GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 05/09/04.
Virtue and Capacity. 2 Peter 1:1-2.

Philippians 4:8 From now on, members of the Royal Family of God, whatever is true [doctrinal], whatever is honorable [noble or worthy of respect], whatever is just [fair or right], whatever is pure [of proper motivation]whatever personal loves exists, whatever is commendable, if there is any virtue and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

We have now begun the subject of virtue, which is the foundation for all that is true, honorable, just, of proper motivation, and commendable. This is why Paul says, “If there is any virtue [and there is] and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”

Virtue in the believer is the visible manifestation of the invisible, i.e., metabolized doctrine and the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, true happiness depends on virtue manufactured inside the predesigned plan of God, and it does not depend on fame, success, prosperity, power, approbation, sex, etc. As virtue is the visible manifestation of humility toward God, arrogance is the visible manifestation of Satan’s invisible cosmic system. Virtue is the monopoly of God, and therefore it can only be produced through the laws of divine establishment and living the spiritual life inside the predesigned plan of God.

2PE 1:1-11 Simon Peter, a bond servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence [virtue], and in your virtue knowledge; and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

All believers are given a great challenge. We are not here to merely get by; in fact, we are not here for very long, and our lives are a drop in the ocean compared to eternity, JAM 4:13-14, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.'”

The challenge is to keep our priorities straight and stay in touch with eternity; the opportunities of being in touch with eternity exist now, yet most believers barely keep in touch with time. Many believers spend no time in God’s Word and therefore are not disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have rejected the principle of Joh 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Peter opens his second epistle in 2PE 1:1 with the introduction, “Simon Peter, a bond servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” Peter and his brother Andrew were in the fishing business with James and John, and they were very successful businessmen. But, by the time Peter wrote this epistle, many changes had taken place in his life because he had learned a lot of God’s Word. He saw the vanity of living for this world. He understood LUK 9:25, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”
This is the man to whom Jesus had said in MAT 16:23, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” This same man was now a man of fantastic humility because he realized how meaningless and empty life is without God.

He realized that “being good” and treating people right was not the main issue of life, as Solomon learned in Ecc 1.

He realized that seeking happiness in pleasure was not the main issue of life, ECC 2:1-11.

He realized that living for children and family was vanity, Ecc 2.

He realized that looking for happiness from money, wealth, and prosperity was vain, Ecc 5.

He realized that building a reputation was vain, Ecc 7.

He realized that living for sex and intimate relationships was vain, Ecc 7.

He realized that looking for happiness in the “hero image” was vain, Ecc 9.

“Simon Peter, a bond servant” The word “bondservant” is the Greek noun doulos, which literally means a slave. Being a slave is the greatest occupation in life when you are the slave and God is the master. God is a master who takes care of his slaves in a magnificent way. Peter uses the word “doulos” to emphasize the principle that there are no accidents in the spiritual life; as long as God wants you to be alive, you will lack nothing that is necessary to sustain your life. You will have the greatest opportunities, happiness, privileges, and blessings in life. These all belong to you because God is your master. This slave, Peter, holds the highest rank in the Royal Family as an apostle.

“and apostle of Jesus Christ” An apostle (apostolos) was a high-ranking officer, equivalent to an admiral in the Athenian navy (fifth century B.C.) or a governor; apostolos meant command responsibility. Until the completed canon of scripture, God selected apostolos to command the church. In recognition of grace, Peter calls himself “doulos,”and in recognition of responsibility, he calls himself “apostolos.”

“to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours” Every believer begins with the same faith, but none of us end up the same. Everyone has the same chance at salvation; we are given equal privilege and equal opportunity, but after that, equality no longer exists, DEU 30:19, “‘I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live.'”

In eternity past, the sovereignty of God elected us to privilege, but we have the freedom to accept or reject His way of doing things. God has one will for all of us; He wills the highest and best for each one of us. Sadly, most believers say, “I’m too busy for that!” Some fail, some are winners, some are losers, some are under divine discipline, some are under the sin unto death. God has a perfect plan to reveal His perfect will, but we all have the freedom to accept it or reject it. Every believer will remain a loser until doctrine becomes the top priority in his life. Believers who advance toward spiritual maturity advance in grace, but believers who live in the cosmic system abuse grace. They are using grace like they use people, to satisfy their own lusts and desires. When doctrine is not top priority in a believer’s life, he is using grace, and when a believer uses grace, he is using God, and when you try to use God, you are going to be a loser.

“&ldots;by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ&ldots;” Every believer starts out equal at regeneration, the only place where there is any equality in life. God the Holy Spirit not only provides the power, but He also provides the freedom necessary to advance in God’s plan, and the policy of this plan is grace. Grace gives us all an equal start and sufficient provisions to go forward to spiritual maturity. We all start on an equal basis, but after that, it all depends upon how much doctrine you metabolize and apply. All a loser will have is his resurrected body and nothing else to show for a life full of bad decisions. There will be rewards given to the believer whose work and advance to maturity glorifies God, and this is the result of virtue. We are responsible for our own decisions. Learning to take responsibility for your own decisions is the principle of human maturity and the beginning stage of developing virtue. You cannot be mature as a person until you accept responsibility.

The phrase “by the righteousness” in 2PE 1:1 is translated from the Greek preposition en plus the instrumental of dikaiosune, which means righteousness as well as integrity. This virtue and integrity come by means of the Lord Jesus Christ. He developed and used it in His humanity (LUK 2:40,52; PHI 2:5), and so can we. Truth plus good decisions results in integrity. In the Christian life, Bible doctrine and the power of the Spirit manufacture integrity.

 It is the decisions that you make related to God’s plan that are the major issue. Every believer is witnessing to the millions of angels in the spiritual realm; our life is observed every day by angels involved in the angelic conflict. This Christian character and integrity comes “by means of the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Our virtue comes through the righteousness and virtue and integrity of our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The divine policy and purpose is stated in 2Pe1:2, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” The policy of grace and prosperity and the divine purpose is stated here and then amplified in verses 3-11. “Grace” is the Greek noun charis, which refers to the policy of God toward man. Grace is God’s right to deal with us on the basis of the Cross; God is free to express His love to us through grace. Therefore, grace is an expression of God’s love for us. Grace always depends on the character and nature of God, not us. Grace is what God can do for you. Remember that there never is a time, nor will there ever be a time, when we could earn or deserve anything from God.

Throughout the centuries, legalism has infiltrated the church and grace believers have been under great persecution,GAL 4:29, “But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh [Ishmael from Hagar] persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit [Isaac from Sarah], so it is now also.”

Ishmael was born from that which the flesh and human viewpoint produced. God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son when Sarah was barren and beyond menopause. Sarah came up with her own plan, and she said to Abraham inGEN 16:2, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children through her.” Sarah planned it, and Abraham initiated it in GEN 16:4, “And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived.” Hagar carried it out in GEN 16:15, “So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.” This represents what happens when we try to do things our way rather than God’s way. Even to this day, the race that came from Hagar still persecutes the race that came from Sarah.

Legalism is man’s ability and man’s work intruding on the plan of God. Man always has some talent, ability, gimmick, or plan to try to help God along. But grace rejects human plans, talent, ability, gimmicks, games, and viewpoint. The only way any believer can recognize subtle legalism and remain in grace is to take in doctrine daily, PSA 26:3, “For Thy lovingkindness [grace] is before my eyes, and I have walked in Thy doctrine.” Unfortunately, some believers will never know the wonderful things God has for them, simply because they refuse His grace.

God is waiting, “tapping his foot,” to be gracious to you, ISA 30:18. He is waiting to make some of you wealthy or successful, or give you social prosperity or romantic and sexual prosperity-God is waiting to share his happiness with you!

What is it that He is waiting for? 

He is waiting for the cup of capacity in your soul! God is our host in the devil’s world; however, the host cannot pour where this is no cup. This cup is your very own soul and its capacity is built from Bible doctrine.

For a more detailed study, order tapes 0190-1158 to 0190-1159.

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