THE SECRETS OF LIFE
Peter’s word is very mysterious, yet in this mysterious word are the secrets of life. The first secret is that all things relating to life and godliness are given to us as the seed of faith (2 Pet. 1:1, 3, 5). God has also given us all the promises. He not only gives us the seed and promises the rain, but also gives us the growth (1 Cor. 3:6) and the harvest (2 Cor. 9:10).
The second secret is that, realizing that God has given us everything, we must cooperate with God to do our part. God promises to do more, yet this promise is conditional, depending upon what we do. Many of the great promises are conditional. If we do something, then God will do something more. If we sow the seed, God will give the bread. If we sow the seed, God will send the rain. The further giving by God depends upon our cooperation. If we do not sow or till the earth, then there will be no rain, no growth, and no harvest.
The third secret of life is that, as we cooperate with God, we should not do anything outside of what He has given. We must develop what He has given. God has given us the seed. We must do everything to develop the seed by preparing the soil, sowing the seed, and watering the seed.
Second Peter 1:4 says, “Through which He has granted to us precious and exceedingly great promises, that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature.” Here the fourth secret of life is shown. By partaking of the divine nature through the precious promises, we develop virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly love, and love by the growth in life (1:5-7). The precious promises are embodied in the divine Word. By pray-reading the promises we partake of and enjoy the divine nature, and by partaking of the divine nature we develop in life. The more we pray-read the promises, the more we enjoy the divine nature, and the more we enjoy the divine nature, the more we grow and develop in life.
We must develop the faith within us. First, in our faith we must develop virtue. Virtue is the explanation of the excellencies of Christ. First Peter 2:9 refers to the virtues, or excellencies, of Christ. Virtue is the excellency of Christ expressed through us. It is the excellent expression of Christ. When anything of Christ is expressed through us, that is something excellent, and this excellency is virtue.
We can realize a kind of excellency with many brothers and sisters. With one brother, we may realize the patience of Christ. With a certain sister, we may realize the humility of Christ. These virtues are the excellent expression of Christ. We have faith as the seed within us. Now this seed needs further development and expression. This expression is virtue. According to my realization and experience, virtue means the expression of Christ. We must develop the expression of Christ in our faith. Our virtue is the expression of Christ in our daily life.
Virtue is a kind of power, the excellency which comes out of Christ. Mark 5:30 says, “And immediately, Jesus realizing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, Who touched My garments?” Luke 6:19 says, “And all the crowd sought to touch Him, because power was going out from Him and curing all.” Then in Luke 8:46 the Lord Jesus says, “Someone touched Me; for I knew that power had gone out from Me.” In these portions, “power” may be translated as “virtue” (KJV).
In virtue, we must develop knowledge. Knowledge comes after virtue. If knowledge came before virtue, it would become a frustration to virtue. We need virtue to be developed first, then for further development of virtue, we need knowledge, the proper knowledge. Knowledge in 2 Peter 1:6 refers to the knowledge of Christ, that is, the knowing of Christ in a full and excellent way. The last verse of this book confirms this by saying, “But grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). The full knowledge of Jesus Christ, knowing Christ in a deeper and fuller way, helps us to grow and develop. After knowledge, we must develop self-control. Self-control is a restriction. Self-control is toward ourselves while endurance is toward situations and circumstances. Toward ourselves we need self-control, toward the environment we need endurance, toward God we need godliness, toward the brothers we need brotherly love, and toward the highest needs we need love, the nobler love. Faith is the seed and love is the harvest. From faith to love there are seven stages of development by the growth in life.
The fifth secret revealed in 2 Peter 1 is that by enjoying the divine nature, we enter into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 11). To enter into the kingdom is a matter of growth. While we are growing, we are entering. The more we grow, the more entrance we gain. To enter into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus, we need to grow. If we reach the last step of development, we are fully in the kingdom. We should not think that if we are idle with no development after we are saved that we will enter into the kingdom of Christ. If we have this thought, we will be cheated. To enter into the kingdom is different from salvation. To enter into the kingdom we need the maturity of life, the full growth of life.
DEVELOPMENT BY GROWTH IN LIFE UNTO THE RICH ENTRANCE INTO THE ETERNAL KINGDOM
We have seen three main items in 2 Peter 1: the seed of faith, the divine power, which is the growing power, and the precious promises. God has given the seed, the growing power, and the promises that He will send the rain, the growth, and the harvest if we cooperate with Him. With God’s giving, we must be diligent to develop the seed of faith by taking the promises, by picking up His word. The best way to pick up His word is to pray-read the word. The more we pray-read all the promises, the more we enjoy the divine nature. As we enjoy this divine nature, we have the growth in life, the maturity in life, and the harvest of life. This maturity is the entrance into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. We all need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Second Peter is a book on growth. Its last verse ends in this way: “But grow in grace….” Chapter one reveals the way to grow. We have the seed, the growing power, and the promises that God will send the rain, give the growth, and give the harvest. Now we need to develop the seed by taking His promises, by pray-reading the word of His promises, that we may enjoy His divine nature. By this we will be developed and grow step by step until we reach maturity. Then we will enjoy a rich entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(The Crucial Revelation of Life in the Scriptures, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)