Sometimes reading scriptures simply opens a new vision of something we’ve read before. Puts new light on a subject. We’re studying in Ephesians in Sunday School. This week we’re in the first chapter, verses four through six. There are some very deeply divisive doctrinal issues in these three verses, which sent me to 2 Peter.
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. [2 Peter 3:15-17 KJV]
I’ve written before on the phrase some things hard to be understood, but this time I was caught by As also in all his epistles. I realized that Peter and I read the same epistles. Of course I knew this! But at the same time I didn’t think about Peter sitting in a service hearing Paul’s words read aloud – or leading a service, doing the reading.
Can you picture that? Or, Paul being in a group where he received Peter’s second letter for the first time? These men had the same message, the same gospel, to deliver to people, but some of it was harder than others.
Such differences have let to schisms within churches, leading to so many different denominations and doctrinal differences of today. We know these divisions were not created by God.
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. [1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV]
Paul faced the situation openly as he proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? [1 Corinthians 1:12-13 KJV]
It is hard to be confronted with questions regarding the source of our beliefs. Do we look to the Bible as God’s word, studying it ourselves in prayer, seeking God’s will in our lives, or do we accept another’s interpretation, tradition or the writings of men to tell us what God says?
I expect the sermons my pastor gives to come from God’s word. He may quote another’s writings, but it cannot contradict what is in the Bible and be true. His sermon’s will not take a single verse or even short passage and interpret it to be different from other passages. God is not the author of confusion.
We do know who is very good at taking scripture and turning into something not meant to be. A couple of examples are given to us in Genesis 3:1, and in Matthew 4:6. In Acts 15 we sit in on a discussion among church leaders, reading input from Peter, Paul, Barnabas, James and they come to the conclusion that God is available to all men. Why? God is the same, forever.
Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. [Acts 15:18 KJV]
There are more thoughts I garnered from this study – more devotionals in the next few days.