Confirmed in Our Calling
What do we look to when we're overcome with doubt?
After several weeks of meditating on the marks of Christian life listed in 2 Peter 1, we have finally come to the final quality: love.
It is appropriate that the apostle Peter ends with an exhortation to love. After all, it is listed again and again in Scripture as the chief trait of Christian faith. God himself is love (1 John 4:8). It was Jesus, the God-man, who initiated the greatest act of love in human history, that of laying down his own life for us (John 15:13). And as his disciples, we are called into a life of faith, hope, and love, with the latter being the greatest of the three (1 Cor. 13:13).
But it is not enough to merely list these qualities. The Holy Spirit, speaking through the author, is kind enough to give us the bigger picture. The Lord wants to share with us why these qualities matter.
“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Notice how verse 8 assumes a dynamic faith. It is not enough to simply obtain these qualities like you would a trophy or scouting badge. We are to exercise these qualities and grow in them. We can always increase in knowledge, self-control, godliness, and love. We should never settle in our sanctification but continue running the race, enduring until the end.
Peter’s choice of “ineffective” is interesting if only because it seems to convey a kind of works-righteousness. Filtered through our American paradigm, in which inefficiency is the ultimate vice, we can almost read Peter as saying, ‘Work smarter, not harder. Use these helpful qualities!” But that misses Peter’s point entirely. We know so because he follows with this in verse 9,
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
Taken together, we see Peter’s actual exhortation is that Christians live in light of what has already been accomplished for them in Christ. Peter is simply listing the things Christians do. Christians walk in faith and virtue, knowledge and self-control, steadfastness and godliness, brotherly affection and love. If you call yourself a Christian, Peter says, then you should too!
In the end, we see that bigger picture–the reason why the Lord encourages us in these qualities–is for our own benefit. They “confirm your calling and election,” richly providing much needed assurance.
The sad and difficult truth is that as much as we want to walk by these qualities and them alone, our sin will often trip us up. Our path of sanctification bends toward glory, but that does not mean it is always a direct line.
When we do arrive at that “entrance into the eternal kingdom,” I imagine we could all look back and groan at the multiple wrong turns we took. But I doubt any of us will. After all, we’ll be in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was him “who called to his own glory and excellence.” It was him who rescued us from “the corruption that is in the world.” And we’ll see that because we were in his hands, it was never in doubt.
Robert Hasler is Director of Communications and co-host of The Will & Rob Show.