Thursday, February 16, 2012

Peter Says That Scripture Is "More Sure" Than Our Experience

Should we trust what we feel, see, hear and think? Or should we trust in God's word...even if it seems to go against our experience? The Apostle Peter has something to say about this.

In Peter's 2nd epistle he is relating to his readers a powerful testimony. Peter tells them that he was on the mountain with Jesus when he was 'transfigured' right before his eyes! Imagine Peter smiling with wonder as he remembered the event. He and James and John had been invited by Jesus to climb a mountain with him. When they reached the top, suddenly Jesus' glory was revealed! "The appearance of his face was altered" (Luke 9:29) and "his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them" (Mark 9:3)! As if this sight alone was not sufficiently shocking, Peter's ears then heard the voice of God the Father telling them that Jesus was his Son (Matthew 17:5)!

Peter describes this experience in his letter:
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 1:17-18, ESV
Peter wants his readers to know that this gospel - this message about Jesus Christ - is not an example of "cleverly devised myths" (2 Pet 1:16), but is a historical fact, based on eyewitness testimony ("we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" v17). Paul also made this point in 1 Corinthians 15, declaring that Jesus was seen after the resurrection by many eyewitnesses (including one appearance to "more than 500 brothers at one time" v7). The Apostle John similarly wrote, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life - the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us - that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:1-3, ESV). Jesus was seen by the apostles!

But after Peter's testimony of what he had seen and heard on the mountain, he makes a startling claim:
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
Peter, himself being 'carried along by the Holy Spirit,' declares to us that the Bible is more trustworthy than the eyewitness testimony of a man who saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain; who heard with his own ears the voice of God confirming Jesus' Sonship! "We have something more sure," Peter says, as he urges us to "pay attention" to Scripture. God's word trumps our experience.

Praise God for giving us experiences. But praise the Lord for giving us the "more sure" words of Scripture! Our faith stands on solid ground.

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