Here is made a revelation of Jesus Christ as the only
connecting link between God and sinful man, that the repenting sinner may find
pardon. Christ spoke words to Nathanael which had reference to this mystic
ladder: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and
the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51).
Here Christ associates Himself, as the Son of man, with the
mystic ladder. The angels of God are ascending and descending on the one even as
they did on the other. By means of this ladder a constant communication is kept
up between heaven and earth, and all the actions and affairs of this earth are
known in heaven. The counsels of heaven are executed on earth, and the doings of
men are judged in heaven.
Providence does its work gradually. The ladder that man must
climb is made up of successive steps heavenward like the rounds of a
ladder--step above step, upward to the wisdom of God, whose glory is at the
upper end of the ladder. Angels rest not day nor night from active service in
the positions assigned them. They ascend to bear their testimony of record of
what they have done and of the state of individuals, and to receive further
orders; and they descend to execute the orders they have received.
Christ is the Ladder; the foot on the earth in His human
nature, the top in heaven in His divine nature. His human arm encircles the race
while His divine arm lays hold upon the Infinite. All the intercourse between
heaven and earth since the fall is by the Ladder.
GRACE AND PEACE BE MULTIPLIED
"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" (2 Peter 1:1-4).
"Like precious faith . . . through the righteousness of God
and our Saviour Jesus Christ." This is a genuine faith. It is not a fruitless
faith. True saving faith is a precious treasure of inestimable value. It is not
superficial. The just lives by faith a truly spiritual, Christlike life. It is
through faith that the steps are taken one at a time up the ladder of progress.
Faith must be cultivated. It unites the human with the divine nature.
The life of obedience to all of God's commandments is a life
of progression, a life of constant advancement. As the elect, precious, have
increased understanding of the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ, they see and
grasp the rich promises that come through the righteousness of Christ. The more
they receive of the divine grace the more they work on the plan of addition.
"Grace and peace" will be multiplied "through the knowledge
of God, and of Jesus our Lord." Here is the Source of all spiritual power, and
faith must be in constant exercise, for all spiritual life is from Christ.
Knowledge of God inspires faith in Him as the only channel to convey Heaven's
blessing to the soul, elevating, ennobling, refining the soul, as--through the
knowledge of God--it is brought up to the high attainments of glory and virtue.
"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." Here the Christian is encouraged
by an assurance of divine help, if he will comply with the conditions.
GIVE ALL DILIGENCE
"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith
virtue." There is no promise given to the one who is retrograding. The apostle,
in his testimony, is aiming to excite the believers to advancement in grace and
holiness. They already profess to be living the truth, they have a knowledge of
the precious faith, they have been made partakers of the divine nature. But if
they stop here they will lose the grace they have received. They must go
forward. The apostle prayed that grace and peace might be multiplied to them.
They were to climb the ladder of progression.
Without giving "all diligence" to make step after step upward
to God above the ladder, there is no gaining ground in peace and grace and the
work of holiness. "Strive," said Jesus, "to enter in at the strait gate"
13:24). The way of the believer is marked out by God above the ladder. All his
endeavors will be in vain if he has not virtue of character, a practical
knowledge of Christ through obedience to all His requirements. Those who have
faith must be careful to show their faith by their works.
It is common for men and women to speak of themselves as
Christians whose whole claim lies in the assuming of the name. They do not
reveal that they are partakers of the divine nature. They do not reveal love for
Jesus or for religious things. As far as their words and their spirit and their
character are concerned, no one would suspect they were Christians. Their assent
to the truth has no virtue. This counts for nothing in the sight of God.
True faith works by love and purifies the soul. Truth is an
active, working principle, molding heart and life so that there is a constant
upward movement, climbing the ladder Jacob saw, to the Lord above the ladder. In
every step of climbing, the will is obtaining a new spring of action. The moral
tone is becoming more like the mind and character of Christ. The progressive
Christian has grace and love which passes knowledge, for divine insight into the
character of Christ takes a deep hold upon his affections. The glory of God
revealed above the ladder can only be appreciated by the progressive climber,
who is ever attracted higher, to nobler aims which Christ reveals. All the
faculties of mind and body must be enlisted.
"Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue
knowledge"--knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, knowledge of the great
plan of salvation. To be ignorant of God's commandments and laws will not excuse
a soul. He will not dare to plead around the throne of God, "I did not know the
truth. I was ignorant." The Lord has given His word to be our guide, our
instructor, and with this heavenly enlightening there is no excuse for
ignorance. Christ speaks of those who have eyes but see not, ears but they hear
not. God has given them precious hours of probation. He has given them His
truth. He has said plainly if they do His will they shall know of the doctrine.
Therefore those that might be wise in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ but
do not choose this wisdom will be banished from His presence when the judgment
shall sit and the books be opened.
To knowledge must be added temperance. "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 uncertainly; 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 castaway" (1 Cor.
They that run in a race to obtain a corruptible crown are
careful in their diet. "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in
all things." The strict, severe habits of discipline are essential to give a
full, healthful tone to all the nerves and muscles.
Athletes cheerfully comply with the conditions in order to be
trained for the highest taxation of their physical strength. They do not indulge
appetite, but put a constant restraint upon themselves, refraining from food
which would weaken or lessen the full power of any of their organs. Yet they
fight "as one that beateth the air," while Christians are in a real contest.
Combatants in the games seek for mere perishable laurels. Christians have before
them a glorious crown of immortality, incorruptible. And in this heavenly race
there is plenty of room for all to obtain the prize. Not one will fail if he
runs well, if he does according to the light which shines upon him, exercising
his abilities which, to the best of his knowledge, he has kept in a healthful
The combatants in the games used a spare, coarse diet, and
denied themselves of luxuries in order to keep their muscles in a healthful
condition. Should not Christians do as much? Paul says he was doing the same
that he might win eternal life. The "body" which he kept "under" is the fleshly
appetites and inclinations which need to be continually curbed. Any habit or
practice which will weaken the nerve and brain power or the physical strength
disqualifies for the exercise of the next grace which comes in after
temperance--patience. Add "to temperance patience."
It was through intemperate appetite that Adam and Eve lost
Eden, and it will be through habits of strict temperance and denial of hurtful
indulgences that we shall have calm nerves and mental acuteness to discern good
from evil. A man who is intemperate, who uses stimulating indulgences--beer,
wine, strong drinks, tea and coffee, opium, tobacco, or any of these substances
that are deleterious to health--cannot be a patient man. So temperance is a
round of the ladder upon which we must plant our feet before we can add the
grace of patience. In food, in raiment, in work, in regular hours, in healthful
exercise, we must be regulated by the knowledge which it is our duty to obtain,
that we may through earnest endeavor place ourselves in right relation to life
The apostle says we succeed in the grace of temperance that
we may add patience. Patience under trials will keep us from saying and doing
those things which will injure our own souls and injure those with whom we
associate. Let your trials be what they will, nothing can seriously injure you
if you exercise patience, if you are calm and unexcited when in trying
Solomon places the control of one's self above the exploits
of the bravest and most successful heroes. There is a moral grandeur in being
patient under trials and provocations. "He that is slow to anger is better than
the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov.
16:32). It requires discipline and firmness of purpose not to give expression to
passion but at all times to take care that no words shall escape the lips that
will dishonor the Christian character. Self-control will be a valuable
acquisition to the graces of the Spirit, and parents should teach their
children, by precept and example, this precious lesson of patience and
Patience implies that we have difficulties to encounter,
annoyances to meet. The Word of God says, "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but
grievous words stir up anger" (Prov. 15:1). "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be
angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools" (Eccl. 7:9). The injunction of
the inspired apostle is to "be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath"
(James 1:9). Anger provokes anger.
TEMPERANCE HELPS PATIENCE
We can see the wisdom of Peter in placing temperance to be
added to knowledge before patience. This is one strong reason for overcoming the
appetite for all stimulants, for as the nerves become excited under the
influence of these irritating substances, how many and grievous are the evils
that are done! But the healthful use of the unstimulating articles of food will
not excite the nerves by irritating the stomach and debilitating brain nerve
power. There is necessity for the Christian adding patience to temperance.
will need to be a firm principle and fixedness of purpose not to offend in word
or action our own conscience or the feelings of others. There must be a rising
above the customs of the world in order to bear reproach, disappointment,
losses, and crosses, without one murmur, but with uncomplaining dignity.
It is easier to act the part of a martyr than to be patient
under provocation and to control a bad temper. Sound religious principles must
be brought into the life to repress anger rather than inflame it by giving vent
to it. We feel very angry, but if we control that anger and are not betrayed
into expressions of hasty feeling, we will not lose the respect of our brethren
or respect for ourselves. The Pattern, Christ Jesus, is our example. Patience is
a heavenly attribute, and Christians must cultivate it.
We must not ever keep before us the feeling that we are
slighted. The very fact that we suspect evil will go a long way toward creating
that evil which we allowed ourselves to suspect. Our feelings will sometimes be
deeply hurt, our temper sadly tried, but the sooner we shall forget the cause of
this disturbance the better will it be for us and all connected with us.
A lying tongue will stir us to make some sharp thrusts, but
it is only for a moment that lies will have force. If we treat these falsehoods
as they deserve--with neglect--others will soon see there is no foundation for
them. We are to leave our reputation with God. Slander may be lived down but can
never be talked down.