2nd Peter 1:5-11
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
Calvinist, Mark Talbot, explains: “Now of course, nothing, that I, nor anyone else, can say can guarantee that anyone will continue to believe. Faith is a gift of God that we cannot produce.” (Sin and Suffering in Calvin’s World, emphasis mine)
John Calvin comments: “The meaning is therefore this: take pains to give proof of the fact that you have not been called or elected in vain. He uses calling here in the sense of the result or evidence of election.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, p.333, emphasis mine)
Calvin adds: “God effectually calls those whom He has fore-ordained to life from before the foundation of the world by His secret purpose, and in the same way He follows through His continuous course of calling by His sheer grace.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, p.334, emphasis mine)
John Calvin: “He mentions calling first, though it comes later in sequence.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, p.333, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, William MacDonald, comments: “And so Peter exhorts his readers to confirm their call and election. These are two facets of God’s plan of salvation. Election refers to His sovereign, eternal choice of individuals to belong to Himself. Call refers to His action in time by which the choice is made evident.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, pp.2290-2291, emphasis mine)
Notice that Calvinists do not see Election as the unique and specific purpose that God has for Christians. Rather, instead of seeing Election as God’s set purpose for the one in Christ, Calvinists see Election as God’s mechanism for a person to become in Christ. Notice, also, the importance that Calvinists place on the order in which the calling and choosing are listed:
Calvin explains: “The reason is that election is of greater importance and the proper order of a sentence is to put the most important words at the end.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, p.333, emphasis mine)
In the debate of Calvinism vs. Arminianism at 2nd Peter 1:10, the contrast is over the type of calling and the type of election. Recall that Arminianism teaches two calls, that is, one call to live in Christ, as a redeemed Christian, and also a call to live for Christ, which speaks of the purpose that God has for you as a Christian. The Arminian perspective of 2nd Peter 1:10 is that this refers to the second call, the Christian Calling, that is, the call to live for Christ, based upon the purpose that God has for you as a Christian, being uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit for the edification of the Body of Christ and for the evangelization of the lost. Calvinism, in contrast, interprets the verse from the perspective of the first calling, which is an irresistible call, stemming from an eternal election in the Father. Calvinists then explain the verse from that perspective, which although being logical, is incorrect on account of it being improperly founded. It’s like a person getting on an airplane and arriving safely, but ending up at the wrong destination because they’ve boarded the wrong plane. To properly interpret 2nd Peter 1:10, you must have the correct calling and the correct election in mind.
Dave Hunt comments: “Thus, to make one’s election sure is to fulfill the responsibility that comes with election, not to somehow be sure that one is among the elect and thus eternally saved.” (What Love is This?, p.285, emphasis mine)
Yet, that’s exactly how Calvinists interpret this verse:
Calvinist, William MacDonald, explains: “We cannot make our call and election more sure than they already are; God’s eternal purposes can never be thwarted. But we can confirm them by growing in likeness to the Lord. By manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, we can provide unmistakable evidence that we truly belong to Him. A holy life proves the reality of our salvation.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.2291, emphasis mine)
John Calvin comments: “The question now arises whether the stability of our calling and election depends on good works. If so, it follows that it depends on us. On the other hand the unanimous teaching of Scripture is that our election is founded first and foremost on the eternal decree of God, and that our calling is thereafter begun and perfected by His gratuitous goodness.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, p.334, emphasis mine)
In other words, you cannot make unilateral Election more sure, nor can you make Irresistible Grace more certain, but by your good works you can prove to yourself that you are among Calvinism’s elect. However, the problem with Calvinism is that it shifts focus away from trusting in the promise of God to save whosoever believes in Christ, to instead presuming upon whether a person was secretly drafted in eternity, so that by looking to good works, there would be sufficient justification to presume one’s draft selection.
Robert Shank explains: “In other words, the only real evidence of election is perseverance, and our only assurance of the certainty of persevering is—to persevere!” (Elect in the Son, p.214, emphasis mine)
So instead of looking to holiness in order to focus on doing what God has called us to do, Calvinists look to holiness as an outward sign secret election. True assurance should instead come from confidence in knowing that God will keep His John 3:16 promise, rather than assurance coming from guessing about secret election, which secret election never even took place. Jesus died for all men and God desires that all men freely come to Him through His Son and experience the salvation that He indiscriminately offers to all. Biblical election deals with all that God has reserved in Christ.