So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
2 Peter 1:19–21 (NRSV)
A new term has entered our vocabulary this election cycle – fake news. Earlier some of called things like this urban legends, but now it has evolved. Fake news is news that is extremely partisan politically and misleading or false. An expert in this area has documented more than 50 websites completed devoted to fake news.
This news gets posted to Facebook, and people share it without even checking to see if it is real. This phenomenon can lead a breakdown of trust in all news. When we see a headline in any of our social media feeds, how do we know it is true? It can also erode trust in other areas as well.
Some people see the books of Scripture in a cynical way. Some people think the writers of scripture were putting out the ancient form of fake news or propaganda. How do we push past the cynicism to trust the Scriptures as the early Christians did?
Seeing the Scriptures as trustworthy starts with our trust of God. We believe God is completely trustworthy primarily because of the testimony of others. It may seem like circular reasoning, but you must start somewhere. Other people can tell us about God’s faithfulness in their lives, and that leads us to investigate things for ourselves. We turn to Scripture and find that other people had found God trustworthy, even when things did not turn out right for them or when God did not do what they expected.
As we begin to investigate further, we discover that the text of the Scriptures was transmitted carefully and accurately. We look at other evidence from history or archaeology which confirms many of the things we read in Scripture. When we trust the things we can verify, we can trust the message it conveys.
Much of the witness of the Scriptures comes to us through eye-witness testimony. People, like you and me, saw, heard, and experienced things they were not expecting. They wrote those things down so we could experience them as well.
Throughout the history of the church, people have read the words of Scripture, trusted the God those Scriptures and testified that their lives were changed for the better. And not just their lives, but the whole world!
Sure, some people misunderstood the message, perverted the message and used for selfish ends, but that doesn’t change the trustworthiness of the message itself – it, in fact, confirms it. How do we know people misunderstood, perverted, and used the Word for self-serving ends? Because of the Scriptures. We can compare the actions of those people with what we read in Scripture and know that they got it wrong, sometimes very wrong.
In worship this week we will look at the trustworthiness of our Scriptures and explore different ways to see that they are worthy of our trust.
Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.