Diligence Made Toward Assurance
2Peter 1:10-11 kjv
Of Election and Calling and One's Assurance
"...make your calling and election sure" ( kjv@2Peter:1:10)
There are two ways to interpret this phrase, mirror images facing each other, the one appearing opposite of the other. The one image is more and more diligent to earn or maintain the assurance of his calling and election. The other has assurance of his calling and election and as a result becomes more and more diligent. Which comes first, the diligence or the assurance?
There are various schools of thought surrounding this quandary. The answer to this is important to the fruitful production of AgapeLove in the EpignosisKnowledge of Jesus Christ. I'll explain that in a moment.
Election is a hot box topic that few brave to touch in polite company. Exactly when did God elect "them that have obtained like precious faith "? The moment they believed in Christ Jesus as their personal savior? Before creation in eternity past? At the Day of Judgment when the prosecution and defense both conclude their case? Can God's election be resisted? Once elected, can one fall from election?
Calling on the other hand is much less contentious. Many people of many religions feel as if God has called them. We might dispute which of them have and have not received God's calling, but rarely do we dispute the general principle that God does place a calling upon some if not all.
Assurance. How assured can we be of our election and calling? Some people would say that maybe it is better that we do not feel assured of our election and calling, that way none of us take it for granted. Why then would Peter be telling us different, to make our calling and election sure?
Looking back on all that Peter has already said, I think that it could well be said that we are blind and shortsighted when it comes to the assurance of our calling and election. It is after all a good part of His righteousness. We don't understand it. We avoid the topic altogether. We make out of it what ever we are comfortable making out of it.
This blindness and shortsightedness can and does leave us barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The key phrase to that though is "the knowledge of Jesus Christ". Is there something that we should recognize about Jesus Christ that we are not recognizing enough to bring about a full acknowledgment?
Of "Wherefore the rather, brethren"
John 15:12 kjv
Blindness and shortsightedness are not desirable descriptions of our "like precious faith"; having these things in you and abound is. Verses 1-4 laid out the rock solid foundations of the faith. Verses 5-7 plans out our actionable response. The actionable response there never states any other intention than to produce a well defined Christ-like AgapeLove.
It can never be said of Jesus that He did not love. One could not say that He was not at all times supremely confident of His calling and election. Neither can it be said that Jesus' love of the Father was barren and unfruitful. What made His love stand out was that:
- It had uncommon actionable valor towards a moral excellence, assured of His elected position with God and calling back to glory and virtue.
- It had a knowledge not only of what the Father wanted Him to say and do, what He had been elected and called to do, but also who and what the person was about receiving it.
- It had a strong temperance, on point, on message, intense, never distracted, uncompromising, assured of where He was from and where He was going and how to bring us along with Him.
- It endured all things with cheerful expectation, assured of His Father's control of all things.
- It exhibited a godliness like no other, not like the stuffy burdensome Pharisee, with a real and genuine backbone, obedient to the Father not man, assured of His faith and standing.
- It exhibited a gentle kindness to His brethren, a more stern kindness when appropriate. It was all about brethren whether of the twelve, the seventy, the multitudes, the nation, the Jews, the Gentile world at large. His election and calling was to be firstborn and Shepherd of many brethren; of this He was most certain.
And so when it came to the production of AgapeLove, it was agape because it was defined by all of this. It sounds odd to say that Jesus had a PistisFaith and that He drove it all the way to Agape, but that essentially is what He did. He did it over and over again no matter where He was, who He was with, or what situation He was presented with. It was not just a hope in His calling and election, although He was very much hopeful for His brethren, it was a strong assurance in it that made His agape love to us what it was.
So where then does "give diligence to make your calling and election sure" come in?
Of Making Sure
Agape is not the effort to win or maintain one's calling and election. It is the actionable response to one's calling and election. The assurance of one's calling and election results in the production of agape. Not having that assurance produces a forcible human effort to win that calling and election back or else no effort at all; barren idleness. In other words, one then stumbles or falls from the ability to produce agape by not having this assurance.
It might well be that I do not have the same level of confidence in my election and calling as did Jesus. Then again, I do not have the same election and calling as does Jesus. My primary confidence has to be in the assurance that Jesus had of the Father and of His standing with the Father, the righteousness of that, the grace and peace because of that, the all sufficiency of divine power giving all things pertaining to life and godliness because of that, the calling of us into that, the escape from and partaking in of that (verses 1-4). Of that I need to be so sure that I am willing to become this (verses 5-7) in recognition and acknowledgment of that and not be blind or shortsighted of that in the process. That is what makes me to produce Christ's fruit: abiding on His vine.
As Christ produces more and more of His abundance through me, I become more and more assured of my calling and election into His fold. It is assurance by active participation.
Regardless of how or when I was elected and called my assurance of it grows the more that I participate with it. Like the mirror images left to right and right to left, both images can be true at the same time. I am assured and therefore, in recognition of that, I acknowledge this tremendous grace with my diligence. By being diligent about doing these things, I therein come to recognize and acknowledge more and more of this blessed assurance for myself. Nothing earned. Nothing forced or burdened. Everything remains Christ's and is a product of His AgapeLove to the glory and testament of God and Savior's righteousness.
1Corinthians 13:4-7 kjv
Paul and Peter sound like they're on the same page; don't they? Well then:
John 14:15 kjv
Of Our Abundant Entrance
Why then is it important to get this preliminary understanding right? Because "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you". Notice that it is an entrance being ministered to you. So is it the diligence or assurance that is doing the ministering? Or is it DunamisPower that is ministering?
It seems that the issue is not whether the Kingdom will be entered now that there is election and calling, rather how abundant the entrance will be into it. Well, that would depend on whether it is your diligence providing for it or Christ's all sufficiency. Judging by my personal effort, I would have to say that my entrance has been nothing approaching abundant at all. Indeed, even the best of my righteousness is but filthy rags. Pitiful sinner that I am, I am a man most urgently in need of God's undeserved mercy. Judging by Christ's effort though, I see a great amount of abundance that I would not have otherwise seen as I approach that entrance; HIS abundance. I see an abundant provision of all things pertaining to life and godliness. I see an abundant grace and peace that daily is multiplying. I see an abundance of exceeding great promises fulfilled. I see an abundance if benefit partaking of HIS divine instead of my corrupt nature. Yeah for me... plenty of abundance here for this lowly sinner to see!
Not only is it an abundant entrance according to the number of things I now see, it is abundant according to it's overall size and impact. It is no longer is limited to the minute amount of human diligence that I am able to provide it. I see an increasing utility and fruitfulness. HIS influence over me is substantial enough to give me an uncommon valor to produce this agape even in situations hostile to it. Because of it I seek now to know how to produce this, restrain my baser nature from corrupting it, endure with the process through the enviable resistance, keep and defend and support the better piety and kindness. The entrance into the Kingdom has become a multitude of abundances.
AgapeLove is another way to make this point clear. Two men go about pouring this agape form of love out to a needing brother, one with this understanding, the other without. One says "I love you brother on the slim chance that this will get me into the Kingdom... You will have to soon do all of this as well if you want to get in". The other says "Let me point you to the all sufficient love of Christ... there you will find your answer I know because this is where I have found all of mine... can I help you to understand how much of an abundant entrance this tremendous Christ has provided"? Which man has shown their brother the greater agape?
Of Everlasting Kingdom
The concept of Kingdom is much neglected at present. Jesus spent a good deal of His effort attempting to present to us His Kingdom in its many aspects. Why so much time and effort? The Apostolic writers after Jesus kept to His insistence as well.
The concept goes as far back as Old Testament prophecy and as far forward into the future as the New. It is both here and at hand, in our hearts and in Heaven, also yet to come on the day of judgment and remain forever after.
The modern believer conveniently replaces the Kingdom concept with a more secular notions of mere Heaven. For the most part this has become a utopian idea where all the negative things of this life are stripped away, leaving each of us back at our intended glory. There isn't much formal substance to this concept, it is what ever we want it to be, whatever we imagine it to be.
In the Bible though, Heaven is always pictured as the place of God's throne; the holiest place in all of existence. That throne has always existed. Surrounding that throne is the place of the holy Angels abode. The Kingdom of Heaven signifies the rule or reign of God placed over that location. At one point there was a war in Heaven and a third of the Angels were expelled from it. According to the Lord's prayer, God's will is always done there in Heaven.
The Kingdom is much more than the fluffy clouds and pearly gates and reunion we have with deceased friends and loved ones in mansions. It is Christ's exclusive and complete dominion. For us the Kingdom takes hold anywhere that people are in allegiance to the reign of God and the will of God. I can tell you why it is that so many believers have neglected this well-defined concept of everlasting Kingdom in favor of their own nebulous concept of Heaven: it is because the carnal self is not so quick to give up its own reign and will.
Carnal self you see is more than willing to generate whatever it can to guarantee for itself safe harbor. If need be, it also is willing to be virtuous and knowledgeable and temperate and patience and godly and kind and charitable as long as being so does not interrupt its autonomy. But if these things are to correctly be in us and increase, eye must be given to the Kingdom sense of these things Christ's rule and reign; else we are blind and short-sighted.
God's will is for us to be conformed into the image of Christ (see: kjv@Romans:8:29). It is for us to be holy "for I AM HOLY" (see: kjv@1Peter:1:15-16). One does not enter into this holiness without first being elected then called and made holy. Man of course cannot make himself holy and therefore requires the robe of Christ's own righteousness to cover him before he can enter in. Man cannot be a citizen of this Kingdom without being willing to wear this other man's robes and place themselves entirely under the dominion of this Most Holy King.
The perspective that this proper concept of Kingdom places over the "like precious faith" is essential. Anything less than this perspective is an effort to counterfeit what is "like precious" about it. Both the foundations and the furnishings to those foundations depend upon the perspective of Kingdom and the submission to that perspective. The further our approach into this Kingdom perspective progresses, the more awareness of its abundance we will have. This is because the King has chosen His Kingdom to be His recipient of His abundance.
Of The King's Kingdom Perspective
- Jesus gave us several similitudes to help us better comprehend its concept and meaning:
- kjv@Matthew:13:24 ".... is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field ..."
- kjv@Matthew:13:31 "is like to a grain of mustard seed ..."
- kjv@Matthew:13:44 "...is like unto treasure hid in a field ..."
- kjv@Matthew:13:47 "...is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea ..."
- kjv@Matthew:20:1 "...is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard "
- kjv@Matthew:22:2 "...is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son ..."
- kjv@Matthew:25:1 "...likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom ..."
Jesus later gave His disciples a better explanation:
Matthew 13:37-39 kjv
This parable is from the Angel's perspective. Notice that until it came to the first appearance of fruit, both the good seed (children of the Kingdom) and the tares appeared indistinguishable from each another. The children were children before having produced any fruit. Christ had only sown children of the Kingdom, and for the purpose of them producing fruit for Him. Christ commands the reapers to leave what He had sown to grow together with the tares until the final harvest. He did this so that the fruit of the children of the Kingdom would not be rooted up.
This parable receives the Lord's direct explanation as an aid to help us interpret His other parables.
While the sower and the field remain the same here, the Kingdom is now considered from the children's perspective. The concept of Kingdom that the sower has planted is perceived by us to be small but growing large. It is not the Kingdom that has changed sizes of course, it is our perspective of it. The field of wheat is not the child of a tiny mustard seed. The importance of Christ allowing His wheat to grow to full harvest is that in the process the wheat's perspective of Kingdom and dependence on it grows.
This Kingdom parable is from the perspective of Christ the Redeemer who has to buy His treasure back. He did not bury His treasure in this world, Adam did that. He has to sell all that He has to buy that back.
The Parable of the Pearls is much like this ( kjv@Matthew:13:45-46). Note though the emphasis He placed on one pearl (not several pearls) costing the merchant everything that he's got. The one Kingdom is the one pearl was what He was willing to do this for.
The perspective now switches to the judgment that the Kingdom must eventually go through. The children of the Kingdom have been given time to grow and be fruitful. Their perspective of Kingdom size and scope immeasurably expanded. Their Redemption secured as one. The net now drags through the water (also a symbol of judgment) and the Angels/Reapers separate the wicked from the just.
Until this parable, we have yet to see what the children of the Kingdom are doing. Here they hired as laborers for one day in Christ's vineyard. Vineyard, field, garden, they all describe the same world. The laborers you'll notice are not otherwise employed, they cannot supply adequate work for themselves. The owner hires them at different stages of the day. Yet it becomes an issue when they find that their perspective of a fair wage for this work differs from the owner's.
This parable speaks to a large group of people that are too busy with their own affairs and too put out to attend the wedding of Christ to His bride. It is the perspective of the children's proper priorities, what they see as important versus what is Christ and His Kingdom's priority. Along with this comes the concept that by accepting the invitation to this wedding, one must at the same time accept wearing the all important attire of Christ's imputed righteousness leading to justification.
Added to this wedding, is not only the priority of being there and in the right attire, but also the idea of being in the anticipating wedding party prepared for the bridegrooms sudden return. The perspective is one of preparation and devotion to the priority before the event finally happens.
By these many vantage points of the concept Kingdom, Jesus defines the foundations of the obtained "like precious faith" like nowhere else. Before this understanding, we could not have advanced our productivity in the recognition and acknowledgment much further. Now that we have a much broader view of this Kingdom for which Christ stands, we have to rethink everything that we have learned up till now and define our AgapeLove much better by it.
This is why Jesus spent so much time teaching on it. Why Peter fought so hard the remainder of his life to stir us back into the remembrance of it. Best put, when it comes to the Kingdom and our election and calling into it, the righteousness of God and Savior is the cause, the effect of which brings about His fruit fruit in us and therein our most certain assurance.