Give diligence to make your calling and
2Pe 1:5-7 (Bro. Jeff Foltz)
We have just read the first 2 chapters of the Apostle Peter’s second and final letter. This letter was presumably written sometime around 61-65 AD just prior to the Apostles death and before the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Mosaic Heavens.
We can see in his urging the desire to remind and prepare his brethren for the difficulties that were about to come upon the ecclesia’s at that time. Our Lord instructed Peter that if he truly loved him with that Agape Love he would feed his sheep. This feeding takes on many forms, from the simple milk of the word that builds strong foundations, to dire warnings like the medicine that we don’t want to take because it is bitter and painful. Peter loved his Master and so in due time provided his sheep with the spiritual food that we have received this morning.
Our intention this morning is to draw a distinction between the Truth that was once delivered to the saints and the state of Apostasy existing in the world today; to encourage one another in the Hope that we have been called to through the Atoning work of Jesus Anointed as we endeavor to add precept upon precept, line upon line, until he comes to Redeem his servants and take vengeance on them that know not God.
The principle message of Peter’s letter is to teach the saints that we need constant reminding to diligently maintain the Faith in its integrity and to add to our faith all the time. Of particular interest is the idea of Diligence that Peter uses no less then 3 times in this short letter to the saints. The Greek word for diligence means to make haste or have earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything. Hence to devote significant time and energy to accomplish what you have undertaken.
Peter also warns us that deceivers would enter into the ecclesia and he illustrates the spiritual effects that this would have upon Truth as well as the final outcome of those who have perverted the Way of Life and beguiled his servants.
Peter is writing to those in particular of “Like precious Faith” who have received all things that pertain to life and godliness though the Atoning work of Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, he is writing to us as well that we might be called to action and heed the warning and instruction that he is giving that we might always have these words in remembrance.
This letter is a sober warning to his brethren that the time would quickly arrive when their own brethren would not endure sound doctrine and would be led away from the Truth and try to lead them away as well; some out of ignorance, some out of outright deceptiveness, some out of covetousness to make gain. And this was at the time that the Holy Spirit gifts were present and active within the various ecclesias. How much more should this warning pertain to us who do not have the gifts available to us?
Peter is very indignant concerning the heresies that would creep in and destroy and undermine his work, and bears this testimony against those types of people, saying, 2Pe 2:1 “There were false prophets among the people (Israel) as there will be false teachers among you, privately introducing damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them (denying that he came in real flesh). And many will follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth will be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned (Molded i.e. exhortations) words make merchandize of you. Presumptuous, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities (dozaz, glories, or those in the ecclesia through whom the ministration of the Spirit is glory), whereas angels who are greater in power and might, bear not reproachful opinions in respect of them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things they understand not Spots are they and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls; a heart have they exercised with covetous practices; cursed children who have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness. These are wells without water; clouds that are covered with a tempest, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh and wantonness, those that were clean, escaped from them that live in error; while they promise them liberty, they are themselves the servants of corruption.” 2 Pet. 2. These were the scoffers of the last days of the Mosaic dispensation, walking after their own lusts, who tauntingly enquired, “Where is the promise of his coming, of that coming predicted in Matt. 10:23 ; 24:27. Jerusalem was about to be destroyed by Titus and the Roman Army as the punishment against that wicked generation. But many did not want to hear or blatantly disregarded the warning from the Apostles.
We remember also from both Paul and John’s letters that the spirit of Anti-Christ was already at work among the ecclesias. John tells them, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as ye have heard that the anti-Christ comes, even now there are many anti-Christs, whereby we know it is the last hour. They (these anti-Christs) went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us; they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” 1 John 2:18 .
These anti-Christs professed great zeal for “divine things,” claiming to be True believers. However, their anti-Christian spirit consisted in not consenting to the Apostles teaching concerning the Father and the Son; nevertheless, many made a great show of piety in word and in life, by which they were able to fool the simple for good saints and ministers of righteousness. They professed to have the Holy Spirit, and to speak by its impulses.
These brethren became unfruitful and choked on the cares of the world and the things of this age. However, they were unwilling to abandon Christianity entirely, they sought to popularize it by mixing up its doctrines with rabbinical and philosophical traditions, in hopes that the offence of the cross might cease.
However, there will be no compromising, no blending of the True doctrine with mere human tradition. The consequence was that these false prophets or teachers pitched themselves against Christ, and were therefore styled “anti-Christs,” and the spirit that begat them “the spirit of anti-Christ.” Peter would be able to understand this idea since he himself had been styled “Satan” by the Lord and told to get behind the Lord of Life. Peter acted out of sincerity and a desire to protect his Lord, Yet it was a spirit that was directly opposed to the Will of the Father, and therefore was an Adversary to the Annointed One. Peter thought (wrongly) that he could be following the Way by mere human thinking and that his desire to protect and serve his Master would be counted as righteous zeal for his beloved. This incident clearly illustrates to us how easily we can become blinded by our own thinking and not understand the Divine Purpose unless we diligently and consistently seek the Word of God to direct and influence our hearts and mind and actions.
So too, those false teachers thought they could reason out the best of all possible teachings. They did not renounce Christianity, but corrupted it and made it mere institutions of fig leaves. They set up “a form of godliness,” which had its God, its Jesus and its Holy Spirit; its gospel, its piety, and so forth; but when these were compared with the Truth as taught by Jesus and the apostles, they are found to be completely destitute of the power . 2Ti 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
This is the Christianity of all Christendom today, steeped in doctrines of demons and filled with all manner of abomination, which is as much possessed of the spirit of anti-Christ as were the anti-Christs of the first century.
So why are we spending time to look at something that occurred over 1900 years ago? How does it affect us today? Because as part of our remembrance of our Lord, we ought to be diligent in our Faith and not allow the subtle serpent thinking of the flesh to beguile us and so deceive us from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.
If the world has so perverted the Truth that it calls evil good and good evil then we need to take heed to that warning and arm ourselves by the renewing of our minds and the strengthening of our Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died that we might live. The Truth has been revived by the Grace of our God in these last days through the work of brothers who were VERY diligent in the Study and proclamation of the Gospel. These brethren were adamant about standing up and opposing the lies that had corrupted the Truth as it is in Jesus Christ. As we gather around the Lord’s table this first day, we are reminded as well just how much he Loves us and how much he hates those that lead his people away from the Truth.
In the letters to the 7 ecclesias found in the Revelation, our Lord is quick to point out the things that he hates and those false teachers that were leading his flock away. To the ecclesia in Pergamos he writes; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, …But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolatians, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Peter also uses Balaam as an example of how he caused the children of Israel to sin with the women and forsook the way of righteousness.
Jesus speaks also of the Nicolatians or vanquishers of the people who spoke lies concerning the Truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, denying that he came in the flesh and was of immaculate divine nature from the womb.
To the ecclesia in Thyatira, the Lord Jesus symbolized these “evil men and seducers” by another notorious character of antiquity—Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, whose history was illustrative of their practices, and her fate typical of theirs. Speaking to the Leaders of that ecclesia, he says “Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Fornication, as well as eating of the sacrifices, being both elements of idolatrous worship, are used in the Apocalypse as symbolical actions, representing a departure from the right way, by corrupt or untruthful practices, and by doing what is forbidden, which is idolatry: “for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry.” This Jezebel was a teacher of the false doctrine, or “knowledge falsely so-called,” whose oppositions were subversive of the doctrines of Christ, by which she seduced his servants from the simplicity of faith. She became the drunken woman who now rides the blood-dyed beast of the Gentiles. Rev. 17
Paul who was also very concerned with the ecclesia falling away from the Truth in Christ wrote to the saints in Corinth 2Co 11:2 : “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ…But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Paul’s fear was not groundless. When the Spirit of God formed the Bride from the side of the Second Adam, and by faith in his resurrection she became partaker of his flesh and bones, on the day of Pentecost, she was as Eve before the fall. As long as she “continued steadfast in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship,” she continued a “chaste virgin.” But in process of time, men of corrupt minds crept in unawares, and began to discourse to her about the principles of the Gentile philosophies, and the desirableness of their co-mixture with the pure doctrine of Christ. Unfortunately, the ecclesial bride lent a too willing ear, and was beguiled. The result was unavoidable. She was impregnated with principles which in a set time attained maturity, and she gave birth to Cain, the Lawless One. In the period of her gestation, she was the Fallen One, Jezebel, the beguiler of her companions. “I gave her space,” saith the Lord, “to repent of her fornication and she repented not. Behold I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death, and all the ecclesias shall know that I am He that searches the reins and hearts, and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”
Such is the awful apostasy from the faith that began to manifest itself before the apostles had left this tabernacle as Peter styles it, and the gifts of the Spirit had been withdrawn. It was modern Christendom in principle form; a field of tares sown by the enemy, waiting to become fully ripe for the harvest.
So not only have the saints been prevailed against, but the faith we contend for is denounced as heresy and the real lies, predicted by the apostles, are established and incorporated as the truth today. Immortality of the Soul, Heaven going, Fallen Angels, Torment in Hell, Demon possession, etc,etc.. They have eaten as a cancer; so that “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus” are as fables in the ears of the people today. What is to be done in such a case? The evil is too great and strong for the saints in the absence of our Lord. We cannot destroy it, and to try and reform the evil would leave it but evil still. Only one thing can be done, and that is to testify against it, and bear witness for the truth. We must strengthen one another and lead as many to the knowledge of the Light of the Truth as we can.
Let us be encouraged today that we have been called out of the Darkness of this age and have not been beguiled by another Gospel. Take comfort for our Lord has overcome the world and promises us his peace. But let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure: for if we do these things, we shall never fall: And an entrance shall be ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We recall that our Master said: Jo 7:37 “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink”, and: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jesus then provides, and indeed is, the water of life to all who believe: and our wells must not be allowed to run dry that we become “wells without water”. On the contrary we must, by the regular reading of the Word, keep our thirst alive; as it was when we first approached “the spring where living waters flow”, that the spring within us may abound to our eternal well-being;
Turning back again to 2Pe 1:4-8. We see that because we have an understanding of these great and precious promises we are to give diligence to Add to our Faith. Faith is not to be something static and achieved once and then assumed to be good enough. We see that we are to ADD to it all the time. These 7 characteristics are the fruits of the Spirit that are discussed in other epistles as well, but a brief discussion of these in relation to our Lord and to ourselves should prove beneficial this morning.
Once we have established our Faith in the promises of God; that is in the unseen things of the Age to come, we are to develop virtue or morals concerning right and wrong. This leads us on to seek for a greater knowledge of the Will of God contained in His Word. From here we move on to add Temperance which is self-restraint or self control in the things that we have read in the Word. It is the beating into subjection our will to that of the Father.
Next we Add Patience or Endurance to our character. This relates to a tenacious hanging-on, with a clenched-teeth holding attitude. It is knowing what is the Right thing to do and to do it no matter the cost or pain. The 5th characteristic we are to add is Godliness or reverence toward God. This is seeking to bring glory and honor to His name at all times, not just once or twice a week, but every waking moment of our day is directed towards manifesting God in our thoughts and actions.
Once we have begun to develop this characteristic in ourselves we are to manifest it towards others and in so doing we add Brotherly Kindness to our Faith. This is demonstrated by assisting one another as if they were our very own kindred. We should help one another like we are each others brother and sister and mother and Father. Finally the 7th characteristic we are to develop in our Faith is Charity or Agape Love. This is that selfless love where we esteem others better than ourselves and give anything and everything in sacrifice for one another.
If we develop these in our lives then Peter assures us that we will not be blind or barren concerning spiritual fruits. We are to be diligent in developing these as Peter states in Verse 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
We know this is a True saying and worthy of all acceptance for we see these very characteristics developed and manifested in our Lord. He is the Word made flesh, ISA11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.
He continually displayed self-control and subjected his will to that of the Father. Concerning Godliness; Jo 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. In regards to Brotherly Kindness we cannot but see the compassion our Lord displayed as he healed multitudes and fed his brethren; the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
And finally, in regards to the Agape he demonstrated to us all we read in Isaiah Isa 53: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Therefore Brothers and Sisters, seeing that we have been called from the darkness of this age and that we have received the Truth of the Living God, what manner of person ought we to be? Peter in the 3rd Chapter of his epistle concludes the matter with this same question. Peter has answered that question for us in the first chapter by showing us the Fruits we are to develop, he then warns us that many will creep in and cause a falling away from the Truth because they did not develop these fruits but chose to follow after the ways of Balaam and Jezebel and so perverted the Way of Life.
The same can happen to us today if we also are not careful and seeking to try the spirits and see if they follow the Faith once delivered to the Saints. This applies to others as well as to ourselves that we do not deceive our own hearts by the deceitfulness of the flesh. Therefore, beloved, seeing that you know these things, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness
Let us be diligent that we may be found by Christ in peace, without spot, and blameless, growing in Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jeff Foltz, North Industry, Ohio