Modern Christianity is such a marvel. Taken as a whole, it has morphed into something completely different from what it was at inception. Of course it has also been a long time at incorporating uninspired revisions and revelations. It’s easy for the unscrupulous to work for change; and it’s very hard for the well intentioned to leave things alone. The gospel plan and the church worked just fine without modification. But changes have indeed been made. The gospel plan has been replaced to many with a prayer that won’t get any higher than the ceiling; and at the same time we have built many a modified church for myriad reasons. Along the way there was another change (and it too started early on): we have given primary license in the study of the Word of God over to highly gifted intellectuals though often prone to peculiar styles and deep colored robes, who cloister together under a dimming light so as to better illuminate what they can barely discern in the God breathed Word.
All the while, the Word of God actually expresses that you should not treat Scripture as some earthly production. Its application also is not to be viewed as some intellectual exercise to be parsed and modeled to our choosing. It is the only book claiming from cover to cover to be God given. It is a matter of devotion, adherence, subjection, and when all is said and done, a matter of life or death. It is by its own listing not subject to review or re-engineering. Yet reviewed it is and reinvented it has been. No part of it is of any private interpretation – not through the Apostle Peter’s authority and not by yours, mine, or anyone else’s. It is stated within that it does not read one way two thousand long years ago and any differently now. So it follows, if we are to live in Christ we had better pursue a solid understanding of the structure and intent of the Word of God, noting exactly what has been said. It isn’t that hard, and the demands are not outrageous or strenuous.
To do so we need to have a steady regimen of the Words of Life. Once we have an ongoing steady diet in our lives, which takes time and application, then we need to pour the light out from within our own souls to anyone who takes an interest. But, nothing of value ever happened without a plan, and we should plan how we may better example the truth to others, how we might be prepared to always give an answer for the hope that is in you. It should be meditated upon and rehearsed so that it may be put to use accurately and precisely. The venue for its application can be through any of several media: by direct address, through studies across the dinner table, in written form or in print or by a venue such as this particular one, through radio programs, by talking to an acquaintance on the phone or a new friend on the street, by talking to your neighbor next door. There are certainly others. We are really required to do nothing aside from delivering the good news. But we have to understand what we are to be doing and be at home and at peace with its precepts before we can do anyone any good. We must be grounded in the truth, not in some fable surrounding it or in some personal interpretation of it. That (again) requires study, meditation and application. And you can’t do any of it without a deep and continuing knowledge of the Scriptures.
Mark wrote in the twelfth chapter of Jesus, that the common people heard Him gladly. Jesus came by his instruction differently; but we have the complete written record of the Word of God given once for all time. Do you suppose Jesus was teaching something altogether different than what is found between the covers of your New Testament? Will it have changed when we open up the covers tomorrow? Will its intent alter from our first reading to the latest; or is it rather that our limited understanding might grow and mature so that we will not be any longer babes but may become complete and full grown? The writer James wrote that it is the engrafted word which is able to save your soul. Let’s be smart and assume that James knew what he was talking about; that the Word can save us and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
However, now it is a common thing for many people to treat any suggested venture into the Word of God as something somebody else should be about. And as with most intellectual ground, they desire little beyond a cursory look. So, if that is our view we must hold no value for our own souls, and even less for the souls of those around us.
Most of the Christian world simply ignores the written Word. We don’t wish to be bothered and want rather to be “where never is heard a discouraging word.” Where there is no spiritual involvement and there are no boundaries. The only plan in play is how long can it be endured, and how much will be asked for in the audience. Such people, in such pursuits, are not and may never become true Christians. That’s because there is no zeal and no standard behind those things. There is more religion on the strip in Vegas.
Due to these types of attitudes, many modern Christians are therefore bereft of their daily bread; and instead of feasting are dieting or rather actually starving themselves to spiritual death and into eternal night. Some people have been told that they have been saved; and therefore the deal is done, the contract sealed. They dismiss any further consideration of the things God has set before them. Some prefer things better felt than understood. What Peter offered as an evidence of the apostles’ and disciples’ foundations in faith may not ever be considered. Any contemplation of the gospel plan of salvation might have long ago been lost, and in its place may remain only a much modified outward show or appeal. Such folks have been convinced (or they have been told) that they are in a most hopeful and praiseworthy state, spiritually safe and secure. All the while souls are in increasing danger. And the need to press the truth of God’s Word grows greater and stronger each day.
Peter suggested in his first letter that the apostles’ witness was real and that the recounted events were real; and that there was no other opinion or take on things that mattered or that would ever matter. The rest of us have witnessed nothing — no one has seen Christ since his coronation, save for the apostle Paul. Peter, Paul and the rest all called upon the name of God and Christ and appealed to the Word of God daily, and they and the others followed that same Word all the way to the end, whether ignominious here, certainly glorious later.
It is given unto us to follow God’s Word in its exact particulars, just as it was offered and to rely upon the recorded events that had been witnessed, so that we might learn to be pleasing to God and gain to ourselves eternal life, by following after the same examples. Following anything else in place of that or believing some variation of those things in part or whole will offer its own certain reward.
Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
(2 Peter 1: 15 — 21)