Ministering to Our Faith

THE APOSTLES KEENLY felt their responsibility to meet the spiritual needs of the brethren by encouraging them to continually evaluate their faithfulness to their vows of consecration. For this reason the apostles were very bold in speaking forth the Word of truth to the brethren so that they might be reminded to apply daily the principles of God’s Word to their Christian walk. As we look about us in the world today we see that people in general are on a broad road that will lead them to destruction; and we have discovered how easy it is to take this pathway on which most of the world is traveling. By contrast, the Christian pathway is indeed a narrow one, along a perilous precipice over which it is easy to fall. But this way leads to life, and therefore we need to be certain that we stay on that path. It is our work as Christians, too, to speak forth the Word of God boldly to one another and to exhort one another to be faithful daily to our vows of consecration.

The Scriptures speak of Satan as going about like a “roaring lion, … seeking whom he may devour.” (I Pet. 5:8) They also speak of him as a wily serpent. (Rev. 12:9; Eph. 6:11) We must recognize the subtlety of Satan’s power. The Bible declares, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12) Satan is not only the great adversary of God, but he is our chief adversary (I Pet. 5:8), who makes constant use as his tools our other two adversaries: the flesh, and the world. We must constantly be on our guard against this deadly foe.

Because of the weakness of our flesh, we are sometimes our own worst enemies when it comes to being faithful to our vows of consecration. It is easy for us to blame the world or the Devil—something, or someone besides ourselves. We need to look within our hearts and minds to determine in what direction we are going, and where the treasure for which we are seeking really is. We need to fill our lives with the truth, the brethren, and God, so that there is no room for the world, for the flesh, or for the Devil, with their aims or methods.

As recorded in II Peter 1:5,6, the Apostle Peter said, Give “diligence” to “add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity [love].” Peter added, “If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (vs. 8) Then Peter continued, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” (vs. 12) These words are particularly appropriate for us to reflect upon today—although we know them well—and to do them.

The “churches” spoken of in Revelation 2 and 3, are generally interpreted by Bible scholars to represent three levels of understanding: Firstly, they may possibly have been letters delivered to actual, literal churches established in the cities named. Secondly, they may represent different phases of church history down through the Gospel Age. But, thirdly, we know that these ‘letters’ contained messages for the entire Gospel Age church, because after each message we read; “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches [plural].”

An examination of what our risen Lord said to the two churches of Ephesus and Laodicea through John the Revelator, reveals a message that has been timely throughout the Gospel Age. We read: “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he [our risen Lord and Master, Jesus Christ] that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”—Rev. 2:1-5

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable [pitiable], and poor, and blind, and naked.”—Rev. 3:14-17

It seems from the description of these two churches that they lacked zeal. In the case of Ephesus, they were reprimanded because they had drifted from their first love. Their ‘first love’ would mean the innate joy and peace and thrill of first appreciating the Gospel message—how they felt when they realized the love of God, as a result of understanding his plan of the ages. Knowing the beautiful truth and the love it engendered in them, must later have become commonplace, so that the Lord said, “You have left your first love.” The description of Laodicea indicates that they, too, had left their first love. But, evidently they fell even farther away from God without even realizing it. They thought they were rich and in need of nothing, when, in fact, God’s true view of them is described as being as “pitiable, blind and naked.”

To whomever else we may wish to apply these verses, we must not neglect to apply the warnings to ourselves. Interpreted spiritually, these verses apply to those who are seeking to be members of the body of Christ, and particularly to those who are living at this end of the Gospel Age. We are, in fact, ‘richer’ in understanding of truth than were any previous generation of believers. But this does not mean that we can say that we have need of nothing. Continually we need the covering robe of Christ’s righteousness. Yes, we have many needs. We must look within ourselves to see if we are leaning upon the strength of the Master so that we can develop and be clothed upon with the graces of the Spirit. Or have we blinded ourselves to our true spiritual needs, and actually are naked and miserable? The Scriptures plainly say that unless we examine ourselves daily to determine whether or not we are clothing ourselves with the fruits of the Spirit, we will not be clothed with immortality when we have finished our course here.—I Cor. 15:53,54; Col. 3:1-17; Gal. 4:19

Could we, in fact, be like the church at Laodicea, and if so, do the words spoken concerning her apply to us as well? We certainly do not want to sink into their state of lethargy and self-satisfaction. Jesus said to this class: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” If this description refers in any degree to us, is there any possibility that we can be recovered from the ultimately hopeless condition of being ‘spued out’ of the Lord’s mouth? Or could the words to Belshazzar also apply to us, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.” (Dan. 5:25) Tekel means, “Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting.”—vs. 27

Jesus’ words to the church of Laodicea tell us that it is not too late to be recovered from that potentially hopeless condition if we recognize it to be such. But to accomplish this we must follow the counsel of our Lord and take three steps: 1st.) Buy gold tried in the fire; 2nd.) Purchase white raiment that we might be clothed; 3rd.) Anoint our eyes with eye salve that we may see.

Gold is often used in the Bible as a symbol of things divine. For instance, in the Tabernacle arrangement which God instituted for his ancient people, the Jews, anything which was made of gold represented that which belonged to Jehovah’s divine nature. How can we buy divine wisdom, or divine hopes, or divine aspirations? Other scriptures speak of gold being tested with fire, or, in other words, our divine hopes being tested or purged from dross by the trials we experience.—I Pet. 4:12

“He knoweth the way that I take: [when] he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) “I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It [is] my people: and they shall say, The Lord [is] my God.” (Zech. 13:9) “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”—I Pet. 1:7

If we see signs of having fallen into the tragic condition described in Revelation 3:15-17, how can we recover from it? What do the words mean when they outline the remedy, as follows: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see”? (Rev. 3:18) There could be many ways to gain an understanding of this passage of scripture. But we have chosen to match the phrases ‘rich’, ‘increased with goods’ and ‘have need of nothing’, with our Lord’s words of his description of their condition as being ‘wretched’, ‘miserable’ and ‘poor’, ‘blind’, and ‘naked’,—and applying his counsel for each condition, ‘to buy gold’, ‘to buy raiment’, ‘to anoint thine eyes with eye salve’, as the remedy.

We think it is evident that the richness referred to is not material wealth. No, we believe it refers to those who are rich in faith. The reality is that Laodicea is described as being wretched, miserable and poor—they were not rich in faith. What is the remedy offered by the Lord? It is to buy faith that is tried in fire. The prophets and Apostle Peter have all said: “He knoweth the way that I take: [when] he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10; I Pet. 1:6,7) It is necessary that we make an increased effort to realize and remember that the seemingly harsh experiences we must endure are not sent to us for any other purpose than to cause us to lean upon the strong and loving arm of our God, and to put our faith and trust in him implicitly. True submission to God’s will in every instance is the result he desires.

Paul said: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) The Word of God reveals the hope which is set before us as consecrated Christians. How do we have evidence of ‘things unseen’ except in the Word of God, which helps us to interpret our experiences in the light of God’s plans and purposes for us! In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom. 10:17) Our aim, then, is to have a faith that has been purified by trials resulting from our faithfulness in following the precepts and will of God as outlined in his Word.

We are told to ‘buy’ ‘white raiment’ that we might be ‘clothed’, and that the shame of our ‘nakedness’ does not appear. This symbolic language is speaking of the righteousness we gain through faith in Jesus’ atoning blood. To ‘purchase’ white raiment means to avail ourselves of the merit of Christ’s death by faith in his ransom, as we read in Romans 4:24, “For us also, to whom it [righteousness] shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered [sacrificed] for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” Then, too, we must work diligently to put on the Christlikeness which is our goal—we must put on the fruits and graces of the Spirit. When we delineate the properties of ‘righteousness’, we find ourselves describing the fruits of the Spirit identified for us by both the Apostles Peter and Paul, and in the ultimate sense, perfection of heart and mind—true righteousness.

Before examining these graces in more depth, we wish to discuss the ‘eye salve’ and our Lord’s third recommendation to the church at Laodicea, which calls for an explanation. The word eye salve is used only this one, time in the Scriptures, and comes from a Greek word meaning ‘a plaster’. It has been suggested that this plaster is what was symbolized by Jesus when he healed the blind man, as recorded in John 9:6. On this occasion, Jesus “spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. He went his way therefore, and washed, and came [away] seeing.”

The dust of the earth represents our lowly condition—as small as a fleck of dust to be trod underfoot by men—and, therefore, the meekness and teachableness with which we must approach God and Jesus. The spittle represents God’s Word—water generally being a representation of truth in the Bible. Thus meekness together with the Word of God, anoints our eyes, and we can see! “The eyes of our understanding” (Eph. 1:18) thus being anointed, we begin to immerse ourselves into doing God’s will. This was shown by the blind man washing himself in the pool of Siloam. He began to cleanse himself from all uncleanness. This immersion represents a total dedication of ourselves to the doing of God’s will.

Returning to the thought of ‘buying the white raiment’, especially the aspect of putting on the fruits of righteousness, the graces of the Spirit, we will consider what Peter wrote concerning this subject. “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 Saviour Jesus Christ.” (II Pet. 1:1) Peter addressed those whose eyes have been anointed with eye salve—those whose eyes have been opened and can see—because they have faith in Jesus’ ransom. Again Peter said, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.”—vs. 2

Here one of the key words is knowledge. The Greek word for knowledge is ‘gnosis’, which means ‘knowledge acquired by learning, effort, or experience’. The Greek word in verse two is not gnosis, but ‘epignosts’, meaning ‘more precise knowledge’. Thus, by combining several translations (using the 26 Translations Bible) we get this thought out of II Peter 1:2,3: “May blessing and peace be yours in ever-increasing measure as you gain fuller knowledge, that is advance in the knowledge, of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord. According as his divine power hath made a gift of all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, as we advance in the knowledge of him that hath called us to share his glory and virtue.”

From this wording it is clear that as we advance in knowledge through our efforts to study and know the Word of God more thoroughly, and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as well as by application of our knowledge when God’s providences are properly experienced, that God’s divine power brings to light all that is needful for life and godliness. Then Peter adds, in verse four, that it is this same divine power which has given us “exceeding great and precious promises.” Through knowing these promises, understanding them, and applying them to our lives daily we will eventually become sharers in the divine nature, if we continue faithful until death.

It is interesting to note that Peter likens this knowledge through experience, and the understanding and application of the divine promises in our lives, to faith, for he writes, “Beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.” The word ‘beside’ used here means ‘to bring in by the side of’, or as Strong’s Concordance suggests, ‘introduce simultaneously’, and not ‘in addition to’. In other words, knowing that God hath given us these exceeding great and precious promises and all things that pertain unto life and godliness, we should simultaneously bring in alongside this knowledge an increased effort to add to our faith the elements of virtue, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

Before we examine each of the elements that we are to bring alongside our faith, we shall take the time to examine one more interesting word, and that is ‘add’. The Greek word here is “epichoregeo.” We learned that the prefix ‘epi’ means ‘upon’ or ‘in addition to’ when Peter used ‘epignosis’ or further knowledge. So likewise here, Peter does not use ‘choregeo’ or ‘add’, but ‘epichoregeo’, and, as Wilson’s Diaglott translates the word, ‘superadd’, which gives the connotation of an increased effort. The Greek word choregeo means, and is elsewhere translated, ‘supply or minister’. A comment in the Companion Bible suggests, “The Choregos was the leader of a chorus, and then came to mean one who defrayed the cost of a chorus at the public festivals.”

This is interesting because when Peter selected this word, which was probably a common word in his vocabulary, it could have well been purposeful on his part. He could have been saying that, when you add to your faith these fruits of the Spirit there is a cost involved. This harmonizes with what we learned in Revelation, where we were told, “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, and buy white raiment.” (Rev. 3:18) How do we buy or super add to our faith?

The first way is by developing the fruit called virtue. The various qualities Peter refers to are to be developed alongside our faith throughout our Christian walk. They need not be added in the order mentioned here, and yet it does seem to be a logical sequence. After obtaining a faith in God through the knowledge of his plans and purposes, one of the first things each of us did individually after making a consecration, was to scrutinize our thoughts, words and actions and to acknowledge, “I am willing and anxious to cleanse myself from all my former habits connected with my fallen human nature.” We wanted to purify ourselves from fleshly imperfections and break our worldly ties. This desire bespoke our determination to become morally excellent and to have a noble character—to be Godlike and Christlike. Virtue implies all of these things.

But in examining this word virtue more carefully, we gain an epignosis—that is, a further knowledge—of what is being taught here. The word virtuous carries with it the thought of ‘valor’, which, in turn, means ‘strength of mind or spirit that enables a man to encounter danger with boldness’. We usually think of a virtuous person as one who possesses purity of thought, and motive, and lifestyle; but a person who has the quality of valor is also one of great strength of character and boldness, who makes unwavering decisions when called for, based upon principles that are ingrained upon their innermost thoughts and being.

Boldness is an interesting character trait. The Bible addresses boldness in other contexts. For example, in Hebrews 10:19-22, we read: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and [having] an High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” When we think of ministering or adding to our faith the quality of virtue, we should think (in addition to moral excellence) of that strength of mind and spirit which enables us to withstand the Adversary, and in the final victory, to be “more than conquerors.”—Rom. 8:37

Next, Peter urges us to supply, minister, or add to our faith, knowledge. Here the Greek word is gnosis, or knowledge gained through learning, effort, and experience. Peter did not use epignosis or ‘further knowledge’ because that is already understood from the use of the word ‘add’. What Peter is saying here, is that we must put forth an effort to learn more concerning God’s plans and purposes. This costs us something. It costs us time, and energy. But it is very rewarding. When we put forth the effort to search deeply into the Scriptures we discover a little gem of truth here, and another one there, that is very rewarding to us. These gems are so beautiful and precious we wonder what took us so long to sit down and study, so we could discover, and enjoy their benefits! Peter admonishes us to take time for this valuable effort, for how can we add to our faith knowledge unless we put forth an endeavor to learn.

We need to develop good study habits if we are going to be successful at stimulating this critical component of our Christian life. As all good students do, we must set aside a definite time and place to study. We must make it a priority in the same way that we make attending class meetings a priority. Paul’s exhortation to not forsake the ‘assembling of ourselves together’ (Heb. 10:25) as much as we possibly can, is taken seriously by most Bible students. This is, of course, also for the purpose of studying and learning. But we need to ask ourselves if perhaps we are lukewarm in supplying to our faith knowledge by avoiding or limiting the amount of personal study that we do. If we are lacking in zeal along this line, then we must rouse ourselves and become more zealous in ‘ministering’ to this aspect of ‘buying’ ‘white raiment’ so that we will not be found ‘naked’.

Next, Peter wrote, “To knowledge [add] temperance.” (II Pet. 1:6) Logically, this is the next step. Temperance is best understood in terms of self-control or self-restraint. Temperance is self-discipline of the type manifested by an athlete in training. A serious or professional athlete must set aside a rigorous timetable for training, and adhere to it conscientiously. Paul brings this to our attention in I Corinthians 9:24-27, where he says: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

In these verses, Paul likens our race for the prize of the high calling to training for the Olympic games. He calls to our attention the fact that the one who wins the race and receives the crown of victory is the one who trained the hardest. Paul said that he had had many choices in the way he would live his life. He could have held down a full-time job; he could even, rightfully, have taken money for his services to the brethren; he could have married, and taken his wife with him on his pilgrimages. But these things were not really expedient for him as an apostle. He restrained himself, or sacrificed these good things, in order to assure himself the victory along the course the Lord had indicated for him to take. His goal was Christ, and Christ alone!

Olympic athletes will undergo actual physical agony during many long years of training, all for that one brief moment of glory, standing upon a platform in front of a cheering crowd to receive a gold medal. By contrast, we are seeking after a crown that is incorruptible! This is the very perspective that Paul yearned to impress upon our minds. Like Paul, but in a much smaller degree of opportunity and skill, each one of us has the privilege of preaching the Gospel. Like Paul, each one of us must keep our bodies under so that we will finish this race victoriously and to God’s glory.

Can we say of ourselves that we have this singleness of purpose, or are we like the unbeliever, Felix? Felix was the governor in Caesarea to whom the Jews brought their accusations against Paul. After hearing the charges and Paul’s defense, he postponed judgment, and allowed Paul to enjoy some degree of liberty. We read in Acts 24:24: “Not long after this, Felix came with Drusila his wife, a Jewess, and sending for Paul, listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. But when he reasoned about justice, self-control, and the future judgment, Felix became alarmed and said, For the present leave me, and when I can find an opportunity I will send for you. At the same time Felix hoped that Paul would give him money; (that is a bribe) and for this reason he sent for him the oftener to converse with him.”—Weymouth Translation

After procrastinating for two years, the governor was still not anxious to pay the price of becoming a Christian, and so Paul remained in prison when Felix was succeeded by Festus. Do we procrastinate and allow ourselves luxuries that use up our time and talents? Do we love the activities and honor of this world more than those of the one to come? Or are we temperate, keeping our bodies under, including the aims and activities of the old man, that we might run with patience the race set before us?

In running the race with patience, we are reminded that this is the next grace Peter listed as being necessary to minister to our faith. Patience as used in this instance means ‘endurance’ or ‘steadfastness’. This meaning suggests the thought that once we have conditioned ourselves through self-restraint we are to maintain or endure at that level of temperance. We must not slip back into old habits, but yet, we must not try to run harder or faster than we are able, either. A long-distance runner disciplines himself to a certain pace, and when it comes time for the race he maintains that pace, resisting the temptation to slow down or to speed up. He knows that if he maintains or endures at that pace he will perform at the peak of his efficiency over the total distance of the race. And so with each new level of temperance gained through victory over self, let us endure with patience until it becomes a part of us, until it becomes ‘natural’ for us, because that is what the next quality—godliness—implies.

Through the use of concordances and a variety of translations of the Bible, we find that godliness means ‘piety or devotion to God’. In looking up the word ‘piety’ in the dictionary, we find that it implies ‘strict and continuing faithfulness to an obligation’, and stresses ‘faithfulness to obligations and duties regarded as natural and fundamental’. The key word here is ‘natural’. We train, we endure, until finally we faithfully perform that which we know is right for us, and now is natural for us.

We have reached the point where we would never perform in any other manner. This is what is meant by becoming more Christlike. It is a state of mind. It implies zeal and service amounting to dedication. It is a point in our Christian walk in which we serve without the thought of ‘having to’ sacrifice, but rather, rejoicing in the privilege.

Once again, the Apostle Peter’s emphasis was that we are to add to, or to bring in alongside our faith, these various qualities. We must not have the idea that the Lord wants us to wait until we have reached a high level of temperance, or godliness, or any other fruit or grace of the Spirit, before bringing in the next characteristic. We are to continually minister to each one of these qualities. Nor will we ever reach a point in our lives in which we can say we are pious and have no need to minister to temperance or patience. We must continually seek perfection—which of course we will never actually reach in this body of flesh. While there will and must be progress, in which we rejoice, giving God the glory, there is also much which we will always need to overcome.—Rom. 7:18-25

Another area to which we must minister is brotherly kindness or brotherly love as the Greek word ‘philadelphia’ conveys. We read in the Scriptures “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.”—Eph. 4:32-5:2

Who are our brethren that we might love them? They are those who share with us the hope of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. We are told to not judge our brethren. “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”—Rom. 2:1

However, we are to judge ourselves, to be certain that we do not put a stumbling block in our brother’s way. It is only by the grace of God that we can do this, and only through the power of the Holy Spirit operating upon each one of us, as we endeavor to conform our lives to the image of our pattern, Jesus. God reveals what is required of us as we study his Word. From God’s Word we learn the process and manner that God expects of us in our growth as New Creatures. With this knowledge and through its application to us individually, let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure; for if we do these things we shall never fall.—II Pet. 1:10

Perhaps the most important knowledge we have now received is (as pointed out concerning Laodicea) that we are yet sinners. Our most frequent sins are in connection with our brethren, because we have more close association with them than we do with the world. A method of dealing well with our brethren with whom we have disagreement has been given to us by our Lord in Matthew 18:15. Here he said, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”

How well do we heed this advice of our Lord? Even if we follow this advice, it will not bring reconciliation if our purpose is only to gain a victory over our brother, or to have our actions vindicated. This wise counsel is a method to restore the condition of brotherly love, and such will be the case only when properly applied, and when both parties wish to forgive and to forget in order to gain a lasting reconciliation. This is love that works—it is love in action!

Yet another point to consider in this matter is, that before we remove the splinter from the eye of our brother, we must remove the beam from our own eye. (Luke 6:42) We must free our hearts from the burden of bitterness, and embrace one another in the bonds of brotherly love. Brotherly love is not bitter, but benevolent—not accusing, but excusing—not contemptuous, but compassionate. It is a lofty and majestic and a Godlike trait to possess.

Yes brethren, let us love one another with a pure heart, fervently! And to brotherly love, add love. What an astounding thought! As we consider the beauties and loveliness of brotherly love, how is it possible for there to be yet another step. But there is! It is the mark of perfect love, and when we reach that mark we shall be ready for our change. “God is love” (I John 4:8), and when we can love as he loves—when it can be said of us that we are love—only then will we be ready to be raised to be with him, and to see him as he is—in the fullness of his love!

“Giving all diligence, add [minister] to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly love; and to brotherly kindness [love], [more] love. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge [further knowledge] of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“But he that lacketh these things is blind, [remember Laodicea] and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins [or is naked and poor]. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered [added] unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”—II Pet. 1:5-11

Dawn Bible Students Association
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