Recently I chanced to run across this little bit of expression from some disappointed and disillusioned heart. It had been scrolled in a place where others could read it.
“In the dark I light a match and
watch it fight for existence,
But it will never win
and I again sit in darkness.”
What a picture of hopelessness. As I was thinking about it my mind went to the expression in Isaiah the 8th chapter, one of the chapters dealing especially with our time. The closing lines as translated by Moffatt read: “They shall roam through the land, hard pressed and hungry, hunger driving them to rage, … they shall gaze up to heaven, and look round upon earth, only to see distress and darkness, anguish and utter gloom—poor waifs of men!” Moffatt Translation, 757.
Jesus pictured it: “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26). Looking around us, looking at the darkness, we too might be driven to that hopeless frustration. Thank God we have something better. Jesus says, “When these things begin to come to pass,” then look where? “look up” (verse 28).
The text we will look at in this article is 2 Peter 1:2–4. Instead of hopelessness, this Scripture offers hope. Instead of gloom we are given joy. Instead of worry and frustration, peace. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ 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.” What a great constellation of truth shines here in these few lines.
Let us notice some of the bright stars. First He says, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you.” God multiplies as we add. Our adding is mentioned in the fifth verse: “add to your faith virtue” and so on. When we add, God multiplies. That is why the Christian grows. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord.” Peace and grace are multiplied to us through the knowledge of Him. You remember Christ said in His last prayer, “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). So to know God is life eternal, to know God is to have grace and peace multiplied to us.
2 Peter 1, verse 3: “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” Notice the tense here. He does not say, these things are coming some day; He says we have them, according as His divine power hath given unto us, all things that pertain unto life and godliness. What a wonderful commissary to go in and help ourselves to. What a great storehouse, filled with all things that pertain unto life and godliness. And how do these come to us? Again, He stresses knowing God, because these things He says come through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises. What is a promise? It is God saying, “I will do this, I will do that; I will give you this, I will give you that.” Peter says that these promises are great promises, but that isn’t enough. He calls them “exceeding great and precious” promises.
When we study the 8th chapter of Daniel we stress the fact that the ram, Medo Persia, is spoken of as great; the rough goat, Greece, is spoken of as very great; but the little horn waxes exceeding great.
Here is something that is a brighter picture than Persia or Greece or Rome. Here are some promises that wax not only exceeding great, but they are precious. Precious means something valuable, something important, something that brings wealth to those who possess what is precious. We don’t find precious stones in the gutter or usually out in the brook or creek. Precious stones are rare. Thank God, in the Bible, we have a treasury of precious promises.
Notice what these things will do for us: “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.” To be a partaker means to take part. Partaker: take part. When we come to the communion table, each one receiving of the bread and the wine, we are partakers of the Lord’s table. We are partakers of His life, ministered to us through those emblems. That same precious life is ministered to us through His Holy word, through these exceeding great and precious promises. Oh, thank God we don’t have to be malnourished.
We become like that which we feed upon. If we eat heavenly food we will become heavenly minded. As the body is built up from what we put in the stomach, the mind, the character is built up from what we put into our thoughts through what we read and listen to. Oh, I’m glad that God has made it plain how we can be built up. “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.”
How does the world look to you anyway? Does it look like a place to escape from? If you have gotten out of the world, thank God you’ve escaped. The man who knows that does not look upon himself as a captive in jail but he looks upon himself as a ransomed captive out of jail because he has escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Paul says, “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:12). There is too much parading before the saints the sins of this wicked Sodom world. Those things do not help us. There “are given to 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.” [Emphasis added.] Can a person who has been deep down in the mire, the filth, the mess of this cesspool of a world be lifted up and ransomed? Can he be saved? Can he be delivered? Can he escape? Oh, yes. Thank God, friends. That is the glorious news of the gospel.
“We have heard the joyful sound, Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Spread the tidings all around, Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Bear the news to every land, Climb the steeps and cross the waves,
Onward, ‘tis our Lord’s command, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.”
Priscilla J. Owens, 1882.
What is it that He saves from? It is sin and all the results of sin. Those who let Jesus in their hearts and receive these exceeding great and precious promises become partakers of His nature and escape the corruption that is in the world. We need to study more and more how to appropriate these promises, how to use them to get the benefit from them, because unless we do that, they are simply words here on the page.
Notice how God wants us to use His promises. Jesus, speaking in Mark 11:24, says, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Now this believing that we receive what we ask for is akin to signing our name on a check. This is the appropriation of the promise. For example, God says, in Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
So far that is just a promise in the book. I can carry that around in my pocket printed on a card but it is still just a promise printed. But suppose I run into a situation where I need something, not just material things, but I need help to win the victory over a temptation. We all need deliverance from temptation at times. Well, my need is to get help and here is a promise, “My God shall supply all your need.” I can present that promise to Jesus.
But notice, it isn’t enough to present the promise. “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” That is what it means to sign your name. It means to present the promise to Jesus and say, Lord, I not only want your promise fulfilled but I am accepting it and I believe Your word that it is being fulfilled. I believe it because God says so and He cannot lie. He cannot fail. The bank of heaven, no matter how many checks are presented, no matter how many times there’s a run on the bank, it never runs dry and has plenty for every need “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” The assets of some banks amount to billions and billions of dollars, but the capital of the bank of Heaven is infinite. Therefore there is no limit. However, in order to receive the benefit of these promises, I must bring them to God, and ask Him to fulfill them, meet the conditions, and claim the answer. “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
In the light of these verses, notice three great facts concerning our Lord. The first is brought to us in Isaiah 40:11. Speaking of Jesus, “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd.” As the shepherd feeds his flock, so my Lord feeds me. Sheep graze and are fed every day. And my soul must be fed every day. God loves to feed those who come and let Him give them nourishment. Jesus said, “I am the Bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger” (John 6:35).
Day by day we eat. God sought to teach Israel this lesson by feeding them manna from heaven for 40 years in the desert. Manna from heaven. What food is to the body, God’s promises are to the soul. It is God Who feeds me day by day.
Revelation 7 gives a view of the heavenly land soon to be our eternal home. Here the One Who has fed us day by day on earth will continue to bring us sustenance and nourishment. “For the Lamb Which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them” (verse 17). Jesus Himself is going to feed us in heaven. The prophet wrote: “And I saw a table of pure silver; it was many miles in length, yet our eyes could extend over it. …” Jesus said, “Come, My people, you have come out of great tribulation, and done My will; suffered for Me; come in to supper, for I will gird Myself, and serve you.” Early Writings, 19.
Won’t it be wonderful to have Christ Himself come to the table where you are sitting and put His hand on your shoulder? You look up into His dear face and He says, “What would you like?” Jesus, interested in what you would like to eat? Oh, yes. And you might say, What’s on the menu? Well, we do not know everything that is going to be there, but we do know some of the things. There will be some grapes because He said I will not be eating those until you get here (Matthew 26:29). There will be figs and almonds and manna. I think I’ll ask Him to bring me some manna. Wouldn’t you like to taste some? There will be no shortage. The Lamb shall feed them. But those who eat with Him there will first eat with Him here. Those who sit down at supper with Him there will let Him sit down to sup with them here. That communion and fellowship is to begin here in this life. Those whom God feeds day by day here He will feed there for evermore.
There is something else in verse 17 to notice. Not only will He feed us but He will lead us. “The Lamb Which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them.” He is not only the One Who gives us nourishment, He is the One Who gives us guidance. Will we need it up there? Apparently. Do we need it here? Oh, yes. I suppose we would probably say we need it even more now. There won’t be any way to get lost up there like there is here. There will not be any devil to divert or distract or deceive us up there like there is here. So, if we appreciate the promise that He will lead us in the future, how doubly precious is His promise to lead us now. Compare this with Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” He leads me in the green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He leads me in the paths of righteousness. So feeding and leading, He meets my needs. What a shepherd! And how happy He is for those who follow where He leads, for a leader cannot accomplish much unless there is somebody to lead.
Psalm 25:9 says He will guide the meek, the humble, and those who want help. “The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.” Over in the third chapter of Proverbs we have a most wonderful promise of guidance. Remember it is by these exceeding great and precious promises that we become partakers of the divine nature and here we see some of these rich ones. There are conditions to every promise. Sometimes they are clearly stated and sometimes they are implied, but they are always conditional, allowing the opportunity to decide whether we choose to have them fulfilled to us. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6). What is the promise? He shall direct thy paths. What is the condition? Acknowledging Him. What does that mean? It means look to Him for His direction. Stop and listen before you take this step. “Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21). But if we rush on, we will not get the guidance.
Often when we are going for a walk with a dog, it will run ahead and veer off onto a trail which is not the one that we are taking. Pretty soon after finding itself alone, it comes running back and catches up again. Some people are like that with the Lord. Before deciding what turn of the road to take, we are admonished to acknowledge Him. Say, “Lord, which way are You going? I want to go with You.” If in all our ways we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths. But suppose a person says, I already know which way I want to go. Well, then, I may be like the dog; I may find myself all alone, for God has gone along another road. But oh how patiently He waits, how longingly He lingers sometimes, hoping that we will retrace our steps and let Him lead.
Proverbs 4:11: “I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.” Can you say that? Is that what God has done for you? Praise His wonderful name. Now we have already noted that promise in Revelation 7:17 where the Lamb that feeds us will lead us. And in Revelation 14:4 the counterpart of that is the picture of the redeemed: “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” The redeemed will follow Him out through the trackless fields of space, suns, and stars, through Orion and on to the throne of God. We are going to continually follow Him from world to world, but those who follow Him there will first have followed Him here.
There is a third fact to share here which is the most precious promise of all. God feeds me; God leads me; God needs me. In The Signs of the Times of April 22, 1903, the inspired messenger wrote: “We were brought into existence because we were needed.” Are you needed? Oh, somebody says, I think things would be just as well, maybe a little better, if I weren’t around. And if you say that or even think it down in your heart, it shows that you are hungry. The greatest need in the human heart is to be needed. My friend, you are needed. And the reason that God put a longing in your heart to be needed is so that you could understand how He feels about you. You not only need Him, He needs you. He needs you to be His friend, to share with Him the joy of companionship. We were brought into existence because we were needed.
Jesus told a wonderful story to help us to understand just how important we are to Him. “He spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:3–7).
How many sheep were lost? One—the least that can be numbered. What is Jesus seeking to tell us? That one soul that is lost is more precious to Him than all the world beside, that Christ will leave the ninety and nine that went not astray and He will come after one. That’s this world; that’s you; that’s me.
“It was not thought of any gold that hundredth sheep might bring
That sent the keeper of the fold back into weariness and cold when home was beckoning.
It was His love that could not think of that poor willful one unmindful by the canyon’s brink
Or in despair about to sink with strength and courage gone.
It was not any grace of mine that drew my Lord to me;
In heaven spotless angels shine that vie to do His will divine and here was Calvary.
It was His love that could not bear to think of my distress;
He knew the pride of life would wear away and leave me bleating there in utter wretchedness.
Oh if He had not come for me, forever I would roam, alone and lost in misery,
But up and over Calvary the shepherd bears me home.
Why – He needed me; He wanted me; He couldn’t bear to live without me.
I’m not just a sheep, a shepherd loves his sheep, but I’m a man, a human being formed in God’s image.” Author unknown.
Friends, may I say it very simply — He cannot live without me. He would rather die to get me than live without me. That is love, isn’t it? He needs me. The simple message for each of us is this: God feeds me; God leads me; God needs me—here and now and through eternity.
“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Do you need food? Physical, spiritual? He will supply it. Do you need wisdom? “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally” (James 1:5). He will supply it. And do you need to be needed? Oh indeed, and that need He will supply. He needs you. He comes close to assure you of His love, His desire for your love. He says to each one, “My son, [my daughter], give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26). Thank God, friends, we can give Him something He needs – our choice, our decision, our response to all He has done for us. Would you like to send Him the word, “Yes, Lord, I will meet Your need”?
“With Christ we shall walk beside the living waters. He will unfold to us the beauty and glory of nature. He will reveal to us what He is to us and what we are to Him.” The Adventist Home, 547. What will it be like to have Jesus take me on a special walk down by the river of life? I look up and see that golden fruit hanging from those lovely boughs. I walk with Him and He begins to explain to me things that I never understood in this life. He begins to show me the things in nature and explain to me. But oh, something more wonderful than that. This says He’s going to tell me what He means to me and what I mean to Him. I must not miss it, not just for my sake, but for His sake.
Elder W.D. Frazee studied the Medical Missionary Course at the College of Medical Evangelists in Loma Linda, California. He was called to Utah as a gospel medical evangelist. During the Great Depression, when the church could not afford to hire any assistants, Elder Frazee began inviting professionals to join him as volunteers. This began a faith ministry that would become the foundation for the establishment of the Wildwood Medical Missionary Institute in 1942. He believed that each person is unique, specially designed by the Lord, of infinite value, and has a special place and mission in this world which only he can fill. His life followed this principle and he encouraged others to do the same.