“Our Living Hope”
There is a popular belief amongst many American Christians that the salvation of the Bible is broken up into two parts. It sounds something like this: God does his part, then we do ours. If we study the reading habits of American Christians, this two-part idea of salvation becomes evermore clear. Over half of Christian best-sellers (books written and published by believers and sold in Christian bookstores) deal with either counseling, controlling our thoughts in order to prevent sin, or therapy. It seems like the church in America is plagued with an identity crisis and has become addicted to “Christian” self-esteem. We are flocking like blind sheep to discover our purpose in life, forcing ourselves to read A Purpose Driven Life - a book which the author claims is a “blueprint for Christian living.”
How did we get to this place? Why are Christians so uncertain about both their temporal and eternal lives? Why do we need a blueprint for Christian living? Do we really not know what to do in this life?
I believe we have reached this point for one simple reason: we have forgotten part of our salvation. You see, the Bible does not tell us that God does his part and leaves the rest up to us. Scripture speaks of a God who “has caused us to be born again to a living hope” (I Pet 1:3). This hope only comes through the “resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Pet 1:3). Notice the centrality of the work of Christ. The hope we are suppose to possess and manifest (after all, it is “living”) is only possible because God initiated it. He caused us to be born through the resurrection.
And why did He cause us to be born anew? The next verse tells us: “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (I Pet 1:4). We must notice the connection the Apostle Peter is making here. We were born again to live! And not only that, we were born again to get something in the end – something which will never fade away or become defiled. This is the very purpose of God. Not only does He give us new birth, but He tells us the whole goal of that new birth – to get the inheritance which is “reserved in heaven” for us (I Pet 1:4). What a beautiful word picture reserved is! We have our reservation to His throne room – it is waiting for us. Did not Jesus tell us this in the upper room discourse? Jesus tells us in John 14:2-3 that he was leaving “to prepare a place” for us, and, when he comes back, he will “receive [us] to [Him]self” in order that we may be where he is.
Brothers and sisters in the Lord, we need to realize the great lengths God has gone to in order to bring us to glory with Him. If there is any doubt that God will fulfill His promises, then listen to I Peter 1:5:
[We] are guarded by the power of God through faith for a salvation
ready to be revealed in the last time.
Did you catch that? We are guarded. We are protected. We are kept safe. Dr. Wayne Grudem, in his Tyndale commentary says that “God is preserving believers from escaping out of his kingdom, and he is protecting them from external attacks” (page 58). It is because God is our eternal life guard that we don’t need therapy books or mind-control techniques to conquer sin. Our thoughts need to get off ourselves and focus on the great love God has shown us, does show us, and will show us. May our lips always echo Paul’s doxology:
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities
Nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall
Be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
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