by Stan Arney
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Blessed be The God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant Mercy has begotten Us again to a Living Hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an Inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for YOU, who are kept by The Power of God Through Faith for Salvation ready to be revealed in The Last Time. In this YOU Greatly Rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, YOU have been grieved by various Trials, that The Genuineness of Your Faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is Tested by Fire, may be Found to Praise, Honor, and Glory at The Revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen YOU Love. Though now YOU do not see Him, yet Believing, YOU Rejoice with Joy Inexpressible and Full of Glory, Receiving the end of your Faith — The Salvation of Your Souls. Of this Salvation the Prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who Prophesied of The Grace that would come to YOU, searching what, or what manner of time, The Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He Testified beforehand the Sufferings of Christ and The Glories that would follow. To them it was Revealed that, not to themselves, but to Us they were Ministering the things which now have been reported to YOU through those Who have Preached The Gospel to YOU by The Holy Spirit sent from Heaven — things which Angels desire to look into. Therefore gird up the loins of Your Mind, be sober, and Rest Your Hope fully upon The Grace that is to be brought to YOU at The Revelation of Jesus Christ; as Obedient Children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who Called YOU is Holy, YOU also be Holy in All Your Conduct, because it is written, “Be Holy, For I Am Holy.” And if YOU Call on The Father, who without partiality Judges according to Each One’s Work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in Fear; knowing that YOU were not Redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with The Precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was Foreordained before the Foundation of the World, but was manifest in these Last Times for YOU who through Him Believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him Glory, so that Your Faith and Hope are in God. Since YOU have Purified Your Souls in Obeying The Truth through The Spirit in Sincere Love of The Brethren, Love one another fervently with a Pure Heart, having been Born Again, not of corruptible seed but Incorruptible, through The Word of God which lives and abides Forever, because “All flesh is as grass, And All the Glory of Man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the Word of the LORD endures Forever.” Now this is The Word which by The Gospel was Preached to YOU. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as Newborn Babes, desire The Pure Milk of The Word that YOU may grow thereby, if indeed YOU have Tasted that The Lord is Gracious. Coming to Him as to a Living Stone, rejected indeed by Men, but chosen by God and Precious, YOU also, as Living Stones, are being built up a Spiritual House, a Holy Priesthood, to offer up Spiritual Sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in The Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A Chief Cornerstone, Elect, Precious, and he who Believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to YOU who Believe, He is Precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The Stone which the builders rejected has become The Chief Cornerstone,” and “A Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to The Word, to which they also were Appointed. But YOU are a Chosen Generation, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, His Own Special People that YOU may Proclaim The Praises of Him Who Called YOU out of darkness into His Marvelous Light; who once were not a people but are now The People of God, who had not obtained Mercy but now have obtained Mercy. Beloved, I beg YOU as Sojourners and Pilgrims abstain from fleshly lusts which war against The Soul, having your conduct Honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against YOU as evildoers, they may, by Your Good Works which they observe, Glorify God in The Day of Visitation. Therefore submit yourselves to Every Ordinance of Man for the Lord’s Sake, whether to the King as supreme, or to Governors, as to those who are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and for The Praise of Those who do Good. For this is The Will of God, that by doing Good YOU may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men — as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as Bondservants of God. Honor All People. Love the Brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all Fear, not only to the Good and Gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is Commendable, if because of Conscience toward God one Endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what Credit is it if, when YOU are beaten for your faults, YOU take it Patiently? But when YOU do Good and suffer, if YOU take it Patiently, this is Commendable before God. For to this YOU were Called, because Christ also Suffered for Us, leaving Us an Example, that YOU should Follow His Steps: “Who Committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His Mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but Committed Himself to Him Who Judges Righteously; Who Himself Bore Our Sins in His Own Body on The Tree, that we, having died to sins, might Live for Righteousness — by whose stripes YOU were healed. For YOU were like sheep going astray, but have now Returned to The Shepherd and Overseer of Your Souls.
Finally, All of YOU Be of One Mind, having Compassion for One Another; Love as Brothers, be Tenderhearted, be Courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary Blessing, Knowing that YOU were Called to this, that YOU may Inherit a Blessing. For “He who would love Life And see Good Days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do Good; Let him seek Peace and Pursue it. For The Eyes of The LORD are on The Righteous, And His Ears Are Open To Their Prayers; But The Face of The LORD is against those who do evil.”
And who is he who will harm YOU if YOU become Followers of what is Good? But even if YOU should Suffer for Righteousness’ Sake, YOU Are Blessed. “And do not be Afraid of their threats, nor be Troubled.” But Sanctify The Lord God in Your Hearts, and Always Be Ready to Give a Defense to Everyone who asks YOU a Reason for The Hope that is in YOU, with Meekness and Fear; having a Good Conscience, that when they defame YOU as evildoers, those who revile Your Good Conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is The Will of God, to Suffer for doing Good than for doing evil. For Christ also Suffered once for sins, The Just for the unjust, that He might Bring Us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made Alive by The Spirit, by whom also He went and Preached to The Spirits in prison, who Formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in The Days of Noah, while the Ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight Souls, were Saved through water. There is also an antitype which now Saves Us — Baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but The Answer of a Good Conscience toward God), through The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into Heaven and is at the Right Hand of God, Angels and Authorities and Powers having been made Subject to Him. Therefore, since Christ Suffered for Us in the flesh, Arm Yourselves also with The Same Mind, for He who has Suffered in the flesh has Ceased from sin, that He no longer should live the rest of His Time in the flesh for the lusts of Men, but for The Will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that YOU do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of YOU. They will Give an Account to Him Who is Ready to Judge The Living and The Dead. For this reason The Gospel was Preached also to those who are Dead, that they might be Judged according to Men in the flesh, but Live According to God in The Spirit. But The End of All Things is at hand; therefore be Serious and Watchful in Your Prayers. And Above All Things have Fervent Love for One Another, for “Love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be Hospitable to One Another without grumbling. As Each One has Received a Gift, Minister it to One Another, as Good Stewards of The Manifold Grace of God. If anyone speaks, Let him Speak as The Oracles of God. If anyone Ministers, Let him do it as with The Ability Which God Supplies, that in All Things God May Be Glorified Through Jesus Christ, to whom belong The Glory and The Dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning The Fiery Trial which is to try YOU, as though some strange thing happened to YOU; but Rejoice to the extent that YOU Partake of Christ’s Sufferings, that when His Glory is Revealed, YOU may also be Glad with Exceeding Joy. If YOU are Reproached for The Name of Christ, Blessed are YOU, for The Spirit of Glory and of God Rests Upon YOU. On their part He is blasphemed, but on Your Part He is Glorified. But let none of YOU suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if Anyone Suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him Glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for Judgment to begin at The House of God; and if it begins with Us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey The Gospel of God? Now “If the Righteous One is scarcely Saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to The Will of God Commit Their Souls To Him in doing Good, as to a Faithful Creator. The Elders who are among YOU I Exhort, I who am a Fellow Elder and a Witness of The Sufferings of Christ, and also a Partaker of The Glory That Will Be Revealed: Shepherd The Flock of God which is Among YOU, Serving as Overseers, not by compulsion but Willingly, not for dishonest gain but Eagerly; nor as being Lords over those entrusted to YOU, but being Examples to The Flock; and When The Chief Shepherd Appears, YOU Will Receive The Crown of Glory that does not fade away. Likewise YOU younger people, Submit yourselves to your Elders. Yes, All of YOU be Submissive to One Another, and be Clothed with Humility, for “God resists the proud, but Gives Grace To The Humble.” Therefore Humble Yourselves Under The Mighty Hand of God, that He May Exalt YOU in due time, Casting all your care upon Him, for He Cares for YOU. Be Sober, be Vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, Steadfast in The Faith, knowing that the same Sufferings are experienced by your Brotherhood in the World. But May The God of All Grace, Who Called Us To His Eternal Glory By Christ Jesus, after YOU have suffered a while, Perfect, Establish, Strengthen, and Settle YOU. To Him Be The Glory and The Dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Grace and Peace be Multiplied to YOU in The Knowledge of God and of Jesus Our Lord, as His Divine Power has given to Us All Things that Pertain to Life and Godliness, through The Knowledge of Him Who Called Us By Glory and Virtue, By which have been given to Us Exceedingly Great and Precious Promises, that through these YOU may be Partakers of The Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the World through lust. But also For This Very Reason, Giving All Diligence, Add To Your Faith Virtue, to Virtue Knowledge, to Knowledge Self-control, to Self-control Perseverance, to Perseverance Godliness, to Godliness Brotherly Kindness, and to Brotherly Kindness Love. For if These Things Are Yours and Abound, YOU will be neither barren nor unfruitful in The Knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, Brethren, Be Even More Diligent to Make Your Call and Election Sure, for if YOU do these things YOU will never stumble; for so an Entrance will be Supplied to YOU Abundantly into The Everlasting Kingdom of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For We did not follow cunningly devised fables when We Made Known to YOU The Power and Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but were Eyewitnesses of His Majesty. For He Received From God The Father Honor and Glory When Such A Voice Came to Him from The Excellent Glory: “This Is My Beloved Son, In Whom I Am Well Pleased.” And We heard this Voice which came from Heaven when We were with Him on The Holy Mountain. And so We have The Prophetic Word Confirmed, which YOU do well to Heed as a Light that shines in a dark place, until The Day Dawns and The Morning Star rises in your hearts; knowing this First, that no Prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for Prophecy never came by the will of man, but Holy Men of God Spoke As They Were Moved By The Holy Spirit. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among YOU, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying The Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom The Way of Truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit YOU with deceptive words; for a long time Their Judgment has not been Idle, and their destruction does not Slumber. Beloved, I now write to YOU this second epistle (in both of which I stir up Your Pure Minds by Way of Reminder), that YOU may be Mindful of The Words which were spoken before by The Holy Prophets, and of The Commandment of Us, The Apostles of The Lord and Savior, Knowing This First: that scoffers will come in The Last Days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the Promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from The Beginning of Creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by The Word of God the Heavens were of old, and the Earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the World that then existed Perished, being flooded with water. But The Heavens and The Earth Which Are Now Preserved By The Same Word Are Reserved For Fire Until The Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, Beloved, do not Forget This One Thing, That With The Lord One Day is as a Thousand Years, and a Thousand Years as One Day. The Lord is not slack concerning His Promise, as some count slackness, but is Long-suffering Toward Us, not Willing That Any Should Perish But That All Should Come To Repentance. But The Day of The Lord Will Come as a thief in the night, in which The Heavens Will Pass Away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the Earth and The Works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since All These Things will be dissolved, What Manner of Persons Ought YOU to be in Holy Conduct and Godliness, Looking for and Hastening The Coming of The Day of God, because of which The Heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless We, According To His Promise, Look for New Heavens and a New Earth in which Righteousness Dwells.
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