When I was preparing for a study a few weeks ago I came across 2 Peter 2:16-21. In this passage Peter refers back to the experience he, James and John had when Jesus was transfigured before them (Matt 17:1-13).
Peter recounts what he saw: “… we were eye witnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”
Peter, James and John saw Jesus Christ in his glory. In the incarnation of Christ his glory was one of the few things he laid aside when he came to earth (more on this in an upcoming post), it was the aspect of God that none of the Pharisees had seen in Jesus. However, Peter, James and John did see it. Jesus revealed his glory to these three disciples exclusively.
What these three saw was not a vision, but an actual reality. They actually saw Jesus changed in front of them and talking to Moses and Elijah.
However, in spite of the fact that they had seen this amazing transformation and Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus, Peter goes on to say “we have something more sure”.
What could be more sure than what Peter had seen and heard? Peter was of course referring to the prophetic word – that is the word of God – scripture (2 Pet 1:19)
Why would Peter have more confidence in scripture than his own experience? We get a hint in 2 Pet 1:20 where he says that “no prophecy of scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation”. The implication is that our own experience is subject to us placing our own interpretation on the situation.
If we as humans get the idea that something that happened to us happened for a particular reason or to convey a particular purpose, we often find ourselves looking into and around the situation for further confirmation, and at this point we often read things as “signs” when in reality it was no such thing. All our own experiences are subject to our own interpretation.
You often see this when listening to people talking about a discussion they had with someone. We’ve all heard someone say that someone must have thought xyz about something. However, often the person who’s thoughts are assumed had no such idea in their head, but the circumstances and conversation were interpreted by the person relaying the conversation to you.
Secondly Peter says that “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”. It is God who writes scripture through man, eliminating mans own interpretation and his own desires and leaving just the word of God.
Often today we hear of people who have visions and to whom God speaks telling them all sorts of things. However even Peter was clear that his experience had to line up with the word of God – as the word of God is more sure than our experience, regardless of how great or glorious our experience is.
This is a great settler of the mind. We don’t need to be blown about by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14) and the experiences of man, all we need to do is understand the Bible. Here we have yet another good reason why frequent (and I’d say daily) reading of the Bible is a critical habit for every believer to engage in. How else would you know what is right and what is not?