8 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. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.10 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; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
In the New American Standard translation of the bible, the italicized words indicate a lack of direct translation. When we see an italicized word in the NASB, we need to remember that it was input to better clarify what the writer is talking about since the original language was different than English and there are some things that are apparent to those who are able to read Ancient Greek, but when directly translated may get lost in translation. The word “qualities” that we read here refer to the things we read about yesterday: moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. As I typed these out just now, a phrase ran through my head afterwards, “against these things there is no law.” This is what Paul says about the Fruit of the Spirit after he discusses them. It is interesting to see how different apostles with different callings in mission still had the same message of Christ and the Gospel.
Verse 9 is confrontational, isn’t it? James would say it this way, “5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously andwithout reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” I like to explain it as when we quickly glance at our watch to check the time and after looking, someone asks what time it is and you have to look again because you have already forgotten. Regardless of how you describe it, the point here is that we must completely understand and constantly remember the depth and gravity of what Jesus did for us. He didn’t just die for us or because of us, but He created a way for us to live in communion with God! He restored the brokenness that occurred back in the Garden of Eden when God said to Adam, “where are you?” and mankind fell out of His presence because we became unclean, unholy, and incapable of being in His presence lest we die. God wanted to restore us to how He designed us to be. It’s as if a toy maker gave a child a toy but the child used it incorrectly and it broke. The toy maker then offered to fix it and show the child how to operate it properly so the child could fully enjoy the toy for how it was designed. In this case, we are not only the child, but also the toy and the toymaker (God) has offered to fix what is broken. We just have to take it to Him. It is very important we grasp this because as verse 10 implies, we will stumble if we do not.
Peter’s exhortation to “make certain about His calling and choosing you” isn’t necessarily just about His calling on your life as far as who you are supposed to be (carpenter, plumber, taxi driver, syndicate mogul, etc), but more importantly to solidify that we understand in our hearts as well as our heads who God is, what His love is, and who we are because of Him. This is possible by entering and continuing the building of our relationship with Him, given the formula Peter described earlier.
Verse 11 seems like it has potential to cause conflict and diversity in its application. Let’s read it again: 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. Does this mean that as long as we follow these criteria, we will get into heaven? Well, if we apply what we previously read in Peter’s letter, yes. On the surface Peter is saying that if we accept Christ’s sacrifice as forgiveness of our sins and choose to enter into a relationship with God as our response, we will enter heaven. But Peter is saying so much more here! I think about when Jesus said, “13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Peter is saying that it is no longer hard to find or difficult to walk through amidst an intimate relationship with God. For those of us who believe and continue to build our relationship with God, it is quite obvious to us, isn’t it? Yet those who don’t believe or even have a relationship with God can’t see it and if they do, it is impossible for them to “fit” through it.
We must be diligent, therefore, in solidifying our relationship with God. Not just to get into heaven, but because it is necessary to truly know God and have a real relationship with Him. Another way of saying it, which is how I’ve said it before, is that we must put ourselves in a place of vulnerability to test if God truly is as faithful as He says He is. When He shows up and proves Himself, we can then be certain about His calling and choosing us as his sons and daughters: heirs of the Kingdom of God. We will know that everything He says is true because we continually are testing the truthfulness of His words and He continues to respond faithfully (with trustworthiness). This is why I constantly try to explain that just reading, knowing, and even excepting what God says in His word is true isn’t enough; we must act upon it and experience the truth, not just memorize it.
You will never know the full truth of God’s glory until you “step out in faith” to see how true it really is.