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The Salvation of Your Soul

Date: Jul. 25, 2010

Author: Michael Mark

1 Peter 1:1-12

Key Verse: 1 Peter 1:1-2

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

The goal of our faith is the salvation of our souls. Over the course of time, this truth seems to slip farther and farther away from us, but we need to hold on to this hope through good times and bad, and day by day. We are a sinful generation, and in periods of peace and stability, temptations to serve ourselves cause us to drift farther from the truth. Sometimes we are anxious because we want something we cannot have, and instead of taking our cares to the Lord we try to deal with it on our own. In periods of suffering and trials, we are tempted to give up and fall away, or fall into despair and hopelessness. So, in all circumstances in every aspect of life every day, we need to remember the goal of our faith.

Remembering our goal helps us to move towards our goal. When a soldier goes into a battlefield, he cannot forget the objective of his mission, or he will not know what to do or why he is where he is. Likewise, we must remember the goal of our salvation in order to most effectively serve the Lord and ultimately give him praise, glory and honor. Through this passage, we will learn that we are chosen for salvation, that we must have hope in salvation, that salvation comes through faith, and that salvation is revealed through the word.

Part I: Chosen for Salvation

First – a little background on the book of 1 Peter. Look at verse 1: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” The author of this book is Peter, the apostle and top disciple of Jesus Christ. He really doesn’t need introduction and we know so much about him through our study in the book of Luke. He writes now with concern and compassion to God’s people scattered throughout the region of Asia minor, in an area by modern day Turkey, some distance north of Jerusalem.

The Christians there were suffering under persecution, and Peter writes to them to encourage them to hold on to their faith, which in the end will result in the salvation of their souls. He renews their hope by reminding them of the great mercy poured out on them from God. In this region are not only Jewish converts to Christianity, but Gentile converts as well – so the words he writes are universally applicable to all people, including ourselves. As we go through the book of 1 Peter in the coming weeks, let us listen as if Peter were also addressing us.

Notice first now how he addresses God’s people – he calls them God’s elect. This means that they were chosen by God. My old Bible teacher used to tell me that I did not find him, rather, God brought me to him. We might think that we are sitting here listening to God’s word because we decided to come, but as we grow we learn that it was God who chose us, it was God who brought us here, it was God who enabled us to be faithful. We have seen many people come and go, some people show up for 1 meeting and then we never see them again, but there are some who come, and come again. Ison Hong, Peter Mugisa, Tom Li, Jiho, Michelle – what can we say except that God had chosen them. We shouldn’t ask why God would choose some, and not others, but each of us must simply acknowledge that we are here because God has chosen us. This gives us a firm foundation that it was not by our will or our strength we desire to seek God, but by God’s will alone. 1 John 4:19 says we love because he first loved us.

Also note that they were called strangers in the world. God called them out of their former lives of sin, and calls us out as well. 1 Pet 4:4 says, “[Pagans] think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” Some of the people Peter spoke to were former idolaters or drunkards, yet after being chosen by God, they could no longer live such lives.

The beginning of verse 2 says we have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. This ascribes sovereignty to God, and assures us that we are not Christians because of some haphazard chance or at random, but by his divine purpose and plan. What are the implications of this? If God planned it, who can unplan it? If God desired it, who can reverse it? And we know that God is good, and because he is good, his plans are always good for us and for the good of all creation. We are secure in the Lord’s hands. And for what purpose are we called? The rest of verse 2 tells us we were called for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.

The world does not obey Christ, they do not know him, but God’s elect were called to obey Christ, and be sprinkled by his blood. Our sins are washed away, forgiven, and our guilt taken away. We were chosen and called to a salvation which Christ has enabled us to take part of, it was God’s purpose and plan.   You were called, you were chosen, you were selected and privileged to receive God’s grace and peace. And so Peter blesses his readers saying, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” Not simply grace and peace, but that in abundance, are bestowed upon God’s elect, of which we are a part. May we bless others in such a way.

Part II: Hope in Salvation

Let’s all please read verse 3 together: “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Peter begins with such an emphatic praise to the Lord. In the NASB translation, this same verse also reads, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” We always pray that God would bless us, but what would be even better is if we prayed that God would be blessed. There’s a song that goes, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” so before we pray, “Lord bless us”, let us first say, “blessed are you, O Lord.”

For in his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope. He indeed was merciful to us – all of our deeds are deserving of death, sometimes I do things that later I realized I should be punished severely for – but in his great mercy, and through the poured out blood of Christ, I am a forgiven sinner. We are born again into a living hope. Spurgeon wrote that just as we were first born into sin and sorrow, we were born again into purity and joy. We have a living hope – not a dead hope, but a hope that is active, alive and working in our hearts. If your hope is dead in your hearts, revive it by remembering the mercies of the Lord upon your life.

What are some characteristics of this living hope? Verse 4 gives us 5, and says “and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” This living hope is an inheritance, which is defined as property or estate passed on to an heir after the death of an individual. We can look at it two ways – Christ died, and gave us an inheritance into his kingdom, or when we die, we receive the inheritance. Either way, this hope goes beyond death. It is also imperishable. Everything in this world is passing away – the grass and flowers wither, our car gets rusty, our skin gets a little more wrinkly, but we will receive something that will never perish. Our hope should never be in the world, which is perishing. It is also undefiled, it cannot rot or spoil like last week’s leftovers. It never fades away, like the colors in old photos, but our hope is in something that is permanently vibrant. And finally, our hope should never be for anything in this world, because it is in heaven, kept there for us.

What is your ultimate hope? I believe it’s good to have hope in this life, we want to raise our children right, hope they get into good schools, but these should not be the ultimate hope. But you look at the world, and that is the end for them. There is nothing beyond death, no hope for heaven. Some people hope to get rich, but it ends there – those unlucky enough to become rich find out it’s empty and unfulfilling. Some people hope to get married and raise a family – but what happens after that? If there is no other hope, then there is nothing else to look forward to. Some people hope in a good name after they die. When the world is gone, this too will be forgotten. And those that hope to be reincarnated, it’s based on the good and bad they have done in their life, and still they are never sure. This too is a dead hope.

A living hope is active, working in our lives to bring us closer to where it is found: in heaven. A living hope actively works in us to bring us closer to salvation. All other religions reveal their results after someone dies – they will never know in their present life whether they have been good enough. That is not a living hope. The living hope gives us a new birth immediately, we see evidence of its work in our lives, and it secures our seat in heaven even in this life. The hope is kept in heaven for you, and look at verse 5, “[you] who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” You are shielded by God’s power – through what … through faith, and that is how hope actively lives and works in us.

Part III: Salvation through Faith

So hope makes us rejoice – verse 6 says, regarding salvation, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” Notice also, at the same time, the Christian will suffer grief. No matter what the circumstances in life, the Christian always rejoices in the Lord. The believers Peter writes to were suffering under trials and persecutions. Although today we are not in the same circumstances they were in, all Christians will undergo trials in their lives. But why do trials come? Look at verse 7: “These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Trials come to refine and purify our faith. We don’t have to be actively persecuted or thrown in jail to suffer trials, sometimes it may be an idol that we hold in our hearts that God wants to rip us away from. Sometimes it is complacency that God wants to wake us up from. Sometimes it is a sin in us that God wants to burn away. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” Sometimes Satan may even be used to test us. Jesus told Peter that Satan has asked to sift him as wheat, but Jesus prayed for him, and told him when he turned back to strengthen his brothers.

God gives us hope though, and tells us not to be afraid. Rev 2:10 says, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” No matter what the test, whether it be from God testing our hearts, or that he would use Satan, the end should always result in praise, honor and glory to God. Sometimes tests will come and we will see how faithful we are, and if we fail, we must not despair, but turn back to God who will strengthen us. God will answer us in our times of testing, Zech 13:9 says, “This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Tests will come to reveal where your faith is – and if you heard Zechariah he said “They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” For those who call on the Lord in their trials, he will answer them, and say “You are my people.” Do not be afraid of the Lord’s disciplines, whether now or in the future. Hebrews 12:5-7 reminds us, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” So accept God’s discipline, for sometimes it is out of the storms and difficulties in life we grow the most both in spirit and in character.

This week God tested Mary and me. I asked her permission to share this story and she agreed, for the edification of the saints at IIT. We had such a wonderful night Wednesday night – we had our final marriage Bible study with the Henkins, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Tasty City restaurant in Chinatown, and as I looked at her across the table I never thought that I was more in love. But then that night, after reading a bedtime story with Joseph, my friend called me and asked about our wedding invitations, and why he hasn’t gotten them yet.

Soon my heart began to sink, and I felt a burden regarding our invitations, but not only that, I was managing 5 different tasks at work with performance review time coming up, and I needed to get started on this message. But rather than go to prayer and the word of God, I tried to take matters into my own hands and began to start creating more labels for the invitations. My heart was overwhelmed and I emailed Mary that night to share my burden and seek comfort. Mary can’t normally send emails from work, she has to do it quickly and secretly, but she responded immediately to my email. Unfortunately for her that day, her boss reprimanded her in front of her coworkers about an assignment. She didn’t have time to write a comforting email to me, and wrote she’ll pray for me not to be anxious. When I saw that word anxious, Satan had attacked me, and I was furious – emailed her back to express my anger with as much tact as I could.

It was one of those emails you wish you had never sent…when I got home I realized I had hurt her and compounded her difficulties at work. I really felt that my sins deserved a beating and I had deserved to be beaten with many blows – for hurting my fiancé, and violating God’s command to be joyful always and to trust in him. That night I called her a few times, and left a message sincerely apologizing. But I also had a message to work on, so I prayed to God to forgive me, confessed my sins, and then prayed for Mary to forgive me. It was during message writing, the comfort of God in his word came to me, and I was prepared to accept the consequences of my sin – I probably would not know when the next time I would speak to her, and deservedly so. But I prayed it be God’s will that she’d call me back. Just after I called her the third time with no answer, I refreshed my email on my phone – and in wonderful amazement an email came from Mary with the subject: Hi. I opened it, and read it, she had told me what happened at work, forgiven me for what I did, and reconciled our differences. I wept in repentance, thankfulness and humility.

God revealed to me my sin of insecurity, and he revealed to me my lack of faith in prayer and going to his word to find true comfort and joy. He showed me how I tried to solve issues by my own strength, and how I failed because sin never wins. But only when I repented, went back to his word, back to prayer, back to dependence and faith in him, did he answer my prayer and restore me, and my relationship with Mary. I stand before you here as a sinner, I cannot boast that I have anything in me that makes me worthy to speak and preach his message – I can only boast in the Lord and be a witness to his power in my life – for it is not I that speak, but by his mercy to pour his Spirit into my heart. Through this trial, God strengthened my faith and helped me to understand the importance of dependence on him and his word. I thanked God for this trial, for out of these sorrows I really grew a lot.

None of us deserve to be here in the presence of the Lord on our own merits, but only, and ONLY in his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Let us not boast of ourselves, but boast only in the Lord. We do not need to speak to others with eloquence or superior wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that faith may not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Cor 2:4-5).

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” If you didn’t know what faith is – that’s it: being sure of what we hope for – salvation – and certain of what we do not see – that is, Jesus Christ. Are you certain that Jesus hears you when you pray? Are you certain that he is in your heart now, regenerating you and making you more like him? Are you as certain as God’s elect that Peter addresses in this passage?

Let’s all read verse 8: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” That is faith. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him…and what? And are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. I Thes 5:16 says “Be joyful always.” This is a commandment. If you truly believe in Jesus, you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, even in suffering and trials…and why is that?

Let’s all read verse 9: “for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” It does not say, for you “will” receive, it says, for you are receiving the goal of your faith. When you love Jesus, when you believe in him, you are joyful because you are receiving the goal of your faith: and what is that? Salvation. You are receiving the fullness of God’s grace and mercy. You are receiving something that the prophets longed for, but never tasted, as we’ll see in a moment. You are receiving something even angels cannot receive. You, a sinner, through Jesus Christ and faith in him alone, have received salvation. Yours are the treasures in heaven. Yours are the inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade. Yours is eternal and everlasting life, it is yours! Repent, stop sinning and believe the good news!

Part IV: Salvation revealed in the Word

“Concerning this salvation…” Let’s read verses 10-11: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” Don’t believe any man who says he knows God or receives revelation from God but he does not read his Bible. The prophets were probably the most inspired men on earth from God, but you see that they needed to search intently and with the greatest care. They didn’t read the Scriptures haphazardly or randomly, they searched it, with intent. And it wasn’t just carefully, it was maximum carefully – with the greatest care.

They were inspired by the Spirit of Christ – yes, before he became man, Christ testified about himself to the prophets. He told them about how he would suffer before he suffered, and it was recorded as a witness to us. Do you want to know how much Christ suffered for us? Do you want to know his heart and mind? One of those witnesses is in Psalm 88:1-18, part of it reads: “O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength…You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief.” Jesus did that for us.

The prophets longed to see these things, but could only testify to them by faith. Look at verse 12: “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” We have in our hands the full revelation of the gospel. We have in our hands the revelation of the wondrous and glorious mysteries of God. Why do we not search them for ourselves? We have experienced Christ, tasted his salvation and grace and forgiveness of sins, when prophets could only desire to experience these things. But they were commended for their faith.

Realize how privileged you are to experience and know salvation, even when angels, who minister in the heavenly realms, can only long to look into these things. They rejoice in heaven when one sinner repents, they announced the birth and resurrection of Christ, but they never tasted salvation. In Spurgeon’s commentary on this passage, he quotes a hymn: “Never did angels taste above/Redeeming grace and dying love./And you have, this very day.” You have the wonderful privilege to know salvation, don’t take that for granted. 

The goal of our faith is salvation. We learned a lot about salvation through this passage. We learned that we are chosen for salvation, it was God’s own plan. We learned that we have a living hope in salvation, one that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, living and active. We learned that salvation comes through faith, beginning the moment we believe and being purified every day. Finally, we learned that the revelation of salvation comes through the word of God, and what a privilege we have to receive what inspired men and angels could not taste.

So…hopefully your Bibles are getting marked up the bindings are coming loose. Let us not read it haphazardly or randomly, but search it with intent and with the greatest care. The most inspired men study it even more. And through it, a salvation will be revealed that will give you grace and peace in abundance. Do not neglect prayer and Bible study, and you will be filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. And one final word: just as it was revealed to the prophets that they were not serving themselves, may we, once we receive it, serve others with the word of salvation. May we become bold witnesses to the salvation that is Jesus Christ to our friends, our families, this campus and this nation!

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The Result of Complacency and Pride

Amos 6:1-14

Key Verse: 6:8b

The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts:

  “I abhor the pride of Jacob
    and hate his strongholds,
    and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”

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