Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fail. – 2 Peter 1:10
THIS LANGUAGE is addressed "to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ." It is not addressed to any other than the children of God. None can receive these sayings save the called and elected. Those who are the called and elected were so solely because of the righteousness of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let us now proceed in our meditations to make our calling and election sure by using the same formula advocated by Peter in this same scripture. I have termed this formula a lesson in Spiritual Mathematics.
First, he says: "Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:5-8).
All these that we are to add must be of the same denomination and we must be in possession of them before we can add them. If we can determine the source of faith then we must conclude that these other things are from the same source in order to be of the same denomination. "By grace are ye saved through 'faith'; and that not of yourselves: it [faith] is the gift of God."
Faith is the gift of God, so all these other things we are to add must be gifts of God. If the virtue and these other things be good they must be gifts of God. James says: "Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." So all these are good – thus gifts of God, and we must be in possession of each of them before we can add them.
So, in this problem of Spiritual Mathematics, it does not concern any works of righteousness that we may perform but our pure minds being stirred up by way of remembrance of these wonderful gifts that God hath bestowed upon us. When we are so enabled by the Spirit to study to show ourselves (as being) approved unto God: we make our calling and election so sure in our minds that we are enabled to rejoice and not fall into despair. In working out our own salvation by recalling all the things that we have experienced we fear and tremble. We wonder has God been so gracious unto us as to work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
Now in solving this problem for our own consolation, we must now consider: do we have faith in God and Jesus Christ as our Savior? If we find that we have any trust or confidence in ourselves for any part of salvation, to such extend we are void of faith in Jesus Christ but if we find that our experience teaches us that we must be saved solely upon the merits of Jesus and have no confidence in ourselves then we may conclude that we are in possession of faith.
Next, let us consider virtue. We fear and tremble now because in our flesh we can find no good thing. We are but sinners, vile and needy. Sin is mixed with all we do. We are comforted with this thought, surely it takes virtue to reveal to us our sinfulness. Were it not for this virtue we would be righteous in our own eyes. Surely, then, God hath given to us this virtue. This pure heart or virtue enables us to see ourselves as we are. It enables us to behold that sin is mixed with all we do. We see that in us (that is in our flesh) dwells no good thing.
Next, we are glad to add knowledge. His children grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God has taught us through experience more and more of our depravity and dependence upon grace and more and more of the meritorious, complete work that Jesus has performed, is performing and will perform for God's chosen. Surely knowledge may be added in the meditations of the pure mind concerning our experience.
Next, we are to add temperance. Have our experience and belief tempered our actions? Have we not been restrained in some degree from thinking and acting as we have thought and acted heretofore? Are we not more sane minded in our estimation of others as well as ourselves? Have we not been restrained from trusting in ourselves? This peculiar experience has tempered our actions and even our associates and ideals are not the same. Now we see temperance added to the list in our meditations.
Next on the list is patience. Paul said: "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience." Through much tribulation we have learned to patiently wait upon the Lord. We have been taught by that great Teacher that we are depraved and have no ability to lift ourselves from this condition but God has been so merciful unto us that when we were deepest in despair He has reached us many times. These experiences have wrought in us a degree of patience. We now see that God has blessed us with patience.
"And to patience godliness." God has been so gracious to us and has blessed us in so many ways. There is such vast difference between us and God. No comparison, but what a contrast! We are incapable; God is all powerful. We are foolish; God is all wise. We are sinful; God is all holy. We are creatures of time; God is eternal. We are finite; God is infinite. We are mortal; God is immortal. It is with reverential fear and amazement that we are made to bow to the shalls and wills of Jehovah and trust through Jesus Christ the God-man that His abundant mercy may even reach us. May we not add godliness to the list being possessed with this reverential awe and fear?
To godliness, brotherly kindness. Once my earthly father, who was an ordained minister in another religious organization, accompanied me to a Primitive Baptist Church. While we were enroute home I noticed tears trickling down his cheeks as he said, "I would to God that the brotherly love you people have one for another was practiced by us." I asked him why he made such a remark, and he said, "Everyone can see that you folks love one another, the lovely smile, the warm hand clasp and the smiling countenance on your faces shows that you really love one another. In our church, there is confusion, strife and pride displayed in a big way."
Even the heathen can say, "The Lord hath done great things for them." They can see the brotherly love that exists between brethren. When a brother rejoices the brethren rejoice with him. When a brother mourns, the brethren mourn with him. Surely brotherly kindness may be added to our characteristics.
"To brotherly kindness, charity." Do we possess charity, which is love? We love God because He first loved us. We love the brethren with that godly love. This love is not akin to natural love. This same love God loves us with goes back and loves God and goes out and loves the brethren. We cannot be so selfish as to retain this love but it is efficacious – reciprocates – it loves God and the brethren and enables us to do good to all mankind, especially to the household of faith.
Now, we have worked out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We have added each of the gifts that God has so graciously blessed us with. We have made our calling and election by the Spirit stirring up our pure minds by way of remembrance of the things that we have experienced. We will not fall into despair; our minds have been gladdened and we are made to rejoice over our experience that God has so graciously blessed us to enjoy. Now we praise His holy name for His goodness to the children of men.
Elder E. J. Lambert
"Tried in the Furnace" Pgs 68 – 72