A Sure Thing

A Sure Thing

E. Schuyler English

We have a more sure word of prophecy, wherunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto alight that shineth in a dark place (2 Peter 1:19).

A puzzled reader asks if, in order to become a Christian, it is necessary to study Bible prophecy. The answer is a positive negative—no. Salvation is received by divine grace through personal faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and redeemer—plus nothing (Eph. 2:8-9). “By Him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). To suppose that anything in addition to faith in Christ is essential to salvation suggests a low evaluation of His finished work of redemption. There is another question, however, that may be asked with propriety, namely: Is acquaintance with the prophetic Scriptures essential to spiritual growth and a close walk with God? The answer to this query is in the affirmative—a distinct yes.

1. The Spirit of truth unveils certain future things. The Holy Spirit, who was given to the Church as a guide into all truth, throws light on things to come (Jn. 16:13) and brings to remembrance all that Jesus said (Jn. 14:26). A considerable portion of what Jesus taught pertains to future phenomena, including the progress of this present age. His sure return to earth, and matters related to the ages to come, indeed to eternity itself.

2. Old Testament prophets frequently gazed ahead. God’s servants of old predicted many things about Messiah’s first advent, emphasizing that His death would satisfy God as the penalty for the sins of the world. It was not only the suffering of Christ that they foretold, however, but also “the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:11), that is, things relating to His second advent and enthronement.

3. The study of Bible prophecy is instructive and beneficial. It is like “a light that shineth in a dark place.” Believers are told that they would do well to take heed, in their hearts as well as in their thoughts, to the prophetic word till the Lord comes again, “until the day dawn, and the day star arise.”

4. The word of prophecy is sure. Bible prophecies are not figments of someone’s imagination. Prophecy is not a system of mysteries devised by a particular theological school so as to whet people’s appetites for the study of Scripture. Such sources cannot be said to be certain. God alone can foresee and foretell the future with precision. His Word alone can be called a “sure word of prophecy.”

Why does Peter speak of “a more sure word”? What could be more certain than that which “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21)? A better translation of verse 19 would be, We have the word of prophecy made more sure.” The apostle is saying that the predictions of the O.T. prophets regarding the coming of the Messiah in power and great glory are not cunningly devised fables. On the mount of transfiguration Peter actually witnessed a preview of that shining and glorious event foretold by the prophets. It was a confirmation of their predictions and at the same time a foreshadowing of things to come.

Even with the Holy Spirit to guide our tour of the prophetic word we cannot learn all about it in an instant or even in many years. Now we see through a glass darkly, now we know in part. But what we see and what we know is “sure,” for although heaven and earth pass away, the Word of the Lord will abide forever.

The sure word of prophecy teaches glorious things—e.g. about a reign of righteousness and peace on earth under the Lord Jesus Christ, His vindication and glorification, the final destruction of the forces of evil and the triumph of God and His beneficent program, and about a new heaven and a new earth. Because of this word we look forward to the blessed hope of the Church, when Jesus Christ will take His beloved people to Himself and will reward them. By taking heed to the sure word of prophecy we draw closer to Christ, comfort one another along the way, and bring glory to our Father who is in heaven.

E. Schuyler English
in The Pilgrim