2441. The Lord’s Knowledge, Our Safeguard

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No. 2441-41:565. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, June 30, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, December 1, 1895.

The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust for the day of judgment to be punished. {2Pe 2:9}

1. There are very narrow limits to our knowledge. There is a great breadth to our conceit; but the things that we really know are very few, after all. He who is wisest will be the first to confess his own ignorance. Our faith in the superior knowledge of God is a great source of comfort to us. That he knows everything, is a kind of omnipresent covering to our naked ignorance. Though we do not know as yet, we rejoice that he knows, and it is better that he should know than that we should know. Knowledge is safer in the hands of God than it would be in our hands. The infinite God alone is to be trusted with infinite knowledge.

2. The first words of our text, “The Lord knows,” often come as a comfort to my own mind. The text says, “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations.” This is only one of the many things, which the Lord knows. For example, sometimes we find perplexing doctrines; perhaps we endeavour to reconcile the predestination of God and the freedom of human action. It is better not to wade too far into those deep waters, lest we lose ourselves in an abyss. “The Lord knows.” There is a reconciling point in his mind concerning all the great truths which he has revealed. One was wishful, the other night, to tell me some great secret which he had discovered; but I was not so wishful to hear it, for I did not think that I should be any holier or any happier if I did hear it, and I was just as pleased not to know as I should have been to know the secret. That insatiable craving to know everything just draws away the life of men from what ought to be their insatiable craving, namely, to be like God, to know him, to trust him, to love him, and to serve him.

3. Sometimes, dear friends, we come across puzzling prophecies. Some brethren profess to know all about prophecy. I do not, neither am I quite sure that they do. This I know, that you only have to place one set of interpreters of prophecy over against another set, and they speedily swallow each other, as Aaron’s rod swallowed the rods of the magicians of Egypt. But I am satisfied myself to feel that “the Lord knows,” and he knows how every prophecy will be fulfilled, and the exact order in which the prophecies will come to be facts. We may make our prophetic charts if we like, but God will follow his own chart. We may think that we have discovered the clue of the maze in the Apocalypse and in Daniel; but whether we have, or have not, is of no very great consequence. John and Daniel spoke by the Holy Spirit, and their words will all be fulfilled in due time, and the Lord knows all about the whole matter.

4. The same is the case in reference to the Lord’s amazing promises. Many of them are so amazingly bright and grand that we sometimes ask ourselves, “How can all these things be fulfilled for us?” And possibly, like Abraham, we may have a divine promise, yet there may come a precept or a providence which seems to murder the promise, and render its fulfilment impossible, as when God said to the patriarch, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” and then told him to offer up his son in whom the promise was wrapped up. Yet Abraham, although he did not know how the promise would be fulfilled, did not stagger because of unbelief, for he felt that God knew. God will keep his own promise, brethren. We need not try to help him, as she did who sought to secure the blessing for her favourite son by setting him on an evil and mischievous piece of plotting to deceive his aged father. It is not your work to fulfil God’s promises; you will have enough to do to obey his precepts, and you will need his help to enable you to do that. He does not need your help in fulfilling his promises; but you may say with regard to all of them, “The Lord knows how to fulfil them, and he will fulfil them to the dot of every i, and the stroke of every t. Not one good thing that he has promised shall ever fail to be bestowed on those who put their trust in him.”

5. The same is the case also, dear friends, with regard to afflictive providences. “I cannot see the wisdom of this trial,” one says. “I cannot understand why this trouble has befallen me,” says another. Why do you wish to understand? Why do you want to see? We walk by faith, not by sight. I have known what it is to feel a thrill of sacred joy within my soul when my divine Master has set me a task altogether beyond my strength. I have felt, “If this work had been only half as heavy as it is, I might have attempted it; but now I know that I cannot perform this task in my own strength, so I am cast on omnipotence.” It is poor work, — paddling around on the muddy beach, lifting first one foot and then the other; the grand exercise is to swim, and you must swim when you cannot touch the bottom. Sometimes, God puts us into an ocean of afflictions where there seems to be no bottom to the sea; our trials are altogether too heavy for us, they quite overwhelm us. Oh, then, what a mercy it is if we have faith enough to trust in God! If Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been summoned to the common trial by ordeal, — well-known among our ancestors, — that of walking over red-hot ploughshares, they might have hoped somehow to pick their way; but when they were “bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning, fiery furnace,” where there was no possibility of escape unless Jehovah himself entered the furnace with them, — well, then, they had a grander arena for the display of faith in God. They had passed from the littlenesses of human possibility into the grandeurs of omnipotence, and God was glorified as they walked loose in the midst of the fire having had nothing burned except their bonds. It is a great gain when any tried or persecuted child of God has the company of his Heavenly Father even in the midst of the fiery trial to which he is exposed.

6. It is the same with regard to grievous temptations. Some of the Lord’s very dear children are severely tempted, sometimes by their own thoughts, into which Satan casts the bitterness of his blasphemies, sometimes by trials at home which they cannot understand, or by afflictions which seem like that wind from the wilderness which struck the four corners of the house where Job’s children were feasting. Well now, at such times, when we cannot comprehend our temptations, but seem altogether in a maze, and at a nonplus, then let us fall back on these three words, “The Lord knows.” The infinite breadth of divine wisdom comprehends all our needs, all our sorrows, all our feeblenesses, all our trials and temptations. Let this be like an all-surrounding atmosphere to us, which when we breath it, we shall feel our life strengthened, and our hearts made glad.

7. In our text, the apostle calls attention to one item of God’s knowledge. He makes us feel quite safe concerning the government of the universe since it is in the hands of the all-knowing One, the Lord who knows, on the one hand, “how to deliver the godly out of temptations,” and, on the other hand, how “to reserve the unjust for the day of judgment to be punished.”

8. I. In considering these words, I shall ask you, first, to think of THE LORD’S KNOWLEDGE IN REFERENCE TO CHARACTER.

9. This may not appear on the surface of the text, but it is evidently implied; for the Lord would not know how to deliver the godly if he did not know who were godly, and he would not know how to reserve the unjust for the future judgment if he did not know who were unjust. Reflect, then, for a few moments, on the truth that the Lord knows the godly. Sometimes they come under trials and temptations, so that they are not known to others; their former friends and their kindred stand aloof from them, as Job’s friends and kindred did from him. The patriarch was so severely stricken and wounded that his three friends concluded he must be a hypocrite. He “was perfect and upright, and one who feared God, and avoided evil,” a very favourite of heaven, yet his friends did not know him as one of the godly because of the great trials which had befallen him.

10. Indeed, and sometimes, because of imperfections, others may not know us to be godly. It is a pity that it should be so; but there are times when sin fiercely assails the believer, and he is severely taxed. He himself has to confess that he gives a reason for others to stand in doubt of him. Well, beloved, when others do not know you to be godly, the Lord knows you. “The Lord knows those who are his.” There have been secret communications between you and God, which no one else can ever know. He perceives your sincerity in the midst of your infirmity; and, though he will chasten you for your sin, he still knows that you do believe in him. You may, like Samson, lose your eyes, and be shorn of your strength. I pray that you may not fall so low as that; but even if you do, remember that it is written of the blinded Nazarite, “however the hair of his head began to grow again,” and the Lord gave him back his former strength, for, notwithstanding all his folly and his sin, he was a believer in Jehovah. He had a firm, childlike faith in the Most High, and in the power of that faith he did great exploits; and the Lord, even in Samson’s death-struggle, acknowledged him as his servant, and avenged him of his adversaries. Do not let us get into such a condition that others may justifiably doubt us; but if they maliciously doubt us, if without cause they cast out our name as evil, if they slander us, and invent fictions and falsehoods to injure our character, let us come back to this, which is implied, if not stated, in our text, “The Lord knows the godly.”

11. It may sometimes come as a great comfort to us that the Lord knows the godly when they do not know themselves. I have heard some of God’s people speak as though this were not possible, but I boldly assert it from my own observation of hundreds of those who truly love the Lord. We may sometimes be so beset with temptations, and our spirit may so sink within us, that we may have to stand in doubt concerning our own salvation, and say, “Am I really the Lord’s, or am I not?” There are times when we have to hear the question from our own conscience; and why should we not hear it from our own conscience, since Peter heard it from his Master’s own lips, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?” I would like to say to you, with the poet Cowper, —

    Come, then, — a still small whisper in your ear, —
    He has no hope who never had a fear
    And he who never doubted of his state,
    He may, perhaps, — perhaps he may — too late.

It is not a bad thing to go and search to the very foundations to see whether there is peace between God and your soul or not. Some of the best of the Lord’s servants have had to go through the valley of the shadow of death, where the voice of the evil spirit has been louder in their ears than the whisper of their own faith, and they have had to stand still in utter bewilderment. They could not get their sword out of its sheath; or if they could, they were unable to use it, for it seemed as if the enemy could not be touched by their sword. The only weapon they could handle was the weapon of All-Prayer, as they cried out in their anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Now remember, when you do not know yourself to be godly, God knows you. Here is the comfort for our hearts, “The Lord knows the godly.” He knows both them and their way, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

12. Just as this is true about the godly, so it is most solemnly certain concerning the ungodly. The Lord knows the unjust, that is to say, despite their loud pretensions of piety, the Lord knows that they are really ungodly. They have joined the church, they wear the name of Christian, they are even honoured among Christian men; but the Lord knows the unjust, no garb of religion can conceal their wickedness, no form of pious speech can hide the insincerity of their hearts. Oh, should there be any such here, may this flash of light go right through them! The Lord knows the unjust, whatever they may pretend to be.

13. He knows them also notwithstanding their great possessions. “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree”; and many a hollow profession has been gilded over with riches, and because the man was well-to-do they thought that he must be doing well, — two very different things, however. But God can read us through and through. If we climbed to a throne, he would discern the state of our heart even there; and if we had the acclamations of a nation for our devotion and piety, he would discover us even then, for all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to deal. Let this not be forgotten by any one of us, let us not try to deceive the Lord, but let everything be open and above-board before him. There should be in us all the strictest truthfulness; I am afraid that there is a tinge of hypocrisy even in the most gracious. May God take it away from us, and let us walk in the light as he is in the light, while the blood of Jesus Christ his Son still cleanses us from all sin, for we shall still need it!

14. II. Now let us come to the very marrow of the text, which is this: THE LORD’S KNOWLEDGE IN REFERENCE TO THE GODLY. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations.”

15. Notice their name, — “the godly” — that is, the people who know God. He is no dream or figment of their imagination, they know him. He is the most real of all existences to them. Knowing him, they fear him. They have learned to fear and tremble before the Most High. It was a name of scorn which they gave to the Society of Friends when they called them “Quakers.” But, after all, it was a right thing for them, like Moses, to greatly fear and quake in the presence of the Most High God. The godly also trust God. To them, God is the pillar of their confidence, the brightness of their life, the life of their light, the light of their delight. They rest on him, as on the Rock of Ages, and they rest nowhere else. These godly ones also love God; their heart goes out towards him. He is their joy, he is their Companion, their Friend; he is all in all to them. The Lord knows these godly ones, and he makes them to know him. “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him, and he will show them his covenant.”

16. Well, it is certain that these godly ones will have to suffer temptation. Gold is tried in the furnace, good things are tested and proved, and godly men are tempted and afflicted and tried very often. Very few of them shall get to heaven without passing through the trying waters and testing fires, otherwise for them the promise would not be true, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overflow you; when you walk through the fires, you shall not be burned, neither shall the flame scorch you.” The Lord knows all about them and their trials, and especially, according to our text, “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations.” Let me make a few observations on that truth.

17. The first is this: his knowledge serves them much better than their own would do. They do not know how they will be delivered out of temptations. Sometimes they make a guess, and so make a mistake, and then they are disappointed; they would be far wiser if they left knowledge to the Most High, and kept to their own sphere, which is that of trusting, believing and knowing that the Lord knows. One says of Father Adam that he knew a great deal, and it was a pity that he did not know one thing more, namely, that he knew enough; for had he known that he knew enough, he would not have eaten of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You know enough when you believe. If you know nothing except how you can put your hand into the hand of God, you may go boldly on with a better tread than the best-sighted man ever knew by his own wisdom alone. “Commit your way to the Lord; also trust in him, and he shall bring it to pass.” Better that the knowledge be with the Lord, your Head, than in your own head, for you are not the Lord. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations.” It is almost a pious platitude among the ungodly, — “The Lord knows.” Oh, but, let it be a very solemn expression among us, “The Lord knows,” and, blessed be his name, “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations.”

18. In the next place, his knowledge of their case is perfect. He knew the temptation before it came. Before he appointed it, he weighed it in his unerring scales, — not in the big scale of the coal merchant, but in the delicate scales of the chemist, who measures every tiny grain, and has a scale that will turn with the weight of a single hair. If God appoints me ten afflictions, the devil himself cannot make eleven of them. If the Lord shall put half an ounce of a bitter ingredient into your cup, all the demons in hell cannot make an ounce of it. God knows your affliction before it comes to you, and he knows it when it comes to you. When Israel was in Egypt, the Lord knew their afflictions. Well said David, “You have known my soul in adversities.” The Lord knows just where the trial touches and pinches us, how we grieve under it, how far it has gone, and how far it must not go. The Lord knows our afflictions with a perfect knowledge before they come, and when they come, and he also knows all about them when they go. I bless his name that he can foresee the result of the trial on his children. He knows what grace it will brighten, he knows what shams it will destroy, he knows what it will teach us, and he knows what it will make us forget, which we thought we needed to know. He knows all about us from beginning to end, and consequently, his knowledge of our temptations is absolutely perfect, and we may be content, and rest in perfect peace. “He knows the way that I take.”

19. And this is true in every case of every child of God. “The Lord knows how to deliver” — not merely just one godly man, or some twenty godly men, but “the godly” as a whole, all of them. Dear friend, to put it very personally, the Lord knows how to deliver you out of your present temptation; but do not sin in order to deliver yourself. That is what Satan will tempt you to do. Do not lay the hand of Uzzah even on the ark of the Lord, much less on any piece of furniture in your own house. Oh, the temptation there is, sometimes, to indulge in a hasty temper, or to speculate in business, or to keep back a part of the truth, or to pretend to be something which you are not, or to allow a sin to go unreproved because you wish to escape reproach or to avoid censorious judgments. No; the Lord knows how to deliver you; and if he does not deliver you, then say with those three holy children whom I mentioned a few minutes ago, “If it is so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, oh king. But if not, be it known to you, oh king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Do not attempt to supplement the wisdom of God with your insanity, for it is nothing better than insanity when you imagine that you can ever profit by wrong-doing.

20. God’s knowledge, as revealed to us in this verse, gives us a very comforting thought. If the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, then, depend on it, there is a way of deliverance out of every temptation. The Lord does not know what does not exist at all. If he knows that there is a way of deliverance, then there is a way of deliverance, and there is a way of escape for you. You do not see it; do not ask or want to see it. Ah, those eyes of ours! — oh that they were put out! I was going to say. We see a great deal too much, brothers and sisters, or we think we do; and because we say we see, we go blindly on, stumbling and blundering every foot of the way. It is for God to see, and it is for us to believe and to trust in him. There is a way of deliverance, and it will be proved before long that there is a way of deliverance for you. If you believe it, you shall see it. God knows how to deliver; that means that there is a way of deliverance.

21. But it means more. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly in the way most profitable for themselves. We have invented various ways of deliverance, but God has not used them; and then we have found another way, but he has not acknowledged that; and we have sought another way, but he would not have that. No, he knows how to deliver, so why do you come in with your inventions? Truly, I shall apply that text even to you, “God has made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions,” — even inventions for escaping from trouble and trial. But the Lord knows which is the best way for their deliverance. He will bring you out of Egypt, but not in the way you thought, that you should flee away suddenly, and escape by stealth. No, no; this is how he will deliver you, even as he delivered Israel of old, “He brought them out also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.” He will bring you out in a profitable way and a right way.

22. And, best of all, he will bring you out in the way which will be most glorifying to himself. With a high hand, and an outstretched arm, he led his people out of Egypt, shattering all the might and pomp of the proudest monarch of the day; and the emancipated nation sang to the Lord a new song, as they took their tambourines and danced before him who had triumphed gloriously over their cruel oppressor. That is what you also shall do yet. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations” in the way that is most glorious to himself. God’s children ought to think less of what is done at any time than of the glory that God gets out of it. We sometimes want to see a great work, but a great work may not glorify God. If there is a little, obscure, unknown work, and to human eyes it remains almost a secret, if it glorifies God, it is to be preferred to the most gigantic wave of supposed revival that, after all, would leave behind it the names of men, but the name of God would be forgotten. In all things let God be glorified. Oh, that we would always aim at this object! The salvation of men is a grand aim, but it must always be in subordination to the glory of the Lord, that his arm may be revealed, and that all flesh may see it together. Oh, that God might be glorified! May this be our prayer, in our trials, and in coming out of our trials, “Father, glorify your name.”

23. III. Now, I must say a few solemn and weighty words on THE LORD’S KNOWLEDGE IN REFERENCE TO THE UNJUST: “and to reserve the unjust for the day of judgment to be punished.”

24. Observe that Peter does not say, “the ungodly.” He is not dealing with their inward character so much as with their outward conduct. They are “unjust.” Ungodliness is unrighteousness; and, sooner or later, the ungodly are seen to be unjust.

25. Ungodly men are legally unjust; they have broken God’s law, and therefore they are not justified in his sight. Worse than that, they are evangelically unjust, for they have not believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore they do not have his justifying righteousness to cover them. And then they are practically unjust, for their life is an injustice to God and to men. They have not received the sanctifying power of the Spirit to make them just in their daily lives.

26. God knows how to deal with these people. Let me read Peter’s words again, “The Lord knows how to reserve the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished.” You hear their blasphemies, you see their infamies, and your indignation burns against them; but the Lord knows how to deal with them. He knows how to reserve them under restraints. He acts like a magistrate who commits a prisoner for trial at the assizes. That is what God has done with some of you ungodly ones; you are committed for trial at the day of Judgment. The Lord lets you live, but you are only out on bail, and you will soon have to appear before the great Judge of heaven and earth.

27. According to the 1881 English Revised Version, and I think that translation is correct, the punishment has already begun. The Lord knows how to go on even now punishing the ungodly. That unrest of theirs, those fears, those tremblings, all show that God is dealing with them. They swell themselves out very big, they laugh with loud laughter, they deny the truth, and they scoff at Christ; but, believe me, dear friends, you need not wish to be like them; no, not even like the healthiest, and the wealthiest, and the proudest, and the greatest of them. The Lord knows how, even now, to strike them, and he does strike them; the life of an ungodly man, at its best, is a horrible life. I would sooner be God’s dog than the devil’s darling. It is better to be the most weeping Jeremiah than the most boastful Pharaoh. The day will come when the ungodly will themselves see it to be so; and the proudest tyrant will envy the lowliest man or woman who crept humbly to the mercy seat, and cried, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”

28. The Lord knows how to deal with the unjust even now, and he will know how to deal with them eventually. Oh sirs, these are not trifling matters of which I am speaking! The unjust may be in the fulness of their strength, but the Lord can bring them down to lie on a sick-bed. Even there they may defy God, but he knows how to shut their impious mouths. “Ah!” he says, — and that is an awful text, — “Ah! I will rid myself of my adversaries, and take vengeance on my enemies,” as if they vexed and plagued his Holy Spirit, and at last he said, “I will be rid of them, they shall not trouble me any longer; I will take vengeance on my adversaries.” Then he sends the “reaper, whose name is death.” I think that I meet him now, swinging his sharp sickle, and I say to him, “Where are you going, oh death? What are you about to do? Will you dare destroy that scarlet poppy blazing in the midst of the growing grain?” “Ah!” he says, “one touch of my sickle will bring it down.” “And that blue flower over there, in all its splendid majesty of beauty?” “Ah!” he says, “I will lay that low with all the common grasses of the field.”

29. The Lord knows how to deal with the unjust in the next world as well as in this. Oh, that dreadful thought! Do not trouble yourselves about it, except to “flee from the wrath to come.” Raise no perplexing questions in your mind. The Lord knows how to deal with the unjust in the world to come, and that dealing shall be according to the strictest rule of justice. The Judge of all the earth shall do right; men shall not be able to accuse him of injustice; he will deal with them as the God who cannot err. They are in his hands, and “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Do not believe those who tell you that it is not so. They are the servants of the devil — whoever they may be, — who seek to delude your souls on this matter. I beseech you, escape for your lives; do not look behind you, do not stay in all the plain but escape to the cross of Christ, for there and only there is salvation for the unrighteous. Oh, seek it now, for Jesus’ sake!

30. I close with an illustration of the text which I feel almost certain was in the mind of Peter when he wrote these words: “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust for the day of judgment to be punished.” Turn to the twelfth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where you have the record of Peter lying asleep in the prison, watched by soldiers, and yet at dead of night the angel of the Lord came into the prison, struck Peter on the side, told him to bind on his sandals, and gird himself, and follow him. Peter went through all the doors of the prison until he came to the great iron gate, and that opened of its own accord; and there stood Peter, out in the street, in answer to the prayers made at the prayer meeting at Mrs. Mark’s house, when the Christians in Jerusalem were gathered that night to pray for him. This miracle proves that the Lord knew how to deliver the godly out of trial.

31. Read the rest of the chapter, please, for that takes in the other half of my text. Herod sat on his throne of state, and all the people were paying him homage, and when he made an oration from his golden throne, they shouted, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” That same God, who had delivered Peter, knew how to lay hold of Herod, for we are told that immediately the angel of the Lord struck him, and he was eaten by worms, and gave up the ghost. The first is a brilliant deed of an infinitely wise grace, the next is an astounding deed of an infinitely wise justice. It does not require that you go to the gallows to meet your doom; a few worms can destroy you. It does not require that you be killed in a great railway accident, or that there is a collision at sea, or that you fall on the field of battle. Herod was eaten by worms; a grape stone has, before now, choked and killed a man; a draught of water has been poisonous to another; a little gas, that was almost imperceptible, has laid another in his grave. There is not one of you ungodly ones who can escape if God shall say to his angels, “Strike that man while he sits in his pew. He has resisted my mercy, and rejected my love, he will not come to Christ.” You, too, may be eaten by worms before another Sunday comes. May God grant that you may not meet such a fate; but may you learn the lesson of this text, and feel the force and power of it in your own souls, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {2Pe 1:16-2:10}

16. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty.

There is required in these perilous times to come back to such an elementary truth as this. The truths taught us in God’s Word are not fables, myths, or merely parables, but they are matters of actual fact. The apostles were eye-witnesses of “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” — “eye-witnesses of his majesty.” We receive these truths without the slightest question, and base our faith on them. We should be troubled indeed if we had any doubts whatever about these great foundational facts of our holy religion.

17, 18. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

They were not deceived, — neither Peter, nor James, nor John. There was “such a voice” from God himself, which they literally heard; it was the Father bearing approving witness to the person and work of his only-begotten and well-beloved Son.

19. We have also a more sure word of prophecy;

Surely, nothing could be more sure than the evidence presented to the apostles in the holy mount. Yet Peter so writes to express his utmost confidence in the Word of God. Better than the light he saw, which dazzled him; better than the voice he heard, which he never failed to remember, and to which he always bore unfaltering witness; better even than these things is that divine Book which is still preserved for us: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.”

19. To which you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the day-star arises in your hearts:

You already have the assurance of the Word itself; you must build on that, and on that alone; but you shall have added to that a “day dawn” and a “day-star” in your own hearts. We have the witness within us now: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God”; and those things which we have received by faith we now have proved to be true by their effect on our own souls. We know the light now because we walk in it; we know it to be light, for it has enlightened us.

20, 21. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy did not come in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

How we rejoice in this fact! We shall never give it up. It is a doubting of inspiration, which lies at the bottom of all the modern theories; but with this doubting we do not have the slightest fellowship. In our innermost souls we believe that “holy men of God spoke as they were moved (or, ‘borne along’) by the Holy Spirit.” They did not speak for their own age alone, neither were the prophecies given to a few people so as to belong privately to them; but the whole inspired Scripture stands firm for all the faithful, and is the truth to us today, even as it was to those to whom it was first spoken.

2:1. But there were false prophets also among the people,

How true that still is! Do not be startled, brethren, as though some strange thing had happened to us in this generation. It always was so, and so it will continue. If there are true prophets, there will also be false prophets; and if there is the Spirit of God, there will be the spirit of evil; and often, in proportion as the everlasting truth is full of power, the everlasting lie will be full of power, too, and will strive mightily against it. That same sun and shower, which shall make the wheat to grow, will at the same time cause the thorns also to spring up; and perhaps for a time they may threaten to choke the wheat, until at last the wheat will choke the thistles. “There were false prophets also among the people,” —

1. Even as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in damnable heresies,

They always try to do their hateful work secretly; and then they ask, “What is all this fuss about? We have not departed from the truth, we are as sound in the faith as any of you are,” when they know, traitors that they are, that they are undermining the foundations, and trying to take away the very corner-stone of the faith. These “false teachers” will deceive the very elect of God if it is possible; but they are not easily deceived, for God has given them a discerning mind by which they “test the spirits whether they are from God.” The Lord Jesus said of his sheep, “They will not follow a stranger but will flee from him: for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Sheep though they are, they have discernment enough to know their Shepherd; and the godly soon detect false teachers who secretly “bring in damnable heresies,” —

1, 2. Even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

They say, “It is narrow; it is old-fashioned; it is not in accordance with the spirit of the age.” I do not know what else they say; but for all that they say, it still remains “the way of truth.”

3, 4. And through covetousness they shall with deceptive words make merchandise of you: for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their damnation does not slumber. For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

“If God did not spare the angels who sinned,” he will not spare any who sin, however high their position may be; even though they are the angels of the churches, he will “cast them down to hell.”

5. And did not spare the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;

Which some in these days say could not be consistent with the acts of a God of love. Their imaginary deity, from whom they have taken away every glorious attribute of holiness and justice, would not have done this; but the God who judges righteously must and will punish sin, as he always has done; and “this God is our God for ever and ever,” even the God who is “a consuming fire.”

6-8. And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example to those who afterwards should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conduct of the wicked: (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

I love to see in God’s people a holy horror of the sin which surrounds them. In several of the prayers in which we joined before we came upstairs to this service, there were many tears and cries over the wickedness of our streets, — the impurity and the drunkenness which defile so many all around us. Alas! alas! Men seem bent on horrible iniquity; and it looks as if London, this great modern Babylon, will repeat the story of the cities of the plain. Well may we pray, “Oh Lord, have mercy on the people!”

9. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations,

As he delivered Lot, —

9, 10. And to reserve the unjust for the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.

We have far too many, nowadays, of both these kinds of sinners, and of the two kinds joined in one: “those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.”

10. They are presumptuous, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries.

There let us cease our reading, and turn to another holy song, in which we will praise our God, whose grace has made us to differ from the ungodly by whom we are surrounded.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — Incomprehensible And Sovereign” 187}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Creation and Providence — The God Of Bethel” 215}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — Omniscience” 184}

God the Father, Attributes of God
187 — Incomprehensible And Sovereign
1 Can creatures to perfection find
   Th’ eternal, uncreated Mind?
   Or can the largest stretch of thought
   Measure and search his nature out?
2 ‘Tis high as heaven, ‘tis deep as hell;
   And what can mortals know or tell?
   His glory spreads beyond the sky,
   And all the shining worlds on high.
3 God is a King of power unknown;
   Firm are the orders of his throne;
   If he resolves, who dare oppose,
   Or ask him why, or what he does?
4 He wounds the heart, and he makes whole;
   He calms the tempest of the soul;
   When he shuts up in long despair,
   Who can remove the heavy bar?
5 He frowns, and darkness veils the moon;
   The fainting sun grows dim at noon;
   The pillars of heaven’s starry roof
   Tremble and start at his reproof.
6 These are a portion of his way,
   But who shall dare describe his face?
   Who can endure his light, or stand
   To hear the thunders of his hand?
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.

God the Father, Acts, Creation and Providence
215 — The God Of Bethel
1 Oh God of Bethel, by whose hand
   Thy people still are fed;
   Who through this weary pilgrimage
   Hast all our fathers led.
2 Our vows, our prayers, we now present
   Before thy throne of grace;
   God of our fathers, be the God
   Of their succeeding race.
3 Through each perplexing path of life
   Our wandering footsteps guide:
   Give us, each day, our daily bread,
   And raiment fit provide.
4 Oh spread thy covering wings around,
   Till all our wanderings cease,
   And at our Father’s loved abode,
   Our souls arrive in peace.
5 Such blessings from thy gracious hand
   Our humble prayers implore;
   And thou shalt be our chosen God,
   And portion evermore.
               Philip Doddridge, 1755, a.

God the Father, Attributes of God
184 — Omniscience
1 Great God, thy penetrating eye
   Pervades my inmost powers;
   With awe profound my wondering soul
   Falls prostrate, and adores.
2 To be encompass’d round with God,
   The holy and the just;
   Arm’d with omnipotence to save,
   Or crush me into dust!
3 Oh, how tremendous is the thought!
   Deep may it be impress’d
   And may the Spirit firmly grave
   This truth within my breast!
 4 By thee observed, by thee upheld,
      Let earth or hell oppose,
   I’ll press with dauntless courage on,
      And dare the proudest foes.
5 Begirt with thee, my fearless soul
   The gloomy vale shall tread;
   And thou wilt bind th’ immortal crown
   Of glory round my head.
                  Elizabeth Scott, 1764, a.

(Copyright (c) 2017, Answers In Genesis, Kentucky, United States. Permission for non-profit publishing or distribution of this sermon on paper is freely granted. Contact Answers In Genesis for permission for all other forms of publishing or distribution. Sermons updated by Larry and Marion Pierce of Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. We have not knowingly changed the meaning of this sermon. We intended only to eliminate archaic language. If you find a place where you think we have changed the meaning, please contact us so we can correct it. Contact information: email: [email protected], phone: (226) 243-6286.

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These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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