Most of us long for miracles. And Jesus’ perfect life, death on sinners’ behalf as the fulfillment of Passover, and His physical resurrection prove that He is willing and able to meet our greatest needs: complete forgiveness and a new heart to follow Him as our living King. But even in the Bible, most of the journey with Jesus is lived in the moments between miracles. In this 50-day series, we’ll consider some of those moments leading up to the next great miracle in the New Testament: the fulfillment of Pentecost and the incredible growth of the Church.
John 21:20-23 is a perfect example of how easily rumors can spread, even among God’s people. The Lord and Peter were in a face-to-face conversation with other disciples nearby, and somebody down the line still twisted what He said. I’m guessing that it might’ve been even easier to perpetuate the rumor when John was exiled to the island of Patmos. Afterall, there probably wasn’t very much two-way traffic or communication coming from there. With John out of sight, others could’ve made up their own minds as to what would happen to him.
All of the Lord’s true followers want to know Him more intimately and clearly, and spending time reading and studying His Word is a standard of our spiritual diet. Some parts of His Word can be difficult to understand, though. Even the Apostle Peter said that. (2 Peter 3:16) That just makes it even more important that we don’t spread or even listen to falsehoods about His Word.
Here are a few principles on how to be confident of what God’s Truth.
- Look for Jesus’ teachings in clear language. The poetry, prophecies, and parables certainly teach truths, but they’re best interpreted in their context, with parallel passages on the same event or subject, and – whenever possible – by God’s personal interpretation of what they mean.
- Know God’s clear and repeated commands, promises, etc. of themes. If the Lord commands or promises something even once, we can trust Him. But if He repeats it many times, we may be even clearer on His specific meaning.
- Read the teachings of those whom Scripture shows to be inspired by God to speak for Him. Exodus 3-4, Deuteronomy 13, Act 14:3, and other passages remind us that God publically marked His spokesmen by signs of miracles and teaching consistent with His previously proven Word.
- Remember that not everything in God’s Word is equally clear. Some things may be clearer to some individuals than to others because of their different levels of teaching or spiritual maturity. Consider passages like 2 Kings 22:8ff, Matthew 22:29, Acts 18:26, Philippians 3:15, Hebrews 5:11-14, etc.)
- Go to godly people today who are proven as dedicated to His Word in study and practice (1 Timothy 4, 2 Timothy 2:14-26, Titus 1:5-9, etc.). We must not put our final faith in their teaching, but a godly teacher will point you to God’s Word and help you walk through Scripture for your understanding.
- Lastly, remember, too, that some things in God’s Word have not yet been clearly revealed for our understanding. Certainly, many of the symbolic descriptions of prophecies of end times may not be clear until they are upon us. For example, even the Lord Jesus said He does not know the time of His return. (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32)
If the Lord wants all of His people to do something or believe something because it is vital to His glory and our service and joy in Him, He has made it clear. If He’s not made it clear, we should hesitate to talk about it as Truth.
I hope today’s thought and others in this series will be helpful to you as you journey with Jesus in the moments between miracles.