In my Bible reading, I always love coming back to Peter’s letters. They are not lengthy, and yet they are packed with words of wisdom, of love, of hope, of warning, of courage, and even a couple of mysteries. I absolutely love coming back to them.
The other day, I read this short passage.
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitness of his majesty.
17 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,”
18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…
2Peter 1:16-19, ESV
(emphasis my own)
Peter makes a great case here for his testimony (and that of the others). He says, ‘look, guys, I was there with Jesus; I saw it with my own eyes; I heard it with my own ears!’ Peter didn’t craft a story that would engage followers; he told of his own experiences and what he witnessed firsthand.
As a side note, what do you suppose that was like? If you had heard that voice Peter speaks of, would your first inclination be to say, “Wow! I heard the voice of God!” Mine wouldn’t. My first inclination, I think, would be more like, “Did that just happen?” And listen, Peter was a bit of a doubter himself. He struggled with proclaiming the truth he had witnessed. Remember, this is the man who denied knowing Christ–three times. Yet in spite of his doubt, Peter has now gotten to a point in his life where he is not ashamed to speak of the miraculous things he has been witness to in his experience with Jesus.
And so here we see Peter, giving us three proofs:
- We were there;
- We saw it with our own eyes;
- We heard it with our own ears.
And while I think it is bad form to question another person’s experience, Peter tells us there’s more.
“We have something more sure,” he writes. More sure than being present when Jesus was revealed as the beloved Son of the Father? More sure than seeing it with your eyes? More sure than hearing it with your ears? Yes, Peter says–more sure. What can possibly be more certain than these first-hand experiences?
The word of prophecy.
Now look, I am not about to tell you that something someone once called prophetic about your life is more trustworthy than your own experiences. If someone tells you they have a prophetic word for your life, I would encourage you to listen, then to carefully consider it with prayer, with study, and with the guidance of your pastor. Not everyone who speaks, speaks truth. But not everyone who speaks, speaks untruths, either. But Peter wasn’t talking about prophecy as something he could use as a trump card. He wasn’t going to “prophesy” something just for added weight to his testimony. He was speaking about the prophetic word about the Messiah, about who Jesus is.
I’ve been pondering this for a few days now in light of some things in my life and in the lives of those close to me. There are several things happening lately that have discouraged the hearts of those I love, leaving them with a sense that they’ve misunderstood God’s plans and purposes for their lives. I, myself, had a situation a couple of years back where I was certain I had understood God’s plan, and then I stumbled down a seemingly endless hill like Buttercup throwing herself after a Dread Pirate. I spent months wrestling with God, asking Him how I could have gotten things so wrong.
But this is exactly what Peter is telling us: Experiences can be mistaken and misunderstood and even disbelieved; we have something more certain–the Scriptures.
When life has thrown you for a loop and you find yourself questioning whether you’ve misheard God’s voice, remember the experiences–yes; but more, hold firmly to the prophetic word (the Scriptures), to the revelation of Jesus in the Bible. When your heart and your mind don’t know what’s what anymore, trust in who He says He is. He is more sure than any experience or feeling or inclination to which you can attest.