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The Bible Is Better Than Hearing God Speak Audibly

Written by Mark Vroegop on

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 eyewitnesses of his majesty. 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,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, 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, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit
(2 Pet. 1:16-21).

Taken from the sermon “Reasons We Don’t Believe: The Bible Isn’t Trustworthy” by Mark Vroegop. Read article 1 of the series.

In Peter’s second argument for the trustworthiness of God’s Word, he uses his own experience as the backdrop for a critical comparison between God speaking audibly and the Scriptures themselves.

Peter was an eyewitness to the majesty of Christ. There was a moment when the veil of Jesus’s humanity was lifted. Peter, James, and John saw Jesus as the Son of God. His humanity was eclipsed by his glory. This event is called the transfiguration.

Mark 9 is one place where this is recorded:

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mark 9:2-7).

What moment could have been better than this? What combination of seeing the glory of Christ, meeting with Elijah and Moses, and hearing the Father’s affirmation of his Son could have been more powerful? It is hard to imagine anything that could more fully validate who Jesus was.

Peter saw with his eyes. He heard the voice of God speak. Peter is writing from a historical vantage point of someone who was there on the mountain (2 Pet. 1:18). During his lifetime, skeptics could have asked real people like James and John if the transfiguration really happened. If the record of the Bible wasn’t true, it wouldn’t name so many people with whom others could have fact-checked the story.

He provides this level of detail, not for the purpose of validating the Bible, but rather, as  a set up for another point. He desires for you to be in awe of his personal and historical experience as an eyewitness. However, the punch line is in 2 Peter 1:19:

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, 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 . . . (2 Pet. 1:19).

What does this mean?

By prophetic word, Peter is referring to what was previously written about Jesus, and by implication, all of Scripture. He uses the word, or something similar to it, in verse 19 (“prophetic word”), verse 20 (“prophecy of Scripture”), and in verse 21 (“prophecy”). This word does not just mean things that are predicted by the Bible. The phrase “prophetic word” combined with “prophecy of Scripture” point us to the written word.

But then he says something stunning! This prophetic word is “more fully confirmed” (v. 19). The NASB renders this as “made more sure” and the NIV as “something completely reliable.” He simply says that his eyewitness testimony only confirmed what was already true—the prophetic word, the Word of God. Peter’s personal experience wasn’t more reliable than the Scriptures themselves; his experience served to confirm the trustworthiness of the Scriptures.

This is important because it determines how you view the Bible. There are some of you who might be tempted to think, “If I saw it with my own eyes, it would be much easier to believe.” Others might be tempted to say, “I really can’t believe without seeing it for myself.”

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his family about their eternal jeopardy. But in the parable, Abraham says something very instructive:

But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” And he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent”’ He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:29-31).

Hardness of heart against the Word of God is not cured by a miraculous sign. The Scriptures themselves are sufficient. They are more trustworthy than a voice from heaven or someone returning from the dead. One commentator says it this way, as if he were speaking for Peter:

Listen to me—I was an eyewitness to the saving acts of God in history. And I know that after Christ’s death and resurrection God will have no need to ever again perform these things in the presence of another generation. But remember, this in no way means that your faith is inferior to mine (1:1). We have both been given the prophetic promises of God. We can all read the words written down long ago. They are a more sure light than anything I ever saw and heard. Beloved, my seeing these things is important. Witnesses are essential. But God does not need to appear in the flesh every forty or fifty years to enlighten us and confirm his love to us. Seeing isn’t essential for believing—reading God’s word is.[1]

The Bible is more certain than if we heard God audibly. The Bible is God speaking. It is the Word of God.

Listen to the full sermon “Reasons We Don’t Believe: The Bible Isn’t Trustworthy.

[1] David Helm, 1-2 Peter and Jude – Sharing in Christ’s Sufferings. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 216.

Mark Vroegop

Mark was called as the Lead Pastor of College Park in 2008. In this integral role, he is the primary teaching pastor for the North Indy congregation, and he works alongside the pastors and elders to implement our mission of igniting a passion to follow Jesus. He is a graduate of Cedarville University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (M. Div.). Mark approaches ministry with a unique blend of passion for Jesus, a love for the Word, and a desire to see lives changed. He is a conference speaker, Council Member of The Gospel Coalition, contributor to 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me, and author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament and Weep With Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation. Prior to serving at College Park, Mark served at a church in western Michigan for 13 years. He married his wife, Sarah, in 1993, and they have four children, as well as a daughter in heaven due to an unexpected still-birth in 2004.
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