“Add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge,” Here, again, we have something to learn. I have already spoken of the importance of reading and meditating on God’s word; but here comes a special exhortation to add to your faith, knowledge. We are not to be satisfied with knowing that we are sinners, and that Christ is our Saviour, but we must seek to make progress in knowledge. Why is this? Because to increase in knowledge, is to increase in the knowledge of God. And as we increase in this knowledge of Him, we learn more and more of His love; and that it is the very joy of His heart to do us good. We see more and more what a lovely Being God is; and the result of this again is, that we are satisfied with His dealings with us.
I have passed through very many trials, some of them of no ordinary character; yet I have rejoiced in God. For nearly ten years—from 1838 to 1848—I had difficulty upon difficulty, scarcely anything but difficulty. But I had always the help of God, and always was joyous, even in the darkest day, because I knew that all came from God, my Father. On that account I say to you, seek to increase in knowledge; and then although there may fall upon you trial and affliction, even heavy trial, deep affliction, yet if you can say, “It is from my Father, my loving Father; from Him who spared not His Son for me, and from Him who hath said that He will make all things work together for good; having freely given up Jesus for me, He will freely give me all things; therefore this trial must be good for me, else He would not suffer it to befall me.” You can easily see how in such a state of mind, we can pass through these trials; and even in the midst of them we may have calmness and peace, and even holy heavenly joy. Thus we shall be able to meet them. That is the result of being really acquainted with God. And the only way to get this knowledge is, by diligent study of the Word, and by the teaching of the Spirit from that Word. Let us, therefore, aim after this knowledge, and not be satisfied with the simple belief that we shall get to heaven.
But some may say, “All this is most precious, but how may I attain unto it?” Of course, in the first place, we must have passed sentence on ourselves, must have condemned ourselves, and put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of our souls. Without this there can be no such thing as attaining to this more intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is absolutely needful. But as I stated at the beginning, it appears to me there is referred to here a higher degree of acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ, more than that which is necessary for the salvation of our souls, in order that we may glorify God, live as becomes the children of God, and bear fruit abundantly, sixty-fold, and a hundred-fold. I just mention here, and have my beloved brethren and sisters in Christ ever thought of it, that we are not to be satisfied with bearing fruit thirty-fold, but actually fortyfold, forty-five-fold, fiftyfold; to press on; yea, if it might be, to attain to bearing sixty-five-fold, and if any of us have attained to this, then to aim at attaining seventy-fold, seventy-fivefold, eighty-fold; yea, to be satisfied short of nothing than to aim at one-hundred-fold. When the blessed Lord Jesus Christ brings this statement before us, He means what He says, that some bear in one and some in another degree. And why should we not advance to bear the higher and more glorious degrees, till the glorious consummation of one-hundredfold? We should never lose sight of the fact that the salvation of our soul is not the ultimate object that God has, but the glory of His name is intimately connected with our bearing fruit. Let us not think, that because we have now for a few years in some little measure left the world that we may take our ease, and now go on more quietly, but to press on, to press on, to press on, and to set before us nothing short of the prize, to bear a hundred-fold.
Let us take the text in its connection. How may I attain to this intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? In the 8th verse we read, “And I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,” “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” Everything he desired to put aside and renounce, in order that he might know Him, and that increasingly he might become acquainted with Him. Therefore, beloved friends, the pleasures of this world are to be put aside—the fashion of this world to be laid down at the feet of Jesus, the riches of this world, the honour of this world, and all that the natural mind craves after, desires, finds gratification in—all to be laid down at the feet of Jesus, in order that we may be able to say with the apostle, “Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.” So that we have for the remainder of our life but one single object. Not six, not five, not three, not two, but one single object—to live for God.