, cults, psychology and philosophy make claims to have changed people’s lives. Then where are you in your defense of the faith?

II. Peter’s method of defending the faith

A.In general, Peter appeals to the facts of history.

1.The Christian can point to events recorded in the Scriptures and say, “Here is what happened. This happened for this reason. Here is the significance of this historic event.”

Action Step: Study out the methodology of Jesus and the apostles. They stood upon the solid ground of history.

2.The Christian relies on the Biblical interpretation of the events of history. Think of the cross of Christ. A man about thirty-three years old died one day on a cross outside Jerusalem. What does this mean?

Point: This drives us to rely upon presuppositions—that there is God and he is able communicate with people he created in language that we are able understand. So then we have this approach. “Am I with the presuppositions of Christianity best able to explain reality, which includes the events of history?”

3.Along with the facts, we need the ministry of the Holy Spirit to remove our sinful opposition to the truth. We are not speaking to neutral observers of facts, but to people who are opposed to them in their presuppositions (Rm 1:18-23).

B.Specifically, Peter testifies about the Transfiguration of Jesus.

1.He speaks as an eyewitness (cf. 2:12; 3:2). Peter likes to use this word to speak of how a person can be convinced of something by what he or she sees. We can use his eyewitness account, as any attorney uses eyewitness accounts to argue in court.

2.Notice that Peter says that he was an eyewitness of Christ’s majesty. This word is used in its two other occurrences in the New Testament Scriptures of divine majesty (Lk 9:43; Ac 19:27). Peter is pressing an exalted view of Christ on his readers!

Point: We have to know what we are defending in order to defend the faith. We do not tell of a little Jesus but of a divine Lord.

3.Peter tells us of what he both saw and heard.

a.God is able to speak so that we can understand. One of the basic breakdowns in human thinking is to create a false disjunction between God’s transcendence and God’s immanence. Human thought then assumes that there can be no communication of a truly majestic God with what is created.

b.This certainly diminishes the glory of God. The Creator is so great and above us that he is able to speak to us in language we can understand. And though he is high and holy, he is very near and able to speak so that Peter could hear him on that mountain.

c.Peter heard God the Father affirming the true nature of Christ and his acceptance of his Son. We do not help anyone by presenting a small Christ; hope in an age of despair can only come through the exalted Christ who is mighty to save, who has power to undo the human predicament and in fact rescue us from our deplorable situation.

d.Peter was deeply impressed with an actual encounter with the living God. Jesus receives honor and glory from the Father. The voice speaking is the voice of Majestic Glory. The mountain is holy (cf. Ex 3:5-6).

4.He refers to this event, because it revealed Christ’s glory as no other event in the earthly life and ministry of our Lord. The second coming of Christ is the full display of Christ’s glory. Therefore, Peter chose the Transfiguration to argue from the lesser to the greater. It was an authentic witness to the greater glory that is yet to be revealed.

Application:

1. Every believer should be very familiar with the facts of the Biblical record and how God interprets those facts.

Event

Significance

Incarnation

Son of God becoming truly human

Miracles

Signs that Jesus is the Messiah

Crucifixion

Christ’s atonement for our sins

Resurrection

Demonstration of God’s acceptance of Christ’s atonement

Ascension

Christ’s kingship over God’s kingdom

Pentecost

Proof of Christ’s lordship

2. Christians need to pay closer attention to the apostolic method.

[1]We are not to evangelize as we think we should; that is, outside of the Biblical boundaries.

[2]We are to tell God’s good news in God’s way.

3. The foundation of our faith is truth.

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.
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