As the apostle Peter begins to finish up his second letter to the church, he says, “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles” (3:1-2).
Peter wants his readers to be ready for those that would stand against them by remembering the predictions made about them by the prophets and the apostles. Why does he want them to remember these things? Because he wants to stir them up to action. His goal is to motivate them to be faithful in the face of the threat they’re facing. And the means by which he wants to motivate them is the Scriptures. He says remember the truths of the God’s word that you’ve heard; remember it and be stirred up by it.
Two things are said after this which make this a more than average call to read Scripture. First, at the end of the chapter when Peter is giving his final greetings, he says: “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand” (3:14-16).
Peter is telling his readers to also read Paul’s letters even if parts of them are hard to understand. Ever have a problem understanding something Paul said? That’s okay because the apostle Peter did too! But here’s the point: Peter says, “Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (3:14-17). Did you see what he said? Peter calls the letters of Paul Scripture. They are on par with the Old Testament in his mind. Here is part of the reason we can have confidence in all of the Bible, that it’s all of the word of God. Most Christians implicitly accept the whole Bible as God’s Word but here is part of the reason why they have legitimacy in doing so.
But this also brings up the second important point. It begins with this question: why aren’t we stirred by Scripture as we should? When you read through the Bible, cover-to-cover, it’s amazing to see how one of the consistent themes is the importance of God’s word in the life of God’s people. From the word that is twisted by Satan, to the word given that brings about a nation to bless all others to kings who must record the word for themselves to the word which makes men and women weep at their disobedience to the Word that becomes flesh and dwells among us, the word of God is essential to God’s people. And there are still people out there—men, women, pastors, and (extra)ordinary believers—who love the Bible and soak their lives in it. But as a whole, we’ve moved away from our spiritual forefathers when it comes to loving God’s word. Maybe it’s because we have so many translations or so many copies of the Bible at our hands? It’s hard to say why exactly, but it seems to have lost the luster it once had for us. We often confess the inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of God’s word. But we deny it by never actually reading it, thinking about it, speaking it, or depending on it in our daily lives.
Many, I think, complain that it’s a book and many simply do not read books anymore. But give God some credit. He could have waited until the television was invented. He could have used movies or dvd’s if he wanted. But he didn’t. He chose to use language and word and sentences. He spoke and directed men to write it down in a book; a book to be read, and meditated on, and memorized.
And here, we finally come to the second point: we should read the book even if it’s difficult to understand. Isn’t that what Peter says? “Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand.” Implicitly, Peter is saying Paul is right in what he says and there is value in listening to him, even when it’s difficult. Sometimes the Bible will not yield its treasure to easily, but that doesn’t mean we should work hard at mining it out. The word is the sword which the Spirit wields, but how she he wield it if we never pick it up? How shall we understand if we never read it? How shall we ward off temptation like Jesus did if we never memorize it?
Peter says, if we want to be faithful to Christ until the end of our days, then we must go to God’s word and have our minds stirred by the truth we find there. So, what’s stopping us?