Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:10-11)
These verses contain a three-part outline for our thoughts on this passage: there is a duty, a guarantee, and a promise. God asks us to perform the duty while He gives the guarantee and fulfills the promise.
1. Our Duty
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure:”
First we will discuss what is meant by our calling and election. Then we shall look at how we are to diligently make it sure. Following are a few Scriptures which give us some background in relation to our calling and election.
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1).
These verses inform us that it is God who initiates a calling to salvation. He called us to salvation before the world began with a heavenly calling. What does this mean to us? It means that, before we were born or sinned, God intended to call us to salvation. Further, it means that before Adam was created and sinned, God intended to save humanity from sin. Our calling is related to the foreknowledge of God because it begins in eternity and is experienced by us in time according to God’s plan to save us. In the foreknowledge of God, He planned for salvation before sin entered into the world by the fall of Adam. Salvation was not an afterthought, but a forethought. He reaches out to us in time by calling us to salvation in accordance with His eternal plan of salvation and His will for our lives.
The calling is God’s voice speaking to us through Jesus Christ. His sheep hear His voice, and He calls them by name, and leads them out. Our calling involves both our coming to Christ and also the life that we are to live for Him after we have been called. The calling can be summed up as God’s invitation to salvation and His plan for our lives.
The election of God consists of His “choosing” from eternity to save us. Not only does He invite us and have a plan for our lives, but He chooses to save us, which shows that He desires our salvation.
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:2).
Our salvation begins with God’s choice from eternity to save us. This is why our salvation is shown in Scripture to originate in the grace of God. Before we were born, God’s grace was extended to us already in His foreknowledge. Had God not graciously chosen to save us, there would have been nothing we could have done to save ourselves. Because He chose to save us, He gave His very best for our salvation. He willingly offered His Son on our behalf as an offering for sin (John 3:16). Because His Son counts us as His sheep that were given Him by the Father, the Son willingly lays down His life for us (John 6:37; 10:11,18). God’s election reveals His desire to save us, His choice to save, and His willing sacrifice to save us. This demonstrates the love and grace of God extended toward us in electing us to salvation.
We have seen from Scripture that both the calling and election begin in eternity and come to us in time when Jesus calls us by name to salvation (John 10:3, 17:2). The calling is listed by Peter before election possibly because this is what we first hear. In our experience the calling comes first. We respond in faith to the call to salvation and then become aware that God has chosen us to be one of His sheep from eternity.
Yet in this passage we are asked to give diligence to make our calling and election sure. How do we make sure in time what God has conceived and planned from eternity? From God’s side there is nothing more that can be done to make our salvation more secure. Christ has fully secured it. However humanity is frail and prone to err and sin. Our side is what needs to be made sure. God asks us to give diligence to make it sure by following the seven virtues He has outlined for us earlier in this chapter by adding to our faith (2 Peter 1:5-7).
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”
God does not ask for perfection, but He does ask for diligence. This tells us that we should never presume that we are eternally secure. Presumption is the opposite of giving diligence. Presumption assumes that if we continue in sin grace will still abound. God has said that grace and fruitfulness will abound to the diligent.
“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).
Our diligence will never merit God’s grace. His grace will always be far more abundant than our most diligent efforts. But if God’s grace abounds to us as sinners and far exceeds the best of our efforts, God has every right to require diligence to ensure our salvation. “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.”
To explain it in another way, the purpose of assuring our salvation is for our benefit—that we might know that we are saved. We cannot effectively live the Christian life if we are plagued continuously by doubt. Nor does God give us assurance of salvation except through diligence. “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9).
We cannot lead others to trust Christ when we doubt or are unsure whether He will save us. We cannot be assured through presumption and can only be assured through diligence. God asks us to give diligence so that we might have the witness of the Spirit within us that we are the children of God. Giving diligence keeps our focus on eternal things and keeps us from forgetting our great salvation. Giving diligence helps us to build godly character. Giving diligence makes us more aware of our human frailty and more conscious of God’s grace. God gives assurance of salvation to those who give diligence to make their calling and election sure. Without diligence there is no assurance, not because God cannot ensure His promises, but because He requires diligence from those who are saved that He might give assurance of their salvation.
2. God’s Guarantee
“For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”
We should ask the question: what “things” are we to do so that we might never fall? We know we are to make our calling and election sure. We might ask, what is the method by which we can make our calling and election sure? In what ways are we to be diligent? If we are given a duty we can be sure that God has told us what our duty is, and how we should fulfill it. Peter tells us that His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (see 2 Peter 1:3). Life and godliness surely include our calling and election.
More specifically, in the preceding context of verses 5-7, we are given seven areas that represent the whole of godly conduct. Seven in scripture is often used to represent completeness or perfection. These seven things represent the divine nature that we receive from God when we are born again. It is His mighty power working in us, with our cooperation, that develops this character in us. We are to give “all diligence” in verse 5 which ties these things to the “give diligence” in verse 10 to make our calling and election sure. In other words, we give diligence in our calling and election by giving diligence in these seven areas. We ought to view these seven areas not so much as linear stepping stones of progress where we work on one item at a time, but rather as a harmonious symphony or chorus that blends together to perfect the man of God.
The word “add” (in verse 5) is translated in other places as “to be supplied” or to “minister unto.” This same word was used by the Greeks to describe a chorus leader—the one who “supplied” all that was needed for the chorus and then led them in the singing “ministry.” We see faith here at the head because faith brings us to justification and into relationship with God. But faith without works is dead, being alone (see James 2:17). Faith is the chorus leader, and the following seven graces are added to faith to form the symphony. When faith leads out with Christian graces accompanying and blending in harmony, we have a symphony of godliness attending faith. It is a picture of a life that is justified by faith in Christ and then is transformed by the power of divine nature.
Here is a brief definition of each of the seven graces that we are to diligently add to our faith.
Virtue: moral purity, courage, vigor, energy. Virtuous living is marked by holy enthusiasm for the principles of righteousness and applies those principles with dedicated effort and energy.
Knowledge: growth in understanding of Scripture and spiritual concepts. Growth in spiritual knowledge is a result of hungering and thirsting after righteousness and being filled with the things of God. The Holy Spirit responds to the believer’s desire to grasp truth and enlightens the mind of the believer so he can understand the Scriptures.
Temperance: self-control or self-discipline. As believers pursue virtue and godly knowledge, they develop self-control of their desires for the things of this world because those things become less important. Even good things can become an obsession when taken to excess. Temperance is the grace which controls human passions, regulates desires, and establishes proper priorities.
Patience: steadfastness, endurance, perseverance. Our world is full of suffering, inequalities, and injustices which can drive people to bitterness and to despair of the triumph of right. Patience in a believer’s life causes them to persevere on a godly course in spite of unpleasant circumstances, believing that it will bear good fruit in the end and be worth all the difficulties.
Godliness: reverence and respect towards God in our affections, attitudes, and actions. The practice of godliness is adopting God’s perspective in all our beliefs, our choices, and our actions, and obeying His precepts.
Brotherly kindness: valuing and treating others as part of our family. The thought here is that we will value and treat each brother and sister in the Lord as a cherished part of a family of loved ones.
Charity: agape love, goodwill, affection, commitment to others. All of the foregoing qualities help shape our lives so that we can unconditionally love our fellow man as Christ has loved us. Charity manifests a firm commitment to love beyond the realm of what our emotions or passions would choose.
We are to give diligence to add these things. If the addition of these graces abound they will make your life fruitful (verse 8). To lack these seven graces is to be blind to eternal values and forgetful of our great salvation (verse 9). It means that we have been preoccupied with other things and have other priorities. Therefore we must exercise diligence, especially in these seven areas, in order to experience the guarantee to never fall.
Again, the guarantee relating to diligence is: “ye shall never fall.” Does this mean we will never sin? Does this mean we will never stumble? The Scripture answers:
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24).
“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended [stumble or fall] because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad” (Matthew 26:31).
The guarantee does not mean we will never fall into a sin or stumble. Rather, it means the following:
(a) The guarantee ensures that we will never fall beyond recovery if we are diligent. We will never fall in such a way that we are not being upheld by the Lord. One of the meanings of this word “fall” is to fall into a wretched state of misery. If you give diligence and do these things, you will never fall into a wretched state of misery because the Lord is upholding you with His hand.
(b) Following these precepts will never cause you to fall. You can only fall when you depart from these virtues. God’s roadmap for life is without any error. “If ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”
(c) By doing these things you are making your calling and election sure. These virtues demonstrate the divine nature at work in your life. The working out of our salvation brings assurance within.
(d) “If ye do these things” is given in the present tense. It shows an ongoing work of God taking place in our lives as we diligently apply ourselves to build up our faith in seven areas. When we are diligent in these areas God promises that we shall never fall. We shall never fall because He is able to keep us from falling.
3. God’s Promise
“For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
The Lord moves from the guarantee of grace right into the promise of grace—“an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly.” You shall be served abundantly. You gave your service for part of a lifetime, but you shall be rewarded eternally for your diligence—just because the Lord delights in extending His grace to you.
The word “ministered unto” (“an entrance shall be ministered unto you”) is the same word as “add” in verse 5. What God has asked us to add to our lives (diligence) is little compared to what He adds to us for all eternity (an abundant entrance). God’s math “adds” up to the greater sum because it is reckoned from His grace which far exceeds our diligence!
If these things be in you and abound He will abundantly minister to you. Now let’s consider the difference here. If a pauper gives abundantly it does not compare to when a rich man gives abundantly. The abundance is based upon what we give in relation to what we have to give. If we abound in these virtues it does not begin to compare to what is given to us abundantly when God gives from the exceeding riches of His grace.
What is abundantly ministered to us is the “entrance into the everlasting kingdom.” Picture the gates flung open wide for a triumphant entrance. In other words, we are extended the welcome before we get to the door!
Peter is describing a grand welcome and triumphant entrance. Before we even enter we are given the signal of full acceptance by the abundant entrance. It’s the picture of being met at the door with a hearty “Welcome, come in! Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of thy Lord” (see Matthew 25:21,23).
Another picture we have of this principle is Stephen, as he was being stoned, saying, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). Jesus was raised and “seated” at the right hand of the Father according to the Scriptures (Acts 2:33-34; 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:13). But Stephen saw Him “standing.” It’s a picture of a heavenly welcome. The heavens are opened. Stephen sees the glory of God, and Jesus is “standing” to greet him. Stephen was described as being full of faith and power (Acts 6:8). See how this correlates to Peter’s words, “According as his divine power hath given unto us . . . add to your faith . . . .” Stephen lived a diligent life and was assured of that abundant entrance before he left this earth in death.
All this the Lord will do for you, but He asks you to make your calling and election sure. It is your personal responsibility. It must begin with faith in Christ alone. He is the only One who can open up the way.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9).
You must give diligence to be assured. If you give diligence God will not only assure you of your present salvation, but He will guarantee that you shall never fall from it, and that an abundant entrance shall be opened for you. Faith will lead you to diligence in the Christian virtues and full assurance of an abundant entrance. God has called and chosen us to salvation because He desires to give us of His eternal riches. Let us be diligent in our duty that we might never fall, but be assured of an abundant entrance into that everlasting kingdom.