Summary: God does not elect some so as not to elect others, but that He might have someone to reach the others.
One of the principle characters in the book Darkened Doors is
Adrian Mallard, who is a brilliant but skeptical lawyer and
sportsman. He learns that he is the victim of a serious heart disease.
His friend, Professor Boyd, a distinguished psychologist, was one
day singing the praises of the open mind. "Is that good enough?"
asked Mallard. "An open mind doesn't get you anywhere. I'm
beginning to want certainty!" Boyd is amused by this hopelessly
unscientific desire. "Certainty!" he replied. "Certainty! I am
surprised at you! What do you want to be certain about?" Mallard
answers in all seriousness: "About life-about death-about what
happens afterwards. What's the good of your scientists if you can't
tell us that?
Mallard speaks the mind of the modern man who wants to be
sure of something ultimate in a world in a whirl of constant change.
It is hard to have any security in a world characterized by change.
Dr. Samuel Miller of Harvard Divinity School describes the rapid
acceleration of change in our society. "Regardless of whether it is
good or not, and article must be constantly changed in order to sell.
Professions disappear overnight; complex techniques become useless
with the twist of a knob. And M.I.T. Professor complains that the
instruction he gives will be obsolete by the time his students get a
degree for learning it. Everywhere continuity is in the shambles, cut
and chewed by the incessant chopping of the jaws of progress."
The result is that very few people can stand with the prophets of
old and say, "Here am I." They stand instead as bewildered and
asking, "Where am I?" They are uncertain as to where they are
and where they are going, and so they tend to remain in a rut and go
nowhere. This can happen to Christians also, and that is one of
Peter's concerns for the Christians of his day. He wanted to get
them out of the rut of complacency and to catch a vision that would
lead them on to fruitfulness for the glory of Christ and their own
Certainty plays a major role in the success of this goal, and so
Peter urges them in verse 10 to make their calling an election sure.
Man does not have to certain about everything, but he has to be
certain about something. F. W. Boreham said, "There is no craving
in the human heart more persistent or more passionate than the
craving for certainty." Luther put it negatively when he said that
no more miserable state of mind existed than that of uncertainty.
Certainty concerning some value in what gives life meaning is
essential to happiness. Happiness can be measured by the number
and quality of a person's certainties. One of the most beautiful love
poems I ever read is that by Amelia Burr:
I am not sure the earth is round,
Nor that the sky is really blue.
The tale of why the apples fall
May or may not be true.
I do not know what makes the tides,
Nor what tomorrow's world may do,
But I have certainty enough,
For I am sure of you.
One solid certainty makes for many uncertainties. This is true
also in the spiritual realm. A know-so Christian is not a know it all
Christian, for Paul says that we only know in part, and any honest
Christian knows that he is ignorant and uncertain concerning many
of the mysteries of life. Luther wrote, "For although we may be
certain that we believe in Christ, nevertheless we are certain that we
believe in all the things that appertain to Him, and therefore what
we actually believe is uncertain."
Peter is not aiming for the goal of absolute certainty concerning
everything, for this would be, not to partake of the divine nature,
but to become God Himself. Peter's goal for Christians, and the goal
all of us are to aim for, is certainty concerning our election. In this
we can be sure and we say with Paul, "I know in whom I have
believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have
committed unto Him against that day." In other words, I can be
certain of Christ and be certain of His promise of eternal life. We
can be unsure of many things and yet have the security that brings
us God's best if we are sure of this.
John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, said in his declining
years, "When I was young I was sure of many things. There are
only two things of which I am now sure; one is that I am a miserable
sinner, and the other that Christ is an all-sufficient Savior." This is
the kind of certainty that all Christians should have, and it should be