8 Aug 2021


By Remembering That Day

Speaker: Ps Luwin Wong
Sermon Title: By Remembering That Day
Scripture Text: 2 Peter 1:12-21

1. Remember the truth that Christ will return!

2. Remember by paying attention to the apostles (New Testament).

3. Remember by paying attention to the prophets (Old Testament).

 

Reflection Questions:

  • What most often causes you to forget the gospel in your Monday-Saturdays?
  • What steps can you take to remember to live this day for That Day?
  • What steps can you take to help others remember?
Scripture: 2 Peter 1:12-21 (ESV)

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

transcript

Introduction

The PSLE oral and listen exams are coming up this week. So very fittingly, P6 Parents and students are keenly aware of what it means to live in a particular way the light of a particular day. Well, to be sure, it’s not judgement day, but to those taking their exams this week, it may just feel that way.

Remember what it was like to take exams? You attend your classes, you have done your homework, you have read the text book, you burnt the midnight oil to revise what you have already learnt, and on the day of the exams, you open the test paper and get shown something like this: a picture of a heart, requiring you to label all its parts. Am I triggering the PTSD of bio students in our midst?

And you fill in the blanks, and you’re left with 2. They’re the Aortic Valve and the Epicardium, but for the life of you, you simply cannot recall these two names. You knew what they are, you have studied, you have revised, but now you have forgotten. And how many marks does one get forgetting? Zero. You get the exact same amount of marks as someone who never knew these two parts of the heart at all.

Or perhaps a more recent example. Husbands, you get home from work one evening. And your wife asks you the dreaded question: “Do you know what day it is today?” And your mind goes, 7 August. Wedding Anniversary. Of course you know what day it is. Of course you do. But there’s no brownie points for knowing. You’re in trouble. Because you forgot.

Or maybe you’ve encountered this before. You get to the airport, you queue up in your lane to check in your luggage, you arrive at the counter, you hear “passport please”, and you realise you have forgotten to pack your passport. Will it help to tell the counter staff that you are well aware that you needed to bring along your passport? That you knew your passport was required to travel?” Not it wouldn’t. You get turned away in the same way as someone who has no idea what a passport even is”.

Here’s the moral of the story: Practically speaking, not knowing and forgetting, results in the exact same consequences. In life, there is no practical difference between not knowing something and forgetting something. They lead to the same end.

So remembering the right things is vitally important to the way we live, the path we take, and the end we meet. Sometimes what will chart the course of our lives, isn’t new information, but a remembrance of basic truths we already know, but have somehow forgotten.

In the Disney classic The Lion King, Simba was born king of the pridelands. Born to rule in the image of his father King Mufasa. He knew this for a fact, so one of opening numbers in the soundtrack is the upbeat song, “I just can’t wait to be king”, sung by Simba.

But after a tragedy and some treachery, Simba left the pridelands for the jungle. Where he meets a meerkat and warthog duo named Timon and Pumbaa, and instead of eating them, as Timon and Pumbaa thought would happen, Simba joins them to eat bugs like beetles and caterpillars and other stuff you would not catch a lion ever eating. The trio becomes best friends and Simba adapts to a new life as a jungle lion.

Meanwhile, the pridelands has fallen into the shadows under the wicked rule of Scar. And all of the animals there are suffering.

But for Simba, it’s all hakuna matata, until one day the late king Mufasa appears to Simba in vision. This is the climax of the story, the turning point where everything changes, this encounter is supposed to motivate Simba to repent of his carefree lifestyle and to return to the pridelands to overthrow Scar and to rule as rightful king. What does Mufasa say?

Does he inform Simba of all the terrible things that is happening pridelands? Does he reveal to Simba that he is actually not at fault for his death? Nope. In that one minute scene, Mufasa simply says, “Simba, you have forgotten who you are. Remember who you are.You are the one true king. Remember who you are. Remember… Remember.” And then he fades away.

One opportunity to speak to his son, and all his message is “remember”. But more than any new information, simply remembering the truth of who he is, changed everything for Simba.

For non-fictional example, take the Gettysburg Address. The US is the middle of a civil warm with Abraham Lincoln leading the Union against the Confederacy. How do you inspire and motivate battle-worn soldiers who have been fighting for the better part of three years to carry on, to soldier on, to battle on, when there is yet no end in sight to the war?

Lincoln found a way to do just that. Which is why the Gettysburg address became one of the most influential speeches in American history. Remarkable, for a speech that contained a mere 271 words, barely half length of our pastoral prayer.

The speech begins with the immortal words, “Four score and seven years ago…” And the message is simply this: “Remember”. Remember that 87 years ago we founded this nation on the conviction that all men are created equal? Remember the men who fought and died on this very field? Remember the reason they died was to secure the legacy of this nation whose government is of the people, by the people and for the people?

Remember? There’s your reason to press on, there’s your motivation to persevere, that is why you must prevail.

Sometimes remembering the right things is a difference between a dying pridelands and the circle of life, between winning and losing a civil war, or, was we shall see in the letter of 2nd Peter, between salvation and damnation.

Those are the stakes. Let us get into the text.

 

  1. Remember the truth that Christ will return!

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities,

though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 

13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 

14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 

15 And I will make every effort

so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

This may well be the last letter that Peter ever wrote. Peter is soon to die, and he knows it. “I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.” There is a sense of urgency, a sense of finality to this letter, one last opportunity for a pastor to disciple his church. And Peter message is, “remember”.

“Therefore, I intend always to remind you”
“I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder”

And just as Peter exhorts us to make every effort to develop godly qualities, he says “I will make every effort so that after my departure, you may be able at any time to recall these things.”

Peter is devoted to reminding the church, so that after he passes on, the truth will carry on, by way of the church recalling, remembering the truth. These are not new truths, these are old, basic, tried and tested truths of the gospel that the church already knows in which the church is already established – “though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.”

Because knowing is necessary, but not sufficient. As have seen, forgetting, for all practical purposes, is equivalent not-knowing. So knowing is essential, but we must also be able at any time to remember what we know. Oftentimes, it’s not ignorance of the truth that is our stumbling block, it’s our ignoring of the truth, because we forget, that is the difference between growing in godliness and regressing towards sinfulness.

Which is why the Scriptures so often reminds of basic gospel truths in order to stir us up to godly living.

For example:

In the 4th commandment, “You shall remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore, the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deut 5:15)

When the apostle Paul urges young timothy to endure suffering as a good soldier of Christ to the point of death, he motivates him by saying, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,” (2 Tim 2:8)

Or when he wants to inspire the Corinthian church towards generosity for those in need, he rehashes what they already know, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)

Or when the apostle John exhorts the church to love one another, he simply repeats the familiar heart of the gospel, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16).

Sometimes a good reminder is what we need to live godly lives.

But here comes the question, “Why do we forget?”

Well, the bible gives us certain clues.

Deut 8:10-19. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.

So, one reason we forget God is because of the comforts of life we get from material wealth. If that is the case, Singaporean Christians are in an extremely dangerous position. We forget God because of a misplaced confidence in our own ability to earn our fortune, to secure our future, to achieve our life goals. We go, if I work hard in the office, If I spend more time with my family, if I do this or that, then I’m set. I’m good. And we subconsciously think, wait a minute, if everything depends on me, then how is God relevant? And God becomes less and less important, relegated to the sidelines of our consciousness, and we forget him. Isn’t that why people drift away from church? They forget that God is always central because everything we have are from him, and they belong to him.

So that’s one reason we forget. But 2 Peter alerts us to another source of danger.

And that is the danger of deception, distraction and disinformation, which is so in our face, that the noise they make crowds out the voice of truth, and causes us to forget what we know.

You see, the world isn’t a neutral ground. It’s not so much a marketplace of ideas as it is a battlefield for our hearts and minds. Peter speaks of the “corruption that is in the world”. The world is hostile terriory. It preaches a different gospel than the gospel of Jesus.

The voice of the Word and the voice of the World are telling us radically different things.

The world says, “Be true to yourself”; The Word says, “Deny yourself”

The world says, “The strongest will prevail”; the Word says, “The meek will inherit the earth”.

The world says, “Pursue your happiness”; the Word says, “Take up your cross”.

The world says, “There is no God”, the Word says, “Jesus is God”

The world says, “Securing your future means saving for your retirement”, the Word says, “Securing your future means ensuring that you are found at peace with Christ at his coming.”

You know how sometimes we walk from our room to the kitchen to get a glass of water or to take in the laundry or something, and while we’re crossing the living room, our kid screams, “Mummy, come I need your help!” And you go attend to your kid, and then you walk into the kitchen, and you go, “why did I come in here?” And while you’re trying to recall the reason you went to the kitchen, your kid is shouting random nonsense like, “You went in there to get me a sweet”, “you went in there to bake me a cake”. It doesn’t help does it?

But the Christian living in this world has so much of distraction and disinformation to deal with, which makes it incredibly hard to remember the truth.

So long as the world has our ear, which it does by default, because we are in the world, it will hold our attention for as long as we allow it, and we will forget the word not because we do not know it, but because we are so focused on a hundred different things the world to say and has to offer, we are no longer conscious of the gospel.

And worse still, perhaps we have been so inundated by the disinformation of the world, we have become desensitised to it, we have begun to accept it, and have slowly come to believe it, and that’s the other way we forget the truth.

So, there are dangers inherent as Singaporean Christians living in the world today. We are in constant danger of forgetting the truth in our day to day, Monday-Saturday, lives. And begin in a dangerous situation means that the moment you let your guard down, you are done.

So how do we remember the truth, we remember the gospel, we remember that we live this day for that day by paying attention to the Word of God given to us in the New and Old Testaments.

  1. Remember by paying attention to the apostolic witness of the New Testament.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths

when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,

but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 

You remember by paying attention to the apostolic witness of the New Testament.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before. “I don’t believe in God; I believe in science”. As if those two statements are somehow related. You might as well say I don’t believe in the concept of temperature because my oximeter can’t detect it. Science can offer us tremendous knowledge on a tremendous array of subjects, but for true knowledge of God, we have to turn to another source.

For true knowledge of God, it behoves us, does it not, to turn to sources who have actually met God. And that is the claim of the apostles.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it…” (1 John 1:1-2)

A true and certain knowledge of God cannot be obtained via the scientific method, nor can it be observed by our senses, and it won’t do us any good to delve into the realm of imagination. When it comes to the knowing God, God must reveal himself, otherwise your religion is simply a social construct. And if he has revealed himself, you want to learn from the people to whom this revelation is manifest.

In other words, you want to listen a person like Peter.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths

when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,

but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 

You see, Peter’s teaching about Jesus is not a mythological story devised from his ingenuity. His credibility rests rather on the fact that he is a firsthand eyewitness to Jesus Christ. An eyewitness to the majesty of Jesus Christ.

What does he mean by “his majesty”? It’s unlikely to be a title of Jesus Christ. Like how we call the Queen, “her majesty”. Because nowhere in the NT is Jesus Christ referred to as “His majesty”. Peter means to say that while he was with Jesus, he witnessed a majestic revelation of Christ. Which can only refer to the Transfiguration event.

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 

Now this is significant because Jesus’ earthly ministry is one of emptying himself of divine majesty and assuming a servants’ humility. Which means to say that the Transfiguration points towards something not immediately present in Jesus’ earthly ministry.

To understand what the Transfiguration is about, let’s look at the introductory description of the Transfiguration in the gospels. The verses the preface the Transfiguration narrative:

Mark 9:1. And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

Matthew 16:27-28. For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Luke 9:26-27. For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

You see, the transfiguration is a preview of the Christ who will show himself to be majestic and glorious when he returns to consummate his kingdom. The transfiguration, therefore, is points towards the reality of the glorious and powerful 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.

Let’s read back v16 with this context in mind.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths

when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,

but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 

Peter contrasts “cleverly devised myths” with his teaching of the “powerful coming of the Lord Jesus Christ”. Which gives us a hint as to the nature of these myths. Namely, these myths either contradict or deny that Jesus Christ will return one day as Judge and Saviour of the world.

 

  1. Remember by paying attention to the prophets of the Old Testament.

So the Transfiguration affirms the credibility of the apostolic word because they were eyewitnesses to it, the transfiguration attests to the powerful coming of Jesus on That Day, and the transfiguration serves one more purpose. It “more fully confirms” the prophecy of the Old Testament.

The Old Testament speaks of a glorious and terrifying “Day of the Lord” – on which the righteous will be rescued and the wicked condemned. A day where creation itself will be redeemed and renewed.

The Transfiguration can be regarded as the confirmation of that prophecy, because the Day of the Lord to which the prophets looked is in fact the Day when the Resurrected Christ comes back again in power and majesty to fully establish his kingdom. That is the picture the Transfiguration paints, and it confirms what the prophets themselves saw.

And so,

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed,

Now then, the transfiguration gives us two things:

  • It gives us affirmation of the apostolic witness in New Testament
  • It gives us confirmation of the prophecies in the Old Testament

So what does this means for us?

to which you will do well to pay attention 

as to a lamp shining in a dark place,

until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 

21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man,

but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

It means, we would do well to pay attention to the Bible, to Scriptures containing the Old and New Testaments, as to a lamp shining in a dark place. From This Day unto That Day.

Because this, this isn’t myth, this isn’t a delusion, this isn’t somebody’s interpretation. This is God’s word! For these men spoke, as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. This is ultimate truth in a world corrupted with lies. This is light in a dark place.

Have you ever been in pitch black darkness?

I got my own place this year, and I live alone now. And last week I wanted to cook dinner, so I used a portable oven which I’ve never used before, and after about 30secs, it tripped by electricity. It was night, my blackout curtains were down, at it was pitch black in my house. I couldn’t see my hands in front of me. Thankfully, I had my handphone in my pocket, so I switched on the flashlight, used the light to find my step ladder, then used the light to go across my living room to the circuit box above my front door, used the light to find the tripped switch, and turned the light back on.

Now, how many times, from the time the electricity tripped to the time I turned it back on, did you think I abandoned my flashlight. A grand total of zero times right?

I needed the light, I needed the light for safety so I don’t knock into things, I needed the light to find what I need, I needed the light to navigate myself to where I want to be.

You switch off the light the moment you forget the truth. The moment you forget to live this day for that day, it’s lights out for you. You’re lost, you’re in danger, until the light comes back on.

And here’s the thing, we all forget the reality of Jesus’ return sometimes. We all walk in darkness sometimes. And in those times, we carry the torch for each other, we must become the light to one another. Peter says he’ll make every effort to remind them, because it takes someone else to remind us of something we forget.

So, says the author Heb 3:13. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Church, we need to remind one another. We need to light each other up We need to exhort each other so long as it is called today, to live for That Day.

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