June 2002, Volume IX,
More Sure Word (1)
Last time we saw that the Bible is God’s mighty sledgehammer
which He uses to shatter the rock in pieces (Jer. 23:29). Over the next few
months we shall consider some of the qualities of the Holy Scriptures from the
book of II Peter.
In II Peter 1:16-18, Peter writes about Christ’s
transfiguration. The effulgence of Christ’s face and garments speak of the
"majesty" (16) and "honour and glory" (17) that is His as the incarnate Son of
God (cf. 17). This majesty, honour and glory shall also be manifest at Christ’s
second "coming" (16).
Peter tells us that he was an eyewitness (16) of Christ’s
transfiguration. He saw Christ being transfigured with His own eyes (16-17). He
heard, with his own ears, the voice from the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved
Son in whom I am well pleased" (17). Peter was a credible witness. He had
preached of Christ’s glory for thirty or so years and was willing to die in this
There are only two options. Either Peter (and Matthew, Mark
and Luke who record Christ’s transfiguration in their gospel accounts) made the
story up simply in order to magnify Jesus—and then the scoffers whom Peter was
opposing were right, the transfiguration is only a "cunningly devised" fable
(16)—or Peter is telling the truth. By the Holy Spirit, we receive Peter’s
eyewitness testimony as trustworthy and sure.
But, writes Peter, "We have also a more sure word of
prophecy" (19). Peter’s eyewitness account is sure, but there is another
testimony which is even more sure. This is the "word of prophecy" (19) or
"scripture" (20), namely the Old Testament, especially, in this context, as it
prophesies Christ’s glorious second coming.
How is it that the Old Testament is more sure than Peter’s
witness of Christ’s glory at His transfiguration? Perhaps there were some who
might still have had some doubts regarding Peter’s memory, for example, that
there was some detail which he had forgotten or recalled incorrectly. On the
other hand, there are absolutely no possible mistakes in Scripture. Scripture
was infallibly written by men borne along by the Holy Spirit (21), so the very
idea that it could err is to be abominated. Therefore no matter how sure Peter’s
recollection was—and since it was recorded in the Bible it must have been
completely accurate!—the Scriptures are even more sure. If Peter wanted to
consider Christ’s glory, he could recall that day on the holy mount or he could
turn to the law and the prophets. For Peter, although he trusted his
recollection of that wonderful day, the Scriptures were even more sure. We need
this hearty confidence in the Scriptures too, as we shall see next time. Rev.
Seeking The Unity Of The Church (2)
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye
walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and
meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to
keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3).
We began a discussion of this passage of God’s Word in the
last News. At that time we stressed the urgency of this admonition of the Word
of God. It is an urgency that ought to make an impression upon each one of us,
so that we are driven by the command of the Lord Himself, who is the Head of His
church, to obey.
We also noted that the unity of which the apostle speaks is a
unity of the church as it comes to manifestation in the world in congregations
and denominations. That places upon each one who claims to be a member of the
church of Christ a responsibility to heed this word of Christ within the
congregation and/or denomination of which he or she is a member.
The unity of the church is not something which we create
ourselves. It is a unity which is created by Christ, the Head of the church,
through His Spirit. Hence, this unity is called in the text "the unity of the
Spirit;" i.e., the unity which the Spirit has given to the church.
This truth that unity is a gift of Christ Himself is further
emphasized in the text by the words "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye
are called." Christ creates, through His Spirit, this unity by His efficacious
call. The efficacious call comes through the gospel, and is worked in the hearts
of the elect by the Holy Spirit. The power of the gospel call is in the work of
the Spirit, who calls sovereignly and irresistibly out of the darkness of sin
and death into fellowship with Christ. We, Paul says, have been called into that
fellowship of the saints with Christ. We must now walk worthy of that calling.
That unity of the church which the Spirit graciously works
within the hearts of the elect is the unity of Christ Himself. Concretely, that
means, as Paul goes on to say in the verses that follow, that Christ as the Head
of the church, is also the mind and the will of the body, for the mind and will
are in the head.
The mind of Christ is revealed in the Scriptures. It is
called "the unity of the faith" (5, 13) and "of the knowledge of the Son of God"
(13). Because this unity is that of the truth as it is in Christ, it is
important that we "be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about
with every wind of doctrine" (14). It is a unity of one confession of the truth.
The principle error of modern ecumenism is that it seeks a
unity other than a unity in the truth. In its vain and wicked pursuit of mere
outward unity (as the Roman church possesses) it strives for the lowest common
denominator of doctrine so that many diverse doctrines and various forms of
unbelief may be united under one ecclesiastical roof. Such is not the unity of
This unity is also a unity of Christ’s will. That is,
Christ’s will is the norm for all the life of God’s people. They are one in that
they walk together in obedience to Christ, as servants of Christ, bowing in
humble service to His will and confessing His name in a world of sin and
But since this unity is the unity of the mind of Christ, it
is also a unity of humility. Paul speaks of this in Philippians 2:3-4: "Let
nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each
esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but
every man also on the things of others." And then that verse that comes
battering at our hearts: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ
Jesus ..." (5). What mind was in Christ Jesus? It is described in what follows
in the most powerful passage in all Scripture which describes our Lord’s
humiliation. Read it and weep.
That unity is given as a gift. It is a costly gift, purchased
with the blood of the Son of God. It is a gift graciously given, for we have
done nothing at all to deserve it. It is a gift which is a treasure of more
worth and value than any earthly possession. It is a gift which, while we
possess it already in this life, will be ours forever and ever, world without
end, for it will endure into eternity. It is a gift which, when it is present in
the church, makes life in the church happy and blessed; but when it is not
present in the church, brings misery, grief, suffering and distress.
We are, says, the apostle to endeavour to keep that unity.
Not to create it! To keep it! To keep what has been given us. It is a pearl of
great price. It is a treasure worth more than diamonds. It is simply given to us
as God’s gift of grace.
Keep it! Do not squander it. Do not let it slip through your
fingers. Do not be indifferent towards it. Do not let others snatch it from your
grasp. Treasure it! Consider its worth and value! Esteem it highly! Protect it!
As if to underscore this the apostle adds: "Endeavour to keep
the unity of the Spirit." We must say a word or two about that as well. But that
shall wait until next time. Prof. Hanko
The Salvation of Adam & Eve
One of our readers asks, "Were Adam and Eve saved by the
grace of God?" This question has two parts. First, were Adam and Eve saved?
Second, how were they saved?
First, we can say that Eve was saved. God said to the
serpent, who is Satan (Rev. 12:9), "I will put enmity between thee and the
woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou
shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:15). The "woman" is Eve (cf. 3:1-2, 4, 6, 12-13,
16). Through the Fall, Adam and Eve allied themselves with Satan and joined him
in his hatred against God. When God put enmity between Satan and the "woman,"
Eve, He was restoring the covenant friendship which He had with her before the
Fall. Viewed in this light, the "coats of skins" (3:21), which the Lord made and
with which He clothed her, speak of the garments of salvation, as the church has
traditionally taught. It comes as no surprise that Eve confesses that the sons
she later bares came to her from the hand of the Almighty (4:1, 25). Thus God’s
coming to find Eve (3:8ff.) speaks of His graciously coming to seek and to save
that which was lost (cf. Luke 19:10). Clearly, Eve was saved.
Second, not only Eve but also Adam was saved. Eve is
prominent in acknowledging that God gave her the birth of Cain and Seth (Gen.
4:1, 25), but are we to think that Adam played no role in naming his sons and
thus in confessing Jehovah as the God who gives life? Similarly, God clothed not
only Eve but also Adam in those "coats of skins" (3:21) which betoken salvation.
Furthermore, God came not only to Eve but also to Adam to show them their sin
and misery that He might deliver them (3:8ff.).
But if Adam and Eve were saved, we must next ask how they
were saved. They certainly were not saved by their own "free will" or their own
efforts. When God came to save them, they hid from God (3:8) and made excuses
for their sins (3:12-13). It was God, and not themselves, who saved them. God
said, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman" (3:15). Adam and Eve had no
power or will to break free from Satan’s dominion. Only God could and only God
did deliver them. But not only was their salvation wholly of God; it was also
wholly of grace. Our first parents had disobeyed God’s command and had eaten of
the forbidden fruit. They believed the devil and disbelieved the true and living
God who had made them and who had entered into fellowship with them. Thus their
salvation could only be by the sovereign mercy and gift of God. And since their
salvation was wholly of grace, then it must also be of faith (Eph. 2:8). Adam
and Eve were given faith by God to believe in the coming seed of the woman,
Christ, who would bruise Satan’s head on the cross. And we, and all of God’s
people in all ages, are saved in the same way as our first parents. Rev.
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