When I was a young kid, my family and I took a trip to Jackson, Mississippi over Christmas break. Most of our family trips also served as fulfilling a work requirement for either mom or dad, and so was the same with this trip. My dad, who is a videographer, was hired to film a promotional video for the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation, which also meant that we were privileged with spending time with Dr. John Perkins. Sadly, I was too young to fully comprehend that I was freely conversing with a highly esteemed Christian minister and civil rights activist. There was one point in particular where we were all gathered around the dinner table with Dr. Perkins, yet I had become restless and wanted to do something else. I asked my mom if it was alright for me to be excused and go play, however, her response was one that I would never forget: “Brett,” she said in a firm voice, “When John Perkins speaks, we listen.” At the time, I may have said I understood, but that would not have been true. To sit and listen to the wisdom of one who has lived a full, Christ-exalting life, in the way that someone like Dr. Perkins has, is a rare treasure, and it is a deep regret that my young naivety prevented me from such an experience.
I want you to pause for a few minutes to imagine yourself having a conversation with someone of such notoriety. It could be a famous musician you admire, an athlete you respect, or a theologian you hold in high regard. Think about the questions you might ask, the way you would savor every response from their mouth, and how you would cherish each word that is spoken directly to you. You might also simply marvel at the fact that you are graced with such an opportunity to be present with someone so renowned as this person. Take a few minutes and envision this scene.
Now, I will proceed with one more question: Do you treat God’s word spoken to you in the same way?
In the same way that you would cling to every word from a “famous someone” you respect, do you cling to every word breathed out by God in his Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17)? In the same way that you would keep to memory all of the wise saying from a “famous someone,” do you meditate on God’s word day and night (Ps 1:2)? As incredible of an experience it would be to hear stories and words of wisdom from a “famous someone,” us followers of Jesus have something greater, which is the very word from the Creator of everything, that has been given to us in the Bible.
The second letter by the Apostle Peter proves to be helpful for understanding this. In chapter 1:16-18, Peter is describing the story where he, James, and John all witness the incredible transfiguration of Jesus Christ (Matt 17:1-8). This moment was so terrifying and beautiful that Peter said, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah,” (Matt 17:4, ESV). In essence, Peter is saying, “This is so awesome that we should just stay up here!” It appears as if Peter, James, and John are so enamored by the glory of Jesus that they do not want to leave. However, after Peter recounts this event, he says: “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed,” (2 Pet 1:19, ESV). My first thought is: Peter, you must be out of your mind! I want you to ponder the weight and reality of Peter’s words here. This Apostle is one of three people who saw Jesus in complete glory during the moment of the transfiguration, and yet he says that Scripture is “more fully confirmed.” If what Peter says is true, then we have to ask why this is. Fortunately, Peter answers this question by saying: “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 Pet 1:20-21, ESV). This means that the Bible is not only the direct word from God, but it is the direct word from God that is more fully confirmed than even the physical manifestation of Jesus in complete glory.
Similar to the exercise that was presented above, it is often that I wish I could have seen Jesus during his ministry here on earth. I envision the questions that I would ask him and the way that I would marvel at every response he would give. The pure fact of being able to place my hands in his wrists would be so awesome that I would tell every person how I got to physically speak with and touch the hands of Jesus the Messiah. This is why I am so envious of Peter, James, and John as they got to see Jesus in his full glory with Moses and Elijah standing next to him, all while God audibly speaks through a bright, overwhelming cloud. However, Peter corrects me by saying that when I am stuck in this type of thinking, I lack a true understanding of the reality of God’s scripture. Furthermore, it is through the Scriptures that I get to physically meet with Jesus as he too is the Word (John 1:1-18). My plea is that the next time you read your Bible, take a moment to tremble at the fact that God has spoken (Isa 66:1-2), as his words are more sure and more fully confirmed than anything else we could desire.