Monday, September 8, 2008

II Peter 1:4 The Amazing Gift of God’s Word

In II Kings chapter 22, Hezekiah, the king of Judah, made a horrible discovery. He found out that he and his people had not been living according to the word of God. They had sinned and were in a position where they had they been judged they would have all been completely guilty. What makes this situation all the more pitiful is that, for years, the book of the law had been lost in the temple. They didn’t have God’s word so they had to try to figure out for themselves what they should or shouldn’t do. Can you imagine how nerve wracking that would be? We, especially those of us in the United States, take for granted having our bibles. Many of us own more than one copy of the bible. We know what God says and what He wants. Can you imagine having to try to relate to God without His perfectly inspired word to guide you? Other religions have sacred books but none of them are as historically validated or completely consistent as our bible. People that worship gods of wood, rock, or natural phenomenon have to guess what they are supposed to do. God, in His love, has revealed Himself in the pages of scripture. As Peter writes in verse 4 of chapter 1 here in II Peter, we should be thankful and give reverence to the word of God.

God did not have to reveal Himself to us in a book. In doing so, He has blessed in ways that I don’t think we as Christians spend enough time contemplating. By revealing Himself in a book and providing the overwhelming evidence to the reliability of that text, God has made His message changeless and timeless. Truly, the bible is an amazing gift from God. Peter says here in this verse “For by these (His glory and virtue mentioned in the preceding verse) He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises.” God lavishly bestowed on us a tremendous gift in giving the bible to us. Peter reiterates that idea when he says that God “granted to us” His promises which we know are revealed in Holy Scripture. The word translated “granted” is the same word used in verse 3 for “granted”—the Greek word “doreomai” (1433). It has the idea of giving in a lavish sense. Truly, but giving us His word so that we can read and study it God has given us the gift of knowing Him in a powerful way. We now, through the Bible, have a roadmap to follow as we try to walk worthy of the calling to which we were called, as Paul writes in Ephesians.

We should note further that the bible is not just a collection of wise sayings and suggestions about how to live in this world. In fact, Peter says here that God’s declaration to us, the bible, reveals “His…promises”. What amazing assurance that should give us. The same God who created the universe out of His spoken word and prophesied things before they happened because He was sovereign in His control of the universe and would, therefore, bring them to pass has given us promises. Since He has demonstrated Himself to be completely faithful in everything He has ever said, we can trust these promises as completely reliable. The word translated “promises” is the Greek word “eppagelma” (1862) and refers to a promise voluntarily or spontaneously made in contrast to one made in response to a request. In other words, God took the initiative in revealing Himself to mankind and giving us His promises. Now that He has given His promises we know that He will keep them because, as the writer of Hebrews writes, it is impossible for God to lie.
Peter further explains to us the worth of the word of God. He calls these promises of God “precious”. The Greek word used here is “timios” (5093) and it means something that is valuable, highly prized, costly, or desirable. In my humble estimation, this word describes the word of God perfectly. It is an endless treasure of spiritual riches. I once heard a preacher say “You could dig the mine of the Bible all your life and never exhaust its spiritual riches”. Obviously, something as precious as God’s word should motivate us to invest ourselves in it—our time, our intellect, our passion.

Finally, we should observe that Peter describes the supremacy of the word of God. He calls these promises not only precious but also “magnificent” (Greek “megistos” [3176]). This word is the superlative of the Greek word “megas”. In other words, there is nothing higher than God’s precious promises in the bible. The false teachers who were troubling the church that Peter wrote to here said that there were levels of spiritual truth that only they could teach. This special knowledge would lead to a higher level of spirituality. Peter, here, says that the highest and most excellent spiritual knowledge available is in the bible. God revealed it and it is therefore backed by the holy, perfect, changeless character of the God of the universe. Because of this, it is highly valuable and is the highest revelation of truth in existence. Praise God for the glorious gift of His word.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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