Sermon 2441. The Lord's Knowledge, Our Safeguard
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, DECEMBER 1, 1895.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 30, 1887.
"The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished."2 Peter 2:9.
THERE are very narrow limits to our knowledge. There is a great breadth to our conceit, but the things that we really knoware very few, after all. He who is wisest will be the first to confess his own ignorance. Our faith in the superior knowledgeof God is a great source of comfort to us. That He knows everything is a sort of Omnipresent covering to our naked ignorance.Though we know not as yet, we rejoice that He knows, and it is better that He should know than that we should know. Knowledgeis safer in the hands of God than it would be in our hands. Only the Infinite God is to be trusted with infinite knowledge!
The first words of our text, "The Lord knows," often come as a comfort to my own mind. The text says, "The Lord knows howto deliver the godly out of temptations." This is only one of the many things which the Lord knows. For instance, sometimeswe meet with perplexing doctrines-perhaps we endeavor to effect reconciliation between the Predestination of God and the freedomof human action. It is better not to wade too far into those deep waters, lest we lose ourselves in an abyss! "The Lord knows."There is a reconciling point in His mind as to all the great Truths which He has revealed. One was wishful, the other night,to tell me some great secret which he had discovered, but I was not so wishful to hear it, for I did not think that I shouldbe any holier or any happier if I did hear it! I was just as pleased not to know as I should have been to know the secret.That insatiable craving to know everything draws away the life of men from what ought to be their insatiable craving, namely,to be like God, to know Him, to trust Him, to love Him and to serve
Sometimes, dear Friends, we come across puzzling prophecies. Some Brothers and Sisters profess to know all about prophecy.I do not, neither am I quite sure that they do. This I know, that you have only to place one set of interpreters of prophecyover against another set and they speedily swallow one another, as Aaron's rod swallowed the rods of the magicians of Egypt!But I am satisfied to feel that "the Lord knows." And He knows how every prophecy will be fulfilled and the exact order inwhich the prophecies will come to be facts. We may make our prophetic charts if we like, but God will follow His own chart.We may think that we have discovered the clue of the maze in the Apocalypse and in Daniel, but whether we have, or have not,is of no very great consequence! John and Daniel spoke by the Holy Spirit and their words will all be fulfilled in due time-andthe Lord knows all about the whole matter.
The same is the case in reference to the Lord's amazing promises. Many of them are so amazingly bright and grand that we sometimesask ourselves, "How can all these things be fulfilled?" And possibly, like Abraham, we may have a Divine promise, yet theremay come a precept or a Providence which seems to murder the promise and render its fulfillment impossible, as when God saidto the Patriarch, "In Isaac shall your seed be called," and then bade him offer up his son in whom the promise was wrappedup! Yet Abraham, although he did not know how the promise would be fulfilled, staggered not because of unbelief, for he feltthat God knew. God will keep His promises, Brothers and Sisters. We need not try to help Him as she did who sought to securethe blessing for her favorite son by setting him on an evil and mischievous piece of plotting to deceive his aged father.
It is not your work to fulfill God's promises-you will have enough to do to obey His precepts-and you will need His help toenable you to do that! He does not need your help in fulfilling His promises, but you may say with regard to the whole ofthem, "The Lord knows how to fulfill them and He will fulfill them to the dot of every i and the stroke of every t. Not onegood thing that He has promised shall ever fail to be bestowed upon those who put their trust in Him."
The same is the case, also, dear Friends, with regard to afflictive Providences. "I cannot see the wisdom of this trial,"says one. "I cannot understand why this trouble has befallen me," says another. Why do you wish to understand? Why do youneed to see? We walk by faith, not by sight! I have known what it is to feel a thrill of sacred joy within my soul when myDivine Master has given me a task altogether beyond my strength. I have felt, "If this work had been only half as heavy asit is, I might have attempted it, but now I know that I cannot perform this task in my own strength, so I am cast upon Omnipotence."It is poor work-paddling about on the muddy beach, lifting first one foot and then the other! The grand exercise is to swim-andyou must swim when you cannot touch the bottom. Sometimes God puts us into an ocean of afflictions where there seems to beno bottom. Our trials are altogether too heavy for us, they quite overwhelm us. Oh, then, what a mercy it is if we have faithenough to trust in God!
If Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had been summoned to the common trial by ordeal-well-known among our ancestors-that of walkingover red-hot plowshares, they might have hoped, somehow, to pick their way. But when they were "bound in their coats, theirhose, their hats and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning, fiery furnace"-where there was nopossibility of escape unless Jehovah, Himself, entered the furnace with them-well, then, they had a grander arena for thedisplay of faith in God! They had passed from the littleness of human possibility into the grandeurs of Omnipotence-and Godwas glorified as they walked loose in the midst of the fire having had nothing burnt except their bonds! It is a great gainwhen any tried or persecuted child of God has the company of his Heavenly Father even in the midst of the fiery trial to whichhe is exposed.
It is the same with regard to grievous temptations. Some of the Lord's very dear children are sorely tempted, sometimes bytheir own thoughts, into which Satan casts the bitterness of his blasphemies. Sometimes by trials at home which they cannotunderstand, or by afflictions which seem like that wind from the wilderness which smote the four corners of the house whereJob's children were feasting. Well now, at such times, when we cannot comprehend our temptations, but seem altogether in amaze, and at a standstill, then let us fall back on these three words, "The Lord knows." The infinite breadth of Divine Wisdomcomprehends all our needs, all our sorrows, all our feeblenesses, all our trials and temptations! Let this be like an all-surroundingatmosphere to us, breathing which we shall feel our life strengthened and our hearts made glad!
In our text, the Apostle calls attention to one item of God's knowledge. He makes us feel quite safe as to the governmentof the universe, seeing it is in the hands of the All-Knowing One, the Lord who knows, on the one hand, "how to deliver thegodly out of temptations" and, on the other hand, how "to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished."
I. In considering these words, I shall ask you, first, to think of THE LORD'S KNOWLEDGE IN REFERENCE TO CHARACTER. This maynot appear on the surface of the text, but it is evidently implied, for the Lord would not know how to deliver the godly ifHe did not know who were godly and He would not know how to reserve the unjust unto the future judgment if He did not knowwho were unjust! Reflect, then, for a few moments, upon the Truth of God that the Lord knows the godly. Sometimes they comeunder trials and temptations so that they are not known to others. Their former friends and their kindred stand aloof fromthem, as Job's friends and kindred did from him. The Patriarch was so sorely smitten and wounded that his three friends concludedhe must be a hypocrite. He "was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil," a very favorite of Heaven,yet his friends did not know him as one of the godly because of the great trials which had befallen him.
Yes, and sometimes, because of imperfections, others may not know us to be godly. It is a pity that it should be so, but thereare times when sin fiercely assails the Believer and he is sorely put to it. He has to confess that he gives cause to othersto stand in doubt of him. Well, Beloved, when others do not know you to be godly, the Lord knows! "The Lord knows them thatare His." There have been secret passages between you and God which nobody else can ever know. He perceives your sincerityin the midst of your infirmity and, though He will chasten you for your sin, He still knows that you believe in Him. You may,like Samson, lose your eyes and be shorn of your strength. I pray that you may not fall so low as that, but even if you do,remember that it is written of the blinded Nazarite, "howbeit the hair of his head began to grow, again," and the Lord gavehim back his former strength, for, notwithstanding all his folly and his sin, he was a
Believer in Jehovah! He had a firm, childlike faith in the Most High, and in the power of that faith he did great exploitsand the Lord, even in Samson's death-struggle, acknowledged him as His servant and avenged him of his adversaries.
Do not let us get into such a condition that others may justifiably doubt us, but if they maliciously doubt us-if withoutcause they cast out our name as evil, if they slander us and invent fictions and falsehoods to injure our character-let uscome back to this, which is implied, if not stated, in our text, "The Lord knows the godly."
It may sometimes come as a great comfort to us that the Lord knows the godly when they do not know themselves. I have heardsome of God's people speak as though this were not possible, but I boldly assert it from my own observation of hundreds ofthose who truly love the Lord. We may sometimes be so beset with temptations and our spirit may so sink within us that wemay have to stand in doubt as to our own salvation and say, "Am I really the Lord's, or am I not?" There are times when wehave to hear the question from our own conscience-and why should we not hear it from our own conscience, since Peter heardit from his Master's own lips, "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?" I would like to say to you, with the poet Cowper-
"Come, then-a still small whisper in your ear-
He has no hope who never had a fear
And He who never doubted of his state,
He may, perhaps-perhaps he may-too late."
It is not an ill thing to go and search to the very foundations to see whether there is peace between God and your soul ornot! Some of the best of the Lord's servants have had to go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, wherein the voice ofthe evil spirit has been louder in their ears than the whisper of their own faith-and they have had to stand still in utterbewilderment! They could not get their sword out of its sheath, or, if they could, they were unable to use it, for it seemedas if the enemy could not be touched by their sword. The only weapon they could handle was the weapon of all-prayer, as theycried out in their anguish, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" Now remember, when you do not know yourself to begodly, God knows! Here is the comfort for our hearts, "The Lord knows the godly." He knows both them and their ways-but theway of the ungodly shall perish.
As this is true about the godly, so is it most solemnly certain concerning the ungodly. The Lord knows the unjust. That isto say, despite their loud pretensions of piety, the Lord knows that they are really ungodly. They have joined the Church,they wear the name of Christian, they are even honored among Christian men-but the Lord knows the unjust-no garb of religioncan conceal their wickedness, no form of pious speech can hide the insincerity of their hearts! Oh, should there be any suchhere, may this flash of light go right through them! The Lord knows the unjust, whatever they may pretend to be.
He knows them, also, notwithstanding their great possessions. "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himselflike a green bay tree." And many a hollow profession has been gilded over with riches and, because the man was well-to-do,they thought that he must be doing well-two very different things, however. But God can read us through and through. If weclimbed to a throne, He would discern the state of our heart even there! And if we had the acclamations of a nation for ourdevotion and piety, He would discover us, even then, for all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we haveto do! Let this not be forgotten by any of us! Let us not try to deceive the Lord, but let everything be open and above-boardbefore Him. There should be in us all the most strict truthfulness-I am afraid that there is a tinge of hypocrisy even inthe most gracious. May God take it away from us and let us walk in the Light of God as He is in the light, while the bloodof Jesus Christ, His Son, still cleanses us from all sin, for we shall still need it!
II. Now let us come to the very marrow of the text, which is this-THE LORD'S KNOWLEDGE IN REFERENCE TO THE GODLY. "The Lordknows how to deliver the godly out of temptations."
Notice their name-"the godly"-that is, the people who know God. He is no dream of fancy to them-they know Him. He is the mostreal of all existences to them. Knowing Him, they fear Him. They have learned to fear and tremble before the Most High. Itwas a name of scorn which they gave to the Society of Friends when they called them, "Quakers." But, after all, it was a rightthing for them, like Moses, to exceedingly fear and quake in the Presence of the Most High God. The godly also trust God.To them, God is the pillar of their confidence, the brightness of their life, the life of their light, the light of theirdelight! They rest on Him, as on the Rock of Ages, and they rest nowhere else. These godly ones also love God-their heartgoes out towards Him. He is their Joy. He is their Companion, their Friend. He is All in
All to them. The Lord knows these godly ones and He makes them to know Him. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fearHim, and He will show them His Covenant."
Well, it is certain that these godly ones will have to suffer temptation. Gold is tried in the furnace. Good things are testedand proved-and godly men are full often tempted and afflicted and tried. They shall, very few of them, get to Heaven withoutpassing through the trying waters and testing fires, else to them the promise would not be true, "When you pass through thewaters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overflow you; when you walk through the fires, you shallnot be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon you." The Lord knows all about them and their trials! And especially, accordingto our text, "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations." Let me make a few observations upon that Truthof God.
The first is this-His knowledge answers much better for them than their own would do. They do not know how they will be deliveredout of temptations. Sometimes they make a guess and so make a mistake-and then they are disappointed. They would be far wiserif they left knowledge to the Most High and kept to their own sphere, which is that of trusting, believing and knowing thatthe Lord knows! One says of Adam that he knew a great deal and it was a pity that he did not know one thing more, namely,that he knew enough, for had he known that he knew enough, he would not have eaten of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledgeof Good and Evil! You know enough when you believe. If you know nothing except how you can put you hand into the hand of God,you may go boldly on with a surer tread than the best-sighted man ever knew by his own wisdom alone! "Commit your way untothe Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." Better that the knowledge be with the Lord, your Head, than inyour own head, for you are not the Lord! "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations." It is almost a cantexpression among the ungodly-"The Lord knows." Oh, but let it be a very solemn expression among us, "The Lord knows" and,blessed be His name, "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations!"
In the next place, His knowledge of their case is perfect. He knew the temptation before it came! Before He appointed it,He weighed it in His unerring scales-not in the big scale of the coal merchant, but in the delicate scales of the chemistwho measures every tiny grain and has a scale that will turn with the weight of a single hair! If God appoints me 10 afflictions,the devil, himself, cannot make 11 of them! If the Lord shall put half an ounce of a bitter ingredient into your cup, allthe devils in Hell cannot make an ounce of it! God knows your affliction before it comes to you and He knows it when it comesto you. When Israel was in Egypt, the Lord knew their afflictions. Well said David, "You have known my soul in adversities."The Lord knows just where the trial touches and pinches us, how we grieve under it, how far it has gone and how far it mustnot go. The Lord knows our afflictions with a perfect knowledge before they come-and when they come-and He also knows allabout them when they go. I bless His name that He can foresee the effect of trial upon His children! He knows what Grace itwill brighten. He knows what shams it will destroy. He knows what it will teach us and He knows what it will make us unlearn,which we thought we needed to know. He knows all about us from beginning to end and, consequently, His knowledge of our temptationsis absolutely perfect-and we may be content and rest in perfect peace. "He knows the way that I take."
And this is true in every case of every child of God. "The Lord knows how to deliver"-not merely some one godly man, or some20 godly men, but "the godly" as a whole, all of them! Dear Friend, to put it very personally, the Lord knows how to deliveryou out of your present temptation. But do not put your hand to sin in order to deliver yourself! That is what Satan willtempt you to do. Lay not the hand of Uzzah upon the Ark of the Lord, much less upon any piece of furniture in your own house!Oh, the temptation there is, sometimes, to indulge in a hasty temper, or to speculate in business, or to keep back a partof the truth, or to pretend to be something which you are not, or to allow a sin to go unreproved because you wish to escapereproach or to avoid censorious judgments! No, the Lord knows how to deliver you, and if He does not deliver you, then saywith those three holy children whom I mentioned a few minutes ago, "If it is so, our God whom we serve is able to deliverus from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto you, O king,that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up." Do not attempt to supplement the wisdomof God with your insanity, for it is nothing better than insanity when you fancy that you can ever profit by wrongdoing!
God's knowledge, as revealed to us in this verse, gives us a very comfortable thought. If the Lord knows how to deliver thegodly out of temptation, then, depend upon it, there is a way of deliverance out of every temptation. The Lord does not knowwhat does not exist. If He knows that there is a way of deliverance, then there is a way of deliverance, and there is a wayof escape for you! You do not see it-do not ask or wish to see it. Ah, those eyes of ours-would God that they were put out!I was going to say we see a great deal too much, Brothers and Sisters, or we think we do. And because we say we see, we goblindly on, stumbling and blundering every foot of the way! It is for God to see and it is for us to believe and to trustin Him! There is a way of deliverance and it will be proved before long that there is a way of deliverance for you. If youbelieve it, you shall see it. God knows how to deliver-that means that there is a way of deliverance!
But it means more. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly in the way most profitable for themselves. We have invented variousways of deliverance, but God has not used them. And then we have found out another way, but He has not acknowledged that.And we have sought another way, but He would not have that. No, He knows how to deliver, so why do you come in with your inventions?Verily, I shall apply that text even to you, "God has made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions"-even inventionsfor escaping from trouble and trial! But the Lord knows which is the best way for their deliverance. He will bring you outof Egypt, but not in the way you thought, that you should flee away all of a sudden and escape by stealth. No, no-this ishow He will deliver you, even as He delivered Israel of old- "He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there wasnot one feeble person among their tribes." He will bring you out in a profitable way and a right way!
And, best of all, He will bring you out in the way which will be most glorifying to Himself. With a high hand and an outstretchedarm, He led His people out of Egypt, shattering all the might and pomp of the proudest monarch of the day! And the emancipatednation sang unto the Lord a new song as they took their timbrels and danced before Him who had triumphed gloriously over theircruel oppressor. That is what you, also, shall yet do. "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations" in theway that is most glorious to Himself. God's children ought to think less of what is done, at any time, than of the Glory thatGod gets out of it. We sometimes want to see a great work, but a great work may not glorify God. If there is a little, obscure,unknown work-and to human eyes it remains almost a secret-if it glorifies God, it is to be preferred to the most giganticwave of supposed revival that, after all, would leave behind it the names of men, but the name of God would be forgotten!In all things let God be glorified! Oh, that we would always aim at this objective! The salvation of men is a grand aim, butit must always be in subordination to the Glory of the Lord, that His arm may be revealed and that all flesh may see it together.Oh, that God might be glorified! Be this our prayer in our trials and in coming out of our trials, "Father, glorify Your name."
III. Now, I must say a few solemn and weighty words upon THE LORD'S KNOWLEDGE IN REFERENCE TO
THE UNJUST-"and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished."
Observe that Peter does not say, "the ungodly." He is not dealing with their inward character so much as with their outwardconduct. They are "unjust." Ungodliness is unrighteousness and, sooner or later, the ungodly are seen to be unjust.
Ungodly men are legally unjust-they have broken God's Law and, therefore, they are not justified in His sight. Worse thanthat, they are evangelically unjust, for they have not believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, they have not Hisjustifying righteousness to cover them. And then they are practically unjust, for their life is an injustice to God and tomen. They have not received the sanctifying power of the Spirit to make them just in their daily lives.
God knows how to deal with these people. Let me read Peter's words, again, "The Lord knows how to reserve the unjust untothe Day of Judgment to be punished." You hear their blasphemies. You mark their infamies and your indignation burns againstthem-but the Lord knows how to deal with them. He knows how to reserve them under restraints. He acts like a magistrate whocommits a prisoner for trial at the Great Assize. That is what God has done with some of you ungodly ones-you are committedfor trial at the Day of Judgment. The Lord lets you live, but you are only out on bail and you will soon have to appear beforethe great Judge of Heaven and earth.
According to the Revised Version, and I think that translation is correct, the punishment has already begun. The Lord knowshow to go, on even, now punishing the ungodly! That unrest of theirs, those fears, the trembling-all show that God is dealingwith them. They swell themselves out very big, they laugh with loud laughter, they deny the Truth of God and they scoff atChrist-but, believe me, dear Friends, you need not wish to be like they are-no, not even like the healthiest, the wealthiest,the proudest and the greatest of them! The Lord knows how, even now, to smite them, and He does smite them! The life of anungodly man, at its best, is a horrible life. I would sooner be God's dog than the devil's darling! It is better to be themost weeping Jeremiah than the most boastful Pharaoh. The day will come when the ungodly will, themselves, see it to be so-andthe proudest tyrant will envy the lowest man or woman who crept humbly to the Mercy Seat and cried, "God be merciful to me,a sinner!"
The Lord knows how to deal with the unjust even now and He will know how to deal with them by-and-by. O Sirs, these are notrifling matters of which I am speaking! The unjust may be in the fullness of their strength, but the Lord can bring themdown to lie on a sickbed. Even there they may defy God, but He knows how to stop their impious mouths. "Ah," He says-and thatis an awful text-"Ah, I will ease Me of My adversaries, and avenge Me of My enemies," as if they vexed and plagued His HolySpirit and, at last He says, "I will be rid of them. They shall not trouble Me any longer. I will ease Me of My adversaries."Then He sends the "reaper, whose name is Death." I think that I meet him now, swinging his sharp sickle, and I say to him,"Whither away, O Death? What are you about to do? Will you dare destroy that scarlet poppy blazing in the midst of the growingcorn?" "Ah," he says, "one touch of my sickle will bring it down." "And that blue flower, yonder, in all its splendid majestyof beauty?" "Ah," he says, "I will lay that low with all the common grasses of the field."
The Lord knows how to deal with the unjust in the next world as well as in this. Oh, that dreadful thought! Trouble not yourselvesabout it, except to "flee from the wrath to come!" Raise no perplexing questions in your mind. The Lord knows how to dealwith the unjust in the world to come and that dealing shall be according to the strictest rule of justice. The Judge of allthe earth shall do right-men shall not be able to accuse Him of injustice! He will deal with them as the God who cannot err.They are in His hands and, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Do not believe those who tellyou that it is not. They are the servants of the devil-be they who they may-who seek to delude your souls upon this matter!I beseech you, escape for your lives! Look not behind you, stay not in all the plain but escape to the Cross of Christ, forthere, and there, only, is there salvation for the unrighteous! Oh, seek it now, for Jesus' sake!
I close with an illustration of the text which I feel almost certain was in the mind of Peter when he wrote these words, "TheLord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished."Turn to the 12th Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where you have the record of Peter lying asleep in the prison, watchedby soldiers, and yet at dead of night the angel of the Lord came into the prison, smote Peter on the side, bade him bind onhis sandals, gird himself and follow him. Peter went through all the doors of the prison till he came to the great iron gateand that opened of its own accord! And there stood Peter, out in the street, in answer to the prayers made at the Prayer Meetingat Mrs. Mark's house, when the Christians in Jerusalem were gathered that night to pray for him. This miracle proves thatthe Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of trial!
Read the rest of the chapter, please, for that takes in the other half of my text. Herod sat upon his throne of state andall the people were paying him homage. And when he made an oration from his golden throne, they shouted, "It is the voiceof a god, and not of a man." That same God, who had delivered Peter, knew how to lay hold of Herod, for we are told that immediatelythe angel of the Lord smote him and he was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost! The first is a brilliant deed of infinitelywise Grace, the next is an astounding deed of n infinitely wise Justice! It is not necessary that you go to the gallows tomeet your doom-a few worms can destroy you! It is not necessary that you be killed in a great railway accident, or that therebe a collision at sea, or that you fall on the field of battle! Herod was eaten of worms. A grape-stone has, before now, chokedand killed a man. A draught of water has been poisonous to another. A little gas, that was almost impalpable, has laid anotherin his grave. There is not one of you ungodly ones who can escape if God shall say to His angels, "Smite that man while hesits in his pew. He has resisted My mercy and rejected My love. He will not come to Christ." You, too, may be eaten of wormsbefore another Sunday comes! God grant that you may not meet such a fate, but may you learn the lesson of this text and feelthe force and power of it in your own souls, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 1 PETER 116-21; 2:1-10.
1 Peter 1:16. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. There is need in these perilous times to come back to such an elementary Truth as this.The Truths taught us in God's Word are not fables, myths, or merely parables, but they are matters of actual fact. The Apostleswere eyewitnesses of "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"- "eyewitnesses of His majesty." We receive these Truthsof God without the slightest question and base our faith upon them. We would be troubled, indeed, if we had any doubts whateverabout these great foundation facts of our holy religion.
17, 18. For He received from God the Father honor and Glory when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent Glory,This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from Heaven we heard, when we were with Him inthe holy mount. They were not deceived-neither Peter, nor James, nor John. There was "such a voice" from God, Himself, whichthey literally heard. It was the Father bearing approving witness to the Person and work of His only-begotten and well-belovedSon.
19. We have also a more sure word of prophecy. Surely nothing could be more sure than the evidence presented to the Apostlesin the holy mount! Yet Peter thus writes to express his utmost confidence in the Word of God. Surer than the light he saw,which dazzled him. Surer than the voice he heard which he never failed to remember and to which he always bore unfalteringwitness! Surer, even, than these things is that Divine Book which is still preserved to us-"We have also a more sure wordof prophecy."
19. Whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the daystar arises in your hearts. You already have the assurance of the Word, itself-you must build upon that and upon that, alone-butyou shall have added to that a, "day dawns," and a, "day star," in your own hearts. We have the witness within us now-"TheSpirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." And those things which we have received byfaith we now have proven to be true by their effect upon our own souls! We know the Light of God, now, because we walk init! We know it to be the Light of God for it has enlightened us.
20, 21. Knowing this, first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came notin old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. How we rejoice in this fact!We shall never give it up. It is a disbelief of Inspiration which lies at the bottom of all the modern theories-but with thisdisbelief we have not the slightest fellowship! In our inmost souls we believe that "holy men of God spoke as they were moved(or, "borne along"), by the Holy Spirit." They spoke not for their own age, alone, neither were the prophecies given to afew persons so as to belong privately to them-but the whole Inspired Scripture stands fast for all the faithful and is theTruth of God to us, today, even as it was to those to whom it was first spoken!
1 Peter 2:1. But there were false prophets also among the people. How true that still is! Be not startled, Brothers and Sisters, as thoughsome strange thing had happened to us in this generation! It was always so and so it will continue. If there are true Prophets,there will also be false prophets. And if there is the Spirit of God, there will be the spirit of evil! And often, in proportionas the everlasting Truth of God is full of power, the everlasting lie will be full of power, too, and will strive mightilyagainst it. That same sun and shower which shall make yonder wheat to grow, will, at the same time, cause the thorns to springup! And perhaps for a time they may threaten to choke the wheat until, at last, the wheat will choke the thistles. "Therewere false prophets also among the people."
1. Even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies. They always try to do theirhateful work privately and then they ask, "What is all this fuss about? We have not departed from the truth, we are as soundin the faith as any of you are," when they know, traitors that they are, that they are undermining the foundations and tryingto take away the very cornerstone of the faith! These "false teachers" would deceive the very elect of God if it were possible,but they are not easily deceived, for God has given them a discerning mind by which they "try the spirits whether they areof God." The Lord Jesus said of His sheep, "A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not thevoice of strangers." Sheep though they are, they have discernment enough to know their shep-herd-and the godly soon detectfalse teachers who privily "bring in damnable heresies,"
1, 2. Even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their perniciousways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be spoken of evilly. They say, "It is narrow; it is old-fashioned; it is notin accordance with the spirit of the age." I know not what else they say, but, for all that they say, it still remains "theway of truth."
3, 4. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingersnot, and their damnation slumbers not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell, and deliveredthem into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgement. "If God spared not the angels that sinned," He will not spareany who sin, however high their position may be-even though they are the angels of the Churches, He will "cast them down toHell."
5. And spared not the old world, but saved Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood uponthe world of the ungodly. Which some in these days say could not be consistent with the acts of a God of Love. Their imaginarydeity, from whom they have taken away every glorious attribute of holiness and justice, would not have done this! But theGod that judges righteously must and will punish sin, as He always has done and, "this God is our God forever and ever," eventhe God who is "a consuming fire."
6-8. And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example untothose that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (for thatrighteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds).I love to see in God's people a holy horror of the sin which surrounds them. In several of the prayers in which we joinedbefore we came upstairs to this service, there were many tears and cries over the wickedness of our streets-the impurity andthe drunkenness which defile so many all around us. Alas! Alas! Men seem bent on horrible iniquity and it looks as if London,this great modern Babylon, will repeat the story of the cities of the plain! Well may we pray, "O Lord, have mercy upon thepeople!"
9. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations. As He delivered Lot-
9, 10. And to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in thelust of uncleanness and despise government. We have far too many, nowadays, of both these sorts of sinners, and of the twosorts joined in one-"them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government."
10. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. There let us cease our reading andturn to another holy song in which we will praise our God, whose Grace has made us to differ from the ungodly by whom we aresurrounded.