The Bible is the Word of God. In its pages God reveals Himself to mankind. The apostle Paul wrote on two different occasions, that the things that are in the Scriptures are there for our instruction. (Romans 15:4, 1 Corinthians 10:11) Biblical instruction is gained through two pathways. First is the direct meaning of the words on the page. For example, when you read the story of David and Goliath and come away with the basic facts. This is accomplished by means of a mental process. Ten people can read the account and all will come away with the same facts. The second method of instruction is more metaphorical than factual. This method also stems from the words printed on the page, but the instruction comes by way of imagery. The story of David facing and defeating the giant, Goliath, paints a picture for us of great courage and the victory we are assured when we have complete faith in God.
The first method of instruction can be classified as being physical since it primarily involves our physical senses. The second can be classified as spiritual as it involves faculties beyond the physical senses. Another way to look at these two modes of instruction is to say the first is knowledge and therefore resides in the mind, while the second is understanding residing in the heart.
The only requirement for acquiring knowledge from the Bible is a normal level of intelligence and the ability to read. Receiving understanding, however, rests on an additional and far different qualification. Understanding of the Bible requires the direct involvement of the Holy Spirit. Paul, a former Pharisee and scholar of the Scriptures, wrote to the Galatians:
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)
While Paul had great Scriptural knowledge which was acquired through teachers, the gospel he preached was not attained that way. Paul says his gospel as a disciple of Christ was received through a revelation of Jesus Christ. That is to say that it was by direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. The process was spiritual, and it resulted in understanding.
Of the two methods of instruction, knowledge is important, but understanding is much more so. Knowledge alone leads to legalism, a religion based on rules, regulations, rituals and traditions, all of which are rooted in what can be seen, touched, smelled, heard or touched. However, when understanding is added to Biblical knowledge, the result is wisdom from God. Solomon wrote: “Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding.” (Proverbs 14:33a)
The combination of Biblical knowledge and understanding is capable of providing everything there is to know about the nature and ways of God. It is the thing called understanding that makes all the difference. Jesus taught of the importance of revelatory understanding in the following passage.
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” [This was knowledge.]
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” [This was understanding.]
17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you [it wasn’t knowledge], but My Father who is in heaven [it was revelation from God].”
18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock [of revelation from God] I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:13-18)
Six days after this interchange, Jesus takes three of His closest disciples, Peter, James and John, up on a high mountain where they were privileged witnesses of Christ’s transfiguration. This phenomenal event is reported in the gospel of Matthew with these words:
“And He [Jesus] was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” (Matthew 17:2-3)
That is certainly astounding, but there is still more. While Peter was trying to organize the event, a bright cloud covered him and the others, and a voice from within the cloud proclaimed, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5) We cannot now share this experience with those honored disciples, but we can extract a great lesson from this divine intervention in history.
Four important things happened on the holy mountain. First, Jesus was transfigured, that is, He was changed from a mere human figure to one having the honor and glory that came from the Father. Second, Moses and Elijah appear on the scene and talk with Jesus. Third, the six men were overshadowed with a cloud. And fourth, a voice from out of the cloud spoke to them. All of these are significant in and of themselves, but I want to focus on the words that were spoken from the cloud.
The declaration from God as quoted by Matthew asserts the following:
- That Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God.
- That Jesus is beloved by God; and that the disciples should, “Listen to Him.”
Peter recalls the transfiguration event in his second New Testament letter.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—
18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,
21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:16-21)
The entire experience on the mountain must surely have been an important spiritual highlight in Peter’s life, yet, his reference to it in this letter emphasizes the words spoken out of the cloud. His conclusion, i.e., understanding, derived from God’s audible declaration is this: “So we have the prophetic word made more sure.” (2 Peter 1:19a) He then instructs us to listen to the more sure word as one would pay attention to “a lamp shining in a dark place.” (2 Peter 1:19b) In other words, our attention should be firmly fixed on the words spoken from heaven.
The Sure Word
If there is a ‘prophetic word made more sure’, i.e., the more sure word, there must first be a ‘sure word’. The sure word is the prophetic word found in the writings of the prophets of God. When God spoke to the disciples from the cloud, He was saying that the man who was standing before them, Jesus, was the one of whom the prophets spoke … the Son of God … the coming Messiah … the Christ.
The prophets said Jesus would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem. They proclaimed that a messenger, John the Baptist, would prepare the way for His coming. And just as Isaiah prophesied in various verses of chapter 53 of his prophetic book: He [Jesus] would be despised and forsaken of men, and our sorrows He would carry; He would be pierced through for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities; He would be oppressed and afflicted; and the Lord would cause the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. These, and many more pronouncements from the Old Testament prophets speak of the expected Messiah.
The prophetic record of the coming Messiah, i.e., the word that was delivered to the prophets by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the prophetic word. Peter said, “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21) We know that the entire Bible was written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is the prophetic word. The Bible is, therefore, the sure word.
The More Sure Word
God Himself confirmed the sure prophetic word when He spoke from the cloud to Peter, James and John. God’s spoken confirmation to them transformed the sure word from something from the past into a reality of the present. No longer was the prophetic word something only to be read on a scroll. The wonderful, sure word from God written on a scroll for all to read, had become a present word spoken for and heard by the three disciples. It was for them at that moment, fulfilled. It had moved from the world of expectation into the world of reality. It became the more sure word. Suddenly, the prophecy of the Messiah was no longer a word handed down from the prophets of God to generations of Israelites, first orally then in written form. That written prophetic word was good and great and indeed sure, but for those three disciples on that mountain, on that day and forever more, when God confirmed the sure word of prophecy directly to them, the sure word was made more sure.
Jesus alluded to this transforming of the prophetic word. He had gone to the synagogue in Nazareth, His home town, and He was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. After finding a particular place in the scroll, He read the following:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)
He followed this with these words to the congregation, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled [confirmed] in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) Jesus, the Son of God, spoke the written prophetic word to the people, and it was fulfilled. The words on the scroll written in the past became a current reality. The sure word … the written prophetic word … the Bible … became the more sure word.
Implications and Direction
God said to the disciples on the mountain, “Listen to Him [Jesus].”
The mandate for believers to listen intently for the more sure word as revealed by the Holy Spirit cannot be overstated. It is nothing less than the way Jesus is currently building his body of called out believers, the ekklēsia (ek-klay-see’-ah). No wonder Jesus told His disciples, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper [the Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) Later He added, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13) The Holy Spirit will speak and disclose what is to come. In other words, He will speak prophetic words, and in this manner the sure word becomes the prophetic word made more sure.
Jesus declared He would build His body on the revelation of the prophetic word made more sure. By doing so, He set out for all time the only strategy necessary for church growth: Let all believers listen to and follow the direction of the prophetic word made more sure as received by direct revelations of the more sure word from the Holy Spirit.
If the church were a wheel, the more sure word is the hub. Remove the hub, and you eliminate the means by which the wheel can do what it was intended to do. Building the body of Christ on the prophetic word made more sure should be the primary, if not the exclusive, strategy for church growth. Yet it has not been my experience to hear of a church growth plan where Holy Spirit revelations to all of its members is even mentioned as a possible course of action. Church growth methods become popular then fade away only to be replaced by the newest latest-and-greatest idea. Most are little more than modified corporate marketing plans. Some of them actually work. Or do they? Solomon said it this way, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1a)
Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount with the following lesson:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell — and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
What is the rock upon which Jesus’ house is built? Let us recall Matthew 16:18: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
There is only one rock upon which the body of Christ can be built. It is the rock of the more sure prophetic word, spoken by the Holy Spirit to individual believers who then act in faith and obedience to what they hear. I want to repeat that:
There is only one rock upon which the body of Christ can be built. It is the rock of the more sure prophetic word, spoken by the Holy Spirit to individual believers who then act in faith and obedience to what they hear.
Attempts to build the body of Christ in any other way is to build it on sand. The prophetic word spoken to His followers is Jesus’ plan for individual and corporate edification. It is the way individuals and congregations are built up in all things pertaining to God. It is the way true understanding of the word of God is attained.
The name of this site is The More Sure Word because of my strong belief in the necessity for all believers to receive and obey the prophetic word made more sure through Holy Spirit revelations. When these revelations are shared with other believers they provide edification and direction for congregations small and large. I am committed to spreading the word that every true disciple of Jesus Christ is capable of receiving revelations of Truth spoken by the Holy Spirit.
My purpose and my prayer is simply this: That by showing you what I have received, you will come to see that you, too, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, should and can receive revelations of the more sure word directly from the Holy Spirit. Seminary degrees are not required to understand the Bible and the ways of God, ears to hear are.