Knowing this first of all, 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 Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21
As Peter is writing this book, he is about to die (2 Peter 1:14) so this is his final words from a life of following Jesus. If you remember from the Gospels, Peter was this bold bumbler that was brought in as a disciple early on by Jesus. After the shame of denying Jesus, Jesus restored Peter and gave him a prominent position as an evangelist in the early church. Peter said in 2 Peter 1:16 that he did not follow cleverly devised myths, which is exactly what some people view the Bible as being. He was an eye witness of Jesus and His majesty. In 2 Peter 2:1 Peter warned of false prophets and false teachers that would secretly bring in destructive heresies. And in 2 Peter 3:15 he talked of how they twist Scripture, to their own destruction.
What was written in the Bible is not cleverly devised myths, nor should it be twisted or interpreted according to one’s own personal whims. That means we cannot take and twist the words of the Bible to conveniently suit whatever personal theology or position on God that we want.
The books of the Bible were written by 40 different men, over a span of almost 1500 years. Many of the writers did not know each other, but yet what they wrote about does not contradict or negate each other. Peter here is talking about words of prophecy, which are words about what Jesus was going to come and do from the Old Testament, what He did, as written in the New Testament, and what He is going to do when He returns, which is woven throughout the Bible.
God used these men’s personalities, but He told them what to write through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Peter wrote in his writing style and from his own vantage point in history, but God told him what to write. 2 Timothy 3:16 informs us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” The Bible is God’s breath, His words, His authoritative commands.
With that in mind, here are some principles in approaching the Bible:
- There is a true meaning to the words of the Bible, and there are false meanings. We must submit our minds to the discipline of finding out what the true meaning is, rather than presuming that whatever pops into our minds or suits our lifestyle is the true meaning.
- The Bible is not our story, but it is God’s story. God is telling us a complete story of who He is, who we are, what sin is and how, in His perfect plan, He prepared a people (Israel/the Jews) to produce a Savior. That Savior is Jesus, who is perfect God come down in the form of a man to die on the cross for our sins. One day He will return and establish His kingdom, and only those who put their trust in Him will be there. Get to know that story by reading the Bible from beginning to end over and over. Don’t just look for random verses that produce a good feeling for today. We fit into God’s story and plan, not the other way around. So often people want their own “personal” God that helps them to find good parking spots or to get them out of jams.
- God’s words are authoritative for our lives. That means we can’t pick or choose, taking only the promises and leaving out the commands. His words are difficult and radical, and sometimes hard to understand. Don’t water them down, or skip parts. So often I hear people say, “My God isn’t like that.” If the Bible says that God is a jealous God, for instance, then that’s what He is and we ought not to put anything ahead of Him in our heart’s passions.
- The Bible demands our obedience and humility. Since it is the very words of God, we must obey God’s directives. In order to submit to the Lordship of Jesus and the authority of His words, we need a humble spirit that causes us to say “no” to our flesh and its desires and to say “yes” to God’s leading in our lives.
- Don’t be like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, who He rebuked in John 5:39-40: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life.” Some people can be experts in the Bible, but yet they refuse to come to Jesus. The Bible is about Jesus, and eternal life is found in Him.
There are many more principles to approaching the Bible, but this is a start. May you grow in your love of the Bible and of the God who wrote it. And may its very words get under your skin and change your life!
*image from Christianity.com