4 April 2022
In the worship service yesterday, the preacher made reference to ‘light’ and ‘darkness’ in his message. We had the ordination of the Senior Pastor and elder, and in the ‘ceremony’, they were asked to acknowledge their belief in the Old and New Testaments. I was brought to reflect again on a passage in 2 Peter which brings together the concepts of light, darkness, and the inerrancy and divine origin of the Scripture.
“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).
In the gospel of John, we saw Peter – one who was impulsive, one who was quick to speak up and to act, and the one who denied the Master three times. But here in 2 Peter, we see a different Peter – he called himself a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ – and he addressed the believers as those who have obtained a faith of equal standing. 2 Peter has been noted to include the ‘last will and testament’ of this apostle who sought to remind the believers of important qualities to cling to and it included a reference to his knowing that the putting off his body will be soon, as made clear to him by the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 1:12-15). Among many issues Peter referred to (including the call to holiness and godliness; the warnings against false prophets and teachers; the call to endurance and perseverance), Peter emphasised the divine origin and inerrancy of Scripture and why the believers need to adhere to this truth and not to waver. Twice, Peter told the believers that he is reminding them of these truths before he departs from this world (vs 14) – implying the importance and significance of these truths for believers, particularly in a ‘world of persecution’ and spiritual attacks, fueled by the evil one and the ‘army’ of false teachers and so-called brethren.
It is interesting to note that although Peter reminded the believers that he and his fellow Apostles were eyewitnesses of the majesty of the Lord Jesus (with particular reference to the ‘transfiguration’ and surely a powerful testimony to the truth), yet he went on to refer to something ‘more sure’ (vs 19) – the prophetic word and Scripture. It is as if Peter was telling the believers and us, “Do not take it from me even though my fellow Apostles were eyewitnesses”, but look at what is more firm and sure. Peter was in effect telling believers that we have something more sure than any testimony that you can hear from me. We have the word of the prophets which is more certain. Why should Peter speak of Scripture as more sure than their personal testimony?
What Peter was actually saying was that God has spoken in the prophetic word, and what I say and what I heard from heaven at the mount of transfiguration can only be right if it is in line with that prophetic word. The prophetic word and Scripture confirm Peter’s experience and not the other way round. Here we see clearly the need to anchor our faith on Scripture and not on ‘experience’ per se, especially if the experience contradicts the revelation of Scripture. Take everything ultimately from the written word that God has given us, in the Old Testament and the New Testament – affirm their divine origin.
Note that Peter referred to the prophetic word and Scripture as ‘a lamp shining in a dark place’ – it is like a light shining in a dark place. A parallel thought is given in Psalm 119:105 – ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path’. By its light I can see to go. Without its light, I could never see to go, and would bound to lose my way. Peter may be referring to our hearts – the heart is a place that it is full of ‘dirt’ – prejudice, biases, obsessions,and the like – and you need the light in order to avoid being tripped. Our heart needs a light and we do well to pay attention to God’s word. God’s written word is a light that shines in a dark place to enable us to avoid falling victim to the obstacles that abound in these last days – the liberal teachings advocated by some theologians, the distortions of biblical truths by lop-sided emphasis without reference to the whole, the promotion of charismatic individuals who have their own preferences in interpreting Scripture, the proliferation of distorted teachings of Scripture ‘supported’ by ‘sprinkling’ of some favourite verses and passages, and the list goes on.
It is a dark world; even Christian people’s hearts – we need light. Thank God we have in the written Word of God the light that we need. It is in order for those who seek to serve God in any capacity to pay attention to this light. It implies that Bible study is a serious and needful thing. We must treasure God’s Word, read , mark, learn and inwardly digest and partake of it. We must anchor our hope in the unerring Word and ensure that the light which God has given continues to shine to dispel the darkness.