#248, ASSURANCE OF FAITH-ITS BASIS, #21
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. 2PE 1:10.
As we proceed to study the basis for our assurance of faith, it is most significant to notice the chronology in our text that places calling before election.
We must carefully analyze why that is reversed from the order in ROM 8:30. Here we read, "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." In this passage we see the election ahead of the calling, the reverse of our text. This is very significant, and we want to understand the meaning behind this position.
The great distinction between these two passages of Scripture lies in the fact that in ROM 8:30 we see the order in which God executes His eternal counsel. From God's side He chose, elected, determined, and then He called. This is the order He executes His eternal counsel, but in our text we see the order in which the Christian receives an experiential knowledge of them. As we receive it in our experience, the calling comes before our knowledge of our election, but in God's eternal decree the election comes before the calling. That is why we see a reverse order.
The Apostle Peter is speaking about the basis upon which we have our assurance of faith. He is pointing out that the calling, as we have experienced the work of regeneration, becomes our evidence of our election even though the election came first in the decrees of God. That explains the two reversed.
We need to take note of this in the text; we are speaking of how our calling, our regeneration by the Holy Spirit, the new man created in us, becomes our evidence of our election. So we make our calling and election sure. How? We analyze how the work of regeneration, working in us, to do these things. What things? The things spoken of in the preceding verses. 2PE 1:4-8 says, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 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. 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."
They are our evidence of our election, because by nature we do not do these things. Our fallen nature is contrary to these things, and we don't do these things unless we have the work of grace in our heart. This verse teaches us "if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." Now, we have our evidence of our election.
To examine our evidence of saving faith, we must examine the fruit to identify the tree. If a person sees pears hanging on a tree, he knows it is not an apple tree. Peaches on a tree identify it as a peach tree. An expert can tell the kind of tree it is by looking at the leaves, but the Lord Jesus said we will know the tree by its fruit. The fruit identifies the tree. So these things are the fruits that are spoken of in our text, they are our evidence of the working of regeneration in the heart.
MAT 7:16-18 says, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." It is by the fruit we bring forth that the tree is identified. That is how we examine our own heart and it forms the basis for our assurance. It is the calling of the Holy Spirit working the work of regeneration in the heart that brings forth this fruit. There is our evidence and basis for our assurance. We may claim some certain experience yet not bear the fruit nor be able to claim any assurance.
Balaam had rich experiences, yet see what we read in JUDE 11:11, "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." Read this short chapter to see the errors and the end of those who committed them.
Israel had very rich and blessed experiences, but in 1CO 10:1-12 we see, "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. These things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." They had such rich experiences and still did not make their calling sure; i.e., they did not do these things and their destruction was sealed.
Experiences are not the basis upon which we have assurance. Our assurances are the fruit we bear. It is how we identify the tree. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. If we see briars and thorns on the tree, it is not a good tree. Briars and thorns are not on found pear, apple, or peach trees. They are not found on the same tree, neither do you see thorns and briars on a grapevine. Grapes are not found on a tree with thorns. The fruit identifies the tree. This is exactly what our text is teaching us.
Examine and analyze your calling; analyze the fruit of the tree. Therein lays your assurance. Let's look at the next verse for this assurance. "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," 2PE 1:11. Is that assurance? Certainly. An entrance is ministered to us; it is the ministration of the Spirit in our soul to give that assurance of an entrance shown by the fruit we bear. The tree is thereby identified.
You and I have no access to the Lamb's book of life; it is very important for us to understand this, and the Lord has very definitely so decreed. Those hidden things are for the Lord. There is absolutely no way we can pry into the secret things of God and see our name written in the Lamb's book of life, but when I've obtained a clear witness of the fear of the Lord in my heart, then I know my name is written there. Why do I know? Not one, single, God-fearing soul shall ever come in hell.
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, and that is not our nature. That is not the fruit of an evil tree. Do you see how one is so totally in contrast with the other? Sometimes it is such a riddle to know whether or not one has eternal life. It is so important that we know. How? We make our calling an election sure by doing these things. If the fruit is good, then we know the tree is good. I know my name is written there if I hate evil and love the Lord. I must hate all appearance of pride, not in my neighbour's heart, but in my own heart.
DEU 29:29 says, "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." What are the secret things? Who are the elect? The Lord has his reason for keeping this secret because He wants to see our fruit. Go back and read that passage again. Notice the word do, it is the important word. What things are revealed? It is our fruit that is revealed, and by that we can see whether or not we are elect.
Those who claim saving faith while the love of sin has not been broken in their hearts are presumptuous. See what we read in MAT 7:21; "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
None truly desire to be free from sin in the future who have never come to hate it here. Can you picture a person that truly desires to be in heaven, free from sin, while in this life he still loves it? You see, it is contradictory. There is our assurance; the fact that we hate it and long to be delivered from this body of sin and death. That is our evidence rather than the fact that we are delivered. We still have indwelling sin and the workings of evil in our heart, but we long to be delivered from it. That is our evidence because if we still cherish sin and filled with bitings, bitter envying, strife and contention then we do not hate sin. We are still living in sin.
Now let's look at PRO 8:13; "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." That does not mean that I hate my neighbour because I think he is proud. It means that I hate the in dwelling of pride that lies in my own heart. Every time I see the yeast of the Pharisees, the leaven of the Pharisees, fuming and billowing up where the shoulders go back and the chest comes up as pride swells within myself, I feel hatred towards that pride.
If we do not long for holiness here, we deceive ourselves if we think we shall enter heaven's gate. If holiness is not our upper most desire and if the love of God and the honor of His name are not our chief desires here, we deceive ourselves if we think that we will enter heaven's gate. Why?
In REV 21:23-27 we read, "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof [the righteousness of Christ]. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it...And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."
The gates of heaven are large enough to let in the chiefest of sinners, but narrow enough to hold out the slightest sin. It is so important to understand that light. The nations of those who are saved shall walk in the Light of heaven. Where is our evidence of salvation? Are we walking in the Light of heaven? When the Lord Jesus Christ becomes the light of our souls, we are walking in the Light, i.e., the Spirit of Christ.
Eternal glory is but grace. Do we have it here? Does eternal glory dwell in us here? We need to know that the work of grace is eternal glory, i.e., the regeneration of the Holy Spirit brought into perfection. That work of regeneration, those new desires, the new walk of life, the new man being brought into perfection is eternal glory and walking in the Light of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Anyone, therefore, who pretends to have saving faith without true sorrow and remorse over sin, hating sin and its reigning power know nothing of the assurance of faith. That person has no assurance at all. There is no Scriptural basis for their claim.
MAT 7:26 says, "And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand." To understand assurance of faith we must distinguish between the grounds for our acceptance before God, and our evidence that we are accepted. That gets back to the explanation about calling and election, election and calling.
The only grounds for our acceptance is the perfect righteousness and atonement of Christ. There is no merit in anything we do that will merit eternal life, but we can see the evidence of our acceptance as Christ is formed in us. That is the work of regeneration wrought by the Holy Spirit in the soul; it is the working of regeneration in us so that Christ becomes revealed in us. He becomes revealed in our walk of life, our attitudes toward our neighbours, and the spirit in which we live. This is the fruit we bear which identifies the tree.
Christs atonement is the grounds of our acceptance, but the evidence is the work of regeneration wrought by the Holy Spirit in our soul. See this in JOH 3:5-6 where Nicodemus had come to the Lord Jesus; "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
Nicodemus could not comprehend this idea of being born again with his human mind. So the Lord Jesus gave him to understand in a spiritual sense what He meant by being born again. The washing of the water of the Word, of the Spirit of Christ, are required, otherwise one cannot enter into the kingdom of God. A person cannot serve God if he has not been washed with the water of the Word and has been reborn with the Spirit of Christ.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Jesus is telling us in this passage that the contrast between flesh and spirit is so absolute and positive that any human being that has ever been reborn will be able to look into the Word of God and identify his assurance. As we see the new fruit and the new desires, we will see we are born of the Spirit and that we walk in the Spirit.
As we can see from the context of our text, the things that pertain unto spiritual life are godliness and escaping the corruption of this world. 2PE 1:3-4 says, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
As we grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, we grow in godliness; we grow in a godly life. These things that pertain to godliness deliver us delivered from the power of sin and the reign of sin.
So how are we to make our calling and election sure? The context of our text tells us very clearly! We need an active obedience as well as deliverance from sin, which we know we have because we are delivered from the lusts and corruption of the world. We continue reading in 2PE 1:5-7 to see how we must add to our faith. "And beside this, [having escaped the corruption of the world] 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." We now have a picture of the fruits we need for our assurance.
Here we see the need for the application of the two tables of the law. Godliness, the first table of the law, is to love God with our heart, soul, and mind. Brotherly kindness is the second table of the law. Now, to that we add charity. Do you remember what charity is? It is to think of someone in the very best light; it is a synonym to the word mercy. It is to show them undeserved favor even after they may have sinned against you in every way, shape, and form. It is to show love to such people, at the first opportunity, even if they have stolen from you.
In my own experience, every time a person has come against me and I have given it over to let the Lord be my defender, the Lord has given me the privilege and opportunity to show them favor and give them a helping hand, often in an urgent time of need. It has never failed yet. There have been many instances I could relate, but the point I'm making is that this is charity. If we have not charity, we have nothing. That is the area we must examine our hearts. When you render such help, it is one of the greatest blessings the Lord can give as proof of godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.
The word add is the key word here. We "add" to our faith these graces which are the make-up of a Christian character. You can have faith to move mountains, but if you do not have charity, you have nothing. Faith without works is dead. Let's examine how we add these seven graces to our Christian character. The character is the key evidence of our assurance of faith. Do we have the character of our Father which is in heaven or the character of Satan, the father of lies? We have one or the other.
The word add signifies to "supply in harmony with." Let's analyze this. A soprano with a lovely voice may give a beautiful solo, but imagine another voice, an alto, adding her voice. It is supplied in harmony with the first voice. More voices are added, tenor and bass, and you have a choir. Just as in a choir the various parts and voices unite into a blessed harmony, adding graces to faith produces a precious harmony. That is the meaning of the word add.
What the Apostle Peter is saying here is synonymous with what the Apostle James said in JAM 2:26; "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." If that harmony isn't there, in these added graces we need to give diligence to make our calling sure. Have you ever stopped to think about the blessed harmony of sounds and music there will be in heaven? Harps, melody and voices harmoniously blended will be so blessed. How can any hatred be allowed? That would result in a state of confusion rather than harmony.
Adding these virtues to our faith are needed for its very existence, "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue...," 2PE 1:5. Faith alone is dead, but if you add to it, you begin to see the harmony of a Christian character. Then the "second voice" is added; not only do we have faith, we also have virtue.
In Verses 8-9 the apostle speaks of the striking contrast between the life of faith, and the dead condition in the soul of those who lack these things, i.e., these seven graces mentioned in Verses 5-7.
"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. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins," 2PE 1:8-9. It is the assurance of faith, the basis upon which we found our assurance. If we lack these things, we are blind; like a sow wallowing in the mud, we are still wallowing in the mire. The transformation to a sheep has not taken place so as to become one of the flock. That is how vital it is.
Those who acquire and cultivate "these things," i.e., these seven graces, become fruitful in that "...knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," in the assurance of faith. JOH 17:3 says, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." If we do "these things," we will never become unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will not question our salvation. Our salvation is sure.
Just as a lack of food leads to leanness, and a lack of exercise leads to weakness of muscles, so a lack of the exercise of "these things" spoken of in Verses 5-7 leads to soul barrenness, a lack of spiritual vision and a lack of assurance of faith. Many people who have grace come into a backsliding condition. The veil of darkness is pulled over their heads, and they no longer have any assurance of faith. Why? They lack "these things." They are not walking in the Spirit; they are walking in the flesh.
Our text shows the sharp contrast between those who walk in sin and unbelief and those who enjoy the blessed assurance of saving faith. See this in 2PE 1:10-11; "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." Did you see the harmony between verses 10 and 11? If you serve Him here, you have received an entrance to serve Him hereafter. It is by doing "these things," serving Him here, that we come into His service forever. That is how we have that entrance ministered unto us that we might be granted an entrance into the everlasting kingdom. There is a difference between heaven and the everlasting kingdom. We enter the kingdom of heaven here when we enter into His service here, but we enter into the everlasting kingdom when we are transformed into the new kingdom.
Seeing the context of our text teaches that he who does not cultivate the garden of his soul will soon find it grown over with thorns. Thorns and thistles are the curse of the broken law. When Adam sinned, the ground brought forth thorns and thistles; he earned his bread by the sweat of his brow. If we do not cultivate "these things" in our soul, we will find it overgrown with thorns.
2PE 1:9 says, "But he that lacketh these things [he who does not cultivate brotherly love, charity] is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." The apostle comes out so clearly to admonish us that "these things" are our evidence and assurance of entering the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The assurance of our salvation depends upon "these things!" See the urgency in 2PE 1:12-16 with which the apostle urges "these things" upon his audience, but also upon you and me. "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; [Although he has told them before, he will remind them every time he talks to them that this is the basis of their assurance.] Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty."
"These things" must be brought to our attention; they must be cultivated and watered. Even though we know "these things," we need to be reminded over and over. Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you..." many times. He said it many times. Even though you know "these things," and are established in the truth, it is meet to stir us up over and over again.
The obvious meaning then of our text is that we must examine the garden of our hearts to see what grows there to secure the evidence of our effectual calling. We must take notice of any thorns growing in our heart. If you ever had a field or garden that became infested with thorns and thistle, you know it takes constant cultivation to get rid of them to keep them out. You and I must understand that our own hearts are a seedbed of thorns and thistles. We must constantly, with the sweat of our brow, work to keep them down because as soon as they begin to grow, "these things" no longer flourish. Brotherly love begins to wither; charity begins to disappear.
Thorns of pride and other sins require constant efforts to eliminate them to secure the evidence of our effectual calling. We must cultivate the garden of our heart to avoid being like the sow that returns to wallow in the mire. 2PE 1:10 emphasizes this principle; "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
If we are professing to be a child of God, we must give diligence to cultivating our character to see if we are displaying the conduct of one. Are "these things" evident in our lives? There is much more to being a Christian than carnally claiming an interest in JOH 5:24: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." There is much more to being a Christian than claiming faith and saying, "I believe."
It is just in proportion as we add "these things" spoken of in Verses 5-7 to our profession of faith that we gain the true harmony of the heavenly choir. We create a harmony as we add each of "these things." A profession without "these things" is only a sound of confusion when we hate and devour each other. Your faith must harmonize with your walk of life. If there is harmony, it is like the choir of heaven. A profession without "these things" is only confusion as we read in 1CO 13:1. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." Do you see the point? The sounds are not in harmony. There is harmony when our walk of life, having charity, corresponds with our profession. There is no harmony in the voice of those who lack "these things." There is contradiction and confusion.
See the contrasts in ECC 7:4-6; "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity." See how the voice and heart of the wise are in harmony; the fool lacks harmony. There is no sorrow in the heart, no mourning over sin. The fool cherishes sin; there is laughter, noise, and confusion. The harmony of the choir of heaven is when our hearts and works harmonize with our profession. If a child of God makes a profession to be such, the world should see it in their walk of life. The light of Christ formed in them is shining in them as a light upon a hill; the salt of their actions is a deterrent for decay. They go to the house of mourning to mourn over sin; there is no laughter over sin and vanity.
Those who have God's grace are not led by self-will. See the blessed harmony in the Word of God as we read ROM 8:12-15. "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Those who are led by the Spirit walk not after the flesh, for if we walk after the flesh, we shall die. If our walk of life is in the Spirit of Christ, we are not under the bondage of sin.
Our text clearly teaches that the soundest basis for the assurance of our faith is that "ye do these things" That is not earning salvation, but it is our evidence. It shows the fruits of our hearts; it is the fruit that comes forth from a godly character. The work of regeneration, and the new man created within, is reflected in ones walk of life.
"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. 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. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 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," 2PE 1:5-11.
It is as if our faith is singing soprano, then the alto, virtue, is added, then knowledge, the tenor, comes in. It creates a perfect harmony of voices; there is no contradiction. By adding temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity there is a full choir. It is the blessed harmony found in the gospel that becomes a part of your walk of life. Then the entrance is ministered to you, meaning it becomes yours. You see the evidence of it, you are able by faith to lay claim to it, to say, "Abba, Father, I am one of those." An entrance into the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ is given to you with abundance.
Doing "these things" flow from the fruits of the regenerating work of the Spirit as we saw in GAL 5:22-26. Earlier in the chapter we saw the fruits of the carnal mind. Now, we will see the total contrast in GAL 5:22-26. Listen for the blessed melody and harmony that will fill the heavens. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory [Why? It is evil, and if we fear the Lord, it is one of the first things we hate], provoking one another, envying one another." Let us not do the unfruitful works of darkness.
Those who desire vain glory do not understand the fear of the Lord. Why? "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate," PRO 8:13.
The Apostle Peter saw how essential "these things" are to the assurance of our entrance into glory, that's why he said, "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance," 2PE 1:12-13. Why would he be so urgent about keeping us reminded of "these things?" They are the very fruits of our salvation. Amen.
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