2 Peter 1:8-11
Make Your Calling and Election Sure
Both of Peter’s epistles are about godly living. He is speaking to Christians and so assumes their salvation; then again, maybe he doesn’t. Peter wants us to know that a person saved by God will live a godly life. He has no time for people who separate justification from sanctification, who think that regeneration is the end all and be all of the Christian life. People who are regenerated live regenerated lives, people who have been set apart unto the Lord live holy lives. To the extent that “once saved always saved” is a doctrine that provides the believer with comfort and joy, it is well-understood; to the extent that the doctrine makes one ho-hum about his sin, dismissive of discipleship, and indifferent to church and the things of God, to that extent is that doctrine, though good in itself, perverted by such people whom the Apostle would not recognize as true believers.
So in this passage, Peter issues a strong exhortation to “make [our] calling and election sure.” And how do we do this? By increasing in those qualities or virtues he just mentioned in the previous verses: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. These all sound very reminiscent to Paul’s “fruit of the Spirit.” And they are not optional to Christian living; in fact, these characteristics should be steadily growing and increasing—which then serve as sure signs of saving faith. Furthermore, growing in these virtues makes us effective “in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” which I take to mean in the way of discerning and knowing God’s will in every occasion. Indeed, Peter tells us that if one is not increasing in these qualities that he “is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed of his former sins,” which is to say, ungrateful.
Christians are people who are either growing in the Lord or going backwards; there is no neutral. This is what it means to make our calling and election sure. The purpose is not to sow doubt in our minds about our salvation, nor to propose a salvation by works, but to examine ourselves to be certain that we are striving to walk in a holy manner before God and men (2 Corinthians 13:5). And if we live as if we care not for these things, something is wrong. Granted, faithful Christians will always make much of their shortcomings and be dissatisfied with their progress; this is from the Lord. For these there is richly provided for them an entrance into the eternal kingdom. But to the one who is dismissive of these matters (regardless what he may say), well, don’t cling to doctrines that don’t concern you.