Summary: Peter is saying here, hasten to be heroic. The Christian life is a battle, and it is no place for idleness and indifference, or cowardice. God calls for energetic excellence in every believer.
In the days when there was little freedom of speech in England
Thomas Paine spent sometime in prison for speaking his mind.
Benjamin Franklin urged him to come to America. He did so in
1774. The difference was so great, and he so fell in love with the
value of freedom that he caught a vision of what this country could
be, and he began to set men's souls on fire with the vision. He wrote
a little book called, Common Sense, and it sold 500 thousand copies
in a day when there were only 2,500,000 people in the 13 colonies.
One out of every 5 had a copy, and everyone was thinking and
talking about independence. In 6 months the Declaration of
Independence was signed in Philadelphia.
Then came the war with England. George Washington was being
defeated again and again. He was camped opposite Trenton, New
Jersey in Dec. of 1776. His army was ragged and hungry, and in a
state of despair. It looked as if the vision was about to die and the
cause of freedom perish. Tom Paine was there and saw the
hopelessness and depression of Washington's men. He knew he had
to rekindle the fire of their devotion and reawaken their vision if his
own dream was to be realized. He put a drum between his legs and
wrote the first of his Crisis Papers.
Lewis Dunnington wrote, "His racing pen was inspired by the
very angels of heaven." Washington read it and sent a rider off
immediately to Philadelphia to have copies printed and brought
back with haste. On Christmas night of 1776 they were distributed
and read. Part of it went like this: "These are times that try men's
souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this
crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands it
now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman....Tyranny,
like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with
us, but the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
The men were filled with new courage and boldness. Washington
took full advantage of it. He crossed the Delaware that night, and on
the cold winter morning of Dec. 26, 1776 he defeated the British and
took a thousand prisoners. From the very jaws of despair and defeat
he snatched a triumphant victory and proved again that the pen is
mightier than the sword. The pen can inspire in ordinary men
extraordinary courage and turn them into heroes.
This is why God inspired men like the Apostle Peter to take up
the pen and record those truths which Christians need to be heroic
in the battle of life. The harder the conflict the more glorious the
triumph said Paine, and this being so, the Christian has the potential
for the greatest of all triumphs. No one faces a greater foe than the
Christian. No one faces stronger opposition an obstacles. No one
fights a harder battle than the one who strives to be truly like
Christ. When a person signs his personal declaration of
independence, and by faith in Christ breaks away from the bondage
of Satan, he faces a battle with his old master. And quite often
Christians are like Washington's soldiers. They are defeated,
discouraged, and depressed. If we read between the lines and
consider the implications of what Peter is writing in this letter, we
see this to be the case with those Christians he is writing to.
It is clear that they are under constant attack by the enemy.
Their faith is being shaken by false prophets, and they are losing
their sense of direction and loyalty. They are ineffective and
unfruitful, and some are so discouraged that they are blind to what
Christ has done for them, and they are in danger of falling away.
Many are borderline Christians who are not sure of their calling
and election, and they lack assurance and power. Peter knows,
however, that they are potential heroes, and that they can still be
victorious soldiers of the cross. The reason for their defeat and
ineffectiveness is their lack of discipline. They have no plan, and no
systematic strategy by which to conquer. Peter knows they must
first recapture their vision and enthusiasm, and so, like Paine, he
arouses them to think of their great heritage and hope. The
exceeding great and precious promise, and all things for life and
godliness which God has given by His grace in Christ, is their
heritage, and their hope for a fruitful life now, and an entrance into
an eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ in the future.
Peter now in verse 5 begins to play the role of the commander of
the troops. Like Paine he inspires them with new vision and hope,