Sermons & Sunday Schools

The Believer’s Responsibility for Godly Living, Part 8

In this sermon, Pastor Babij preaches on how a Christian becomes fruitful unto the Lord in applying the seven qualities taught in 2 Peter 1:5-11. Pastor details both positive results when believers apply these principles and several negative results when believers disobey. On the basis of the passage, Pastor Babij also exhorts Christians to make their calling and election sure.

Full Transcript:

Ok Calvary. Let’s take our Bibles this morning and let us start right in 2 Peter. As we continue to worship this morning and as we look at the Word of God, we want to be ready to receive it and take it to our own lives, put ourselves in the equation, because it has everything to do with us and with our relationship with our Lord and how He wants us to live our life while on this earth.

Let’s pray before I look at the Word this morning. Father, we just thank You again for this great opportunity to be able to come before You, to be able to continue ministry, and to be able to preach the Word of God to your people, even though we’re not present in the same place. It’s amazing that we’re able to do this and we thank the Lord that we have been preparing for this through the people in our church who have that kind of knowledge and technology and all those who contributed to that. We’re able to meet here together today and to be able to worship You, to study Your Word, and just to sit down and receive and drink in what the Word of God has for us today. I just pray that You would grow us and challenge us and convict us of what the Word of God tells us today. In Christ I pray. Amen.

We’re looking again at 2 Peter. In this particular passage of Scripture, it is an admonition to grow in godliness and to take it serious. God’s already done something. He saved you. He’s established you. He’s redeemed you. He’s positionally put you in His presence as clean and as forgiven. Now our responsibility while we’re on this earth is to take that human side of salvation seriously and to diligently add to our faith, increase in our faith, proceed to grow in our faith. Of course we know from this passage of Scripture that there are seven qualities. These are not the only things we are to grow in, but these are what Peter thought important for his audience and for us today to grow in, these seven qualities found in the Word of God in Scripture. These qualities are listed in verses 5 and 6 and 7. There’s two foundational qualities that we see in verse 5. That is we are to add to our faith moral excellence, and then we are to add to our faith knowledge. Then in verses 6 and 7, these are the five directional qualities. We are to add to our faith self-control, patience, endurance/steadfastness/perseverance – all the same thing. Then of course add to our faith godliness and then add to our faith brotherly kindness. Then finally last week, we looked at both of those brotherly kindness and love.

So the Christian faith is really not limited to the initial conversion experience. And I think that’s where the apostle Peter is pushing his audience to not think that it’s just a matter of professional faith or that you just simply believe in Christ and that’s it. It was intended, after we become Christians, to grow and mature in our spirituality, to go from babies to young men to spiritual fathers. That growth process will take the rest of our Christian life. God promised that you can live a useful and fruitful life in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He promised that not only will you join Christ in His eternal kingdom, but by your entry into that kingdom, it will be rich and rewarding.

That’s with the passage of Scripture finally concludes in verse 11, and I’m getting there today. But the question is this: if that is true, why aren’t Christians as fruitful as they ought to be? More productive as they ought to be? Why do so many Christians continue to stumble today with all the things available to them? How can we live now to ensure our rich and rewarding entry into Christ’s kingdom? God did not say that all Christians would be fruitful no matter what. He also did not say that they would never stumble whence they believe and start to follow Christ. He never said that. He said the way is going to be hard. Following Christ will not be easy.

So there is a goal in our passage that I mentioned last week, and it’s in verse number 8. I like you to look there in your Bibles. It says:

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So see, there is a conditional nature in the two participles in verse 8: for if these qualities are yours and are increasing. Now those two things are really conditioned with their conditional phrases. It doesn’t necessarily have to be true, but it could be true that if the “if” here is fulfilled, then the end result is true. Thus, if you put your hand in the fire, you will get burned. It’s saying that if you fulfill the condition of putting your hand in the fire, the consequences will be you get burned. So the first class conditional statement in Scripture, which we have here are, they are assumed to be true for the sake of argument. So the literary device can function as a tool to persuade one’s audience. In other words, I don’t want you to fulfill the negative conditions in the passage. I want you to fulfill the positive conditions in the passage. In other words, are these qualities at work in your life right now? If these qualities are at work in your life, then there’s a result – something will occur. On the other hand, if these qualities are not at work in your life, then there is also a result that will occur.

So if you are continually increasing in these qualities, these seven qualities, if these qualities are more and more apparent in your thoughts and your words and your actions, then there will be a result or a benefit that results from you growing and increasing in these seven qualities. We come now to the results of the pursuit of increasing in goodness and knowledge and self-control and perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, of those who participate in the divine nature. There is a positive result for increasing in these qualities, and there is a negative result for not increasing in these qualities.

First the positive results, if you noticed in verse eight, it says that you will be more useful when you increase in these. It says they will render you neither useless. But notice what it says:

in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So the basis for this growth in these qualities of the Holy Spirit is your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that includes at least two things. It’s both your knowledge of Christ at conversion, but it doesn’t end there. It’s also your knowledge in a life of sanctification. In other words, you’re increasing in the knowledge of who Christ is. He’s God, and that means He has a vast character. There’s a vast amount of information to know about who God is and what God has done and how He works and what He wants you to do and where He’s taking you someday. When we do that, when we actually live a life of sanctification and we grow in and increase in these qualities, they produce a harvest of right living in our life. In other words, we can actually live a good life if we follow these qualities.

There’s a second part of this positive result – that you could be more productive also. It says it will render you neither unfruitful, not only will it render you neither useless, but it will render you neither unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a worthy goal, a legitimate pursuit, to give your time and effort in order to be godly. It actually has great gain. The Bible tells us that physical exercises has some gain, little gain, but godliness has great gain. Now, we all exercise and we know that exercise, when we do it right and we pursue it and we do it on a regular basis, it does have results in our life. It keeps us healthy. It keeps our mind clear. It keeps our body toned. It keeps us strong. It keeps our blood flowing. It has all kinds of benefits for us, but can you imagine the Bible says: but greater is a pursuit of godliness. Now, I don’t think we necessarily give godliness that kind of pursuit. Sometimes we’re more concerned about the physical and not so much concerned about the spiritual. Like maybe the spiritual will just happen to us. That’s not true.

So all these qualities should appear in your life as you grow and godliness. Now in my reading and studying of this passage, it was brought to my attention, that I did not think of this first, that one must be careful as to how we understand what it means to be useful and be productive. See, the danger is that with our proper desire to be useful, we begin to develop unbiblical measures of success to help us to determine if a Christian service is a quality ministry. Eventually, we feel that we must not allow any place for service that could fail or for servants who have failed. We sing that praise song that says with a question: what if I fall again? See, if we look closer at this passage of Scripture, before that the possibility of failure while we are present in this world and this sin cursed world will be a reality. We will not live a perfect life. We will not live a perfect Christian life. But if you noticed it says in verse 8, and if you look closer at the passage, we are to avoid being ineffective and unproductive in what? It says this: in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. See, Christ can actually be talked about and viewed in the wrong way. But in Scripture, it says there’s a true knowledge of God. That means it’s going to rise out of a proper interpretation of the Word of God, where God tells us who He is and what He has done. We don’t have any knowledge about God unless we come to the Scripture and look at what the details are.

In other words, the qualities of Christian character are not to be added to our lives to ensure some quality of practical productivity, but so that our character may be like Jesus. That is the end result. That is where we become successful. That is where we become people who are useful and we are productive. Our productiveness and our effectiveness that God wants in our lives is our increasing ability to think and to act like Jesus. That is where the success lies, and that is where the passage actually takes us. That is where we go with it.

In fact, there are other passages of Scripture that bear this out. For example, Ephesians 4:32. Listen to what it says:

Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

In other words, when we do these things, we act like we are participating in the divine nature. What things here? We are kind to one another. We are tenderhearted to one another. We are forgiving to one another. And when we do that, we actually act like God. That is where our success lies before the eyes of God.

And then it’d be good for you to take your Bibles and turn to Philippians 2:15, just by way of example on how this bears out in Scripture. In Philippians 2:15 it says this:

so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

Now, here’s the question before we read up to verse 12. Go back to Philippians 2:12. Here’s the question though: how do we prove ourselves before a crooked and perverse generation and appear as lights in the world? In other words, that we can live as believers in the midst of the most crookedest and perverse time in history and still be lights for Christ, how do we do that? Well, if you look back to verse 12 of Philippians chapter 2, it says:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

And look at verse 14:

do all things without grumbling or disputing;

Now when we do things without grumbling and disputing, we act like we are participating in the divine nature. Those are just a few passages of Scripture. 1 John tells us – we love because He first loved us. So when we love as He loved, we act like we are participating in the divine nature. See, this is where success is in the Christian life. It’s when we’re growing in these qualities and when we grow in these qualities, we actually develop in our own life by the Spirit of God the character of Christ. This is where the Lord wants us to have good success and visible success. This is not success in private. This is success that everybody knows about, even you. One of the things that Peter wants his audience to know and he wants the people who are receiving this message to know is that they can actually have assurance of their salvation.

But before I explain the thought of assurance of salvation, there is another question that I have to ask. What is the verdict if these qualities are not increasing in your daily growth in Christlikeness? What if you’re not there? That was the positive results. Now, let’s look at the negative results of not increasing in these qualities and not heeding and obeying the Holy Spirit’s goal for all of God’s people, all of Christ’s people. There is also a disobedience of the goal. We can actually disobey where God wants to actually take us. He’s talking here about believers. The first thing he says: when you don’t obey this and when you don’t increase in these qualities, there’s going to be two things that happen to you. Number one – if you lack these qualities, you’re going to show that you have bad eyesight. Look at what it says in verse 9:

For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted,

Here is a metaphoric warning for those who are suffering from spiritual blindness. The word blindness or shortsighted, we derive the Greek word here and we get the word today as “myopia”. Myopia is really nearsightedness, or somebody who sees poorly. Figuratively, which is used here, it means spiritual short-sightedness, a fail to understand something that we ought to be understanding. So myopia is a condition of the eye in which parallel rays are focused in front of the retina, objects being seen distinctly only when near to the eye. So you have to hold something really close to your eye to be able to see it.

Now if you turned 40 years old or more, you’re going to find out, if you didn’t wear glasses, that one day you wake up and you can’t see that small print anymore. And then of course you were in denial for a while because you don’t want to think that you’re getting older or that you can’t see the print that you once saw even a week before. But nonetheless, it becomes true that you may, as you grow and get older, need glasses. So you’re going to have to have glasses where you can see that small print again. It’s going to have to be magnified for you so you can actually see it. So myopia is really a condition of the eye.

We’re not speaking about the physical eye here. We’re speaking about the spiritual eyes. This is spiritual myopia and it means a lack of knowledge, a lack of foresight. These people are so short-sighted that they actually cannot see the truth. This believer has shut his eyes, has shut his mind to further knowledge. Actually, Jesus uses blindness as a metaphor for unbelief in the gospels, where He says this and I’ll just read it to you. When He’s talking to the pharisees, He said to them in John 9:39:

“For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with them heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” And Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘we see’, your sin remains.

See, they did not believe in Jesus, so they were blind and they didn’t know they were blind. They thought they could see, and Jesus says: no, you can’t see because your sin still remains. You haven’t understood yet that the Messiah who would come would be your sin-bearer and take away your sin from you, but you have not seen that and so you’re spiritually blind.

So the idea is that these people in 2 Peter see only what is in front of them, thus are blind to true reality. There’s a refusal to see the truth, with spiritual and moral blindness resulting. So their eyes are focusing on something. They’re focusing on themselves. They’re focusing on their own desires. They only can see what they want. They are shutting their eyes to the truth and really have become careless to spiritual things, which ultimately hinders spiritual growth and increasing in these qualities.

So Scripture is referring to a couple of group of people. First of all, it’s referring to those who come under the influence of false teaching. The false teaching prevents you from seeing what the truth really is. That results in moral and spiritual blindness. But it also is talking about a group of believers who are lazy. They do not want to put the effort in to grow and increase in these qualities. They are lazy. If the person continues in their spiritual myopia, that person will remain confused. They will remain frustrated. And maybe because there’s so much depression today, they’re depressed because they’re not putting into practice the things that the Lord has given us in Scripture to actually be useful and productive.

So you just focused in on yourself and your needs and what you want and what you think is right. You don’t think on: Wait, what is God doing in my life? Why is this issue and problem coming to my life? What is that teaching me in my life? What are some of the sins that I need to drop off in my life? What are some character qualities that I need to change in my life and God is impressing that upon me? And I’m not going to move forward until I actually submit to those things and allow the Spirit of God to change me and transform my mind so I would know the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God.

So these victims of false teachers and laziness, they are blind to spiritual realities and they only see earthly things. They’re unable to discern the future. They are not looking for Christ’s return, but only to live in the present and usually that’s what the false teachers teach. They teach have your best life now. See, that’s a present reality that is always the motivation of false teachers. It’s about you. It’s about now. It’s about what I know. Peter is saying: no, that is not what it’s about. It’s about growing in the knowledge of Christ, which changes your heart and mind so you can actually be productive and useful for the Lord. Also, they are failing to see the present with the perspective of the past, and therefore not living with eyes continually aware of God’s mercy and forgiving their sins.

There is a second negative that comes from not increasing in these qualities. If you look back at verse 9, here’s the second thing. It says:

for he who lacks these qualities will be blind or shortsighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

Now you think to yourself: wait a minute, this is like christianity 101. When I become a Christian, what happens? Wow, I’m forgiven. Wow, the Lord’s forgiven me of my sin. The Lord has taken all the wrath of God in my place. And then He shed His blood to wash it away. There’s no condemnation on me anymore. But you noticed that when somebody is lazy with the truth and and gets under the influence of false teaching or false thinking, what happens? Look at verse 9. Here’s the second thing that takes place. The first thing that takes places when you lack these qualities that you are spiritually blind. And second one is when you lack these qualities, you have a bad memory. Look at what it says:

having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

They forget where and from what Christ had to rescue them. Now look what this person forgets. It says they forget his purification. That is the word to katharise. It means to cleanse. It’s the moral and spiritual cleansing that actually was done for a believer by the finished work of Christ. So we’re looking at the doctrine of Christ in this passage of Scripture. Hebrews says it like this in Hebrews 1:3. It says:

When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

So the cleansing was the work of the Holy Spirit applying the atonement. That’s Christ’s shed blood accomplished by Christ to the sinner. That’s what was forgotten in these believers’ present reality. Now you think to yourself: that’s awful strange. How could you forget that if you’re a believer? Well, because you have drifted away into false teaching and laziness and you get away from the Word of God and the truth, your mind is not necessarily being transformed. So you’re not growing and increasing in the knowledge of God as you ought to be as a Christian.

So when believers are saved, they come to learn that they have been cleansed from their sins. The apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians in that very well-known passage of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:11. Remember what he said to them?

Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

But here, false teaching has done its destructive work by severing and severely handicapping in the mind to the point of forgetfulness concerning the work of Christ and salvation.

Now, if you look at verse nine of 2 Peter, you’ll see this:

having forgotten is purification from his former sins.

In other words, he has forgotten that God delivered him from his old life of sin. Because of that, he doesn’t know how to live a strong and a godly life, doesn’t know how to live a life that is increasing and is productive. Here’s a person who really is stuck in the present and doesn’t realize what has happened to them in the past, and therefore can’t look forward to the future. So something is happening in the present which has caused this person to forget what has happened in the past concerning the cleansing of their former sins. In other word, these people were returning to their former way of life. They were living like the world. They were ignoring their behavior and their sins. By their behavior, they are really showing that their sins have not been cleansed by the blood of Christ but actually had been cleansed by the blood of Christ.

In other words, they fail to grow in their knowledge of Christ. They fail to focus on God. They fail to focus on others and have stepped into walking in the darkness and away from walking in the Spirit. So they have become useless, unfruitful, and lack assurance. They’re lacking in righteousness, instead of experiencing what Philippians tells us:

having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

They really are lacking and holiness instead of experiencing what Paul said in Romans 6:

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

They are not experiencing that. They have forgotten that. Then they’re lacking in growth in the fruit of light, where instead of experiencing what Ephesians 5 says:

for the fruit of the Light consists of all goodness and righteousness and truth,

That’s kind of like the fruit of growing in the Lord, that I grow a goodness. I grow in righteousness. I grow in truth. That’s in these other passages similar to what Peter does in chapter one.

So again, Peter is writing to remind the recipients of his letter that this condition is not a reality as of yet, but could become a reality if they’re not increasing in these qualities, if the influential false teachers have their way and the flesh has their way by remaining lazy. Of course, the false teachers have their way by misrepresenting and maligning the truth, getting you to listen to them and follow their ungodly ways. It will make you more and more forgetful of the truth and will actually rob you of what increasing in these qualities will do – give you assurance.

However, remembering this cleansing of sin makes us Christians thankful for our forgiveness and helps us understand the purpose of our sanctification – that is to make us into the image of Christ and to make us a new kind of people that live for Christ. Those new kind of people are bearing actual evidence that they are Christians.

Saying all that, here’s the exhortation that comes back in 2 Peter chapter 1. Here’s the exhortation. We have to really look at it and say: okay, I don’t want to be the second person. I don’t want to be the person who doesn’t bear fruit, who’s not useful for God, who’s not increasing in these things. I want to be the person who’s increasing. Well, that person is also not lazy. That person is also not listening to false teaching or allowing false teaching to influence them. Also that person is not thinking wrongly, but that person is immersed in the Word of God. As they’re immersed in the Word of God, this is the exhortation that comes to those who may be our thinking: I don’t want to be the negative. I want to be the positive. There’s an exhortation to be sure, make sure that you are a believer. Look at what it says in verse 10:

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain…

I’m going to stop there for a minute. Again, here is that language – be all the more diligent. Put sweat into it to make certain of something. The phrase to make certain means to be sure that you have the real thing and that you are genuinely saved. Isn’t that a good thought to have? There’s no room, in other word, for uncertainty as to whether you are genuinely saved and are in the company of God’s elect.

So look at verse 10. It says:

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling you…

So there’s the first thing to be sure of. Be sure that you’re called by Christ, by God. There’s no room for uncertainty as to whether you are genuinely called by God. Now, just a few other passages of Scriptures. If you go up to 2 Peter 1:3:

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us…

So there’s a calling that comes to believers. Then even the last chapter of 1 Peter 5:10. It says:

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

So there is a calling that we can examine. The apostle Paul in Romans chapter 8, we see the rich and full completeness of the work of God done on a believer where it’s often called the golden chain of God’s full and complete salvation, where it says:

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined… these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

But I just want again to highlight that word “called”, even in Romans 8:30:

for these whom He called, He also justified;

That means that all the called are justified, made right before God in a positional way and also in a very practical way, where we are living out our salvation.

Now, how does God gather His people? How does God call His people? Well, he calls his people, first of all, with the gospel. That’s how we’re to understand the word “call”. There are two distinctions in the call theologically. The first distinction is there is always the outward call of the gospel. Everybody who becomes a believer has an outward call of the gospel. Now when I became up believer, I heard the gossip about three or four times before I actually got saved. But each time the gospel was given, I was being called. While heard by the ears, it can be rejected many times. Even Jesus said in Matthew 22:14:

For many are called, but few are chosen.

All who hear are invited to come to the Lord. So this call is ineffective by itself. But because all men are totally depraved, dead, and are enemies of God, they resist this call and the work of the Spirit of God at that moment. So we are not saved by anything that we have said or thought or done in our condition of death. In fact by our own experience, we all know that not everyone will be saved. Not everyone who receive the call of gospel will be justified, because not all believe the gospel when they hear it.

Remember, because man has fallen into sin, people are spiritually dead. It was one person who said this: unregenerate people can no more choose Christ or spiritual truth than a rotting corpse can play football or debate philosophy. There’s no middle ground between being alive and being dead. Unregenerate people are not just sick. They are not just handicapped or impaired. They’re dead. They cannot respond to God unless God does something to them. So that’s the first distinction of the call.

A second distinction of the call is that there is an inward call. And that inward call usually takes place when the outward call of the gospel is made. Faith comes by hearing and by hearing of the Word of God, the Word of truth, whereby God the Holy Spirit calls His people to Himself effectually by working a miracle in their hearts, bringing them from spiritual death to spiritual life. It’s like when Hebrews says:

those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Jesus has effectively obtained redemption by Himself and He did so for all those who are called, who respond to the inner call. Some theologically have called this irresistible grace. There’s a time where the gospel comes to you that you cannot reject it because the Spirit of God is working upon you. That also brings to our mind another thing that God is doing as far as our calling – that God gathers His children by drawing them by the power of the Holy Spirit. It says in John 6:44:

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

Or in John 6:65:

And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

So a third way that God gathers his children is by bringing them out of death into life, where it says in John 6:63:

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

So the Spirit gives life. And when He has not given life, it is not present, and it cannot be present unless He gives life.

Now getting back to 2 Peter. The first thing in the expectation to be sure is to make sure that God called you. Then the second thing in verse 10, it says this:

make certain about His calling and choosing you;

Now it’s interesting in this passage, it does not say you are choosing Him. It says He is choosing you. So what do you need to be sure of? You’re to be sure of whether you were chosen by Him. It says:

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you;

It’s the word “electus”. That is the word. That means to select, to pick, to choose. In other words, prove you are chosen by God. Prove you are called by God. And how do you do that? By displaying the qualities listed in 2 Peter. and remember this, the basis of God choosing us is not us. It says back in 1 Peter 1:2, it says Christians are elect first:

according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,

So chosen based on the gracious and loving foreknowledge of God the Father. That means that election is not based on God’s foreknowledge of our faith. People will agree that God predestined some to be saved, but they will say that He does this by looking into the future and seeing who will believe in Christ and who will not. And then based on foreknowledge of that person’s faith, He elects them. If they do not believe, He does not elect them. You see, some believe the ultimate reason why some are saved and some are not lies within the people themselves and not with God. That’s wrong. All that God does in His predestinating work is to give confirmation to the decision He knows people will make on their own. That would be wrong. That means man’s choice first. Then God’s choice follows.

No, God’s foreknowledge is not in any good or nobility or wisdom or power or choice or seeking that He foresees in anyone. This view actually destroys the meaning of the word foreknowledge. Understand this: in the sovereignty of God, the only things that can be foreknown are those that are predestined. This means that election must be prior to faith. Now that’s a whole other subject for another time, but I do want to say this: when God foreknows someone, foreknowledge really is much more than knowing what will happen in the future. It includes an effective choice, that God predetermines with a love relationship. That foreknowledge of God has wrapped up in its meaning intimacy. That’s why you have passages of Scripture like this.

I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,

I know them intimately. And then in 2 Timothy 2:19 it says:

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”

When people know God in Scripture or when God knows them, it is a personal knowledge and it involves a saving, intimate, ongoing relationship with them. God’s foreknowledge, He foreknew beforehand to whom He would extend the grace of salvation. He elected them and accomplished this before the foundation of the world.

So what is the purpose or goal of election? Conversion, positional sanctification, practical sanctification and holiness, and of course eternal glorification. Today, part of growing these qualities has to do with sanctification. Sound sanctification is the hard work of growing throughout life in holiness. You are to prove that you are called and chosen by God. Now, how do you do that? Well look at verse 10. It tells us in Scripture. Again, this is gaining assurance. It says here – be sure you are practicing these things. In verses 5 through 9, that’s where we gain assurance of our salvation, by fulfilling the conditions. But here it says:

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

See, you possess the practical evidence of diligently adding to your faith when you are practicing these things. Now, that means that comes with a promise. There is a promise for pursuing these qualities. Here’s the first promise in verse 10 – the promise of the assurance of salvation. Doesn’t everyone want assurance of salvation? Don’t you want to know that you’re saved? Don’t you want to know that you are chosen by God? Don’t you want to know that you are called by God? Every Christian should want to know that beyond the shadow of a doubt. When they do, they will have assurance. In fact, it says right here that the promise of an assurance of salvation is that you will never stumble. You will never stumble. You will never fall. It’s translated to the original. In the original, this is an emphatic which can be translated: never ever at any time will you stumble or fall. Now that’s a lot of assurance there. This doesn’t mean that you will never sin though. That’s not what it’s talking about. Actually, it’s kind of used in a military way. It means that you will be able to keep up with the troops marching homeward without stumbling, without falling out of rank, without being left behind. It means staying close to the conquering Christ who leads His called and chosen ones in and through battle onto victory and right into the kingdom of God. That’s what He does.

Notice in verse 11, there’s a second promise. There’s the promise of an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God. Look at verse 11, what it says:

for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

I would say: wow, that’s amazing that this life is preparation for heaven’s life. But it is never implied that we earn our place in heaven. It’s all of God’s grace. Every bit of it is God’s grace. None of it we obtained on our own. However, some who take the human side of salvation seriously by giving effort to increasing these qualities will have a more glorious welcome into the eternal kingdom than others will. Some are going to be in and out of laziness. Some are going to be in and out of being influenced by wrong teaching. So what does the Bible say? That some will be saved, but only as one who escapes the flames. Now, we’re talking about the judgment seat of Christ here. What is it say in 1 Corinthians 3:15:

If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

So the person comes to the end of his life. He is just a believer. But his life has not been what it should or could have been. The person has horror actually in his face at death. Death to him is dread with the cloud of darkness. Oh yes, he is saved thanks to God, as His strong hand takes hold of him and drags him across into the entrance of the kingdom of God. His last article of death was blackened by sin and loss of reward. He is saved, Bible says, so as by fire. He just makes it. According to Peter, you don’t want to be that person. You want to have assurance because this person is not guaranteed assurance. They remained lazy, and they’re duped by often false teaching.

So the exhortation today is if you will have spiritual success in time and divine congratulations in eternity, then take the high road, not the low road, so that you don’t have to stumble and fall in your Christian life. The Scriptures do promise to those who apply diligence in developing these seven vital qualities in their lives will have an effective and an abundant Christian life with plenty of assurance. And that means they’ll have plenty of boldness and they’ll have a life that is good and noble. Not trouble free, never. As it says in the passage in this way, if they’re faithful in this way and increasing in these things, the faithful are welcomed into the glory of heaven in a spectacular fashion.

Rewards are promised again and again in the Word of God to those who serve Him well. Faithful children of God can anticipate the greatest reward of all. Do you know the greatest reward of all? The privilege of hearing the Emperor of the universe, the Lord Jesus Christ, say to you:

Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into joy of your master.

Now the exhortation behind all that should be this desire – that’s what I want. That’s how I want to live, because that is going to take you to the next step, to the next place, and to faithfully live for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s pray. Lord, thank You again for the awesomeness of the Word of God. It is so incredibly clear of what the apostle was saying to us. It is so incredibly practical for you and myself to understand so we can actually live a life that is honoring to the Lord and that we can have assurance that we’re chosen, that we’re elect, that we’re useful, that we’re fruitful, and our entrance into the kingdom of God’s going to be glorious. That’s what we want Lord. Please do what You need to do for that to happen in our life. And I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.