The book of 2 Peter is addressed to Christians who are called out of the world and who understand the promise made to them to become glorified members of God’s Family (compare 2 Peter 1:1-4). Even though this letter was written to the early members of the Church of God, it also directly applies to Christians throughout the ages. Peter writes to encourage the readers to develop their conversion by producing spiritual fruits. He then makes a summary statement, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11). This raises a question that all Christians need to answer for themselves, “How can I make my calling and election sure?”
It is a privilege to be called in this age. Even though the plan of God involves bringing many to salvation, there are only a few who are called now. In our booklet, “Are You Predestined to be Saved?” we highlight the fact that only a relatively few number of people are called today.
“The Bible teaches that in this day and age, God calls just very few to salvation. Those who respond to the call and become converted are referred to as the firstfruits (compare James 1:18; Revelation 14:4). Some try to defeat the Biblical concept of predestination, as explained in this booklet, by stating that God does not know ahead of time whom He will call and choose. Rather, they claim that God ‘calls’ many, based on their prior conduct in this life, and that He then decides to choose or accept those who respond to His call, while rejecting those who reject His call.
“However, those who are truly called today have been first foreknown and predestined by God (Romans 8:28). They were singled out BEFORE they did right or wrong—that is, they were NOT called because of their works (compare Romans 9:11; 2 Timothy 1:8–9). Those who are truly called are also chosen and faithful (compare Revelation 17:14). The Bible does not teach that God calls many today to salvation, but that most reject their calling and that only a few will respond and become chosen and faithful. If that were true, then those who have rejected their spiritual calling to eternal salvation would have committed the unpardonable sin—and this is decisively not correct. Today, God only calls and chooses the few (compare 1 Corinthians 1:26–29), and when He brings them to true conversion, they, for the most part, will stay loyal to Him (although it is possible, that some, who are truly called to salvation, will commit the unpardonable sin).”
This passage should help us understand how special it is to be among the called and elect today. Knowing that we have such a tremendous opportunity to understand and live by the Truth should motivate us to take advantage of the gift of the Holy Spirit with which we have been entrusted. To be in a position to “make our call and election sure” is very special. Therefore, it is vital to clearly understand what it takes to follow through with our calling and succeed in fulfilling the plan that God has in store for us individually.
The instructions that Peter writes preceding the admonition to make our call and election sure serve as a good starting point. He describes the general characteristics to develop on our Christian journey. Diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love serve as the essential building blocks of spiritual fruit (compare 2 Peter 1:5-9). The application of those efforts is also important to consider. The objects of our faith, virtue, knowledge, and so on matter! To what end should we direct our efforts to make our call and election sure?
There are three things that this Q&A will focus on directing our efforts towards which will help bring fruit to maturity. The first is about staying grounded in the Truth. The second is to maintain endurance. The third is to repent from sin by becoming and staying obedient to God’s commandments. The parable of the sower gives us valuable lessons. But first, let us understand that even though four categories of people are described in that parable, only the people of the fourth category were called for salvation. We write in our free booklet, “Are You Predestined to be Saved?”:
“In the parable with the sower, in Matthew 13:18–23, four types of people are mentioned who all hear the Word of God. But only one person accepts the Word and produces fruit (verse 23), while the other three give up and fall away. Does this mean that all of them were truly called by God to salvation? And—that God was caught by surprise when the first three fell away, although He had predestined them to be called in this day and age? Hardly! God very well knew that only the fourth person would respond and continue in His calling, as God knows the hearts and minds of people. Only the fourth person was predestined to be called and chosen in this life.”
Still, the reaction of the first three categories of people who heard God’s Word can show us how we, who are called for salvation, must not behave, while the reaction of the fourth category illustrates to us how we are to behave in response to God’s calling.
In the first example, we read about a lack of diligence to develop knowledge and understanding of the Truth. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside” (Matthew 13:19). Applying this to us who are called to salvation, when we first hear the Word of God, it might be a challenge to believe what we hear because it is so contrary to the teachings of the world! But if we don’t completely understand something at first, it should compel us to dig in and learn more about it. If we willingly neglect to learn more about the instruction of the Bible when something doesn’t make perfect sense right away, the Truth could eventually be “snatched” away from us. To prevent that from happening, we need to be dedicated to continual learning. Responding to God’s calling involves diligence in studying and learning so that we develop knowledge and understanding of the Truth.
We must have an open mind to believe what the Bible instructs. The Bereans give us a great example to follow. “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men” (Acts 17:10-12). In this example, the love for the Truth is clearly evident. When the Bereans received the instruction from Paul and Silas, they got busy researching to make sure they understood the Truth comprehensively. This is our job too.
Having a love for the Truth also factors into the development of our understanding. Without having a love for the Truth, we will not care enough about it to dedicate ourselves to learning. To be on guard against the evil powers of the world now and in the future, having love for the Truth is essential. We know that a time will come when deception will abound upon the earth, even more than today. The ones who do not have a love for the Truth will be deceived and fall away because the passing pleasures of sin are too compelling (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). When we love the Truth, we care enough to develop our understanding of it, and also become compelled to live by it. The Truth forms the foundation for correctly developing the fruit of the Spirit.
In the second example in the parable of the sower, we see a failure that comes from a lack of endurance. “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Matthew 13:20-21). Truly, the teaching of the Bible is very exciting! For some, the excitement that initially comes at the start does not develop any further. In those circumstances, the willingness to live by God’s Word ceases and becomes unfruitful. This can also happen to those who are called. When trials come, they lack the endurance to continue to accept and live by the Truth with a joyful heart.
When we are called by God, it is for a grand purpose – to live as glorified members of His Family. With such an eternal end result, endurance is absolutely essential. To stop in the development of Christian character after the excitement fades leaves the opportunity of a lifetime unfulfilled. “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: ‘For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:35-39). In this passage, we see the contrast between Christian endurance and drawing back into the world. The warning is that when we don’t have endurance, we put ourselves in a precarious position, at risk of failing to live in accordance with our call. Working towards an eternal result requires that we continue our efforts until the time of fulfillment – a lifetime endeavor!
The third aspect of making our call and election sure involves applying these aspects in practical ways in our life. We must work to overcome the world and the way of sin. Returning to the parable of the sower, we can see the attribute of the final failure. “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). In this example, the ones who receive the word do not apply the teachings of the Bible to repent. But rather, the carnal pleasures of sin prevent these people from developing the spiritual fruit required of a Christian and draws them back into the world. To some, sin has too great of an influence, causing them to neglect the requirement to live righteously. For those who are called to salvation, they must continue to live a life of repentance even after their baptism.
Repentance from sin and overcoming the world put the love of the Truth into practice. This is how we truly develop the spiritual fruit required of us. If we love the Christian Way of Life, even at the threat of rejection from the world, we choose to actively please God with the way we live. It brings God an abundance of joy to see people repent from sin and choose obedience when faced with the temptations of the world (compare Luke 15:10). Obedience is absolutely essential for Christians who desire to make their calling and election sure.
Answering the calling from God the Father who draws us to Jesus Christ involves continuously making tremendous changes in life (compare John 6:44-45, John 6:65, John 14:6). It takes a life-long commitment to learn the Truth and live the way of righteousness, following the example of Christ. This is not to say that Christians must live a perfect life in order to make their call and election sure. As human beings, we will slip from time to time. While we do not try to sin and make every effort not to sin, we will still stumble (compare Romans 7:15-25, 1 John 1:8). When that happens and we realize what we have done, we confess our sins, and God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We put our endurance to work and repent because we love the Truth. To answer our calling, we demonstrate an attitude of perseverance to live in a way that pleases God, because we love Him and His commandments. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). By continually working to understand and live by the Truth, endure in our adherence to those teachings, and overcome the sin, we will receive the promise, having an entrance supplied to us abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of God.
The fourth category of people mentioned in the parable of the sower are the only ones who ARE called for salvation in this life, who have a good ground or a willingness to accept God’s Word; who hear and understand God’s Word; and who act upon that understanding in obeying God’s Word, thereby producing fruit. But even then, some produce more fruit than others; and their reward will be in accordance with their works.
Lead Writer: Eric Rank