A SECOND LOOK AT OUR SALVATION
1 Peter 1:3-5
Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
June 9, 2013
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
-- 1 Peter 1:3-5, ESV
In the opening lines of his first epistle, the Apostle Peter identifies his intended audience as Christians, followers of Christ, saved people. People are saved because they are chosen by God the Father, regenerated and indwelled by God the Spirit, and cleansed and forgiven by God the Son (ref. 1 Peter 1:1-2). That’s how salvation happens.
In the next three verses, Peter shows us a second look at our salvation. He gives God all of the glory and all of the credit. Then, he tells us of some of the benefits we have as saved people, as the people of God, as born again Christians.
God Blesses Us With Salvation
“Salvation belongs to the Lord” (ref. Jonah 2:9). “Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death” (Psalm 68:20). “[God] has caused us to be born again ...” (1 Peter 1:3).
The first message of 1 Peter communicates to Christians, that if you are a Christian, it is because of God, and God alone deserves the credit and the glory. God the Father chose you, God the Spirit came into you, and God the Son cleanses you from all sin (ref. vs. 1-2). And when this salvation is brought to bear on you through the new birth, it is God Who caused us to be saved, not us who caused God to save us. People cannot cause God to save them through religion or ritual. God causes Christians to be saved through the spiritual miracle of the new birth.
Let’s think about birth for a moment. Did you decide to be born? Did you cause yourself to be born? Do you deserve any credit, or blame, for the fact that you were born? Of course not. Salvation is a new birth, it is being born again (ref. John 3). And frankly, a Christian has about as much to do with their new birth as any baby does his or her original birth. Someone else caused it to happen.
That someone, of course, is God. This brings up a big question. Why did God cause some, actually a remnant of the human race, to be born again and pass over others. The ultimate answer to that question is known only to God. And while we cannot know the exact reason behind God’s choice to cause some to be saved, the motive is revealed here in this text. It was “according to His great mercy” (ref. Titus 3:5).
God, who knows the end from the beginning, knows our every attitude and action from beginning to end. And the Apostle Peter, like the Apostle Paul, knows that God knows all of us are sinners (ref. Romans 3:10, 3:23), all of us are unable to seek out God, much less choose to follow God (ref. Romans 3:11-12), and all of us deserve eternal death for our sin and rebellion against God (ref. Romans 6:23a). But God,“according to His great mercy,” has chosen not to give certain ones what they deserve, namely eternal punishment; but, has given them instead eternal life.
This is mercy, this is the motive behind God’s choice to give some salvation, and if you are one of God’s choice children because He caused you to be born again, then join me and Simon Peter in saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” This is good doxology based on good theology. We bless God, we praise God, we speak highly of God, because God has blessed us with salvation. And look at what blessings salvation brings.
Salvation Has Many Blessings
The blessings of salvation are at least three, according to these three verses. They tell us in a general way what we have now, what we will have in the future, and what we have in between as chosen children of God. We have hope now, Heaven later, and the Holy Spirit to guard us and guide us from this life to the next.
Believers are blessed with “... a living hope.” Born again people are spiritually alive, while others remain spiritually dead (ref. Ephesians 2:1ff). Christians have this hope based on the gospel, the capstone of which is “the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.” In other words, just as Jesus lived, enjoyed life, endured suffering, spread the gospel, died, and rose again to live forever, we can confidently expect (a good biblical definition of hope) that the same things that happened to the eternal Son of God will happen to the eternal children of God. I do not think we have a right to any other hope, not health and wealth, not riches and luxury, no more than Jesus expected these things when He sojourned upon the earth. But as long as we are alive, we have hope that our joys and sufferings will serve the greater purpose of getting out the gospel so that God can save people by showing them mercy, just as He has done for us.
Believers are blessed with “an inheritance.” Peter did not tell us exactly what our inheritance is, but he emphatically told us what it is not, and where it is. It is not perishable, not defiled, and does not fade, though all things on earth do. Our inheritance does not because it is “kept in Heaven for you.” You may get an earthly inheritance when your parents or other relative die, but you don’t get your heavenly inheritance until you die. Any earthly inheritance you gain or possession you earn in this life are subject to being used up, being broken or stolen, or being worn out. Plus, no earthly inheritance can be taken with you to Heaven. All heavenly inheritance you gain, which includes your soul, the souls of others you influenced for Christ, and the fruit of labors offered in faith, hope, and love, will be yours to keep forever and ever.
We have hope now, Heaven later, and all in between we are blessed with “God’s power” that gives us salvation, guards our salvation so that we will never be lost, and guides us to our ultimate and eternal home in Heaven. This power is none other than God the Holy Spirit, who causes our justification through regeneration with the gifts of faith and repentance, secures our salvation and sanctification all along the pilgrimage of life so that we never completely lose faith, and sends us into glorification, the presence of God, when we have reached our last time on earth.
Bless God With Your Salvation
Let’s end this second look at salvation by taking a second look at the first few words of this text. “Blessed be ... God.” Blessed is an adjective, it describes God, the God who is to be blessed. It is a New Testament word from which our English word “eulogy” comes from. Have you ever heard someone give a eulogy at a funeral? It is a time to speak well about the deceased, to bless them and their legacy, to praise him or her for what they have done with their life. Of course, if you really love and appreciate someone, you will want to tell them before they are dead, won’t you?
Well, as we have long believed, God is not dead. So let us begin, and begin again, to tell Him how wonderful He is, how holy and righteous He is, how gracious and merciful He is, how loving He is and always will be.
Take a second look at your salvation, and bless the Lord. He has given it to you and caused it to happen to you if you are one of His saved children. It is He who saved us, not we ourselves. It was because of His mercy, in spite of our sin. It was because of His grace, in spite of our rebellion. Speak great things about God, the God of our salvation, to Him and to others.
Take a second look at your life, and bless the Lord. Because it is, after all, a Christian life, for Christ lives in you through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Praise Him for the joy, blessings, and successes in your life. Praise Him for the trials, pain, and loss in your life, for if you lose everything in this life and gain your soul, you have what matters most for eternity.
Take a second look at your future life in Heaven, and bless the Lord. Heaven is where you are going at the end of your Christian life. It is a place too wonderful for words. It is a place where sin and strife and sadness will be no more. It is a place where you will finally see the God who saved you by His grace and for His glory.
You have salvation from sin and death, now. You are going to Heaven, forever. And right now, you have a most meaningful life and a lifetime of opportunities to worship and serve the Lord. Now, let this practical theology lead you to sing praises and doxology to the God Who gave salvation to you: “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen!”
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org