1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:1–2, NKJV).
We need reminders. Calendars help us remember the day and its events. From a string around the finger, post-it notes, or an alarm clock, we need help remembering important events. God knows this, too. He inspired Peter and others to write letters that stimulate our understanding and remind us of the will of God. We “gird up the loins of (our) minds” as we remember the truth we know and in which we are established (1 Pet. 1:13; 2 Pet. 1:12-13). We must not forget the words spoken by the holy prophets. Their words were from God (1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). We must remember the commands of the apostles of Christ because they constitute the Savior’s will (1 Cor. 14:37). The pure (sincere) mind knows and remembers the inspired words from God. By learning and being grounded in the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles of Christ, we are equipped to (1) Identify and avoid false doctrine (2 Pet. 3:3-9), (2) Look forward to the day of the Lord in holiness and hope (2 Pet. 3:10-14), (3) Consider God’s longsuffering as securing our salvation, not abandoning us to the world (2 Pet. 3:15, 9, 3-4), (4) Handle God’s word properly to avoid falling into destruction (2 Pet. 3:16-17), and (5) Grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). The Scriptures stir up fervent faith as we remember them. Let us not forget God’s word nor scoff at its truth (2 Pet. 3:3-5).
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13, NKJV)
Peter and John were not educated at the feet of the experts of the law. They were “uneducated and untrained” fishermen from Galilee. Their speech was enough to betray that fact (Matthew 26:73). Yet, their boldness to speak truth to power caused the rulers of Israel to marvel (Acts 4:5-12). Then they realized that Peter and John had been with Jesus. Just as Jesus had promised them, their words were given to them by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:17-20; Acts 1:8). Now we have that very same inspired word that they preached. The Holy Scriptures have been breathed out by God as a record of His truth that teaches, reproves, corrects and instructs us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Above all else, we must be educated and trained in the Scriptures – not by the lettered men of the day. We must know that very word the apostles preached, so that our faith will not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Learn the Scriptures. Live the Scriptures. If you will, then you will be with Jesus, too (John 8:31-32; 14:21-24).
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (Ephesians 4:11, NKJV)
After Christ defeated sin at the cross, and death by His resurrection, He ascended to heaven, sat down at the right hand of God, and “gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:7-10). These gifts are enumerated for us in verse 11. These gifts, both inspired (apostles and prophet) and uninspired (evangelists, pastors, teachers), constitute 1) the revelation of the gospel of Christ from heaven to earth, and 2) its proclamation to the whole world. Inspired men received revelation from God, and with confirming miracles, by inspiration they “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 2:3-4; 2 Peter 1:21). Evangelists preach the same word of God (2 Timothy 4:2-5). Pastors “tend the flock” among them, feeding the local church the same word (1 Peter 5:1-2; Acts 14:23; 20:28). Faithful teachers teach the same word to others (2 Timothy 2:2). If we fail to value Bible teaching and learning, we fail to honor and benefit from these gifts Christ which Christ gave the world; gifts that are for our salvation, our spiritual strength, our service and our unity as we grow in Christ. Tomorrow, we will explore the reasons for these gifts, as we consider Ephesians 4:12-13.
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13, NKJV)
Far too many who declare the Bible to be the word of God, say the apostolic letters are just their opinions. This was not at all the attitude and reaction given the words of the apostle Paul when he preached in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4). The apostle Paul was thankful the Thessalonians had received his preaching as the true word of God. The word preached by the apostles are in fact, “the word of God,” the truth of the Almighty. It is that very word that works powerfully in believers to save and to transform lives (Romans 12:1-2). The New Testament is not a record of human opinions, it is the very word of God. We must believe, respect and obey the teachings of Christ’s apostles, or God’s word will not work in our lives. To minimize the apostolic writings as merely their opinions belies a failure to distinguish between the uninspired words of men, and the inspired, authoritative, powerful word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).