Consistency of the
3:1-2, "This second epistle, beloved, I now write
unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of
remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were
spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments
of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:"
mankind chases after the next "happening thing." Recently,
I had a conversation with a fellow minister in which we both
marveled at why certain things in the world held sway and
appeal with people. We both agreed that ultimately the
answer lay within the realm of the event or situation being
the happening thing. It was a circumstance that was
important in the eyes of the world. Being in the midst of
it made you involved. You were seen. You were important.
More often than not, these types of things deal with
something that is fresh and new. Natural man is fascinated
by newer things, and being on the leading edge of it swells
his importance in his perspective. These days, religion is
unheralded, and orthodox religion is even less heralded.
Old fashioned ideas and concepts have seen their day.
The message of
Scripture is patently different. Peter's thought in our
study verses is one that brings me much comfort personally
as a minister. When a minister attempts to bring a message
to God's people, there are many things that occupy his mind:
1. First and foremost, is it sound?, 2. Is this being led
of the Spirit, 3. Is it thought out?, and 4. Is this the
right time and occasion for this particular message? We
must follow our impressions to the best of our ability for
#2 and #4 and trust those impressions are heavenly. We
spend hours trying to fulfill #3, but
the greatest concern that a minister has is keeping the
ground of his mind hedged in areas that are sound
according to Scripture. One of the great helps in Scripture
that God gives us is a consistency based on the consistency
of His nature. God is not duplicitous or fiendish. What He
says endures. What He declares does not change. Therefore,
we can expect messages today to be consistent with messages
of yesteryear to fulfill the injunction of soundness.
Peter's exact point in these verses is to remind his readers
of some things. Notice in verse 1 that he is not attempting
to present something new. Rather, he desires to stir up
their pure minds by way of "remembrance." Remembrance can
only be had with something that we already knew. Peter has
no misgivings that his audience already knew these things.
He just wants to remind them of those same things (indeed
the theme for this 2nd epistle). The reason Peter knew that
they already knew these things is because he had written his
first epistle in the same vein of consistent thought that
this one has. But, he - in verse 2 - is able to point
further back too.
Peter's first epistle is consistent in thought with this
second one, but Peter references the other apostles too.
Later in this chapter, Peter will mention Paul by name as
writing consistent things to what Peter also wrote. (Verse
15-16) However, Peter goes further back in verse 2 as well.
By implication, Jesus is included as well as the prophets of
the olden times. Consider this long line. From the prophets
in Old Testament times, through the Master, and down to His
apostles, the message has been consistent and true. The
various declarations of men throughout the centuries all
point to the same things and bring to light the same
commandments. Therefore, ministers today have the obligation
to preach and teach these same things to be part of this
long and consistent line.
Though the illustration does not bear up completely due to
the nuance of language and culture, I have said before that
my hope is that if Paul, Peter, or some man of God from the
times of Scripture was to walk into one of our services
today it would look familiar to him. Whether the order of
the service or the heart of the message, our pattern and
thoughts should mirror what they had and experienced in
their day. With the world consistently looking for new
things and following after the most recent fad, the house-
hold of faith should take great comfort and safety in a
message that has endured generation after generation through
various cultures and dispensations.
When I was a boy, I used to wonder why preachers harped on
certain subjects the way they did. Some of the subjects and
passages described had such a passion and fervency to them
when the men introduced and preached them. As I have grown
older and now declare these same things, it made me reflect
on my mindset then. The passion and energy is first and
foremost because it is the truth as it is in Christ Jesus,
but going back to matters 1-4 above, it is Spirit led,
thought out, and still relevant for this time. With the
world desiring something new, the church still has what she
has always had. What she had then is still good for her now.
As one of my dear fathers in the ministry told me, "What
works in the world will kill the church, and what works for
the church will kill the world."
Though this message is consistent, true, and hopefully
declared plainly, notice that Peter did not use the exact
same words as Paul, who did not use the exact same words as
Jesus, who did not use the exact same words as the prophets.
The message was not a copy of the same clichés, buzzwords,
and catchphrases to be consistent. It is consistent due to
the heart of the testimony being the same. We can grow
stagnant in things that are true. Recently, I was given a
very sweet compliment after preaching a pair of discourses
in another state. A minister came up to me after the 2nd
service and said, "I talked to my son after you preached a
meeting down there last year. When I asked him what you
preached about, he said, 'Doctrine, but Pop, it was fresh.'"
With tears in his eyes, he said, "That's what it was today.
It was the same gospel story, but it was fresh. That's what
our people need. The same thing, but always served fresh."
Amen and amen dear brother. That is truly what sheep food is
all about. I love food analogies, and there is not much I
prefer in this world next to a good steak. However, I want
my steak freshly cooked, properly seasoned, and served hot.
I want the gospel to be that same good piece of meat but
freshly cooked, properly seasoned, and served with the
unction of the Holy Ghost. When these things are met, our
message will be consistent and clearly in the same line of
faithful men who have been declaring it from long ago.