Transfiguration Sunday (A)
2 Peter 1:16-21
February 19, 2023
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Epistle from St. Peter.
At my vicarage congregation in Seattle (vicarage is essentially an internship) there was a closet full of supposedly indispensable items. There were really, really old calendars, records, film strips and projectors – technology that had been surpassed long ago. If any of those things had disappeared, no one in the church would’ve noticed because contrary to the opinion of some, they were very much dispensable.
Items in the church can be dispensable, but when it comes to correct, Biblical, Christian doctrine, nothing is. We believe Jesus is the Son of God who became man, lived, died, and rose again. If that doctrine is dispensed with, the Church ceases to be Christian. We believe we are saved by grace through faith, not by our works, so that no one can boast. If that doctrine is dispensed with, the church ceases to be Lutheran. We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. If that doctrine is dispensed with, nothing in the Scriptures can be believed.
You may have heard an actor or artist say they were inspired to action by something they saw or read. In these instances, inspiration is an emotion, a feeling. To say the Bible is divinely inspired means that God communicated with the writers so that they wrote exactly what He wanted them to write. The Holy Spirit used the writers’ personalities, education, and upbringing so that the Biblical books wouldn’t all sound the same, yet the message was consistent from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation. How God inspired the writers isn’t explained, but Paul gives us a little insight. He explains, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). The word for breath is the same word for spirit, so in some way, the Holy Spirit gave the writers the words. Peter puts it this way: “Know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 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” (2 Peter 1:21).
Since the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible, it’s also inerrant. There’s not a single mistake in it. What it teaches about Moses, Jesus, history, science, creation, and every other topic within its’ pages is the absolute truth. It’s the truth because the Bible doesn’t just contain God’s Word, it is God’s Word. This is vastly different from some church bodies that teach only parts of the Bible are God’s Word, while the rest is opinion or myth. There aren’t parts that are God’s Word and others that aren’t. There’s not a single verse, not a single word, in the Bible that wasn’t inspired by God. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. Our God who spoke at Jesus’ Transfiguration speaks to you! How incredible is that!?
And when God speaks, what He says is authoritative. You can’t argue with God about His Word. You can’t say that He doesn’t mean what He says. What He says is the truth, whether we like it or not. When the Bible tells us to do something and not to do other things, God has spoken. He’s had the last Word, and that Word is final.
The doctrine of inspiration is indispensable because to reject it partially or completely is to invite error, false belief, and even despair. If the Bible isn’t entirely inspired by God, you can’t believe anything in it! If the account of the six-day creation is a myth, is Christ’s resurrection also a myth? If Paul is wrong about unpopular Biblical teachings, how can we be sure he’s right when he says, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)? If the Bible isn’t inspired, people can say that it teaches whatever they want it to say. If the Bible isn’t inspired, you have no idea if you’re saved or not; if you’re forgiven or not. Where’s the comfort in an uninspired Bible?
To put it bluntly, an uninspired Bible doesn’t save anyone. If God didn’t write the entire Bible, we’re trapped in our miserable sin and existence. A Christian who doesn’t believe the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and inspired is like a ship without a rudder. They will remain directionless and tossed about by every whim, emotion, thought, and fear.
The debate regarding the inspiration of the Bible will not be settled until Jesus returns, but those who reject it are missing the whole Gospel which is the central message of the Bible. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says to some disciples: “’O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-27). The Bible is all about Jesus! From cover to cover, God tells you of your need for a Savior and how His Son is that Savior. The Son glorified on the mountaintop is the Son who came into the world to save you from your sins.
In the Epistle Peter points out that we live in the dark. The word God uses for dark means “dry and parched, dirty, murky.” Doesn’t this describe our world perfectly? Doesn’t it describe our lives? Corrupted by our sin and living in a sinful world, we’re trapped in impenetrable darkness. We need something to shine through the darkness, and that’s the Light of Christ, that comes through His Word. Jesus is the Word made flesh, Jesus is the Light of the world! See the connection? God’s Holy Word is His Son, the Light! Paul, who didn’t witness the Transfiguration, was inspired to write: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).
You need something you can rely on. You need promises you can trust. You need forgiveness every single day. Those, plus other innumerable gifts are found in the Word of God. His Word is what He says to you, no matter what’s going on in your life. His Word isn’t just a lamp; it’s an anchor to hold you steady in the midst of storms and it’s your joy when all is well.
On that mountaintop God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus was beloved because He was going to leave the glory of the mountain behind for the shame of the cross. Peter wanted to stay on the mountaintop and bask in the glory of Jesus, but that’s not why Jesus came. He showed His glory after His resurrection, but the focus now is that Jesus came to deliver you from the impenetrable darkness and the He did! God has said it so have no doubt! Jesus endured the shame of the cross so that you will be glorified! The glory of Christ that was unveiled on the mountaintop will one day come to you! Peter says, “You will do well to pay attention to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” One day, Jesus will return and His uncovered glory will be for all to see. Then we won’t need the lamp of God’s Word for we’ll be living in the incomparable light of God.
To many, sadly including Christians, the Bible is nothing more than a collection of stories and fairy tales. To some it’s just a book with errors and contradictions. To some it’s nothing at all. To some it’s only partially God’s Word, while the rest of it is outdated and inapplicable words. If they only believed the truth, their lives would be changed! When you believe the truth, your lives are changed. The inspiration of the Bible is an indispensable doctrine because it’s the knowledge that God is speaking to you, promising you the forgiveness of sins, and that one day you will share in the glory of Jesus. Do you want to hear what God has to say? Then open His inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and indispensable Word and you will know all that He wants you to know.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen