Exceeding and Abounding

“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.” “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” —II Peter 1:4,11

THESE ARE SUPERLATIVE expressions: ‘exceeding great and precious promises’, and an ‘entrance … abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord’. Many similar statements are recorded in the Scriptures such as those which assure us that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” and “is able to make all grace abound” toward us. (Eph. 3:20; II Cor. 9:8) They are generally in relation to what our Lord and our Heavenly Father will bestow upon those who put their trust in him.

The Apostle Peter’s salutation at the commencement of his letter is: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you,” who “have obtained like precious faith … through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Pet. 1:1,2) The Apostle Paul also uses similar expressions replete with adjectives to strengthen the statements referring to the attainment of glory.

In contrasting our afflictions with the glory to be received, Paul says, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (II Cor. 4:17) Then we have that wonderful promise of God through the Prophet Malachi: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”—Mal. 3:10

It is all just like our Heavenly Father! He gives unstintingly. Jesus said, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. … Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.” God’s love has no limit; his grace has no measure; his power no boundary known to men. Out of his infinite riches in Jesus, he gives and gives and gives again! Jesus said to the people, God is full of mercy and compassion, “for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. … Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”—Luke 6:35,36,38

Peter states that God “hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” (II Pet. 1:3) Nothing has been forgotten, or omitted, to complete the call. “Whereby,” or, for which purpose, “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.”—II Pet. 1:4

Many of these promises are conditional. Peter says, “If these things [the graces of the Spirit] be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Pet. 1:8) We are assured that if we cultivate the graces of the Spirit, we “shall never fall.” (vs. 10) Since Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit,” it behooves all his followers to have fruitbearing as their great objective. Thus they will have an entrance ‘abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’. (John 15:8) And so we wish to reflect on what is really the fruitage our Heavenly Father is looking for in us, and to encourage ourselves in reaching out for that which will glorify and honor him as well as prepare us for an abundant entrance into that heavenly kingdom.

The promises given to us from God and our Lord cover every feature and phase of our spiritual and temporal experiences. It was so with the patriarchs and prophets. We are exhorted to be followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises given for them.—James 5:10,11

For the comfort and encouragement of the followers of Christ Jesus during the Gospel Age we read: “God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that … we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us [in the promises]: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered.”—Heb. 6:17-20

Let us recall a few of the hundreds of these great and precious promises by means of which we become partakers of the divine nature, changed from human to spiritual, realizing that God himself is the Author of this great change, and is operating within us. “Of his own will begat he us with the Word of truth, that we [begotten ones] should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”—James 1:18

The ancient prophets and old-time saints saw many of these promises afar off—many of these great promises which we are privileged to see in our day in the course of fulfillment. Like the patriarchs we should be “persuaded of them,” and embrace them, confessing that we, too, are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth.—Heb. 11:13

To Abraham, God promised, “In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; … and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:17,18) The Apostle Paul, in Galatians, referring to this great promise, reminds us that God said not, “And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Gal.3:16) “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—vs. 29

Why are we so slow to believe these wonderful words of life, joy, comfort, and peace—these exceeding great and precious promises of present spiritual inheritance? Be assured that these promises are not given to excite a vague hope of some future mirage or prospective phantom, or ever-failing vehicle of anticipation. They are predetermined promises of God himself to you and to me as his children that we might be satisfied in that life-long urge of soul to become New Creatures in Christ Jesus, members of a New Creation—not barren nor unfruitful, but complete and ready for an ‘abundant’ entrance into the kingdom, that heavenly kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We will paraphrase the First Psalm, where David beautifully illustrates how we can become ‘complete’ in Christ. In this psalm we find that David commends a godly life, and describes what makes a man God-fearing or spiritually-minded. It opens with an expression of admiration for the man who lives a godlike life. It proceeds to describe in a simple and engaging manner what such a man avoids, what he delights in, and what he resembles.

The first verse says, ‘How happy’, or “blessed,” is the man who ‘walks not’, ‘stands not’ nor ‘sits’ ‘in the way of ‘sinners’, nor ‘in the seat of the scornful’. By this man the laws of nature are revered, and. the slightest revelation from the Word of his God he will welcome and obey. In this day of enlightenment he will be so happy to know Christ that he will find in him the spirit and source of all love.

Christ Jesus and his Word will be the law of his being, and toward the word of Christ Jesus his mind and heart will gravitate; and in the Lord he will discover his songs of hope and joy and peace continually. “His delight is in the Law of the Lord; and in his Law doth he meditate day and night.” Such a one comes directly under the care of the great Husbandman. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water; … and his leaf [or profession] also shall not wither.”—Ps. 1:1-3

Jesus, using the figure of a well of water, reveals similar expressions and observations of the life of such a one. “Out of his belly”, Jesus said, “shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) To the woman of Samaria Jesus declared: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”—John 4:14

The words of Paul still come to the Lord’s people today, saying, I “cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” (Eph. 1:16,17) As the mind and heart is filled and fed with the things of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord, being aware also of the blessings of life that will presently flow to all mankind, life in the truest sense finds a swelling, springing up within, which finds expression through the tongue.

All the promises—these great and precious promises and assurances from the Word of God—are productive of faith, strong and enduring faith. Concerning the promises by which one can become a partaker of the divine nature, Peter says: “Giving all diligence, add to your faith” other virtues—fortitude, knowledge, temperance or self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. For, he adds, “If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And, “Herein is my Father glorified,” said Jesus, “that ye bear much fruit.”—John 15:8; II Pet. 1:5-8

Faith alone is not sufficient to insure an entrance abundantly into the kingdom. These virtues need to be secured and maintained to the end. For this reason, how necessary it is to accept the apostle’s word and give all diligence to regulate our conduct of life in furnishing faith with these virtues.

The Bible is replete with examples of faith for our benefit. Abraham stands out admirably in this respect. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” (Heb. 11:8) “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: … accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”—Heb. 11:17,19

Having Abraham as our example of faith, let us add to, or intensify, our faith with fortitude. This implies strength of will, the power of resistance against our Adversary, an element of character admired by our Father, and in general. We need this strength of character quite early in our walk of faith, and all along our pilgrim way. It encourages singleness of purpose, firm decisions of acceptance and resistance, whereas “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”—James 1:8

Daniel is a great example of fortitude. He proposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s meat or wine. (Dan. 1:8) He knew the writing was signed by the king and that “whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man [except the king] for thirty days,” was to be cast into the den of lions. (Dan. 6:7) Knowing this, Daniel went into his house, and his windows being open, he kneeled three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before God, as he always had.—Dan. 6:10

Let us have the same spirit of confidence and restfulness, unmoved, unperturbed, strong and faithful, as did Daniel. Let us emulate these stalwarts of faith and fortitude. As the hymn encourages us to do: “Dare to be a Daniel; Dare to stand alone; Dare to have a purpose firm; And dare to make it known.” Take heed, be quiet, fear not, neither let your heart be faint.—Isa. 7:4, American Revised Version


And then Peter exhorts us to add, or intensify, our knowledge. Knowledge is always open for growth, and is a gathering of facts. Christian knowledge is knowing God, his Word, his purposes, as they relate to us who have faith in him, and as those recorded purposes relate to the world. To all those who accept the Word of God and the exceeding great and precious promises, it means spiritual knowledge, spiritual discernment of what is wise, just, right, true, philosophical, in all the activities of God, especially so in our devotion to God and his Word.—John 7:17; 17:3

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children; but in understanding be men.” (I Cor. 14:20) He prayed for all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, “that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment,” or spiritual understanding, or discernment. (Phil. 1:9) Knowledge is most certainly a treasured virtue and should be increased and broadened and diffused for the benefit of others, but knowledge misused or misapplied quickly makes shipwreck of its possessor, and finally leads to disaster.

Solomon was a great example of knowledge; that is, in his early days, at his coronation. Listen to his words: “O Lord My God, … I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. … Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord.” (I Kings 3:7-10) Let us maintain this same sort of humility and meekness first shown by Solomon.


And to knowledge intensify “temperance,” or self-control—that virtue which keeps one moderate, gentle, properly balanced. Paul says: “Let your moderation [‘gentleness’, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott] be known unto all.” (Phil. 4:5) Be gentle, show meekness to all. (Tit. 3:2) “Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” (I Cor. 9:25) Paul says too, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.”—vs. 27

Peter, in his later years, was a wonderful example and pattern for us, in growth of grace, and in the virtue of self-control. As a natural man, he was a strange character in many ways. We bring him to your notice for encouragement and comfort. At first he was impetuous, bold, courageous; he was also fearful, slow to perceive, quick to speak, self-thinking; but he was deeply sincere. All these traits are so noticeable in his earlier life.—Matt. 16:22; 18:21; 16:16; 19:27

But from Pentecost onward, when the Holy Spirit of God took more full possession of his mind and heart, Peter had made great strides in temperance, self-control, courage, firmness—manifesting a soberness of faith worthy to copy. He was then an established saint, becoming a pastor of the church, exhorting to traits of character and qualities of mind, many of which he least exemplified prior to Pentecost.

Note his exhortations: “Be ye holy [saith God]; for I am holy.” (I Pet. 1:16) “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober.” (vs. 13) “Decorate the hidden man of the heart with what is incorruptible—a meek and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (I Pet. 3:4, WED) Let us take heart, because Peter was a mirror of ourselves. But he was enabled by the Spirit and grace of God to triumph over natural tendencies of his flesh. His secret of success was his sincere devotion and love for the Lord. If we have similar traits of character, we also may still triumph over them in the strength of the Lord.


To self-control intensify the virtue of patience. Patience is the grace which enables one to bear affliction and calamity with calmness and cheerful constancy of mind. Patience is the power of endurance. “Tribulation worketh patience.” (Rom. 5:3) “In your patience possess ye your souls.”—Luke 21:19

Joseph was a beautiful example of patience. James says: “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure.”—James 5:10,11

Joseph waited many years from the time he was sold to the Ishmaelites by his brothers until he received his father at the palace of Pharaoh. The many distressing experiences which he encountered in that period of time without complaint, with pity and mercy toward his brothers, will stand out as a beacon to all the earth throughout the world’s Judgment Day. The incidents in Joseph’s early life indicate he was a lovable boy, a father’s boy, with his mother’s traits of affection for those whom he loved. It would have been easy and natural for him to pine, languish, and to long for his parents, home, and homeland, but he remained patient.

It was undoubtedly in his power to have gained leave from Pharaoh’s court to visit home, but there is no record of such a request. He was cruelly and unjustly charged by Potiphar’s wife, submitted to wrongful imprisonment, and waited even when his brethren arrived, and until they knew him. He remained silent for about two years before disclosing that he was their brother. (Gen. 45:6) Finally, after reassuring his brethren that he would not take revenge for their treachery, he said to them: “God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”—vs. 7


To patience, Peter exhorts us to add godliness. This trait enables one possessing it to view every experience from the divine standpoint; to take an exalted position for discernment of every experience; to be seated with Christ in the heavenlies. (Eph. 2:6) How often we find our judgment of men and things changed when so seated. How often have our second, cooler thoughts disapproved what our first apprehension of things, upon a sudden provocation, have suggested.

Those possessing godliness are inclined to peace, and opposed to strife. They are dignified, just, majestic. If you are with them very long, you are impressed with their influence, and the beauty of their minds. “The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself.” (Ps. 4:3) It was so with David—a man after God’s own heart. We read that David behaved himself wisely. (I Sam. 18:5) David’s heart smote him for cutting off part of Saul’s robe, and he said, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed.” (I Sam. 24:6) David’s consideration for his parents is very manifest when he went to the King of Moab and said, “Let my father and my mother … be with you, till I know what God will do for me.” (I Sam. 22:3) “And they dwelt with him [the king] all the while that David was in the hold.” (vs. 4) God was with David in battle, prayer, persecution, and kingly courts. He was a type of the church, who also are copies at heart of God’s dear Son.

And to godliness, add brotherly kindness. This is a virtue or characteristic that possesses an affinity for others of like mind, in habitation and in parentage. In spiritual things it is manifest in affinity of fellowship, assembly, equal sonship, care, concern, as shielder and helper. Paul was one of our examples. His letters are full of brotherliness. His care for all the churches (II Cor. 11:28); his exhortations to others to be kindly affectioned (Rom. 12:10); his desire that brotherly love should continue (Heb. 13:1); all prove Paul’s faith in, and fidelity to, the Lord.

All the virtues are defined by the one word, love—that virtue which emanates originally from God. God is love; a love which possesses no other motive than good; love that is sacrificial, forbearing, merciful, constraining to assist good, abhorring that which is evil.

Christ Jesus our Lord is our example, our pattern to copy; and God, our Heavenly Father is our Creator, our Potter. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (II Cor. 8:9) “The love of Christ … passeth knowledge.” (Eph. 3:19) “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (I John 4:16) Of Christ Jesus it is said, “Having loved his own, … he loved them unto the end.”—John 13:1

These are the furnishings of faith. These virtues make one’s faith complete in Christ. Without these virtues or characteristics, hope of joint-heirship with Christ is vague. Paul urges that we reach the stature of a full grown man in Christ. (Eph. 4:13) Faith in the exceeding great and precious promises requires growth to maturity in Christlikeness in order to be assured of an entrance abundantly into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith, to be complete, must show its fruit or works. Faith without works is like an empty house. It is well built on a good foundation, beautifully situated, but for habitation it needs furnishings; and so it is with our faith. Peter assures us if these things be in us and abound, they make us that we shall be neither barren nor unfruitful. These are the virtues of faith that produce fruit; that is, fruitage of character, fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure. If you add the special qualities—these furnishings—to your faith, by embracing the exceeding great and precious promises, ye shall never fall. “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you. abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”—II Pet. 1:4-11

Dawn Bible Students Association
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