Dr Tow's Letter 16 Sep 2018
My dear readers,
(Extracts from RPG Workbook Vol II No. 12, December 1989, edited by Dr SH Tow)
1. EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES – II
To Abraham God also promised seed as the stars for number (Gen 15:5-6). Abraham believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness. God’s promises may take time to fulfil, but let not the waiting cause our faith to waver. Abraham and Sarah were old and childless. They waited 25 years before Isaac arrived. But God was true to His word. He never fails.
Then God promised, “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen 12:3), another exceeding great and precious promise. Humanly speaking it was an impossible promise. But it was a prophetic promise that spanned 20 centuries of time, looking to the Saviour’s coming. Abraham believed and he saw. Our Lord Jesus affirmed this when He said to the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).
God’s promises are also testings. By man’s reasoning, impossible. We must not use human reasoning. We must exercise faith, as Abraham did. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness” (Rom 4:20-22).
For 100 years Abraham followed the Lord, no turning aside, no turning back. He died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and was persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that he was a stranger and a pilgrim on earth, on his way to the heavenly city.
We, the children of Abraham, come into the same “exceeding great and precious promises”, the same inheritance, the same heavenly city, and all things that pertain unto life and godliness. All of God’s promises are “in Christ”, confirmed in Him, affirmed to us with every “Amen” of worship. They are made sure to us by the blessed Holy Spirit.
THOUGHT: All the promises of God are validated by our Lord Jesus Christ.
As a faithful pastor of the flock, Peter is most concerned that the sheep should not be contented with mere salvation and stagnate in their spiritual life. Just simply feeling confident with the promises of God and doing nothing is not good enough. For the flock’s spiritual welfare, there must be progress. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith...” The Apostle means business, serious business!
Let us hear the foremost Apostle speak to us today:
GIVING ALL DILIGENCE, ADD TO YOUR FAITH VIRTUE
“To faith add virtue to prove our faith that it is real;
to virtue add knowledge of the Word to show the way ahead;
to knowledge add temperance or sobriety and self control;
to temperance add patience to suffer if need be for a just cause;
to patience add godliness or filial love toward God;
to godliness add brotherly kindness toward the brethren;
to brotherly kindness add charity which is God’s love.”
Give diligence, dear reader. Be serious! Strive for these spiritual graces which aid your fruit bearing for God, increase your zeal and vigour in Christian service, adding to the glory of God. The Christian who is without these spiritual graces is blind to eternal realities. He sees only the present evil world, having lost sight of the invisible world to come with its unspeakable glories and blessings in Christ Jesus.
Now, what must we do in practical terms “to make our election and calling sure”? This requires sober and honest soul searching, examining ourselves, whether we have been truly and genuinely converted. Humbly before God, with Holy Spirit illumination, let us test ourselves: “Has there been a radical change of loyalty? Has my will been renewed by the Spirit of God? Am I walking with the Lord according to Holy Scriptures? Do I love Him with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength?”
Later, by the Galilean lakeside, the Risen Lord gave a second and final prediction: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me” (John 21:18-19). Across his pathway fell the shadow of the cross.
Peter’s impending death, far from worrying him, merely increased his pastoral concern for the flock. Seeing that his days were literally numbered, he flung everything he had into the ministry. Three times in today’s passage he spoke of putting the people “in remembrance of these things.” What things? Those vital things that“pertain unto life and godliness”, the “exceeding great and precious promises” and the giving of diligence “to make your calling and election sure.” The eternal stakes are too high to be lightly treated.
“Wherefore I will not be negligent … Moreover I will endeavour...” Filling his mind were no thoughts of his own life, but only the safety and security of the flock. Herein we see the true Peter, converted and commissioned by our Lord to “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17), and “strengthen thy brethren”
(Luke 22:32). His one concern was that they would remember ... after the Apostle was gone. And keep on remembering!
KEYNOTE: I will not be negligent.
PRAYER: Lord, put me in remembrance of those things.
God bless you, dear readers.
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Dr SH Tow