Fill Your Mind
May 07, 2023 | Jess Rainer
Passage: 2 Peter 1:12-19
Opening Illustration: How quickly do we forget things? Rachel tells me to get something at the store and I forget in 3.8 seconds. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone home and it takes me only 3.8 seconds to remember I forget something. I turn around and simple say, “I’ll be right back…” So how, quickly do we forget things? Within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50 percent of the information you presented. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 percent of new information. Within a week, forgetting claims an average of 90 percent of it. Now, I’m so thankful, as your pastor, to know that you don’t forget 90% of the sermons each week. And I’m so thankful, as your pastor, that you aren’t going to correct my previous statement…Why is that? God designed our brains to forget what we believe isn’t useful. Our brains are constantly taking in information and suppressing information without us even realizing it. Right now, no one is thinking about where their right big toe is. Well, now you are. Even though your toe was sending signals to your brain, your brain deemed it as useless information and suppressed it. You’ve already probably forgotten how quickly someone forgets 50% of the information presented! It’s one hour for those of you needed to know the answer…
If our brains are designed to forget what we deem isn’t useful, what does that mean for us as Christ followers? I think it means two things: 1) Does God’s Word make the cut in our brains? Do we read God’s Word and put it in the category of “useful?” 2) Are we regularly filling our minds with God’s Word? If we are prone to forget, how apt are we to keep refilling?
Peter wasn’t a brain scientist, but he sure knew how quickly we forget. Today, we see in Peter’s letter about it means to forget, to remember, and fill your mind everyday with God’s truth. And that’s our challenge today: Fill your mind everyday with God’s truth. We are continuing our Sermon Series: Grow in Grace. We are going to be 2 Peter 1 today. As you turn there, let me catch up on what we’ve we learned in the first 11 verses. Even though none of you have forgotten, right?! What has been the main point so far in this letter from Peter? Our faith must be precious enough that we cling to it above everything else. And that clinging – and the growth that happens when we cling – is evidence of our salvation. Now, let’s read about what it means to remember these truths. Read 2 Peter 1:12-19. These first few verses are quite practical in nature. Here’s what we see first: Keep reminding yourself of God’s truth.
1) Keep reminding yourself of God’s truth. (vs. 12-15) Verse 12 is really the premise for all of Peter’s letter. The reason Peter is writing to the same churches as he did in his first letter is to remind them. Remind them of what? Peter is saying he is reminding them of “these things”. The things he referring to are everything we’ve looked at through verse 11 – that we must cling to our precious faith. Look at what verse 12 says: 12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. What is Peter saying about clinging to our precious faith? 1) We should be growing in our faith. This goes back to what we saw last week. We can’t sit idle in our faith. The only way to know things and stand firm is by growing. We should growing and standing firm. 2) Even though the original audience knew these things, Peter is still going to remind them. I don’t know about you, but I think being a parent is 90% reminding your kids of the 10% you’ve taught them. I’ve taught my kids why they should brush their teeth and I’ve taught them how to brush their teeth. But what do I have to do almost every night?! Remind them to brush their teeth! And I’ve never once had a kid sit down and challenge my thinking about whether or not brushing really prevents cavities. Or have I had a kid challenge me about proper brushing technique. But I have to constantly remind them to continue in the teeth-brushing truth they already know. That’s exactly what Peter is doing here. Do you see just how vital this is?
What does Peter say in verses 13, 14, and 15? He’s going to remind them as long as he lives. 13 And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. And he’s going to remind them so much in his life that he’s going to make sure they know it in his death. 14 For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, 15 so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone. Why is this so important? The greatest legacy we can leave is pointing others to Jesus. For Peter to make this his last will and testimony, he had to believe – with all his heart – that God’s Word is absolute truth. The Bible isn’t a book of myths and legends. This week, I was listening to a sermon that reminded me that the Bible is not a book of myths and legends. Ancient fiction writings had a definitive style. The early NT books had such a different style in writing, that it wouldn’t be until centuries later that any type of narrative fiction would be widely used. Also, what happened to Peter? He was crucified upside down. It’s also thought that Peter’s wife was crucified the day before he was. His parting words to her was, “Dear wife, remember the Lord.” Who dies for a myth? All of the disciples went to their death because of their belief that Jesus was indeed the Son of God who was raised from the dead. It’s one thing that maybe one or two people would go to their deaths for a lie, but 11 men? It’s highly unlikely.
I’m not a history buff, but I know the high-level story of Watergate. Remember the President Nixon scandal? A group of men came together to cover up a break in where some of Nixon’s campaign workers tried to steal information from the DNC. Chuck Colson was a part of it. He would go on to say these words: There were no more than a dozen of us. Could we maintain a cover-up–to save the president? Consider that we were political zealots. We enjoyed enormous political power and prestige. With all that at stake, you’d expect us to be capable of maintaining a lie to protect the president. But we couldn’t do it. The first to crack was John Dean. First, he told the president everything, and then just two weeks later he went to the prosecutors and offered to testify against the President. His reason, as he candidly admits in his memoirs, was to “save his own skin.” After that, everyone started scrambling to protect himself. What we know today as the great Watergate cover-up lasted only three weeks. Some of the most powerful politicians in the world–and we couldn’t keep a lie for more than three weeks. The apostles went to their deaths because they knew the truth and they would never forget the truth. We are well served to fill our minds everyday with God’s truth. Peter tells us why we should keep reminding ourselves with God truth: You can trust the Bible.
2) You can trust the Bible. (vs. 16-18) Peter makes it very clear that Jesus was real. In verse 16, he says he saw it with his own eyes. In verse 18, he says he heard it with his own ears. Look at verses 16 through 18: 16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. You can just feel the passion of Peter in these verses. Can you imagine those who were with Peter and they got to hear his tone, listen to the cracks in his voice as he pleaded with others to come to Christ, and the tears that undoubtedly flowed as he reflected on Jesus’ grace? Peter saw it. Peter heard it. When you encounter someone who is sold out on something they believe in, you can just tell. That’s Peter in these verses. Now, at some point in our growing faith, there usually comes a time when we think to ourselves, “If I had seen and heard what Peter saw and heard, it would be easier to trust the Bible.” And there is some truth in that. Jesus acknowledged this in John 20:29: 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
How can we trust the Bible? The first reason is because the Bible says so. I know that seems circular in reasoning, but it’s still true. Second, there is power when you read God’s Word. I’ve read a few book over the years, and there is just something different when you encounter the written word of God. It has the power to save. It has the power to change. Third, it’s a book unlike any other in history. The manuscripts of the Bible (Taken from JD Greear) The Bible we hold in our hands today is taken from copies or manuscripts of the original documents. For example, 2 Peter, the book we are studying, was written on a piece of paper. Scribes would copy the original letter in order to preserve it. There was no saving in the cloud in the NT. Over time, paper would naturally deteriorate or would get destroyed. The only way to preserve books was to copy them. The Greek NT MSS are close to 6,000 copies! Now, let me give you a point of comparison, the second most copied ancient manuscript is the Iliad – which has about 1,500 MSS. Here’s what that means: The greater number of manuscripts provide a greater accuracy of what was written in the original letter. There are critics out there that like to use the number of copies against the Bible. It’s inevitable that when someone copies something by hand, there are going to be typos. Now, I’m about to give you a lot of numbers, so lock in with me for a minute. There are some people who claim there are about 160,000 variations in what the Bible actually says. That number is misleading. To get to that number, you’d have to count every variation in every copy. That means if a single word is spelled incorrectly in 3,000 copies, they would count that as 3,000 variations. If you reduce the duplicate counting, it brings the variations down to about 10,000. Of that 10,000 variants, all except 400 are spelling variations. Think Joe vs Jo. Of the 400 that are left that are not obvious typos or misspellings, all but 40 are sentence order that doesn’t matter. Jesus Christ our Lord vs Lord Jesus Christ. There are only 40 variations that change the sense of the passage. Now, think about that for a moment. Of all the variations, of all the copies, there are only 40. Guess how many of those 40 variations have anything theological at stake? ZERO!
You can trust the Bible! I heard the question this week, “Why didn’t God just give us one copy and make sure that one copy stayed intact?” Because it would be way easier for someone to believe that one copy was tampered with than to believe 6,000 copies were all tampered with! The Metre Bar: For practical purposes however, the standard metre was made available in the form of a platinum bar held in Paris. This in turn was replaced in 1889 by thirty platinum-iridium bars kept across the globe. If we lost all 30 bars, would it possible to still determine the length of a meter? Yes, because of all the copies that exist! God chose to preserve His Word in this manner so that we can trust His Word. To grow in our precious faith, we must keep filling our minds with God’s truth. We can trust God’s truth. Here’s what happens when we do that: God’s truth enables us to see.
3) God’s truth enables us to see. (vs. 19) There’s more to unpack in this final verse than we have time for, but let me scratch the surface for you. 19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Peter starts verse 19 by affirming and confirming the Old Testament. He’s saying that the prophecy in the OT was true and was fulfilled in Jesus. In the second half of verse 19, Peter goes right back to what he was saying in verse 12. “Pay attention” or keep focusing on God’s truth. He adds one point of impact when we pay attention to God’s Word: God’s Word is like a lamp shining in a dark place. Darkness can never overtake the brilliance of God’s Word. If you want to see, then let the Bible be a light on your path. Our only hope to walk in the darkness is to keep shining God’s Word in front of our feet. Have you ever walked in the darkness with someone else with only one flashlight? What happens? That person naturally shines the light in a place where they can see where they are going. And naturally, you can’t see where to go next. “Give me the flashlight!” Each person wants to hold the light because it’s the only way to see fully. God’s Word is a light for each one of our paths. It’s your job to keep the light on, to keep filling your mind with God’s truth.
I close with this question…How long does it take for someone to forget 50% of the information presented to them? Do you remember? Some of you do. Some of you wrote it down and looked at your notes. Some of you have absolutely no clue. The answer was one hour. If the stats are true, you’ll forget 90% of what you heard over the past 30 minutes. And I’m totally okay with that. I just want you to remember the 10%, which is this…Fill your mind everyday with God’s truth. Reach for it, like a flashlight in the woods in the middle of the night. Some of you need to reach for the light for the first time. Stop stumbling through the dark. Let’s be that light – that hope of Jesus – to the world around us. If all of us walk together in the dark with all of our lights, do you know how much it pushes the darkness away. Let’s all fill our mind with God’s truth so that our lights can bright, together, for the world to see.
The body of Christ, the church, must be diligent in recognizing false teachers and doctrine while trusting the Scriptures and recognizing true ministers of the Word. By learning to recognize false teachers, Christians will also be able to identify those who teach truth and by living into that truth they can grow in the grace of God and Christian virtue.