Understanding Our Salvation
Do you ever consider how your salvation will encourage you to labor for Christ?
We were challenged during our worship service this morning to think of any miracle that had happened in our life as a direct result of prayer. Of course, we discussed those that had to do with God’s providence toward us, for example, the healing of the sick or the changed life that resulted in believer’s life. But perhaps the most seldom considered miracle in the life a person is salvation of our souls—that is, eternal salvation.
Consider the discourse between Jesus and His disciples in Matthew 19:23-26
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Jesus is saying that man cannot save himself; salvation is possible only through God. For the past couple of weeks, I have been discussing the living hope we have regarding our heavenly inheritance (1 Peter 1:3 ff). So far we have looked at two aspects of this living hope—the salvation of our souls. We have discussed our future inheritance we have in Christ and we have discussed our present experience that involves inexpressible joy in knowing we have received the gift of eternal life.
Peter now goes on to describe a third aspect of the living hope we have. Peter wants to stress the hope we have in the written Word of God.
Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.” (1 Peter 1:10–12)
Of this salvation
Peter has discussed this salvation already. He said that we are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5). He has also informed his readers that they would have great joy when receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:9).
Peter tells us that the prophets, though they wrote the prophetic Scriptures, did not understand how they would play out. So, they searched their own writings to gain an understanding of the grace that would come… Simply put, the even the prophets did not understand eternal salvation. They saw in the Scriptures the coming Messiah would suffer and yet He would be glorified. That just couldn’t be.
So, through their human wisdom, they determined that there must be two Messiahs. The first Messiah would be the Son of Joseph and He would fulfill the suffering passages. The second Messiah would be the Son of David; He would fulfill the reigning and glorying passages.
Peter is telling his readers in the passage that, as believers in this age, we can now understand the two themes of the Messiah. He would come as the suffering servant (Isaiah 53) and as the glorified Messiah (Isaiah 11). But, to us who have received the preaching of the Apostles, the truth has been revealed (1 Peter 1:12).
Only through God’s Word can we understand the nature of our eternal salvation.
A careful search
The prophets did not understand all the Holy Spirit inspired them to write. So, they inquired and searched carefully. They searched their own writing. They longed to participate in this salvation and the coming period of grace. They hungered for this. They wanted to know the timing…when would all of this take place. They longed to know the person or time the Spirit of Christ was indicating when He predicted the suffering of Christ and the glories to follow.
This was incongruous to them. They pondered how the glorious Messiah could be involved in such suffering. We see this in Matthew’s gospel—“for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:17)
So they search, but no true understanding would come until Jesus appeared. Then He would bring meaning to the prophets’ writings and He would teach the Apostles (including Peter) so they could bring the truth of this new age to light.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul expressed the suffering and glory of Christ this way:
…who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6–11)
Thus, the Spirit predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow (1 Peter 1:11). Christ’s suffering was followed by His glory.
Peter is using this to encourage his readers—his readers who are undergoing severe hardship. He is acknowledging their suffering, but he is reminding them that glory follows suffering.
We have a tough time with this concept. We don’t like to suffer…at least I know I don’t like to suffer. We would do whatever we could to avoid suffering. But in Christ, we can expect to suffer. The world hates us because it first hated Christ (John 15:18-19). We must learn to think about the living hope we have in Christ. We must look beyond the events of this world and look forward to our eternal life with Christ. We should be encouraged by what Peter is teaching. We too will experience glory after our time of suffering.
The prophets understood they were not writing for themselves but for those who would live later. They were writing to Peter’s audience and to us who would hear the gospel proclaimed by the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ, v. 11) and subsequently follow Christ.
The ultimate stage of the living hope
Those who would hear the gospel proclaimed by the Holy Spirit would follow Christ. We can understand our salvation because we have the Bible—the Word of God. The final stage of the believer’s salvation is to experience glory, not suffering. The writer of Hebrews tells us this:
“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14)
“…how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,” (Hebrews 2:3)
The reality of our living hope was held in awe and wonder by the angelic realm of heaven. The prophets and angels wondered about this salvation…of the grace that would come to you… (v. 10).
Our living hope
We have a living hope in our new birth in Christ. Our hope has three aspects:
- Our future inheritance (a place and responsibility in the Millennial Kingdom)
- Our present experience (an inexpressible joy knowing we are assured of eternal life with Christ)
- Our encouragement through the Word of God (an understanding that the one Son of God, Jesus Christ will come first as a Servant and secondly as a King)
We can only understand our salvation because the Holy Spirit has revealed it to us through the Bible. The Bible teaches us all we need to know about God and how we can be reconciled to Him. The Bible clearly tells us that we are sinners, eternally separated from God. But God loved us so much that He sent His Son to bring us back into relationship with Him. By trusting in Jesus Christ, we are sealed in God and we are secure in our eternal destiny.
Yet, this is just the beginning. Trusting in Christ is an absolute necessity. But, we will also appear before the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded for what we have done in the body (“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Christ expects us not only to believe on Him but also to serve Him. Remember we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). Christ expects us to do work for Him…this work is sharing His love for dying world. We must in actions and words share the gospel of Christ.
Paul said, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Are you prepared to labor for Christ? If so, in what ways. Take some time to prayerfully consider what labor God has prepared for you to do. Make a list and consider how you will accomplish His work.