the weblog of Alan Knox

Guest blog post: Blessed Assurance

Posted by on Jan 9, 2010 in blog links, discipleship, guest blogger | 5 comments

Just before Christmas, my friend Joe from “Hear God Speak” answered a question that I asked on Facebook. Instead of giving Joe a leg lamp (a leg lamp), we decided that he would publish a guest blog post on my blog. This is Joe’s post… enjoy!

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2 Peter 1:10b Blessed Assurance

I have never enjoyed revivals. I felt this way even before I realized I was a Calvinist. When I was the pastor of Matthew’s Memorial Baptist Church, we didn’t have a revival the entire time I was there. I read a statement on another blog that totally crystallized why I feel about revivals the way I do. The author said some churches have a “pray this prayer and you’re saved” mentality and that they encourage people to always remember that day and never doubt. This has nothing to do with anything that we find in 2 Peter 1:10. I know there are people who went down in VBS and prayed a prayer when they were 8 years old or so who now live in open defiance of God’s word with hate, bitterness, lust, and greed in their heart. They have a false assurance of their salvation. Peter, in this verse, writes to these Christians about true assurance of salvation.

First of all, we should remember that our salvation is not something that we brought about by our choice or because we were smart enough to realize that we needed a Savior to redeem us from out sins. Our salvation, as we can observe in the first part of verse 10, begins with God’s calling and choosing of us. Salvation started with God. His Holy Spirit empowers us to live out the Christian life but it is in our living of that life that we find our assurance of salvation. Peter writes in the second half of verse 10 that our assurance comes as long as you practice these things. The word practice is in the present tense in the Greek. In other words, the development and exercise of these things (the virtues in verses 5-7) is a lifelong endeavor. This activity is quite frankly the toughest job you’ll ever love and you will never retire from it.

The Lord was pleased to save me when I was 12 years old and I have grown in Christ since then, albeit not so steadily in my college years. I’m celebrating the 13th anniversary of my 25th birthday (or 38 according to my wife.) the 22nd of February this year and I feel like I have more to learn today than I did when I started my journey. I feel like the more I learn and know the more I realize how much I need to learn and know. As Christians, we are called to live in a manner consistent with the truths of the gospel. Of course we’re going to sin. We’re still living in a fallen world with fallen flesh that loves to sin better than anything. It is only through the strength given to us by God through the Holy Spirit that we are able to do this. In fact, it is a bigger surprise to me sometimes that I am able to live for the Lord than it is that I fail and sin. The questions we should ask as we read these inspired words given to us through the pen of Peter are “Am I living what I believe? Is the pattern of my life generally consistent with the truths taught in scripture? When I recognize sin in my life, do I confess and repent of that sin?” If you can answer yes to those questions I would say you’re probably practicing the truths Peter has taught. As you see these qualities and character traits grow, you can feel assurance that your profession of faith is genuine. You will have tangible evidence that you can rely on rather than some prayer mumbled when you were a child.

Peter further assures believers that their life of godliness provides a reason to feel secure in their salvation. He says that if you practice these things you will never stumble. Now, Peter uses some strong language in the Greek language that doesn’t really translate to English. In saying never Peter uses three Greek words: ou (3756) which is used for absolute negation of something, me (3361) which is a less intense negation and pote (4218) which means never, not once, ever. In fact, following the word order of the Greek a person could translate the phrase “no not stumble never, not once, ever”. I think that’s a quadruple negative. Regardless of how you want to count the number of negatives in that phrase, it seems pretty clear that Peter is emphatically saying that a true believer, one who is living out his or her faith, will never fail away so as to lose their salvation. Stumble (ptaio-4417, to trip up) is in the aorist tense which points to a stumbling that is final and from which one cannot recover, as noted by Edmund Hiebert in his commentary on II Peter. This does not mean that a believer will never sin. What it does mean is that a person who has genuine saving faith will remain faithful in spite of all their minor slip ups and falls to the very end.

If you will notice, in the next verse (2 Peter 1:11) we are told the end of the Christian journey is arrival at home in heaven. We can have assurance of our future home in heaven by the godly lives we live here and now. As Peter has noted, we do not live godly lives to earn our salvation but rather they are the proof of God’s work in our lives.


5 Comments

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  1. 1-9-2010

    Excellent post. As a fellow Calvinist, I must admit that I have focused far more on the forensic nature of salvation and less on how that is lived out.

  2. 1-9-2010

    Arthur,

    Thank you for your kind words. I have to admit that I, too, focus sometimes on figuring out the theology of the Bible more than I do walking worthy of the calling as Paul exhorts us to do. I am grateful for God’s grace that enables us to live for Him.

    Thanks,
    joe

  3. 1-9-2010

    Alan

    Thank you for the guest post opportunity. It was a lot easier to explain this than some leg lamp with nylons showing up with the Italian word “Fragile” (of course, pronounced “fra-geel-ay” in Italian) all over the box.

  4. 1-9-2010

    If you guys have never read “Regeneration and Justification” by Charles Leiter it is a treat and deals rightly with regeneration while not cannibalizing the Reformed position on Justification. It is quite simple also

  5. 1-10-2010

    Sounds like a good one, Lionel.