Demonstrating Our Calling and Qualifications
2 Peter 1:8–10
2 Peter Lesson #026
December 19, 2019
“Father, what a joy it is to come together and study Your Word and to reflect upon all You have provided for us. We reflect upon the significance of Your Word and how it was revealed to the prophets in the Old Testament and to the apostles in the New Testament and how it was recorded and protected and kept through the ages.
“What a privilege it is that we have Your Word before us. We have it in many, many different formats and different translations. Father, we can learn and Your use Your Word in our spiritual life. As our Lord prayed to You, ‘Sanctify them in truth; Thy Word is truth.’ ”
It is indispensable and central to our sanctification, our spiritual life, and our spiritual growth. Father, we pray that we might be challenged as we study this evening and that we may gain a greater focus on our own spiritual life and our spiritual growth. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles to 2 Peter. We’re continuing our study in 2 Peter 1:8 and following. We’ve gone over bits and pieces of 2 Peter 1:8 already but we’ll put it together tonight and go on in to verse 9 and on into verse 10.
What’s interesting in these verses is that they’re sometimes mistranslated, mishandled, and misappropriated by the lordship theologians who seek to argue that these are verses that support the idea that you need to have good works in order to prove you’re actually saved. That’s the essence of lordship salvation.
We’ll look at some of the ways they misuse and abuse this passage as we go through this. It is a passage that talks about the idea that we are to demonstrate that we have been called and that we have been qualified to be saved.
That qualification comes from imputed righteousness. It’s not our works. It’s not our fruit that qualifies us. It is by the fact that in the instant we trust in Christ as Savior, God the Father imputed, or credited, to us the righteousness of Christ. It’s on the basis of Christ’s righteousness that we are justified.
That’s the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Then when we live that out it demonstrates that reality to others. That’s important. That’s part of what this passage is all about. Just to give us the overview this is part of the section that goes from 2 Peter 1:5 down through verse 11.
That first part is a list of various attributes or characteristics or qualities or virtues. They are described by a host of different terms but these all describe Christ-like characteristics. It fits with, as we studied a few lessons back, the fruit of the Spirit. Some of them are parallel. Some of them are not mentioned in Galatians 5 but these are the qualifications of the Lord Jesus Christ’s character that are manifested in us as we grow and as we mature.
We went through that list, starting with faith as the foundation. This is talking about their phase 1 justification by faith. It is that faith that delivers them from or saves them from the eternal penalty of sin.
Then to that they add virtue, their spiritual excellence. The term you’ll find in a lot of books is moral excellence. The difference is that non-Christians, unbelievers, can be moral so we have to distinguish that term in some way so it’s talking about spiritual excellence, that which is produced in us as a result of our walk by the Spirit.
That’s why I took us through Galatians 5:16 and following a few lessons back. To faith is added spiritual excellence and to spiritual excellence is added knowledge because the Christian life is based on knowledge, on information. That’s not the end goal to acquire information, but it’s the means to the end which is our spiritual growth and God’s transforming us into the image of Christ.
To knowledge, add self-control. Self-mastery is the idea here. That is not letting the sin nature run away with itself. Of course, we can only truly master it as we’re walking by the Spirit.
To self-mastery, add perseverance. That’s hanging in there with the Christian life and not reaching a point where you think, “Okay, I’m happy. I’m satisfied. I’ve arrived.” We have to hang in there all the way to the end, not to be saved but in order to continue to grow and mature and glorify the Lord.
It’s not to demonstrate the reality of our salvation. That’s the fifth word in the acronym TULIP. TULIP describes the five points of Calvinism. The T is for total inability. The U is for unconditional election, The L is for limited atonement which means Christ died only for the elect. The I is for irresistible grace, which God the Holy Spirit only works on the elect to bring them to the knowledge of salvation, and the P is for perseverance. They believe the individual believer must persevere, maintain his faith to the end or he’s not really saved.
That idea, interestingly enough came out of Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo in the 4th century around AD 390 to 425. That era is when Augustine is saved. He comes out of a background where he has been heavily influenced, bounding around from one religion to another.
Initially he probably had it right. Evidence shows he understood that when you get into Matthew 24:17, somewhere in there, in the Olivet Discourse where it’s talking about the future Tribulation that initially he understood that was talking not about justification salvation, but deliverance from all the plagues and wars going on. The verse in question is the one that says, “Those who persevere to the end will be saved.”
A lot of times in the New Testament the word “saved” doesn’t refer to salvation from eternal condemnation. It refers in many cases to being saved or delivered from sickness. It also means being saved or delivered from certain circumstances. That’s the way it should be understood in Matthew 24.
There was a point when Augustine came under the influence of a teacher that introduced him to an allegorical interpretation and convinced him that there was no literal, future kingdom. He started off pre-millennial, but he had trouble.
The pre-millennialist of his day had a very fleshly understanding of the Millennium. Everyone was just going to eat, drink, and be merry. It was a really distorted concept of the Millennium, so he rejected that and went amillennial.
Once you change your eschatology you come back to Matthew 24 and now you’re going to read that those who persevere to the end will be saved. No longer do you believe in a literal Tribulational period and a future, literal Millennium.
Now he changed his interpretation to mean that those who persevere to the end will be justified. He introduced this concept of perseverance, which is later picked up by John Calvin. It’s picked up first by Martin Luther who was an Augustinian monk before he wrote his 99 theses and nailed it to the door of the church in Wittenberg and started the Reformation.
John Calvin goes to law school at the Sorbonne, the University of Paris, which is an Augustinian school. This is how they picked up Augustine’s theology. As a result of that they basically are regurgitating Roman Catholic anthropology, Roman Catholic hamartiology and to some degree Roman Catholic soteriology saying that you have to have this fruit, this moral change in your life, or you weren’t really saved. That’s what perseverance came to mean in Reformed Theology.
Some people like Lewis Sperry Chafer sort of revised it a little and said it meant that Christ would persevere in keeping us. That’s accurate but that’s not the historical meaning of perseverance.
Biblically, the idea of perseverance is not to show that you’re saved. It’s to continue to grow and mature despite opposition so you can glorify God to the maximum.
Here Peter lists perseverance and to perseverance we’re to add godliness. That is reverence. It’s usually translated reverential fear of God but that’s an awkward concept. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I think of this word as more of a description of a mature, spiritual life.
That’s what godliness is. To godliness you add brotherly kindness or love. Christians are to demonstrate that they are disciples of Christ by loving one another; hence, to brotherly kindness, add love. So it goes from PHILADELPHOS to AGAPE love.
2 Peter 1:8 starts with the word “for” indicating it is an explanation of what has been said before. It’s explaining the significance of this chain of life-style characteristics or character qualities. You have a “for” at the beginning of verse 8 and at the beginning of verse 19. Both of these verses come out of that list of Christ-like character qualities. Verse 8 describes the things that they have positively and the result of that in verse 9 deals with the lack of those qualities and the negative consequences.
The issue is that both of these are addressed to believers. This is where you get into a problem with the lordship salvation people because they want to indicate that if you lack these things then you’re not really saved.
We have to go back and look at the context which tells us they were actually saved believers. They’re treated as believers all the way through 2 Peter. Peter even states that in the second half of the first verse.
2 Peter 2:8 starts off with the explanation “for.” Then there’s an encouragement that is stated by this participle, “If these things be yours.” There’s no actual word for “if” but that’s the sense of the participle. It’s a conditional participle and the word HUPARCHO is a word that describes something that exists, something you possess, so it should be translated along the lines of “If you possess these things.” Looking at it today I think a better translation which I changed in a later slide is, “If these qualities are present in you …”
If you see this character transformation in your life and these things are yours, then secondly, it’s if they abound. Abounding indicates that you’ve arrived at a position where now you have it in abundance.
That mishandles the sense of the participle. It really has the same sense of if these things are present in you and they’re increasing, which means spiritual growth is going on. It’s not just that you have it “statically”. The Christian life never becomes static.
I’ve always used this illustration that the spiritual life is where you’re going forward or you’re going backwards. You never stand still. A lot of times you go three steps forward and two steps back. We never stand still.
It is like you have a car with no brakes. You either have it in drive in the transmission or you’re in neutral. You don’t have back up. You have to drive that vehicle up a hill. That means you’re either pressing on the gas and you’re going forward, but if you take your foot off the gas, you go backward because you don’t have a brake. You’re just in neutral and you’re going to roll backwards.
That’s how the spiritual life. If we’re not intentionally going forward, walking by the Spirit, then what’s the default position? You take your foot off the accelerator and what happens? You default to the sin nature and you regress.
You have to be careful never to become satisfied. Never to think you’ve arrived. Never to think that you’ve learned enough. That is so dangerous for so many Christians. We all get started this way.
When you’re saved, you’re in a position mentally and spiritually probably looking for something, especially if you’re a little older. You’re looking for meaning, purpose, and definition in life and you hear the gospel and you trust in Christ as your Savior.
Then the issue is going forward, especially if you’re in your teens or twenties you have a lot of questions. Is Jesus really God? How do I understand the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? What’s this Trinity thing all about? How do I know I’m saved?
You ask all these questions. Then you begin to get them answered. Some people have five questions. Some people have five hundred questions. Once they get their questions answered I think that’s the first major test of their motivation and their movement forward.
If you start off and you want to get your questions answered, once you get them answered you think you’ve arrived unless you come up with some more questions. I realize and this is based on my own experience and watching others that when a lot of people get their questions answered they start coasting.
Before long you don’t see them at Bible class all the time. You don’t see them in church all the time. They start getting distracted by all the cares of the world. What happens is that your motivation has to shift.
For a long time you go to class because you want to learn not everything but everything you think you need. When you get there then you relax. How many times have you come to class and are thinking, “Well, I’ve heard this. I’ve seen that diagram before.”
You start thinking about what you’re going to do tomorrow or next week. You open your Bible and read something else. Whatever it is you quit concentrating and focusing. The point is once you get in a certain stage in your spiritual adolescence you have to make this switch from coming to class to learn something new to coming to class to be reminded of what you need to know to get through every day and face the challenges and problems that you have.
You may not be learning anything new, but you need to be reminded of all the stuff you’ve already learned. That’s important to remind you that you need to walk with the Lord every day. He’s going to provide for you. He’s going to take care of you. Whatever the problems are God is going to take care of you
We forget usually faster than we learn when it comes to spiritual things. We have to constantly be reminded to bring those principles back into the front of our minds.
The idea here is that if these things are yours, if these spiritual qualities are present in you, and increasing, that is the key to avoid being spiritually nonproductive and unfruitful.
That’s what we find in the next set of words, “You will be …” That’s the verb KATHISTEMI, which means you will cause these things to happen. It should be translated as a present tense instead of the way it’s translated.
“If these things are yours and increasing, then you are neither barren nor unfruitful.” Why? Because these qualities are yours. There’s a growth process being described here. As you grow and develop walking by the Spirit, then these spiritual characteristics, these Christ-like characteristics, are developing in your life.
When they’re being developed in your life, that’s fruit. That’s what we looked at. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness …”
That’s fruit. Those spiritual qualities, not how many people you witness to, not how many people are saved because of your witness. It’s not quantifiable because they’re character qualities.
“If these things are yours and present in you, you are neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is talking about this same issue that relates to having application in your life.
That’s the same thing that’s brought up by James in James 2:20. We’ll come back to James 2:20 a little later on, but this issue starts back in James 2:13. The question is raised about the connection between faith and works.
What happens is the “lordship” theology comes along and says you have to have works to demonstrate your faith. If you don’t have works to demonstrate your faith, it’s a dead faith. By dead faith they mean a non-existent faith or a faith that never existed.
A dead faith is not a faith that never existed. It’s a non-productive faith. For something to be dead, what do you know as an absolute truth? When you see something dead, what do you know about it? You know that it was alive at some point.
It had to first be alive for it to be dead. So, for it to be a dead faith, it had to once be a live faith. This is a believer who once had an active faith trusting in the Lord and now it’s no longer productive. He’s in carnality. He’s hit the skids. He’s out of it spiritually.
A dead faith is not one that never existed. It’s one that’s no longer productive. That’s what 2 Peter is writing about. Peter is writing about having faith that is productive. It’s not useless. It’s not non-productive. It’s not ineffective.
This is what happens with a lot of believers. Their spiritual life becomes useless, or as James says it’s a dead, non-productive faith.
In 2 Peter 1:8 we read, “If these Christ-like character qualities are present in you and increasing, then they will keep you from being spiritually useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now that’s a very important thing. We spent a lot of time on that word last time, so I just want to review a couple of things. To have the character qualities what must precede that? You’re walking by the Spirit.
It’s not the character qualities that prevent you from being spiritually useless, it’s the walk by the Spirit that produces the character qualities that keep you from being spiritually useless or unfruitful.
Then you have the phrase “in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The preposition there is not “EN” in the Greek but “EIS.” It indicates in some cases a goal, but in this construction it’s best to understand it as advancing with respect to your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the use of the word EPIGNOSIS here. When we get to the last verse of 2 Peter, he says to “grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We grow with reference to that knowledge. That’s what he’s saying here. You won’t be unfruitful with respect to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the one hand, you’re walking by the Spirit. That walk by the Spirit isn’t just some mystical thing. It’s a walk that is built on knowledge, on a growth in the knowledge.
This starts off with basic information, which as I pointed out last time is usually indicated by the word GNOSIS. So, you come to Bible class and you get a lot of information and a lot of knowledge. This is standard for a lot of Christians, but you really haven’t figured out how to walk by the Spirit yet.
When you start figuring that out, when you hear this information, if you are walking by the Spirit then God begins to transform that knowledge from just basic information and data point, to where it begins to be more significant and more targeted and it is used in your spiritual growth. It matures you.
I talked last time about the fact that about 130 to 140 years ago you had basically two views on the word EPIGNOSIS. You had Bishop Lightfoot who said that EPIGNOSIS is an advance upon GNOSIS, denoting a larger or more thorough knowledge. Then he goes on to say, “Hence EPIGNOSIS is used especially of the knowledge of God and of Christ, as being the perfection of knowledge.”
There was one other bishop, Armitage Robinson, and he disagreed to some degree. What I have found in a lot of theology where you have this kind of a difference is that in some passages both are true. This isn’t a technical word that always means the same thing every time. I think that’s what one particular article I was reading was getting at.
There are passages where Lightfoot’s concept seems to be present, that there’s an emphasis on an advanced knowledge, an advancing knowledge to something that is spiritually applicable. The emphasis in EPIGNOSIS is its application. It isn’t something that happens mechanically and quickly and just instantly. It’s the whole process that occurs in walking by the Spirit.
Robinson’s idea was that the preposition was not as intensive as Lightfoot had said, but directive. There’s some sort of limitation that comes across that’s going to be in the context. He goes on to says, “So far, then, as we are able to distinguish between GNOSIS and EPIGNOSIS we may say that GNOSIS is the wider word and expresses knowledge in the fullest sense. EPIGNOSIS is knowledge directed towards a particular object, perceiving, discerning, recognizing.
That is mostly related to how it’s used in the Prison Epistles: Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon.
Dr. Hoehner, in Ephesians 1:17 where it talks about EPIGNOSIS in relation to knowledge of God, states that “It’s to know God more intimately”. We know God more intimately not by some mystical spiritual thing. It’s not contemplative spirituality, which is a horrible, medieval abomination. It had a resurrection along with the New Age Movement since the 1980s.
You get churches that get very dramatic. They have candles being lit with the lights turned down as you pray. They’ll create a maze-like thing in the entry way and you have to walk through the maze in different ways, which is supposed to make you more spiritual. This is just medieval mysticism.
Knowing God more intimately is the result of our increased knowledge of Scripture. Then its application and God the Holy Spirit uses all of that to begin to change us, transform us, and conform us to the character of Christ.
What we see is that GNOSIS is a very, very broad category. EPIGNOSIS is a more narrow category. But in some places the two words are virtually synonymous so you can’t say it’s one and then the other. In some places GNOSIS is used for EPIGNOSIS and EPIGNOSIS is used for GNOSIS. You have to look at the context. It’s not mechanical or automatic.
Colossians 1:9–10 associates this EPIGNOSIS knowledge with a knowledge of God’s will and, of course, that comes through knowing the Word. It’s associated with wisdom and spiritual understanding. That comes with maturity.
Then in verse 10 it comes with increasing in the knowledge of God, so it’s knowledge in relation to God the Father and His person and building that more intimate relationship, which is what Paul talks about in a parallel passage in Ephesians 1:17, “knowledge of Him.”
Then in Ephesians 4:13, “the knowledge of the Son of God.” It’s targeted to these Persons of the Trinity, but it comes from the Word of God. The more we study the Word of God the more we learn about God’s plan and God’s purposes and the more the Holy Spirit uses that to transform that knowledge from basic information to usable, apply-able teaching or instruction.
Philippians 1:9 associates knowledge with discernment. In Philemon 6 knowledge is associated with the knowledge of every good thing.
I concluded that EPIGNOSIS is much more specific than GNOSIS in some of these passages. In the Prison Epistles it’s used to indicate a more intimate knowledge of God and of Christ, which results in targeted application of what we’ve learned from the Word and so all of that ties together.
In 2 Peter 1:9 we then read the other side. 2 Peter 1:8 is those who have these things, these qualities and they’re present in them, it is integral to their spiritual growth and prevents them from being unproductive in their spiritual life and ineffective in their spiritual life.
Then in 2 Peter 1:9 we get a second explanation, the flip side, the negative, “For he who lacks these things …” The Greek word there is PAREIMI, which has the opposite idea. I translated verse 8 as he who has these qualities present and here it can be translated as he who does not have these qualities present. He who lacks these qualities.
Then it says three things. The order in the New King James is short-sighted and blindness. Now scholars get wrapped around the axle on these metaphors. How can you be blind and short-sighted at the same time? You’re over thinking this.
The New King James translators tried to handle this by saying, short-sighted even to blindness, but they switched the order of the words in the Greek. In the Greek it just says, “He who lacks these things is blind and near-sighted, and has forgotten that He was cleansed from His old sins.”
He’s forgetful about the grace of God that is in His life. Let’s look at each of these three. First of all blind. This is a term that indicates he can’t see what is in front of him. He’s walking in darkness.
The concept of blind here refers to a spiritual blindness and it indicates that he doesn’t understand reality. He can’t see things for what they are. There’s an interpretation for what is in front of him that is different from reality. He can’t see life as it is, reality as it is, as God sees it.
He’s blinded to spiritual truth so now he’s calling bad good and good bad. He has completely reversed his understanding because of the sin in his own life. That’s the first quality. He’s divorced from this because he’s forgotten he’s been forgiven from sin. He ignores the sin in his life and so now he’s living like an unbeliever in spiritual blindness.
The second word is short-sighted. It’s based on the Greek word where we get our word myopic. It’s the Greek word MYOPAZO, which means to be near-sighted. You’re only looking at things up close. You’re not looking at things in a distance. It’s a sign of immaturity to only be thinking in terms of the immediate reality, your immediate wants or desires, your immediate pleasures, and not think in terms of the consequences. You’re not thinking in terms of the long-term benefits or the long-term negative qualities.
A Christian can not only be blind but they are myopic. They just look at the immediate situation. My mother used to call it not being able to think beyond the end of your nose. Some of you may have heard that from your mother, as well.
You just aren’t thinking in terms of what the consequences are, so you do what you want. You get into your desires and your passions and your lust patterns right away because you just want that immediate gratification.
One of the ways that emotional maturity is described is the ability to postpone gratification for a higher purpose or a higher goal. Those who can’t think in terms of a long-term consequence just feel that pressure to satisfy that lust pattern now. As a result, they’re living not in light of eternity but just living for the moment.
Near-sighted is different from being spiritually blind. Spiritual blindness divorces you from reality and seeing things as God sees them. Near-sighted means you just look at your immediate desires and you’re not living in light of eternity.
Then we get to our third category and that is forget that past sins were forgiven. This is interesting because what does this tell you? If they’re forgetful that their past sins were forgiven that tells you right away that they’re saved. There’s no question of their salvation.
We get into verse 10 and it’s translated as “Be diligent to make certain your call and election.” A lot of people translate that as meaning you’re to make sure you’re saved. Contextually they’re already saved. Peter is sure they’re saved so we can look at some different things here.
We have to look back at the second part of verse 1, “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” What this tells us is that Peter starts by making it clear they have the same justification faith as the apostles and that they are saved.
The second thing we can observe here is in 2 Peter 1:3 which reads, “As His divine power has given to us—like some of you, so he assumes they’re all believers and he includes himself with them—life and the things that pertain to godliness.”
Then in the next verse, 2 Peter 1:4, he says, “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises.” There the “us” also refers to both his readers and himself. That again emphasizes the fact they have been saved.
When you get to 2 Peter 1:5 he says, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.” There again he is stating that they have faith. It’s very clear contextually when it comes down to being diligent to make your call and election sure, the question we’re going to have to ask is “sure for whom?”
A lot of people read you’re to make it sure for yourself. That is not at all what it is saying. In verse 10 we read, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things, you will never stumble.”
Let’s look at a couple of words here. The first word is the word for diligent. This is the Greek verb SPOUDAZO. Every time I think of this word, I think of an event in my past so I’ll just share it with you. Maybe someday he’ll hear this message.
Randy Price. You know Dr. Randall Price. We were just together at Pre-Trib. We’re both on the board for Pre-Trib. We’ve been friends since the summer of 1970. We were working at Camp Peniel. The motif, the theme, around Boy’s Camp is an Indian Tribe, the Tejas Indians. That was the thing developed years and years ago.
Every boy counselor is a chief. Instead of mister or sir or whatever, every boy’s counselor is a chief. At the end of your first summer they give you a name. Some guys are hard to find names for. I had a guy that I grew up with, Gary. Gary was just one of the most cheerful guys you ever saw so his name was Happy Beaver.
There were others and it was difficult to come up with a name for Randy. Randy liked to study so they called him Spoudazo Owl, using this verb, to be diligent. He certainly was diligent. When he wrote his lengthy 800-page book on the coming last days Temple I think Dr. Walvoord, the president of Dallas Seminary, wrote the foreword saying that no one ever has or probably ever will again write as thorough an account of the Temple as Randy has in this book.
That’s the way he was and that’s what SPOUDAZO means, to be diligent and to labor over something. It’s the word that is translated in 2 Timothy 2:15 to study. The old King James said to study to show yourself approved unto God.
It’s the word to be diligent. Study is the idea there because at the end of the context is said to rightly divide the Word of Truth. You have to be diligent in your study of the Word of God to be able to divide it correctly. So, study is not a bad interpretation, but it is not the dictionary meaning of the term.
Paul says “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent …” There’s another word in the Greek there that just intensifies that word for diligence. Not only do you focus on your spiritual growth, but then you continue. These qualities have to be present in you and increasing.
Don’t give up. Continue to be diligent, even more diligent, to make your call and your election sure. We have to look at a couple of these words, “call” and “election.” We’ve studied “call” before. We’ll look at it again in Matthew 24. It has the idea of the invitation to accept Christ as Savior, the invitation to respond to the gospel.
Then the word election is this word, EKLOGE, which has the idea of appointment or commissioning to a special task based on qualification. I’m going to come back and point out what some of this is you studied in Ephesians 1:3, 4, 5 as we’ve gone through that on Sunday morning. We’ve studied this in detail.
It’s usually translated election or selection and in Calvinism it’s the U in the TULIP, which stands for Unconditional election, meaning that God doesn’t pay attention to His foreknowledge or anything else. He has no qualifications for His selection of someone to be saved.
What we’ll see is that isn’t true. The word is always used in selecting someone who is qualified. The issue is what qualifies them. Are you qualified by your works or are you qualified because you possess the righteousness of Christ?
That’s what we’ll see. You’re qualified by the possession of Christ’s righteousness, but I’m getting ahead of myself. We have to understand that it’s always a selection based on some qualification.
The other word that’s used here is that word translated “sure,” which is the word BEBAIOS. It has the idea of confirming or certifying or attesting to something. The issue here is be diligent to demonstrate or to certify your call and commissioning as a believer.
Now this word EKLOGE. The Hebrew word is bahar, which takes us back to how it’s used in the Old Testament. This is a great example. This is the NET translation. The NET translation was done by mostly Dallas Seminary professors. A lot of places I disagree with their theology and things. I don’t recommend it because they just have a lot of interpretative notes that aren’t correct.
On their translation notes they often give you insights. Sometime insights where there’s an issue, but you don’t like their solution. Anyway, this is how they translated Judges 20:16, “Among this army were seven hundred specially trained left-handed soldiers.” This indicates there was a qualification there. They didn’t just randomly go along and select 700 who were going to be slingers in the Army, they were specially trained. It has a translation note they could be literally “700 choice men.” These men demonstrated an exquisite qualification.
If you look at the translation on the slide down below from the New American Standard, “Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.” The New King James translates “choice” as “select men.”
They’re not randomly chosen. They’re all left-handed and each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. That’s a pretty serious qualification. They’re not selected randomly. They’re selected because they were marksman. They were expert marksmen with a sling.
If you’ve ever tried to use a sling … Those of you who have been to Israel and the Israel Museum they have the slinger’s stones they’ve found at various sites like outside of Lachish, which was down about twenty miles from Jerusalem. Sennacherib surrounded the city. It was under siege for a while and in their reliefs that they created back in Nineveh, back at his palace, you can see the portrayal of the slingers.
These stones that were found were not small stones the size of a marble. They were a little bit smaller than a cue ball in pool. They were larger than a golf ball but smaller than a cue ball and they’re heavy. These men could sling these 200 yards up to 60 miles an hour and hit something the size of a hair. These are extremely qualified men.
I want you to hold your place here and we’re going to turn to Matthew 22 where we get a better understanding of this concept. This is a parable and when I was doing some study reading, I ran across an article on 2 Peter, which in many ways was good.
It was written by Zane Hodges. Zane Hodges was the founder of the Grace Evangelical Society (GES). He’s one of the sort-of fathers of the free-grace movement and he’s a genius. I know some of you get the GES newsletter, so I want to point out that they have some squirrely interpretations.
One of the big problems is something Tommy’s pointed out to them and I’ve pointed this out to them. It’s that none of the parables in Matthew relate to the church. They all relate to God’s plan for Israel. Yet they consistently take these parables out of context and apply them to the church, which leads to some horrible interpretations.
In Matthew 22:14 we have the description of the wedding feast starting in verse 1. “Jesus answered and spoke to them.” He’s being queried and questioned by the religious leaders and he’s going to give an illustration.
He talks about the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven always talks about the Messianic Kingdom, so therefore you know this is talking about God’s plan for Israel. It has zero to do with the church.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son. He sent out his servants to call”—this is the same word we have in 2 Peter, which means to invite people to the wedding. The picture here is he’s sending them to Israel to invite them. This is John the Baptist who said “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It’s the message of the disciples when they say “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The people ignore these messengers. They refuse to come. Then in Matthew 22:4–5a, “Again, he sent out other servants, and said to tell those who are invited, ‘See, I prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and everything’s ready. Come to the wedding. But they made light of it.’ ”
That means they ridiculed the messengers and they rejected them and they went their way. Some went home. Some took care of their business and the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. That’s what happened to John the Baptist. That’s what happened to Jesus Christ.
Matthew 22:7, “When the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” That’s the picture of the destruction of Jerusalem. “Then he said to his servants. ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited—that is Israel at the 1st advent—were not worthy.’ ”
Why weren’t they worthy? Not because they weren’t called. Not because they weren’t elected. But because they chose not to come. The issue is on their volition. They rejected the invitation. They were not worthy because they rejected the invitation.
“Therefore he says, ‘Go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ ” That’s where the Gentiles live, on the highways and byways. So in Matthew 22:10, “So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
We’re not told yet in all of this that the guests all had on special clothes. They come, both bad and good, and the wedding hall is filled with guests, but when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man who did not have on a wedding garment. That implies everyone else had on a wedding garment.
What’s important is that the guests have to be properly dressed. This one man is not. So, the king asks him how did he come in without a wedding garment and the man is speechless. Then the king said to the servants to bind this man from head to foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness.
These GES guys have come along and said this outer darkness is some punishment in the Millennium for Church Age believers who lose their rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This isn’t talking about the Bema Seat here. This is talking about the invitation to the Kingdom.
Those who aren’t qualified are going to be sent to outer darkness and they aren’t qualified because they don’t have the righteousness of Christ. When it comes to the conclusion, it says, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” The word here shouldn’t be translated as “chosen.” It should be translated as “choice.” Choice indicates their internal qualification.
The only people who make a choice in the whole parable are those who choose not to respond to the invitation. They reject the invitation. They ridicule the invitation and they go home and to their businesses and they don’t want to go to the wedding. That’s the only choice that is made.
Contextually it’s not accurate to say you were not chosen. Those who came were not chosen by the king. They chose to respond to the invitation. It should be translated, “For many are called but few are choice.”
What makes them choice? They’re qualified because they have on the right garments. The right garments represent the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at one other aspect. You go to James 2 and I’m going to go back to 2 Peter 1:10 for a second. “Therefore brethren be even more diligent to attest to your call and your selection.” From what we’ve just seen, that selection is based on your qualification.
Then it states, “For if you do these things—that is continue to have these qualities in you and continuing to grow and increase in those qualities—then you will never stumble.” The idea here is going to be that certifying your call and election is talking about showing the qualifications, the Christ-like characteristics that you have.
We see a similar passage in James 2. Let’s just look at this briefly to sort of get an orientation here to what is going on contextually. The basic principle is set forth in James 2:14–17.
The question is asked: “What does it profit, my brethren? …” Now notice that. My brethren all through James refers to the readers as believers. They’re my brethren or my beloved brethren. Peter refers to his readers in the verse that we’re studying as his brethren.
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith,”—that is, that he understands the word and understands what’s taught in the Word—but this man doesn’t have works?” Works means application.
This man in question has learned a lot. He’s got doctrinal notebooks lined up on all his shelves, but he doesn’t live a life showing any application of what he knows. The principle is laid out that doctrine, that is what’s taught in the Scripture, without application is just useless, even if you know a lot. It doesn’t deliver you. “Can faith save him?” isn’t just justification by faith alone, it means it’s not doing you any good. It’s not delivering you from the problems and difficulties of life. James 2:14 through 17 gives a couple of examples.
Then in verse 17 it says, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” It’s not non-existent but no longer functioning. It’s no longer being applied so it’s not doing the believer any good because he’s not trusting in God.
Then we get to the next section, James 2:18–19, which represents an objector, and I’m not going to get into the details of that because it’s not necessary to where I’m going.
Then he makes an objection to what James is teaching and James gives some illustrations in James 2:20–26. One illustration has to do with Abraham and the other has to do with Rahab. Both of them applied doctrine. They applied their faith to their circumstances. They’re already saved, but now they’re applying faith to their circumstances.
That is being used by James to give evidence. He is certifying their salvation. So James 2:17, as I just pointed out, says, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is useless.” It doesn’t produce fruit. It’s barren because it’s alone.
Now James 2:20. James is responding to the objector, “Are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” It’s great that you’re a believer. It’s great you’ve learned doctrine, but if you’re not applying it, it’s not making any difference in your life it’s not bearing fruit and so it’s useless.
Then he gives this illustration from Abraham. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?” What chapter in Genesis would you go to in Genesis to find the story of Abraham and Isaac? Genesis 22 tells that episode. That’s the example that James is using, that something is happening there that’s related to justification. So he draws this point in James 2:22, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works,—that’s application, “and that by works faith was made perfect.” It was matured. It didn’t begin there.
Romans 4:1 refers to the time when Abraham is justified by faith, when he became a believer. Paul uses this illustration, “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if [that’s a first-class condition] Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.”
Wait a minute, Paul is saying that Abraham was not justified by works and James is saying he was justified by works. What they’re talking about is two different justifications. The justification illustration James is talking about is near the end of Abraham’s life in Genesis 22.
Abraham is initially justified by faith, this is when he is saved in Genesis 15:6, “And he believed—technically in the Hebrew it’s not talking about what happened in Genesis 15:1–5, it’s reminding us that Abraham had already believed in the Lord—and it was [imputed or] accounted to him for righteousness.” This is when Abraham is saved, phase one, justified by faith alone. That happens in Genesis 15 in an event that probably occurred before Genesis 12, probably when Abraham is 40 to 50 years of age.
Genesis 22 is much later when Abraham is probably 120 years old, so they’re two different events. James isn’t talking about how Abraham got justified by faith to go to Heaven. He is talking about how he certified that or demonstrated it before man in the situation with Isaac, when God told him to go sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah.
Abraham, according to Hebrews, knew that God could raise him from the dead. He had finally passed the test to understand that Isaac was the promised seed and that God would either
a) not let him actually sacrifice Isaac, or
b) if he did, God would raise him from the dead.
He passes the test. God stayed his hand and he demonstrated or certified his salvation, that he had grown, that he had matured, and he lived out the character that had developed in him over the years through many trials and tests.
What we see is justification by faith alone for imputed righteousness in Genesis 15:6. Then that imputed righteousness in the character that’s developed is demonstrated before others in his willingness to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22.
The application for us in 2 Peter is that we confirm or certify our spiritual maturity and imputed righteousness through the manifestation of Christ’s character in our lives.
As we are walking by the Spirit and we are increasing in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, and that includes everything in the Scripture for that’s the mind of Christ, then as the Holy Spirit matures us, then it presents visible evidence to others, not to ourselves, that we are believers, because as Jesus said in John 13:34–35, that by this “that you love one another, all men will know that you are My disciples.” It’s a certification to others of what we say when we say we are a Christian and we believe in Christ and we are walking with the Lord.
It’s not talking about how to confirm to ourselves that we’re saved, but how to give that visible authentication to others that we are believers and Christ’s character is being demonstrated in our lives.
Next time we’ll come to verse 11, “And so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This is talking about rewards, the rewards that come to the faithful believer that has grown and matured. He’s going to enter the Kingdom abundantly. He’s going to have rich rewards and position and privilege in the coming Kingdom. We’ll get into that next time.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things tonight, understand what You’re teaching, the importance of our spiritual growth, our maturity, the transformation of our character to emulate Christ, that we may attest by our lives all You have done for us and the unique relationship with You that is a visible testimony to the angels and others.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”