Today’s selected reading continues in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter unto those who have received and experienced like precious faith. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first ten verses of the second chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the apostle Peter transitioning from the language he used in the previous chapter concerning the manifestation of the glory which Jesus has with His Father in heaven atop the mount. The first chapter concludes with the apostle Peter emphatically declaring in this epistle that they did not follow cleverly or cunningly crafted fables, but were eyewitnesses of the glory which was manifested atop the mount of transfiguration. This is actually quite interesting and astounding when you think about and consider it, for the apostle Peter was appealing to a very specific experience he had while walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. After writing concerning being called to glory and virtue, and after writing of being partakes of the divine nature of the living God, the apostle Peter now writes and speaks to an event within his life which he undoubtedly recalled while writing this epistle. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the apostle was writing this second epistle unto those who obtained like precious faith, he remembered and recalled that fateful day when he, James, and John were led up atop a high mountain apart, and while atop that mountain Jesus was transfigured before them. Undoubtedly Peter remembered that day how the physical appearance of Jesus changed, and how He became saturated with the original glory He had with the Father before coming flesh and walking among men. Undoubtedly Peter remembered and recalled how a great cloud overshadowed them, and how the voice of the Father spoke from within the cloud and called them to listen to Him, for He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased.
What I absolutely love about the first chapter of this second epistle, is that when you take the time to read it, you almost see and find an intrinsic connection between the divine nature which we are called to partake of, and an encounter with the glory of the living God. Much like Moses came down from the mountain after spending forty days in the glory and presence of God, and radiated and reflected the glory of God, so also partakers of the divine nature includes a reflection of the divine nature, the divine image, the divine likeness of the living God. I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and consumed with and by the fact that the degree and measure we allow ourselves to enter into and abide in the presence and glory of the living God is the degree and measure we can and will reflect the divine nature and image of the living God. It is true that when Jesus took on flesh and dwelt among us He was the exact image and embodiment of the divine glory of the living God, but we must understand that we ourselves—if we are found to be in Christ—are also partakers of that same divine nature and image of the living God. We are only able to reflect the nature, the character and the image of the living God to the degree and measure we allow ourselves to abide in Jesus Christ. It is true that we have been created in the image and likeness of the living God, however, it is only through our abiding and remaining in Jesus Christ that we are able to reflect the true nature, character and image of the Father who is in heaven. We dare not miss or lose sight of this incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss the responsibility we have in reflecting the character and nature of the living God. There is a vast and fundamental difference in being created in the image and likeness of the living God and actually reflecting His glory, His presence, His nature and His character. There are many who although they have been created in the image and likeness of the living God re not reflecting His nature, His character, or His glory and presence.
As you come to the second chapter of this second epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find the apostle building upon that which was written in the previous chapter. Towards the end of the first chapter you find the apostle writing of his personal eyewitness account and experience with the glory of the Father as Jesus was transfigured before them atop the mount. What’s more, is the apostle Peter built upon that manifestation of glory, as well as the voice which spoke from heaven, and declared that we have a more sure word of prophecy. The apostle Peter emphatically declared and proclaimed that no prophecy was of private interpretation, but holy men of God spake as they were giving utterance by the Holy Spirit. The apostle Peter recognizes and understood that the words which were spoken by the ancient fathers and prophets of old did not come from their own imagination or inspiration or interpretation, but came as they were moved upon by the Holy Spirit of the living God. The apostle Peter wrote concerning something which the apostle Paul wrote and touched upon when writing unto Timothy, for the apostle Paul wrote how all Scripture was divinely inspired and breathed upon by the Holy Spirit, and how all Scripture was profitable for correction, rebuke, reproduced, and that which is necessary for life and godliness. It’s absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this reality, for when we come to the end of the first chapter of this second epistle written by the apostle Peter we find him writing concerning a more sure word of prophecy, and how men of Old spoke as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Pause for a moment and consider that reality for a moment, for it almost suggests an inability to speak unless one is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit of the living God. I would dare contend that there are a number of individuals who attempt to move, and attempt to speak, and yet they have neither been moved upon, nor inspired by the Holy Spirit of the living God.
I would like to build upon this reality and concept of men and women attempting to speak without being authorized and appointed by the living God. I am utterly and completely amazed by how many men and women feel they can speak as oracles of God, and yet they are doing nothing more than communicating their own interpretation and inspiration. There are men and women among us within this generation who are attempting to go, and yet they have neither been sent, nor ordained. I will fully admit that there is perhaps nothing like speaking on behalf of the living God, and what a tremendous privilege and honor it is to speak on His behalf. If there is one thing we must carefully consider and recognize, it’s that when we make any attempt to speak on behalf of God, we had better make absolutely certain that we have heard from Him, and that the words we speak are divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. I am utterly and completely convinced that it is one thing to preach the word of God, but it is another thing altogether to preach the word of the Lord. There are a number of men and women who may preach the word of God, and they may preach the Bible and Scripture, however, that doesn’t mean that they are actively preaching the word of the Lord. There is a vast and fundamental difference between preaching the word of the Lord and preaching the word of God. It takes a little charisma and a little personality and anyone can preach the word of God. It requires os much more to actively preach the word of the Lord, for such requires men and women to stand in the presence of the Lord and to actually hear His voice. It is absolutely imperative that we never assume that just because someone stands behind a pulpit and preaches from, and preaches the word of God, they are preaching the word of the Lord, or have even been sent by Him. There are many among us who may have a ministry, and who may have those who follow them, and yet they have neither been authorized or sent by the living God. Preaching from behind pulpits of churches and in front of large crowds at stadiums doesn’t mean that we have been authorized and sent by the living God, or have even been inspired by the Holy Spirit of the living God.
I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the prophet Jeremiah wrote and prophesied in the Old Testament prophetic book which bears his name. If you turn and direct your attention to the twenty-third chapter of this Old Testament book you will find the prophet bewailed and cried out against the false prophets of his day and generation. Within this Old Testament chapter beginning with the ninth verse of the chapter we find the prophet beginning to write and speak about the tremendous tragedy that was occurring in the land, and the tremendous evil that was being committed by the false prophets of that generation. In fact, if you begin reading the words which the prophet Jeremiah wrote and spoke within the twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name, you will find and discover that his heart was broken within him because of the prophets. The prophet Jeremiah experienced tremendous anguish and distress of soul because of the voice and ministry of the false prophets which were active and present within that particular generation. Consider if you will the words which the prophet Jeremiah wrote and spoke beginning with the ninth verse of the twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name:
“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of His holiness. For the land if full of adulterers; for because of wearing the land mourners; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darknessA: They shall be driven on, and fall therein: For I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaned gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord shall not return, until He have executed, still he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the Lord. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart: which think to cause my people to forget my name but their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbours, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? Saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire? Saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces. Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:9-32).
I HAVE NOT SENT THESE PROPHETS, YET THEY RAN! I HAVE NOT SPOKEN TO THEM, YET THEY PROPHESIED! I am convinced the words we find in this particular passage of Scripture are a strong and powerful description of this generation in which we are living. I do not believe that Jeremiah’s generation was the only generation in which there were false prophets who despite being sent, insisted on running with a message or “word” anyways. I do not believe that it was only in Jeremiah’s generation where so-called prophets did not receive any spoken word from the living God, and yet they prophesied. The more I consider the words which the prophet Jeremiah wrote in this particular passage of Scripture, the more I can’t help but be reminded of how not only the prophet Jeremiah himself was called, ordained and appointed by the living God, but also how the ancient Hebrew prophet was ordained and appointed by the true and living God. We would be incredibly wise to consider and understand the language that is found in this particular passage of Scripture, for just because men and women are running among us in this generation—that doesn’t mean that have been sent by the true and living God. Just because men and women are prophesying—and even prophesying in the name of the Lord—doesn’t mean that the Lord has spoken unto them. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus the Christ spoke in His famous Sermon on the Mount, when He spoke of those who prophesied in His name. There is not a doubt in my mind that despite the fact that there were those, and there will be those who would emphatically declare and boast they they have prophesied in the name of the Lord, those individuals may find themselves hearing what I am convinced are some of the most frightening words to ever be heard. If you turn and direct your attention to the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find the following words spoken by Jesus the Christ in this Sermon on the Mount. Consider if you will the words which are found in the seventh chapter beginning with the twenty-first verse of the seventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
One thing you will notice when reading these words of Jesus are the words which opens this particular section within the Sermon on the Mount—“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Pause for a moment and carefully consider the weight and magnitude of those words, for such words are absolutely and incredibly stirring, challenging and provoking. I can’t help but read those words and be absolutely and completely gripped and stirred within the depths of my soul, for Jesus was never one to mince words, and He was never one to hold any punches. If Jesus declared that not every one that says unto Him in that day, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must take those words as complete truth without any measure or degree of falsehood or deceit. Jesus emphatically declared that not every one who says to Him in that day, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, and then goes on to declare that only those who do the will of His Father which is in heaven. This is actually quite remarkable and astounding when you consider it in light of the words which follow, for you would think that those who speak of prophesying in the name of the Lord, those who speak of casting out devils in the name of the Lord, and those who speak of doing many wonderful miracles in the name of the Lord would most certainly be doing the will of the Father who is in heaven. What is so incredibly unique and challenging about the words which Jesus speaks in this particular passage of Scripture is when we automatically think that those who do such things in the name of the Lord will indeed and will in fact enter into the kingdom of heaven. The truth of the matter is that not even ministry guarantees entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Not even works themselves guarantees entrance and access into the kingdom of heaven, for Jesus spoke of those who professed prophesying in His name, doing many wonderful works in His name, and those who cast out devils in His name. Jesus declared that not only could such individuals not enter into the kingdom of heaven, but they could also find Jesus professing and declaring unto them that He never knew them. What’s more, is that such individuals might very well e en hear Jesus declare unto them, Depart from me, ye that work iniquity. These words cut against and go against every fiber of our being, for so often we think that works and ministry guarantees entrance and access into heaven, and that such wonderful works and mighty deeds in the name of the Lord is pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the Lord. The more I think about these words which Jesus spoke, the more I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the Lord declared through the prophet Jeremiah, and how the Lord declared that such “prophets” prophesied—perhaps even in the name of the Lord—despite the fact that they were not and had not been sent.
When I read the words which the prophet Jeremiah wrote and spoke in the twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name, I can’t help but be gripped and captivated by the fact that not only were individual running without and apart from being sent, but there were also individuals who were prophesying—despite the fact that the Lord had not spoken unto them. It’s worth noting that even before Jesus emphatically proclaimed that not every one that says unto Him, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, He spoke about false prophets, and called us to beware of false prophets. If you begin reading with and from the fifteenth verse of the seventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel you will find the following words: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20). It’s incredibly interesting that before Jesus even declares how not every one which says to Him in that day, Lord, Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven, He warns concerning false prophets who come in among us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. I can’t help but wonder if the apostle Peter—when writing the second chapter of this second epistle—thought back to these words of Jesus concerning false prophets, and how Jesus warned those who were listening to Him on that day concerning false prophets who would come in among them in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. When we come to the second chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Peter wrote, we find him building upon that which he wrote in the final verses of the first chapter, for when the first chapter of the epistle draws to a close, we find the apostle writing how not only do we have a more sure word of prophecy, but also how no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. The apostle Peter would go on to declare how the prophecies found within the Old Testament came not in old time by the will of man, but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. This reality is expressed in the first verse of the first chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. Consider if you will the words which we find in the first verse of the first chapter of this epistle written unto the Hebrews: “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1). With these words the author of this epistle emphatically writes and declares unto their audience that God had at sundry times and in divers manners spoken in time past unto the fathers by the prophets—those who were moved on by the Holy Spirit of the living God, and those who received inspiration from and by the Holy Spirit.
When you read the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the second chapter of the second epistle found within the New Testament, you will find that although holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, there were false prophets among the people—just as there would be false teachers among us—those who would bring in damnable heresies, and even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. One of the most interesting realities found within the New Testament writings and epistles is that just as there were false prophets found in the Old Testament days of the ancient Hebrew prophets, so also there would be false teachers and false brethren among us within this generation. There is a particular passage found within the thirteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy which helps shine an even greater amount of light on the words which the prophet Jeremiah spoke, as well as on the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the second chapter of this second epistle. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the thirteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, you will find the following words spoken and written by Moses unto the children of Israel:
“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign of the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; namely, of the gods of the people, which are round about you, night unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the heart; thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: but thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of the all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die: because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among your. If thou s halt hear say in one thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain m en, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us god and serve other gods, which ye have not known; then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of His anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as He hath sworn unto thy fathers; when thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep all His commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 13:1-18).
Through Moses the Lord began speaking unto the children of Israel concerning the presence and company of false prophets which would come in among them, and would prophesy falsely in the name of the Lord. Through Moses and Jeremiah the Lord of hosts warned the children of Israel concerning false prophets, and dreamers of dreams who would creep in among them, and would prophecy falsely in the name of the Lord. Both Moses and Jeremiah warned of such prophets which would run to and fro among them—despite the fact that they had not been, and were not sent by the living God Himself. The more I read the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the second chapter of the second epistle which is found in the New Testament, the more I can’t help but be reminded of the words which we find in the writings of Moses, as well as the writing of Jeremiah. The apostle Peter wrote concerning holy men speaking as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and yet immediately after that, he began writing concerning false prophets which were also among the people, and how even in our generation there would be false teachers among us, who would deal privily among us bringing in damnable heresies, and even denying the Lord that bought them, thus bringing upon them swift destruction. In fact, in the second chapter of the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Galatian churches, we find the apostle writing the following words concerning his coming to Jerusalem fourteen years after his original return after spending three years in the desert and wilderness of Arabia. Beginning with the first verse of the second chapter we find and read the following words written by the apostle Paul:
“Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which are of reputation, lest byh any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privly to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person) for they sho seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: but contrariwise, when they sat that the gospel of uncircumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles) and when James, Cephas, and Joh, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do” (Galatians 2:1-10).
In the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Galatian churches we find him writing concerning false brethren, while in the second chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter we find him writing concerning false prophets and false teachers. Both apostles wrote without ceasing and without wavering concerning these false prophets, and these false teachers, and how such would enter in in order to not only spy out our liberty, but also bring us once more into bondage. I leave you with the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the second chapter of this epistle beginning with the first verse of the chapter: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And though covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities” (2 Peter 2:1-10).