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2 Pet 1

Election: God's Selection

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The choice that God made

2 Peter 1

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]T[/dropcap]he last occurrence of G1589 is in Peter’s second epistle.  We find in this epistle a number of solemn warnings against falling away from the faith and might expect that Peter wrote the epistle as a rebuke to those who had fallen away.  However, we can see he did not address the letter to false teachers or to those whom he thought were in danger of becoming false teachers, but "to those who had obtained like precious faith."  He wrote to provide them with a reminder of the reliability and authenticity of the word of God and by it, to further establish them in the truth.

Being well aware of the danger of being led away from the faith back into the corruption of the world, he urged them to exercise diligence in their Christian life.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.  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 1:8-11)

The exhortation to "make your...election sure" is unquestionably a challenge to interpret, for what can we do to ‘make sure,’ or establish, God's choice?  It is certain Peter did not mean that their diligence would keep God from questioning the wisdom of His choice.  God does not indecisively second-guess Himself.  However, if Peter did not write “make your…election sure” from God’s perspective, then what did he mean?

OT Example

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]W[/dropcap]e may find it helpful to look for an Old Testament story where there was a need to establish the reality of an earlier choice, and see if there are parallels that will help us understand Peter's meaning.  We find such a story in the history of Solomon, near the beginning of his reign, after the death of his father, David.

There was no question that David chose Solomon to be king, for he had clearly stated so a number of times (1 Kings 1:13, 17, 30).  However, after David's death, Solomon found it was necessary to take certain steps to make his kingdom sure and remove every doubt of his right to be king of Israel.  He was aware that David had experienced a period where his reign faltered, and many Israelites followed after Absalom.  To prevent a similar mishap in his reign, Solomon knew he must be diligent.

Therefore, when Adonijah, his older brother, began to take subtle steps to usurp the throne, Solomon found it necessary to have him executed.  Along with his brother, he deemed it necessary to execute Adonijah's most powerful supporter, the mighty general Joab.  Then Solomon restricted the movements of Shimei, David's most vocal critic, to prevent him from stirring up unrest across the countryside.  When Shimei broke his agreement with Solomon and left Jerusalem, he also had him executed.  When these things were completed, the scripture says that the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon (1 Kings 2:46).

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]I[/dropcap]n this story, we understand the establishment of the kingdom in Solomon's hand did not mean that he successfully prevented his father from changing his mind, nor that he managed to reassure himself of his selection to the throne.  We understand the phrase to mean that he achieved a permanent acceptance of his rule by all those around him.

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]I[/dropcap]n the same way, Peter's exhortation, to "make your...election sure," was not a call for them to somehow prevent God from changing His mind, nor for them to find reassurance of their selection to salvation.  Instead, we should understand it as a call to achieve, through diligence, a permanent acceptance of their position as the people of God in the sight of all observers.

In the same way that Solomon needed to be diligent to establish his throne and prevent any faltering of his reign, the believers needed to be diligent to establish their position as the people of God and avoid any stumbling in their life.  According to Peter, any believer who was careless in their life would find themselves barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ.  They would inevitably stumble, and raise doubt in the minds of all observers regarding the validity of their claim as the people of God.  In such a sad case, although they may have been the elect, they would certainly not be well established in their position.

We see, then, that G1589 evidently referred to God's choice to make them His people.

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]B[/dropcap]efore we leave this passage, notice that Peter was writing to people who were at risk of stumbling in their lives.  If we were to look at the remainder of his epistle, we would see there are two distinct groups of people who stumble.  There are those who are like a dog returning to his vomit, or like a sow returning to her wallowing.  These are individuals who made a choice to follow God but never obtained the precious faith.  Peter was not exhorting them, for a mere exhortation is not capable of turning the ungodly from their mire.  The second group was those who had obtained the precious faith, but by negligence in their life would be in danger of stumbling into the old sins from which they had been cleansed.  These people were chosen by God to be His people because they believed.

In his use of G1589, Peter made clear he was exhorting the second group.  God had made a deliberate choice of them.  Unlike the former group, these people could be turned from mire by a mere exhortation, for they had received great and precious promises through which they could become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).