1 Peter: Because of His Great Mercy (1:3-5)

Praise be to the 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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for 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.

1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV

Praise to God

Peter starts this passage off with praise to the God and Father of Jesus. I find this expression to be interesting.  His praise is not directed to God, but to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. I don’t believe that Peter is trying to say that Jesus is less than God. Instead I suspect that he is pointing us to the God, as Father, that Jesus pointed his disciples toward, including Peter. Jesus repeatedly referred to his Father, and declared his submission to him. And so Peter takes up that terminology, praising God, the Father of Jesus, and our Father as well. 

Great Mercy

At least a part of Peter’s reason for praising God was because of the mercy he has shown us. Mercy is defined as pity or compassion. God, the Father, saw the helpless condition of humanity, and had pity, or compassion, on us. And his mercy led to action on his part. He didn’t just look at us and feel sorry for us. He acted to do something about our condition.

When did God first have mercy on us? I don’t believe that he woke up one day, looked at humanity, and thought, “what happened to them”, and then felt sorry for us. Rather, I believe his mercy has been directed toward us from the time he first knew us, before creation. In some ways you might say that he has always had mercy on us.

But God’s mercy has been demonstrated in different ways throughout our history. Repeatedly throughout the story of humanity, as told in the Bible, God has been merciful to us. Even when we deserved only punishment, even that is tempered with mercy.

A Living Hope

Now, because of God’s great mercy toward his elect, he has given us new birth into a living hope. We have been born again, of the Spirit, and all things have been made new. Because of that spiritual re-birth, we can now participate in the life of Christ, both now and into eternity. And that is the living hope that we have been born into. The hope of salvation, of eternal life.

We have a living hope, not a wishful hope like so many have. The hope of salvation that we have should permeate every part of us, and all that we do. While we look like others around us, and even do some of the same things, we are not like those with a dead hope. They live their lives for today and what they can get out of it. With a living hope, we can live our lives for the future, for the eternity we were created for.

And this hope comes through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus defeated death and broke its hold on humanity. And so we can trust that he will also defeat death for us who have trusted in him.  Our hope is based on his resurrection.

An Imperishable Inheritance

 In addition to a living hope, God’s mercy has given us new birth into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. An inheritance that is kept in heaven for us. Not while we wait for someone to die, but while we ourselves wait to leave this life behind and enter eternity.

Our inheritance is most assuredly not silver, gold or jewels. Those will have no value in heaven. For the Old Testament Jews, their inheritance concerned the land of Canaan. But for us the inheritance is not in a physical piece of land. Instead it is centered around the Kingdom of God. We have not yet received our inheritance. It is kept in heaven for us, waiting for our final salvation. But we do look forward to it; and hope in it.

A Coming Salvation

Who is this inheritance for? It is for those who, through God’s power, are guarded by faith, for a coming salvation. For the elect, those whom God has chosen as his own. It is God’s power that guards us. And if God is guarding us, who can snatch us away from him. That does not mean that we will not face trials in this life. The verses that follow assure us that this is not the case. But while the tent we dwell in may be destroyed, and we may suffer, God will guard us and keep us from real harm.

But he guards us through faith. There is an element of participation on our part here. It is those who have an enduring faith, a faith that holds on the the end, that God will guard, and that will experience a final salvation. The new Testament expresses faith as something that is ongoing. It is not just a one time encounter with God. Rather it is a continuing trust and dependance on God. And it is those with this kind of enduring faith that are guarded by God’s power.

All too often we envision salvation as something that occurred to us at some time in the past. But it is much more than that. What we so often identify as the moment of our salvation is but the beginning of a journey. A journey that continues until we leave this life. The final moment of our salvation journey is when we experience deliverance from this world. The trials and sufferings are left behind. And we are delivered from the wrath of God that is to come. And that final salvation comes to those who have walked by faith with the risen Christ, to the end.

  • A Living Hope – 1 Peter 1:3-9 – The end result of faith is the salvation of my soul, the “me” that inhabits the shell I walk around in now.  I find it interesting that we are even now receiving the salvation of our souls.  It is not just something to look forward to at death, or at Jesus return.  But even now that goal is being accomplished.  The more I come to know God, experiencing his presence in my life; the more I experience the refining of my faith through the trials of this life; and the more my soul is delivered from the bondage of this flesh and into the glory of his presence.  And that should fill me with a glorious and inexpressible joy. (January 18, 2013)

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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