As I have been preaching through the book of Second Peter, there is one verse that has stood out to me and is continually a point of meditation. I really think that you could say it is the theme of the book. If you have been listening to my series, or are familiar with the book, Second Peter is very much about standing guard against false teachers. He gives two ways to do this. The first is in chapter one where Peter urges his readers to pursue maturity in their Christian life. The second is to be aware of how false teachers will act so as to avoid them and help others avoid them as well.
The verse that I think the book hinges on is 1:10. It says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure…” We know from the ‘therefore’ that this verse hangs on the prior statements. So as to not re-write the entire chapter here, I will just tell you that the theme of this chapter is that God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness… (1:3)”
Our youth pastor, Josh, said the other night that this verse means that right now you are as close to God as you want to be. Nothing is holding us back from Him if that is where we want to be. So my question then is if that is true, what does it take to make our calling and election sure?
I guess the first question is to whom are we to make it sure? I mean, are we just to prove it to ourselves? To our church? Or does it need to be shown even to the world around us? I think that possibly it is all of the above.
The next question, then, is how do we do so? I think this is the part about seeking maturity. If you want to pull out your Bible and read 2 Peter 1 in its entirety, it will definitely answer this question, but to summarize, I think the point is to draw ourselves as close to God as we can so that everything contrary to Him falls away. When Peter talks about virtue and self-control, He is saying that we have the power to live right with God and we need to act on that.
The message of the Gospel is this. Everyone on the planet has rebelled and been cut off from Him. The Bible terms for these two things are “sin” and “death.” But through God’s punishment of Jesus for our sin (bible term “propitiation”), we have been set free from sin and death, and once again have access to God. This is where making your calling and election sure comes in. Those terms very simply mean that God has called you out of your sin life and brought you to Himself through faith in Jesus Christ. To make that sure we need to understand the change that has been made in us. We were slaves to sin and it was inescapable, but God planned a rescue mission. He has set us free (Romans 6:6). If we have been set free from slavery, why should we keep acting like slaves?
Interestingly, if you know anything about American history, after the Emancipation Proclamation which ended slavery in the U.S., many former slaves continued in the service of their former masters because they did not know what else to do. Sadly, this remains true of too many Christians as well. We are legally free, yet we keep on living as slaves.
So how do we change? Only by drawing close to the one who can show us what living in freedom means. See, this idea of salvation and being freed from sin carries along with it the idea that we are returning to what we were before the fall of man into sin. It means a return to Genesis 1 when God looks at all of His creation and says it is “very good” meaning correct or righteous. Because after the fall the image of God in which we were created was so marred by sin, now the only way to know what we should look like after being set free is to look at Jesus and to try and look like He does. It means walking with Him, and talking with Him. Trying to live like He does and do what He says to do in order that the image of God can be stirred in us once again and through the power of the Holy Spirit we can be restored to that original creation (Bible terms “regeneration” and “progressive sanctification”).
To make our calling and election sure means that we are daily pursuing Jesus and are being transformed into His likeness. If we are not doing that, then it doesn’t matter if we say we are saved, or call ourselves Christians, we are deceiving ourselves. Freedom to live a godly life is found in Christ alone. When we live close to Him, we will know He has called us, our church will be benefited as we grow in maturity, and there will be no doubt to the world around us that we are God’s children. “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure…”