Salvation Surety

// September 22nd, 2019 // Sermons

This entry is part 2 of 22 in the series 1 Peter Series

This is now Sermon #2 in the 1 Peter series. You can listen online or download it and listen later… Salvation SuretyNext Sunday, Ruth and I will be away on vacation and you will get to listen to one of our Elders – Ron Richardson – preach.  The week following, I’m not quite sure if we will be back in 1 Peter or if I’ll do something related to our prayer theme that day, as we Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.

For today, I have two objectives:  1) That we would rejoice and praise God that we have been born again because of God’s mercy, and 2) That we would understand why this is important in our lives today.

In these 3 verses, you can easily pick up that Peter is praising God – the One “who has caused us to be born again.”  If Peter were speaking these words, his excitement and urgency would be clearly understood in the tone of his voice.

He emphasizes that God has done something…He has “caused us to be born again”.  And, as a result, we should do something – we should proclaim “Blessed be the God…” or “Praise the Lord!”

Pastor John Piper, in his sermon on this text, noted that Peter could have written like a boring college professor: “Today I would like to lecture on five topics — God’s mercy, our new birth, the resurrection of Jesus, our inheritance in heaven, and our security in Christ. Please take out your notebook and your syllabus, and let’s begin with Point #1.”  But Piper points out that this is what Peter did.  He begins his letter with a dynamite of praise: “Blessed be God” or, as one translation puts it, “What a God we have!”

We should learn to present spiritual truth in the way that Peter does it.  Biblical preaching should touch the head and the heart.  I never want to be content with having covered the material for the day – it is always my desire to convey the truth from heart to heart.

This applies to the way I preach and it also applies to the way that you listen.  I should not be content to merely impart facts, and you must never be content to simply gain Biblical knowledge.  The real goal of our time together should be a transformed life as God’s Word is shared in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We should not be satisfied with anything less.

Phillips Brooks called preaching – the impartation of truth through human personality.  That is good – because it means that before I share the truth with others, it must first impact my own life.  Truth that comes through a person’s life speaks of being genuine.  Human personality does not change the truth, but truth transforms human personality.

Here are three questions for you to ask of the person preaching:

  • Are you telling me the truth? Preaching based on anything other than the truth of Scripture is dangerous and misleading.
  • Does, what you are saying, matter to you? Truth should matter deeply to those who claim to know it and share it.
  • Why should it matter to me? The preacher should make his hearers grasp how important the truth he proclaims really is.

In v. 3 Peter declares, “This matters!”  Our text is far more than a mere dry recital of Biblical doctrine.  It is a call to praise God because of what He has done for us.

In terms of the one listening to a sermon – here are two questions to ask yourself every time you hear a sermon:

  • Do I really want to know what God says?
  • Am I willing to let the truth that I hear change me?

Peter starts by saying “Blessed be God” – why?  Because truth has profoundly changed his life!  Here’s the bottom line:  If at the end of this message, you are not praising God, then we have both failed to do what we should.  Either I have failed to tell you the truth in a way that you could understand, or you have failed to listen and hear what God is saying.

Pastor Ray Pritchard was approached by a lady who showed him a notebook filled with 34 years of sermon notes from various speakers she had heard.  There were hand-written notes from sermons by world-famous preachers and sermons by preachers whose names he did not recognize.

It was a remarkable work that she had gathered so he congratulated her on her diligence.  But, he wanted to ask her, “How has your life been changed after hearing all that great preaching?”  Taking notes is wonderful and I encourage it – thus the Sermon Notes pages in the bulletin each week.  But the end result of all Bible teaching must be the transformation of the mind that Paul talks about in Rom. 12:2.

It’s not mere knowledge that we’re after — we need to press for a life that is so transformed that it cannot help but declare “Blessed be God” and “Praise the Lord!” and “What a God we have!”  Preaching and worship should always go hand-in-hand.

I believe that when the body comes together to worship, we need to sing, we need to pray, we need to share, and we need to read Holy Scripture together.  The things we do before I preach – singing, praying and reading the Word – these things are not the “preliminaries”; nor are they the Main Event!  That is not Biblical.

When we come together, everything we do from beginning to end is part of the worship service!  We worship through singing the truth, we worship through praying the truth, we worship through reading the truth, and we worship through hearing the truth.

It is possible to sing without worshipping, just as you can preach or listen to preaching without worshipping God.  But that only produces formalism or ritualism, so that we can say, “I went to church.”  It is good to go to church…but did you worship today?  That’s the revealing question.

It is dangerous to go to a worship service and not worship God when you are there.  That will only produce cold, dead, dry, proud Pharisees who go through the motions and whose hearts are never touched and changed by the living God.  O, may God keep us from handling His truth in a casual manner!

William Temple, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury, gave a stirring definition of worship:  “Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God.  It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, nourishment of mind by His truth, purifying of imagination by His beauty, opening of the heart to His love, and submission of will to His purpose.”  Worship is the total response of who we are to all that God is!  And, when we see it in that light, worship is not really a “service we attend”, it’s the ongoing response of the heart to the revelation of God to us!

Because of the way Peter begins his message, we must understand how very important this is.  This opening worship statement of praise in this letter is key to the whole book.

We know that he was writing this letter to persecuted believers scattered far and wide across Asia Minor.  They were far from each other and far from Peter himself.  They were facing “fiery trials” – and the conditions were right for these to get worse.

Peter doesn’t begin by talking about the problems his readers were facing.  He begins by talking about who God is and what He has done for them.  God comes first!  And when God comes first, His people instinctively praise His name.

When we start with God, we have a correct perspective of our problems, but when we start with our problems, it’s hard to find our way to God at all!

Peter’s main point is – Praise God who caused us to be born again!  The rest of what he wrote in v. 3-5 is related to that main idea.  Let’s unpack the 5 major statements in our text.

  1. In the first part of v. 3 – we have experienced God’s mercy
  2. Also, in v. 3 – we have been born again
  • And, the last part of v. 3 – we have a living hope
  1. 4 – we have a guaranteed inheritance in heaven
  2. And, v. 5 – we are kept by God’s power

What is the main point in all that Peter mentions?  Notice v. 3:  God “who has caused us to be born again.”  Peter explains the great blessings that inherit through Jesus – all of which are possible because of the “new birth.”

God has given us new birth, making us into new people.  What an amazing concept.  I hear people talk about a “born-again” Christian – but, really, there is no other kind of Christian.  If you aren’t born again, you aren’t a Christian at all.  To be “born again” means you receive the very life of God in you, and as a result, you become a brand-new person.  Once you come to Christ, you are a “new creation” with a new hope, a new life, a new confidence, a new joy, and a new destiny!

And, Peter words it right on – God “caused us” to be born again – the sovereign action of our God as He acted on our behalf.  We did not cause ourselves to be born again.  You had about as much to do with your new birth as you did with your physical birth.  We can’t take credit for either birth!

Peter declares, “God did it!”  If this doesn’t stir excitement or joy in us, either we don’t understand it or we don’t believe it.  I hear people take credit for their salvation by saying, “I had faith so God saved me.”  That’s not what the Bible says.  Eph. 2:8-9 reminds us that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Even the faith to believe is a gift from God!

God gave us new birth.  He “fathered” us by an act of His own will.  He acted on our behalf to rescue us while we were still sinners, separated from him, going our own way, and rebelling against His holy standards.  Let’s be sure, He did not save us because He had to, but because he wanted to.  Therefore, He alone gets the glory for our salvation!

To help us understand this, let me ask you a question – how do you know you were born?  Ponder that for a moment.  You are here, so you must have been born, right?  How else could you be here if you had not been born?  Some might say:

  • “I have a birth certificate that proves I was born.” Those can be faked.
  • “I’ve seen my baby pictures.” Are you certain they are really you?
  • “My mother had a paper with my baby footprint on it.” That may be cute, but since your foot is much larger now, how do you it was you?

I mean, we could refute every argument, if we really wanted to…and the point remains, if you remove the outward evidence, how do you really prove you were born?  The only solid answer is – “I’m alive, and my life proves that I have been born.”  No more argument!

A 2nd question:  How do you know you’ve been born again?  And, we find that the same principles apply.  You could mention your baptism, responding to an altar call, you raised your hand, you prayed a prayer, you became a member of a church, and so on.

Those outward signs are not useless, but you could do all of those and still be unsaved.  The only real answer is:  “I know I’m born again because I have the life of God in me.”

I remember at the age of 11 or 12, praying to ask Jesus to forgive my sin and come into life.  I knew “something happened” that day.  I didn’t hear angels sing, no outward miracles occurred, but I knew something had changed!  I knew I had been born again by the Spirit of God.

And, that one event has radically changed the course of my life.  Let me just add that it doesn’t matter whether or not you can remember the time or the place or if you even can remember it happening.  What matters is that you know that you have the life of God in you.

We should learn to say:

  • Once I was blind, but now I can see.
  • Once I was lost, but now I am found.
  • Once I had no hope, but now I have a living hope.
  • Once I was guilty, but now I am forgiven.
  • Once I was an enemy, but God made me his friend.
  • Once I was a rebel, but now I am a servant of the living God.
  • Once I was dead, but now I am alive. And, the best part, God did it!

This matters, because it directly impacts how you tell the story and who gets the glory.  A Sunday School chorus goes like this:

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul.
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole.
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me,
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

That is solid theology.

If you think you accomplished your own salvation, you will feel pride about how good a person you are; but if you know that it was God who caused you to be born again, then your heart will burst with praise, like Peter did.

Remember the old hymn – Love Lifted Me?  One of the verses goes like this:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

What a wonderful truth!  I wonder, if there is anybody here today that might be thinking – “Yes, I had forgotten what my life was like until this morning.  I had forgotten how complacent I had become in my walk with God.  I needed this reminder of what God has done for me!”  We all need that reminder from time to time, don’t we?

Everything else Peter says in these verses flows from the main truth: God caused us to be born again.  Because of this,

  • We have a living hope – v. 3.
  • We have a guaranteed inheritance – v. 4.
  • We are kept by God’s power – v. 5.

So, like Craig read from Eph. 2:8-9 – we have nothing to boast about – it’s not about us!  If we do anything good, it is God who enabled us to do it!  If we accomplish anything of significance, it is only by God’s help and God’s grace!  So, let our boasting be only in the Lord, like the psalmist wrote in Ps. 34:1 – “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

I mentioned to objectives that at the start of today’s sermon:

  • That we would rejoice and praise God that we have been born again because of God’s mercy, and
  • That we would understand why this is important in our lives today.

So far the whole sermon, this morning, has dealt with the first objective.  This is important, because – remember that I Peter was written to Christians who facing open hostility in the 1st Century.  Because they didn’t go along with the rest of society, they were mocked, ridiculed, harassed, marginalized, and some were imprisoned, and some were put to death.  For this reason, Peter’s message to them can be summarized like this:

My brothers and sisters, hard times are coming and are already here.  Some of you are in the midst of fiery trials.  More are on the way.  Remember what God has done for you.  He caused you to be born again.  Your future is eternally secure because it rests on God Himself.  No one can take from you what God has given to you.  If you know what God has done for you, everything else is just details.

Around the world today, there is a great and growing divide between men and women of faith and the secular powers of our world.  We are called to be salt and light in a world that does not understand us; living in a society that often opposes us, and in some cases actively hates us, if we stand for Christ.

We need to be firm in our stand for heterosexual, monogamous marriages; as much as is possible to have a father and mother family unit where both are present to instruct and guide their children; to exemplify and press for moral purity in our personal lives and in our community; to hold to God’s standard regarding the sexuality of individuals – that there are only 2 options and those are based on what we were at birth; to be clear and firm that taking the life of an unborn child and assisting somebody’s death, is murder no matter what civilized words we may apply to it; we need to demonstrate that the hope for change in our Canadian culture can only come through the advancement of the Gospel not through passing more laws; and, that the only hope we have of replacing so much anger and hatred in our world is through the demonstration and living-out of God’s agape love.

I believe that God has called us as individuals and as a church…to move forward by faith in setting standards in these areas, firmly committed to speaking His truth because it is the only hope for our community, our nation, and our world.

If you are a believer/a Christ-follower/having received new birth by God’s grace…then, now is the time to get your faith firmly planted in the right place!  Now is the time to stand on the rock – not Peter, but the Lord Jesus Christ.  Now is the time to put your faith into action – to live what you and I say we believe!

And, when we do, we should not be surprised when fiery trials come.  That is what we sign up for when we receive Jesus as our Savior – when we become a Christian.

We need to encourage ourselves and each other with these words:

  • We have experienced God’s mercy.
  • We have been born again.
  • We have a living hope.
  • We have an inheritance in heaven.
  • We are being kept by God’s power.

That should put some back-bone into our being – helping us to stand fast!

May all who hear and read these words, bless the Lord with exuberance, praising His name as if there is no tomorrow!  And, when troubles come, run to the cross, lean heavily on our Lord Jesus.

If you don’t know Jesus in that way today, I encourage you to trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior today!  I would love to have the opportunity to tell you about Him.  But, regardless of the pathway to Jesus that you may take, may God grant you faith to believe the gospel and be anchored in Him.

And for all of us, no matter what comes tomorrow, bless the Lord today!

Let’s pray…

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