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.
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. 1 Peter 1:8.
Christ has said: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” John 7:37. Have you exhausted the fountain?—No; for it is inexhaustible. Just as soon as you feel your need, you may drink, and drink again. The fountain is always full. And when you have once drunk of that fountain, you will not be seeking to quench your thirst from the broken cisterns of this world; you will not be studying how you can find the most pleasure, amusement, fun, and frolic. No; because you have been drinking from the stream which makes glad the city of God. Then your joy will be full.
Why should not the religion of Christ be represented as it really is, as full of attractiveness and power? Why should we not present before the world the loveliness of Christ? Why do we not show that we have a living Saviour, one who can walk with us in the darkness as well as in the light, and that we can trust in Him? …
We have seen clouds interpose between us and the sun, but we did not mourn and clothe ourselves in sackcloth for fear that we should never see the sun again. We manifested no anxiety about it, but waited as cheerfully as possible until the cloud passed away and revealed the sun. Just so in our trials and temptations. Clouds may seem to shut from us the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness; but we know that the face of our Redeemer is not forever hidden. He is looking upon us with love and tender compassion. Let us not cast away our confidence, which hath great recompense of reward, but when clouds hang over the soul, let us keep our eyes fixed where we can see the Sun of Righteousness, and rejoice that we have a living Saviour. Think how beautiful was the light which we enjoyed, keep the mind stayed on Jesus, and the light will again shine upon us, and dismal thoughts will flee. We shall have joy in Christ, and shall go singing on our way to Mount Zion.
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God. Psalm 146:5.
Your only safety and happiness are in making Christ your constant counselor. You can be happy in Him if you had not another friend in the wide world. Your feelings of unrest and homesickness or loneliness may be for your good. Your heavenly Father means to teach you to find in Him the friendship and love and consolation that will satisfy your most earnest hopes and desires….
Do not be overanxious about anything. Go quietly about your duty which the day brings you. Do the best you can; ask God to be your helper…. Feel every day, “I am doing my work for God. I am not living for myself, to glorify myself, but to glorify God.” Oh, trust in Jesus and not in your own heart! Cast your burden and yourself upon Him. If you feel no joy, no consolation, do not be discouraged. Hope and believe. You may have a precious experience in the things of God. Wrestle with your discouragements and doubts until you gain the victory over them in Jesus’ name. Do not encourage grief, despondency, and darkness…. Repose in the broad, sure promises of God. Rest in these promises, without a doubt.
I have seen that those who live for a purpose, seeking to benefit and bless their fellow men and to honor and glorify their Redeemer, are the truly happy ones on the earth, while the man who is restless, discontented, and seeking this and testing that, hoping to find happiness, is always complaining of disappointment. He is always in want, never satisfied, because he lives for himself alone. Let it be your aim to do good, to act your part in life faithfully.
Find time to comfort some other heart, to bless with a kind, cheering word someone who is battling with temptation and maybe with affliction. In thus blessing another with cheering, hopeful words, pointing him to the Burden Bearer, you may unexpectedly find peace, happiness, and consolation yourself.
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness. Psalm 30:11.
Many who are seeking for happiness will be disappointed in their hopes, because they seek it amiss. True happiness is not to be found in selfish gratification, but in the path of duty. God desires man to be happy, and for this reason He gave him the precepts of His law, that in obeying these he might have joy at home and abroad. While he stands in his moral integrity, true to principle, having the control of all his powers, he cannot be miserable. With its tendrils entwined about God, the soul will flourish amid unbelief and depravity. But many who are constantly looking forward for happiness fail to receive it, because, by neglecting to discharge the little duties and observe the little courtesies of life, they violate the principles upon which happiness depends.
The currents of spiritual life must not become stagnant. The water of the living fountain should be in us, a well of water springing up into everlasting life, and sweeping away the selfishness of the natural heart…. Many build up barriers between themselves and Jesus so that His love cannot flow into their hearts, and then they complain that they do not see the Sun of Righteousness. Let them forget self and live for Jesus, and the light of Heaven will bring gladness to their souls….
The fact that Jesus died to bring happiness and heaven within our reach should be a theme for constant gratitude. The beauty spread before us in God’s created works, as an expression of His love, should bring gladness to our hearts. We open to ourselves the floodgates of woe or joy. If we permit our thoughts to be engrossed with the troubles and trifles of earth, our hearts will be filled with unbelief, gloom, and foreboding. If we set our affections on things above, the voice of Jesus will speak peace to our souls; murmurings will cease; vexing thoughts will be lost in praise to our Redeemer. Those who dwell upon God’s great mercies, and are not unmindful of His lesser gifts, will put on the girdle of gladness, and make melody in their hearts to the Lord.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. Hosea 6:3.
We may think we understand something about the truth and the Bible, but the revelation of truth is much beyond anything that our finite vision can comprehend. Christ leads us. When we are caught up to meet Him, and enter through the pearly gates into the city of God, He leads us by the living waters, and all the time He is educating and talking with us about things that He would have opened to our understanding upon the earth if we could have borne it. But we do not walk fast enough. We take too many back steps. We do not advance heavenward; therefore the light that would have come in glorious rays, could not come to us because we were not prepared for it. We take a step back into the world, to the gratifications of earth, and then we take a step toward heaven, and then we take a step back, and then we take a step toward heaven.
If you follow on to know the Lord, you shall know that His goings forth are prepared as the morning. You know the morning light first breaks upon us in a very dim light, and then increases and increases in brightness until the king of the day marches in the heavens in all his glory, in all his beauty…. Now if God’s glory were to shine first upon us as He wants to let it shine, we could not endure it…. That is just why Christ came in humanity. We could not have borne Him if He had come in all His glory….
Now if we will follow on, and if we will not backslide a step or two every now and then, and have to gather up our forces and go on—it is better to gather up our forces than to remain in a backslidden condition and keep on backsliding, but I wish that we did not lose so much time and so much strength—we may know more of God and more of heaven, and become better acquainted with the precious truth and the rich blessings that God has for us if we will only comprehend them. He has prepared wonderful things for us
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3.
To comprehend and enjoy God is the highest exercise of the powers of man. This may be attained only when our affections are sanctified and ennobled by the grace of Christ…. In Christ was the brightness of His Father’s glory, the express image of His person. Said our Saviour, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” John 14:9. In Christ is the life of the soul. In the outgoings of our hearts to Him, in our earnest, affectionate yearnings for His excellence, in our eager searching into His glory, we find life. In communion with Him we eat the bread of life.
When we allow objects of minor importance to absorb our attention, to the forgetfulness of Christ, turning away from Him to accept other companionship, we set our feet in a path which leads away from God and from heaven. Christ must be the central object of our affections, and then we shall live in Him, then we shall have His spirit….
What constitutes the brightness of heaven? In what will consist the happiness of the redeemed? Christ is all in all. They will gaze with rapture unutterable upon the Lamb of God. They will pour out their songs of grateful praise and adoration to Him whom they loved and worshiped here. That song they learned and began to sing on earth. They learned to put their trust in Jesus while they were forming characters for heaven. Their hearts were attuned to His will here. Their joy in Christ will be proportioned to the love and trust which they learned to repose in Him here.
God must be ever in our thoughts. We must hold converse with Him while we walk by the way, and while our hands are engaged in labor. In all the purposes and pursuits of life we must inquire, What will the Lord have me to do? How shall I please Him who has given His life a ransom for me? Thus may we walk with God, as did Enoch of old; and ours may be the testimony which he received, that he pleased God.