2Pe 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
It is amazing how many Christians have been deluded into thinking that in order to make it to Heaven all one has to do is believe some facts about Jesus Christ. It comes from a misunderstanding of being saved through faith. Salvation is a process by which we are legally justified but also we are transformed within when the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart; we become new creations. For many the transformation passages are ignored and the “by faith” passages are taken with little thought about what else is taught in the Bible. This is called “Easy Beliefism”. It is the idea that all I have to do in order to be saved is to trust in Jesus’s death for me. The problem is that even lost people can believe facts about Jesus. This is where the doctrine of Total Depravity comes in. Only those regenerated by the Spirit can exercise faith that saves and once he does this the individual is never the same.
When God saves a person they become new creations and are being transformed into the image of Christ, Rom 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Rom 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
We see in 2 Peter 1:10 that it is this transforming work that gives us evidence that we are indeed saved from our sins, not just in our sins. To miss this point has caused many to presume that they are saved and has no doubt led many to Hell. When I was younger I remember hearing preachers like Curtis Hudson say that if you want to have assurance you need to write down the date you were saved in the front of your Bible and you could look at that and know you are saved.
This is fundamentally absurd. It is like saying that if you want to know if you are alive then you need to look at your birth certificate! I think it is safe to say that if you have to look at your birth certificate to know if you are alive or not, you are probably dead. How about looking to see if you are breathing or if your heart is pumping? Notice that Peter says that if you are practicing these qualities you will never fall; you will prove your calling and election. Therefore, if you don’t see evidence of these qualities in your life the assumption is that you are not called and elected.
I recently heard of a church bragging that David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam murderer, had walked the aisle at their church when he was eight so they knew that he was saved. A pet monkey can walk a church aisle! Our spiritual birth certificate is being sealed with the Holy Spirit, and he doesn’t lead us to murder people. Proof of life is doing living things. If my life is dominated by sin and not by Christ, if there is no spiritual “wiggling and struggling” going on, no signs of spiritual warfare, no battle against sin, no driving love for Christ then I am much better off assuming I am lost than spiritual sleepwalking until I am cast into Hell.
Some tell us to look to the cross and not your life for assurance but Peter says look at both. Election is what God did apart from us; calling is what God does in us. Both are two sides of the same coin of assurance; one side is security and the other is evidence. One alone is presumption and there is no hint in the Bible that it is okay for saints to presume they are saved without evidence.
Let us strive to hear the “Well done good and faithful servant”. Christ is talking to saints, not to himself. Jesus heard the well done while he was on earth, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. That is my security. At the judgment true saints will be told that there was enough evidence in their lives that proves they are sheep and not goats. That is my assurance.