"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 2 Peter 1:1-4
Peter was one of the apostles, and he states that he is writing to those who have obtained the same faith that he and the other believers have. Do you have the faith of the apostolic church? If you do, then this book, written by Peter, is for you. In the book, The Great Controversy, we are told that the religion of these early Christians was a terror to evil doers. If your faith is a terror to evil doers, this book is written to you. And, if you truly have this faith, Peter says that grace always comes first and is followed by peace. You will never find the order reversed, because peace comes as the result of grace.
Did you notice how we receive grace and obtain peace? "In the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." There is only one way by which people are able to gain a knowledge of God. When the Jews rejected that one way, they were lost. There is no other wayóno spare tire in the system of salvation. "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows whom the Son wills to reveal Him." Matthew 11:27. The only way that you can know anything about the Father is through the Son. Any religion that denies Jesus and yet professes to worship God is a fraud.
"He who by faith lays hold firmly upon the invisible One, will reveal the character of Jesus. With lowliness of heart he will accept Christís invitation to the weary and the heavy laden. Instead of unloading his burdens upon his neighbor, with whose heart-sorrows he is unacquainted, he will seek rest by taking upon himself the yoke of Christ. Let us abide in Jesus. Then He aloneóformed within, the hope of gloryówill appear in our every word and deed." Review and Herald, May 26, 1904
This is not to say that we should never seek counsel from another person; but if you have a spiritual problem, you need Divine help. Another human being can solve an accounting problem; but if you are experiencing a spiritual problem, the solution is for the other person to direct your mind to the divine-human burden bearer.
Cause for Spiritual Weakness
Think this matter through. If God has given me all things that pertain unto life, if He has promised me grace and peace, is it really excusable for me to spend my time unloading all of my troubles upon my neighbors? Inspiration tells us that when we do this, we are really insulting God, as He is the only One who can help us. Our failure to follow this plan is the reason behind so much of our spiritual weakness.
"Is not this why there is among us so much spiritual feebleness. Why do we not take everything to the Lord in prayer? He stands at the head of humanity enabling men through His sacrifice to become partakers of the divine nature, to lay hold upon infinite power that will transform them into the likeness of the divine." Ibid.
We can become partakers of the divine nature through Godís promises if we choose to accept them by faith and ask the Lord to make us partakers of His divine nature. This opens the way for a miracle to take place in our character development. There follows a progression of change in our lives that Peter marks out, which has become known as "Peterís ladder." "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." 2 Peter 1:5-9
Remember that Peter is writing to people who have obtained like faith as himself. These are baptized Christians. When you are baptized, you make a public confession to the whole world that you have forsaken your sins and you are starting a new life. Peter says, however, that if you do not climb this ladder, adding to your faith moral excellence, to moral excellence knowledge, you are not walking the Christian path. You have forgotten the significance of your baptism. It is only when we follow this progression that we may know the certainty of our salvation. "Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble." Verse 10
In cooperation with Christ, each one of us is to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (See Philipians 2:12, 13.) Doing the works He bids us to do, trials will come to us; but we are to learn to depend completely upon Him for grace and for guidance. We are to learn to live as in the presence of Christ because perfection of character only comes through the gift of His righteousness. He says here in verse 4 that we are to become partakers of the divine nature.
Have you tried to comprehend in your mind what it means to become a partaker of the divine nature? What does the word nature mean? Now this has been a matter of debate among Adventists for a long time. You have all heard of the debate over the nature of Christ. When you talk about the nature of anybody, what are you talking about? What does it mean to become a partaker of the divine nature?
It is natural for you to do according to your nature. As you become a partaker of the divin nature it will become natural for you to think, speak and act like Jesus would if He were in your place. If I am partaking of the divine nature, that will affect, first of all, the way that I think; and as a result of that, it will affect the way that I speak and act.
Ellen White said that we should take the following pledge:
"I choose to guard against speaking words that discourage and resolve never to engage in evil speaking and backbiting. I choose to refuse to serve Satan by implanting seeds of doubt. I choose to guard against cherishing unbelief or expressing it to others. I solemnly promise to speak only those words that are pleasing to God, choosing to discipline the tongue by disciplining the mind; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Review and Herald, May 26, 1904. Speaking of this pledge, she said that we need to take this pledge just as much as we need to have a pledge against the use of intoxicating liquor. The exciting thing is that if the Lord tells us to pledge something, then He is going to give us the ability to fulfill that pledge.
How would you ever fulfill this pledge? I do not know how. All I know is that God says to make the pledge; and if He tells me to make it, He is going to help me to fulfill it because every command is a promise. There is divine power in this because God has said to do it; and when you choose to do something that God says to do, you are going to have divine power come into your life and help you to do that thing. Get down on your knees and say, "Lord, You told me to do this. I may never have done it one day in my whole life before this; but You told me to do it, and I am choosing to do it."
In the very next paragraph she writes, "Through the help that Christ can give, we shall be able to learn to bridle the tongue."
Do you know what would be the result if we were all to climb the whole ladder every day? Ellen White says that when this scripture actually comes to pass in the church, we are going to have conversions like they had on the Day of Pentecost.
For a long time I have been praying that something would take place similar to what happened during the sixteenth century Reformation. When Martin Luther preached, fifty million people walked out of the Catholic Church. We have been promised that when we are living out what we have been studying in these first ten verses here in 2 Peter, there are going to be hundreds and thousands of people converted like on the Day of Pentecost.
Are You Predestinated?
There are some people who are concerned about predestination. In fact, there is only one election that you will find in the Bible. The elect are the people who follow Peterís instructions. He says, "If you do this, you make your calling and election sure." You will be part of Godís elect. The good news is that not one person needs to fail of having everlasting life.
Do not let the devil convince you that are so wicked that the Lord cannot save you. That is not true. If you choose to learn daily of Jesus, no matter how bad your past has been, no matter what you have done or how vile you have been, the Lord can save you. This is the plan. Follow the instructions. He says that if you do these things, you will never stumble. "For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:11
Peter then goes on to say, If you do this, (the things that we have been reading about in the first ten verses), you are not going to stumble or fall; you are going to have an entrance, and it is going to be abundant. You will not just squeak through; you are going to have an abundant entrance into the kingdom. This is a divine, life insurance policy. This is a life insurance policy that insures that you are going to have eternal life if you follow these instructions. This is the contract; this is the agreement.
Peter then continues, "I know that I am going to be put to death soon, as the Lord has told me; but as long as I am here, Iím not going to be negligent to keep on reminding you about this." (See Verses 12-15.)
No Unpleasant Words in Heaven
A few years ago when I was reading the book Upward Look for the first time, there was a statement on page 163 that caught my attention so much that I have never forgotten it. In fact, I have used it many times in counseling people. Ellen White said, "In heaven no unpleasant words are spoken." Would you like to be in a place where there are no unpleasant words spoken? The people who go to heaven when Jesus comes are going to be people who, before that time, have learned to talk like they talk in heaven. I want to learn; how about you?
"Oh," somebody says, "you have to rebuke sin." Jesus rebuked sin. I want to learn to do it in the way that He did it. Somebody says, "Well, you have to warn people." I believe that. That is the loving thing to do. I want to learn to warn people in the way that the angels and Jesus warned people. We are not talking about not facing reality. But in heaven, no unpleasant words are spoken. What could happen in our homes if we learned to speak like they speak in heaven? If we start putting this into practice, what could happen? Let me tell you one thing that would happen. The Adventist pastors all over the world would not have to spend so many thousands of hours that they are spending right now trying to counsel people to mend their broken marriages. That is one of the things that would happen just right away. We would start spending more time in evangelism all over the world; because what I am talking about is a worldwide problem.
Why do they never speak unpleasant words in heaven? Why? She tells us why on that very same page. Because "no unkind thoughts are cherished." Friend, it is so easy. Let me tell you what the devil is trying to do. The devil is trying to get you to concentrate on my character defects and me to concentrate on your character defects so that in our minds we will pour forth a torrent of words. If we are not going to speak unpleasant words, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, we must not cherish unkind thoughts. I do not claim to come up to the standard, but I am determined by the grace of God to reach it. How about you? I want a change in my tongue; and to have a change in my tongue, I know that I will have to have a change in my mind and my spirit. I am determined, by the grace of God, that what He says can be done in my life because He is not a respector of persons. He is willing to do it for me; and He is willing to do it for you, if we are willing.
From what we have studied, I hope that nobody can ever deceive you by telling you that your character has no relation to your salvation; just believe and everything will be all right. From what we read in the Bible, nobody should ever be able to deceive you on that point. It is too plain!
I want the change in my mind that will result in a change in my tongue, that will result in a change in my behavior. Do you want it, too? I am just simple enough to believe that if we pray and are sincere, the Lord will answer our prayer. Let us pray for that miracle to start happening in our lives.