Hymn 251, “Oh, Don’t Be Led Captive By Friend Or By Foe”
That hymn was written by a brother long ago, John Martin, and he made it very clear, didn’t he? “By friend or by foe,” – sometimes we can handle the foe but not so easy to handle the friend when there’s an enticement from the way that leads to God and home.
The letter that Peter wrote to God’s people: I was noticing in several letters that some were written some years before others, and when Peter’s letter was written, it would appear, not long before his departure from this world, he was concerned about God’s people. We will leave the first letter and have a look together at the second letter and let us keep before us the purpose that God’s servant so long ago had in mind, that God’s people would be saved, strengthened, and fitted to press on to claim the prize. Our Heavenly Father hasn’t changed at all in that intention. These times of refreshing have been planned so that we might be fitted for the next step and be able to take that step in a steady manner, leading on to the next step onward, heavenward, and homeward.
II Peter 1:1-2, “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. Grace and peace by multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
I have been thankful today for all we have enjoyed so far, for the appeal to closer fellowship and the help to closer fellowship. There’s that in our hearts that would hinder, and plenty in the world to hinder, if we allow it! But even when we give proper consideration to God’s provision, that we might be bound together with our Lord and Saviour journeying on, free of all these other things, to one day claim the prize. That’s our purpose today and we can be thankful for the sense of fellowship. He wasn’t writing like a school master, but Peter was writing as a man rich in experience now, looking back over many years and reflecting over his own mistakes – a man who had embraced “like precious faith.” When we come into a gathering like this, it does us good to keep the reflection of being in the company of those who have obtained “like precious faith.” We can be out there in one of the greatest assemblies but there’s no element of the binding of the love that God wants us to know. Our time together is very valuable. Not some strange thing of our own. We need to submit ourselves to the all-searching voice and the all-searching spirit – to the very joints and marrow, so we can be searched. If there’s anything taking away the solidity of the foundation, let’s ask God’s help and we will stand on safe ground. Always nice when we are walking with someone who is on safe ground and they are safe company. We will reflect in regard to three parts.
In the first part, Peter put the absolute solidity, the foundation that has been laid in Jesus. He would know it was the Lord’s intention for God’s people in all eras that they would be building on. No change! No difference! What was presented in the gospel that came to you, and brought at a cost as it did in the first days to this land, continues to be brought at a cost. Peter brings before them the possibility of this wonderful work in their own lives. Further on, we read of the power of the enemy but God’s people have been able and will be able to resist the evil day. That hymn we were singing came to mind because no doubt, as the time that the old enemy has to work grows shorter, he is all the more active; this is foretold. The power of God is sufficient and we can stand and journey on and we can enjoy the peace of God, make it ours and cling to it till the last step of the journey.
“Like precious faith” – that’s through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Where did it come from? – the very person of God Himself, as given to us through Jesus. As we sit together and think of the past experiences and the coming of the gospel to this land, the coming of the gospel to our own homes and the gospel to our own lives, what a wonderful thing to be able to look back and look in the present – that with no change – through the righteousness of God and our Saviour, not through some frivolous thing or the vanity of a man or woman’s mind, but what we have today originated in the heart of God and was made possible and shared with us because He shared with us His own dear son. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” This is the man who was formerly the fisherman but was now a God-made man. When Jesus said to Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,” it was quite evident from His early dealings that Jesus knew the man He had in His hand. “When you have changed and the work of God goes on in your life, strengthen your brethren.” This is now what Peter was doing and had done from that wonderful time in the Acts of the Apostles after Jesus had left them. There he was with the all-sufficient power of God, “When you are changed and you see the real thing, strengthen thy brethren.”
We have been hearing about submission: that’s the way to get the real thing. We are thankful that what was brought to us was the real thing. If we allow the real thing to work, we will know the peace of God and the reality of all that it means in Jesus – not by some small measure, because what God gives us is increased; not what we look at in the world around us – that’s a decrease. “According to His divine power: not earthly.” We are building on the chief cornerstone, invincible, never to be shaken. And we won’t be shaken if we are willing for His work to not only begin but to enable a greater work within.
Verse 4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” There’s the secret of it: God’s work, then partakers of the divine nature. He wasn’t saying, “By the power of the old Peter,” but recreated in Jesus: that’s our portion today. This inheritance comes because God’s work began within, and by the mercy and kindness of God, here we are still journeying on. And may we continue to journey and not be taken up with some frivolous thing of the world or the nonsense teaching of the world, but we are going to have a greater grip of the Truth as it is in Jesus. “Exceeding great,” – what language! And all that God has promised in Christ that we might know the fullness of redemption and all that comes through Him. That makes all the difference. “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” Paul wrote. He brought it up right to the very present and that’s the hope today and will be till the journey finishes. It hasn’t altered one little bit. If we see someone drop away, it hasn’t altered: Jesus the same yesterday, today and forever. “And beside this, giving all diligence.” We all know it’s not easy to give all diligence. We may have come a short distance along the way, even easing up – that’s the natural thing. But it’s important that the call is to a deeper conviction and a fuller commitment of ourselves to the will of God. It’s simply the main thing in our lives.
Here’s the little part we were speaking of earlier: the foundation, and then the work in our lives and what they were to do. “Add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge.” What kind of knowledge are we adding to what we have got? It wouldn’t do to delve into all the books we have in the world, but I am talking of the stuff that could corrupt your mind in regards to the truth as it is in Jesus. We would say again to God’s people that you won’t find any better edition of the bible than the one we have always used, the King James. You might take a revised version sometimes to get it a little clearer but the authorized version, a way back, God was over-shadowing, because it was a very true translation. God’s spirit commends that to us so don’t be going too deep into these other translations. You would be safe if you spend time to look up what you have got in the authorized version.
We used to hear it from the old servants of God in the early days of this work. You might not understand all that’s in the letters to the Romans and the Corinthians, but keep reading and put something into it. We won’t need all these books because we’ll get it from the author and that’s God’s Spirit. “Add to your faith.” I pray God will inspire us afresh today to keep adding to our faith because that’s what the gods of this world are trying to get at, thinking we are sleeping. But no, there’s no change! Let’s make an earnest endeavour to be increasing in the inspiration of God and not some foolish thing that has been written in some book. When we have a God-inspired knowledge, it does away with all uneasiness, but when we hear things that aren’t according to that, it brings an uneasiness. Remember what John wrote? “Ye have an unction.” And when we have an unction, the ear is sensitive to what is not profitable and the eye will pick up that it’s not the thing for me. I remember an old servant of God who has passed on, speaking of this wonderful thing of the unction. The little calf knows its mother, and so does the lamb – each knows its mother out of a great mob of sheep. What by? The in-built unction of the sheep nature. Marvelous if we are in submission to the unction.
“Temperance” – we aren’t doing extreme things.
“Add to patience, godliness,” and a little patience too goes a long way. There’s a side of patience that keeps us all journeying. Yes, the goal is in view but keep at it. There’s something sad when something is said and we don’t like it. Patience helps us to get on in the home life, too. We need to be patient with one another because we expect others to be patient with us and that furthers this wonderful fellowship. The understanding of one another doesn’t take an intellect but brotherly kindness is the way Jesus did it. If Jesus hadn’t done it that way, we may not have this zeal at all. We know Peter failed but Jesus handled it in such a way He was ready for action on the day of Pentecost. We are all in the same battle as God’s servants. There’s no fellowship that should have greater understanding and the fellowship of God’s servants is founded on like-sacrifice.
The fellowship of God’s people is founded on like-experience, not blind and can’t see, just haven’t got it. Those five foolish virgins knew enough to see and walk along, but they didn’t have it. Don’t let us be a camp-follower like in the armies of old – the soldiers up front, then following on were all the camp-followers. “As long as I am in this tabernacle,” he wasn’t attracting people to himself but putting them in remembrance of all Jesus was and could be. How are we going to do that? Because we have made them ours, we have got them into our hearts. We are benefiting from others’ experiences but we aren’t running on them.
Verse 16, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables.” There’s always something the old enemy wants to circulate amongst God’s people to discourage them, and if you have it, you can conclude this didn’t come from the good shepherd. Hasten to the care of the good shepherd and get His mind on it; He will handle it accordingly.
The middle part of the letter is what’s around us – the ways of death – but he was able to put before God’s people the way of life, the foundation at the beginning, then leading on to God’s work in us, and then the power to handle the enemy. That’s what God’s people will have to do more and more.
Chapter 3:11, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” Heaven and earth will pass away but what God sent to us by the gospel will be ours forever if we cling on to it. Just cling to the hand of God’s dear son. Then we are told in verse 13, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” That’s the hope of God’s people. There’s the foundation for true salvation. The enemy would try to take it away but nevertheless, he is opening up a glorious future because of the great conviction that we have. “Be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” I would like to get it in my heart with whatever time is left, even as our beloved brother Paul has written unto you. There was a time when Paul reprimanded and stood against Peter’s thinking, and you know what that does to the human heart. Peter had accepted it and learned by it, “Our beloved brother Paul,” – two old men going down to the grave not far ahead. I would presume Paul was still alive and going down to the grave, supporting the Truth as it is in Jesus. What a wonderful thing! Don’t let this nonsense that people talk affect you but get a firmer grip of the Truth and don’t let little things hinder – servant and saint – but that God would be pleased with us.