A more sure word

"The testimony of the LORD is sure." (Psalm 19:7)

“The testimony of the LORD is sure.” (Psalm 19:7)

As modern day believers, I think we can often have lofty notions of what it was like to be a disciple in Jesus’ day.

Thoughts such as, “Man, I wish I was alive when Jesus was walking the earth,” have come across more than a few of our minds. While it certainly was a great privilege to serve the incarnate Christ, the apostle Peter pens some rather interesting words to his audience approximately 30 years after the time of Christ’s ministry. He writes:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18 ESV)

Peter, doubtless affirming his apostleship in the face of emergent false teaching, verifies the authenticity of his message with his experience as one of Jesus’ original disciples. He details the account where our Lord selects Peter, James and John to ascend to the top of a mountain with him that they may see his glory, being transfigured before their very eyes (Luke 9:28-36). Not only this, but they would also hear an audible voice from God the Father, the ultimate affirmation of his Son and attestation to the truth of his claims.

There is something to be said about having this kind of encounter with God; maybe there are perks for those who walked with Jesus after all! Even having experienced all of this, though, Peter has this exhortation for those who did not have those same privileges:

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing 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 1:19-21 ESV)

Wait a second.

How can Peter detail one of the most divine accounts in history’s annals and then tell those of us who were not in attendance that we have something “more sure?” Sounds fishy right?

Well, just as God spoke through his Son (Hebrews 1:2) by sending the Word wrapped in flesh (John 1:1, 14, 17) and even spoke audibly from heaven on that occasion, he has also spoken through the written testimony of Holy Scripture.

Though written by men, Peter identifies the true author of Scripture as the Holy Spirit of God. Having then a written record given by the inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16), Peter appeals to the validity of God’s book over man’s experience or “own interpretation,” even his own.

To be fair, Peter likely had the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) in view while making this statement. Does that then mean that the New Testament is omitted from God’s collection of inspired writings?

Sure enough, Peter, in the same epistle, makes an interesting footnote in this regard. He writes, “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16 ESV).

Peter, once again using the word “Scripture,” this time uses it to refer to the letters of Paul, which make up a significant portion of the NT. Paul, in turn, does the same when he makes use of the word Scripture to refer to both a passage from Deuteronomy and the Gospel of Luke (1 Timothy 5:18). This implies that the canonical gospels were at least in part acknowledged as inspired in the time of the apostles, and most likely the book of Acts, having also been authored by Luke.

All this is to say that when we open our bibles we should, in fact, feel confident in God’s ability to speak to us. We must find contentment in holding the written word of God, though we are not those who experienced the incarnate Word of God during his sojourn to earth. Not only so, but we should trust in God’s written testimony even more than an announcement from heaven, for “the testimony of the LORD is sure” (Psalm 19:7).

As much stock as we put in those who lived and breathed during the time of Christ—as believers, though, we should have a desire to see Jesus face-to-face (1 John 3:2)—there were those in Jesus’ day that still did not believe. Matthew 28:16-17 reads, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

Even after raising from the dead, there were still some who were not convinced—amongst the 11 people that he chose! Jesus does not hold to the philosophy of “seeing is believing.” He tells us, rather, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

We can experience the risen Christ through the word that he has left for us. Paul prayed for a spirit of wisdom and revelation to be given to the church at Ephesus (Ephesians 1:17), no doubt having the Scriptures in mind.

Now that Christ is in heaven with God (Colossians 3:1), knowing God through Christ requires knowing God’s word. With this in mind, I would like to leave you with a quote by Warren Wiersbe that comes from his book, On Being a Servant for God:

To begin with, the Word of God reveals the God of the Word; and the servants must know the Master if we are to serve Him acceptably. We don’t read the Bible to mark “precious promises,” although hundreds of them are there; nor do we read the Bible to understand “Bible doctrine,” although doctrine is essential. We read the Bible to get to know the heart and mind of God. The better we know God, the better we can enjoy Him and minister for Him. (pgs. 104-05)

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~ by christianballenger on August 31, 2013.

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