[August 7]--The Spirit at Work: Moving the Prophets

2 Pet. 1:18-21

I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but several years ago the Southern Baptists, one of the most conservative denominations among Evangelicals, had a huge debate amongst themselves. The big question: How are we to view the Scriptures? Do they contain the word of God, or are they the word of God? Are they inerrant, and what do we mean by that term? They finally came down to a simple answer: They are inerrant, meaning they are 100% without error—not just in matters of faith and morals, but in matters of science and history. This all takes into account the different genres of literature: We don’t interpret historical narratives the same way we interpret poetry or prophecy. But what it comes down to is that the Bible does not just contain the word of God. It is the word of God. For a great article on how to interpret different genres of the Bible and how to answer the question "Do you take the Bible literally?" see here.

But how did all this work out in practical terms? If the Lord is the ultimate source of the Scriptures, then why do all the human authors sound so different from each other? Moses doesn’t sound like Isaiah in their respective vocabulary, imagery, emphases, etc. Paul’s letters and John’s letters are verrrry different from each other.

Today’s passage has some of the answers to those questions, and it has several important points for us.

Before we get to the passage itself, we need to know the context of it. Right before this, Peter was authenticating his message and credentials as an apostle. He pointed to the Transfiguration, an awe-inspiring moment he shared with only two other men out of the entire human race.

Now, I love the NIV, but it doesn't exactly make clear Peter's point that he's trying to make re: the Transfiguration and the O.T. Scriptures.

Here's John MacArthur's commentary on verse 19: "This translation could indicate that the eyewitness account of Christ's majesty at the Transfiguration confirmed the Scriptures. However, the Greek word order is crucial in that it does not say that. It says, 'And we have more sure the prophetic word.' That original arrangement of the sentence supports the interpretation that Peter is ranking Scripture over experience. The prophetic word (Scripture) is more complete, more permanent, and more authoritative than the experience of anyone. More specifically, the Word of God is a more reliable verification of the teachings about the person, atonement, and second coming of Christ than even the genuine first hand experiences of the apostles themselves."

Peter then goes on to exalt Scripture even further. We’re sitting in the dark now. Even believers have to walk in a dark world. Our understanding, our love for what’s right, and our relationship with the Lord are always hindered by this. But God’s word is our “night light.” That will suffice until the “Morning Star” appears and the New Day arrives. Once the Morning Star is sighted, that means that the nighttime is almost over, and the sun is about to blaze over the horizon.

But here’s the punch-line we’ve been waiting for concerning how we should see Scripture. We have here a marvelous set of “tension” verses, which aid our understanding of the whole process of what happened. First, though, we need to fully grasp what did not happen. Scripture did not come about by human origin. Man did not make this stuff up. No one sat down and thought it out. Either you believe that or you don’t, but that is what Scripture claims about itself.

What did occur? The Holy Spirit (remember, it’s the same word as “breath” or “wind”) came and moved within the hearts of the prophets (which would include not just the official “prophets” such as Isaiah and Amos but all the people whom God used to write Scripture). The word “carried along” was a nautical term. It was used to describe what wind did as it filled up a sail and moved a boat. The boat was still a boat, but the wind moved it in the proper direction.

So it was the Spirit who moved the authors to write what they did. He supervised the entire process, and edited out any errors which they would've introduced. But just because he did this, it doesn’t mean the authors were just passive instruments in his hand. He utilized their unique personalities, their backgrounds, their respective vocabularies, their writing style, etc., to have them write down exactly the message he wanted to convey.

So what does this mean to you and me today? We’re going to examine that further tomorrow. But for now, let’s thank our wonderful Father for giving us our Night Light. Until the Son arrives, it’s more than enough.

Father God, this really is a dark world. If I didn’t have your word as the lamp for my feet and the light for my path, I’d be in pretty sad shape. Thank you.

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