Continual Progress Necessary
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, 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 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. 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 (2 Peter 1:1-12).
Now mark, it is these graces, this righteousness, that is to be constantly added; and if these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now here is subject matter that we might dwell upon, and subject matter for many discourses; but we want to present merely a few ideas to your mind at this time, and we want you to see the necessity of progress. You cannot be a fruitful Christian and have a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ unless you are a practical Christian, unless you are making progress all the time in divine life. This is all important.
Many seem to think that as soon as they go down into the water and receive baptism, and their names are entered upon the church book, then the work is all done. They might have tasted of the knowledge of the world to come; they might have received the evidence that they are children of God; but they cannot retain it unless they go on making progress.
It is impossible for them to obtain a knowledge of Jesus Christ and of His light and knowledge unless they are advancing and are learners, adding grace to grace. If they do not bring into their households practical religion, they will soon lose it all; and they will go into the meeting and carry through a form, and pray and exhort, and perhaps hold some office in the church; but unless they are making advancement all the time there is a decided want, and they will swing back to their old position of ungodliness, just like any other sinner.
It is important that we keep all the time adding grace to grace, and if we will work upon the plan of addition, God will work on the plan of multiplication; and just as fast as we add, God multiplies His graces unto us.
Those who live doing the works of the enemy, yet bearing the name of the Lord, are lying; they profess to believe the Bible, yet they are working right away from it in their lives and character. In the place of representing Jesus in the character that they shall give to the world, they represent the works of Satan, the works of darkness.
Now any such names that may be on your church books, although they may give of their means to help to sustain the church, notwithstanding all that, they are stumbling blocks to the church every day they are in it.
Is Christ Not Sufficient?
Now, what we want to present is how you may advance in the divine life. We hear many excuses: I cannot live up to this or that. What do you mean by this or that? Do you mean that it was an imperfect sacrifice that was made for the fallen race upon Calvary, that there is not sufficient grace and power granted us that we may work away from our own natural defects and tendencies, that it was not a whole Saviour that was given us? or do you mean to cast reproach upon God?
Well, you say, it was Adam’s sin. You say, I am not guilty of that, and I am not responsible for his guilt and fall. Here all these natural tendencies are in me, and I am not to blame if I act out these natural tendencies. Who is to blame? Is God? Why did God let Satan have this power over human nature?
These are accusations against the God of heaven, and He will give you an opportunity, if you want it, of finally bringing your accusations against Him. Then He will bring His accusations against you when you are brought into His court of judgment.
How is it that He is pleading,
I know all the evils and temptations with which you are beset, and I sent My Son Jesus Christ to your world to reveal to you My power, My mightiness; to reveal to you that I am God, and that I will give you help in order to lift you from the power of the enemy, and give you a chance that you might win back the moral image of God.
The Heart of the Great Controversy
God sent His Son, who was as Himself, one with the Father, and He bore insult and shame and mockery for us, and suffered at last the ignominious death upon Calvary. Satan met Him with opposition just as soon as He came into the world; but He met it all; He did not swerve a bit.
Had it not been for the power that God gave Him, He could not have stood the assaults of the enemy; but He did, and although He had him to meet at every step, and was pressed step by step, yet here was the battle fought in this world with the powers of darkness.
Why was not the devil destroyed? Why do you ask such a question? Did not God know what was best? Would it not have destroyed confidence in God? Would it not have cast a reflection upon God if He had destroyed him, him that had taken hold of the very heart of the universe, and the world that was created?
The only way to show the disposition of Satan was to give him a chance to develop himself as one who would be worthy of condemnation and death. So the God of heaven, while He did not destroy Satan, gave His Son to counteract the influence of Satan; and when He gave His Son He gave Himself, and here was the image of God that was brought to our world. What for? That we might become mighty with God.
Satan the Great Captor
Christ had to meet the enemy. What had he [Satan] been doing prior to Christ’s coming to this earth? Why, he had been trying to gain the hearts of evil men and evil women. When Christ came to our world, Satan had been working with all the deceptive powers that he could command with his angels to gain the hearts of evil men and women, and combined with Satan they will work on the children of disobedience; and it seems that when Christ made His appearance in our world that Satan had planted himself on the throne as the sovereign of this world. He had the control of human minds.
He had taken the human bodies and wrought upon them so that they were possessed with demons. He wrought upon them so that the moral image of God was almost obliterated in them. He was weaving himself into the Jewish nation, and they were led captive and would not acknowledge Christ as the Son of God, notwithstanding the mighty evidences which accompanied Him.
Christ the Great Warrior
Now Christ takes the field and commences to press back this power of moral darkness. In Luke He announces what His work is to be.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18, 19).
Even while Christ announced His mission and “all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth,” Satan was on the ground. And there is no meeting but that he is there, and as the truth is being impressed on minds, Satan presents the difficulties.
Christ said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” But a state of unbelief arose and the questions began to come up, Is not this the son of Joseph and Mary? What is this that He claims? Is not this Joseph’s son? We have seen Him walking with His father to the carpenter shop.
And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian (verses 23-27).
Now this widow was a heathen woman. God did not send Elijah to those who were in Samaria. Why? Because they had great light, blessings, and privileges, and did not live up to them. And because they had had this great light and had not lived up to it, they were the most hardhearted people in the world, the hardest to impress with the truth.
They were not susceptible to the influences of the Spirit of God. There were many lepers in Israel, and none of them were cleansed save Naaman, the Syrian. What was the matter? He who had lived up to the light that he had was in a more favorable position before God than those on whom He had bestowed great light, power, and spiritual advantages, and yet their lives did not correspond to their advantages and privileges.
What did the people do [with Christ] in their madness? They “rose up, and thrust him out of the city.” Could their eyes have been opened they would have beheld angels of God all around Him, that all heaven was engaged in this warfare between Christ and the prince of the powers of this world. They could have seen this, but their eyes were holden that they might not see it.
The Tragedy of Turning From Light
Here I want to tell you what a terrible thing it is if God gives light, and it is impressed on your heart and spirit, for you to do as they did. God will withdraw His Spirit unless His truth is accepted. But Christ was accepted by some; the witness was there that He was God. But a counterinfluence pressed in, and the evil angels were working through the congregation to raise doubts that would cause disbelief so that it would shut out every ray of light that God would permit to shine. No more could Christ do in such a place.
You can see what a hold Satan had and what mistakes the people had made; they had not advanced, and because they had not advanced they had been working under the generalship of Satan and yet claimed that they were working under the generalship of God. But God had nothing to do with their unbelief and their rising up against Jesus Christ.
I wish you could see and feel that if you are not advancing you are retrograding. Satan understood this; he knew how to take advantage of the human mind, and he had taken advantage of the human family ever since they had first stood upon the field of battle against the powers of darkness. Christ knew what the warfare was to be.
The Open Gates Ajar
Who was watching this warfare that was going on? Who was watching when Christ stood on the banks of Jordan and offered such a prayer as heaven had never listened to before, and a light like a dove broke forth from the heavens, and a voice was heard to say,
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased?
There were those who heard these things and spread the news everywhere among the Jews, and it went from one to the other, so this manifestation of God’s power was not lost at that time.
What does that say to us? “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It says to you, I, God, have sent My Son into your world, and through Him is opened all heaven to fallen man. After the sin of Adam man was divorced from God, but Christ came in. He was represented through the sacrificial offerings until He came to our world.
Here Christ offers this prayer, and what does it say to us? The human race is accepted in the Beloved. His long human arm encircles the race, while with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite, and He opens to man all of heaven. The gates are ajar today. Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary and your prayers can go up to the Father.