By Mike Willis
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power bath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that bath called as 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 (2 Pet. 1:14).
The apostle Peter introduces his treatise in which he warns the brethren against false teachers by reminding them that God has granted unto us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” in Jesus Christ. False teachers have persistently implied that the gospel is insufficient to meet man’s spiritual needs. They may affirm that “many parts of the Bible are missing,” “the Bible cannot be understood without the help of the church to interpret it for you,” or “another revelation is needed.” All of these misguided statements deny the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures which Peter affirms in this text. Let us examine this text in more detail.
Like Precious Faith
Peter addressed those of “like precious faith with us” (whether “us” refers to the apostles or the Jews is unclear). This phrase emphasizes that the “like precious faith” (cf. Jude’s “common salvation” in v 3) is available to every man. The faith is believed by men of all races, not being limited by race, gender or social standing. The gospel is a universal gospel, addressed to every creation of every nation under heaven (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16). This faith is available to all men without respect of persons because God is righteous (2 Pet. 1:1), not one who shows partiality. Of all men, Peter knew this was true having learned at the household of Cornelius this truth: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35).
All Things That Pertain To Life And Godliness
1. God has provided all things that pertain to life. “Life” is the opposite of spiritual death. Spiritual death occurs when one sins; he is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). This passage affirms that God has granted unto us everything we need to be “quickened” (Eph. 2:5) or “born again” to “newness of life” (Jn. 3:5; Rom. 6:3-4). The gospel, therefore, is adequate to produce spiritual life in those who are dead in their trespasses and sins. It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16, 17).
2. God has provided all things that pertain to godliness. This text also affirms that God has given to us everything we need for godliness. Through the gospel, we can become partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pet. 1:4). Other Scriptures affirm the same truth. The inspired Scriptures “throughly furnish us unto every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17); all the “treasurers of wisdom and knowledge are hid” in Christ (Col. 2:3). Everything one needs to know to be pleasing and acceptable in God’s sight is provided in the gospel.
The gospel provides sufficient revelation to identify what sin is in order that we can escape the “corruption that is in the world through lust. ” The works of the flesh are “manifest” (Gal. 5:19-21), not hidden and incomprehensible. They can be identified and avoided because through the law of the Lord comes the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20; 7:7).
The gospel provides sufficient revelation to motivate us to escape the corruption of sin. The gospel speaks of the motivating power of the “fear of the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:11) and the constraining power of the love of God (2 Cor. 5:14). Hence, the gospel provides adequate motivation for man’s salvation. Everything man needs for life and godliness is available to him in the gospel.
3. The gospel has been given to us. When Peter wrote, he could already say that God “hath given” (perfect tense). The gospel had already been revealed to men. There is no need for a “latter day” revelation. God has already given all things that pertain to life and godliness. We, therefore, do not need a new revelation for a new age. The revelation provided in the gospel is perfectly adequate to meet man’s spiritual needs. The Koran of Mohammed, the Book of Mormon of Joseph Smith, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and the writings of Ellen G. White cannot add one thing which we need that pertains to life and godliness. Everything man needs for salvation is revealed to us in Christ Jesus.
4. The gospel can be known. Man receives the benefits of the gospel’s revelation “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” This passage affirms that there is a truth and that truth can be known (cf. Jn. 8:32 – “ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”). Furthermore, man’s participation in the benefits which the gospel provides (life and godliness) is contingent upon his knowing that revelation. The revelation of God is not some mystical revelation which is unknown and unknowable. It can and is understood, known, and obeyed. One’s salvation from sin depends upon knowing and obeying that truth (Jn. 8:32).
5. The gospel contains great and precious promises. The things which pertain to life and godliness which have been given to us contain “exceeding great and precious promises.” Among those promises are these: (a) forgiveness of sins (Mk. 16:16), (b) eternal life (Jn. 3: 16), (c) resurrection of the dead (Jn. 5:28-29), (d) heaven (Rev. 21:1-3; Jn. 14:12), etc. These promises are to be enjoyed by those who share the “like precious faith.” God is faithful who made these promises; he will keep his promises.
Recognizing that God has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness and that this is contained in the pages of divine inspiration known as the Holy Bible, what should we do with the Bible? If one truly believes that these things are true, he will turn to that Bible, perusing its pages to learn everything revealed therein – if he desires life and godliness. If a man claims to believe that God has provided “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” in the gospel and professes to desire “life and godliness,” but does not read and study his Bible, he is a “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” If we truly believe the Bible to be God’s instructions for man to obtain life and godliness, let us study it and recognize it as authoritative in defining how to obtain life and godliness.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 10, pp. 290, 310-311
May 18, 1989