I am keenly aware of how hard it is for human beings to shift core belief systems. As a friend said recently, it is hard even to consider the idea that works have anything to do with eternal life.
Of course, passages like Romans 2:6-7 and Galatians 6:8-9, which we have already covered, force us to consider the relation between good works and eternal life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 is another such passage:
Charge them that are rich in this world not to be haughty, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. [Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to share; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (emphasis mine)
Again, notice the connection between good works and eternal life in this passage. The connection between the two in Scripture is clear, but let me give you something that I think will help all of you along. Today’s Scripture passage covers the entire system I am teaching concisely, clearly, and completely.
2 Peter 1:3-11 (NASB)
Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
This passage describes the great gifts of God that we receive when we believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God (Matt. 16:16-17; Jn. 20:31). We described these in the last post.
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.
This passage describe our responsibility once we have received these great gifts by faith and apart from works. By faith we received these great rewards, and having received them, we are commanded to add moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
Notice that these verses shoot down the commonly expressed idea that salvation is “faith plus nothing.” Peter commands us to add to our faith and to do so diligently. Faith plus nothing will cause you to be blind and forget the purification of your sins (v. 9). Faith plus the seven things listed in verses 5-7 will produce an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (v. 11).
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. (
This verse tells about the rewards of this life that we will receive if we add those virtues to our faith. We will truly know Jesus Christ, and we will be useful and fruitful.
For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
Verse 9 tells us what will happen if we do not gain these qualities. We will forget that we were purified from our past sins, and we will lose our spiritual sight. In other words, faith plus nothing produces spiritual blindness and spiritual memory loss.
Also, notice that we have been purified from our past sins, not our future ones. We can ensure that our future ones are purified as well by walking in the light (1 Jn. 1:7). John 3:20-21 and Ephesians 5:8-13 explain what it means to walk in the light.
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.
In these verses, Peter reminds us that pursuing these qualities is our job, not God’s. God has given us great benefits and powers by faith in verses 3-4, and he wants us to use those powers. Thus, he calls us to be “all the more diligent” to “practice these things.” If we diligently practice these things, we will ensure our election and obtain an abundant entrance into Jesus’ everlasting kingdom!
This, of course, disintegrates much of what Calvinist/Reformed doctrine espouses. Yes, we are elected (chosen)—because we have believed—but it us up to us to make that election certain.
We are not done. We will flesh out the system that we have been looking at, but I wanted you to be able to see it written out in simple and straightforward words in the Bible. This will help keep you settled as we proceed. I am not pulling the wool over your eyes; I am raising that wool cap off your eyes.
In the next two posts, we will look at how one receives the great and precious promises described in 2 Peter 1:3-4.