The Book of II PETER
James J. Barker
TO MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE
- In II Peter
1:1-4, the apostle Peter deals with what God has done for us. Then in verses 5-7
he exhorts them in light of that and because of that, to do their part and to
work that out in practice.
- This is what
Paul means when he says to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"
- We do not work
for our salvation (cf. Phil. 2:13) – but we must work out our salvation
-- we must "give diligence to make our calling and election sure" (II Peter
- Peter says,
"add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge…" (1:5). Why? To make your
calling and election sure (1:10).
- Troubles from
the outside (persecution and suffering – the theme of I Peter) and troubles from
the inside (false teachers – the theme of II Peter) were causing some Christians
to doubt their salvation.
- When the
unsaved "nominal Christian" has doubts about his calling and election, it is a
good thing because it could motivate him to turn to God in genuine faith and
- But when a true
believer has doubts it is not good because Christians can never be effective
servants for the Lord until they have total assurance of their
- How can they
lead sinners to Christ if they themselves are uncertain about their
MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE BY DEMONSTRATING
THE CHRISTIAN GRACES (1:1-8).
- The salutation
- A call
to Christian character (1:3 ff.).
- First Peter 2:9
says we have been called out of darkness into His marvelous
- We have been called to follow Christ in
a pathway of suffering (I Peter 2:21).
- We have been
called to return blessing for reviling (I Peter 3:9).
- We have been
called to His eternal glory (I Peter 5:10).
- We have been
called by glory and virtue (II Peter 1:3).
- We are
assured that God has made full provision for us to have a life of
holiness. This provision is said to be an evidence of "His divine power."
- His divine
power saves us, keeps us, has given us all things that pertain to life
- This power to
live a holy life comes "through the knowledge of Him that hath called us
to glory and virtue." Just as His divine power is the source of holiness, so the
knowledge of Him is the channel for holiness.
- John 17:3 says
to "know" Christ is eternal life, and progress in knowing Christ is progress in
holiness. The better we get to know Christ, the more we become like
- "But we
all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed
into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the
LORD" (II Cor. 3:18).
- This is why God
saved us. Romans 8:29 says, "For whom
he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his
- We are standing
on the promises (1:4) -- someone has estimated that there are at least 30,000
promises in the Bible. John Bunyan once said, "The pathway of life is strewn so
thickly with the promises of God that it is impossible to take one step without
treading upon one of them."
- The promises of God are the last of seven precious
things mentioned by Peter in his two epistles:
A. precious faith
(I Peter 1:7)
B. precious blood
(I Peter 1:19)
C. precious living
stone (I Peter 2:4)
D. precious chief
corner stone (I Peter 2:6)
E. Christ is
precious to believers (I Peter 2:7)
F. like precious
faith (II Peter 1:1)
precious promises (II Peter
- There are seven characteristics of Christian character
(1:5-8). Peter starts off with
faith – he assumes faith because he is writing to professing Christians, to
those who have already exercised faith in Christ.
- Peter uses mathematical terms. "Add to your
faith" (1:5). In 1:2, "Grace and
peace be multiplied."
- W.A. Criswell said there were two ways to look at II
Peter 1:5-7. He said some Bible
teachers look upon it as a ladder with seven steps. We go up and up and up
and up. When we have perfected one, then we are introduced to the other—a
ladder of seven steps (1:5-7).
- However, Criswell said he preferred a different
interpretation. He said, "It is
like a rope, a cable of seven strands, intertwined. The seven graces make
a composite picture of the Christian life and they’re all present in a newborn
babe, in a newborn Christian, and each one is to be developed as the babe grows
in knowledge and in the goodness of the Lord. Now, I say this ladder is correct, I
think. It is not a ladder like this. We go up and up and finally we
reach the top. But is like a cable or a rope; all seven of them are
entwined" ("Our Calling and Election," 03/13/83).
- Before describing the false teachers in chapter 2, Peter
describes the characteristics of a true believer here in chapter 1. The best way
to detect a counterfeit is to understand the characteristics of the
- Virtue – moral
excellence, valor. The ancient Greeks used this word to describe the power of
their gods to do heroic deeds.
- Knowledge –
especially knowledge of the Bible (cf. 1:2, 3, 5, 6, 8;
- Temperance --
discipline and self-control.
- Patience –
enduring trials and troubles, adversity and persecution; perseverance.
- Godliness -- true piety.
kindness – genuine evidence that you are saved (I John 3:14, 15; 4:11-21).
- Charity – love for all mankind (not just the
- "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make
you that ye shall neither be barren (idle, empty) nor unfruitful in the
knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1:8). Taking in knowledge of the Bible but
not giving it out to others is "unfruitful."
MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE BY ESCAPING
WORLDLY CORRUPTION (1:4, 9).
- If you have
trusted Christ, you are "partakers of the divine nature" (1:4). Evidence that
you have been saved is that you have "escaped the corruption that is in the
world through lust."
- Galatians 1:4
says Christ "gave himself for our
sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil
some professed believers give no evidence that they have been delivered from
this present evil world.
Some appear to be even more corrupt and more worldly than the
- A fellow got
saved and his old friend was surprised to see the great changes in his life. The
Christian said, "One letter in the alphabet made the difference – I used to love
the world but now I love the Word.
- The Bible talks
about pigs and dogs and sheep and goats. A pig likes to roll around in the mud, and a dog will even eat its own
vomit (II Peter 2:22; Proverbs 26:11), but the sheep desires green pastures.
- The true
believer says, "The LORD is my
shepherd; I shall not want. He
maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters"
(Psalm 23:1, 2).
- Peter says "he
that lacketh these things (i.e., the seven characteristics, 1:5-7) is blind…"
(1:9), i.e., spiritually blind; more concerned with material things than
with spiritual things; living as if this world was all there is; lacking
- Why do some
people doubt their salvation?
- Some are not genuinely
saved and the Holy Spirit is trying to warn them.
- Some are saved but are so
weak in the faith, so worldly, so backslidden, and so indifferent, that they
begin to wonder if they are truly saved.
MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE BY BEING
ESTABLISHED IN THE TRUTH (1:10).
- There is a
distinction between calling and election. Our election took place before God
created the world (Eph. 1:4). Our call took place the moment we believed the
Gospel (II Thess. 2:13, 14).
- Here calling is
mentioned before election because calling comes first in our
apprehension. First we recognize God’s calling, and then we respond to God's
calling, and then later we realize that we were
- Spurgeon wrote
that, "Never had Cromwell driven his foes before him if it had not been in the
stern strength of this almost omnipotent truth; and there shall scarcely be
found a man strong to do great and valiant deeds unless, confident in the God of
Providence, he looks upon the accidents of life as being steered by God, and
gives himself up to God’s firm predestination, to be borne along by the current
of His will, contrary to all the wills and all the wishes of the world."
- To "make sure"
your calling and the election means to confirm them by growing in grace. If we
stay close to the Lord, stay active in church, stay steadfast in prayer and
Bible reading, we "shall never fall" (II Peter 1:10b).
Corinthians 13:5 says, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;
prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in
you, except ye be reprobates?"
- Matthew Henry said, "It requires a great deal of diligence and labour to make
sure our calling and election; there must be a very close examination of
ourselves, a very narrow search and strict enquiry, whether we are thoroughly
converted, our minds enlightened, our wills renewed, and our whole souls changed
as to the bent and inclination thereof."
- Are you making
your calling and election sure? Are you sure that you are
- Spurgeon said
he was so sure of his salvation that he could grab on to a cornstalk and swing
out over the fires of hell, look into the face of the devil, and sing, "Blessed
Assurance, Jesus is mine."
- A person cannot
be effective in serving God until he has assurance of salvation. When they
started building the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, no safety devices were
used and 23 men fell to their deaths. Then they installed a huge net and 10 men
fell into it and were saved. After the net was put up, 25% more work was
performed because the workers were assured of their