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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Melville
 Melville, Australia
 www.frcsr.com/fellowship/melville/
 
Title:You can be sure of your salvation!
Text:2 Peter 1:10-11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2019-02-10
Added:2019-03-29
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 65:1,2

Psalm 65:3

Psalm 1:1,2,3

Psalm 19:5,6

Hymn 35:4

Read:  2 Peter 1:1-15

Text:  2 Peter 1:10,11

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Is the second letter of Peter helpful?  Is Second Peter helpful in giving you the security you need regarding your salvation in Christ?

  To be secure in your faith, to be sure of your salvation is something we both want and we need.  True faith, the Heidelberg Catechism rightly says, is not only a sure knowledge but it is also a firm confidence

“that not only to others, but also to me, God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation, out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.”

It is not enough to know the gospel; we also need to be sure of it.  And it is not enough to be sure that the gospel is true for others; we need to be sure it is true for ourselves!

  But how can you be sure of your salvation?

  In 2 Peter 1:10 Peter writes,

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”

But is that helpful?  Peter tells us to be diligent, to make an effort, to press on, to spare no energy so that we might make our call and election sure.  And he writes that “if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” And the things he’s referring to are the things mentioned in verse 5-7, what you are told to “supplement to your faith” – virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love.

But isn’t that pushing us back into thinking in terms of a works-based righteousness?  Isn’t that pushing us back into the idea that somehow what Christ did wasn’t enough, that in the end our salvation is up to us after all and that you can only be sure of your salvation if you are good enough?  And isn’t that the problem that many of us have?  The problem that we don’t know if we are good enough, the problem that we know that we aren’t good enough, the problem that we feel judged by others and therefore that we must also be judged by God?

There is indeed a wrong way to try to be sure of your salvation through what you do – and that is when you put the work of Christ to the side as if He had not already paid for your sins or as if His sacrifice was not enough, and then try to do it yourself.  But that’s not what Peter is writing about in his second letter.  What Peter is teaching us in his second letter is this: 

Since Christ has redeemed us by His blood, He also renews us by His Holy Spirit so that we might become – and must become –  more and more Christ-like.  And therefore, we will love Him and praise Him and serve Him because that’s what He saved us to do.  And when we do that, then we will be assured of our faith by its fruits.

It is in this way that the things that we do, that the way we live our life, can give us the assurance that we are truly saved, that we will not fall away, and that we can look forward to living with Christ in His Kingdom forever.  I preach to you this gospel:

You can be sure of your salvation!

  1. The pathway to assurance.
  2. The blessings of assurance.

1. The pathway to assurance.

When you read through the New Testament you might notice that there is a difference between Bible Books such as the letter of James and Second Peter compared to the letters of Paul, such as Romans, Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians.  A common theme in Paul’s letters is that our salvation is by faith in Christ alone.  James, on the other hand, says that faith without works is dead and 2 Peter calls you to add to or supplement your faith with the promise that “if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”  What James and Peter teach us, therefore, sounds different to the letters written by Paul.  But it’s not really.  The difference between the writings of Paul and Peter is that they are looking at the gospel and the call to live out of the gospel from different angles.  The difference in emphasis between these letters in the New Testament is not due to a different gospel, but the difference in emphasis is because the gospel was being distorted by false teachers in different ways. The apostle Paul was writing in opposition to Jewish legalists, against those who were in danger of turning away from Christ and back to a law-based religion where you had to do all sorts of things in order to save yourself.  Peter, however, was faced with a different challenge.  When Peter wrote his second letter the false teachers that he was faced with were saying that it did not matter what you did or how you lived.  These people, Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:1, had denied the Master who bought them, and, chapter 2:15 adds, had forsaken the right way and gone astray.  They were the ones, 2 Peter 2:20 says, that having escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them.  They’d fallen back into a life of sin with the result being that the last state was worse than the first.

  So the Gospel message is the same – and in fact what Peter teaches can be found in the letters of Paul and what Paul teaches can be found in Second Peter – but the emphasis is different because Paul and Peter were dealing with different things.

The false teachers that Peter was writing against did not seem to understand what effect the gospel must have on our lives.  To the contrary, they spoke and acted as though once you’ve been saved you could live and do whatever you pleased.  Peter didn’t mince his words when he wrote in 2 Peter 2:14,15 that they had

“eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin.  They entice unsteady souls.  They have hearts trained in greed.  Accursed children!  Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray.”

This was nothing new as such.  Already in the Old Testament there were false prophets, such as in the time just before the Exile, in the days of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel who insisted that God was not angry at sin, and who proclaimed “peace, peace” when there was no peace.  For those false prophets it did not really matter what you did or how you lived.  And today too there are many who would have you believe that how you live does not really matter.  “Come as you are” they will say.  And not only that, “you can stay as you are!  Don’t let anyone tell you what to do or how to live your life.”

  But we should not just look at others: we need to think about this for ourselves too.  Because we too are in danger of falling into one of two dangers.  The first danger is that we go back to trying to save ourselves, to being busy doing this or that to feel accepted by others, and even to feel accepted by God Himself.  But the other danger is that as we reject this, we also reject God’s claim on our lives.  But the Bible teaches us that we were saved for a purpose.  We were saved to bear fruit.  We were saved by Christ’s blood so that we might be renewed by His Holy Spirit to serve Him, to live for him, to grow in Him and to be more like Him.  And if we do that, then we will grow in our salvation and we will be assured of our salvation.  But if we don’t do that, then we are scorning the blood of Christ, we are making light of what He has done for us and we are rejecting the new life that He has called us to live.  And the danger of that is that you will not only lose your assurance of salvation, but you will be in danger of losing your salvation itself.  And that is why Peter writes so strongly in his second letter.  2 Peter 3:17 says,

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”

What we need to understand is that the gospel must change us!  And when you see and experience the change that comes with a true faith in Jesus Christ, then you will also be assured of your faith, and you will never fall.  That’s what Peter is getting at when he writes in 2 Peter 1:10,

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”

When Peter says here that you will never fall, he does not mean that you will never sin but that you will be firmly established, that you will be unmoved, that you will be absolutely sure of your salvation and that you can be confident that you will never lose it.  And you will receive this assurance, 2 Peter 1:10 says,

“if you do practice these qualities.”

And those things that you are to do, are the things that Peter spells out in verses 5-7 where he tells you to

“supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”

The Bible never suggests that godliness isn’t all that important.  The Bible never suggests that its ok to “go with the flow.”  The Bible never suggests that since Jesus did it all for you, it is up to you as to how you are to live your life and that nobody can tell you what to do.  No, since God has given you what you need for a life of godliness, you must be godly!  You must do what you can to grow in knowledge, to develop self-control, to persevere in godliness.  You are to spend time with your brothers and sisters in Christ and be kind to them, love them, help them.  You are to love both God and your neighbor and to grow in that love.  These are not suggestions, these are not options for the Christian:  you need to do these things!  You were not saved to be selfish, but Christ saved you to serve!  To serve Him, to live for Him, to praise Him and to serve your neighbor, to love them and to be a blessing to them.

That’s what you must do in order that you might never stumble and fall.  So Peter is telling us very clearly that what you do has a direct impact on your assurance of salvation.  “If you practice these qualities you will never fall.”  But on the other hand, if you don’t practice these qualities, if you do not supplement your faith in this way, then you will stumble and you will fall.  You will be ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, (verse 8), you will be one who is nearsighted and blind, one who has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (Verse 9)

And in order to press this home to us, Peter says in 2 Peter 1:10,

“Be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure.”

When we first read this command to “make your call and election sure” we might be puzzled by it.  After all, it is God who calls and it is God who elects us to eternal life.  Your calling, your election, is not your decision for God, but God’s decision for you.  So how can you “make your call and election sure”? 

  What Peter means here is not that you need to somehow convince God of your election: He knows those who are His and not one of them will be lost.  But what he means is that you need to be sure of this for yourself!  That’s what we learn when we read 2 Peter 1:10 in the context of the Bible chapter.  Second Peter begins with a description of what God has already done for us and in us through Jesus Christ.  He’s given us faith, His power has given us all things we need for a life of godliness, He’s given us

“his precious and very great promises, so that through them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”  (2 Peter 1:4)

And, verse 5 says, for this very reason, because of what God has given you, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue and knowledge and self-control and so forth.  And, verse 10, be even more diligent to do these things so that you will never fall and so make your call and election sure.  The Bible is clear that if you do not do these things, then you are not living as one who has escaped the corruption of this world, you are not living as one who is saved in Jesus Christ.  But when you do these things, when you are diligent, when you make every effort to grow in faith and love and godliness, then you will see and experience the fruit of one who is in Christ.  And then you will never stumble, then you will be assured that you belong to God in Jesus Christ, then you will be assured of your salvation. 

  So the pathway to assurance is to begin with the promises of God, believing that through these promises you have the forgiveness of sin and are united to the Lord Jesus Christ, making you a partaker of the divine nature.  And then, knowing that, to make every effort to grow in Christ, to bear fruit for God, to add to your faith virtue and knowledge and self-control and perseverance and godliness and brotherly kindness and love.  And if you do these things, you will be sure of your salvation, if you do these things you will never fall.

2. The blessings of assurance.

I trust that it is clear to you that how you live your life as a Christian is important. Do not be surprised if your faith is weak, do not be surprised if your faith fails, do not be surprised if your assurance of salvation isn’t there if you do not make use of the means of grace, if you do not regularly come to church, if you do not open your Bible every day,  if you do not join in with Bible study, if you do not grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and in godliness, and if you do not make every effort to be a living member of Christ and of his church.  But when you do turn to God, when you do give all diligence to supplement your faith with a life of godliness, and when you grow and increase in this, then you will remain firm in your faith and your call and election will be made sure.  And that will be a blessing to you.  It will be a blessing to you because you will be filled with thanks and gratitude towards God.  It will be a blessing because it will make you want to know Christ even more and to love Him and to serve Him even more.

Indeed, being sure of your salvation will not make you careless or godless.  Rather, it will encourage you to grow and increase in the Lord Jesus even more!  Indeed, you will no longer be grasping for what this world has to offer but you will be longing for God and for what He holds out to you.  Do you see how important it is therefore, brothers and sisters, to be even more diligent to make your call and election sure?  Yes, it does take effort.  Yes, it does mean dying to yourself and living in and for your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  But what a blessing it is to have that assurance of salvation in this life!

But there is more. 2 Peter 1:11 also holds out the promise of God’s blessing for the life to come.

 “For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

It will be “richly provided for you.”  You will be welcomed by God and by His Son Jesus Christ with open arms and you will be blessed.  We do not serve God for reward since, Luke 17:10 reminds us, we are unworthy servants who have only done what is our duty.  But God will multiply His grace and peace towards us and He will bless us, even reward us, for our faithfulness.  That’s what the Bible means when the second letter of John, verse, 8 tells us to

“Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.”

And Revelation 2:23,

“I will give to each of you according to your works.”

This reward, our Catechism confesses in Lord’s Day 24, is not earned, but it is a gift of God’s grace.  And He will give this to those who live a life of godliness and who make every effort to grow in godliness and holiness. 

  A virtuous life, a life lived for God and a life lived in a way that you grow in our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, is an abundant life.  It is an abundant life both now and in the life that is to come.  We have the promise:  when we practice these qualities, we will never fall.  When we practice these qualities, we may be assured of our salvation.  When we practice these qualities, we will be blessed beyond measure in this life.  And when we practice these qualities, we will be blessed in even greater measure in the life to come.

Good works is not where we begin when we seek assurance for our salvation.  To be assured of our salvation we don’t begin with ourselves; we begin with God, with what He has done in Jesus Christ and with what He has promised.  But good works must be included in our assurance of salvation.  A saved person is a changed person and a true faith is a living faith.  And therefore, having received all things in Jesus Christ,

“be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.  For in this way there will be richly proved for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2019, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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