2Pe_1:4. 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.
COMMENTATORS are not agreed with respect to the connexion of these words. Some connect “whereby” with “glory and virtue,” in the preceding verse; and understand it thus: “By which glorious energy of the Gospel are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises.” Others, understanding the third verse parenthetically, connect my text with “God and Christ,” in the second verse, and translate the passage thus: “By whom are given unto us,” and so on. But, for the use which I am about to make of the passage, it is of no importance to determine precisely what the connexion is. It is to the greatness and preciousness of the promises that I propose to direct your attention: and, therefore, waving any further notice of the context, I will open to you the promises of God, and shew you,
Their intrinsic worth—
But how shall I attempt this ? Shall I bring them all in order before your eyes ? Many hours would not be sufficient for this arduous undertaking: let it suffice, then, to say,
They extend to all the necessities of sinful man—
[Even the things of this life are frequently and fully comprehended in them: for St. Paul says, “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come [Note: 1Ti_4:8.].” And our blessed Lord has assured us, that, if we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all needful things shall be added unto us [Note: Mat_6:33.].” But “the things which pertain unto life and godliness [Note: ver. 3.]” are those which are more immediately referred to in my text: and there is no want which an immortal soul can feel, in reference either to time or to eternity, which is not richly provided for in the promises of our God. Pardon, and peace, and holiness, and glory, are all secured to us, in terms the most explicit that language can afford. Nor, if men had been permitted to dictate unto God what things should be made over to them, or how freely they should be bestowed, could they ever have ventured to express what God has expressed, or to ask them on such easy terms: for all the promises are to be apprehended simply by faith, and to be possessed by all who will truly and unfeignedly rest upon them [Note: Such a passage as Jer_31:33-34, may be adduced as a brief specimen.]”.]
But fully to declare their worth is impossible—
[Who shall appreciate a deliverance from the torments which are endured by those who are now cast into the lake of fire and brimstone ? or, who shall form a correct estimate of the glory and felicity of heaven ? None but those who have experienced the one or the other can form any just conception of either: nor could any one fully and adequately comprehend what salvation imports, unless he have both endured the evil from which a condemned soul is rescued, and partaken of the blessedness to which a glorified soul is exalted before the throne of God. Eternity will be too short to count the inestimable worth of the exceeding great and precious promises which are contained in the Gospel of Christ.]
Let us pass on to consider,
Their sanctifying efficacy—
We must not imagine that any sinner can so “partake of the Divine nature” as really to be united to the Divine essence. That is impossible. But to partake of all the communicable perfections of the Deity, is the privilege of all who believe in Christ—
We are exalted to bear a strict resemblance to the Deity—
[In mind, in will, in our whole character, we may resemble God: for, in conversion, we “are renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created us [Note: Col_3:10.];” so that we view every thing no longer according to the apprehensions of our corrupt nature, but as taught of God, and enlightened by his Holy Spirit. With a renovated understanding we receive also a new heart; so that, instead of finding our will opposed to the will of God, “we delight in the law of God after our inward man [Note: Rom_7:22.],” and desire to do his will even as it is done in heaven. I say not too much, if I add, that the very character of God is imparted to his saints, even as the impression of a seal to the melted wax; so that, through the operation of his grace upon them, they become “holy, even as he is holy,” and “perfect, even as their Father which is in heaven is perfect.” As for “the corruptions that are in the world through lust and inordinate desire, the true believer escapes from them:” he renounces the world and all its vanities: he “becomes crucified to it by the cross of Christ [Note: Gal_6:14.]:” he rises above it, “keeps himself unspotted from it [Note: Jam_1:27. Rev_3:4.],” and has his “conversation altogether in heaven [Note: Php_3:20.].”]
And by what is all this effected, but by the promises of God ?
[”By these we become partakers of the Divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.” St. Paul is particularly careful in marking this important truth. He traces not any of these benefits to mere human efforts, but simply to faith in the Lord Jesus, which alone can “overcome the world [Note: 1Jn_5:4.],” and “purify the heart [Note: Act_15:9.].” Hear his words; and mark especially the order which he prescribes for the attainment of these blessings: “Having these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God [Note: 2Co_7:1.].” Here, at the same time that he specifies the extent to which the promises will effect this change, he shews us, that we are not to attain the change first, and then lay hold on the promises; but first to lay hold on the promises, and by them to attain the change. Now, this is a point of extreme importance; and it was marked with singular precision in the Jewish law. In the ordinance for the cleansing of the leper, it was appointed that the blood of his sacrifice should be put upon the tip of his right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great toe of his right foot [Note: Lev_14:14; Lev_14:28.]; which was to shew, that, in all his faculties, whereby he either received or executed the will of God, even from head to foot, he needed an application of the blood of atonement, to cleanse him from his guilt: and then oil was not only to be applied by the priest to the same places, but to be “put upon the very place of the blood of the trespass-offering” And what was this intended to shew ? I hesitate not to say, it was intended to declare the very same thing which is intimated in my text; namely, that our justification by the blood of atonement must be first sought, and then our sanctification by the Holy Spirit; that the blood of atonement must be the foundation of our sanctification; and that, though the two are never to be separated, they must be sought in their due order, and be put each in its appointed and appropriate place. In a word, we must first go to God as sinners, to obtain mercy through the blood of Christ; and then shall we be made saints, by the operation of the Spirit of Christ upon our souls.]
How desirable is an interest in Christ Jesus!
[It is in Christ that all the promises are treasured up for us [Note: 2Ti_1:1.]; and in Him alone are they ratified and confirmed to us [Note: 2Co_1:20.]. Unless as found in him, and united unto him by faith, we have no part in any one of them: but “all are ours, when we are Christ’s [Note: 1Co_3:21-23.].” How earnest, then, should we be, in fleeing to him, that we may receive out of his fulness all the blessings both of grace and glory ! I pray you, brethren, neglect him not; but seek him with your whole hearts, and cleave unto him with your whole souls.]
How truly blessed are they who are united to him by faith !
[To them God has secured every thing, not by promise only, but by oath also! And this he has done in order that they might be assured of “the immutability of his counsel, and enjoy the richer consolation in their own souls [Note: Heb_6:18.].” Take the word of God, my dear brethren: cull out of it every promise it contains, and carry it to the throne of grace, and plead it before God; and verily you shall, in your dying hour, be able to say with Solomon, “Blessed be the Lord, who hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise which he promised by the hand of Moses,” or by all his prophets from the foundation of the world [Note: 1Ki_8:26.].]