Assurance of Salvation Gained and Maintained 2 Peter 1:5-11
Truth Taught- Assurance is maintained as we apply all diligence to our faith.
There is a difference between Salvation and Assurance of Salvation. A person can possess genuine salvation and struggle with assurance. Peter writes for the purpose of adding assurance to our faith.
The first way we can possess biblical assurance is in Christian service.
If a Christian has assurance of their salvation, they are better servants of Christ because their focus can be taken off of themselves and placed on others…and yet as we will learn today it is in service that we gain assurance. This wonderful doctrine is one that builds upon the foundation of Christ and then multiplies.
Another way we can possess biblical assurance is from trials.
Peter understood what it was to have your faith tested. In fact, Peter’s faith had been tested by Satan, himself. Peter’s faith was so completely tested that his faith wavered to the point that he even denied knowing Jesus, His Lord.
Peter was no less a child of God at his denial of Jesus than he was at his proclamation of Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the living God. The way we know this, is found in the words of Jesus… And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31–34 (ESV)
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
What was Jesus’ response to Satan demanding to sift or to test Peter? Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. His faith was severely tested and tried, stretched and stricken but because of Jesus praying, it did not fail. Faith that does not fall under trial is a genuine, tested faith. It is the trial that proves faith to be genuine. Faith proven is then worthy of assurance.
We must understand that a tested faith that endures is a genuine faith. It’s not the endurance through trials that makes faith genuine but it proves it to already be genuine.
Peter’s goal here is to help us as our faith is tested. He desires all Christians to possess a growing and maturing faith like his, as he already stated in verse 1.
2 Peter 1:1 (ESV)
1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
Through trials the true believer, one with genuine faith and salvation perseveres.
This is the doctrine of perseverance of the saints. This is the truth found in the Bible, that once a person has received saving faith it is theirs for all eternity. They truly possess as Jesus says, eternal life.
John 6:37–40 (ESV)
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
John 10:27–30 (ESV)
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Further evidence that God keeps those who are born again safe for eternity is the “seal” that God places upon us. This “seal” is the Holy Spirit within us, who also acts as God’s “guarantee” that we will receive the inheritance promised to us: “In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13–14). The Greek word translated “guarantee” in this passage (ἀρραβών, G775) is a legal and commercial term that means “first installment, deposit, down payment, pledge” and represents “a payment which obligates the contracting party to make further payments.” When God gave us the Holy Spirit within, he committed himself to give all the further blessings of eternal life and a great reward in heaven with him. This is why Paul can say that the Holy Spirit is the “guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Eph. 1:14). All who have the Holy Spirit within them, all who are truly born again, have God’s unchanging promise and guarantee that the inheritance of eternal life in heaven will certainly be theirs. God’s own faithfulness is pledged to bring it about.
Before a person can truly possess assurance of their salvation, they must be convinced by Scripture and the Holy Spirit that salvation is eternal. That they are kept and sealed by God and no one, not even themselves can change that fact. Unless salvation is an eternal salvation then there is no way a person can possess assurance that they are saved.
We may have experienced a time when our faith was being tested. Perhaps we have spent time away from Christ. Perhaps we had a time when we were not attending Church or living like an unbeliever but Christ has prayed for you and you returned with a stronger faith than before.
John 17:20–24 (ESV)
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
The reason we will remain; the reason we will not ultimately fall away is that Jesus has prayed for us too. Salvation is for eternity based on divine power not our power.
God has set certain benefits for aiding in perseverance of salvation.
It’s our calling as Elders to serve God in this capacity. We are called to help you confirm your calling. To help you persevere in the faith. This is why we pay visits to people periodically; we want to encourage you in your faith. Sometimes we intercede in discipline, because we don’t want to see you drift too far away. Sometimes we step back and allow Satan to sift you some, sometimes we see that someone’s faith was not genuine at all and remove them from membership. This is to help them see that their faith is not real and they should stop pretending that they have genuine faith because they don’t.
That’s the keys of the Kingdom passage in Peter’s repentance…
Matthew 16:16–19 (ESV)
16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
In Matthew 16:19, Jesus is specifically addressing Peter, so it is significant that, in the book of Acts, Peter figures prominently in the “opening of doors” to three different groups of people so they can enter the Kingdom. In Acts 2, it is Peter who preaches in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost; about three thousand Jewish people are saved that day. Peter’s preaching had “unlocked the door” of heaven for the Jews. Later, in Acts 8, the Samaritans believe the gospel and receive the Holy Spirit; again, Peter (and John) was present for this event. Peter had “unlocked the door” for the Samaritans. Then, in Acts 10, Peter brings the gospel to a Roman centurion’s household, and they, too, receive the Holy Spirit. Peter had “unlocked the door” for the Gentiles. The “keys” that Jesus had given him worked in each case. It was the Gospel, the truth Peter confessed Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God.
The Gospel and its faithful proclamation are the keys to the Kingdom and used to unlock the Kingdom’s doors.
In Jesus teaching in Matthew 18 we see the same context when He calls the Church into the binding and loosing ministry. Here, the Church is not given the authority to save people, only God does that, but the Church is given the authority to determine whether or not someone is saved. When a person is determined not to be a Christian then the Church, if it’s to be biblical, must remove that person from membership. Our role here, is to make sure that if a person is lost according to heaven’s assessment, we also call them lost on earth. If they are saved according to heaven’s assessment, we too call them saved on earth.
We use certain markers that do indicate a person’s spiritual state. Are they regular attenders? Are they regular tithers? Are they engaged in ministry? These three will often indicate the true condition of the heart.
Peter desires that we know for sure that we possess genuine saving faith. He wants us to grow and mature as Christians. God has equipped Peter through his calling as an Apostle and through life lessons to be able to write this portion of Scripture so we can have assurance that our faith is real. How is it then, that we know we possess saving faith?
2 Peter 1:5–11 (ESV)
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
1. Gain Assurance by Being Diligent to Supplement to Your Faith (1:5a)
5 For this very reason, every make effort to supplement your faith
Because God has given us everything we need, as we learned last time, for a life God approves of, 5 For this very reason…
2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV)
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Because God has saved us by His divine power now, we are to be diligent to build on that secure foundation. Now, beloved is the time works play a role. It’s often hard work to obey what God has told us. That’s why Peter uses the words, make every effort. Some say, apply all diligence. God regenerates. God Saves. God Elects. God calls. God brings us from death to life. Now, we are called to be diligent to build on what God has done. The idea is to call on all your regenerate faculties to align with God’s character and live godly lives.
2 Corinthians 8:7 (ESV)
7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
We are to work hard, be diligent, make every effort with a sense of urgency to persevere in the faith and to add to our faith. We do not automatically become more virtuous as if God somehow infuses us with it but we need to make plans and expend effort to this end.
Let’s keep in mind that we are not adding these things for salvation but we are adding for assurance that our salvation is genuine.
2. Supplement Your Faith with Virtues (5b-7)
with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Peter begins by telling us to be diligent to add virtue to our faith. Notice with me that virtue or moral excellence is a must for those who would like assurance of salvation. The ability to excel in heroic deeds. Virtue means to be the best person God has called you to be. To go against the flow of the world, to stand out in a crowd. Keeping your word even when doing so costs you. Being trustworthy. Going the extra mile. Not being half-hearted. Not being a liar. Not falling asleep when you’re supposed to be awake. Taking control of your life and drawing a line in the sand and declaring, as for me and my house, we will follow the Lord.
Men, it’s time to stand guard over your families with all diligence. To take up spiritual weapons of war and to wield for the glory of God and the good of your families.
Ladies, it’s time to join your husbands in this task. It’s time to help him lead your families.
These are the types of virtues God desires us to have.
A. Add Knowledge
This is the knowledge of Christ.
2 Corinthians 6:4–7 (ESV)
4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;
True knowledge of Christ are the truths about Christ that we affirm. May these be growing in your life. May our trust in Christ be growing as we see Him by faith in the pages of Scripture.
B. Add Self-Control
Flowing from our knowledge of Christ comes self-control. Here, the original means holding oneself in. It was often used of athletes who sought self-discipline and self-restraint. Self-control in the realm of sin. We must get control of ourselves. As believers we must live as representatives of Christ. Self-control is one of the virtues Peter highlights. It is one that has so much impact on other areas of our lives. Practice self-control.
C. Add Steadfastness
This means patience and endurance in doing what is right and approved by God. It’s the endurance of the daily suffering of hard and difficult things for the sake of honor and usefulness. Steadfastness or perseverance means we endure difficulties realizing that through them we will be better equipped to serve Christ and others.
Hebrews 12:1–6 (ESV)
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
D. Add Godliness
The next virtue Peter writes about is godliness. Godliness comes from the Greek word eusebeia which means reverence for God. This virtue is living a life before the face of God or in the fear of the Lord. This godly fear will cause us to live differently. It is used many times in the context of worship. We are called to worship God by how we live. Is your life a continuation of worship?
1 Timothy 4:7–8 (ESV)
7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
E. Add Brotherly Affection
Really the virtue that rightly follows godliness (right view and worship of God) is the right view and relationship with others. We love God and we also are called to love others.
Matthew 22:36–40 (ESV)
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
F. Add Love
Love first for God then for others is a vital virtue for Christians. It’s the heart’s affection for others. This is seen as we care for the needs of others. Are you serving others? How are you caring for those in this Church?
3. Increasing Virtues Add Assurance (1:8-9)
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
Here we learn that our life as a Christian is a process. We must be increasing in virtue. Often, we call this sanctification. Are you practicing these virtues with increasing frequency and increasing zeal? If you are then, assurance is a great blessing. To be humbly confident that your salvation is genuine is a great blessing and something God wants for us. He does not want us doubting our salvation.
Verse 9 depicts a selfish Christian or a blind Christian. Here is a Christian, yes Peter is speaking of someone who is saved but is not growing. They are not putting all God has given to them to work in order to live a life pleasing to Him. They are not living a vibrant life in Christ but barely making it. Peter writes that these people are blind to all God has given them and have forgotten that Christ has cleansed them from their sin.
These are the people who always struggle with assurance. Literally, who knows if they’re saved or not. Of course, God does but they don’t. There is no real fruit, no service, no commitment, no real drive to live a life pleasing to God. In some cases, they may discover only too late that they were actually lost the whole time.
4. Be Diligent to Confirm Your Calling and Election (1:10-11)
10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Here, Peter uses calling and election to refer to one’s salvation. How can you confirm your salvation? He tells us… if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
You do not have to live in doubt of your salvation. Practice these qualities Peter mentions and you can know that you are saved. In this way, perseverance and assurance are shown to be a reality in your life. You can possess a faith that is a doing faith.
God supplies assurance in this life and a rich entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord in the life to come. Assurance for this life and rich blessings in the life to come.
Do you have assurance?
Are you practicing these virtues consistently?
Are you building on the foundation God has given you?
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: To all who name the name of Christ, may God equip you for all service in maturity and assurance. Bless the Lord who has given us everything we need to live for His glory. May the Lord richly welcome us into His Kingdom one day as we live for His glory while on earth.
1 & 2 Peter and Jude by Thomas Schreiner
Jude and 2 Peter by Gene L. Green
The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude by Peter H. Davids
Word Biblical Commentary by Richard Bauckham
1&2 Peter by Alexander Nisbet
Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine (pp. 790–791). Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.