“…as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.” — 2 Peter 3:16-17
In Second Peter chapter three, Peter warns against false teachers. These people will confuse you and take you away from the truth of who Christ is and who we are as Christians. False teachers will sound smart and knowledgeable, but they are speaking of things they do not fully know, so take it with a grain of salt — or even a handful.
Peter warns us that a lack of scriptural understanding can be a dangerous thing when handled improperly. Instead of searching for the truth, sometimes people choose to interpret Scripture in ways that best serve their own agenda. They twist the words of Scripture and cause division, confusion and destruction. He then asks us, the beloved, to be aware of this happening, be on our guard, and stand on the firm foundation.
We Don’t Know Everything
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” — 1 Corinthians 13:9
It is okay to not have all the answers. We can prophesy and receive knowledge from the Lord but that is still just a part of his heart. We can only see a very small fraction of who God is and what he will accomplish.
There are parts of Scripture that are difficult to understand and interpret but we have to let go of the idea that we can perfectly understand everything in the Bible. If we try to explain everything, we will end up speaking words without knowledge and words out of arrogance.
There are essential beliefs within Christianity and non-essential beliefs. Essential beliefs are things that one must believe to be a Christian. These include the doctrine of the Trinity, the belief that Jesus was fully God and fully man, he died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead and will one day return to restore this Earth. Non-essential beliefs are things that we can differ on within the faith. Some of the topics we don’t have to take the same side on are forms of baptism, circumcision, gifts of the Holy Spirit, predestination and so on.
This being said, we cannot allow these non-essential beliefs to divide us. We need to be okay with not having every answer. Instead we must strive to preserve unity within the church and refuse to become divided over things that are up for interpretation in Scripture.
The word “steadfast” in the original text of 2 Peter 3:17 is the Greek word sterizo which means to make stable, place firmly, strengthen or establish. While there are scriptures and things in life that are hard to understand, we can stand on the firm foundation of God’s love and be made stable by him.
“God doesn’t give answers, he gives himself.” — Frederick Buechner
God does not give us the perfect answer to every question, but he does give us his steadfast love, his grace, his Holy Spirit and he even gave his son on the cross. Looking around and not having answers to everything can start to make the ground feel shaky. When you can’t perfectly explain your faith or some of those tough questions, you can start to doubt your faith, but you need to look back to the cross. God is steadfast. He is what holds us up and establishes us.
Don’t lose your footing because you’re trying to stand on things that won’t hold you up. Stop trying to stand on pastors, politicians, professors or your parents and stand on a firm foundation — the steadfast, never-failing and gracious love of God.
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