Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Four Great Truths of Salvation - 1 Peter 1:1-9

1 Peter 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

The able commentator Robert Leighton writes these words in his commentary on 1 Peter about the verses we will be exploring today:
"It is a cold, lifeless thing to speak of spiritual things upon  mere report; but they that speak of them as their own, as having share and interest in them, and some experience of their sweetness, ....their hearts are straight taken with such gladness, as they are forced to vent praises. Thus our Apostle here, and St. Paul, and often elsewhere, when they considered these things wherewith they were about to comfort the godly to whom they wrote, they were suddenly elevated with the joy of them and broke forth into thanksgiving; so teaching us, by their example, what real joy there is in the consolations of the Gospel."1

As Peter aims to convince us to "stand firm" in the true grace of God (1 Peter 5:12), he begins with the foundational truths of salvation. In today's post I want us to note four such truths that are revealed in 1 Peter 1:1-8.  In other words, we can behold in these verses the following four great truths of salvation in these verses:

1. The Basis of Salvation - Chosen by God
1 Peter 1:1-2 lays out for us this eternal foundation of salvation. Peter describes the believers to whom He writes in verses 1 and 2 as those "who are chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father". Such a choice by God was made in eternity. Ephesians 1:4 describes the timing of God's choosing as occurring "before the foundation of the world".  This Sovereign choice of God was determined by His choice to love those whom He saw in the beloved Son. (Ephesians 1:4-5) Why does Peter start with election? Because this basis of salvation says that God the Father had loved every child of God whom He purposed in His mind to love in Christ from all eternity.  This eternal basis of salvation tells us that salvation is not based on human performance, but God's accomplishment. Dr. Robert Jefress of the 1st Baptist Church of Dallas said this most recently: "Why did God save you? It was not based on your goodness, but His goodness."  That gets at the heart of the practical significance of God's elective purpose of grace. The purpose was for His glory and the targets of His choice are helpless people, lost and spiritually dead in Adam. (Ephesians 2:11-12) Grace said in eternity "yes", even though I was born into this world saying "no" to God. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 calls this "God's purpose of grace".  So God's Sovereign choice represents the basis of salvation, but there is a second great truth of salvation pointed out by Peter, namely...

2. The Beginning of Salvation - New Birth
1 Peter 1:3 states - "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Here is a very important question: when does one's personal salvation begin? Answer: New Birth. Peter here is not taking away the need for men and women to be born again, believe and be saved. We must not confuse the basis of salvation - election, with the beginning of salvation -conversion. The New birth experience is from God, the birth from above. (John 3:3; James 1:17-18) Though God Sovereignly chose whom He will on the basis of His foreloving purposes, nevertheless until by the working of His grace a sinner receives Christ's saving work, salvation will have no beginning in that person's life. 

The paradoxical but nonetheless dual truths of God's Sovereignty and human responsibility in salvation cannot be denied, conflicted nor contradicted.  The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 defines the New Birth in conversion: "Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace."  

To bring home what Peter is speaking of here in 1 Peter 1:1-3, think of the relationship between a foundation and a building. The foundation is necessary, since upon it will be built the building.  However when the foundation is poured, that does not mean the building is finished.  The same architect who designed that foundation also includes the necessary framing, walls, roof and interior.  I don't enter into a foundation, however I do enter into a building.  Conversely, unless there had been a foundation, there would not had been any building.  So it is with our salvation.  We have as its basis God's choice (and we could say the cross of Jesus Christ and the scriptures which function as two other Divinely ordained foundations) which leads to the beginning of salvation, conversion. But now lets consider a third great truth of salvation...

3. Building of growing salvation - Sanctification
1 Peter 1:4 notes - "to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you". You may notice that the word "obtain" is in italicized print.  Why is that? The translators of the NASB included that word to make it smoother for us English readers. However the original Greek begins the verse in this fashion: "to a non-decaying, pure and non-wilting inheritance that has been guarded in heaven for you." Sanctification is that process of salvation that follows from the beginning of our salvation we call justification. It is in sanctification that I am becoming in the experience of salvation what God declared me to be in justification or the beginning of my salvation. In justification I am clad in the robe of Christ's credited righteousness, which in turn provides the power and pattern for me to live more consistently in my daily practical righteousness. The goal of sanctification is obtaining (which the NASB is helping us to understand). Sanctification is God's building project whereby He has made me both the object of construction and participator in construction. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 says the following:  "Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life." So God's choice is the basis of salvation, conversion or New Birth is the beginning of salvation and sanctification is the building of a growing salvation.  Lets consider one more vital truth of salvation in 1 Peter 1:5-8

4. Blessed Assurance of salvation - Complete Security
This final truth is truly the shining star in today's post. This final point is based upon the first, guarantees the second point, is the goal of the third point and truly is the culminating point of Peter's opening here in 1 Peter.  As you read down through 1 Peter 1:4-8, you can note four thoughts underneath this point of blessed assurance being espoused here by the Holy Ghost through Peter.  Note how they build onto one another:

a. Secured. 1 Peter 1:4-5
1 Peter 1:4-5 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away,reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
Five words underlined in the above text emphasize the security of the believer.  The old term that was used for years was the term "perseverance of the saints" or "preservation of the saints". The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 is worth quoting on this point: "All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."

b. Secured through trials. 1 Peter 1:6-7
1 Peter 1:6-7 "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ".

c. Secured through trials with joy.  1 Peter 1:8
1 Peter 1:8 "and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory."

d. Secured through trials with joy to the end. 1 Peter 1:9
1 Peter 1:9 "obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls."

May you be blessed this day dear believers as you contemplate these four great truths of salvation spelled out by 1 Peter 1:1-8:
1. Chosen by God - salvation's basis

2. New Birth- salvation's beginning

3. Continual Sanctification-salvation's building project

4. Complete security-salvation's assurance

1. Robert Leighton. Commentary on First Peter. Kregel Publishers. Page 28

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