Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, let’s take a journey today, refreshing our minds on the words “add to our faith”(2 Peter 1:5, 6). With the Lord’s help, we hope we can implement these important reminders into our lives as shared from the divinely inspired words of GOD (2 Tim. 3:16), enabling us to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).
Let’s begin with a scene at the Mount of Olives, where Jesus had gone with his disciplines after partaking of the Passover that evening, and instituting the Memorial Supper for the first time. They neared a place called Gethsemane, and Satan must have been right there with them invisibly present. He would certainly want to be on the scene of his great triumph which was about to take place – the betrayal of Jesus with a kiss, by his own disciple Judas Iscariot. If the disciples had known that the Prince of Darkness was at their side, they would have been terrified, but Jesus knew he was there.
Here Jesus did an astonishing thing — he read Satan’s mind! We know this because he turned to Simon Peter and said, “Simon, Simon; behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” This must have startled Peter; so the Lord reassured him, saying, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” Then he added something which Peter would remember and act upon in the days to come – “And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31, 32).
To be converted means to “turn,” “to change.” Peter’s triple denial of the Lord and the remorse that followed converted his headstrong and impetuous will to a humble and contrite heart (Psa. 51:17). We read, “And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”
After the crucifixion, the resurrection, and several appearances of Jesus to his disciples, there was a time when the disciples did not know just what to do.
One day about seven of them (including Peter), who used to be fishermen, gathered at the seashore. They enjoyed the familiar sights and sounds of the sea. They were of the same mind as to what they would do, but each hesitated to make the first move. You can well imagine who did make the first move. We read, “Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth and entered into a ship immediately.” (John 21:3) Do you see what a natural leader Peter was? He said, “I’m going fishing!” The others said, “We’ll go fishing with you!” They all went fishing.
This incident illustrates how easy it is to lose direction – to misplace one’s energies when the leader is gone and the objective is not clear. These were the ones Jesus had for over three years made “fishers of men.” He left them for a few days and now, once again, they were back to being “fishers of fish!”
All that night they caught nothing. Perhaps in the silent watches of the night they began to have some doubts as to the wisdom of going back into the fishing business.
Early the next morning, Jesus appeared to them for the third time since his resurrection. He revealed himself in a characteristic way, by a miraculous incident. At the direction of a man on the shore, whose face they could not recognize, they let down their net once more. After catching not one single fish all night, their net now contained over one hundred great fishes. They knew it was Jesus on shore. They knew by the bounty of his gift. “Great fishes” must weigh at least thirty pounds each. So, one moment they had nothing; the next moment they were practically engulfed by two tons of fish. It took a miracle to keep their net from being torn by the weight of the catch (John 21:11). Did Jesus allow them to make this stupendous catch to encourage them to remain in the fishing business? We think not.
When the disciples came ashore, Jesus had food prepared for them. He invited them to eat, and he served them the food. Think of it! This was no longer the man Christ Jesus. This was the resurrected Jesus! A mighty spirit being, a being who said of himself, “All power is given unto me, in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). He made them sit down, and he served them! No, he had not changed in character. He was still the same Jesus, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. This was the same Jesus who taught them that the chiefest among them should be a servant (Matt. 20:27,28), and demonstrated it by washing their feet.
Jesus still serves us our spiritual food today IF
we have not left his table.
Now we read from the record in John 21:15, 17, “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agape) thou me more than these” (these boats, these nets, these earthly interests)? “He saith unto him, Yea Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him: feed my lambs. Jesus saith unto him again, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agape) thou me? He saith unto him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him: feed my sheep [or tend my sheep, as the Diaglott has it] (“take care of (and serve) my sheep” – NIV). He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me? Peter was grieved, because he said unto him the third time: Lovest (phileo) thou me? And he said unto him: Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. Jesus saith unto him, feed my sheep“ (author’s emphasis).
Yes, when Jesus asked Peter the third time, Peter understood. Three times he had denied the Master even though he loved him deeply. He had been remorseful and heartbroken, and now he was required to affirm his love three times as if to expiate.
This was the punishment his Lord imposed, the only punishment he imposed, a gentle punishment indeed. With it, Jesus imposed a duty upon Peter — a duty by which Peter could prove his love.
The duty was threefold:
“…feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep.”
Under these circumstances, would not Peter have a tremendous incentive, an eager and consuming desire to comply with the Lord’s wishes? He had miserably failed his Lord before; now he was accorded a chance to prove his love and devotion. This time he must not fail!
He did not fail! In his years of faithful ministry, he fed the Lord’s lambs – those immature in the truth. He tended the Lord’s sheep as they matured, warning them against false teachers and damnable heresies, and denial of the ransom (2 Peter 2:1,2). He fed the Lord’s sheep – those established in the truth – with meat in due season for them. He stirred them up and stimulated them to progress in the race for the prize of the high calling. He would not let the Lord down again! As he said:
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance” (2 Peter 1:12,13).
We are going to consider some of Peter’s admonitions to us, who are the Lord’s lambs and sheep. These admonitions which are a part of Peter’s efforts, to feed and tend us, to prove his great love for his Master.
We are told in our text to add to our faith certain things.
This implies that we can’t even start to carry out these instructions unless we have this faith. This automatically weeds out a lot of people – even good people. Some people in the world are naturally noble and good, of excellent character. They prefer righteousness to evil and so order their lives. Are they thereby qualifying for the prize of the high calling? No! Not for a minute! There must be a foundation of faith, a faith of a certain kind, before the structure built upon it can be recognized by the Lord.
Peter addresses the words of our text, “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us” (2 Peter 1:1). Not just faith, but “like precious faith.”
Mere faith in GOD is not enough.
James 2:19 says, “The devils also believe and tremble.”
What is required is an absolute faith in the redemption accomplished through the precious blood of Christ. A firm belief in the application of that blood to ourselves is required. By such belief, we have a standing before GOD being justified, accepted, and begotten in the race for the high calling. We have an abiding confidence in GOD’s plan for salvation, not only for ourselves but for the whole world. It is upon this precious faith, a faith like the faith of the apostles, that we are to build.
Then we read, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue…” (1 Peter 1:5).
The word “virtue” here is better translated “fortitude.” This is strength of character in righteousness.
This implies the cultivation of the
in ALL our dealings, both with GOD and with our fellowmen.
It means scrupulous honesty, justice, and truth. The Psalmist defines this characteristic in Psalm 15:
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved … He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.”
The same thought is expressed in Proverbs 11:20, “They that are of a froward heart, are abomination to the Lord; but such as are upright in their ways, are his delight.”
- “forward” heart – this implies: disobedient, rebellious, unreasonable, contrary, perverse, twisted -crooked, dishonest, upright.
- “upright” – right-minded, worthy, virtuous, incorruptible, proper, noble, just, respectable.
One who has “escaped the corruption that is in the world” and is qualified to become a partaker of the divine nature walks uprightly and works righteousness. He does even more than that! He speaks the truth in his heart. His motives are pure. He takes the truth to heart; and: “Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” He speaks the truth gently and without malice.
Again from Psalm 15, “He backbiteth not with his tongue; nor doeth evil to his neighbor; nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.” One that is striving for the prize of the high calling should not indulge in evil — speaking or character assassination.
One who knows the importance of developing character
will not destroy another’s character.
There is a poem, translated from Arabic, which contains some excellent advice:
“If you are tempted to reveal a tale someone has told about another,
make it pass, before you speak, three gates of gold.
These narrow gates:
First, ‘Is it True?’
Then, ‘Is it needful.’
In your mind give a truthful answer.
The last is narrowest, ‘Is it kind?’
If to reach your lips at last it passes through these gateways three,
then you may tell the tale, nor fear what the result of speech may be.”
The frightening thing about evil speaking is that the harm done is usually irreparable. There is a story illustrating this point:
When a man asked the Moslem prophet Mohammed how he might make amends for falsely accusing a friend, he was told to go and place a goose feather on each doorstep in the village. He did this. The next day Mohammed said, “Now go and collect all the feathers.” The man protested, “That’s impossible! A wind blew all night, and the feathers are scattered beyond recall.” “Exactly,” said Mohammed. “
And so it is with the reckless words you spoke against your neighbor.”
Along the same line, we read in Ephesians 4:29-32,
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted; forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.”
Just like Apostle Peter was concerned about the growth and development of the Church and thus counselled the early Church to faithfulness and to growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, so we hope and pray that the words read may help to call to remembrance truths perhaps already learned and fully received so that all whom wish to walk faithfully until death, may do so with whatever words of encouragement from the wells of eternal refreshment our Heavenly Father allows to be shared, for where there is a longing for GOD and His Truth… where there is a longing to do GOD’s Perfect will… there is the hope of ETERNAL JOY.
Let us do whatever it takes to be FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH. (Rev.2:10)
Acknowledgment: ‘The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom’ Magazine, a 1991 Edition.