The Salvation of Christians

Text: I Peter 1:3-12

Study Questions:

  1. What has God begotten us to? Why is it living?
  2. Since we were born again, when was the first time?
  3. What do we hope for?
  4. Why can we have this hope?
  5. Does being kept by the power of God mean we will not sin? If not, what does it mean?
  6. When is salvation revealed? When is the last time?
  7. Are trials sin?
  8. Why must we face trials?
  9. Must we see someone in order to love him?
  10. What is the end (or outcome) of our faith?
  11. How did the prophets receive messages to teach? (Compare with II Peter 1:21)
  12. Did prophets always understand what they said?
  13. What were the prophets curious about that had been revealed to them?
  14. What did they know about the things revealed to them?
  15. Besides the prophets, who else was curious about the message?

Hope for the future (I Peter 1:3-4)

Peter invokes blessings on God, the Father, who caused us to be born again. We physically live because of God and we live spiritually because of God. This new birth was due to His great mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5). We certainly did not deserve to be changed.

Throughout the New Testament, there is an emphasis on the need to change. Paul points out that the physical cannot inherit the spiritual, so there is a need to change bodies (I Corinthians 15:50). Similarly, those given over to the flesh cannot partake of what is holy (Galatians 5:16-17).

For Discussion:

  1. Read through each of the following passages. How is the new birth accomplished?
    1. I Peter 1:3
    2. I Peter 1:22-25
    3. I John 4:7
    4. I John 5:1
    5. John 3:5
    6. Romans 6:4
    7. Titus 3:5

The concept of being born again is a repeated reference to becoming a child of God. "Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" " (John 3:3-5). Jesus was not telling Nicodemus that he could be born again at that instance. The subject was entering the kingdom of God and that kingdom had not yet come (Matthew 6:10; Mark 9:1). Jesus was telling Nicodemus what he would need to do in the near future.

Being born again means practicing righteousness. "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him" (I John 2:29). It means displaying love. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God" (I John 4:7). It means believing in Jesus. "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him" (I John 5:1). And that new birth is accomplished through baptism. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

The method by which we obtain the new birth is through Jesus Christ’s resurrection (Romans 6:4) but is also the means by which we have a living hope (Romans 6:5; I Thessalonians 4:13-14). It is a living hope because it flourishes and grows, as opposed to the expectations of the wicked (Job 27:8; Ephesians 2:12).

By Christ’s resurrection, we have an inheritance reserved for us in heaven that does not decay, become defiled, or wear out (Romans 8:17). I Peter 1:4 speaks of the certainty of the promised reward. It does not state that each believer is permanently given this reward. Jesus spoke of the same. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). But the reception of that reward depends on the person's behavior. In the very next statements, Jesus warns you cannot serve both God and Mammon (Matthew 6:22-24). Such is even apparent in Paul's statement to the rich. "Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (I Timothy 6:18-19). Notice that Paul stated that "they may lay hold of eternal life." Certainty doesn't come until our life is done.

Literary Style:

Peter frequently pairs contrasting terms:

  • a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Peter 1:3)
  • You greatly rejoice ... you have been distressed” (I Peter 1:6)

The unlikely pairing catches the reader’s attention as he seeks to resolve the seeming conflict in his mind.

Trials for the present (I Peter 1:5-9)

Since the inheritance is reserved for Christians, and not immediately obtained, we are protected by God’s power until we obtain that salvation that will be revealed at the end (John 10:28-29; Jude 1). The Greek word phroureo, which is translated as kept or protected refers to being watched over by a garrison (Philippians 4:7).

This does not mean we are prevented from leaving God but rather that while we remain with God, no external force can prevent us from obtaining what God has promised (Jude 24). This is why Peter mentions that it is through faith (Hebrews 11:6). We have a part to play to be qualified for God’s protection.

That protection is not momentary but remains until we reach the end of time. And though it brings us great joy, Christians must realize that we must still live our lives in a world filled with sorrow and difficulties (Matthew 5:10-12; Romans 12:12; II Corinthians 4:17; James 1:2; I Peter 4:13; 5:10). Those trials are not without purpose. They test the genuineness of our faith, which Peter compares to gold being tested by fire. Pure gold has a very high melting point (1,948̊ Fahrenheit). Impurities in gold have a lower melting point and come to the surface when gold is heated. So while the trial (the fire) is unpleasant the result is that we have a strong faith that leads to praise, honor, and glory when Jesus returns.

It doesn’t matter that we have not seen Jesus personally, we still love him and believe in him (I John 4:20). It doesn’t matter that we haven’t seen our future home. We choose our path of living based on faith, not sight (Hebrews 11:1; Romans 8:24-25; II Corinthians 4:18; 5:7). Jesus is the focus of our faith (John 3:18; 6:40; 8:24). He gave us reason to believe (John 20:30-31). And the result of our faith is our salvation. It is not the beginning of our faith, but the result of retaining our faith to the end that we gain salvation (Hebrews 3:6). Recall that Thomas was gently reproved by Jesus for denying the prior evidence and demanding that only direct evidence would satisfy him. Jesus declares a blessing on those who believe even when they do not have direct evidence for themselves (John 20:26-29).
Because we both love and believe in Jesus, we rejoice with a joy so great that we have no words to describe it. Even though we have not yet obtained it, we give full glory to God for His amazing gift (Ephesians 1:13-14; II Corinthians 9:15).

Anticipation in the past (I Peter 1:10-12)

The pronouncements of the prophets pointed to a basic goal – the salvation of mankind. The very curiosity of the prophets as to when these things would be accomplished indicates that they were not the source of these statements. They were merely the instrument in the hands of God.

The Spirit searched to give us God’s thoughts (I Corinthians 2:6-13). We have access to God’s wisdom, freely presented to us in the writings of the apostles and prophets. By them, mysteries unknown in the past have been revealed (Ephesians 3:1-7). All people of the world can partake in salvation through the gospel and this was revealed by the Spirit in accordance with God’s power (Romans 1:16-17).

This does not mean that prophets didn’t understand what they were saying. They didn’t have all the facts (Matthew 13:17). They didn’t know who was going to bring about this salvation or when he would arrive to save the world. Even angels wanted to know but had to wait for God to reveal the fulfillment. All they knew was that the prophets’ messages were to serve a future generation, the one that now existed when Peter wrote his letter.

The prophets of old foretold of the sufferings of Christ (Psalms 22:6; Isaiah 53:3,10-12) and they predicted the manifold glories that would follow (Psalms 22:22-31; 110:1-7; Isaiah 49:6; Daniel 7:13-14).

For Discussion:

  1. Why did Peter refer to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of Christ” in I Peter 1:11 (compare with II Peter 1:21)? (See John 16:13-14)
Print Friendly, PDF & Email