Make Your Calling and Election Sure - 2 Peter 1:10
Romans 8:29-30 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall.
The Basic Meaning of 2 Peter 1:10
Basically, 2 Peter 1:10 teaches that the elect, whose salvation is sure (Rom. 8:29-30), will show evidence of their election by continuing to believe in Christ and manifesting good works consistent with their salvation (Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:6, 14).
Basic Context of 2 Peter 1:1-11
2 Peter 1:10 is within the greater context of 2 Peter 1:1-11. Peter is writing to those that have a faith like his. (2 Pet. 1:1). He is writing to the Church! He says, "[God's] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Pet. 1:3-4). True Christians have everything they need for life and godliness. We have been empowered to godly living! This is the true state of the elect.
Peter continues and gives a list of traits of what this looks like in the maturing Christian's life (2 Pet. 1:5-7). He reveals that these traits are fruit (growing evidence) of being rooted in Christ. We are not saved BY them, but UNTO them (Eph. 2:8-10). These traits are they perfected in us this side of glory. However, these maturing traits are evidence of our election that will never fail (2 Pet. 1:10-11).
Election, Assurance, and an Ongoing Active Faith
Peter first reveals the power and presence of the salvation God has definitely secured and adds that if they have true faith (truly regenerated) then as they follow the Spirit they will naturally add to their faith. True faith is active in the things of God. True faith does not lack true works (Jas. 1:18-20). As new creations, we will walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25), and in so doing, we develop an inner peace that comes from our ongoing living relationship with God - a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). This sense of peace is strengthened as we continue to be obedient to God in our everyday lives. Moreover, such obedience produces spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) that continues to demonstrate and prove our salvation (Jas. 2:18-20). But again, these fruits do NOT save us; rather they are a continuous indicator that we are truly saved.
Election, Assurance, and New Desires
Since God has empowered us with holiness, we should relax in the grace of the one to whom we belong - God (Rom. 8:29-30). When I use the word relax, I do not mean laziness. A saved person has been given a new life with new desires and new enabling power. What I mean is "being confident that he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ" (Phil. 1:6). We should relax because "Christ in us" is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). He continually produces fruit in us, which is the evidence of our true salvation (Matt. 7:16-20). Though the Spirit and the flesh wrestle (Gal. 5:13-15) and our fruit will not be perfect (1 John 1:8-10) this side of glory, ongoing growth will still be observed.
Fruit (some small, some large, some more ripe than others) will be present because we have an ongoing relationship with God. We have been given new desires and goals. We now desire to more fully know and understand Christ and "the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death" (Phil. 3:10). We did not have these desires before true faith. As Paul writes, "The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so" (Rom. 8:7; cf. 1 Cor. 2:14). Though we fail at times, we now desire to obey God. In this Abba Father relationship with God (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6) we are convicted of our covenant unfaithfulness. There is an ongoing desire for conviction of sin and obedience, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). This is evidence of true salvation.
Election, Assurance, and Continual Grace
We are saved, are being saved, and shall be saved. Though the salvation of the elect is sure (ARE saved), God has not stopped his work in us. Until we are glorified (SHALL BE saved), we are being conformed (ARE BEING saved) to the likeness of his Son (Rom. 8:29). The Holy Spirit is constantly revealing our sin and God's holiness to us. We continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).
An example may help: As one gets closer and closer to a bright light, the more things are exposed. For instance, as more light is added to a room, dust that was on the dinning room table all along becomes more visible and prominent. Items that could not be seen before come into sharper focus. In a similar way, the closer we get to Christ (who is light - John 1:8-9; 8:12; 1 John 1:5), the more we discover that we are far greater sinners than we had ever thought. The closer our relationship with God, the more our sin will be in the light. This will cause the true Christian grief and result in repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). True Christians live lives of ongoing repentance (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Is this not different than how we were before Christ? Is this not evidence of our election?
Though a true Christian will come to understand that they are far greater sinners than they ever thought they were, they will also discover that they are more forgiven than they ever imagined. Grace, grace, grace! (Rom. 5:17). They will see God working in areas they had never even conceived. They will desire to be rid of not only of those things we sometimes refer to as "major sins" (see a partial list in self-inventory below), but even of the smaller particles of dust. Sin, no matter how minute, is offensive to God and we should hate it to.
Though all sin comes short of God's glory, in the light not we see not only the dust (at times they may appear as dust storms) of our sin but also the pledge. No, not "Lemon Pledge", but the pledge of God's amazing grace:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,God's grace continues to cleanse us. Yes he disciplines us as children (Heb. 12:4-13), but yet we ARE STILL children, not illegitimate sons (bastards - Heb. 12:8, KJV).
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
(Amazing Grace, by John Newton, 1725-1807)
Election, Assurance, and Adding to our Faith
So, because Christians are new creatures in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17), they will continuously "make every effort to add to their faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" (2 Pet. 1:5-7). These are our Spirit-given desires. It is interesting to note that a literal translation of these verses does not say, "add to your faith virtue"; it actually says, "furnish in your faith virtue." Peter is saying move forward, move forward, move forward. Because of whose you are, be all you can be for his glory. True faith is not stagnant. It presses on. And it is the Spirit pressing on in us (Ezek. 36:27; 37:14; Rom. 8:14, 16, 23; Gal. 5:16-18, 22; 1 John 3:24) that is evidence of election. The elect press on in true faith.
Election, Assurance, and a Continual Self-Inventory
Peter continues his letter to say if anyone does not have the continual growing traits of 2 Peter 1:5-7, he is nearsighted and blind (in Greek the order is reversed, "blind and nearsighted") and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins (2 Pet. 2:9). SInce, true believers continue to look into the perfect law of liberty "being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts" (Jam. 1:25) one who does not continue to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith (Heb. 12:2), demonstrates that he has been blind all along (1 John 2:19).
It's self inventory time: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?" (2 Cor. 13:5). Also, "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). Let's get personal in our inventory as we examine ourselves:
Are you supplementing your faith? What are you adding?
1. Are you a Joseph, a David, or like anyone else when it comes to moral excellence? Are you an adulterer? Are you having premarital sex? Are you engaging in some other type of sexual intercourse which is an offense to God (homosexuality, bestiality)? Are you a thief, a liar?Do you have anything to work on here? None of us is perfect (1 John 1:8-10) If you have a continual active sincere desire to work on what ia lacking - this is evidence of your election! While sanctification is accomplished by God, it still requires our cooperation (progressive sanctification). We must fight against sin (Heb. 12:1-3), express gratitude toward God (Phil. 4:6), and offer ourselves fully and continually to him (Rom. 12:1-2). We must imitate the example of Christ (Phil. 2:5-7; John 13:14-15). Regarding sanctification, note that there are two types of sanctification: definitive and progressive.
2. Are you making every effort to increase your knowledge of God's character? Do you attend church? Do you enjoy it? Do you pray? Do you study God's Word? Are you engaging in fellowship?
3. Are you maturing in self-control?
4. How is your patience?
5. What about your relationship with other believers? Your spouse? Your children? Your employer? Your neighbors?
6. Are you loving the lost?
7. Are you ____________? (You fill in the blank).
8. See "I write these things to you who believe - 1 John 5:13."
1. Definitive Sanctification (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11): In Romans 6 we see that we are (a) freed from the power of sin (Rom 6:2, 7); (b) enabled to live in newness of life under the reign of grace (Rom 6:4, 14); (c) unified with Christ in his resurrection (Rom 6:5); (d) made new creatures (Rom 6:6-8). While this sanctification coincides with our regeneration it does not leave us sinless in this world, as we are still being conformed to the image of God's Son (Rom. 8:29). There is a struggle between the flesh and the Spirit that is the reality for the Christian (see Rom. 7).
2. Progressive Sanctification (Psa. 19:12; Jas. 3:2): According to Paul, sin is dealt with over time by putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13). Progressive sanctification is also seen in Colossians 3:1, 3 where there is affirmation that definitive sanctification has occurred ("you have been raised with Christ" and "now hidden with Christ in God"). But in Colossians 3:5, Paul advises that we must still consider sin to be dead to us (cf. Rom. 6:11; Col. 3:9-10; 2 Cor. 7:1). So we ARE sanctified and ARE BEING sanctified.
Election, Assurance, and Pressing On
As seen above, the elect are not sinless (1 John 1:8-10). We have all sinned and dishonored God (Rom. 3:23). Not Peter, not Paul, not John, not any one of the disciples was sinless. Paul says, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (Phil 3:12). When a saved person sins, he does not give up, but he repents and continues on in faith as he understands that it is God who working in him "to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Phil. 2:13). The elect press on as the Spirit continues to press on in them (Phil. 1:6; 3:20-21).
Canons of Dort
First Head, Article 12: The Assurance of Election
Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God's Word - such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on. Fifth Head, Article 9: The Assurance of This Preservation
Concerning this preservation of those chosen to salvation and concerning the perseverance of true believers in faith, believers themselves can and do become assured in accordance with the measure of their faith, by which they firmly believe that they are and always will remain true and living members of the church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).