2 Peter 1:3c

Sermon preached on March 25, 2018 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

When I was a kid and we were outside playing, when it was time for supper my mother would open the door and shout for us to come home for supper. She would normally shout out, "Larry". But occasionally I would hear her call, "Laurence". That was not a good one to hear. When I heard that, I knew I was in trouble, that she had found out something bad that I had done. That was also a call I knew I couldn't ignore. I had to answer that call or I'd be in even more trouble.

If someone was to analyze why my mother called me it should be obvious that she called me because she loved me. If a mother cared nothing for her children she wouldn't bother with them. But my mother called me because she loved me. She was probably going to punish me because I had disobeyed. But she was going to punish me for my good, so that I'd learn to be a better person. She called me because she loved me.

In our text we are given one of the reasons why God called us to Himself. It's on a much higher level than what I just talked about, as there is one great difference. God didn't call us to punish us—but He called us to share in His happiness. But this morning we're not going to focus primarily on what we're called to, we're going to focus on the reason God called us. There are many reasons God called us and in our text we are given one of those reasons. Peter wrote, (2 Peter 1:3)

"His divine power has given us
everything we need for life and godliness
through our knowledge of him
who called us by his own glory and goodness."

The great truth we see here is that

God called us by His own glory and goodness.

What does this mean? Peter H. Davids says of the phrase, 'by his own glory and goodness', (The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude, PNTC; p. 170 & 171)

"In this word pair in 2 Peter it indicates that Jesus' own glorious or honorable achievement or excellence led to their calling.""this calling came on the basis of his achievement and excellence, his honorable nature, not ours. Yet because of his honor we have been called into an honorable status."

God called us by His own glory and goodness. This is consistent with other passages which clearly tell us that it was something in God, something relating to His character, His glorious attributes—that led Him to save us.

Ephesians 1:3–8 ties mentions several characteristics of God that led him to save us. Paul wrote,

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In love he predestined us to be adopted
as his sons through Jesus Christ,
in accordance with his pleasure and will—
to the praise of his glorious grace,
which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches
of God's grace that he lavished on us
with all wisdom and understanding."

That text shows us that God it was because of God's love, because of His pleasure and will, because of His grace—that we are saved. That grace was given in accordance with God's wisdom and understanding.

There is not one mention of there being good in us. In fact, it's clear that there was not one good thing in us because God chose us to be holy, blameless, things were weren't before He called us. Indeed, that passage is all about God's glorious grace—in God forgiving sinners, making them holy.

Indeed, other passages make it crystal clear that

God didn't call us because there was something good in us.

For example, Titus 3:3–7 shows us that when God saved us, we were wretched sinners. He saved us because of His kindness and mercy—qualities that reside in God. Mercy is a grace that has to do with bad people deserve punishment. Paul wrote,

"At one time we too were foolish,
disobedient, deceived and enslaved
by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
We lived in malice and envy,
being hated and hating one another.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,
not because of righteous things we had done,
but because of his mercy.
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and
renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us
generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that,
having been justified by his grace,
we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

2 Timothy 1:8–9 also tells us that God called us because of His purpose and grace—things in Him. We are saved not because there was good in us—but because of His grace. We read,

"God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—
not because of anything we have done
but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus
before the beginning of time,"

We were called to a holy life. That implies that when we were called we were not holy. We were sinners.

What led God to call us was not something in us, but something in Him. When God saved us we were His enemies. Romans 5:10 says,

"when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him
through the death of his Son,"

There was no good in us when God called us. Ephesians 2 tells us that we were made alive by Christ we were by nature 'objects of God's wrath'.

In Romans 9 Paul attributes God's election solely to God's will and mercy. In Romans 9:16 he concludes,

"It does not, therefore,
depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy."

It depends on God's mercy. Mercy implies guilt. We were saved when we didn't deserve to be saved. In his book, The Lord Our Shepherd, J. Douglas MacMillan relates an old Highland shepherd was preaching on Psalm 23:6 and the words, 'goodness and mercy'.

"What do I think of when I think of goodness and mercy? I think of the fellows taking their sheep home, walking down the road there with their sticks. The sheep are coming behind them, and behind the sheep are the two dogs, and one is called Goodness and the other is called Mercy. You watch them; sheep being what they are, when the shepherd's back is turned, they'll try and sneak off the road. You see a sheep on one side, and off it goes trying to get back to the pasture and the mountains. Without even the shepherd whistling, what happens? Goodness runs out and circles the sheep and turns it back into the flock and into the path of God. Then, a little further along the road, another one will do the same, or two or three will do it, and there you will see Mercy running out and turning the sheep back too. Ah! They are two lovely dogs, Goodness and Mercy."

Herman Bavinck sums it all up this way, (Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, Reformed Dogmatics 4; ed. John Bolt; p. 43)

"So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy (Rom. 9:16). The calling is the implementation of divine election (8:28; 11:29). It is God who renews the human heart and inscribes his law on it (Ps. 51:12; Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:26), who enlightens the eyes of the heart (Ps. 119:18; Eph. 1:18; Col. 1:9–11), opens the heart (Acts 16:14), makes his own recognize his Son as the Christ (Matt. 11:25; 16:17; Gal. 1:16), and draws people to him with spiritual power (John 6:44; Col. 1:12–13). He causes the gospel to be preached, not only in words but also in demonstration of the spirit and power (1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Thess. 1:5–6), and himself gives wisdom (1 Cor. 2:6–9). He, in short, is at work in us, enabling us both to will and to work according to his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13) and to that end uses a power like the power by which he raised Christ from the dead and made him sit at his right hand (Eph. 1:18–20)."

"God and his grace alone make the difference"

Our calling, our salvation—is all of God. Jesus called us and gave us new life. The knowledge of God that we have is because of Jesus. As He said in Matthew 11:27,

"no one knows the Father except the Son
and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

This knowledge should have a great effect on you and how you live.

Let me illustrate. When President Reagan was shot by John Hinkley in March, 1981, he was rushed to the hospital. When they did an X-ray they found that the bullet was near his heart. But the doctors were concerned because the bullet was so deformed and small that they wondered if it was all of the bullet or if another piece was someone else in his body. So the doctors wanted to know what size the bullet was. Dr. David Rockoff, the radiologist, asked a Secret Service agent, "What was the caliber of the gun?" The Secret Service agent replied that he didn't know and said that he would call the FBI to find out because they had the gun. Dr. Rockoff followed the agent to the Nurse's Station where the agent called the FBI. He heard the agent say,

"The doctors need to know the caliber of the gun."

In a moment he saw that the Secret Service agent went livid and became very angry. He said to the person he was talking to,

"What do you mean you can't tell me the caliber of the gun? The doctors need to know."

He demanded to know and in a little while he put down the phone and told the doctor it was a 38.

Once the doctors had that information they knew if they had all of the bullet. They didn't have to search any further. It was either that or the opposite. I don't know. But the point is that information led them in one direction. The other direction was eliminated.

Since we know that God alone is responsible for our calling, for our salvation, it means

we should give all the praise and glory to God for our salvation.

Not to do so is to rob God of honor. John Calvin says of the words in our text, 'by his own glory and power', (2 Peter p. 329-330)

"Peter's purpose is to ascribe to God alone the whole credit for our salvation, so that we know that we owe everything to Him,"

If we are going to boast in anyone we should boast in God. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:31,

"Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Every day you should be thanking God for His goodness to you. You are what you are solely because of His grace. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:7,

"For who makes you different from anyone else?
What do you have that you did not receive?
And if you did receive it,
why do you boast as though you did not?"

John Murray writes, (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 89)

"We do not call ourselves, we do not set ourselves apart by sovereign volition any more than we regenerate, justify, or adopt ourselves. Calling is an act of God and of God alone. This fact should make us keenly aware how dependent we are upon the sovereign grace of God in the application of redemption. If calling is the initial step in our becoming actual partakers of salvation, the fact that God is its author forcefully reminds us that the pure sovereignty of God's work of salvation is not suspended at the point of application any more than at the point of design and objective accomplishment. We may not like this doctrine. But, if so, it is because we are averse to the grace of God and wish to arrogate to ourselves the prerogative that belongs to God."

So I ask you,

do you glorify God as you should?

Do you honor Him for calling you into fellowship with His Son? Is this truth often on your lips, are you praising Him for calling you out of darkness?

Secondly, this also has implications for our security.

Should you as a Christian doubt your salvation? No. If He has called you, and His call is related to His glory and goodness, it means you are safe.

How powerful God's call is!

John Brown writes, (2 Peter p. 40)

"The proper ordinary meaning of the word rendered 'virtue' is power or energy: and the apostle's idea may be expressed in the English idom thus, 'by a glorious power' Christians are called by God in the exercise of a glorious, an illustrious, wonderful power."

Brown continues, (p. 41)

"The effectual calling of men is a work of power—omnipotence. No created agency is capable of so calling men as to 'turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive the forgiveness of sin, and an inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith which is in Christ.' No voice but the voice of God can make the spiritually dead to hear, to hear so as to believe and obey."

How we should thank God for such a powerful call, a call that brings us to Christ, to life. Although we were sinners when we were called, the call of God brought us to Christ. As Jesus said in John 6:37,

"All that the Father gives me will come to me,"

This should give us great comfort. Romans 11:29 tells us,

"God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."

We came to Christ. He gives us eternal life. How safe we are in Him. How we should rejoice in Him.