Grace Means…Salvation (Guest Blogger - Jonathan Eash)
1 Peter 1:3-12
Currently, we are in a series going through 1 Peter. Last week, Pastor Joe talked about how we are a people that were once separated from God and alone in the world. However, by the grace of God, we have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and made a people set apart for God and alien to this world. This week we will be in 1 Peter 1:3-12, which says…
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
The series that we are in is called "Grace Means…" and this week, we are talking about how grace means our Salvation.
First, let's review. What is grace? I have always had a hard time differentiating grace and mercy. The difference is that mercy is from a ruling standpoint. If someone is deserving of punishment under the law, whether that be God's law or our nation's law, but is forgiven and let go, that is mercy.
On the other hand, grace is goodwill that is freely given even to those who do not deserve it. Being forgiven of our sin is the mercy of God, but his grace is the fact that he loves us and sent his Son to die in our pace. With God, grace and mercy do go hand in hand but are still unique and separate.
In 1 Peter 1:3-5, it says:
1 Peter 1:3-5 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Verse 3 references a living hope. Our living hope is through Jesus Christ. Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Falling short of the glory of God means we do not have access to Him since he is a Holy God, which also means we cannot be near Him and His dwelling place, Heaven. This means the only destination we can have is one separated from God or Hell. That is how beautiful John 3:16 really is! This verse reassures us by saying,
"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."
Through God's grace, He sent his one and only Son to die for our sins. However, the power of what God has done through Christ was Jesus dying on the cross. While it was a necessity, and we call that Friday Good Friday. The fact remains we still celebrate Easter. In the Old Testament, many animal sacrifices were made to pay for people's sins. The main requirement was that the animal was pure of any blemishes, usually a lamb. That is why we call Jesus the Lamb of God. However, these animal sacrifices had to be done over and over. What makes Jesus's sacrifice permanent and why we focus on Easter is the fact that Jesus rose again by his own power. Jesus conquered death. Without Jesus conquering death, His death on the cross would be meaningless, and we would have no hope.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19,
1 Corinthians 15:12-19 12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
If Christ had not risen from the dead, then we are the biggest fools. So, our hope is in a God who came to the earth as a man, who lived as one of us, died on the cross blameless and pure, rose from the dead, and is alive today. He is our living hope, and through Him, we have been saved from death.
Our Salvation is permanent. I am reminded of the song we sang last week, "It Is Well with My Soul," which happens to be one of my favorite hymns. In the third verse, it says:
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
This process of being saved and sanctified has brought us into an inheritance. Peter says this inheritance is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade.
Our inheritance is eternal. But what is this inheritance? The Bible says that we are to inherit the Kingdom of God, which includes eternal life and the treasures of heaven.
According to Peter, our salvation and our inheritance are preserved by God. Some believe that we can lose our Salvation. However, if we are genuinely saved, God shields us with His power and preserves our salvation. Peter says, "that is ready to be revealed in the last time." By this, Peter is most likely referring to either the rapture. Or possibly the final judgments when the goats are separated from the sheep. However, to the end of time, our inheritance and, most importantly, our Salvation are assured.
The next couple of verses 6 -9 say,
1 Peter 1:6-9 6In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
This passage focuses on our faith. 1 Peter agrees with James 1:2-4, which says:
James 1:2-4 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Peter and James both confirm that to suffer is to gain. James says to rejoice in all suffering. Jesus also said that we are going to suffer for following him.
But why is it necessary for us to suffer?
First, we have a spiritual enemy who is out to get us. But still, why must we be persecuted? Why must we deal with the hard issues of life when we have an all-powerful God on our side?
Some would like to believe that if we follow God, then life should be an easy road because we have God or our side. They seem to treat God like a genie who looks out for us and lays down the path, protecting us like bubble-wrapped children. But this is not how God works. While God does not want us to suffer, He does allow us to suffer. He also punishes us when we sin, and he will allow us to be broken. But it is as Peter says, to refine our soul and our faith.
Peter says that our faith is worth more than gold jewels. And gold is refined through fire. Any metal must be refined through fire to become precious, and our faith is worth so much more than any refined metal, even gold the most precious of metals.
Our soul and our faith are refined so that they can be proved genuine.
This reminds me of a story I heard a while ago. I do not remember who the speaker was or where I listened to this story. So, if that was here, I apologize for repeating. This story takes place in Russia during the communist regime. Communist Russia was an atheist country and looked down on and persecuted Christians. During this time, many Christians formed house churches and worshipped in secret. The government would crackdown using the KGB to invade their homes during the services. Well, in one house church, two KGB agents barged in while they were worshiping and demanded that any Christian remain. Anyone willing to renounce God was free to leave. So, many of the members got up and walked out.
Once again, the KGB agents said, If you are a Christian, stay. However, we will give you this last chance to leave. Once again, some members got up and left. The remaining congregants stood there looking at the ground, knowing that they faced death or imprisonment. Or, so they thought. When the last person left, the KGB agents said, "Now let's get down and pray and worship our God." These two men were, in fact, Christians. At this time, those Christians got to keep their lives and worship together, knowing that all present were true believers. While this was a rare occurrence, it proved the strength of these Saints who believed that they were about to be either martyred or persecuted.
I always wonder if I was in that situation, would my faith be proved absolutely genuine. If it was life or death, what would I choose? Would I prefer my God over my life? In our times of comfort, it's hard to know. But that is why we must go through hard times.
We go through hard times to refine our faith so that it is proved genuine. Because if it is true faith, then we are genuinely saved.
As I said before, no one can take us out of God's hand.
When Jesus is revealed to the world, and we can see him face to face, what joy would it be for him to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!
Peter says we will receive praise, glory, and honor. These are what many people search for, but it is useless unless it comes from our Lord. What higher Lord is there than the maker of the universe?
It is interesting that in verse 8, Peter talks about "having not seen him you love him and not seeing him you believe in him."
I think back to when Jesus was with the Apostles, and Thomas wanted reassurance by seeing the holes in His hands. Jesus said in John 20:19,
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
I think Peter may be reflecting back on that conversation with Christ. But when we see Jesus and see that our faith is true and that our suffering and our anguish were not in vain, and get to see the Lord and lover of our hearts, oh what joy, what inexpressible and glorious joy, because we will be receiving the goal of our faith, which is the Salvation of our souls.
Now in 1 Peter 1:10-12, it says,
1 Peter 1:10-12 10Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
The prophets that are mentioned here are the same ones that are in our Old Testaments. I have had many professors talk about how in prophecy, there seems to be two to three different meanings.
Prophecies will often have a contemporary meaning that tells about a present situation. Then the same prophecy will have a future meaning predicting something in the near future. Then that same prophecy might have yet another sense predicting events in the distant future.
There are many references in the Old Testament that point to Christ even though at the time the prophet spoke, they referred to current events. Many Messianic prophecies in the Psalms were, at the time they were written, were thought of as poetry and descriptions of God.
The prophets that wrote the books in the Bible are only a few compared to how many there were. However, the prophets we know of were known for their drive to follow God, to learn more, and to obey the Spirit of God.
Of course, we know the Spirit of God now as the Holy Spirit. We do not usually talk about the Holy Spirit. Just earlier this week, my mom was talking about what she has been learning with the women's Bible study. How the Holy Spirit is the nonphysical form of Jesus.
The Spirit of God is mentioned throughout the Old Testament, usually referencing the Spirit of God coming on someone or possibly leaving them. Many of the prophets were blessed with a continuous relationship with that Spirit of God. That is the same Spirit that dwells within us now. Who, if we listen, will guide us.
Peter writes that the prophets did not preach for their own time. Many of the prophets gave warnings to the people of Israel, and all ministered to the people of their time. However, their prophecies were not written down for their generation but for future generations. They wrote much about the Messiah. Isaiah, in particular, wrote much about the Messiah. For example, Isaiah 50-53 is one of the most famous prophecies about the coming Messiah.
Many of the prophets also wrote about the coming Kingdom of God. These writings are for future generations, which now include us. The Bible is not a dead book that was written, and then it was over. It is not something you read once and understand everything that it has to say and then are finished. It is the living testament of God. God's word. The Bible is God-breathed and is still relevant. It is just as relevant today as it was 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, 2000 years ago. If you want to consider the Old Testaments, which is still relevant, it has been over 3000 years since it was first written. Why is a book that was started 3000 years ago and written by 40 different men from different times and places still relevant, accurate, and carrying the same message? Because the Holy Spirit revealed it to them. He revealed Christ and the glories of heaven. They have made the gospel clear and provided us a written record.
We also have direct access to the same Holy Spirit that helped them and guided them. Can you imagine if God had not given us the Bible? We would not have the same access to the gospel. I mean, we could still know that God exists. The heathens know that God exists. Except for atheists. Atheists are the saddest life form on earth, who believe that nothing supernatural exists and believe that there is nothing beyond physical life. They live for the moment, try to be as happy as possible, try to live their best life and for nothing. Just death awaits them.
But back to the point. We would still know that God exists because we can look around us, but we would not be able to know him or live with him. It is by the grace of God that we have scriptures that provide us a way forward, that say, "Yes, there is a God, this is who He is, and this is what he has done to reconcile you to him. Without the Bible, there would still be Salvation. Jesus could still come down to the earth, die, and rise from the grave, but without it being recorded, we would not know that salvation exists. Peter says even the angels long to look into these things, and we have direct access. This is the grace of God!
In the end, Peter shows us that God has provided us three graces in our Salvation. He has provided a living hope that will never let us go, a grounded, tempered, refined and blessed faith that will not fail. A faith that has roots in truth and is the most concrete thing we have. And finally, God has provided us the scriptures and the gospel in the form of the Bible. Written by the prophets and the apostles who spoke the truth through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the scriptures to bring the good news of the gospel to many.
God is a God of mercy and grace, of salvation and of judgment. He is the God of many things and all of them equally. Even though we were separated from Him by our sins and could not live with him because of those same sins, He still sent his Son to die and save us from our sins. This Salvation is the greatest grace of all.