And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 1 John 3:19.
I would impress upon our young men and young women the necessity of making their calling and election sure. I would beseech you to do no haphazard or uncertain work where your eternal interests are involved. By so doing you lose happiness, peace, comfort, and hope in this life, and you lose also your immortal inheritance.
My young friends, you are judgment bound, and through the grace of Christ you may render obedience to the commands of God, and daily gain fortitude and strength of character, so that you need not fail or be discouraged. Divine grace has been abundantly provided for every soul, so that each one may engage in the conflict and come off victorious. Do not become sluggish; do not flatter yourselves that you may be saved in walking in accordance with the natural traits of your character—that you may drift with the current of the world, and indulge and please self, and yet be able to withstand the forces of evil in a time of crisis, and come off victorious when the battle waxes hot…. You must learn every day to obey the orders of the Captain of the Lord’s host.
My young friends, do you pray? Are you educating yourselves to offer petitions for pure thoughts, for holy aspirations, for a pure heart and clean hands? Are you educating your lips to sing the praises of God, and are you seeking to do the will of God? This is the kind of education that will be of the greatest value to you; for it will aid you in the formation of Christlike character.
Do not settle down in Satan’s easy chair, and say that there is no use, you cannot cease to sin, that there is no power in you to overcome. There is no power in you apart from Christ, but it is your privilege to have Christ abiding in your heart by faith, and He can overcome sin in you, when you cooperate with His efforts…. You may be living epistles, known and read of all men. You are not to be a dead letter, but a living one, testifying to the world that Jesus is able to save.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:8.
The only safety for the Christian is to be unwearied in his efforts to live on the plan of addition. The apostle shows the advantages to be gained in thus doing. For those who add grace to grace, God will work on the plan of multiplication, so that the graces will be in and abound in the religious life and he will not “be barren nor unfruitful….” Those abounding in the Christian graces will be zealous, lively, vigorous in all practical Christianity, and will practice righteousness—just as the branch abiding in the vine will produce the same fruit that the vine bears….
He who does not climb the ladder of progress and add grace to grace “is blind, and cannot see afar off.” He fails to discern that without taking these successive steps in ascending the ladder round after round, in growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is not placing himself in a position where the light of God above the ladder is reflected upon him. As he does not add grace to grace, he has forgotten the claims of God upon him, and that he was to receive the forgiveness of sins through obedience to the requirements of God….
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” 2 Peter 1:10. We need not have a supposed hope, but an assurance. To make our calling and election sure is to follow the Bible plan to closely examine ourselves, to make strict inquiry whether we are indeed converted, whether our minds are drawn out after God and heavenly things, our wills renewed, our whole souls changed. To make our calling and election sure requires far greater diligence than many are giving to this important matter. “For if ye do these things”—live on the plan of addition, growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ—ye shall mount up, step by step, the ladder Jacob saw, and “ye shall never fall.”
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. Colossians 3:14.
The next step in the ladder is charity. Add “to brotherly kindness charity,” which is love. Love to God and love to our neighbor constitute the whole duty of man. Without brotherly kindness we cannot exhibit the grace of love to God or to our fellow men.
This last step in the ladder gives to the will a new spring of action. Christ offers a love that passeth knowledge. This love is not something kept apart from our life, but it takes hold of the entire being. The heaven to which the Christian is climbing will be attained only by those who have this crowning grace. This is the new affection which pervades the soul. The old is left behind. Love is the great controlling power. When love leads, all the faculties of mind and spirit are enlisted. Love to God and love to man will give the clear title to heaven.
No one can love God supremely and transgress one of His commandments. The heart softened and subdued with the beauty of Christ’s character and bridled by the pure and lofty rules which He has given us will put into practice what it has learned of love, and will follow Jesus forthwith in humble obedience. The living power of faith will reveal itself in loving acts.
What evidence have we that we have the pure love, without alloy? God has erected a standard—His commandments. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” John 14:21. The words of God must have an abiding place in our hearts.
We are to love our brethren as Christ has loved us. We are to be patient and kind, and yet there is something lacking—we must love. Christ tells us that we must forgive the erring even seventy times seven…. When there is much forgiven, the heart loves much. Love is a tender plant. It needs to be constantly cultured or it will wither and die.
All these graces we must have. We must climb the whole length of the ladder.
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 2 Peter 1:7.
The Word of God enjoins upon every one of His children: “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” 1 Peter 3:8. Now unless godliness was added to patience man would not show that brotherly kindness. In His mission to our world, Christ has shown man the graces of the Spirit of God which, when accepted, fashion and mold the entire man, externally as well as internally, by abasing his pride and leading him not to esteem himself highly but to esteem his brother as precious in the sight of God because Christ paid an infinite price for his soul. When man is valued as God’s property then we will be kind, amiable, and condescending toward him.
The religion of Jesus Christ is a system of the true heavenly politeness and leads to a practical exhibition of habitual tenderness of feeling, kindness of deportment. He who possesses godliness will also add this grace, taking a step higher on the ladder. The higher he mounts the ladder, the more of the grace of God is revealed in his life, his sentiments, his principles. He is learning, ever learning the terms of his acceptance with God, and the only way to obtain an inheritance in the heavens is to become like Christ in character. The whole scheme of mercy is to soften down what is harsh in temper, and refine whatever is rugged in the deportment. The internal change reveals itself in the external actions. The graces of the Spirit of God work with hidden power in the transformation of character. The religion of Christ never will reveal a sour, coarse, and uncourteous action. Courtesy is a Bible virtue. The virtue of this grace of brotherly kindness characterized the life of Christ. Never was such courtesy exhibited upon the earth as Christ revealed, and we cannot overestimate its value….
Growing in grace is an earnest working out of what God works in. It is an earnest of future glory, the working out here upon the earth of the spirit that is cherished in heaven.
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:3, 4.
The apostle says we succeed in the grace of temperance that we may add patience. Patience under trials will keep us from saying and doing those things which will injure our own souls and injure those with whom we associate. Let your trials be what they will, nothing can seriously injure you if you exercise patience, if you are calm and unexcited when in trying positions….
We can see the wisdom of Peter in placing temperance to be added to knowledge before patience. This is one strong reason for overcoming the appetite for all stimulants, for as the nerves become excited under the influence of these irritating substances, how many and grievous are the evils that are done! …
There is necessity for the Christian adding patience to temperance. There will need to be firm principle and fixedness of purpose not to offend in word or action either our own conscience or the feelings of others. There must be a rising above the customs of the world in order to bear reproach, disappointment, losses and crosses without one murmur, but with uncomplaining dignity…. A petulant, ill-natured man or woman really knows not what it is to be happy. Every cup which he puts to his lips seems to be bitter as wormwood and his path seems strewn with rough stones, with briars and thorns; but he must add to temperance patience and he will not see or feel slights.
Patience must have its perfect work or we cannot be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Troubles and afflictions are appointed unto us, and shall we bear them all patiently or shall we make everything bitter by our complaining? The gold is put into the furnace that the dross may be removed. Shall we, then, not be patient under the eye of the refiner? We must refuse to sink into a sad and disconsolate state of mind, but show calm trust in God, counting it all joy when we are permitted to endure trials for Christ’s sake.
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness. 2 Peter 1:6.
To knowledge must be added temperance. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Athletes cheerfully comply with the conditions in order to be trained for the highest taxation of their physical strength. They do not indulge appetite, but put a constant restraint upon themselves, refraining from food which would weaken or lessen the full power of any of their organs. Yet they fight “as one that beateth the air,” while Christians are in a real contest. Combatants in the games seek for mere perishable laurels. Christians have before them a glorious crown of immortality, incorruptible. And in this heavenly race there is plenty of room for all to obtain the prize. Not one will fail if he runs well, if he does according to the light which shines upon him, exercising his abilities which, to the best of his knowledge, he has kept in a healthful condition….
Any habit or practice which will weaken the nerve and brain power or the physical strength disqualifies for the exercise of the next grace which comes in after temperance—patience….
A man who is intemperate, who uses stimulating indulgences—beer, wine, strong drinks, tea and coffee, opium, tobacco, or any of these substances that are deleterious to health—cannot be a patient man. So temperance is a round of the ladder upon which we must plant our feet before we can add the grace of patience. In food, in raiment, in work, in regular hours, in healthful exercise, we must be regulated by the knowledge which it is our duty to obtain that we may, through earnest endeavor, place ourselves in right relation to life and health.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge. 2 Peter 1:5.
“Add to your faith virtue.” There is no promise given to the one who is retrograding. The apostle, in his testimony, is aiming to excite the believers to advancement in grace and holiness. They already profess to be living the truth, they have a knowledge of the precious faith, they have been made partakers of the divine nature. But if they stop here they will lose the grace they have received….
Without giving “all diligence” to make step after step upward to God above the ladder, there is no gaining ground in peace and grace and the work of holiness. “Strive,” said Jesus, “to enter in at the strait gate.” Luke 13:24. The way of the believer is marked out by God above the ladder. All his endeavors will be in vain if he has not virtue of character, a practical knowledge of Christ through obedience to all His requirements. Those who have faith must be careful to show their faith by their works….
“Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge”—knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, knowledge of the great plan of salvation. To be ignorant of God’s commandments and laws will not excuse a soul. He will not dare to plead around the throne of God, “I did not know the truth. I was ignorant.” The Lord has given His Word to be our guide, our instructor, and with this heavenly enlightening there is no excuse for ignorance….
Truth is an active, working principle, molding heart and life so that there is a constant upward movement…. In every step of climbing, the will is obtaining a new spring of action. The moral tone is becoming more like the mind and character of Christ. The progressive Christian has grace and love which passes knowledge, for divine insight into the character of Christ takes a deep hold upon his affections. The glory of God revealed above the ladder can only be appreciated by the progressive climber, who is ever attracted higher, to nobler aims which Christ reveals. All the faculties of mind and body must be enlisted.
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. 2 Peter 1:2, 3.
“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 Savior Jesus Christ: … 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.” 2 Peter 1:1-4.
“Like precious faith” … is a genuine faith. It is not a fruitless faith. True, saving faith is a precious treasure of inestimable value. It is not superficial. The just lives by faith a truly spiritual, Christlike life. It is through faith that the steps are taken one at a time up the ladder of progress. Faith must be cultivated. It unites the human with the divine nature.
The life of obedience to all of God’s commandments is a life of progression, a life of constant advancement. As the elect, precious, have increased understanding of the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ, they see and grasp the rich promises that come through the righteousness of Christ. The more they receive of the divine grace the more they work on the plan of addition.
“Grace and peace” will be multiplied “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Here is the Source of all spiritual power, and faith must be in constant exercise, for all spiritual life is from Christ. Knowledge of God inspires faith in Him as the only channel to convey heaven’s blessing to the soul, elevating, ennobling, refining the soul, as—through the knowledge of God—it is brought up to the high attainment of glory and virtue. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:12.
Let us consider this ladder which was presented to Jacob…. The sin of Adam cut off all intercourse between heaven and earth. Up to the moment of man’s transgression of God’s law there had been free communion between earth and heaven. They were connected by a path which Deity could traverse. But the transgression of God’s law broke up this path and man was separated from God….
Every link which bound earth to heaven and man to the infinite God seemed broken. Man might look to heaven, but how could he attain it? But joy to the world! The Son of God, the Sinless One, the One perfect in obedience, becomes the channel through which the lost communion may be renewed, the way through which the lost paradise may be regained. Through Christ, man’s substitute and surety, man may keep the commandments of God. He may return to his allegiance and God will accept him. Christ is the ladder. “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9….
The ladder is the medium of communication between God and man. Through the mystic ladder the gospel was preached to Jacob. As the ladder stretched from earth, reaching to the highest heavens, and the glory of God was seen above the ladder, so Christ in His divine nature reached immensity and was one with the Father. As the ladder, though its top penetrated into heaven, had its base upon the earth, so Christ, though God, clothed His divinity with humanity and was in the world “found in fashion as a man” (Philippians 2:8). The ladder would be useless if it rested not on the earth or if it reached not to the heavens.
God appeared in glory above the ladder, looking down with compassion on erring, sinful Jacob…. It is through Christ that the Father beholds sinful man…. The broken links have been repaired. A highway has been thrown up along which the weary and heavy laden may pass. They may enter heaven and find rest.