In Romans 9:6-13 we see that God elects some and not others to salvation. Sometimes while trying to get straight the truths that bring great comfort, Christians can get stuck, or spun around. It happens with the doctrines of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Those that God chooses for eternal life He also chooses to want to grow in obedient living. He decides the end and the means.
Peter addressed the “elect” at the beginning of his first letter, and described them as “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2). The Father elects, the Spirit consecrates, and the Son is obeyed, all secured because of the atoning blood of Christ. From the outside you can’t see whether the gas tank is full, but if the car is going down the road, there is evidence of fuel. Our obedience shows God’s saving initiative.
God’s sovereign grace was no discouragement to increasing in faith and pursuing virtues in 2 Peter 1. “Be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fail” (2 Peter 1:10). This was after he said to “make every effort” to build faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (verses 5-8).
Paul also saw no conflict: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12b-13).
I choose to eat steak, I choose a knife to cut it, I choose how many times to chew. The Lord has chosen a people for Himself to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). He’s chosen the persons, the exhortations, and the outcome. If you are not zealous to obey, you shouldn’t blame God’s sovereignty, you should to repent. And if you do repent, we’ll know how it happened.