Making Our Calling and Election Sure (Assurance of Grace) – H. Hoeksema

… give diligence to make your calling and election sure. – II Peter 1:10

“But some may, perhaps, ask: why should it be necessary to give diligence to make our calling and election sure? Does it require special effort to become sure of our eternal salvation? Does not a Christian know that he is saved, that God called him out of darkness into His marvelous light, and is he, therefore, not spontaneously sure of his calling and election? Does he not believe in Christ, and is not his salvation a matter of his experience? Why then should he give diligence? Why should he put forth special effort to make his calling and election sure?

“However, the matter of our own salvation and of the assurance of our calling and election is not quite so simple. We should not speak and assume the attitude as if it were quite natural for the believer that he always live on the mountain tops of faith and in the bright and glorious sunshine of the full assurance of eternal glory. For to speak thus would be to ignore utterly the reality and actual position of the Christian in this world, and it would be contrary to the experience of every true believer. We must not forget that we are still in this world, not yet in heavenly perfection, and that in this world there are many forces that oppose our faith and that combine to deprive us of the assurance of our calling and election. First of all, salvation is heavenly, and we are earthly. Salvation belongs to the things which eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, and have never arisen in the heart of man. And the things that are seen engulf us on every side, have a strong hold on us, tempt us to seek the things that are below, rather than the things that are in heaven. Secondly, we lie in the midst of death, even though we have eternal life in us through Jesus Christ. We suffer and die as all men. How easy it would seem for that power of death, which is after all God’s own hand, to persuade us that God is still against us, and that we are not His children! And then, there is our old nature, and there are the motions of sin in our members, and there is the world in the midst of which we live, tempting us from the way of righteousness. What Christian does not know by experience how his own sin can rise up against him, and for a time cast a dark shadow of fear and doubt over his soul? Mark you well, I do not say that it is right for the believer to live in doubt and fear as to his calling and election. But I do say that there is plenty of reason for the Christian in this world to heed the exhortation, “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure!”

“But the question arises: how can this be done? What must we do to make our calling and election sure?

“In the light of this exhortation we dare not, of course, assume the attitude that it is impossible for the believer in this life to be sure of his personal salvation and to live in that glad assurance. One meets with Christians occasionally who assume this stand. One can never be sure, say they, of his calling and election until he finally is glorified with Christ in heaven. The best we can do is doubt and hope for the best. But this would be disobedience to the Word of God in our text, which exhorts us to give diligence to attain to this assurance. Nor must we hope for and expect some sort of special revelation from God assuring us that He wrote our name in the book of life from before the foundation of the world. Such a hope would not only be vain because it will never be realized; but it would also be detrimental for our spiritual life. For if thus, by a special voice or vision from heaven, God would assure us of our eternal election and salvation, we would rest on this revelation and give no more diligence to make our calling and election sure. And ,the text evidently would have us put forth effort, give special diligence, in order to live and walk in the assurance of our calling and election. For the same reason one cannot appeal to certain mystical experiences, feelings, whisperings of the Spirit, or the like, for this assurance. Nor, finally, must he try to base his assurance of salvation on his conversion in the past. Many seem to make this attempt. They were converted several years ago, and they know it. They accepted Christ as their personal Savior there and then. And because they vividly remember this conversion of years ago, they know that they are saved today. But also this is contrary to the text, which does not tell us to appeal to some past experience, but to give diligence today and tomorrow, every moment of our life, to make our calling and election sure.”

“How, then, does one obtain this assurance of election and calling? I would answer this question as follows. First of all, it must be emphasized that also this assurance is a gift of grace and that it can rest only on the Word of God addressed to us. Only God can assure us of our salvation. On nothing less dare we base our assurance. But how does God speak to us? Always through the Scriptures. Apart from the Word of the gospel there is no Word of God to us. Hence, if we would make our calling and election sure, we must surely give diligence to read and study the Scriptures and to attend to the Word of God preached. But how do we know that God speaks to us personally? The answer is: He speaks to us by His Spirit, and thus applies the Word of the gospel to us personally, calling us evermore out of darkness to His marvelous light, and witnessing with our spirit that we are the sons of God. (Romans 8: 16) But here we must remember that this testimony of the Spirit that we are the sons of God is heard by us through the gospel only in the way of sanctification, the way of God’s precepts, the way of repentance and conversion, the way in which the Spirit leads. In the way of sin and corruption, the way of the world and of the flesh, the Spirit does not witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

“On the contrary, in that way we grieve the Spirit; and we receive the testimony that we are still in our sins. If, then, we would make our calling and election sure, we must give diligence to walk in the way of light and righteousness, to fight the good fight of faith, according to the calling wherewith we are called.”

Quoted from chapter 14, “Assurance of Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.117-21.

Published in: on November 7, 2021 at 6:16 AM  Leave a Comment