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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Be Safe—Not Sorry

By Ron Bartanen

    There are innumerable uncertainties in life, but there is one thing we cannot afford to be unsure of —our salvation. The apostle Peter admonished people of faith, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10a, ESV). He was writing these words, not to alien sinners, but to those who had once been “cleansed from (their) former sins” (v. 9). They were baptized believers, washed in the blood of Christ. Were some of those he addressed becoming assured that because they had once accepted Christ, they could now relax in their commitment to godliness and still be granted “entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 11)? Evidently so.  At least Peter saw the need to “remind” them of the spiritual qualities that are to characterize those called of the Lord to share “His glory and excellence” (vs. 12, 3b). These qualities are described as supplements to their initial faith: virtue, knowledge, self control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love (vs. 5-8). He further describes any who ignore these qualities as being “so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (v. 9). He later compares those who continue in their former vices to the dog who “returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire” (2:22). In these verses, Peter is evidently saying that such are not making their “calling and election sure.” He would that they would be safe—not sorry in the day they would face the Lord in judgment.
    There is one way, and one way only, in which we can be assured of our standing with the Lord. It is through a personal knowledge of Christ as both Savior and Lord in our lives. Peter’s warning to believers was, in effect, saying that while they may had once taken seriously their need for Christ as Savior, they had not been as serious in making Him Lord. Jesus had said, “Not everyone that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). He went on to explain, in the parable of the building of two houses—one on solid rock, and another on sand—that simply hearing Jesus’ teachings, without submission to them, would result in the soul’s destruction. It’s not safe to build a life on the sands of this world—not even the sands of humanly devised religion. Some build on the sand of emotion and feeling, without regard for a “thus says the Lord.” Such are not given assurance from God.     Peter was not expecting, nor demanding, perfection. In no way can we live our lives so perfectly that we could, in any sense, merit salvation. But, while it is true that “by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:9), v. 10 is equally true: “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We can be safe—not sorry only when our works manifest the reality of our faith. With Jesus as the sure foundation for our lives, and guided by His word as revealed in Scripture (the Bible), we can be truly safe—not sorry.

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

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