by Randy Bushey
…which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).
In his final New Testament letter before martyrdom, Peter was deeply troubled. He recognized clearly the looming threat to the nascent church of Christ.
It had been only 3+ decades since the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The New Testament scriptures were being written by the apostles and circulated by Christ-followers. Already there was a Christian presence in every major town in Israel, and in many cities of the Mediterranean world.
The fledgling church was about to be shocked and deeply grieved by the imminent deaths at the hand of Nero, of the great apostles: Peter (crucified upside down) and Paul (beheaded).
But in his final months, Peter observed unmistakeable warning signs clouding the horizon: the Scripture – and the Gospel itself – was being tampered with.
The distortion of the written Word – some Bible versions use the synonyms twist, misinterpret, pervert in verse 16 above – was the intentional work of those who were hostile to the Gospel, and therefore enemies of Almighty God.
And this distortion that began in the 1st century has gained runaway-train momentum in the 21st, so that if Peter was observing today, he would lament the pervasive plague of intentional distortion and perversion of the Bible.
The eternal message is being twisted – watered down, made politically correct, rendered non-offensive to contemporary sensibilities, or ignored – with a vengeance.
When so-called theological authorities deliberately alter the clear teaching of God’s Word, there are often 3 root reasons:
1)the Scripture is viewed as unpermissive, in that it speaks unwaveringly on issues of morality. However, in contemporary thinking, this is held to be unnecessarily and inconveniently restrictive, particularly in a sexually permissive culture.
2)the teaching of the Word of God is often seen by church leaders as being unpopular, out of step with contemporary – mistakenly thought to be progressive – thinking.
3)and consequently, the teaching of the Bible is seen to be unpalatable with the shifting and evolving – and rapidly evaporating – theological appetite of the few people who are left seated in the pews.
So it is distorted. Twisted. Intentionally misinterpreted. Perverted.
A bald and cosmically offensive challenge to God’s sovereign authority.
Broad brush-strokes of higher criticism and biblical vandalism, painting a canvas of dismissive deception.
However, God’s Word remains true even if human authorities reinterpret it, or water it down. It remains real, authentic, genuine and firm, even when trivialized as anachronistic.
Biblical truth is solid and binding. By definition, it is exclusive in that it is limited to that which aligns with what is real, emphatically excluding that which is not.
And sacred truth is never self-contradictory. It is conclusive and unconditional, because right is always right. Consequently, Scriptural truth is immutable.
The Bible proclaims not what I want the principal to be; neither does it declare based on feelings or opinion polls. It is not what the majority have decided; not what everyone is doing; and not even how things appear to be.
The Gospel never seeks to be permissive, palatable, or popular.
The Bible declares the way things really are.
His Word is truth.
Takeaway: When the Apostle Paul reminded his son in the faith that all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), he was asserting that biblical authority comes from within God Himself.
Because all truth is God’s truth, we can confidently take our stand on the Word of God and live out the Gospel, even though we find ourselves increasingly swimming against the swelling current of contemporary opposition.
The light shines brightest when the darkness is most intense.
~graphic by freeimages.com, Victoria Hererra