1 Peter 4 – “I just barely made it”

December 28, 2011 at 6:44 AM 3 comments

In preparation for another commentary I am just beginning to write on 1 Peter, my wife and I were reading that book this morning for our devotions.  It is amazing what Peter says throughout the book, but there is one part that particularly jumped out at me this morning.

In 1 Peter 4:18, Peter asks this rhetorical question, “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” In essence, Peter is saying that Christians barely made it in and if it is that tough for us to be “in,” how much more difficult is it for the unsaved?

It is absolutely true.  I just barely made it and through no works of my own.  God opened my eyes, allowing me by His graciousness to see the truth.  Once seeing the truth, He allowed me to embrace it.  I did nothing except believe as Paul says in Romans 10:9-10.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Too many times, I’ve run into Christians who are puffed up and I have had that same tendency.  We get to that point because we wrongly believe that we have wisely chosen the correct path.  We forget that it is God who opens our eyes to the truth and it is God who allows us to receive or embrace that truth.  We are not self-made people and the pride we may feel because we are Christians is nothing more than the same type of pride that resulted in Lucifer’s sin, and Eve’s, and Adam’s, and mine, and yours.  Pride results in sin.  How can we pride ourselves in being or becoming Christians when God is the One who works in and through us for the sake of His glory?

Some of my friends are not Christians?  Does God love them less than He loves me?  Hardly.  The difference is that judgment has passed over me because of Jesus who lives within me through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

When I say “judgment has passed over me,” I am talking about judgment that leads to death.  In essence, it is the same as God’s holy wrath, His unrelenting anger at sin – all sin.

Because I am a Christian, when I stand before Him, my works will be judged, but not like the Ancient Egyptians who believed that when works are judged, if the good outweighs the bad, you’re in and if the bad outweighs the good, you’re out.  When I am “judged,” in essence, only my works are judged, not my salvation, which is secure.  The judgment I pass through at Jesus’ mercy seat (think Ark of the Covenant) will determine which of my works were done in His strength and which were done in my strength.  Those done in His strength will receive rewards.  Those done in my strength will be burned up.  Paul teaches the same thing in his letters to the Corinthians.

The fact that I barely made it leaves no room for pride at all, yet too many of us Christians walk around with swelled heads.  Why is that?  Because we still have the sin nature and it still wants to control us.  It is often successful.  I cannot imagine what it will be like to live without the sin nature, but I do know that I am looking forward to it.

I wish and pray that all of my friends would come to know Him.  Unfortunately, in spite of my best efforts and even God opening their eyes to the truth, some will reject His salvation.  They will reject it because they have bought the lie that says they must change before God is able to accept them, or they will need to change drastically after He has given them His salvation.  The truth of the matter is that yes, He changes us, but He does so gently even when He chastises us for things we do wrong.

A truly loving earthly parent is similar.  That parent wants the best for their child and when they see their child doing something that they know will harm them, the parent may express anger toward the child.  This does not mean that the parent now hates the child.  It actually means that the parent loves the child enough to want to correct them.  If the parent did absolutely nothing, then we would know that the parent did not love the child.

My children are both in their twenties.  I see the results of their upbringing and for the most part I am pleased.  There are things I want to see come out still, yet for the most part, because of their age, I am done raising them.  This doesn’t mean I no longer get angry at them at times.  It means I understand that they are adults and I need to treat them as adults.  In other words, my chastisement is different now from when they were children and even though my love for them has never changed and always remained the same, they might argue that when they were smaller, my anger was larger.  It wasn’t, but merely seemed that way to them.

This is how God deals with those who are His.  He chastises us to perfect us, to help us get rid of the things that will only bring us harm.

Let’s face it, some of my friends rely too much on alcohol.  Some smoke.  Some read “girlie” magazines.  Does God hate them because of these things? Not at all, but at the same time, He wants them away from those things because of what they can do to them.  This is where the problem often occurs because people wrongly believe that God wants to take away the things we love.  That’s not the case.  A person who smokes does not need to wait until they quit smoking before they come to the Lord.  A person who is an alcoholic does not need to quit drinking before they turn to the Lord.  A person who is enamored with nude photos of women does not need to eradicate that before they ask for and receive His salvation.

Jesus said it is the sick who need a doctor (cf. Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31).  When you are sick, if you’re like me, you go to the doctor while there is something to treat.  You don’t wait until after your broken bone sets before you see a doctor.  That would be asinine.  You go when there is a health problem so that the doctor can help fix the problem.

This is the way it is with God.  You may be one who says, “Yeah, but I don’t have those type of problems.  In fact, I’m doing pretty good!”  Really?  That’s not what God says.  He says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).  So even if you cannot name specific problem areas in your life, you have sinned and it only takes one sin to put you against God.

Fortunately, there is a remedy.  You cannot “fix” yourself with respect to your sin.  You cannot stop sinning permanently and then come to God for His salvation.  In fact, even after you receive His salvation, you will still sin occasionally.

Christians have barely made it in.  We are Christians by His grace, not anything we have done.  We have “believed” and even that was made possible because of His grace and the truth He allowed us to see.  This is not “prevenient” grace as some believe.  It is simply seeing and embracing the truth.  Not everyone who sees the truth embraces it.  Many reject it and walk away from the faith even after seeing the reality of the truth in the message of Jesus Christ.

It absolutely amazes me that I am a Christian, saved by His grace, through faith.  It boggles my mind that I will live with Him one day as my sister is doing now.  I barely made it in and so can you!

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3 Comments

  • 1. Steven Sande  |  December 28, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Great post as usual. Keep on keeping on.

  • 2. rspmouse  |  December 28, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    Very profound truth! I am so thankful I did not have to be perfect before God saved me from myself!

    • 3. Sherry  |  December 28, 2011 at 8:57 PM

      Same here, rspmouse~
      SLC2


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