May 13, 2018 – 2 Peter 1:12-21

Lesson Date: May 13, 2018

Focal Scripture Passage: 2 Peter 1:12-21

AIM: To lead students to recognize the superiority of scripture to experience, and to evaluate their beliefs to see if they are based on experience or scripture.

 

Before class: Read the notes on 2 Peter 1:12-21 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the words “Experience” and “Scripture” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the words “Experience” and “Scripture” written on the board. Ask: “When evaluating the truth of your beliefs, which of these two is more important?” (scripture is immeasurably more important, because experiences can be used by Satan to deceive). Tell the class many people today trust experience more than scripture. Read the following examples:

Recently on television I saw a lady tell about how her flat tire was healed. Not long ago I got a letter from somebody in Florida who had heard a wonderful testimony by a woman who had taught her dog to praise the Lord in an unknown bark. Jan Crouch, who with her husband, Paul, leads Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), told a live audience in Costa Rica that “God answered the prayers of two little twelve-year-old girls to raise our pet chicken from the dead!” A close associate of mine attended a charismatic businessmen’s meeting in Chicago where a Catholic priest testified that Mary had given him the gift of tongues while he was saying the rosary. Then the charismatic pastor who was leading the meeting got up and said, “What an amazing testimony! Aren’t you glad God isn’t bound by our ideas of what’s doctrinally acceptable? Some people would try to dismiss this brother’s testimony just because it doesn’t jibe with their doctrinal system.” [These incidents epitomize] the charismatic tendency to test doctrine by experience instead of the reverse. … in the charismatic ranks no experience has to stand the test of Scripture.[1]

Tell the class today’s lesson is about the superiority of scripture to experience.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the New Testament book of 2 Peter.
    • Tell them Peter wrote this letter from prison shortly before he was executed (d. 66-68).
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (qualities we must add to our lives).
    • Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory verse (2 Pet. 1:3).
  2. Remembrance.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 2 Peter 1:12-15, while the class members listen for a key word that appears three times in those verses.
    • Ask: “What is that word?” (remembrance).
    • Explain that because the things he was writing were so important, Peter wanted to:
      • Continually remind his readers,
      • Stir them up to action based on the things he told them, and
      • Write these things down so they would have them after he died.
    • Ask: “What did Peter mean when he spoke of putting off his tabernacle?” (leaving his physical body through death).
    • Tell the class the Apostle Paul used this same sort of language in reference to his body (see 2 Cor. 5:1).
    • Ask: “How did Peter know he would soon die?” (two reasons: 1 – he was in prison under sentence of death, and 2 – Jesus had previously told him he would die as a martyr when he was old; see John 21:18-19).
    • Summarize: Peter knew he would soon die, so he wrote down the truths he wanted other Christians to know and act upon.
  3. An Amazing Experience.
    • Tell the class that next Peter described a spectacular experience.
    • Read 2 Peter 1:16-18.
    • Ask: “What was Peter not telling them?” (“cunningly devised fables,” in other words, made up stories).
    • Ask: “What experience did Peter describe in these verses?” (the transfiguration of Jesus Christ).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 17:1-9.
    • Tell the class that Peter, James, and John saw Jesus glorified on the mount of transfiguration. Not only that, they saw Moses and Elijah (who had been dead for hundreds of years) talking to Jesus, and they heard God the Father speak audibly from heaven. Only three people on the planet shared that amazing experience.
    • Remind the students of the stories you shared in the introduction of this lesson. Tell them if Peter lived today he could have written a book, appeared on religious TV shows, and drawn huge crowds to hear him speak.
    • Summarize: Peter had a spectacular and unique religious experience.
  4. Scripture is Superior to Experience.
    • Because of Peter’s incredible religious experience he could have told people anything and they would have believed him.
    • Ask: “Is that what Peter did? Did he magnify his experience?”
    • Ask a volunteer to read 2 Peter 1:19-21.
    • Explain that the word of prophecy mentioned in verse 19 is God’s Word – the Bible.
    • Ask: “Verse 19 says prophecy (scripture) is more sure. What is it more sure than?” (experience).
    • Explain that verse 20 means scripture cannot be interpreted to suit our individual beliefs, nor can it be interpreted apart from the rest of scripture.
    • Stress the fact that the Bible is a unified whole and does not contradict itself. If we think one verse contradicts the rest of the Bible, then we don’t fully understand the context and meaning of that verse.
    • Ask: “According to verse 21, how did the Bible come to us?” (it was inspired by God and written by God’s chosen men).
    • Tell the class that the Bible is not just a compilation of the writings of religious men. Instead, it is God’s Word, inspired by God and delivered to us through the pens of “holy men of God.” Because of this, the Bible is totally accurate and inerrant.
    • Summarize: In spite of the fact that Peter had a spectacular and unique religious experience, he made it clear that scripture is far superior to any and all experiences.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask the class to imagine for a moment that someone walked into this classroom and told them he had jumped out of an airplane at an altitude of 30,000 feet without a parachute, drifted effortlessly down as if on angels’ wings, and then touched down gently on the earth. Ask: “Would you believe this person? Would their testimony make you doubt the validity of the law of gravity? Would you be willing to jump out of a high-flying airplane without a parachute, based on this person’s testimony?” Tell the class that just as we would not trust such a ridiculous story more than we would the law of gravity, no one’s religious experience should ever be considered as valid, true, or authoritative as the Bible.

Ask: “Are your beliefs based on your experience, or on the Word of God.” Name several different belief areas (such as how a person is saved, can Christians lay out of church, can Christians go to bars and rock concerts, are tongues and healing valid gifts today, etc.). After naming a belief, ask the students why people hold that belief. Lead the class to evaluate each belief as to whether it is based on scripture or merely on experience.

Stress the fact that we must base all our beliefs on the Bible. Lead a closing prayer of commitment to search the scripture and believe what it says.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize 2 Peter 1:21. Encourage them to examine their beliefs this week, asking if those beliefs are based on the Bible or on experience.

[1] Charismatic Chaos, John F. MacArthur, Jr., © 1992, pages 15-17

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