Building your Emerging Church from 2 Peter 1:12-21
The Emerging Church needs a reference point in order to know and to do church right, not do just what we want or what the people we are to reach out and seek want, but what Christ wants; we are to be all about what Christ has for us and a light for others to see Him by. We need CHRIST as LORD as a navigational beacon and our reference. He is the One by Whom we navigate our lives and local church. He is an ironclad purpose that resonates with His call and glory; what is practical must line up to Him. If there are good ideas that others are doing that we would like to try, we must first ask if these would work in our context and people, and most importantly, do they line up to His call for our church and His revealed precepts!
Good news: we do have a beacon! This is the main theme of Peter's message-pay attention to Christ, not to falsehoods. Have you ever wondered about situations you have faced with faith and confidence in the past but now, somehow you have misplaced that confidence or knowledge? Perhaps you once stood firm in your faith in Christ, but the busyness and stresses of life have distracted you. Or, you have gotten so focused on the peripherals and trends, you have forgotten the main thing. I know I have at times. Or, perhaps you have started to believe in teachings that tingle your interests and emotions, but are not rooted in Scripture. Peter is seeking to point his people back to what they once knew. He reminds them of the significance and relevance of Christ. He also restates to them his authority as an eyewitness and a personal disciple of Jesus Himself. This reminder is to a church that has slipped from truth to what is contemporary and fleeting. We all need reminders from people in our lives who are mentors and good examples, and we need to be on guard against those who seek to derail us from His Word and Truth.
Peter then shifts his focus to his coming departure from this life. He expresses that life is short and we must take the initiative to do what we can here and now with what Christ has given to us. We are called to work hard, efficiently, and with meaning concerning His Truth. Peter warns of the power and influence of personal philosophies people have made up for themselves that make them "feel good" and give a sense of accomplishment when they "discover" them. What Peter taught was not made up. Jesus is real and is Power; He is the real Truth! And, Christ is coming again! The message from Peter and the Prophets was not manmade, clever, philosophical wisdom; rather, it came from God Himself. In addition, the Prophets and Apostles as well as science, reason, history, and personal testimonies verified it. It is just what we need in today's church-a valid reference point in a culture of chaos where there is no map or heading. Allow Him to lead you!
The people to whom Peter was writing were being clever with words and arguments in making up their own spurious doctrines just as many in the Emerging Church are doing today: mixing in false doctrines, not doing their homework, relying on emotions and bad mentoring, and forgetting what we are all about. In Peter's day as today, they were confusing others and twisting what Peter had said. Peter shows them his apostolic testimony, which was that what he taught from Christ is real and impacting truth. What does Christ need to show you and your church to get you lined up to His "navigation-beacon?"
Peter tells us plainly and assuredly, remind you/stir you up. This was an ancient "moral exhortation" to illustrate that false teachings by manipulative and prideful men have taken a foothold. Have they done so in your church? If so, what are you going to do about it? Peter's theme was that the Word of God, the Gospel, and all teaching must be true to His Word. His congregation should and would have known what was true (Matt. 28:10; Heb. 10:24-25).
Perhaps Peter was warned by the Spirit that his time was limited. Thus, his point would have been that time, for all us, is short, but we have hope. The physical nature of our humanity, our life here on earth, is transitory and temporary. Our real home is Heaven (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 5:1-4). Thus, his exhortation to us all to make every effort indicates to pay close attention. This was conceivably Peter's last chance to inform his people of what was important. His passion and purpose was not to have a life of laziness or leisure, but to be fervent in proclaiming Christ and His Gospel. The questions for us are what are we doing? How are our efforts going? We have a purpose! The results are not as important as our obedience to follow and practice His call (John 21:18-19)! God does not want us to do anything that does no good to Him or to those we are to reach-to depart, or go away from Him and His precepts. This word "depart" literately means exodus, as in leaving one place for another. Our bodies are corporal, temporal, and temporary; we are not made for this world but for eternity. Peter was not afraid of death, but saw it as a conversion to the next step, which was his eternal life with Christ (Luke 9:31)!
We are called to take the spiritual initiative and be productive! Does God need to stir you up? Are you spiritually lazy or apathetic? Does your Christian activity line up to His revealed truth or is it based on your plans and agenda? Is your teaching from His Word or a counterfeit? Always be willing to know the difference and be willing to repent and seek forgiveness when you are wrong! The practice of true Christianity never retires or becomes counter-productive (Matthew 28)!
Peter had seen the glorious, majestic splendor of Jesus firsthand and he had heard the very voice of God. He had even replicated some of Jesus' miracles. Many say that Peter's confidence came from directly seeing Christ firsthand, but that the full impact did not occur until after Jesus left the disciples bodily and sent His Spirit. Thus, we do not have to have seen Jesus personally to have the same confidence that Peter and Paul had!
Peter does not stand alone; he is connected with others and the real Truth. He has the witness of the other Apostles, the Law, the testimony of the Prophets, and most importantly, the Spirit. We have all this too, plus the completed cannon of God's most precious Word! We are not to be swayed by what this passage calls stories/myths, as this refers to untrue stories as well as flawed, thoughtless reasoning, philosophical nonsense, mythical ideas, hearsay, and fake wisdom coming from false, misguided, or heretical teachers (1 Tim. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:4). We must know and communicate that the power, of Christ is glorious; He is a fact in history and in our lives as Believers. We are established by Truth! We are about the Coming of Christ. In the Greek, parousia refers to coming, imminent in its power and approach, but not limited to a timeframe. The point is, He will return and in incredible, unimaginable power; so be prepared (Matt. 16:27-17:8; 24:27-30; 1 Thess. 3:13; 2 Pet. 3:4, 12).
Peter's apostolic testimony and his call and empowerment to proclaim the Truth here establish his authority and credentials that shows he was with Christ firsthand. Eyewitness accounts and testimonies were not as reliable in ancient courts as they are today. Thus, our faith as a testimony is but one facet among many other factual evidences. Here Peter has seen and lived the Majesty-the Transfiguration, which literally means to change in form. This was a glimpse into the things to come, the revelation of Jesus' divinity in being fully God. Also referring to God's incredible presence, used so not to demean, deface, or misuse the sacred, divine name of God. He rarely showed His divinity, but now the disciples could begin to fully comprehend who Jesus was and confirm their faith and what was ahead for them (Matt. 17:1-8; Luke 9:29; John 1:14; Heb. 1:1-4). Peter uses this as his authentication. Today, we have the Spirit and God's Word as our testimony plus what He is personally doing in us by the Spirit's working in our inner life to transform us (Rom. 8:11; 12:2; Col. 3:18).
Peter's prophetic testimony of the Prophets was hard evidence. We have a legacy; we do not stand alone. Peter may also be inferring that with the Law, Prophets, and Gospel, we have a better testimony because we have more information and power giving more confidence and hope than the Jews have. This means we have solid proof that no argument or human reason can stand against, unlike the seductive conjecture and pseudo-experiences of the false teachers. So, Pay attention...you do well/you ought is an expression to do something with your faith and life!
You as a Christian leader are called to be a light shining in a dark place. The Prophets, and sometimes God's Word today are lights shining in darkness that people may not want to see lest they be convicted by them. And, they are never to be used for personal gain or agendas. Real prophecy and knowledge come from God, not our agendas. The real Prophets of the Old Testament did not seek to be Prophets or to have an audience merely for their own power or glory. They never pointed to themselves as today's "so called" ones do; rather they pointed to God in humility. They just obeyed God. God's Word is a Light to the darkness of the world. We are not to seek glory or honor for ourselves. We are only to seek Him and allow His Light to be used in us!
The Scriptures are clear, prophetic words from Divine inspiration; they were never from the prophet's own mind, nor should any teaching in the Church be so. All teaching must be rooted in God's solid precepts. Even with the limits of human vocabulary and understanding, speaking the real truth must be sought with all diligence, as God will protect His truth (1 Cor. 5:13; 7:40; 12:4; 14; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 2:1). You can see His hope for you now and, His full revelation will finally be revealed, eliminating all deceptive philosophies and teachings. Allow His Word to shine in your heart (Num. 24:17; Psalm 84:11; Mal. 4:2; 1 Cor. 13:8-12; Rev. 2:28; 22:16).
Do not misuse or hide His Word from you and your people! The Catholic Church used this passage to mean the Bible cannot be read by the common man. Others have taught the Bible must never be interpreted. This is, in fact, not what it says. Rather, it says we are not to make up things, read into God's Word what is not there, or merely rely on human interpretation or tradition. Spoke from God meant that God's Word is reliable and authoritative and does not need our extra verbiage-only our application and obedience of it. The authority is God's, not that of the pastor or teacher who gives it commentary, no matter how good or insightful it may be (Dan. 8:15; Zach. 1:9). We have a further testimony that the Spirit is the source of the Prophet's prophecy and God's Word, all representing God's instructions, precepts, and authority (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:10-12).
Peter points out that the Prophets preached and wrote to an audience in darkness and despair and who would not be convicted. He feels the same, as his words are shining in the dark. Perhaps you feel your efforts are the same, but being faithful does not always means having results. We are all called to have the bright light of His Light shining in us. We are to realize our place and in humility realize He chooses to use our weak verbiage to enthuse and equip others to apply His percepts and call! God is the deliverer; we are the receivers. We are to receive in humbleness. God's Word does not come from us, but it is moved into us by the Holy Spirit and then proclaimed by us! The writers of the Bible were human authors who were used by God. They actively spoke His Word as they recorded. How heinous for us to seek to twist and manipulate His Word for our own agenda!
Know that God is faithful with us and the church He calls us to steward! Our growth in Christ has value! Our growth in Christ as leaders has direct relevance to the people we lead! Real, impacting, growing faith and our church require our diligence. Thus, we are asked to rekindle our Christian growth as an ongoing effort and apply His Truth so our hearts become centered upon Him. Just think what self-control, patience, endurance, godliness, and love would do for you and those close to you (2 Pet. 1: 5-11)! Our failure to obey God will cause us to lose out on so much in life and in eternity personally, and totally miss what our church could have been. Our diligence to remain faithful and obedient with virtue will help enable others to do so too. When we obey God, He will reward us beyond our ability to fathom!
Questions to ponder:
© 2005 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/
1. Do people have to remind you of important things to do so you do not forget? How important are their reminders to you?
2. Have you ever compared what you had with faith and confidence in the past with what you have today? Have you grown, have you remained the same, or have you taken a backward slide?
3. What would it take for you to recover that confidence or knowledge you once had and grow it further?
4. What can you do to pay more attention to Christ and not to falsehoods or misleading teachings?
5. How have the busyness and stresses of life distracted you from fully following Christ and His call and gifting for you?
6. What are some of the teachings that seem to tingle your interests and emotions or that of others, but are not rooted in Scripture? How do these distract the people of your church from what Christ has?
7. What do the significance and relevance of Christ mean to you? How can you communicate this with more impact to your church?
8. How does knowing that the message from the Word of God and Prophets was not manmade or some clever philosophical wisdom, but rather from God Himself give you hope and confidence to share your faith with others in your church?
9. Can you name some of the reasons for your faith that is attested by science, reason, history, and/or personal testimonies?
10. What is your passion and purpose in life? What are you doing about it, and how are your efforts going? What gets in the way of these? Do they line up with God's precepts?
11. How do laziness and apathy get involved as you lead a church?
12. We are called to take the spiritual initiative and be productive! What does this mean to your Emerging Church?
13. How does God need to stir you up? Are you spiritually lazy or apathetic? Does your Christian activity line up to His revealed truth or is it based on your own plans and agenda?
14. Does the teaching you receive come from His Word or is it a counterfeit?
15. What can your church do to remind its congregation to be on guard against those who seek to derail them from His Word and Truth? How can setting up mentors and good examples in order to help others make your church be more glorious for His Glory? What is needed to make this a reality?