Our Calling and Election
March 13th, 1983 @ 7:30 PM
2 Peter 1:1-11
OUR CALLING AND ELECTION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Peter 1:1-11
3-13-83 7:30 p.m.
It is a joy for us in the First Baptist Church of Dallas to welcome the multitudes who are listening to this hour on radio. We invite you to turn to 2 Peter chapter 1. It is hard for me to realize in planning these messages on the epistles of Peter we have two more besides tonight. Next Sunday night, speaking on The Infallible Word, and the last, speaking on The Second Coming: The Return of Our Lord. And tonight, on Our Calling and Election.
Now we are going to read together the first eleven verses of 2 Peter chapter 1. And the message tonight is an exposition of these 11 verses. Let us all read it out loud together, on the radio where you are and in the great throng in the sanctuary, 2 Peter chapter 1, the first 11 verses, together
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
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.
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 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 Jesus Christ.
[2 Peter 1:1-11]
And the title of the message: Our Calling and Election.
The apostle here speaks of two things in his beginning introduction to the epistle. He speaks of a precious faith and a blessed life, both of which, he says, are given us in Christ Jesus. He speaks of the faith. First verse, “To them who have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ” [2 Peter 1:1]. Then in the third verse he speaks of the life, “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” [2 Peter 1:3]. These are the two important facets of our holy religion: faith and life. They are never to be separated. One is the foundation, the faith [2 Peter 1:1]. And the other is the superstructure built upon it, the life [2 Peter 1:3].
It is like our bodies. We have bones and flesh. It is like an architectural arch, it is held up by two abutments. It is like astronomy. The sun has light and heat that create the possibility of a living world. And it is like Solomon’s temple who had before it two great pillars of blessing: Boaz and Jachin, for beauty and for glory [2 Chronicles 3:17]. And it is like the two olive trees that poured oil into the lamps of God [Zechariah 4:12]. So our holy calling and faithful religion is made up of those two things [2 Peter 1:1, 3].
Faith, true and saving, has its source in God. First verse, “To them who have obtained like precious faith” [2 Peter 1:1]. Lachousin, obtain, that is, the word actually refers to one upon whom a lot has fallen, an assignment to someone, to obtain and to receive. If it is received, then it is something outside ourselves. And the Lord has so emphatically spoken of that in the Holy Scriptures.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should say I did it and boast” concerning his achievement. Like Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” Our faith is a gift from God.
A single sermon or an entreaty or a testimony received by a man from God will change the vilest sinner into a saint. But a man can hear ten thousand sermons, and if he rejects and shuts his heart against the Spirit of God he could never be saved. So as Simon Peter says that our faith in its source is from God; it is a gift of God. He declares that its object is our Lord Jesus Christ whom he calls God. In 2 Peter 1:1, “Precious faith through God our Savior Jesus Christ.” The Greek word, translated “through,” is en, “our faith in God our Savior Jesus Christ.” Paul never hesitates to refer to Jesus as Lord God, deity. Neither does Simon Peter here [2 Peter 1:1]. Both of them speak of it. John says the same thing.
Any time a man hesitates to accept the deity of our Lord, he is that much an aberration in deviation from the revelation of the truth of God in the Holy Scriptures. Titus 2:13 says, “The glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” And there is one article before that, “’the great God and Savior.” In John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And then Simon Peter, “Our precious faith is given us in the great God and Savior Jesus Christ” [2 Peter 1:1]. That is the object of our worship and our adoration and our praying and our hope, its method in the righteousness of God our Savior. From Him we receive a God-kind of righteousness. Paul speaks of that in Romans 10:8-9,
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart that He lives, that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart one believeth unto a God-kind of righteousness: and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
A God-kind of righteousness is an imputed righteousness. It’s one that God bestows upon us. It is reckoned to our account [Galatians 3:6]. The perfection and the holiness and goodness of Jesus is placed on our side of the ledger. And our sins and derelictions and iniquities and shortcomings are placed upon His side of the ledger. And He dies for us [1 Corinthians 15:3]. And we receive His perfection and His duty and His holiness and His salvation by imputation. You have a marvelous illustration of that in Abraham in Genesis 15:6, “And Abraham believed God; and his faith was counted for righteousness,” was reckoned for righteousness. It was placed on his ledger on his side; his faith.
Now, its efficacy and its worth and its value; Simon Peter speaks of isotimē, translated, “a like precious” faith [2 Peter 1:1]. That word iso…I got down my dictionary and there are several pages of iso. Iso is the word for “equal,” like isometric, equal feet, or isotope, an equal number of atomic values, or an isosceles triangle, a triangle with two equal sides. So he speaks of the faith that we have as being “like” [2 Peter 1:1]. All of it. May be very humble in some of us. It may be tremendous in others. But it’s the same kind of a thing, iso.
A diamond is a diamond whether it be a small stone or a tremendous one. It’s a diamond. Going into the ark, the little snail crawled in and the great elephant lumbered in and the little wren hopped in and the great eagle swooped in out of the blue of the sky, but they all were saved [Genesis 7:7-9]. They were in the ark. And he speaks of our faith like that. Some of us small and hesitant. And some of us bold and abounding. But it’s the same faith, Simon Peter says [2 Peter 1:1], and God saves us through the gift of that faith [Ephesians 2:8].
Now he speaks not only of the faith, the foundation of the life [2 Peter 1:1], but he speaks of the superstructure, the godly life itself. Verse 3, “His divine power hath given unto us life” [2 Peter 1:3]. To give life is a prerogative of God and God alone. The tiniest little seed is a miracle of the Lord God. In its heart God has created and planted life, and no man, no chemical laboratory in the earth can do that.
A corpse, dead before God, dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1], a corpse is raised only, given life only by the power of God. A minister can cry all of his life, “I say unto thee, dead man, rise!” And there’s no answer. Or an academician, a teacher, a professor, a learned scholar can cry, “Arise,” and there’s no answer. But the Lord God can stand at a tomb of Lazarus and say, “Lazarus, come forth.” And he that was dead arises [John 11:43-44]. It is the prerogative of God to give life. God says, “Let there be light,” by fiat: and there’s light” [Genesis 1:3]. When God says, “Live,” we live. We are partakers therein of the divine nature, a fellow heir, a son by the side of Jesus our Lord [Romans 8:16-17].
Now our calling and election to faith and life in Christ are confirmed by our giving all diligence to the seven Christian graces. He names them in verses 3 to 9, “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” [2 Peter 1:5-7].
Now there are two approaches to that remarkable sentence. One is this: there are commentators and scholars who take that sentence and they 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.
Now there’s another interpretation, and this is the one that I think is correct. It is like a rope, a cable of seven strands, intertwined. The seven graces make a composite picture of the Christian life, and they are 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.
I believe that because, first, of the translation of that word in the King James Version, “all.” It is chorēgeō. It is a far different word from that word “add,” add. It’s a verbal form of “chorus,” and a chorus refers to a musical group, a group who repeats in the Greek tragedies and plays and dramas. In the Greek life and culture, the state appointed an affluent man to gather together, to prepare and to pay the expenses of that group, called in Greek drama, Greek tragedy, Greek comedy, a choros, c-h-o-r-o-s, choros, a choros. Now, from that habit of appointing an affluent citizen to prepare that choros in a Greek drama, why, the word came to mean to furnish, to supply, to develop, to provide. So this word chorēgeō is a musical term.
And as Simon Peter uses it, it has seven notes. And the eighth, making the octave, is the keynote of faith. The basis of all music and harmony and melody in the Christian life is found in these beautiful seven graces built upon faith.
I set my wind-harp in the wind,
And the wind came out of the south,
Soft it blew with gentle coo,
Like words from a maiden’s mouth.
And like the stir of angels’ wings,
It gently touched the trembling strings;
And O my harp gave back to me
A wondrous heavenly melody.
I set my wind-harp in the wind,
And the wind from the north blew loud,
From the icy north it hurried forth,
And dark grew sea and cloud.
It whistled down the mountains’ height,
And smote the quivering chords with might,
And still my harp gave back to me
Its wondrous heavenly melody.
Ah, me! that such a life were mine!
Responsive-tuned, and true,
That when all was gladness, all would shine,
Or when the storms of sorrow blew.
That so ‘mid all the fret and strife,
The jarring undertones of life,
My life might rise to God and be
One long harmonious symphony!
[“The Wind-harp,” Frederick Weatherly, 1876]
These seven notes with their basic octave faith make up the beauty and the harmony and the music and the melody of the Christian life. I not only believe that that seven-stranded cable rope is interpretation of those seven graces, that they’re all present in all of us, but I believe it also because of that word which is translated “to.” In the King James Version it’s “add to” [2 Peter 1:5]. In the Greek it’s “en.” And “let it stand in,” let it be “in.” “In your faith chorēgeō, supply, furnish virtue; and in your virtue chorēgeō, supply knowledge” [2 Peter 1:5]. And so on. Out of each springs the other. It is the gospel of the unfolding. With faith a keynote, the seven other notes complete the octave.
First, he says, aretē, translated, “virtue” [2 Peter 1:5]. Now when I say “virtue,” when I read “virtue,” when I see the word “virtue,” I think of personal excellence, chastity. But the word aretē has no approach to such a thing as that. The word is a description; aretē is a description of a hero’s character, and it refers to strength, to valor, to courage. Our English word “virtue” comes from the Latin word v-i-r, vir, vir, “man,” virtus, “manliness, strength, courage.” And that’s the first tremendous note in this octave: “virtue” [2 Peter 1:5], in the English King James Version, courage, strength as we grow in the Christian grace.
The second one is gnōsis [2 Peter 1:5]. Valor, strength, courage without knowledge leads to fanaticism and extremes. There is no fanatic, there are no extremists in the world like those in religion. Zeal has to be controlled. It has to be perfected by knowledge. Insight must be added to courage.
The third one is egkrateia, self-control, self-restraint, translated here, “temperance” [2 Peter 1:6]. The athlete must be temperate in all things in his habits of health, in his drinking, in his eating. And we lose everything if we lose this. You know, I don’t know of anything more ironical in human history than the story of Alexander the Great who conquered the whole civilized world, and then, in a drunken orgy, died in Babylon at the age of 33. Egkrateia, temperance.
Now hupomonē, “patient endurance” [2 Peter 1:6]. Literally that word means a bearing up under our injuries, our hurts, our difficulties. We just wait patiently before God. That’s a rare plant that grows in the weeds of this world. And impatience is a common human weakness. And the most common weakness I think that I have: it appears every day in my life. I have trouble with it. I want to get on with it. I want to get this thing moving. And the little old things that hinder and stop, oh, they gripe me; they rub me the wrong way. And I have to pray about that. I have to pray that I be kind in what I say when I want to blister and burn up and scald somebody. I got to be kind and sweet and nice. I got to be like a good, saintly man, when actually I’m not saintly. I’m just not. It’s a patient gift that I pray God will give me.
Now the final three are spiritual excellences. They are an inseparable triumvirate. First, it says eusebeia, which is piety and godliness [2 Peter 1:6], a manner of life that adorns the doctrine of Christ. When people see you they say, “You know, it must be wonderful to be a Christian.”
Second one in this triumvirate is philadelphia, “the love of the brethren” [2 Peter 1:7]. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, that you have love one for the other.” In 1 Peter 1:22 the apostle wrote “…love one another with a pure heart fervently.” And then the famous passage in 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” Let’s all say that together. “We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”
And the last one is agapē, which is translated “charity” [2 Peter 1:7]. Actually, “love,” the climax of Christian character, as Paul would write in 1 Corinthians 13, is agapē [1 Corinthians 13:1-13]. Eros is never used in the Bible, yet is the commonest word in Greek literature. It refers to carnal love. Philos is found often in the Bible. It’s the love of a friend. And agapē is a love like God’s. That’s the climax of the Christian superstructure, the climax of the Christian life, to be able to love as God loves [1 John 4:19].
In the days of the first Christian century on a road outside of Ephesus lived a humble Christian. He had a cottage, a kind of a wayside inn. And for the strangers and the visitors and the sojourners and the pilgrims who passed by, they were welcome there. He had water. He had bread. He had a place where they could rest for the night.
There came down the road out of Ephesus a band of Roman soldiers, and passing by, they turned to the wayside cottage. And there they were given water to drink and bread to eat. And being late in the day, this humble Christian invited them to rest for the night. And as they were there with this humble Christian man, the Roman soldiers announced to him their mission. They had an edict from the emperor himself. There was a member of a hated sect called Christians. And this man, they called him Trophimus. The Roman soldiers said, “He’s vile and he’s wicked. He belongs to that sect of atheists who sacrifice babies at Passover time, and eat their flesh, and drink their blood. And this man is the most vicious of all of those hated Christians, Trophimus. And we have an edict from the emperor here to find him and to execute him on the spot.”
After the lodging and rest of the night, when the morning broke, this godly, saintly Christian set before them bread and water. And after they had broken bread and were ready for their journey, the Christian saint said to the soldiers, “You need seek no further. I will deliver you Trophimus.” And he took the band of Roman soldiers into his little garden where during the night he had dug a grave. And kneeling down at the head of the grave he bowed his head for the executioner’s sword and humbly said, “I am Trophimus.” No wonder the historian says they outlived and they out-loved and they out-died the world; agapē, love like God’s.
Then he concludes, Christ has promised us an abundant, abounding entrance into everlasting glory, verses 10 and 11:
…give diligence to make your calling and election sure: 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 Jesus Christ.
[2 Peter 1:10-11]
“Give diligence to make your calling and election sure” [2 Peter 1:10-11]. Calling and election are interwoven into the very heart and fabric of Scripture. Some people who are superficial, even some theologians who are ephemeral; in their dainty, removed interpretation of the Word of God, they will say, “Calling and election, that means it’s all of God and nothing of us, so why should we enter into it?” My brother, it is just the opposite! Calling and election turns a man into a lion. This is God’s will and this is God’s call for me! And he is faithful to the assignment unto death. That is universally true.
If a man believes he is elected of God and called of God and sent by the Lord God, there is no limit to the devotion of his life, to his election, and to his calling. “This is God’s will for me. This is God’s assignment for me. God wants me to do this. God’s called me to do this.” It’s marvelous what an effect that has in a man’s life.
And thus, we are awaiting, and God’s gracious rewards are awaiting us in an everlasting kingdom. Our Master said in Luke 10:20, “In this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” So when we are faithful to the work of God, our calling and election, God will take care of the rest. Peter says we will never fall [2 Peter 1:10]. Ptaiō, translated here, “fall,” means “to stumble.” We are not…it doesn’t refer to anything such as falling away, but ensnared, entrapped. If we delight in the seven beautiful, harmonious, symphonic virtues [2 Peter 1:5-7], then God will take care of the pitfalls, and the snares, and the traps, and the swamps, and the difficulties, and the hurts, and the trials, and the troubles. God will do that.
And finally he says, “There shall be ministered unto us an abundant entrance into glory” [2 Peter 1:11]. The word translated here “abundance” is plousios, rich. Our word “plutocrat” comes from that. In Ephesians 2:4 Paul refers to God as someone who is rich. He is a plutocrat in mercy. Rich. Rich is, well, translated here, “abundance” [2 Peter 1:11].
“So there will be ministered unto us” [2 Peter 1:11]. Now there’s your musical term again, chorēgeō, supplied, furnished, ministered unto us, an abundant, a rich entrance into heaven. Meeting us at the gate, maybe, those that we have won to the Lord, our little shepherd.
Oh dear! I just sometimes think about the day when God opens the door for me, for us, in heaven. I wonder who will be there to greet us. Speaks here of that abundant entrance into heaven [2 Peter 1:11]. Would there be those that we have won to Jesus, and they come and say, “The reason I’m here is because you took time to knock at my door!” Or, “You took time to pray by my side.” Or, “You took time to tell me about Jesus our Savior. That’s the reason I’m here, because you sought me and won me.”
Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing, to be greeted by those as we enter that beautiful city? And above all, of course, when we come before the Lord and we hear His, “Well done. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter Thou into the joy of My Lord [Matthew 25:21, 23]. You did good. You did well. You did beautifully.” The abounding, abundant entrance into glory [2 Peter 1:11].
Ah, Master, that such a beautiful life might be ours; that such a triumphant abounding entrance might be accorded us into heaven [2 Peter 1:11]. That’s Peter. Won’t it be interesting to see him and talk to him; and tell him how we tried to preach from these two epistles the months of January, February, and March in 1983? O Lord, be good to us.
Now may we stand together? Our Savior in heaven, what a preciousness to share in the ministering work. What a holiness and a heavenliness to read, and to hear, and to speak, and to talk, and to preach, and to make invitation about Thee. And our Lord sanctify and behallow this exposition tonight. Crown it with souls. Make our hearts glad with these who say tonight, “I open my heart heavenward and Christ-ward and God-ward. I take Jesus as my Savior” [Romans 10:8-13]. And others to say, “We have been drawn by the Holy Spirit to place life and home and house and every dedicated living effort with you in this precious congregation.” And others to answer God’s call in their lives.
And while our people pray and wait, and while we sing our hymn of appeal, in the balcony round there is time and to spare, come. A family, a couple, a single, a somebody you in the press on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, God has spoken to my heart and here I stand.” That first step will be precious and meaningful beyond any you ever took in your life. Take that step tonight, come. And a thousand welcomes in heaven and in earth as you answer with your life. And thank Thee precious Savior, wonderful moving Spirit of God in the harvest You give us this holy hour, in Thy dear and saving name, amen. Welcome while we sing, while we wait, while we pray.
CALLING AND ELECTION
I. A precious faith and a blessed life
are given us in Christ(2 Peter 1:1, 3)
most important things in our religious experience
The foundation is faith
The superstructure is life
True and saving faith
Its source is in God(2 Peter 1:1, Ephesians
2:8-9, Titus 3:5)
Its object is Christ, who is God(2 Peter 1:1,
Titus 2:13, John 1:1)
Its method is the righteousness of God (Romans
10:8-10, Genesis 15:6)
Its efficacy, worth, value is precious
godly life(2 Peter 1:3)
To give life the prerogative of God alone
are partakers of the divine nature(2 Peter 1:4)
calling and election to faith and life in Christ confirmed by our giving diligence
to the seven Christian graces(2 Peter 1:3-9)
approaches in understanding this sentence
A ladder with seven steps
A rope, a cable of seven strands – this is the correct one
Choregeo – “to furnish, to supply, to develop, to provide”
i. Basis of all
music, harmony and melody in Christian life
En – “in your faith choregeoâ€¦”
i. Out of each
springs the other
faith the keynote, the other seven complete the octave
“virtue” – description of a hero’s character; strength, courage
“knowledge” – strength without knowledge leads to fanaticism
“patient endurance” – bearing up under our difficulties
three are spiritual excellences – an inseparable triumvirate
Eusebeia, “piety, godliness”
Philadelphia, “love of the brethren”(John
13:35, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:14)
Agape, translated “charity”, actually “love”(1
i. Story of Trophimus
III. Christ has promised us abundant
entrance into everlasting glory(2 Peter 1:10-11)
a man believes he is elected and called of God, there is no limit to the
devotion of his life
If faithful to do the work of God, He will take care of the rest (Luke 10:20)
will give us an abundant, rich, entrance into glory (Ephesians 2:4)