Why do we need the written Word of God? For several reasons. Peter wrote, in effect: “One of these days I am going to put off my tabernacle—I’m going to die. One of these days I won’t be able to minister to you anymore. Therefore, I am going to write you a letter so you will remember the truth” (II Pet. 1:13-15). Peter mentioned this problem in verse 12 (“put you always in remembrance”), in verse 13 (“putting you in remembrance”) and again in verse 15 (“to have these things always in remembrance”). If we depended only on word-of-mouth tradition, we would not have a sure Word of god. Peter was saying, in effect, “I am not going to ask you to depend only on your memory. I am going to write this down so you will have a sure word.”
Peter also wrote about his death. He mentioned in verse 14 that he was going to die—“put off this my tabernacle.” In verse 15 he mentioned his “decease.” This is the word “exodus,” the same word that was used at the Transfiguration when Moses and Elijah discussed with Jesus the “exodus” He was going to accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). Peter assured us that the Word of God does not die with the writers. The Word of God is sure. Heaven and earth may pass away, but God’s Word will not pass away. The sure Word of God does not depend on memory or on the life span of believers.
Nor does it depend on visions. The Word of God that we have is more sure that the vision that the disciples say and the voice that they heard. If I were to have some kind of vision, I might misunderstand it, I might not remember it, or I might misinterpret it. If I were to hear a voice, I might miss part of what was said. I hear people saying, “If God would just give me a vision! If only I could hear a voice!” They do not realize how unstable that might be. Satan could give you some kind of a vision. Visions and voices and dreams are not as sure as the Word of God. Peter emphasized the glory of the Scriptures—we have the sure Word. It is fact, not fiction. It is permanent, not passing. It is not some kind of subjective, emotional experience. We have objective truth in the Word of God. The Word of God is eternal. “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89). So do not depend on voices, visions and dreams. Depend only on the sure Word of God.
God’s Word has a second characteristic that makes it glorious: It’s the shining Word of God. It is “a light that shineth in a dark place” (II Pet. 1:19). That word “dark” means “murky” or “squalid”—the picture of a swamp. That is Peter’s description of this world. Spiritually speaking, this world is not a beautiful garden. Nature is beautiful, even though it has been ravished by sin. But spiritually, morally and intellectually, this world is a swamp. We have moral darkness and spiritual darkness, and the only light in this dark world is the Word of God. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105). Jesus Christ is the day star (II Peter 1:19); one of these days He is going to return. The Word of God gives us light in the darkness.
No matter what the news may be that you receive from the media, no matter what personal news has upset you, if you turn to the Word of God, you will find light in the darkness.
Peter emphasized the glory of the Scriptures. The Bible is the sure Word of God, it is the shining Word of God, and it is the Spirit-given Word of God. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost [Spirit]” (v. 21). The Bible was not invented by the men who wrote its pages. Peter made this very clear when he said, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables” (v. 16). The disciples did not get together and manufacture this book that we call the Bible. This Book came from the Holy Spirit. And since the Holy Spirit gave the Word, only the Holy Spirit can interpret the Word. That is what Peter meant by no “private interpretation” (v. 20)—you must not interpret the Word of God apart from the Holy Spirit of God.
It is marvelous that you and I, as Christians, have the Holy Spirit living within us to enlighten our minds, to enable our wills and to encourage our hearts as we read the Word of God. It is as though Peter said, “When I remember the Transfiguration, I think of the glory of the Scriptures—it is the sure Word of God, it is the shining Word of God, it is the Spirit-given Word of God.” The Transfiguration was actually a demonstration of the future kingdom when Jesus shall reign in His glory. Moses, who died, was a representative of all believers who have died. Elijah, who did not die, was raptured—taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. And the Lord Jesus in glory shares that glory with believers.
Jesus promised His disciples in Matthew 16:28, “Some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (NIV). Will there be a literal kingdom on earth? Yes, and Jesus pictured it in the Transfiguration. How do we know there is going to be a literal kingdom on earth? Because the Scriptures—the sure Word, the shining Word, the Spirit-given Word of God—tell us so.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).