Introduction. God is the Great Caller. He “calls” or “invites” individuals and groups of people to serve His purpose and to accomplish His will. Every member of the Christian Church should be aware that they have been “called” or “invited.” Jesus taught that “many are called but few chosen.” [Matthew 22:14] This invitation is described by Paul as “the heavenly calling.” [Hebrews 3:1] In the grand Apocalypse those who come off victorious with the Lamb at the Battle of Armageddon are depicted as “those called, chosen, and faithful.” [Revelation 17:14] It is not enough to be called or invited by God. One must do as Peter exhorts: “Be quick to make your calling and choosing steadfast.” [2 Peter 1:10 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures]
Peter wrote the early Church about transcendent promises and how these Christians could make God’s calling and choosing sure. Read his inspired words: “Grace and peace be doubly increased, incorporate in your intimate relationship with God and our Lord Jesus. For He has endowed us freely with every thing we need by His divine power. God invited us to share His own glory and vital strength by means of our intimate relationship with Him. Through these things He has endowed us freely with His priceless and transcendent promises. As a result you faithful may gain an experience in a godlike cosmic process, escaping a cosmos filled with corrupt passions.” [2 Peter 1:2-4 NCMM Paraphrase]
This “calling and choosing” has been given to us like a gift of charity, that is something completely undeserved. Peter says this free grant is according to God’s “divine dynamics.” Some render this phrase as “divine power” as the Greek is theias dynameos, or “Divine Dynamics.” This “calling and choosing” would not be possible outside of God’s own Power, for it is a calling “to His own glory and virtue.” [2 Peter 1:3] The very thought weakens the knees, for it is an invitation to share His own heavenly splendor, as well as His goodness and moral excellence on an exalted level.
This calling is also based on an “elevated knowing” or “a heightened knowledge.” While some only translate the Greek epignoseos as “knowledge” the word conveys much more. It may mean a perfection of knowledge, or an “intimate acquaintance or relationship” with someone. It is not a ‘passing acquaintance’ with God, but a deep and enduring relationship that may be described as intimate. This “elevated knowledge” or “intimate experience” is with both the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. [2 Peter 1:1] Peter is to go on to use “knowledge” in another form that also bears on “making your calling and choosing firm.”
By all of these things God has granted such promises of actually “sharing in divine nature.” [RHM, KJV] The depth of meaning here is lost in most translations. The Greek is theias coinonoi physeos. According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance theias is “a general name of deities or divinities as used by the Greeks.” (#2304) It means god-like. Coinonoi [wit the English “coin” buried in it] means “common” or commune, communion. Physeos is rooted in “swell” and thus “beget” and may mean: “the nature of things, the force, laws, order of nature ... the sum of innate properties and powers.” (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5449) It is the word from which “physics” comes. Thus, it may be paraphrased, “a godlike cosmic process.” It suggests the hope of the Saints: to gain a god-like existence after God’s own nature.
Beyond God’s own power - His Divine Dynamic - what things are necessary on the part of the Saint to “make the calling and choosing sure”? Peter lists eight specific things, qualities or attributes, to assure a common sharing in that future divine nature. Note these as we read a paraphrase of 2 Peter 1:5-8 - “For these reasons above, apply yourselves diligently to supply to your strong conviction, moral excellence; and to your moral excellence supply knowledge; and to your knowledge supply self-restraint; and to your self-restraint supply an awesome reverence for God; and to your awesome reverence for God supply warm brotherly affection; and, to your warm brotherly affection supply loving concern demonstrated by positive action for good. For if these qualities dwell within you and overflow you will never become inactive or unproductive in your intimate relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.” [NCMM Paraphrase ]
It has been said that “a chain is as strong as its weakest link.” If we view what we have discussed above “like an anchor possessed by the soul” we are much interested in the anchor’s chain. [Hebrews 6:19 NCMM] Peter lists eight “links” in this chain. As we consider each one ask yourself: Which one is my weakest link? Where is my chain to this anchor liable to break? What eight “things” did Peter list?
It does not surprise us that the first attribute Peter mentions is “faith” for this quality is one of the two most important. The Greek is pistei and the classic definition is given by Paul in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is hoping for something, hoping for the reality of things without visible proof.” [NCMM] The essential meaning is “trust.” One who trusts in someone that has faith. The person who is trustworthy is faithful. [For details on this first link in our chain see the Nazarene Commentary© on Second Peter.]
The opposite of faith is doubt or unbelief. A person of faith is characterized by being faithful, someone who does not doubt. Doubt is one of the Devil’s most effective tools and it is truly an enemy in our relationship with God. Note how Paul describes the “large shield of faith that is capable of smothering all the wicked flaming arrows.” [Ephesians 6:16 NCMM Paraphrase]
We note Satan’s effort to undermine the faith of Jesus in the wilderness temptation. [Matthew 4:1-8] Note twice Satan says, “IF you are a son of God … “ in an attempt to raise doubt in the Nazarene. Satan knows full well that Jesus had pre-existed as the Son of God, but he raises a question regarding this sonship.
This method was the same used by Satan with Eve in the Garden of Eden. For then Satan also creates doubt by his question, “Is it really so that you cannot eat from any tree in the garden?” [Genesis 3:1-5] The Serpent speaks as if there is as it were a rumor with a different understanding. His intent is to create doubt, which turns out to be successful in Eve’s case.
Doubt may involve several key areas:
That is, not trusting in God, not trusting in His Word, and no longer trusting appointed guides in the Church. On the latter note how Paul includes faith when he writes: “Be mindful of your guides who spoke to you the Word of The God. As you behold their behavior, imitate their conviction.” [Hebrews 13:7 NCMM]
There is much in Satan’s world [2 Corinthians 4:4] which undermines belief in God and faith in the Bible. Doubt, or lack of faith, may be created when one puts too much trust in the words of god-less philosophers and scientists. Paul warns of this at Colossians 2:8 when speaking of any “man [who might] spoil you through philosophy.” [Colossians 2:8 KJV] He cautions: “He may set forth some human tradition, or some theory about the nature of the universe - but not the teachings of Christ.” [NOR] These may involve the theory of evolution, or criticisms of Biblical accounts such as the Flood.
Examples of faith can be studied in Hebrews chapter 11. Those named as such examples are Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, Samuel, and David. By reading the Biblical record regarding these men and women, faith can be strengthened. [Compare the Nazarene Commentary© on Hebrews chapter 11.]
So, be on guard, when doubts creep into one’s thinking. You may need help as Jude 22, 23 cautions. Is more time being spent reading the writings of worldly men rather than His Word? Remember, in the end, it comes down to a question of faith or trust - either in God and His Word, or in the writings of worldly thinkers whose conclusions may be foolishness from God’s standpoint. [See Nazarene Commentary© on1 Corinthians chapter 2]
However, is faith the only quality we need to “make our calling and choosing sure”? Let us consider the next seven links in this chain.
The second link in this chain is “virtue.” This is rendered or defined as goodness, moral character, moral excellence, noble character. It is not enough to have faith. In order to make the calling and choosing sure we must be characterized as virtuous. This quality involves morals and is characterized in a person who’s words and actions reflect a love of righteousness and integrity. One may see this quality in Paul’s exhortation at 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Let us cleanse ourselves from every fleshly or spiritual defilement, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” [NCMM]
What may “defile” us? What ethical and moral rust may begin to corrode this link in our chain? Jesus himself listed those things which lack virtue and defile us. Consider this list in Mark 7:21-23 where the Nazarene mentions that “harmful thinking” which may lead to defilement -
Jesus has in mind - not the actual actions - but rather those “bad thoughts” which come from the heart and its motivations or inclinations. [Mark 7:21 KJV] The Christian who wishes to “make the calling and choosing sure” does well to meditate on these and search the heart whether spiritual rust and corrosion are at work on this link in the chain.
Remember: SIN BEGINS IN THE MIND! Paul cautioned the Corinthians: “But, I am afraid that just as the snake with his cunning seduced Eve, your minds may be led astray from single-minded devotion to Christ.” [New Jerusalem Bible] This last phrase is rendered by Rotherham as, “the singleness and the chasteness” due Christ Jesus, indicating virtue is included.
The disciple James writes of the mental mechanism at work in sin: “Everyone is tempted by their own desire, being drawn away and allured. Then, the desire having conceived gives birth to sin, and this sin, when it reaches full growth, brings forth death.” [James 1:14, 15 NCMM] What leads to sin is what we see and therefore covet - or have an elevated desire for. [EPI-THYMIAS = over+desire; Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1939] In our sinful state some desire or coveting is the normal condition. But, heightened or elevated desire, if not stopped at this moment, may result in acting on those desires and thus sinning. The virtuous person stops the thought before it begins to materialize.
In his world famous sermon on the mountain the Nazarene illustrated how this failure at virtue begins with desire: “Anyone looking at a woman, desiring her in his heart, has already adulterated her.” [Matthew 5:28 NCMM] Thus, using the absurdum, Jesus counseled to remove that eye and enter Life blind in one eye, rather than going to Gehenna with both eyes. [Matthew 5:29; Mark 7:21, 23] Married Christian men do well to act quickly when such thoughts occur and avoid any thing that would arouse such thinking.
The third link in this chain is “knowledge.” Here it is not EPI-GNOSIS as discussed above, but ordinary “knowledge” [GNOSIN] - that is a familiarity with certain facts. The excellent translator James Moffatt renders this “intelligence” here. Peter uses the word often in his second epistle. [2 Peter 1:2, 3, 5, 6, 8; 2 Peter 2:20; 2 Peter 3:17, 18]
Knowledge involves study and meditation. Jesus himself in pray mentioned the importance of knowledge as well as where it may be found: “This is the ageless Life - so that they may continue knowing You, the only True God and the one You sent forth, Jesus Christ. … Sanctify them by means of the Truth. Your Word is the Truth.” [John 17:3, 17 NCMM] With knowledge of God’s Word of Truth the path ahead lies in darkness. [Psalm 119:105] This is particular true of prophetic elements of the Bible. [2 Peter 1:19-21]
It requires effort as Proverbs 2:1-5 emphasizes: “My child, listen to me and treasure my instructions. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight and understanding. Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.” [The Living Translation]
This “knowledge” found in the Scriptures will cover a number of areas: a) A knowledge of God Himself; b) a knowledge of His will and purpose; and, c) a knowledge of what He requires of His worshippers. This knowledge leads us back to the previous two chain-links - faith and virtue. For knowledge will strengthen faith while identifying what is virtuous. [Hebrews 5:14]
Think of the past year? How much blessed time did you dwell in His Word? How long has it been since you read the Bible? Do you read other materials more than you read the Bible? Have you been a Christian for years and yet have not first completed a full reading of the Bible? Is this link in your chain rusting? It is an early sign of growing weakness when one has ceased to meditate on His Word. Pour the “oil” of God’s Word over this link to stop the corrosion. David’s hymn is an eternal truth: “How happy the person who has not walked in the counsel of the lawless. … But has taken delight in Yehowah’s instruction, and in His Law has meditated night and day and [learned to] recite [His Word].” [Psalm 1:1, 2 NCMM; 23:1, 5]
A person of faith who is virtuous is only so up to the present moment. To guarantee future faith and virtue self-control must be present. For without self-rule, or self-restraint, virtue will collapse and faith will turn into doubt. David is a prime example. We would describe him as a man of faith, virtuous, and possessed of knowledge - THAT IS up until he lost self-control and sinned with Bathsheba. Married Christian men do well to meditate on 2 Samuel chapter 11 to learn the Nazarene lesson of Matthew 5:28.
No one possesses perfect self-control, particularly regarding the tongue. [James chapter 3; see details in Nazarene Commentary© on the Book of James] Rather than struggling to always say the right thing, it has proven easier for some to learn WHEN NOT TO SPEAK AT ALL. If one can learn to keep the mouth shut - and not express an opinion on every subject and every person - slowly, with time and experience, a Christian will gain better control of the tongue. [Note James 1:19; Ecclesiastes 5:2-7]
Additionally, if one is weak in a particular area, then it is best to avoid those situations that might weaken resolve. For example, if certain women in the Christian Church have the habit of slander, being busybodies, it is well that the godly woman avoid their company lest she fall into this satanic snare. [1 Corinthians 15:33;1 Timothy 3:11; 5:13; 1 Peter 4:15] To keep this link of self-control from corroding due to gossip and slander all do well to meditate on Proverbs 11:13; 18:8; 26:20, 22.
The word means patience, steadfastness, fortitude, perseverance. It is not enough to just begin the Christian race. One must endure to the end. [Matthew 24:13; Luke 21:19] For some endurance may mean a martyr’s death. For others it may mean many decades of endurance while plagued with persecution, painful afflictions, or life difficulties at home.
Endurance is a word used often throughout the Christian Bible. Jesus taught it. [Luke 8:15] Paul emphasized the need. [Romans 2:7; 5:3, 4; 8:25; 15:4, 5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:11; Titus 2:2] The letter to the Hebrews stressed endurance: “For you need to have endurance so that having done the will of The God you might capture the Promise. … Cast off every weight and that sin which can so easily entangle us, and run with endurance that agony that lies ahead of us.” [Hebrews 10:36; 12:1 NCMM]
In the most desperate hours in the history of the Christian Church, the end-time Saints particularly are encouraged by our Lord to endurance. [Revelation 1:92:2,3, 19; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12]
Some may have to endure for only a few years, as in the case of our Lord. Others, like Paul for a couple of decades. But for examples of great endurance over a long period of time covering over 60 years we look to Moses, Daniel, and the apostle John. Those elderly among us - once full of vigor in zeal for our Lord - who are now in their fifth, sixth, seventh, and even eighth decades of Christian service are to be looked to as examples of endurance. While they may end their race peaceful in night’s sleep, they have endured for so many years, confronting and enduring every kind of test and temptation. It is most beneficial for younger Christians to learn from these while they are still with us.
The word “godliness” is drawn from the Greek EU-SEBEIAN [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #2150] and literally means to “revere well.” It is also translated piety, devotion to God, godly devotion, as well as “fear of God.” The later because it comes from roots meaning godly respect or awe that arouses one to worship God. [Romans 1:20] The word is used five times in Peter’s second epistle. [2 Peter 1:3, 6, 7; 2:9; 3:11] The word group occurs about two dozen times in the Christian Bible and most often [10 times] in 1 Timothy.
A person of godliness would be characterized as “religious” [or, pious] for anyone who comes in contact with such a person would realize that they are God-centered. [1 Corinthians 15:28] The word is highly associated with worship of God. Christian worship includes several things:
These by no means are the sum of godliness but they do characterize what godliness is. An examination of some of the occurrences of this word help us to know what we should look for when examining this link in our chain. We are encouraged to have our lives full of godliness. [1 Timothy 2:2] Specific truths and doctrines are involved. [1 Timothy 3:16; 6:3] On this matter Paul writes in Titus 1:1, “… the knowledge of the Truth which is according to godliness.” [ASV]
One must train like a gymnast to walk in godliness. [1 Timothy 4:7] Godliness begins in the home. [1 Timothy 5:4] Godliness must be pursued [or, be constantly strived for, WMS]. Godliness can be false or without moral power. [2 Timothy 3:5] Persecution may accompany godliness. [2 Timothy 3:12] Godliness is associated with righteousness. [Titus 2:12] Deeds must accompany godliness. [2 Peter 3:11]
Does your family characterize you as a person of godliness? Do your neighbors and work associates recognize your godliness? Or, do people consider you irreligious? Or, is your godliness without any strength or power? [2 Timothy 3:5] Is your godliness a mere hypocritical veneer meant to impress others? [Matthew 6:1-8] If this link in your chain seems to have rust on it, take steps immediately through intense prayer to strengthen your piety.
It is not enough to just be “religious” and then had a cold feeling toward the Christian fellowship. The second to the last link in our chain is “brotherly fondness” or “brotherly love.” The Greek word, like the city it is named after, is PHILADELPHIA. It is also rendered brotherly kindness, or love of the brethren. On the very basis of being a Christian no one should have to have someone write about this endearing quality. Paul writes at 1 Thessalonians 4:9, “Regarding brotherly affection you do not need us to write you, for you are taught by The God to continue to showing loving concern for one another.” [NCMM]
This link in our chain focuses on the Christian fellowship. Though Friends of the Nazarene ought to be loving all, including enemies [Luke 6:30-35], there is no excuse for failing to have affection for another member of the Church. Is this too much to ask? Note how the beloved apostle John writes that those without love no longer have a relationship with God. Note with great concern his wording:
My brothers and sisters, do not worry about why the world hates you. We realize we have stepped over the gulf between death and life because we continue to love our fellowship. The individual who is unloving in their disposition continues under the condemnation of death. Anybody who hates a fellow is guilty of manslaughter. You realize that anyone guilty of manslaughter does not have everlasting life remaining within. Here is how we really understand what love is: our Lord sacrificed his very existence for us. For this reason we are obligated to sacrifice ourselves for our fellowship. For example: if any of us has this world’s resources for maintaining life and is aware that another Christian is in need and yet slams shut the doors of his tender affections -- how is it possible that God still loves that person? My little children, make it your habit to always show loving concern, not in speech or words only, but in positive and real action. [Paraphrase NCMM]
We can only remain in God’s love if we continue to have brotherly affection for the Nazarene Community. With James, the brother of our Lord, writes similarly,
[For example], if a brother or sister is living without adequate clothing and lacks daily food, and anyone of you says, “Go in peace. Keep warm and well fed” -- but do not give them their bodily necessities -- what is the profit? Just so, conviction without works is dead by itself. [James 2:14-17 NCMM]
Clearly both John and James learned of the seriousness of this need that it was really a matter of everlasting life versus everlasting extinction. For their Lord and ours show this importance of brotherly affection in the parable of the Sheep and Goats. Read this Christine illustration in Matthew 25:31-46 with a prayerful and meditative heart. Note the emphasis is on charity and hospitality toward “even ONE of the least of these my brothers.” Note also, the goats are so, not because of harmful or hateful actions toward these “brothers,” but rather their failure to do anything!
To the Christian goats [the same as the weeds of the parable in Matthew chapter 13] the Nazarene said:
Then the King will also speak to those persons on his left-hand: “Depart from me, those who are cursed into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. And, I got thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not take me in; ill-clad and you gave me no clothes; sick and in prison, and you did not look after me.” Then (the goats) will respond: “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or ill-clad or sick or in prison --- and refused to minister to you?” At this the King will tell them: “I tell you this truth: Depending on how much you refused to do to a single one of my humblest brothers, you refused to do it to me.” And these goats will depart into an ageless pruning. [Matthew 25:41-46 NCMM; for details see Nazarene Commentary© on the Gospel of Matthew.]
Can there be any question whatever that the Friends of the Nazarene must have brotherly affection for one another. Most often this quality is mainly involved with charity and hospitality. As Paul writes to the Galatians: “Never make this error: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a person continues to sow, this they will also reap. … So, may we never give up in doing what is good because at the appointed time we will reap if we do not tire out. Therefore, truly, as we have the proper season, let us continue to work what is good toward everyone, but more so toward the members of the Household of the Faith.” [Galatians 6:7, 9, 10 NCMM]
There are some new or weak Christians who have been heard saying, “I have to love my brother, but I do not have to like him.” This is a serious mistake and demonstrates the danger of falling from the love of God. Often in the Christian Bible fellow worshipers are urged to have “affection” or even “tender affection” for their brothers. [Romans 12:10; Philippians 1:8; Titus 3:15] Any dictionary will show that the word “affection” in English is a synonym for “like.” Surely God and His Son have showed such affection for humankind in general, even “the wicked and ungrateful.” The only way to Christian perfection is to learn to “like” all in the Nazarene Community. [Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:30-36]
How does on do this, particularly if there have been hard feelings in the past? The answer lies in two things:
First, if you have difficulty in “liking” someone - usually this is actually a form of jealousy - try meditating on the word “forgiveness” in the Bible. Our Lord laid down the Spiritual Principle in the first commentary on the Lord’s Prayer: “For if you forgive others their faults, your heavenly Father will forgive even you. BUT, if you will not forgive others of their faults, neither will your Father forgive your faults.” [Matthew 6:14, 15 NCMM] This is a divine rule which always applies within the Christian Church.
Paul echoes the Nazarene when he writes: “As the Elect of God - holy and beloved - dress yourselves in the tender affections of compassion … willing to tolerate others and charitably forgiving one another, even if you have a real reason for a complaint against another - just as The LORD also forgave all of you.” [Colossians 3:12, 13 NCMM] If one learns to forgive, then one will learn to like those sometimes difficult to bear.
Secondly, STOP JUDGING, even as our Lord taught: “Stop being judgmental of others, for you will be judged on the basis of your own criticism; and by your own standard you will be measured.” [Matthew 7:1, 2 NCMM] The dangers of being critical are serious indeed.
Paul asks: “Who do you think you are?” Consider his stern counsel:
Who are you to judge the house servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for [the Lord] can make him stand. … But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you also look down on your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written: "'As I live,' says Jehovah, 'to me every knee will bend down, and every tongue will make open acknowledgment to God.'" So, then, each of us will render an account for himself to God.” [Romans 14:4, 10-12 NWT (KIT)]
Do you often express your opinion or judgment of others? Do others know whom you like and dislike because you have expressed yourself on this matter? Consider our Lord’s words and tremble:
You either make the tree good and its fruitage good, or you make the tree rotten and the fruitage rotten. For a tree is known by its fruitage. Generation of vipers, how can you speak good when you are wicked? For out of the heart’s bounty the mouth speaks. Out of the good person’s heart comes a treasure of goodness; and expelled out of the wicked person’s wicked treasure comes wickedness. But I tell you that every fruitless word human’s speak will be held to account on Judgment Day. For by your words you will be declared ‘Not Guilty,’ and by your words you will be accursed. [Matthew 12:33-37 NCMM]
God remembers every unkind word we have uttered regarding our fellow Christian. Satan is the “slanderer,” therefore, speaking evilly of another is a satanic sin. Rush, all of us, to beg our Father’s forgiveness and determine to remove the judgmental spirit from your disposition!
How happy we will be if we listen to Peter who encourages this love for the whole brotherhood. Peter’s appeal moves us today:
“Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth with unhypocritical brotherly affection as the result, love one another intensely from the heart. … Have love for the whole association of brothers. … Finally, all of you be like-minded, showing fellow feeling, having brotherly affection, tenderly compassionate. … Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” [1 Peter 1:22; 2:17; 3:8; 4:8 NWT]
But, now, let us look at the last link in our chain.
More is needed than just affection toward those who should love us - our brethren. For, Jesus teaches “that even sinners love those who love them.” The Greek here in Peter’s epistle is AGAPEN which may be defined as a concern, or interest, based on principle and motive, and shown in action toward another. The KJV has “charity” here. Peter uses the word 8 times in 1 Peter but only once here. Note the difference between brotherly affection and love. They are not the same. One may love other Christians but not have affection for them. To be complete, or spiritual perfect, one must not only love fellow Christians but also strive to like them as pointed out above. In this regard, the perfected Christian is one who will demonstrate loving concern by positive action to even wicked and ungrateful enemies. [For studies on love and agape see 1 Corinthians 13 in Nazarene Commentary©.]
As disciples of the Nazarene we must be living examples of what he taught. It is generally agreed by most Bible students that “love” was at the top of the list of Jesus’ teachings. Consider, how our Lord put it:
Give to everyone asking you, and from the one taking your things away do not ask [them] back. Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them. And if you love those loving you, of what credit is it to you? For even the sinners love those loving them. And if you do good to those doing good to you, really of what credit is it to you? Even the sinners do the same. Also, if you lend [without interest] to those from whom you hope to receive, of what credit is it to you? Even sinners lend [without interest] to sinners that they may get back as much. To the contrary, continue to love your enemies and to do good and to lend [without interest], not hoping for anything back; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked. Continue becoming merciful, just as your Father is merciful. [Luke 6:30-36 NWT]
Many claiming to be Christians miss the point that this “love” is regarding sinners, wicked enemies who are unthankful and may never return your kindness. Also, this “love” is shown, not by preaching the Gospel to them, but by three major actions: [compare also Matthew 5:43-48]
Only after doing this can one expect to remain “sons of the Most High.” Only by this kind of love can one become “perfect” after the manner of God.
Ask yourself: when someone -- who is not a member of my church or group -- was in need did I respond by showing the kind of love described above? Did I insist on repayment of a “loan” to someone who came to me in need? Do I only demonstrate the Golden Rule when it comes to family and close friends? Is charity -- including giving without the recipient knowing - on my list of what worship means? [Matthew 6:3, 4]
We have considered the eight links in our chain which anchors our hope, which will make our calling and choosing sure. It is left to each one of us to take a look in the mirror and make an honest assessment in your spiritual fruitage. [James 1:24] Peter continues in his theme by stressing the need to make an effort at the application of what we have discussed above. He writes: “for if these things exist and abound you will not be ineffective nor unfruitful in your heightened knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:8 NCMM]
Note these eight things must not only exist in your Christian walk, but they must “abound” Or, as others render this, overflow, increase and multiply. Let us now conclude with Peter’s closing words.
Make Your Calling and Choosing Sure
Note Peter’s serious tone as he warns if these eight things be lacking:
Because if these qualities do not reside in your heart you have become blind by closing your own eyes. You have forgotten the cleansing of yourself from your sins in the past. Rather, my brothers, be swift about making your invitation and election steadfast for yourselves. For if your are practicing these qualities you will never stumble in some point. Then you will be supplied with the wealth of entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. [2 Peter 1:9-11 NCMM]
Peter charges that if these things are not within you - that is they are lacking - such a Christian is first of all blind or short-sighted. Such persons have forgotten the cleansing of their sins in the blood of their Lord. [1 John 1:7] Paul puts it as a serious warning when he writes:
HE10:26 For our sinning willingly, after we receive the heightened knowledge of the Truth, leaves no sacrifice regarding sins. HE10:27 But rather some fearful expectation of condemnation, ‘a fiery zeal’ [Isaiah 26:11 LXX] ‘ready to consume the rebellious.’ [Deuteronomy 17:6] HE10:28 Any person who disregards the Law of Moses dies without compassion upon ‘the testimony of two or three.’ [Deuteronomy 19:15] HE10:29 How much worse do you think the punishment will be upon the person who has trampled underfoot the Son of the God? Who has esteemed the ‘blood of the covenant’ [Exodus 24:8]] -- in which he was sanctified -- as something common, [and thus] outrageously scorned the [spirit of Grace]? HE10:30 For we realize the One who said: “Vengeance is mine. I will repay.” [Deuteronomy 32:35] And, again: “ will judge His People.” [Deuteronomy 32:26] HE10:31 It is a dreadful matter to fall into the hands of a Living God. [Hebrews 10:26-31 NCMM]
Peter then urges, “Be quick to make your calling and choosing steadfast.” Goodspeed renders this, “make all the greater efforts,” while the Berkeley Version says, “exert yourselves.” We are reminded our the Nazarene’s own words: “You must strain every nerve to enter the narrow gate, for many will attempt but will not succeed.” [Luke 13:34 GDS] Unfortunately, the vast majority of those who receive the call or invitation will not be chosen. For our Lord summarizes his parable at Matthew 22:1-14 with the words, “For many are invited but few chosen.”
The “choosing” is that action taken by God after a person responds to the invitation. [John 1:12, 13] Romans 8:30 records the blessing on those who make their calling and choosing sure, “Those whom he called [INVITED] are the ones he also declared to be righteous [CHOSEN]. Finally those whom he declared righteous are the ones he also glorified.” (NWT) Revelation 17:14 adds one more item when it describes the victorious Saints at Armageddon, “ ... those called and chosen and FAITHFUL.”
Peter assures that, “if you are doing these [eight] things you will not stumble at some point.” Or, as the translator Weymouth puts it, “For as long as you practice these things you will never stumble.” Having examined these eight links in our chain - and being assured that they not only exist but overflow - we will be able to show the confidence of Paul: “I have fought the good fight. I have run to the finish line. I have kept the faith.” [2 Timothy 4:7 NCMM]
Then, and only then, will it be “richly provided, the entrance into the everlasting Kingdom.” Or, as Goodspeed renders it, “triumphantly admitted.” Thus, like Paul at the end of his race, we will also be able to say, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil plot and will preserve me for His celestial Kingdom.” [2 Timothy 4:18 NCMM]
Rather than viewing these eight “things” as great burdens beyond our ability, rely on our Heavenly Father, by means of Jesus Christ, and the spiritual pressure of the Holy Pneuma. Make “earnest effort” to strengthen every link in this chain to that grand Anchor! Overflow in faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. Then - Rejoice! - that you make your calling and choosing sure!
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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