2 Peter I. 15-2 5
IN the goodness of God there are many unconditione d
mercies. He sends sunshine and rain upon the
just and the unjust, upon the good and upon the
evil. He offers His mercy to all men. But there are
also conditioned mercies : their possession is made
dependent upon certain pre-requisites of life .
It is written that `without holiness no man shall see the
A. Holiness Is An Indispensable
Holiness is one of the indispensables . The call
to holiness is as wide as the Gospel (v. 15. 16) . It is
one of the most radiant attributes of the Deity . Isaiah's
great hour came when he stood within the temple and
heard celestial voices acclaim, `Holy, Holy, Holy, is the
Lord of Hosts . The whole earth is full of His glory.'
Prophet, priest and psalmist, join their voices in homage
and adoration. The great wonder of thought and of
language is that our faulty lives should be summoned
to this divine quality of being : `As He which hath called
you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation .'
Here is the instruction, `.Be ye holy,' and here is the
incentive, `For I am holy' : warrant and pattern are both
expressed in these two sentences. God's great desire
is that His people should be like Himself. Whatever
else we may be, this one thing we must be . `I am holy'
is the foundation of all true thought about God . `Be
ye holy' is the basic quality of all true discipleship . It
means a certain distinctiveness of life ; it is some person
or some thing set apart for sacred uses .
It may be a period of time, a day : `Remember the
Sabbath day, to keep it holy.' `Six days shalt thou
labour but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy
It may be a place : `Take off thy shoes from off thy
feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground .'
It may be a life : `The Lord hath set apart him that is
holy for Himself'
We have not been put in the world primarily to enjoy
ourselves . `Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy
Him for ever.' God does not order our lives that we
may have pleasure all our days, or success, or fame .
He does not promise us immunity from trouble or
discipline . The true blessedness of personal life is
doing His will as His children . This is not easy . There
is no holiness without effort, discipline, patience . Holiness
requires the whole personality. Wholeness for God is
We have a great Ally to help us in pursuit of this
indispensable quality. The Holy Spirit has this precise
ministry : He is holy; His name and nature and work
For every virtue we possess, and every victory won ,
And every thought of holiness, are His alone .
II. Sacrifice Is An Indispensible
Another indispensable is Sacrifice. Peter knew the
ancient Scriptures uncommonly well and especially that
`without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.'
He knew also that the Gospel has this to preach and
live by: `Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things
like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of
Christ' (v . 18) .
This redemption was thought out and prepared before
the world was born (v. 19, 20): `foreordained before the
foundation of the world .' These words are familiar to
the Scripture mind : `I will utter things kept secret
from the foundation of the world' : `He hath chosen us
in Him before the foundation of the world' : `Inherit the
Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
Redemption was not an afterthought in an attempt to
overtake the calamity of man's fall and its ill consequence
for the whole family of mankind . Christianity is older
than creation. God prepared beforehand for all contingencies,
all crises . He was working in secret before
time began, and when the fulness of the time was come
Christ was made manifest to mankind. Out of the secret
into the open : out of the distance into the near : out of
the invisible into the visible, came the Lamb of God to
take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Our discipleship has intrinsic value . The concern
of our time is the cost of things : the rising cost of all
things essential to our existence gives anxious thought .
Our lives increase in value by the price we have to pay to
live. When the Apostle Paul was on his defence at
Jerusalem he asserted his Roman citizenship ; the
Captain retorted, `With a great sum obtained I this
freedom.' Paul replied, 'I was born free.' We too are
born free into the Kingdom of God, but Another purchased
our freedom at a great sum. Silver and gold can
do many things but they have no currency here. Some
things take blood—the precious blood of Jesus Christ .
That is a price above all possible assessment.
In the economy of the time, slaves were bought and
sold in the markets . It was an easy transfer of thought
to carry over the transaction to this high context : `Ye
were not redeemed with silver and gold but with the
precious blood of Christ .' He gave His life a ransom
and this follows : `Ye are not your own, ye are bought
with a price' ; and this follows after that, `Therefore ,
glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are
III. The New Birth Is Indispensible
This means a complete change of life. Our Lord
prescribed this other indispensable experience : `Ye must
be born again.'
The Apostle catches up with this great indispensable
which Christ launched upon the world : `Except a man
be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.' This
is high birth, for Jesus calls it being born from above ;
that gives us a new country of origin. Peter adds this
significant word, `Being born again not of corruptible
seed, but of incorruptible .' This is high birth of another
kind, not from source but from quality of life. Incor-
ruptible is a big word with a big meaning.
This second birth seems to cancel out the advantages and disadvantages
of our earthly birth, for by this heavenly birth w e
have a new native land and a new native quality. We
have new family connections, new kindred, new bonds of
kinship, new rank and title and spiritual privilege, and
inevitably new and widespread responsibilities . A
radically new relationship is established which changes
the whole context of existence . `Born of incorruptible
seed.' Not subject to decay. Can we claim immunity
from deterioration? The new seed is of God . The new
life has new endowments, new powers. What evidence
does this new life submit to the observation of our
fellowmen, what proof of it do our friends and acquaintances
It means new relationships and new social attitudes .
The phrase `without respect of persons' (v . 17) recalls
the hard lesson Peter had learned in the vision he received
at Joppa, and in his contact with Cornelius at Caesarea .
His heart was enlarged by a Gospel that is above respect
of persons. It includes all mankind, irrespective of race
and colour. Peter had to learn that God's love is above
preference and partiality. Jesus gave His life, not for a
nation, but for the whole race of mankind .
With what feeling, what emotion, what motive, shall
we face the new situation? There is only one attitude,
one motive for the Christian, it is love. Love is another
great indispensable : `See that you love one another
with a true heart fervently' (v. 22). How well the
Apostle marshals his points : `seeing that—see that! '
The connection is vital. `Seeing that ye have purified
your souls in obeying the truth, see that ye love one
another with a true heart fervently .' No power or quality
of the religious life can exist in isolation. Love never
lives by itself and never lives alone. The new birth is
the birth of love, love that, like the love of Christ, break s
through all barriers .
The bolted door had broken in,
I knew that I had done with sin ;
I knew that Christ had given me birth
To brother all the souls on earth .
This assessment of common values is receiving new
emphasis in our time . Superiority of race, wherever
it has been assumed, has had to come down from its
pedestal—torn, if you will, from the place it had carve d
for itself, and made to take rank with the rest. We
have to begin again in a new state, with new standards
and new responsibilities, accepting a new valuation of
things worth having.
At the centre of these rapidly-changing conditions is
the believing community. The bonds that hold the
outside world may be many : common enmities, common
interests, fears and aims . But the supreme bond that
binds the Christian fellowship is love. To say that is to
confess that it finds us out . ThL absence of love is our
reproach. The charge against an early church was that
its people had left their first love. Then came the urge
to recover it, for love to Christ and to one another is the
condition of every desirable gift and service. It can only
be recovered where it was first kindled—at the feet of
The Apostle feels afresh the pressure of passing time .
`The end of all things is at hand .' Remember the
limitations of your opportunity : `All flesh is grass' (v. 24).
Nothing could be more frail . `Pass the time of
your sojourning here in fear' (v. 17). The crisis
of living is just this : We shall not pass this way
again. And `Who knows?'—asks Browning in The Last
Ride Together, `Who knows but the world may end
The time is short !
If thou would'st work for God ,
It must be now.
If thou would'st win the garland
For thy brow,
Redeem the time.
I sometimes feel the thread of life is slender ,
And soon by me the labour will be wrought ,
Then grows my heart to other hearts more tender ,
The time is short
Sermon From Dr. John Macbeath