Our Calling and Election

2 Peter

Our Calling and Election

October 2nd, 1960 @ 10:50 AM

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.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Peter 1:10-11

10-2-60     10:50 a.m.



In our preaching through the Bible, last Sunday evening, I left off with the ninth verse of the first chapter of 2 Peter.  And this anniversary message is built around an exposition of the two next verses in the first chapter of 2 Peter.  And if you want to follow it, you can easily do so as the sermon progresses.  Second Peter chapter 1, verses 10 and 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 Savior Jesus Christ.

[2 Peter 1:10-11]


That is the text, and the subject: Our Calling and Election.

There are two things of great matter and import that the apostle names here as a part of our vital and holy religion.  One is our calling, and the other is our election [2 Peter 1:10-11].  There are two ways that God calls us.  One is a general call.  When we preach the gospel to every creature, we are making a general call to all men everywhere that they turn and believe and be saved.  "And it is not the will of God that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" [2 Peter 3:9].  And this is a call to faith and to obedience in Christ that is everywhere, to all men.  Every spire on every church points men to God.  Every Bible that is printed, every Lord’s Day that is observed, wherever a man names the name of Jesus, everywhere is this general call of God to faith in Christ.

But there is another call; there is a specific call, there is an individual call, there is a private and pertinent call to the individual heart.  And that call we feel, all of us who have answered it.  There are those who refuse that call and who do not respond [Isaiah 66:4; Acts 13:46, 18:6].  In any congregation, there are those who will rise to life, quickened from the dead [Ephesians 2:1-5].  As the preacher preaches the sermon and as he presses the appeal for Christ, some will rise to live; there are others who remain dead, they are corpses unto God.  There are some, when the message is presented, who listen beyond just the fleshly understanding and who open their hearts to the spiritual meaning of the appeal.  There are others who hear and hear and hear and never hear, who see and see and see and never see, who read and read and read and never understand.  I cannot enter into the calling of God and the response of these upon whose ears those words fall.  I just observe it and see it.  In a family, in the same family, brought up by the same loving father and mother, there are those who rise to live in the sight of God, and in that same family, with the same father and mother, there are those who remain dead in trespasses and in sins.  I do not understand it.  I just see it every day of my life.

Now, he has a second great matter here, that of election [2 Peter 1:10].  You would think that he would name it election first and then the call; that’s the correct order.  But he changes it because, I suppose, our calling comes first to us; and then he mentions God’s having chosen us in glory [2 Peter 1:11].  In the passage that you read this morning, Paul mentions our calling:  "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" [Romans 8:28].  Then he names these things in the order that they happened:  "For," he says, "whom He did foreknow, He did predestinate . . . and whom He did predestinate, them He called; and those whom He called, He justified, He declared them righteous; and those whom He justified, them also He glorified" [Romans 8:29-30].  That’s the order.  But first, in our time and experience, is our call [2 Peter 1:10]; but in God’s time and God’s experience is our election [Romans 8:29-30].

I can see an elective from God in our lives in three very distinct ways.  One, all of us who are in the fold, we’re in the kingdom, all of us have been wonderfully blessed by having been elected of God to eternal life [Acts 13:48].  We’ve been saved.  Why were you not born a Hottentot in the darkest continent, having never heard the name of Jesus, going around naked, untaught, unlearned, illiterate?  Why were you not born in a heathen family?  Why were you not born in an era and in a time where darkness pervaded the tribe and the home and the life in which you lived?  Just what did you do to be born in your family, with Christian fathers and mothers, born in America, born where the gospel is preached?  Just what did you do to choose that home, and that time, and that place, and that era?

Ah, Master in heaven, how thankful I am that I was born in a Christian home, that I grew up in a Christian church, that I heard the gospel of Christ when I was a youth, that my heart responded as the strings of a harp, and that I gave my life in faith and in trust to Jesus.  All around me were people who did not.  All around me in this city are people who will not.  But in God’s elective choice and purpose, I did.  And how humbly grateful, not anything that I did, that I chose, that I was worthy; it’s in the elective purpose of God that I do not understand.  Why me, O Lord?  Why, why me?  But I’ve been saved, and I turned to the Lord, and I trusted Him as my Savior.  And there are many who do not, and there are others who have no such opportunity.  But I had, and I did, and you did.  How grateful and how blessed God’s election of us [Romans 8:29-30].

There is a second election.  God hath elected us to our place of service and responsibility, our sharing in the kingdom and the work and the patience of Jesus [Ephesians 2:10].  I debated whether to say things like this or not.  And how do you say them in humility?  Would you be understanding and sympathetic?  I speak of it in humility, not in pride and lifting up of heart and spirit.  I went to school with a wonderful friend; his name is Dr. Cornell Garner.  He was the professor of missions.  We were in school together.  After we were graduated, he became the professor of missions at the Southern Seminary in Louisville, to which we belonged, to which both of us attended in gaining our doctor’s degrees, years studying there together.  He is now the secretary of missions under our Foreign Mission Board for Europe and Africa.  He’s a Dallas boy, born here in Dallas, educated here in Dallas, a graduate of SMU here in Dallas.  In the summer of 1944, I went by Louisville, and we had lunch together.  And he said to me, "Has anything happened?" 

Why, I said, "No, nothing has happened." 

"Oh," but he says, "I just know something has happened."

"No," I said, "nothing has happened."

"Well," he said, "I cannot understand."  Then after we had visited together and I bid him goodbye, I went on my way to my pastorate in Oklahoma, why, I happened to mention to him that I was going to preach at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, that Bob Coleman had written, and he said their pastor had been ill for a year and now had died, and in that year of his illness, different ministers had been kind to give of their time to keep the church going, by preaching in the absence of the pastor.  And he’d asked would I be kind enough to come and to help the church and to preach that Sunday.  And I had said that I would.  And I mentioned that to him incidentally. 

And he said, "Oh, oh!" 

Well, I never had him expatiate on his "Oh, oh."  That’s all he said, he just said, "Oh, oh!"  Then after I was called as pastor of the church – and that would be a book in itself – and after I’d been here awhile, I was with Dr. Garner again, and he said to me, "Do you remember in the summer of 1944 when you came by Louisville and we had lunch together?"

"Why yes, yes, I remember well."

"And I asked you had anything happened.  And you said, ‘No, no, nothing happened.’  And then incidentally before you left you said you were going down to the First Church in Dallas to preach." 

He said, "What I had in my heart was this," he said, "I felt, as I had felt in the years of our seminary training, that when the First Baptist Church at Dallas sought a pastor, God would send you there.  And so I asked you, had anything happened. 

And you said, ‘No. no.’"

And he said, "I planned to write to the pulpit committee of the First Baptist Church in Dallas about you.  And then I said in my heart, why, that’s the prerogative of God.  If God wants him there, God will put him there.  And I don’t need to write.  And it’s extraneous and superfluous for me to write.  This is God’s work."  And he said, "When you told me in leaving you were going to preach there, I knew in my heart, I knew.  And when I read in the papers that you were called, I knew; that is of God."

Lord, I don’t say these things in pride.  I am the least of His servants.  My father’s house is the least in His kingdom, and I am the least in my father’s house [Judges 6:15].  But there is an election in heaven before which sometimes a man staggers in his soul.  Just why, Lord, just why?  And all of us have that elective choice in God, all of us.  In the purposiveness of His kingdom, here I am, such as I am; by the grace of God, what I am, and there you are in your place, in your place, in the election of God, in the inscrutable wisdom of the Lord.

Then there is another election:  God hath elected us to eternal life [Ephesians 1:4-5]; God hath elected us in our place of service [Ephesians 2:10]; and God hath elected us, as Simon Peter calls it, "into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior" [2 Peter 1:10-11].  We’ll be there; He hath elected us, and we’ll be there.  The man in Christ need have no fear of the future, of death, of hell, of Satan, of all of the hosts and powers of darkness.  "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall pluck them out of My Father’s hand" [John 10:28].  Look in the hand of God, God’s unchanging hand – as that old time song they used to sing – look in God’s unchanging hand, and there are His children kept forever.

And what a triumphant election is that.  If we’re elected to public office two years, a few years; if we are elected pastor of the church even forty-seven years, yet do they waste away.  But our election into the kingdom of God is forever and forever, world without end.  When the morning star has burned out, when the sun is dim with very age, and when the everlasting hills have wasted away, there do we live in the sight and presence and glory of God.  As our Lord said to the seventy when they came back saying, "Why, even the spirits, even the devils, even the demons are subject unto us"; and our Lord said, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven" [Luke 10:17-18]. In the power of the witness and the gospel message and the might of His servants; Satan’s kingdom is destroyed!  "But in this rejoice not; rather rejoice" – our Savior said – "that your names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Rejoice in that" [Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27].

Oh, glory, glory! O blessed God, my name on that page, bright and fair!  Now, the whole world listening to a message like this immediately replies, "Why, preacher, if I believe that, if I believe that doctrine of election, why, it would enervate my whole dedication.  Why, you just sit down and sit, let God do it.  God elects it, and it’s "yes" with Him, or it’s "no" with Him, and we have no responsibility.  If you believe in that doctrine of the choice and the election of God, then just stop, then just quit, and let God do it, because it’s in His elective plan anyway."  That’s what the whole world replies.  Isn’t it a strange thing in the wisdom of God that doctrine is just exactly the opposite, and it works just identically and diametrically in a opposite way?  And I can illustrate that for the hour.  You take any man, anywhere, any time, in any hour, and you let him be convinced that God has called him, and chosen him, and elected him for this task, and you have a man whose heart is like a lion, and whose courage is like steel! I mean any man, any man.

I don’t believe in Mohammad.  Of course, I’m no Muslim; but Mohammad felt that he was called of God to destroy the image worship in the churches of Christ!  And with a sword in his hand and with fanatical followers, he nearly destroyed the whole Christian world!  Why?  Because of his fanatical belief that God had called him to destroy the idolatry in the churches of Christ.  That’s where Mohammedanism came from.  Whenever you look at one of those idols, remember, Mohammedanism was a reaction to the idolatry of the image worship in the church.  And that’s why the fierceness of his fanaticism: he believed that God had sent him with the sword to destroy idolatry in the church!

All right, take another man, Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms with his gospel from the Book of justification by faith [Romans 1:17] and not by the sale of indulgences.  And he stands there before prelate and before prince, and he says, "Here I stand, I can do no other.  God help me"; called elected, iron in his blood, courage in his face!  Or Oliver Cromwell, with the great Puritan surge over lascivious and compromised royalty. 

Or take this last week, I was in Phoenix, Arizona; the first Southern Baptist church in Phoenix has had two pastors in its oh, thirty-five or forty years of life, a father, Dr. C. M. Rock, and a son, Dr. Von Rock, who’s now shepherd of the congregation,  the father and the son.  The father was in North Carolina, a blessed minister in North Carolina; and he felt God had sent him to Phoenix to build a work for Jesus there in Phoenix, Arizona.  And with the pastor last week, we drove by and looked upon the little place where Dr. Rock began that first Southern Baptist church in Phoenix.  And the son said, "I went to that church as a little boy and listened to my father preach, and sometimes he’d say, while he was preaching, there would be the snap and the crack of a rifle and just above my head – just above my head – in the providence of God and missing my father, that bullet would lodge in the wall on the other side."  And he said, "While we were having services there, they took tin cans, many times full of garbage, and threw them into the church."  But he said, "My father said, ‘I have been called of God, and this is God’s work for me.  And if we die, here we are by the grace of God.’"  Iron in his blood, courage in his countenance, an unbeatable and indomitable spirit in his life:  that’s election! That’s election; this is what God has called me to do.

Now I want you to notice his word here: "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure" [2 Peter 1:10], bebaian – bebaian – bibaioō, the verbal form means "to confirm, to establish," bebaian.  "Give diligence to make your calling and election bebaian," confirm it, establish it.  Give diligence to do it.  Well, it’s sure and established in the sight of God; so he must mean to establish it in the sight of men. 

Well, how do you do that?  How does a man make his calling and election sure as he says?  Well, the text answers, "Give diligence" [2 Peter 1:10].  That is, I’m not to seek for the confirmation of my calling and my election in some extraneous, monstrous experience, alien to the mind of God.  Like, "O God, give me a vision; O Lord, send a legion of angels.  O Lord, a tap on the table," or, "O Lord, speak with voices," or, "O Lord, send me a ball of fire from heaven or a light from heaven."  I’m not to seek for the confirmation of my calling and election in those monstrous experiences.  Well then, how are you to make your calling and election sure?  "Give diligence," and he had just got through describing that:

Giving all diligence, out of your faith, strength and courage; and out of strength and courage, knowledge and understanding;

and out of that, temperance; and out of that, patience; and out of patience, godliness; and out of godliness, brotherly kindness; and out of brotherly kindness, love.

[2 Peter 1:5-7]


Give diligence in it; that is I’m to be diligent in my Christian profession.  Lord, help me to be patient, and kind, and gracious, and helpful, and loving, and prayerful, to be diligent in my Christian profession.  And then, if I believe, as I do, in the elective purpose of God that put me here as an undershepherd; then Lord, that I be diligent as the pastor of the church.  That’s the way to make your calling and election sure [2 Peter 1:10].

Now I hasten before I must close.  And he gives two reasons why, two reasons why.  "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for," and he gives two reasons, "for if you 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 Savior Christ Jesus" [2 Peter 1:10-11].  Two reasons:  the first one, "for if you do these things, ye shall never fall, ptaio."  He doesn’t mean "fall away," ptaio means actually "to stumble."  Now what the apostle admonishes us is this:  that if I’m diligent in my calling and in my election, if I’m diligent in it, then God will take care of all of the pitfalls, and all the snares, and all the problems, and all the other things.  I wish I could learn that.  Why can’t I learn that?  God means for me to be busy in my task, busy with it.  And then let God take care of all those problems that sometimes I lie awake at night and worry about and wonder about.  Do the work.  Do the work.  And let God take care of all those uncrossable rivers and all of those unclimbable mountains.  Let God do that.  You be diligent in it.

And the same way about the church, for if you do these things you won’t ever fall into those snares, and pits, and problems that sometimes will tear a church apart.  Let the church be busy at what God has elected it to do and see them all bind themselves together in an unbeatable team.  We are too busy winning people to Christ to fuss and fight.  We are too busy serving God to stoop to little inconsequential, cheap, and mean things.  We’re too busy talking about Jesus to talk about one another.  Diligent [2 Peter 1:10], then you don’t’ fall into these things.  And then his second, "For, for if we make our calling and election sure, diligent in these things, for," he says, "so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord" [2 Peter 1:10-11].  That is a remarkable sentence, "For," he says, "an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly."  Now if I had another hour, wouldn’t we like to sit here in heavenly places and speak of our abundant entrance into that kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Some people come on ships, richly laden; and others land in a plank, barely saved.  "So an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly" [2 Peter 1:11]; I wonder what that means?  "Ministered unto you," the only thing that I can think of is when we enter in, when we enter in, what an abundant, what an abundant entrance shall be ministered unto us, if perchance, in God’s goodness, there might meet us at the gate somebody that we won to our Lord; a glorious entrance ministered unto us.  There is a soul, there maybe is a family, there may be just a little child, but there is somebody at the gate to welcome us who found the Lord through our witness and our testimony.  A ministry ministered unto us, an abundant entrance into the kingdom and patience of Jesus – everything else we do shall perish with this perishing world; but what we do to God is treasure stored up unto life everlasting [Matthew 6:19-20].  God speed us, dear people, in the way, as we serve more faithfully and diligently our Lord, according to His calling [Ephesians 1:4-5], and elective purpose for us [Ephesians 2:10].

Now while we sing our song, while we make this appeal, somebody you to take Jesus as Savior, or somebody you to put your life with us in the church, would you come and stand by me?  Is there a family to come this morning?  "Pastor, here we are, this is my wife, these are my children; we’re all coming today."  Is there somebody you, a family to come?  Is there one today, taking Jesus as Savior, would you come?  We’re going to have our appeal, and let’s remain for it; and then you’ll have opportunity to leave if you do not wish to stay for our second service.  But stay for this appeal, and pray for it. 

Bless the message, dear Lord, and then, bless it to somebody’s heart who will respond this morning.  Out of that balcony, down one of these stairways, into the aisle and down to the front, "Pastor, I give you my hand; I do give my heart to God."  If you will, would you make it now?  And come, and stand by me here at the front, while all of us stand and sing together.