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Pivotal Evidence

2 Peter 1:19
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (NIVUK)

Many trials in court are decided on a balance of probabilities: there may be no single piece of evidence which alone can prove the case one way or the other. Many people think that is true about religion.  They respect revered writings, but flavour them with the interpretations of scholars, community traditions and pragmatic cultural adaptations. This has happened to Christianity too; and when it does, the gospel becomes diluted and the holiness of God is obscured.

The truth of Christianity is not a balance of probabilities, but relies on one single piece of evidence: the integrity of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Although the prophetic writings of the Old Testament suffered from many different interpretations, because they contained many apparently puzzling ideas – even unknown to the prophets (1 Peter 1:10-12) - Peter discovered that Jesus was the key to make sense of what seemed mysterious.  The transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2-13), appearing with Moses and Elijah brought it all together for Peter; and the Father's voice affirming Jesus left him in no doubt (2 Peter 1:16-18).

Not only did Jesus enable the Old Testament to make sense, He also validated what the prophets wrote as completely reliable.  Noah, whose flood experience has been ridiculed by many, was validated by Jesus (Matthew 24:37), which obviously impressed Peter at the time because He quotes it in 1 Peter 3:20.  Likewise Jonah’s experience of being swallowed by a great fish is endorsed by Jesus as history (Matthew 12:39-41) with a purpose of pointing forward to Himself.  Still today, Jesus illuminates the entire Bible, and brings God's Word to life.  He does not make the Old Testament less valuable: in fact, it is only through the lens of His perfect life and sacrificial death that we can see the true value of all the prophets taught.
So, as God said on the transfiguration mountain, we must pay attention to Jesus (Mark 9:7).  Then we will have confidence to see where we are going and hold a steady course - even when the darkness closes in around us.  Peter knew that would soon happen to his readers, and urged them to hold tightly on to Jesus; because He is the only way to live a life of faith which pleases God.  Likewise today: do not get seduced by strange teaching which denies what Jesus said and did: even if your friends and colleagues think you should (Galatians 1:6-9).  Stay away from that, as you would from a deadly plague.  Keep with Jesus and let the Light of the world lead you out of the darkness.

Dear Lord. Thank You for all the evidence of the character and sacrifice of Jesus which I can read in the Bible. Forgive me for the times when I have doubted the truth of Your Word and believed lies. Help me to keep paying attention to what You say so that I can live in the light of truth and steer a steady course through the darkness which sometimes threatens to engulf me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams