The Great Salvation
First Peter Chapter 1
This letter begins with Peter addressing Christians who are said to be chosen (1:1), according to God’s knowledge (1:2), and who have come into contact with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (1:2) and the blood of Christ (1:2). From the rest of the chapter it’s clear these individuals played a role in the process. They were not merely passive recipients of God’s favor; rather, they exercised their own faith (1:5,9), had the responsibility to remain morally pure and diligent (1:13-14), and had undergone the process of being born again (1:3; 23), including submission to the command to be baptized (3:21; John 3:5).
Repeatedly in this chapter I find Peter hoping and encouraging these
Christians to embrace and enjoy their relationship with God in the fullest possible measure:
“May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure” (1:2).
“You greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1:8).
“Inexpressible joy” is joy that cannot fully be expressed at one sitting or in words. It is a joy that is expressed; yet one always feels that much more could be said. It is joy that is absolutely transfixed on what Jesus has done for us, the blessings He has currently given us, and what He intends to give us when He returns (1:7).
“Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you” (1:13).
“Fervently love one another from the heart” (1:22).
In other words, the ultimate price that God paid for our deliverance (1:18-19) must result in the ultimate level of love, joy, peace, commitment, obedience and gratitude. The natural reaction to God’s intense commitment to saving us, even though it required the ultimate price, is an intense relationship with Him.
The Great Salvation
Behind Jesus’ arrival in this world, and His dying for our sins, was great mercy (1:3).
God’s mercy is called great because: It extends to all who desire it (Titus 2:11). It can forgive any sin upon repentance (Luke 17:3-4). It can forgive an unlimited number of times—as long as sincere repentance is present. It takes one from being lost, and elevates them to the status of a child of God (Ephesians 2:4-6). It has spared us from great suffering and eternal misery.
This great plan of salvation to redeem sinners was the constant focus of the prophets in the Old Testament (1:10-11) and the angels (1:12).
“The purpose of this paragraph is to show Peter’s readers that the spiritual blessings they now have are greater than anything that as envisaged by Old Testament prophets or even by angels. Thus Peter seeks to increase his readers’ appreciation for their great salvation in Christ” (Grudem p. 67). “The whole paragraph carries a strong flavor of the newness and the excellence of the church age. Though the world may think such Christians insignificant and worthy of pity or scorn, angels – who see ultimate reality from God’s perspective – find them to be objects of intense interest, for they know these struggling believers are actually the recipients of God’s greatest blessings and honored participants in a great drama at the focal point of universal history. We too may rightly think of our Christian lives as no less privileged and no less interesting to holy angels than the lives of Peter’s readers” (Grudem p. 73). “This earnest desire of the angels to contemplate the sufferings of the Christ, was emblematically signified by the Cherubim placed in the inward tabernacle with their faces turned down towards the mercy-seat” (Ex. 25:20) (Macknight p. 441).
This deliverance is so great that earthly trials pale and shrink when placed side by side with the blessings of heavenly glory (1:6-7). The promise God wants to give us now and in the future is so powerful, and when linked with our faith it guards us(1:5) against giving into all earthly trials. No other passion can rightly rival this passion.
The Value of a Genuine Faith
Nothing else can compare to a faith that has endured trials, been tested and remains true, sincere and genuine (1:7). Even Christians need to be reminded that gold or material objects are not the ultimate protection. A faith that has come through trial, still intact, is worth more than all the gold in the world. If you have a faith that cannot be shaken—then you are one of the wealthiest individuals on the face of the earth.
Heaven is described as being a living hope (1:3). “Hope invigorates and spirits up the soul to action, to patience, to fortitude, and perseverance to the end” (Oberst p. 52). “This hope is not a desperate holding-on to a faded dream, a dead hope, but a living one, founded on reality, for it is grounded in ‘the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’. It is this reality which will enable the readers to face even death without fear, for death is not an end for the Christian, but a beginning” (Davids p. 52).Heaven is further described as being….
An inheritance… Imperishable… Undefiled (1:4)
This is the one relationship that sin cannot spoil or ruin.
Will not fade away (1:4)
“Because it will never wax old; and because its beauties will remain fresh through all eternity, and its pleasures will never become insipid by enjoyment” (Macknight p. 435). Heaven will be…
A place of praise… glory… honor (1:7)
How Then Should We Live?
Have heaven firmly entrenched in your mind: 1:13
“A state untouched by any slumberous or beclouding influences, and thence, one that is guarded against advances of drowsiness or bewilderment” (Oberst p. 69). “Fix your hope completely”: Fix or set your hope (Colossians 3:2). The wordcompletely means “fully, altogether” (Arndt p. 810). “Wholly, without doubt” (Vincent p. 636). “Unwavering, constant hope”(P.P. Comm. p. 8). This statement is the same concept that Jesus referred to when He talked about not serving two masters (Matthew 6:24); not looking back after putting your hand to the plow (Luke 9:62); when James rebuked the double-minded man (James 1:6-8); when Paul talked about people being tossed to and fro (Ephesians 4:14), or a repentance that has no regrets (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Strive for Holiness: 1:14-17
This is often one forgotten aspect of the “Great Salvation”. Holiness is not a punishment or a death sentence as far as joy is concerned, rather, joy and happiness are really only truly possible to someone who strives for pure motivation and pure living. Happiness is not the opposite of holiness; rather it resides on the other side of holiness. In Christ, God is actually giving mankind a real and possible chance at reaching his or her potential. Clearly this verse teaches that holiness is not reserved just for some elite group, but it is something that any believer can obtain. We are not merely privileged to be part of God’s family; we are equally privileged to take on the family likeness. “If, on the one hand, Christians are children of God, they have been rightly reminded to be obedient children and to realize that true children of a holy God will be holy. Now Peter balances this argument; if, on the other hand, they call God Father, they should remember His character and allow not familiarity to be an excuse for evil (1:17)” (Davids p. 70).
Remember the price: 1:18-19
Let holiness impact your relationships: 1:22
Remember the source of your conversion: 1:23-25
Christianity is not a fad or some human movement; rather Christians are people who have embraced a living and abiding message, a message that would outlast the first century and even the entire physical creation. The truth Christians have believed is eternal and timeless. “The implications for evangelism are obvious: ultimately it is neither our arguments nor our life example that will bring new life to an unbeliever, but the powerful words of God himself — words which we still have preserved today in Scripture” (Grudem p. 91).