After the apostle Peter wrote that famous list of seven marks (evidences) of grace, which we should “add to [our] faith”1 (2 Peter 1:5-7), he counsels us, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye 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 Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).
If a Christian possesses only the smallest beginnings of these marks of grace in his life, then the apostle describes him as being “blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (v.9).
What we must all do, according to Peter, is make sure that we are true Christians—assure ourselves of our own calling and election by God—by diligently endeavouring to add virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity to our faith.
But what if you don’t?
Is Peter warning the Christian, that if he or she fails to make their calling and election sure in this way, then they will abandon their calling from God, negate their election, and fall out of Christ’s and the Father’s hands and become unsaved again, and un-regenerate again? No.
God’s election and effectual calling of individual sinners to salvation is not indefinite, tentative, temporary, mutable or reversible. God does not change and his people are therefore secure in his eternal unchangeableness (see Malachi 3:6).
So we all examine our own hearts and ask, am I one of God’s elect? Has God drawn me to Christ by his irresistible grace?
Until we have really begun, as Peter exhorts, to add to our faith these marks of grace, then we will be unsure of salvation in those times when we stop and think.
Let’s make it personal.
Do it—turn aside from shallow and worldly thinking to really examine your heart and life for virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity.
Where is the evidence that you are saved? Has your life changed?
Is there, in your soul, genuine Christian spirituality? Then there will be, in your life, genuine Christian practicality. It cannot be any other way.
It is not good enough to merely profess, “I have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Please understand what the apostle James says: faith without works is a dead faith, and a dead faith is not the faith of a saved person (See James 2:14-26). Each of these marks of grace are works, or they must characterise our works. They are what you should have and what you should do with your life as a Christian.
Let us not be like those of whom the apostle Paul writes: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).
Let us not be like those about whom Peter warns: “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:21-22).
We are required to make our calling and election sure, as though tying it in with a sevenfold knot, or securing it with a seven-layer seal. But we are not being exhorted to save ourselves either by our own faith or by our own works.
Is it the case that if true Christians neglect to make sure, then they will lose their salvation? No, because the distinguishing mark of true Christians is that they do strive to make their calling and election sure, despite many failures.
Or, is it the case that if true Christians neglect to add these things (virtue, etc.) to their faith, then they will fall, losing their salvation? No, because the distinguishing mark of true Christians is that they do add these things to their faith.
True Christians do. Do you?
Are you persevering in these marks of grace, in a truly Christian life?
- See the previous four chapters.↩