Apostolic Advice to the Modern Saint.
2Peter 1:1 kjv
Why The Emphasis On "Like Precious"
The second epistle of Peter is three chapters long. Like any good writer, Peter says what he has to say and not one chapter more. In the Foundations of the Like Precious Faith Series we have had time to consider only the first chapter. With the help of additional Bible context and a Greek language concordance we have rediscovered what the "like precious faith" means and how it behaves, but not the why it is needed. I have saved this explanation of why until last because now it will make that much more sense. There is a reason SimonPeter has addressed us in the first chapter as he has. A reason very important to us here today. I will be skipping the context of his second chapter for the moment to get immediately to the context of the third.
2Peter 3:1-4 kjv
Peter establishes the first, the "like precious", in order to show us what it is that the "like precious" will be up against - the "scoffers". We need to become more like what Peter and the Apostles and the Prophets exemplified to us, because these other folks are going to become so much more of this other. It is not as simple as general scoffers, as we find out in the build up in chapter two. There is also at this time a massive problem within the Church making it difficult to defend it from these scoffers.
I hate to leave things at "they", it makes things sound so conspiratorial. "They" is the world at large and more specifically a subset of Christians who have at one time "escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ) just as we have. Somehow however, "they are again entangled therein, and overcome... " ( kjv@2Peter:2:20). This condition is brought about by the pernicious ways of many "false teachers " among us "who privily shall bring in damnable heresies... " ( kjv@2Peter:2:1) whom "many shall follow " ( kjv@2Peter:2:1). This is why we cannot remain as simple in the faith as we now are. We have to become more of what the Apostle is establishing as "like precious".
Every generation has suffered its own version of false prophets and teachers. Church history is replete with constant struggles and controversies with reprobate heresy; not an entirely victorious struggle against them either. The true saints are rarely in the majority position. Though few in number, by God's hand they have somehow been able to stand their ground, guard and advance the better faith forward. At some point however the opposition comes to a climax. We might be nearing that point now. To combat that overwhelming insurgency we have to become more like Peter reminds us.
It is not so much for the unsaved that we are diligent to add "these things" unto our faith, though that is extremely important in that regard. It is more for the battle within our own Church protecting it to carry it on. This is why the EpignosisKnowledge of Jesus Christ becomes so important.
The process begins with false teachers, propagators of erroneous Christian doctrine (dict:strongs G5572 ), who surreptitiously (by stealth) introduce damnable (ruinous/destructive) heresy (disunion). What would qualify as disunion? Anything resembling up to and including the denial (contradicting or disavowing) of the Lord that bought (redeemed) them ( kjv@2Peter:2:1).
Jude puts it this way:
Jude 1:4 kjv
There is enough similarity between these two Apostle's statements to consider that they are speaking of the same teachers or ungodly men who have with stealth crept in. Note that Jude adds that they were of old ordained (prescribed) to this condemnation and that they are attempting to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (unbridled excess). There are a number of ways that they could pursue this. The best indicator that they are doing this is if they or their doctrines are contradicting the Redeemer's and or exchanging His Grace for their own excesses.
"...Denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ", as Jude puts it, is a discernment that very much requires the EpignosisKnowledge of Jesus Christ on our part to sort out. A person very well could believe in the Lord God and Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation and at the same time by act or deed or lifestyle or doctrine deny that same God and Christ at every occassion. Denial is the measurement of a person's recognition and acknowledgment of the persons and works of God and Savior. In this case it is the lack. It is Christ that determines this measurement, not us nor the carnal mind.
Notice also that a person can be of the mind to accept the one Lord God and deny the other Christ Jesus as so many religious faiths do. As Jesus explains the logic is quite simple:
John 5:23 kjv
And later in the same quote:
John 5:39 kjv
Of Damnable Heresy
In order to comprehend the size and scope of this last days heresy or apostasy, we have to familiarize ourselves with the Greek word 'agorazo' (dict:strongs G59+ ). It means to go to market to purchase or buy back (see: AgorazoRedeem). In other words we are talking about redemption. The primary indication of this heresy is the denying or contradicting the redemptive work of God in Jesus Christ.
- There are several quick ways for false teachers to achieve this disunion with God in their teachings:
- By putting Jesus on the level of other men. If so, Jesus then is just as indebted and enslaved as the rest of us, unable to buy himself, let alone every other believer out of this world's pollutions.
- By placing Christ's redemptive work on an equal plane as the work of other religions; the "all paths lead to God" or "alternate path" type of argument. If so, the sacrifice made by Jesus then becomes unnecessary for most. Sin debt and enslavement then are redeemable by much lesser means.
- By basing salvation on human works, ethnic blood or moral character traits. If so, these things then buy ourselves back into God's good graces, not the blood and obedience of Christ.
- By saying that it is a combination of Christ's redemptive work alongside our personal works, or the Churches good works, or a Church recognized Saint's extra merits. If so, then the same diminishing effect on the "all sufficiency" of Christ's work and the over-estimation of our good works is put into heretical effect.
- The denial of the existence of sin and sin debt. The denial of Christ's innocence. The denial of Christ's divine nature. The denial of incarnation. The denial of resurrection. Etc.. Remember that these denials are coming from people that once knew better, but now have left.
Think of how many modern teachings and beliefs come immediately to mind under this preliminary examination. Polls suggest that a majority of confessing Christians now believe that Jesus is not the only way to Heaven, that Hell does not exist, that God does not judge, etc.. Think of how many people today are what we would call antinomian, abusing the grace and forgiveness of God as license not to obey the Law and general commandments taught by all scripture. Think of how much disunion has been perpetrated of late. These many Christians, Christian mind you, are getting this fallacious mindset from somewhere. Where from? False teachers. This is what the "Like Precious" are up against; and that's just the tip of the ruinous iceberg.
Jude seems to add to this an even clearer definition of what is occuring; pinning it to the turning of God's Grace into laciviousness and denying the one and only Lord ( kjv@Jude:1:4). We have met with this word for grace "Charis" before in Peter's "Grace and peace" statement ( kjv@2Peter:1:2). It means divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.
Grace is often misinterpreted as a permission to do what other non-believing people are not allowed to do. It would be like saying "because I believe in Jesus as my savior, it is okay for me or us to do this, I am no longer accountable to the Law, but not for anybody else". That is why the word "lasciviousness" makes so much sense in this context, it ties it to the influence of the flesh rather than the influence of God in Christ. Look how much of this allowance is being permitted by the teachings of the Church in this modern age.
The simple fact is that believers are not permitted any of this that they were not allowed before believing. If anything, these flesh influenced behaviors are more severely judged now that one is Christ's than ever before. One cannot read the "Sermon on the Mount" and take from it that Jesus made any allowance for this permissiveness on any grounds or basis. One cannot read in the Gospel of John and conclude any different:
John 15:10 kjv
Yes, justification is by faith and faith alone, grace and grace alone. Justification and Grace in no way however are license for disobedience. If anything, the heart should now be more willing to obey now that its eternal redemption and justification are settled. We cannot ourselves win or earn this Grace, we certainly though can better show our appreciation and reverence towards it by better conforming to the image of this obedient Son.
Divine influence upon the heart is divine influence upon the heart and none other. The flesh's influence upon the heart is the flesh and the world's, nothing else. That is why one must be born again, first of flesh then of Spirit, so that the Spirit can influence the heart and its reflection on life, not the Spirit influence the flesh and its self motivated perceptions. It is the divine influence upon our hearts that makes the heart not want to surrender to these flesh willed things; none of them. How can they teach that one doesn't have to be born again, when without it there cannot be God's gracious influence upon the heart?
Grace is something that has to be given. We do not have it otherwise. God has given us HIS grace in the person of Jesus Christ, having sent Him to redeem us from the curse and sin debt of the flesh - all of it. Grace and redemption together are all sufficient. It would mean very little if God gave us a Christ, but this Christ was only partially sufficient. It would mean little if the redemption graced to us in Christ came up short and needed our additional action. Separate the two to any extent, by any fashion, and we would find ourselves on the verge of intentional flesh driven disunion with God and the Apostle's "like precious faith" teaching.
In this all sufficient Grace and Redemption we now have a better grasp of what Peter meant when he said "...obtained through the righteousness of God and Savior. Promises were made beforehand, the means for their fulfillment established and accomplished since, every iota righteous in every detail, proof of their righteous character and act. Therefore, having all that presented before us, in recognition and agreement and acknowledgment of this their righteousness, we are now fully convinced of this as being our chance at imputed (partaking) and divinely influenced righteousness as well.
One further consideration we can make of this turning from Redemption/Grace is that once redeemed in the market, that object becomes the redeemer's possession. The buyer does not buy the item in order to leave it there on the seller's table unavailable to any further purchase or theft. He/she buys the object to take it with them, take it into their own possession and environment, to serve their own pleasures or purposes.
Many people today act as if they are still on the seller's table, untouchable, at liberty to do whatever self wishes. All these many plaguing things are the direct result of false teachings. False teachers have been with us in the past, they will be with us in the future; if we are willing to look for them today we would see them all around us in various destructive shapes and sizes.
The next insight into this heresy is to consider those many others who will turn to follow these teachers' pernicious ways. One could say that it is the blind leading the blind, but more so it is the reprobate leading the masses into reprobacy; much more serious.
Why would these others follow along? Because they have not developed the discernment required to identify false teaching. They follow where they are lead, for some what tickles their ears. Because of these many others, the truth shall be spoken evil of. By whom? By people (scoffers) outside the Church.
Wait! There is more.
"And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you... " Peter then states ( kjv@2Peter:2:3). The "you that he is referring to is "you the like precious"; they will make merchandise of you. The Greek idea of this word means to travel into a country for the purpose of pedaling or trading goods. They will pedal your good character and influence to their advantage with their inflated fictitious words. The defining characteristics of your diligent effort towards AgapeLove will be the only things that will make you fruitful in such a hostile environment. Your "like precious faith" will stand out and apart from their reprobate faith because of Christ.
2Peter 2:9 kjv
It is the reprobate nature of these teachers and the eventual reprobacy of these many others that we must combat by "like precious" means; all while contending for "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints " (see: kjv@Jude:1:3). The battle does us no good if we battle for the sake of the battle, but in so doing we fail to defend the original apostolic faith. We cannot use reprobate means ourselves in the fight against reprobacy. It is not always a fair "eye for an eye" battle.
The best text describing reprobacy is Paul's summary in kjv@Romans:1:21-32. Preachers often place the emphasis on the sodomy listed in this passage, but you will notice that the list is much more inclusive than just sodomy. Everything on that list, not just sodomy is receiving the action of God's judgment because all these things listed are the direct result of one's (giving themselves over) reprobacy.
In order to be reprobate, one must first have known God enough to now not glorify HIM, neither be thankful. As Peter has said:
2Peter 2:20 kjv
Once one gives themselves over to this, given ample time to repent then, God gives them over to what they have already given themselves over. HE is giving them over to their chosen nature and as a consequence to HIS judgment. HIS judgment is on the account of their choice to no longer know or worship HIM, regardless of which of these excesses on the list they choose to perform in substitution for God's Grace.
Of Our Response
Like Peter, Jude prescribes a valid Christian response, a proper manner of contending. I will break the passage up into manageable portions:
- "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, " kjv@Jude:1:20
- "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. " kjv@Jude:1:21
- "!And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.! " kjv@Jude:1:22-23
Very similar to Peter's idea of "adding to with all diligence" is this concept of "building up. Your "most holy faith" would be the same as your "like precious faith". Response number one, Jude points to the necessity of the Holy Spirit. The scoffers do not have the Holy Spirit kjv@Jude:1:19.
Love here is our word AgapeLove front and center. Response number two equals "keep yourselves", which means to guard yourselves from producing their type of love, or keeping an eye on the Agape form love you are now intending to produce. It's not so much keeping an eye on their love, but keeping an eye on the mercy/compassion of Christ unto eternal life.
Spirit, Agape, guarding, looking forward; are you with this so far?
Divine Grace is what compassion means in this context, the extension of it. Response number three involves drawing a distinction as to whom is better off receiving your extension of Divine Grace and who is not. Two different brothers could require two opposite approaches. One might respond well to Grace if there is the chance. The other may not respond to Grace in the slightest and therefore would require us to protect the other brethren against him. Remember that it is Divine Grace, not our own personal grace that compassion is extending to them. Minus this discernment we too often leave it at the one kinder personal approach thinking that it was more compassionate, but is that so? The path of least resistance seldom is the compassionate course, especially when the influence on brethren as a whole is considered.
Spirit, Agape, guarding, looking forward, discernment and action are always our proper response. Spirit, Agape, guarding, looking forward, discernment and action, these all require faith, valor, knowledge, temperance, enduring patience, piety, brotherly kindness; do they not?
I find it interesting that both Peter and Jude bring up the point that our effort to respond should not cross the line into "railing accusation" ( kjv@2Peter:2:11 kjv@Jude:1:9). It was not the Angels' place with the Devil to do so, it is not our place with the apostate. God deals with these final matters as only God can. Our duty is to continue conducting ourselves in everything already established in the "like precious" faith and increase in it all the more. Accusation plays well into the apostate's and the scoffer's hands.
Of the Presence of His Glory
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. " kjv@Jude:1:24-25
Can you imagine being in the "presence of His glory"? How glorious will it be to see the faces of the many other "like precious" that we have battled alongside with glorying in the presence of our victorious commander in chief?
Some of us would think that just staying out of these ugly Church matters would keep us faultless and from falling. This cannot be, for then neither of these Apostles' passages would make any sense. It would be like saying "equip yourself for battle, but don't go into a battle and get your hands dirty". If the fear is of getting one's hands dirty, the better opposite fear should be being made merchandise of.
It is not a passive statement, it is active in every sense. The reason that the Lord needs to keep us from falling is because we are out on the battlefield actively fighting for His righteous name engaging in His righteous fight. The reason that He needs to present us faultless in the presence of His glory is because in the eyes of these scoffers, because of our difference and opposition to them, we are in the blame.
SimonPeter, servant and Apostle of Jesus Christ, writes to all born again saints of a faith that is on equal standing with the faith of the Apostles, a faith that historically tends to settle and go back to what it peaceably would rather be doing, requiring the Apostle to stir it back up into our remembrance. Remembrance of these foundations is essential because of the imposing resistance of many scoffers within the Church, who follow after the false teachings of spiritless reprobate minds that constantly seek positions of power and influence within it by stealth. Because of these people and teachings, the true way of Christianity and therefore Jesus Christ its Lord is spoken poorly of; its true daily saints are pedaled by them as common merchandise.
This equal faith is the direct result of the righteousness of God and Savior and is given to us as if by lots; not one of us having deserved it, not one of us was looking for it at the time, but here it is upon us anyway by God's mercy and grace. It is given for the purpose fulfilling several great precious promises made very early in God's dealings with mankind to redeem man back out of his current fallen state.
In the fruitful abiding recognition and living acknowledgment of the sucessfull establishment of this all important righteousness performed in Jesus Christ, "like precious" saints are to respond in proper measure by adding certain actionable AgapeLove defining elements to their obtained faith with immediate and total diligence. The lack of such a fruit is the evidence of them being blind and shortsighted as to the need and application, or that the saint is carrying on as if the righteousness has yet to be established in them.
The need for this engaged participating form of faith is great and universal among all sincere "like precious" Christians. This is not just for the clergy and church employed. Each of our personal efforts to recognize and acknowledge Christ and reach His AgapeLove to the Church and world at large must be defined by these specific prescribed and compounding spiritually influenced elements: valor, knowledge, temperance, enduring patience, unfeigned piety, kindness to the brethren as a whole.
"These things" should be in us and be increasing, not as we would define them, but as Christ Himself has influenced them to be. It is Christ's vine and Christ's fruit, these elements are simply the means for us not to get in the way of His extending His fruit to others through us.
The Apostle expects that we know and are established in the present truth of our current state and condition, that there is an intense spiritual battle being waged all about us on all fronts. Yet, he still feels it required of him the remainder of his life and beyond to continue putting us back into remembrance of these foundational things, because, we frequently settle back into not doing them as evidenced by our wartime fruitlessness.
The time is now and always at hand to establish ourselves in this mindset and diligence. There are always those among us who having known the grace of God and escaped the pollutions of this world, choose to entangle themselves back into it, turn their back to their God, giving themselves over to the reprobate mind. These are the ones especially to keep an eye on to guard and protect the flock against, because they will seek to turn the masses their direction and steer them against us. We cannot resort to reprobate means to guard and protect. We must have "these things" in us and increasing at all times.
Brethren, we cannot step aside from the battle at hand, fearing to get ourselves dirty, hoping for those better equipped to fill in for us. There are not enough "like precious" footmen active on the battlefield to give ourselves such a self appointed indulgence. We cannot contend for this faith via the proxy a gifted Pastor or denomination. Each one of us has his/her responsibility to God and to the rest of the saints to be this and to be this now.
Having obtained this equal ground faith through the righteousness of God and Savior, it is now our responsibility to live out the full effects of said righteousness by the means of reflecting Christ's well defined AgapeLove. That brethren would make this saintly type of faith both "like" and "precious".
2Peter 3:17-18 kjv