THE CHURCH AS THE FLOCK OF GOD
In the last chapter of 1 Peter there are the elders and the flock of God, which is the church. Verses 1 to 5 of chapter five say, “Therefore the elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory to be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God among you, overseeing not under compulsion but willingly, according to God; not by seeking gain through base means but eagerly; nor as lording it over your allotments but by becoming patterns of the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd is manifested, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. In like manner, younger men, be subject to elders; and all of you gird yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” In the church we must all submit one to another that we may have a good order, so that the Lord may be glorified among us.
EQUALLY PRECIOUS FAITH
Peter’s second Epistle is even more wonderful than the first. Some wrongly believe that there is not much content in 2 Peter. On the contrary, it is full of riches. Second Peter 1:1-4 says, “Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have been allotted faith equally precious as ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the full knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us all things which relate to life and godliness, through the full knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and virtue, through which He has granted to us precious and exceedingly great promises that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world by lust.” Verse 1 speaks of the equally precious faith allotted to us, which is the same faith that Peter had. Then verse 3 speaks of the divine power within us, which has granted to us all things which relate to life within and godliness without, and verse 4 speaks of precious and exceedingly great promises. Finally, verse 4 says that we are partakers of the divine nature. If we have these six items—precious faith, divine power, life, godliness, precious promises, and the divine nature—what else could we desire?
We can never be rid of this precious faith within us. When we are under trials and temptations, we may say that it is no good to try to be a Christian. We simply cannot make it, so we try to drop being a Christian. However, we cannot drop it. We may try to drop the Lord, but He will not drop us; the precious faith grabs hold of us. Because there is something living within us, which is precious faith, the more we try to drop the Lord, the more He lays hold of us. This is truly mysterious. This precious faith within us is the strongest confirmation that we have been chosen by God.
It is from this living faith within us that we have the divine power. Today many people are seeking the outward power of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. However, real power is not outward but inward. We may illustrate this with atomic power. Atomic power is not merely outward; it is contained within even the poorest natural materials. Within us there is a divine “atomic” power. This divine power has granted to us all things which relate to life and godliness. Life is the content within, and godliness is our living without.
We have everything we need. God takes care of us in such a full and complete way. He knows our true condition, so He gives us many precious promises that through them we might become partakers of His divine nature to be the same as He is in nature. How wonderful this is!
THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF EQUALLY PRECIOUS FAITH
Verses 5 to 7 of chapter one say, “And for this very reason also, adding all diligence, supply bountifully in your faith virtue; and in virtue, knowledge; and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control, endurance; and in endurance, godliness; and in godliness, brotherly love; and in brotherly love, love.” Equally precious faith may be compared to a root and the divine power to a sprout. Then out of this comes a tree with fruit, which are the virtues which grow out of faith. Verse 5 speaks of adding, bringing in beside. This means that beside the six items in verses 1 to 4—precious faith, divine power, life, godliness, precious promises, and the divine nature—we must add all the virtues in verses 5 to 7.
By the divine power and divine nature, virtue grows out as the issue of faith. Then out from this virtue knowledge grows, and out from knowledge self-control grows. The more we grow in Christ and in the spiritual life, the more we will exercise self-control. Then the more we exercise self-control, the more endurance will grow and the more we will endure with others. Out of this endurance godliness will grow. Toward ourselves we exercise self-control, toward others we have endurance, and toward God we have a life of godliness. Then out of godliness brotherly love will grow, and out of brotherly love the divine love will grow. This growth begins from faith and issues in love, like the growth of the tree of life. In this way, the divine life and the church life are the content even of the two Epistles of Peter, which deal with the government of God.
(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 3: Hebrews through Jude, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)