2 PETER 1
1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
It is of primary importance that we believe the truth, and not a substitute for it; for it is by the truth only we can be saved; "the truth as it is in Jesus," neither more nor less, is that to which our attention is invited in the word. "The truth" is set forth in the law and the prophets, but we must add to these the apostolic testimony contained in the New Testament, if we would comprehend it "as it is in Jesus."
The kingdom is the subject matter of "the truth;" but "as it is in Jesus" is the truth concerning Him as the King and Supreme Pontiff of the dominion, and the things concerning His name, as taught in the doctrine of the apostles. As a whole "the truth" is defined as "the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 8:12). This phrase covers the entire ground upon which the "one faith" and the "one hope" of the gospel are based; so that if a man believe only the "things of the kingdom," his faith is defective in the things of the name; "or if his belief be confined to the "things of the name," it is deficient in the "things of the kingdom."
There can be no separation of them recognised in a "like precious faith" (2 Pet. 1:1) to that of the apostles. They believed and taught all these things; God hath joined them together, and no man need expect His favour who separates them, or abolishes the necessity of believing the things He has revealed for faith.
There can be no doubt of the truth of these statements in view of Paul's emphatic declaration that "though we (apostles) or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8).
Here, then, he pronounces a curse upon even an angel if he should come and offer to us any other gospel than that which was preached by himself and the other apostles. It is our wisdom, therefore, to receive nothing which has not the sanction of their authority. Paul styles everything else but what he preached "another gospel," that is, "a perversion of the gospel of Christ;" and as we can only be saved by belief of the truth, such a gospel is both useless and injurious.
Elpis Israel 2.1.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
'...by adding knowledge to our faith and virtue, we may be " neither sluggard nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ " (v 8) ; for the more one studies a subject and knows about it, the more lively his conception of it, and the more earnest and faithful his convictions.
Some things induce spiritual fruitfulness and some have not effect one way or other.
... Some things are more important than others. Jesus spoke of "the WEIGHTIER MATTERS of the law, judgment, mercy and faith," in contrast with the subject of tithes, which was also scriptural in its place. A similar distinction will be found to exist in other cases. The nature of Paul's thorn, for instance, is an admissible subject of occasional speculation, but is not for a moment to be placed side by side with Paul's "doctrine, manner of life., purpose, faith, long- suffering, charity, patience."
... Many "questions" may be scriptural questions in the sense of relating to matters spoken of in the Scriptures, and may yet be entirely unprofitable or vain, as matters of discourse or contention.
Which questions are of this character and which are not, may be settled by the test of fruitfulness: are they or are they not of a character to incline the mind to obedience and the love of God? Do they or do they not affect comfort, hope, faith, mercy, and righteousness? Have they or have they not any tendency to influence our attitude towards the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Seasons 1. 45.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
Get your whole life into God. It is the only way. And the longer you wait, the greater the regrets, and the greater likelihood of failure. No part can be omitted. It is ALL, or it is meaningless.
Not that it will be all, all at once.
But that must be the constant, energetic goal. There must be no satisfaction, no relaxing of effort and attention, no waste of time on other things, until that is achieved.
There is just another side to this question which cannot be too well remembered, and that is that the possession of the truth in its entirety does not necessarily ensure acceptance with Christ at his coming. The Scriptures speak of "those who hold the truth IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS," and declares that the end of such will be "indignation, anguish, and wrath."
Consequently, no one should rest on the knowledge and belief of the truth as securing his salvation without failure. That knowledge is of great value to him. In the obedience to it in baptism it brings him into relation with Christ, who is the righteousness of God; invested with whose name he stands a forgiven man, "purged from his old sins."
But he has a life to live after that, and Christ shall judge that life at his coming; and it will all depend upon his estimate of that life as to how he will deal with the person. He will give to every man "according to his works." In the case of some, he will "blot their name out of the book of life." He will take away their part out of the holy city. He will refuse recognition and dismiss the refused to the society of the adversary, at that time about to be "devoured."
In the case of others, he will confess their names, and invite them to inherit the kingdom of God. There is no sane man who would not desire to be among the latter. There is a principle upon which admission is predicated. The doctrines of the apostasy have obliterated this principle. They teach that men have "only to believe" that Christ has paid their debts, and that they have, nothing to do but believe that Christ died for them. Whereas the exhortation of Peter is to be "diligent to make our calling and election SURE"; that only "if we do these things which he had enumerated, we shall never fall."
This is the uniform teaching of Christ and his servant Paul. Jesus says it is vain to acknowledge him unless we do what he commands (Matt. vii. 21). Paul says every man at the judgment seat of Christ shall receive according to that he hath done (2 Cor. v. 10); and that he who doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong that he hath done (Col. iii. 25).
Consequently, it rests with us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. ii. 12), as obedient children, not fashioning ourselves according to our former lusts in our ignorance, but as He that hath called us is holy, so must we be holy in all manner of conversation.
...We are in danger of shutting our eyes to the equally certain truth that a knowledge of the truth will be of no value to us if it fail to effectuate that purification of heart - that moral and intellectual assimilation to the Divine character which it is intended to produce in all who are called to the holy calling: we can only avoid this dangerous extreme by a habitual and meditative reading of the holy oracles.
In this exercise, day by day, we shall be made acquainted with the full and noble breadth of the Divine work, in the practical transformation of men. We shall not fail to perceive that Christ made the state of the heart and the character of our actions the most prominent feature of his teaching.
... we can only hope for an entrance into his kingdom in the day of his glory if we are of the same mind and work as he.
... The fact may appear a stern one, but its effect as regards the House of God will be only good and glorious: it will secure a perfect fellowship, composed of such as know God and delight in His praise, and in the delightsome love one to another that glows in every heart that truly seeks His face.
Bro Roberts - Reproach
16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
Such glory, or brightness, so beautifully represented by Ezekiel and John, will clothe the saints as well as the Lord Jesus, when they shall appear in the kingdom of God: as it is written, "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan. 12:3).
The apostle also speaks of the brightness of the sun, moon, and stars, as an illustration of the glory of the risen saints (1 Cor. 15:41-42); and what is symbolically represented in Ezekiel and John of the glory of the Lord, is plainly affirmed by the prophet in these words: "the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously (Isaiah 24:23).
Elpis Israel 1.5.
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Sure word of prophecy
Now, the Scripture saith, "the commandment of God is a lamp, and His law is light" (Prov. 6:23); so that the prophet says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). And to this agrees the saying of the apostle, that the sure word of prophecy is a light that shineth in a dark place (2 Pet. 1:19). Now, Isaiah testifies that the word is made up of God's law and testimony, and that those who do not speak according to it have no light in them (Isaiah 8:20). This is the reason that the savage has no light in him; because he is intensely ignorant of the law of God.
Light does not emanate from within; for sin, blood, and flesh, can give out none. It can only reflect it after the fashion of a mirror. The light is not in the mirror; but its surface is so constituted, that when light falls upon it, it can throw it back, or reflect it, according to the law of light, that the images of objects are seen on the surface, whence the light proceeding from the objects is last reflected to the eye. Neither is light innate in the heart. This is simply a tablet; a polished tablet, or mirror, in some; but a tarnished, rusty tablet in others. It is called "the fleshly tablet of the heart." It was polished in the beginning, when God formed man after his likeness; but sin, "the god of this world," hath so tarnished it, that there are but few who reflect His similitude...
...God only is the source of light; He is the glorious illuminator of the moral universe; and He transmits His enlightening radiance through the medium sometimes of angels, sometimes of prophets, and at others, through that of His Son and the apostles, by His all pervading spirit. Hence it is that the Scripture saith, "God is light," whose truth "enlightens the eyes." But, what is the truth? It is "the light of the glorious gospel of Christ," who is the polished incorruptible fleshly mirror, which reflects the Image of God; an image, at present, but obscurely impressed upon the fleshly tablets of our hearts; because we know only in part, perceiving things by the eye of faith, until hope shall disappear in the possession of the prize.
God, then, is the source of light; the gospel of the kingdom, in the name of Jesus is the light; and Christ is the medium through which it shines; hence He is styled, THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS; also, "the True Light, who enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world;" "a Light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the Glory of His people Israel." Now, the enlightening of every man is thus explained by the apostle. "God," saith he, "who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, it is He who hath shined into our (the saints') hearts, with the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).
But "every man" is not enlightened by this glorious knowledge; for to some it is hid. The tablets of their hearts are so corroded and encrusted with opaque and sordid matter that they are destitute of all reflecting power. Light will not shine in a black surface. Hence, saith the apostle, "if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of the world hath blinded the minds of them who believe not, lost the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine into them" (2 Cor. 4:3-4). He darkens the tablets of their hearts by "the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches" (Matt. 13:22); and thus prevents them from opening their ears to hear the words of eternal life.
If a man have light, then, it is very evident that it is acquired from without, and not an hereditary spark within. When the Lord Jesus appeared in Israel "He shined in the darkness." This nation was so darkened by the propensities and human tradition that they did not perceive the light when it shined among them; "the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:5). If this were the condition of Israel, how intensely dark must have been the world at large! Still the gentile mind was not so totally eclipsed as that of the savage.
The nations of the Four Empires had been greatly mixed up with the Israelites in their history, so that the light of their law must have been considerably diffused among them, though not given to them for their obedience. Hence, "the work of the law was written upon their hearts" to some extent, and created in them "a conscience," by the thoughts of which they accused and excused one another (Rom. 2:14-15).
This shining of the truth in the darkness of the nations was considerably increased by the apostolic labours; for "their sound went into all the land, and their words unto the ends of the habitable." (or Roman Empire) (Rom. 10:18). Now, although this light was almost extinguished by the apostasy, lamps were still kept burning in its presence (Rev. 11:4); so that the eclipse was not so total as that the darkness of the gentile mind was reduced to a savage state. When the Scriptures were again disseminated in the tongues of the nations in the sixteenth century, the light of truth began again to stream in upon them. The Scriptures were then like a book just fallen from heaven.
The world was astonished at their contents, but "comprehended them not." Men discussed it, tortured it, perverted it, fought about it, until the stronger party established the foundation of the world as at present constituted. This world, called "Christendom," is much after the order of things in the days of Jesus. Were He to appear now, He would "shine in the darkness" as when among the Jews.
Elpis Israel 1.4.
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the holy spirit.
In ages past, God has had among the nations a people of his own. These are wise in the wisdom of God, and venerate His word above all things. Though not His counsellors, he has graciously condescended to inform them what He intends to do before it comes to pass. Hence, it is testified by the prophet, that "the Lord God will surely do nothing, but He revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos. 3:7).
This revelation is made that his people's faith may be confirmed and enlarged; and that in every generation they may know the times and seasons to which they stand related. Knowing the signs they are enabled to discern the times; and while consternation and dismay cause men's hearts to fail, they are courageous, and rejoice in perceiving the approach of the kingdom of God.
This is the proper use of the prophetic word. It was thus that the ancients used it, and were enabled to live in advance of their contemporaries.
Elpis Israel 3.1.