By Elam B. Huykendall
This article is based on a statement found in 2 Peter 1:1. Here Peter addresses those to whom he is writing this letter. He says of them that they had “obtained like precious faith with us.” The “us” here refers to Peter himself and the other apostles and other faithful Christians. We who have that same faith today are also included. If we are to determine the kind of faith Peter had we must notice what he says about his faith.
First of all, Peter refers to himself as “a servant . . . of Jesus Christ.” The Greek word used here means not merely one who is serving another but one who is a bond servant-one who was bought. In Acts 20:28 the writer, Luke, tells us that Paul said to the elders of the church at Ephesus, `Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Notice that the church was purchased with the precious blood of Christ. We who are Christians are bond servants of Christ because He has purchased us with His blood. This we must recognize if we are to have the “like precious faith” that Peter had.
But Peter said that he was “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” We cannot be apostles because apostles had to be eye-witnesses of Jesus (Acts 1:20-22), but we can have the “like precious faith” which they had.
It should be noticed that Peter did not call himself the chief apostle, or the head or foundation of the church. Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest. “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High’ Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Heb. 3:1). “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus is also the “chief Shepherd.” “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 5:4). Jesus is also the foundation of the church. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).
Some people believe and teach that Peter is the foundation of the church, and quote Matt. 16:13-19 as proof of their teaching. Notice these verses. “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Some people say that the word Peter means a rock and that when Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build my church” He meant He would build His church on Peter. The word translated Peter (Petros) does mean a stone, but “a large detached fragment” that can be moved about. It is masculine in gender. The word translated “upon this rock” (petra) is feminine in gender and means “an immovable ledge of rock.” Jesus was showing a contrast here instead of a comparison. In 1 Cor. 3:11 we read, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” With these things in mind we can see that Jesus was referring to the great fact that Peter had just confessed as the foundation upon which the church would be built – “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus is also the head of the church. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22,23).
To have the “like precious faith” that Peter had we must believe as Peter believed, teach what Peter taught, and do as Peter did except when he sinned. His first recorded sin was that on the night of Jesus’ arrest he followed “afar off,” denied that he even knew Jesus, and even cursed and swore. This was, of course, before Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. But after Jesus was raised from the dead and established His church, Peter sinned again (see Gal. 2:11-13). But Peter repented of his sins. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). Peter and the other aposltles (except John) lost their faith in Jesus when He was crucified. But their faith was revived when Jesus arose from the dead. Peter’s life and preaching indicate that he repented. Three times he confessed that he loved Jesus, and once Jesus said “feed my lambs,” twice He said, “feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).
The newly begotten faith, mentioned by Peter in 1 Peter 1:3, is the same as the faith mentioned by Jude. “Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Notice that in this same verse Jude mentions the “common salvation.” This is the salvation that was shared by all Christians just as was the “like precious faith.” “Common” as used here does not mean something that is low in value but that this faith and this salvation were shared by all Christians. There is not a plurality of faiths authorized by God just as there is not a plurality of Gods. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6).
Peter’s faith came by his association with Jesus, even seeing Him after His resurrection, and by direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our faith comes “through the righteousness of God” (2 Pet. 1:1). We are told that “All thy commandments are righteousness” (Ps. 119:172). We are also told that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Further we are told, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). If we are to have the “like precious faith” we must all obtain that faith from the same source-the Word of God. There is no other way that we can obtain faith today.
The Lord has given us warnings about departing from the faith. “Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teachings, the same hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). From this verse we can see that it is just as bad to “go onward” and abide not in the teachings of Chrsit as it is to fall short of His teaching. Sometimes we hear people say, “I’d rather do something and do it wrong than to do nothing.” The folly of such a statement as this is seen in this verse. Why fall short or go beyond either one? Why not find what Christ has said and do exactly that and avoid leaving the law of Christ in either direction? After all, He has “given us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). The truth is there if we will only find it.
Another warning is, “For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old written of beforehand unto this condemnation, ungoldly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Throughout the ages there have crept into the church, men who have turned the grace of God into a work of the flesh. As mentioned in the above Scripture, some men have turned “the grace of God into lasciviousness.” Webster defines lasciviousness as “That which is 1. Wanton; lewd; lustful. 2. Tending to produce lewd emotions.” Thayer, in his Greek-Lexicon of the New Testament gives this definition of the word that is translated lasciviousness: “…unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, . . .wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, isolence. . .wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females, etc.” I do not know a better way to describe dancing than this definition of the word translated lasciviousness given by Mr. Thayer. Two parts of his definition are especially appropriate: First, “. . .unchaste handling of males and females.” This is done in the waltz and other similar types of dancing. But sometimes people say, “But in many of the modern dances this is not done.” This is where Mr. Thayer’s other definition applies-“indecent bodily movements.” Many of these modern dances are a revival of pagan fertility dances-designed expressly to stir up the passions-therefore they are indecent bodily movements. Then the definition in Webster’s dictionary indicates another danger: “Tending to produce lewd emotions.” One does not need to do things that are lustful to himself to be guilty of lasciviousness. If an individual dresses in such a way, acts in such a way, or talks in such a way that it produces lewd emotions in others, he is guilty of lasciviousness-his actions have tended to produce lewd emotions in others.
Some people claiming to be doing the Lord’s work have dances in their “fellowship halls” or elsewhere and literally “turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.” One denominational church in Texas featured a strip-tease dancer to do her act in one of their services, claiming to be doing God’s work. But others who would not think of sponsoring dances will sponsor various types of recreation that appeal solely to the physical desires. Where is the Scripture for doing this? This is one of the facets of the “social gospel” that is replacing the gospel of Christ in many places even in the Lord’s church.
If these warnings are not observed and obeyed we cannot have the “like precious faith” that Peter wrote about.
Truth Magazine XXI: 40, pp. 629-630
October 13, 1977