HOW TO MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE
“Give diligence to make your calling and election sure”! [2Pet 1:10]
This exhortation, then, is addressed to LIVING SAINTS AND NOT TO DEAD SINNERS. To teach that the unregenerate can do anything at all toward securing their calling and election, is not only colossal ignorance, but it gives the lie of God’s Word. When they are delivering a divine message, the FIRST DUTY of God’s ministers is to draw very definitely the line of demarcation between the Church and the world: it is failure at this point which causes so many children of the Devil to claim relationship with the people of God.
Attention to the context will almost always make it clear to whom a passage pertains: whether to the children of men in general or to the children of God in particular. The simplest and most effectual way of making this plain to their hearers, is for them to carefully delineate the characters (the identifying marks) of the one and of the other—note how the apostle followed this very course in the first four verses of the epistle.
To discover that God’s purpose of grace is restricted to an elect people, is alarming to one who has imagined that He loves all mankind alike. To be made to seriously wonder if I am one of those whom God chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, raises a question which it is not easy to answer satisfactorily; and to be made to diligently inquire into my actual state, to solemnly examine myself before God, is a task which no hypocrite will prosecute; yet is it one which the regenerate will not shrink from, but on the contrary will pursue it with earnest zeal and fervent prayers to God for help therein.
It is not (as some foolishly suppose) that the one who is now so seriously concerned about his spiritual condition and eternal destiny is in such alarm because he doubts God’s Word. Far from it: it is just because he believes God’s Word that he doubts himself, doubts the validity of his Christian profession. It is because he believes the Scriptures when they declare the Lord’s flock is a “very little one” (Greek, Luke 12:32), he is fearful that he belongs not to it. It is because he believes God when He says, “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Prov. 30:12), and that finding so much filth in his own soul, he trembles lest that be true of him. It is because he believes God when He says “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), that he is deeply exercised lest he be fatally deluded. Ah, my reader, the more firmly we believe God’s Word, the more cause have we to doubt ourselves.
To obtain assurance that they have received a supernatural call from God, which has brought them from death unto life, is a matter of paramount concern to those who really value their souls. Those to whom God has imparted an honest heart abhor hypocrisy, refuse to take anything for granted, and greatly fear lest they impose upon themselves by passing a more favorable verdict than is warranted. Others may laugh at their concern and mock at their fears, but this moves them not. TOO MUCH IS AT STAKE FOR SUCH A MATTER TO BE LIGHTLY AND HURRIEDLY DISMISSED. They know full well that it is one which must be settled in the presence of God, and if they are deceived, they beg Him to make them aware of it. It is God who has wounded them, and He alone can heal; it is God who has disturbed their carnal complacency, and none but He can bestow real spiritual rest.
There is a class of professing Christians who entertain no doubts whatever about their salvation, who are fond of saying, “as well look to an iceberg for heat or into a grave to find the tokens of life, as search within ourselves for proofs of the new birth”. But is it not akin to blasphemy to suggest that God the Spirit can take up His residence in a person and yet for there to be no definite evidences of His presence.
It is not the making of our calling and election sure GODWARDS, but MANWARDS. Nor is it something future which is here in view: it is the present enjoyment to ourselves of our calling and election, and of evidencing the same to our brethren. By heeding the exhortation of verses 5-7 I am to prove my calling and election, and demonstrate the same to the Church. A man may tell me he believes in election and is sure that he has been called of God, but unless I can see in his character and conduct the spiritual graces of verses 5-7 then I have to say of him (as Paul did of the Galatians) “I stand in doubt of you.” Here, then, is the meaning: make steadfast in your own conscience your calling and election, and make good to others your profession, by walking as a child of God.
HOW may a real believer ascertain that he is one of God’s elect?
Why, the very fact he is a genuine Christian evidences it, for a believing into Christ is the sure consequence of God’s having ordained him to eternal life (Acts. 13:48). But to be more specific. How may I know my election?
FIRST, by the Word of God, having come in Divine power to the soul, so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness renounced.
SECOND, by the Spirit’s having convicted me to my woeful, guilty, and lost condition.
THIRD, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case, and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope.
FOURTH, by the marks of the new nature within me: a love for God, an appetite for spiritual things, a longing for holiness, a seeking after conformity to Christ.
FIFTH, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it.
SIXTH, by sedulously avoiding everything which is condemned by God’s Word, and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression thereof. Failure at this point will most surely and quickly bring a dark cloud over our assurance, causing the Spirit to withhold His witness.
SEVENTH, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces, and using all legitimate means to this end. Thus, knowledge of election is cumulative.
[Taken from A.W. Pink’s ‘The Doctrine of Election’]