Today’s selected reading is found in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter unto “them that have obtained like precious faith through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” More specifically today’s passage is found in the first two chapters of this New Testament book. “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 Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:-2).
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all tings that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 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. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 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. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:3-11).
“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; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scriptures is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:12-21).
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah and eight person, a preacher of righteousness, bring in in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are 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: an heart they have exercised with covetousness practices; cursed children: which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of. Balaam the son of. Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great dwelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption; for of whom a man overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her walling in the mire” (2 Peter 2:1-23).
When you come to the second epistle written by the apostle Peter you will come to an epistle that bears a strong semblance to the second epistle written by the apostle Paul to Timothy his spiritual son in the faith. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find a man who knew that his time upon the earth was drawing to a close. It is absolutely impossible to read the words found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul to Timothy and not encounter a man who was preparing himself for the transition from this life to the next. In fact I would dare say the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy was indeed written—not merely to encourage and admonish this spiritual son who had just been ordained and appointed as the first bishop of the church in Ephesus but also to prepare him for his departure. This is something which the apostle Paul made ready and prepared the elders of the Ephesian church when he met with them on the shore of a beach and spoke unto them of his departure. It would be there on that shoreline the apostle Paul would prepare these dear saints and elders for the reality that they would see his face no more and that he was going bound unto the city of Jerusalem not knowing what awaited or abode him there.
As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Peter I can’t help but find a man who had lived his life walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ and was preparing to meet Him face to face for the first time since he last saw Him when He ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven. It’s actually quite interesting to think about how the apostle Peter was preparing himself and the saints of God for his departure from this world and his entrance into the next knowing who he would meet in that place. For three and a half years the apostle Peter walked with and followed the Lord Jesus listening to His words and beholding His works. The apostle Peter had witnessed Jesus cast out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead, calm storms, enrage and upset the religious order and establishment, offend the Jews, suffer in the flesh and ultimately die before being raised from death to life. The apostle Peter would be a personal witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus over a forty day period of time when He showed Himself as being alive with many infallible proofs. The apostle Peter was present on the mount of Olives when the Lord Jesus ascended from that mountain into the heavens and a cloud parted Him from their view. Now when the apostle Peter was writing this epistle he was preparing to meet once more the same one he had walked with and followed for three and a half years. For more than three decades the apostle Peter would continue to faithfully walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh as he continued to abide in this earthly tabernacle made of flesh and blood. Now the apostle Peter was preparing and making himself ready to once more see the One whom he had walked with and followed for three and a half years.
The more I read the words which are found in this epistle the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the apostle Peter as having been one of the twelve disciples who were chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ to abandon and forsake everything that they might walk with and follow Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to just how tremendous this particular epistle was. I am trying to picture what it was like for the apostle Peter to write this epistle knowing that he was personally preparing himself to depart from this life and from this mortal tabernacle made of flesh and blood. The apostle Peter would indeed depart from this life and pass into the next and he would write this second epistle to prepare and make ready the saints of God—those whom he referred to as having obtained like precious faith through the righteousness of God and of the Saviour Jesus Christ. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found in this epistle and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the apostle knew that the time of his departure was at hand. The apostle Peter knew that he had indeed walked the path set before him, had finished his course, had run the race before him and had fought the good fight of faith.
In order to truly understand the words and language found in this epistle I can’t help but feel compelled to call and draw your attention to various words and passages found within Scripture that call and invite us to run the race which is set before us, to fight the good fight of faith, to walk by faith and not by sight, to finish the course set before us, and to truly seek to obtain a crown of life in the next life. Throughout the New Testament there are countless references to this life and what we are indeed called to do as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of these particular phrases for when we read the second epistle written by the apostle Peter we find one who was looking back over his journey as a disciple and apostle of Christ and was preparing himself to meet Him once more face to face. The apostle Peter had already witnessed and beheld Jesus being transfigured atop the mountain when He appeared in glory speaking with Moses and Elijah. The apostle Peter had even witnessed and beheld the resurrected Jesus Christ after He had risen from the grave on the third day. In fact it is in the first and opening chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Peter writing and speaking unto these dear saints of like precious faith concerning that encounter atop the mountain when Jesus brought himself, James and John with Him and was transfigured before them. It would be there atop the mountain where Jesus would be transfigured and His appearance altered as He would shine with a measure of the glory He had with the Father before the world began. What’s more is that it would be there atop the mountain where Jesus would also appear talking with Moses and Elijah and where the voice of the Father would break through the clouds and emphatically declare that this was His beloved Son and then instruct those present to hear Him.
I sit here thinking about and considering the words which are found in this second epistle written by the apostle Peter and how there was almost a sense of hope, joy, anticipation, expectation and rejoicing within his heart and soul. The apostle Peter knew that the time of his departure was at hand and that he would soon no longer be present upon the earth and in this second epistle we find him writing and speaking unto the saints concerning this departure. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the second epistle written by the apostle Peter as well as the second epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find men who knew they were preparing to depart from this life unto the next and how there was a certain joy unspeakable that was present within their hearts and souls. It is absolutely impossible to read the words found in both of these epistles and not find two men who knew that the time of their departure was at hand and were spending their last moments, hours, days and perhaps even weeks upon the earth rejoicing in the Lord Jesus Christ whom they had walked with and followed. These were two men who were indeed called and chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ and who were appointed as apostles of the word, gospel and name of Jesus among Jews and Gentiles in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful reality that even though we prepare ourselves to depart from this life and pass into the next—even though we are preparing ourselves for death—it is possible for there to be a strong and powerful measure of rejoicing and joy within our hearts and souls. Oh dear saint would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the fact that you can come to the end of your life and prepare yourself to die and pass from this life unto the next and have a deep and abiding hope and joy within your heart knowing that you will soon meet the Lord Jesus face to face?
With the reality of the apostles Peter and Paul knowing the time and hour of their departure was at hand and writing unto their audience preparing them for such we find two men who seemed to rejoice in the awesome and powerful truth that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord. Here were two men who knew that their time in the earthly tents they were given had come to an end and that they were now preparing themselves to meet the Lord Jesus face to face. It is with this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints concerning being present in the body as well as being absent from the body. It would be in this particular epistle the apostle Paul would speak of a great conflict within his heart and soul for he recognized that to be present in the body was for the benefit of the saints of God and disciples of Christ, however, to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord. For the apostles Peter and Paul they recognized that their time in the physical and natural bodies they were given was drawing to a close and they were now readying themselves to shed this earthly tabernacle that they might lay hold of a new spiritual being and reality in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Oh it is incredibly important for us to recognize and pay attention to this for when you read the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints you will find this incredibly powerful conflict within his heart and soul as he worked to exist between two different desires which were competing with each other. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints:
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences” (2 Corinthians 5:1-11).
In all reality I am convinced the words which we find here in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints must needs be considered when seeking to understand the reality which the apostle Peter was seeking to convey. The apostle Peter knew and understood that he was going to be shedding this earthly and natural tent and that he was going to be taking up a heavenly and spiritual tent made and reserved for him in the heavens. That which we find in the fifth chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul is absolutely incredible for within the opening verses he writes and speaks of being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The apostle Peter was indeed preparing and making himself ready to pass from this life unto the next and he knew that the time of his putting off this earthly tabernacle was at hand. The apostle Peter knew that the life which he had lived in the flesh he did not live unto and for himself but lived unto and for the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia which is found in the second chapter of the epistle: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:16-21).
The apostle Peter knew and understood that he had spent his time upon this earth—not only walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ but also that the life which he lived in the flesh he lived by the faith of the Son of God who loved him and gave Himself for him. The apostle Peter knew and understood that he had spent more than three decades walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ and had devoted his time, his days, and his energy to pleasing him. It was the apostle Paul when writing unto the Corinthian saints who emphatically declared unto them that we walk by faith and not by sight—a reality which we must needs understand. What’s more is that when you consider the third chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Philippian saints you will find the apostle Paul writing earlier in his life about his singular desire, ambition, and passion in this life—namely, apprehending and laying hold of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely convinced that if you want to truly understand the hope that was found within the hearts and souls of the apostles Peter and Paul you need to understand the pursuit and passion they gave themselves to within this life. In fact it was in the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippians we find the following words written by the apostle Paul:
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth. Unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:7-16).
The words which we find in this passage of Scripture are entirely and altogether compelling when you take the time to truly think about them for they speak to the singular pursuit and desire within the hearts and souls of the apostles Peter and Paul. You cannot read the words which are found in these verses and not see a passionate pursuit to lay hold of, win and apprehend the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter had walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ for three and a half years witnessing and beholding both His words and His works. What’s more is even after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and His ascension from the mount of Olives unto the right hand of the Father the apostle Peter continued walking with and following the Lord Jesus. The arrival of the person, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost would dramatically and radically change and transform him and he would become incredibly committed, passionate, devoted and utterly sold out to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when reading the words found in the second epistle written by the apostle Peter for when we come to this second epistle we are indeed brought face to face with the awesome and beautiful reality of a man who had spent more than three decades faithfully walking by faith and not by sight as he would continue walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter had not only walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ for three and a half years while He dwelt and abode among us as the Word made flesh but the apostle Peter had also walked with and followed Him being completely and utterly governed by the person and presence of the Holy Spirit.
With this being said there is a great need to recognize that when the apostle Peter was writing the words found in this second epistle he was indeed preparing to shed this earthly and natural tabernacle that he might take up that spiritual body which was prepared for him. Scripture isn’t entirely clear the conversations and dialogues the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul had and whether or not they talked and spoke about shedding this earthly and natural tabernacle, however, we can be certain the apostle Peter knew and understood that he would soon be passing from this life into the next. The apostle Peter knew that his time spent in this earthly and natural tabernacle was drawing to a close and that he was preparing to take up that which he had not experienced before. Oh it was indeed true the apostle Peter had not only seen the transfigured Jesus atop the mountain as well as the resurrected Jesus after He emerged victorious from the grave and now he was preparing to lay hold of and obtain a new and entirely different reality. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when we come to the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Pau—not only do we find him writing of the resurrection of the saints but we also find him writing of the new spiritual bodies we can and will take up when we transition from this life to the next. I am absolutely convinced that before we delve back into the words found in the second epistle written by the apostle Peter we must needs consider the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthians. It is these words written by the apostle Paul we not only find him writing of the resurrection of the saints of God but we also find him writing concerning the new and spiritual bodies we can and will take up when we pass from this life to the next. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in this particular epistle written by the apostle Paul:
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raise in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:35-49).
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).
The words we find in this passage of Scripture calls and draws our attention to the wonderful and beautiful truth of an incorruptible and immortal body which we as the saints of God can and will put on when we pass from this life to the next. The apostle Paul made it perfectly clear that when we pass from this life unto the next corruption is set aside to take up incorruption and mortality is put aside to take up immortality. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful truth surrounding that which happens when we shed this earthly tabernacle of flesh, blood and bones and take up that spiritual body. The apostle Paul made it clear to the Corinthians that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God and we must needs recognize and understand this for when we come to the second epistle written by both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter we find these two men preparing and making themselves ready to depart from this world and for their entrance into the next. Eventually there would come a point when these two men would get the sense within their spirits that the time of their sojourning and pilgrimage upon this earth was drawing to a close and they knew they were going to pass from this realm into the realm eternal and immortal. What makes this truly interesting when you consider it is when you read these epistles and find them writing letters unto others concerning their departure.
With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the various verses and passages within Scripture where we encounter and come face to face with that for which we have been called to in this life. It is true that we do indeed walk by faith and not by sight and it is true that we as the saints of God are such who live our lives with the eager anticipation—either of tasting death in this life that we might experience life in the next or being alive and present when the Lord Jesus descends with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the sound of the trumpet. We must needs recognize and understand that while we are present in this world and while we do in fact walk in this flesh we are living as strangers and pilgrims in this life as we await—either the tasting of death as we enter into the realm of eternity or being alive and present when the Lord Jesus Christ descends from heaven with a shout and comes for both the dead in Christ and those which are alive and remain. When we read the epistles written by the apostles Peter and Paul we encounter two men who found themselves in a place where they sensed their departure from this world and not only prepared and made themselves ready as they eagerly anticipated seeing and meeting the Lord Jesus Christ but also made those to whom they were writing ready. Both men sought to admonish and encourage those whom they were writing concerning their departure from this world unto the next. It would be in the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul preparing the elders of the Ephesian church for his earthly and natural departure from their midst and them never again seeing his face as he journeyed to Jerusalem and it is in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy we find him writing concerning his departure—not from a geographical place in the realm of time and space but from life upon the earth in flesh and blood. Consider if you will the words which are found in the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as well as the words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy:
“And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:18-32).
“For I am not ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
It is necessary for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they are a clear contrast between an earthly departure in the natural sense and an earthly departure in the spiritual sense. The apostle Paul was preparing to depart from Asia on his journey to Jerusalem and knew that not only was he going bound to Jerusalem but also that the elders of the Ephesian church would see his face no more. When writing unto Timothy in the second epistle sent unto him the apostle Paul was preparing for an earthly departure, however, it was not an earthly departure as he was preparing to journey to another geographical location but rather from the realm of earth itself into paradise. The apostle Paul bid farewell to the elders of the Ephesian church and in his second epistle written unto Timothy was essentially bidding him farewell as he was preparing to depart from this world unto the next. The words which we read in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul are absolutely remarkable and astounding when you take the time to think about them for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous reality of that which every saint of God and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is called to do. It was when writing to Timothy the apostle Paul not only spoke of his being ready to be offered but also of the time of his departure being at hand. Moreover the apostle Paul spoke of his fighting a good fight, of finishing his course, and having kept the faith. These phrases—fighting the good fight, finishing the course and having kept the faith—are entirely and altogether important when we think about our own pilgrimage here upon the earth for we too have been called to such a life lived in the sight and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Having said and written these words I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to certain verses and phrases that are found within the New Testament concerning that which we as the saints of God are indeed called to in this life. We must needs recognize and understand that we have indeed been called to be those who truly acknowledge that we are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews clearly spoke of this reality in the eleventh chapter when writing of those who not only walked in and kept the faith but also died in the faith. Moreover the apostle Peter in the first epistle written unto those saints which were scattered emphasized this strong reality of our being strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. As strangers and pilgrims upon the earth we must needs also recognize that we are not to be lovers of this world nor anything in the world. Moreover we are to be those who are deliberate in being those who refuse friendship with the world as we submit ourselves to the living God. It is when we understand these truths we are able to understand the words which are found in the first epistle written unto Timothy, the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews and the words which are found in one of the epistles written unto the Corinthians. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture beginning with the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen t hem afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embrace them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:9-12).
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw night to you” (James 4:1-8).
“Love. Not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).
These passages clearly bring us face to face with something the apostles Peter and Paul knew—namely, that if we wish to live godly in this life we must needs abstain from and reject friendship with the world. These passages clearly point to the reality that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world and as strangers and pilgrims we are to live our lives detached from this world and the things of this world. This is why the apostle Peter instructed his audience to abstain from fleshly lusts and why the apostle John instructed his audience to love not the world nor the things which are in the world. This is also why the apostle Paul continually and repeatedly encouraged and instructed Timothy to flee youthful lusts and those things which would entangle and ensnare him. It with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the epistles written unto the Hebrews, unto Timothy as well as unto the Corinthians concerning our pilgrimage and sojourning in this world as we dwell in these earthly and natural tents:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. NO man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Timothy 2:1-5).
“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).
“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 uncertainty; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
I am absolutely convinced we must needs pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for in the instruction given unto the Corinthian church, in the instruction given unto the Hebrews, and in the instruction given unto Timothy we find instruction given unto us. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that we have indeed been called to be those who fight the good fight, who finish the course, and who have kept the faith. We know in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews there were those who walked in faith, who walked by faith, and who kept the faith until the end and ultimately died in faith not having received the promises but saw them afar off and believed. It would be the apostle Paul who declared that the just shall live by faith and it would James who would emphatically write and declare that faith without works is dead. This is something we must needs recognize and understand within our own hearts and lives for we as the saints of God have indeed been called to be those who yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit as we sojourn as strangers and pilgrims in this earth. So long as we are present in these earthly and natural tents we are those who can and will be called upon and required to move with godly fear and to pursue righteousness, faith, godliness, purity, holiness and the like. It was the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews who emphatically declared that without holiness no man shall see the Lord—a powerful reminded that we are indeed to be holy even as our Father who is in heaven is holy.
Having said all of this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the first chapter of this second epistle written by the apostle Peter unto those who have obtained like precious faith. The apostle Peter knew that the time of his decease was coming and during his almost four decades of walking with and following the Lord Jesus he came to recognize and understand that not only have we been called to pursue godliness but also that the living and eternal God according to His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness. If we are to truly understand the wonderful truth surrounding our time as strangers and pilgrims in this world we must needs recognize that not only have we been called to godliness but we have also been given everything we need which pertains to life and godliness. The apostle Peter wrote that the divine power of the eternal God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. Not only this but we have been given exceeding great and precious promises that by these very promises we might be partakers of the divine nature as we have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Oh if there is one thing each of these authors and epistles share in common it’s the incredible call to abandon, to forsake and to flee from the earthly and natural lusts. For James it was friendship with the world while for the apostle John it was loving the world and the things of the world. For the apostle Peter it was earthly lusts while for the apostle Paul it was youthful lusts. It was the apostle John who spoke of all that is in the world and would go on to write and speak of it as being the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to draw and call your attention to the words which are found in this opening chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter. The apostle Peter knew that the time of his decease was upon him and that the time for him to put off this earthly tabernacle was quickly approaching. With this being said the apostle Peter sought to call and draw the saints of like precious faith to be such who pursue godliness and recognize that the divine power of the living God had given them everything they needed pertaining to life and godliness. What’s more is the apostle Peter would go on to write and speak about us who are given exceeding great and precious promises that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature—as those who are in Christ and have experienced old things passing away and behold all things becoming new. What’s more is beginning with the fifth verse of this chapter the apostle Peter instructs his readers to add to their faith, thus acknowledging and recognizing that faith is indeed the starting point of all other virtues. What’s more is that in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews we find the author emphatically declaring that faith is “the substance” of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the truly wonderful and powerful truth that we as the saints of God and disciples of Christ must with all diligence be those who devote and commit ourselves to being those who diligently strive to add to our faith that which is necessary to live as godly men and women in this life. It is with this in mind I leave you with the words which are found in the first chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter beginning with the third verse:
“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: 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. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 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. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged form his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:3-11).