Trials From Without - Lesson 2 - You Are Protected
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.
Maybe you have struggled a bit with the sovereignty of God. The clear meaning of the term is that God is absolutely in control of all that He has created. Salvation is absolute of Him, starting with choosing His people before creation. Then He effectually calls the ones He chose. He gives saving faith to the ones He calls, and they cooperate, using that faith to believe in Jesus and be born again, regenerated by the Holy Spirit. What about the “free” will of man? Adam and Eve’s wills were free until they sinned. They forfeited the autonomy of the human race that day so that we are either under the control of sin (old man) or under the control of the Spirit of God (new man) Galatians 5:16-18.
The best way to understand this is to think of a coin. Two unique sides that run parallel but cannot be imposed on each other. You look at one side at a time and don’t try to reconcile the man’s head with a bird or building. If two people look only at opposite sides of the coin, they may get into a big argument as they describe it. Same with salvation — from God’s side, everything is sovereign activity. From man’s side, everything is personal responsibility — whoever will, anyone who comes, pray without ceasing . . . all these are human duties. When we believe in Jesus, it does seem like a free, personal decision, and it really is until you turn the coin over and realize what God has been doing.
Think about it — I’ve heard people argue that God foreknew based on His ability to look down through time and see who would believe in Jesus. If that were true God would be subject to man. Not a true or comforting picture. Let God be big, REAL BIG, and your entire existence depends on Him along with the promises of His word, your inheritance, and everything. The sovereignty of God is the bedrock of saving and living faith.
God chose His people, and His great mercy caused them to be born again. Someone worries that God didn’t choose everybody, others said the amazing thing is that He chose anybody. His mercy was the effective agent in the new birth. Being born again is a completely spiritual event. It happens when the Holy Spirit gives a person the ability to confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead Romans 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 12:3. Nicodemus wondered whether he would have to get inside his mom and be born again. Jesus assured him that the “again” part is spiritual, not of water like natural birth. It’s a birth from above brought about by the Holy Spirit.
Have you been born again?
With the new birth comes living hope, and that through the resurrection of Christ. When Jesus resurrected, He conquered death, hell, sin, the grave, and satan, and that opened the door to mankind so that whoever believes in Him shares in the victory and the prospect of eternal life. Believers look forward to the next life, where they will receive an imperishable, undefiled, non-fading inheritance that is reserved for them in heaven. Jesus said that our treasures ought to go there where moths, rust, and thieves are no threat. A reserved inheritance!
It’s good that God is looking out for this reward, but the other thing is that He is protecting the inheritor at all times with His power. Both sides of the matter are guaranteed a positive outcome. A reserved inheritance for a protected heir. The believer’s responsibility is to exercise the faith God has given as life goes on. There is a dimension to salvation that will happen at Jesus’ appearance. True and faithful believers will be revealed with Him in a staggering celebration of God and His grace. Individuals’ faith will be on display in honor of their King.
Remember, Peter is laying foundational truth here from which he will launch teaching on how to triumph in trials that come from outside the church. Be sure to receive it and get your anchor points in place. A few challenges lie ahead . . .