Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall. (RSV)
When I first read this in other versions, it sounds almost like Peter is telling me that I had to do these things (the list in the previous verses) in order to keep my salvation. However, this version and the original Greek clarify that what I’m supposed to be doing (confirming my call and election) will keep me from falling or stumbling. It doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the possibility of losing my salvation.
The RSV is the only version to use the word zealous in my approach to confirming my call and election. Others use the word eager or diligent. I really like zealous. But, what do I need to do to confirm or make sure of my call and election? The question boils down to, how can I be sure that God has saved me?
The answer lies, not with me and what I’ve done, but with God and who He is. What are His promises regarding salvation? I need to be eager to find out more about Him and how I’m saved in order to confirm in my own mind that He has saved me and that He won’t go back on His promise.
A good starting point is what Jesus said. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV) God initiated the whole thing by giving Jesus to us. It is based on His love for us and not on what we can do. We have some work to do, if you want to call it work. That work is to believe in Jesus. John 6:29 “Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’" (NIV) Paul clarified that the ability to believe on Jesus isn’t even something that we can do without God giving us the ability through the faith He has given us. (Eph 2:8-9) He also makes sure that we understand that this believing isn’t the same kind of efforts in which we can boast.
In fact, Paul goes even further in saying that this gift of faith is something that God had planned on giving us long before we were even born. Eph 1:4-5 “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 …” (NIV) This is mind boggling if you stop to think about it for a while. Somehow, way before even time began, God knew all about us and decided that He wanted us to be holy and blameless even though He also knew we would be sinners, much less than holy and blameless. He decided that He would have to adopt us as His children in order to be able to make us holy and blameless. The only way to do that was to do it through Jesus. Eph 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (NIV) Heb 13:12 “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.” (NIV)
He had this great plan in place before we existed. How can we possible think that we are saved by anything we have done, other than accepting that gift that He has provided? How can we possible think that we could somehow do something that would cause God to take that give away? I’ve run into people who think that after they have been saved they can commit some horrible sin and lose their salvation. What is interesting is that they are usually people who strongly emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that these gifts can’t be revoked. They quote this verse to prove it. Rom 11:29 “for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (NIV) What a great verse for this study! Not only does it talk about God’s gift, but His call. Once I’m called, that’s it. I’m His and there isn’t any changing it. Once I take hold of that gift of faith that leads to salvation, He will never take it away.
You can go on and find may more verses about God and His promises to us about our election and calling. Rom 8:28-39 is loaded with these promises. He called us, foreknew and predestined us, justified us, intercedes for us, nothing can separate us. They all depend on God and who He is. If your knowledge of God is lacking, then to confirm your election and calling, get to know Him better. That’s something to be zealous about.