The Power of God and the Faith of Man
1 Peter 1:3-9
Where is my security and confidence as a Christian? When I fall short of what I ought to be, in how much jeopardy am I? Some would say that once a person is saved he can never be lost because salvation was planned by God for each person before the world was. If I am one who God decided to save, then I cannot be lost. But there are too many warnings in the Scripture about people falling and instructions on what to do to keep from falling.
But there are not only two possibilities. It is not that it is either all on God or all on me. The Lord does not assume all responsibility for keeping me saved, but neither does He lay it all on me either. The Lord has promised to be with us, to protect and strengthen, guard and sustain all who live by faith - but we must live by faith. "And those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee." (Psalm 9:10). A wonderful Biblical text of assurance is found in the Scripture as written by Peter:
"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, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:3-9)
Kept By The Power of God
Peter wrote that we are "kept by the power of God." In this case, "kept" means to guard and protect. He wants you to spend eternity with Him in glory (Colossians 1:19-22). I sure am glad this is something He wants! The Lord looks forward to sharing with us what will be perfect fellowship and a dynamic, expanding existence with a wonderful environment of beauty and eternally unfolding wonders.
Paul knew that the Lord could deliver Him from every evil deed. (2 Timothy 4:18). Jude expressed the same idea (Jude 1:1). Do you believe that God can keep His children saved if the Devil wants them lost? Your answer, I hope, is a resounding "Yes, He can!" But He leaves it up to the children to exercise their faith; "who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" ( 1 Peter 1:5). Faith, or trust itself becomes the means to overcome doubt, despair and cynicism.
Our Present Responsibility
The doubter fails to place His trust in God who is powerful to save. The Calvinists fails to recognize the role God has ordained for our faith to play in keeping saved. Both are mistakes.
Note again the Scriptures: "...to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4,5).
Now if I left out the words "through faith" then it would all be up to God. But faith is the right human response to God's grace and power. We must not leave out the prescribed human response. If we leave our faith then we also leave God's protection. They work together to secure our salvation. Note again Colossians 1:21-22; and this time add verse 23: "And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach -- if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister."
Note the very emphatic "if indeed" as underlined above in these
verses. There are no substitutes and no exceptions. We must "continue in the
faith" and we must not be "moved away from the hope of the gospel" to find
ourselves presented "holy and blameless" before God.
Recall that Paul had confidence, but it was based on God's willingness and power to save him as well as Paul's own faithfulness in living (see 2 Timothy 4:7,8; 18). Likewise, as we have seen, Jude's confidence was also based on continued faith, and was not without the understanding that it was possible to fall away and be lost (Jude 1; 20,21) We must put our trust in the One who can save us (vs. 24).
If We Remain In Him, He Will Remain With Us
God keeping us by His power and our keeping ourselves by our faith in Him are related. God keeps those who keep His word (Revelation 3:8,10). We need to walk in a worthy manner (1 Thessalonians 2:12,13; 5:21,22) and God is faithful to bring us to victory (vs. 23,24; see also 2 Timothy 1:12-14).
These words of confidence were written to men and women just
like ourselves. They had struggles; they were not always what they ought to be,
but as they walked by faith, they glorified God and asked for forgiveness for
their failures. This way, they were able to live in hope and confidence. If I am
lost, it will be because of my own unfaithfulness, for God is always faithful (2
Timothy 2:12,13). As we learn to depend upon Christ hope grows. It is never lost
just because things in this world cause momentary distress (2 Corinthians
4:17,18). I must continue to live "in Christ" (Romans 8:1; 35-39).
There is no reason that your confidence this day and every day cannot echo the confidence of the words we have read. God is as powerful and as interested in our salvation as He was in theirs. In addition to that, He has ordained that all that is necessary is your active, living faith. We have seen that there is "no condemnation in Christ" and that is where you need to be - "in Christ" (Galatians 3:26,27).
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 13.1; January 2006