Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. –Romans 10:17
If I were Satan, I would do anything and everything possible to keep you from reading, enjoying, studying, and most of all, obeying God’s Word. I would work overtime to undermine your confidence in that Word. And for this, I would use two main ploys.
–I would tell you, “You already know this Bible. You’ve read it. It’s old news, and boring.” That is a lie. You do not know it. You may know a lot about it, but you no more know this Bible than a scuba diver knows the Atlantic.
–I would tell you, “No one can understand the Bible. It’s contradictory. It’s man-made. It’s a harsh book of gruesome murders, a demanding God, and mean people.” Again, that is a lie. Even a child can find much to understand and love in Scripture, while a seminary professor may devote his entire career to one book of the Bible and come away knowing he has only touched the hem of the garment.
Those two lies are contradictory. Satan says “you already know this Bible” and “no one can know it.” He will do and say whatever it takes if the end result is to drive a wedge between you and God’s Word.
Unfortunately, his tactics are working on far too many.
His lies are effective for several good reasons…
–God’s Word has our number and speaks to our lives. It “messes” with us. And we don’t like to be messed with. We want to go our way and do our thing, so long as we can blame God if our tactics don’t work out and we get in trouble. “Preacher,” we will say, “why did God do this to me?” The answer, of course, is, “Friend, God had nothing to do with this. You haven’t obeyed Him in a long time. You did this all by yourself.”
—Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. (That’s John 3:19, spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself, and He should know.) I rode with the police chief of our small Mississippi city one evening. We walked into various “juke joints”–crowded, out of town dives, dark and loud. Next day I drove past one of them and glanced inside through the open door. It was bare, dingy, and ugly. But in the dark, no one noticed or cared. God’s word is light (Psalm 119:105). Outside on the lawn, turn over a board and watch the creepy crawly things scurry away. They cannot stand the light.
–We are lazy, and stopping what we are doing to open God’s Word and read it feels like work, particularly until we develop good habits and learn how delightful it can be.
–God’s word often rebukes our self-centeredness, challenges our preconceptions, and offends our complacency.
Okay. Let’s stop this and do a quick Bible study. (That’s better than sitting around bragging on God’s Word. Let’s open it and get to it!)
Take the two small epistles of First and Second Peter. The first has three chapters, the second only three.
Stop and read them.
Both epistles. Yes, do it now. Then, return here and let me point out a few things worth extra attention and consideration….
One. (I Peter 1:10-12) The prophets of Old Testament time wrote about things they did not fully understand. Even the angels didn’t know all the Father had in store! (Don’t skip over that! It explains a lot of things.)
So-called experts on Scripture often say if we would understand the Bible we must get inside the minds of the writers and try to see what that scripture meant to those who wrote it. As though that were the proper interpretation. But the prophets often wrote about things they did not fully understand. God was providing these riches and insights and truths , for those who were to come in the future. He was sending them to us! (That’s verse 12. Hebrews 11:40 says much the same thing.)
Sometimes Bible teachers and students will say, “Context is king,” meaning that the way to understand a passage is to get inside the mind of the writer and understand the way his message was received by his original audience, because–according to that– whatever that text meant at the time is the proper meaning. But while context is important, it’s not king. It’s more a prince. Or an advisor. So, learn the context, yes, understand it, and then consider it alongside the rest of Scripture’s teaching on that subject.
Two. (I Peter 1:23-25) The Word of God is the seed of the new birth. All births–plant, animal, human, spiritual–begin with a seed. And, the seed of eternal life, which begins at salvation with a new birth, is the Word of God. That’s why we do well to plant the seeds, by spreading the word in every way possible. Likewise, Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
People in those days did not own Bibles the way you and I do. They listened as the Word of God was read from scrolls or parchment. So Paul says faith comes through hearing. You and I could say it comes from receiving the Word, however that happens.
Three. (I Peter 2:6-8) Sometimes Scripture quotes Scripture. You’ve noticed that, I’m sure. We can assume the apostles were not aware that what they were penning was to be considered Holy Scripture, and they’re merely doing what we do all the time: referring back to something God said in the Word.
You can bet that when Scripture quotes Scripture, it’s important stuff.
One of my favorite seminary professors taught us that the best interpretation of Scripture is other scriptures. What does God’s word say about this doctrine or this statement?
Four. (Second Peter 1:16-21) God’s Word tells us how this came to be God’s Word.
It was not by hook or crook. Not “cunningly devised fables,” not hearsay, and not something some guy saw all by himself over in a corner somewhere (see Acts 26:26; think of Mormonism’s Joseph Smith with his golden plates). “Holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” That’s how it happened.
Peter says he was an eyewitness (1:16) and that is important. But better than that, we have “something more sure, the prophetic word” (1:19). We should not miss that. God’s word is more reliable than anything you and I have personally seen, heard, or felt.
Five. (Second Peter 3, the whole chapter) So many things in this one rich chapter….
–Scoffers will come. We should not be blind-sided by these slanderers but be prepared. (3:3) College students sometimes sit in classroom where professors scoff at the Bible and belittle those who believe its truths. We should teach them to expect this and know how to deal with it. The typical university campus is friendlier to the Bible attackers than to the believers, so get ready. Wear your armor (Ephesians 6).
–God is not operating by our clocks and calendars. (3:8-9) Just as He has His own plans and methods (Isaiah 55:8-9), He keeps to His own schedule. He is not slack concerning His promises, but no one should assume because He has not fulfilled some prophecies that He won’t. He wants everyone saved.
–Some scriptures are hard to understand. (3:15-16) These two verses should be taught to every young disciple to prepare them for the difficult passages they’ll encounter when they get serious about Bible study…
…Our beloved Paul, according to the widsom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures.
Thank you, Apostle Peter! Scripture admits what we all have found out–that some things Paul wrote are hard to get! How good is that!
We notice that Peter refers to “the rest of scriptures,” thus informing us that Paul’s writings were considered scripture from the earliest days.
By the way, Peter is one to talk! After saying this about Paul’s writings, we note that he himself wrote something difficult back in I Peter 3:18ff. People have been disagreeing ever since as to what he meant there..
We love the way Peter ends this Second Epistle. It’s a good way for us to end this little epistle of our own…
You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.