When working through a book of the Bible there are some passages you might want to blaze right though. But as we look around us it is easy to see that what Peter warned the church leaders of 2000 years ago we are seeing in full force today. Nothing has changed in the heart of man. Only the truth of Christ makes the difference. Let us be people who are wholly of His Word and not pay heed to the voices of anything less.
“But these [false prophets], like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you,” (2 Peter 2:12–13, NASB95)
This passage is not politically correct, nor is it the best way to enter a conversation with someone in opposition. But Peter makes the comparison concerning those false teachers who live to indulge their desires. These false prophets and those who revel with them are so intent on seeking their own way and their own pleasure that they are blind to the dangers that surround them. Those who promote agendas contrary to God’s will and His Word do so like animals who without reason race to their own destruction.
They revel in their license and they tear down those who stand for right. To clear the way for their own cause, they revile those who point out their wrong. These men, living without a standard of truth, put down any who take a firm stand for the truth of God’s Word. Jude wrote of them, “But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.” (Jude 10, NASB95) God’s Word makes it very clear that these false prophets will incur His judgment for what they have done, and He will not be slack in doing so. He will justly deal with them as the only true and righteous judge. What they glory in today will be their standard for judgment. Living according to their unbridled passions will end with them incurring the fully bridled wrath of God.
These men who live in defiance of God will incur the judgment of God. “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:17–19, NASB95) This is the message of the gospel, but these false teachers’ actions and words declare something quite different. The way they live is not consistent with the ways of Christ, and the words they speak point in a different direction. And, as we’ve seen in the previous verses, they attract the ears of many others and lead them astray to their own destruction.
In an elder meeting earlier today we discussed how churches handle God’s Word or what is termed “hermeneutics.” Biblical Hermeneutics is the study of the principles and methods of interpreting the Bible. This is not something left to seminary students and pastors alone. Using sound study principles is important for all believers. The Bible tells us that each one of is us to be a good steward of the Word of God and that we are to handle it properly. This is something that we are to teach our children when they are young as is common in programs such as AWANA whose theme verse is 2 Timothy 2:15. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, NASB95) And, it is something that we are to practice when we get old.
Essential to a sound hermeneutic is a sound approach to the principles of study. A sample statement in support of such an approach is found in the identitiy document of an association in which my home church is a part. It reads: “We believe the Bible is God’s absolute, objective truth for all people for all times. It is without error in concept or detail in the original writings. It is breathed out in its entirety by God, divinely preserved, and, therefore, trustworthy. We believe the Holy Spirit superintended human authors so that, through their individual personalities and literary styles, they composed and recorded God’s Word. It is God’s written revelation complete in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. It is the supreme authority in all matters to which it speaks and is sufficient for life, conduct, and practice – understandable by every believer. We believe Scripture must be understood through the literal, contextual, grammatical, and historical method of interpretation, and applied under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” (Conservative Baptist Northwest Identity Document)
Let’s take a look at the last sentence and the elements that play into this hermeneutic. First, the Bible is literal. Contrast this to the position I found on the web site of one church where I read, “encourages thoughtful inquiry; takes the Bible seriously, but not literally.” There is a huge difference between a church that holds the Word of God to be the literal Word of God and one that views it as an advisory, but not authoritative commentary on life. One recognizes God as the author of truth from which man learns and lives, while the other thinks it is a good book that is to be blended and even subjected to other thoughts and concerns of life. The Bible does not leave this door open to man, though false prophets and liberal theologians have declared otherwise. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (2 Timothy 3:16, NASB95)
The Word of God is contextual. Every passage of the Bible is written in the context of other passages and is consistent with the whole. It is very easy to take things out of context, but a proper study of the Word of God requires that it be studied in the fullness of its context. And to properly understand context we also have to recognize that the Word of God is grammatical. There are rules of grammar, and these rules are to be taken into account in the study of the Bible. The language of the Bible is not to be twisted to suit one’s own end. Words have meaning, and sentences and paragraphs have structure that reinforce that meaning. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (2 Timothy 3:16, NASB95)
Lastly, the Word of God is historical, not cultural. The events of the Bible are historical. These authors lived in a historical setting, and having an understanding of that setting, the people and even the culture is helpful for a better understanding of the Word. But the Bible is not changeable relevant to culture. God’s Word endures forever. Its authoritative truth does not change according to the changing times. It is not a fluid document that can be altered according to the life choices of man, but it is a document that is alive and powerful in its enduring and unchanging truth and ability to expose the lies. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:12–13, NASB95)
“But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:25, NASB95) The contrast is clear. The Word of God is what Peter had preached. It is the enduring Word that we have today. In it is God’s honest truth. These false prophets, who are racing to their own destruction, despise the truth and will suffer the consequence of their lies. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:7–9, NASB95) Unlike these false prophets who revel in their lies, we are called by God to hide His Word in our hearts and revel in His enduring truth.