Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Trust the Bible

People question the Bible's authority today. Some view it as a book of moral teachings while others think it is just a book of fairy tales. But Christians view the Bible differently. What makes the difference? The simple answer is that God has given us the faith to believe it (Phil. 1:29; Eph. 2:8; Jonah 2:9b). Without this God-given enablement, we would view the Book in the same way as the rest of the world. But is the Bible as reliable as we think? Yes, I believe that it is and the Scriptures agree. In 2 Peter 1:16-21, Peter gives two reasons why the message he had been preaching was different than other religious material available at that time.

The gospel message is an eye-witness report (1:16-18).

Peter and his band of helpers had proclaimed the gospel to the scattered believers of modern day Turkey. But some of them were beginning to wonder if the gospel was just another of the cleverly designed myths that had convinced people of other religions and cults. For example, The Birth of the Ganges begins with an incredible statement: "King Sagara had two wives. One of his wives have him sixty thousand sons, the other gave him one." Greek mythology claims that winter is the result of the unhappiness of the goddess Demeters because Hades keeps her daughter for three months out of the year. Joseph Smith claimed to have viewed golden tablets with golden glasses with the help of an angel named Moroni. On a side note, my grandfather's realtives knew Smith in New York. They were amazed to see him walk on water until they found the planks strategically placed just under the water. Grandpa says they removed one of the boards to see what would happen to the "miracle man."

There is a big difference between myth and what Peter had declared to these people. Peter and two other disciples had been eye-witnesses of Christ's Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). They had seen Christ's glory. From that point on, they knew that he was the Son of God who would eventually reign in power and glory (Dan. 7:13-14). But they also heard the voice of God speaking of his pleasure in His Son. It must have been an incredible experience. This is the only experience Peter shares at this time, but there were many others who knew the Savior during his earthly ministry. More than 500 people were witnesses of his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-8).

The gospel message is not a cleverly designed fable which has bewitched lots of people. It is, at the least, an eye-witness account of what these men experienced. And eye-witness reports are not to be taken lightly (Deut. 17:6). But what about the rest of the Scriptures? What about prophecy?

Bible prophecy is the work of inspiration (1:19-21).

It is reliable (18). The word Peter uses to describe prophecy is bebaioV. It can be defined as "firm, permanent, dependable, and reliable" (BAGD 138). Many prophecies have been fulfilled to date. Several that come to mind are (1) the virgin birth of Christ (Isaiah 7:14), (2) his birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and (3) his vicarious atonement for our sins (Isaiah 53:5). These and many more have proven the reliability of the prophecies of Scripture. The point is that the Bible can be trusted.

It should be heeded (19). In the children's story, Boxcar Bob and the Runaway Railroad, the main character is often reminded to pay attention: "Boxcar Bob, why don't you pay attention?" It is a fun story that teaches the importance of paying attention. Children need to learn to pay attention. But have we as adults forgotten our need to do the same? Peter reminds his readers that they need to pay attention to these prophecies. They are like a light in a dark place. The light of these fulfilled prophecies help us to see the veracity of God's Word. But some day, our Lord Jesus, who is referred to as "the bright and morning star" will further open our understanding (Rev. 22:6; 1 Cor. 13:12). But until then, we need to pay careful attention to what God is saying through the Scriptures.

Is is not the creation of men (20). "It was the mark of a false prophet to speak his own thing or from himself" (Rienecker & Rogers 773). But the prophecies which we find in the Scriptures are not the creation of men's imaginations. They did not present an explanation or interpretation of what they received from God. Instead, they spoke clearly and directly what he communicated to them. This verse has been misunderstood by the Roman Catholic Church. They claim that only the Mother Church can interpret the Scriptures. Taken by itself, one might come to this conclusion, but when coupled with the following verse, this is clearly not the intent of the writer. Instead, it means that the prophets did not manipulate words to portay their own meanings. In support of this fact, Peter wrote earlier that some prophets did not understand what they were writing (1 Pet. 1:10-12).

It is a work of the Holy Spirit (21). Just as salvation is not the product of man's will (John 1:12-13), so it is with the Scriptures. God chose to use holy men as his prophets. These men spoke or wrote as the Spirit moved them. The word Peter uses for this work of the Spirit (feromenoi) can also be used to explain the way a sailing ship is moved along by the wind (see Acts 27:15, 17). The idea is that these holy men were moved to write the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit. In my doctrinal statement I explained it this way: "The writers of Scripture were under the control of the Holy Spirit when they wrote each portion. God inspired them to write the exact words which He desired but used their distinct personality in the process." The result of this act of inspiration was a divine book written by human authors.

Conclusion:

There are at least three conclusions we should make from this passage: (1) What we believe is not a bunch of fairy tales; (2) what we believe was verified by eye-witnesses of the events; and (3) what we believe is found in God's inspired book, the Bible. Those facts ought to encourage us about the Bible. It is the only reliable Guide given by God by which we can live. And whether or not someone believes it, all need to pay careful attention to what God has said because it is all true.

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