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01/01/2013 / Test All Things

Prophecy Not of Man

Preached to the church at Choteau, Montana – In the year 2008 – By Michael Pickett.


As the Lord may be graciously pleased to help us, I would ask you to turn once again to the second epistle general of Peter chapter one and verses 19 through 21.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
(2nd Peter 1:19-21)

Reading that portion from the second epistle of Paul to Timothy it struck me that this could have been written in this our day, how it clearly defines the spirit of the nations today.

“Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
(2nd Timothy 3:2-4)

Are not these the dark places of which the apostle is speaking?

How it shows the character of man in his natural and base condition, man left to his own devices.

We have had the wonderful favour in past generations to have the gospel brought forth in these countries and men of God raised up to preach the truth. But in our day there is a rejection of these things. There is a turning away.

And what better description could we give than that men have become lovers of themselves?

There is a selfish spirit abroad in the land. Those that are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, whether it be sport or entertainment or anything else. Man loves the pleasures of this world, sexuality and all kinds of wickedness that are being perpetrated in our day.

Men love these things.

This is darkness. It is the kingdom of the prince of this world otherwise known as the prince of darkness.

But light is from God. It was in the very first instance – God said, “Let there be light and there was light” (Genesis 1:1).

And so it is in the new creation. God puts light in the hearts of those whom He will call by His sovereign grace. And it is only the light, though dark is, that will give any understanding of what the Scriptures mean.

There seems to be a propensity today to twist and alter the Scriptures so that they accommodate man’s lusts. And how awful it is the many translations which are being pronounced today which are far, far removed from the truth. And yet sensible seemingly, educated seemingly, men and women are taking hold of these things and believing them.

As it is said in the Word of God that man would rather believe a lie than believe the truth.

Take Heed. Take heed to the Scriptures. Take heed to the truth as it is in Jesus. Take heed to your own walk and conversation that it may be becoming a child of God. Take heed lest being tempted we fall away and fall into perdition.

These dark places of sin are not the ground of the wicked only. I believe we mentioned earlier all have sinned and we among them.

“If we say that we have no sin,” John says in that first chapter of his epistle, “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1st John 1:8)

There are, of course, those two notable places where God’s children sinned. I think of David and of Peter himself.

David, a man of God, a man after God’s own heart. And yet left to himself he is no better than the wicked in their worst ways: adultery and murder.

Yet, you see David repent of his sins. And as it says there in John, “If we confess our sins, he [the Lord] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” (1st John 1:9)

Peter in a very different way, but equally graphic, denying His Lord with oaths and curses. What a dark place Peter must have been in at that time, left to himself, left to fall, fallen into the dungeon of darkness, denying the one that He loved.

But, again, Peter went out and wept bitterly acknowledging his fault before God, his cowardice, the cowardice of his flesh, the hardness of his heart, the unbelief of his mind.

And the Lord Jesus Christ meets with him after the resurrection and says to him, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”

And he says, “Yea, Lord.” In mercy he was able to say “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” (John 21:15-17)

But we need to apply these things to our own hearts.

Is there any lurking sin within our breasts, any dark places?

It strikes me with David that after he had sinned, it was a little season before there was a recognition of that season. It wasn’t until Nathan came and pointed the finger and said, “Thou art the man,” (2nd Samuel 12:7) that David became fully aware of the magnitude of the sin that he had committed against God.

Maybe a child of God who has been caught up in some sinful action, not fully concerning or considering that this is an offense to God.

What a mercy if the Lord sends an arrow of conviction to convince us of our sin and the lead to Jesus’ blood.

What a dark place unbelief is.

“Lord, I believe,” said one. “Help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

We say that we believe the Bible to be fully true.

But do we really believe?

“Oh, that I could believe,” said one, “then all would easy be. I would but cannot, Lord. Relieve. My help must come from thee.”

Oh, that we would feel the power of this wretched unbelief.

Oh, to have faith, a faith of God’s elect, faith to believe all things and concerning the truth of God’s holy Word.

And there is a darkness of our walk at times. Perhaps the Lord hides His smiling face.

And we are left to walk in darkness.

What can relieve us?

What can set it right?

The light of God’s countenance, the smiling of his face, the glory of evangel, to be brought to the light, the light of God’s holy truth.

“Take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.”
(2 Peter 1:19)

How cold and formal at times our prayers can be.

How dark does it appear?

It is as though we are praying to another god, a god who is far away.

How we need light to be able to come into His presence, to call upon His name, to feel that fellowship in the gospel with the Lord.

John says:

“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
(1st John 1:6-7)

Fellowship one with another. How dark this can be at times when some schism comes into the Church when some disruption comes into our fields and we feel enmity against others.

Oh, how we need the light.

Light reveals things as they really are.

You know, you come sometimes into a sketchy darkness and the shadows seem to distort the images that you view. And it is difficult to discern what is right and what is wrong.

But when the light comes, when the sun shines brightly in the sky it illuminates and it makes everything as clear as day.

It can be like that with us. We can have dark sketchy images of what is right. We need the Sun of righteousness to arise with healing in His wings, to see the truth of the matter, to come clearly to the light of His glorious day “until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2nd Peter 1:19)

And isn’t this the secret of it?

When Christ is far off everything is wrong. Everything is as dark as darkness. Everything is as difficult as it can be. Everything is crooked. Everything is wrong. But when Christ draws near and touches our heart strings and affects our affections how different all becomes.

Perhaps we are in darkness concerning the future. We live in troubled times. We wonder what is going to happen here and there in this situation and in that.

What will it mean for us?

How will it affect us?

It may be in our religious themes.

But what will become of us?

Perhaps if we are in darkness as to our assurance as to whether we are the Lord’s people or not, now that darkness affects us. That brings fear into our hearts. And how we go about day by day praying. Fear of the unknown or of the unexpected.

What may come upon us?

We need the Sun of righteousness. We need the light of God’s truth. We need the day star to arise in our hearts.

Perhaps we are in darkness because of sickness, bodily afflictions or, as the apostle in persecutions and we wonder for our hearts how long we might be permitted to live, when we shall be called to die.

Can we die aright?

Or we know that in our own strength we can neither live or die aright. We need Christ to appear. We need that day star to arise in our hearts.

Wasn’t it so with the disciples?

There they are backslidden with the elements, being tossed up and down with the waves of confusion, greatly afraid. It seems to me that these men knew the waters. They were fishermen. They must have been in danger and peril at other times.

Why now especially afraid?

Well, the reason is that Jesus is not there. They have been left to themselves and they fear that they are alone.

Perhaps as children we knew what it was to fear being left alone. And now in our old age, in that spiritual way if the Lord meets us as we feel or as we fear, what great consternation comes into our hearts.

But whilst the disciples could not see the Lord, the Lord could see them and there was an appointed time when the Lord would appear. It is the Lord.

How gently, how kindly in reality the Lord deals with His people. He doesn’t leave them to come to despair. Yes, they may be greatly troubled, tossed up and down upon life’s waves. But not yet in despair nor ever in despair for the Lord will come. He will appear at the right season, at the right time. He never is too late. And though He may never be before His time, He comes exactly at the right time when we need Him most.

“For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
(Hebrews 13:5)

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”
(2nd Peter 1:20)

I believe the word “prophecy” there may be used in its widest sense, not just prophetic visions of the future or as we mentioned this morning prophecies that have now been fulfilled. But really this encompasses the whole Word of God.

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”
(2nd Peter 1:20)

How important, then, that we read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Scriptures.

Years ago the people, children at school, would have to learn long passages of Scripture.

And that which is learned as a child often stays throughout the course of their lives. And older people have testified the verses that they learned in childhood that they could still remember.

Those sometimes have been put in prison. These also are able to remember the

What a blessing it was made to one, a former prisoner had written a piece on the wall, a piece of Scripture and a man being cast into that prison read it and it was made a blessing to his soul.

When to learn Scriptures is a great benefit, to be able to remember. You know there have been people who could remember the whole of the New Testament or the whole of the gospels, large passages of Scripture.

We never know when we may be deprived of our Bibles or, through affliction, unable to read. What comfort, then, to be able to call to mind what the Word of God says. But especially those words that have been brought to various saints of old, the comfort that they had.

You take Jacob which heading home according to the Word of God there his brother comes out against him. What trouble he was in. What distress of spirit. But he did what he could.

But after sending his family over the brook he takes himself to prayer and there he wrestles with the angel of God till the breaking of the day.

And the angel of God says, “Let me go.”

And Jacob can retort, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” (Genesis 32:26)

Well, that was spoken to Jacob.

You see, no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. What is good for Jacob in his day is good to the saint of God at any time, because we have a God upon whom we can depend, one who never changes, is ever the same.

And is Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever?

You follow the lives of the saints of God at any time.

Look at Joseph. Joseph, we never read anything of sin in his life. And yet no doubt he was a sinner. But how the Lord appeared to call him. But he had to wait. He came into trial, temptation, fear, trouble, pain, sorrow. He knew something of the pathway of this life.

“In the world ye shall have tribulation,” said the Lord Jesus, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Yes, the Lord had overcome the world.

“All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
(Romans 8:28)

“Knowing this first [primarily, that is], that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”
(2nd Peter 1:20)

In what do we stand in need of?

We live in difficult times. Troubles abound on every hand. The future all unknown.

Where are we to take the matter?

We can plead the promises of the Scriptures. We can plead what God has done for others that he might do it for us. We are to search the Scriptures daily that we might find help, that we might find comfort, that we might find strength.

As the apostle said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

He came to that point in his journey where he must press on. But no doubt that there were times when Paul, left to himself, could have given up, could have turned back from following the Lord Jesus no more.

No private interpretation.

You see, these were men and women like us. They had the same pathway to walk. They knew something of the opposition of this world. But they had the same God to go to. And the Holy Spirit has recorded these things for our benefit.

What a blessing it is. The Bible has been preserved through the ages of time despite the many attacks that have been made upon it. For Satan wants mankind to be brought into darkness. But God has raised up those who through many difficulties have kept the Word of God available to mankind.

The Roman Catholic Church in years gone by sought to keep the light of God’s Word from the people and were in many respects very able to do it. They succeeded greatly in their mission.

We had in England what is called the Dark Ages when men and women were ignorant of what the Word of God said. They had to rely upon the priests who themselves had little understanding of the Word.

But we live in times when the Bible is freely available to us. And there is no reason why every home and every individual should not have their own book of Scripture.

But it is one thing to have it. It is another thing to read it.

Oh, how we need to study the Word of God to meditate upon it and to read it with anticipation and desire.

How many a person in their experience has spoken how a word dropped upon their spirit, where did that word come from?

Yes, we know that the Lord is able to put upon our mind Scriptures that perhaps we have never read. But for the most part the Lord will remind us.

And isn’t the Holy Spirit our remembrancer who will remind us of portions or verses or words of Scripture that we have previously read and bring them to life again at the apt time, upon the appropriate occasion where most we need a Word.

Perhaps as Paul writing to Timothy we need a word of exhortation, a word of instruction.

Whatever it is, it is the Word of God.

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
(2nd Timothy 3:15-17)

How good the Word of God is.

How profitable it is to the Lord’s people.

How unique is the Bible.

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
(2nd Peter 1:21)

The world is full of men’s writings. Upon almost any subject you can go and buy and read a book that will instruct you upon that subject. And I say, again, there is no book like this one because this has not been written by men, but by God.

Yes, the Lord used instruments in His service, indeed, as He does today. These men of old, and as the apostle here describes them, holy men, that is those that have been converted, those who have been sanctified by the Spirit of God, those who have been made holy. They weren’t holy in their natural disposition. But through the grace of Almighty God they have been separated from this world that they might live holy lives.

That doesn’t mean that they were perfect, of course. We have already referred to those remarkable sins recorded in the Word of God. But the main thrust, the main tenor of their lives was holiness to the Lord.

These men wrote, but they wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

If you take, for example, the four gospels, what very different characters wrote: Matthew, the publican; Mark, a young man; Luke, a physician: John who lived close to the Lord Jesus.

You see the various styles in the gospels are not exactly the same. One brings out one thing. Another brings out another. But how conformed they are one to the other. What blessed unity there is. There is no opposition to the accounts there. One doesn’t say one thing and the other contradict him on what he said. No, there is a precious harmony in the gospels because the overseer of all their writings was the Holy Ghost who inspired them to write as they did.

That makes this book unique.

You think over the hundreds of years from Adam to the end of the Revelation on the vast span of time existed. And then you look at the different times and the different characters that all were part of the writings of this book.

How unique it is.

“For the prophecy [the Word of God] came not in old time by the will of man.”

Oh how differently man would have written it, how he would have hidden all the faults and failings, how he would have expanded the good points and made it a fable when men and women would gladly receive. And yet it would be a total lie.

And isn’t this what they are doing with the modern translations?

They are altering the Word of God to suit the flesh. They are taking out what they would term objectionable passages. They are making it fit the society in which we live today, corrupt, vain.

Oh, how solemn will be the judgment that comes upon this people.

“Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Men of God still speak as they are moved by the Holy Ghost. Not in contradiction to the Scriptures, but as from the Scriptures. The Scriptures only. This is our foundation. Anything outside of this volume is false and to be rejected, to be turned away from.

Oh how we need to understand that because this book is inspired it is precious. And it should be precious to each one of us. We should value it more day by day. We should increasingly make it our life study that we be not ignorant of these glorious truths.

What a lacking there is in our day of the understanding of doctrine. What an awful slothfulness there is when we have heard all these things before. We don’t need to hear them again. Man is content with the outer shell of religion. How few desire the kernel of God’s holy Word.

But what is written in this book should be written upon our hearts. It should so employ with the teaching that it becomes part of us.

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
(2nd Peter 1:21)

Now, in the hearing of the Word of God, what exercise is there with us, what desire?

Now we need in this our day the Holy Spirit to come and move us, to take away our apathy and our slothfulness and to give us real breathing spiritual desires after God and after godliness.

How we need the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to separate us from this world of sin.

How we have become entrenched in this world, how we have the habit of ruling our lives and the things of time and sense become more important than the things of eternity.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.”
(2nd Peter 1:19)

See the personal nature of it. Here is the desire of the aged apostle coming to the end of the journey. He knows soon that he must follow his Lord into death. But his desire is to see his children walking in the place, to see them gain a personal knowledge of the Word of God.

But this should be a vital part of their daily living, that they should give themselves to the Word of God.

Oh, we cannot emphasize sufficiently our need to know the Scriptures. We may read them and having read them and understood them, to be able to put them into practice.

You know, we can read long passages and pass over. Better, really, to read a few verses and read them again until we fully understand them and assimilate them and then pray for wisdom and grace to be able to live according to them.

The Scriptures discern. They separate. They come between families and friends and
loved ones.

But who do we follow?

Do we follow first the Lord?

If we follow him, we must follow him in His Word. This is his testament that He has given unto us.

What a blessing to know the children of old, the children of Israel and of old were a nation that was separated, singled out for God’s wonderful favour. And I believe it is a type of the Church. The people of God there is a single day for God’s inestimable favour that they might receive the Scripture of truth into their hearts and live upon them because of living upon them they are living upon the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

May the Lord add his blessing. Amen.

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