What a Gospel!

May 4, 2017

Consider what Peter says about the recipients of his first letter:

He writes to those chosen “in accordance with the foreknowledge of God, through the setting apart [for God] of the [Holy] Spirit, unto obedience to Jesus Christ and [unto] sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2, own translation).

If you are in Christ, how did you get there? “In accordance with the foreknowledge of God.” That is, God the Father knew it and planned it long ago. He orchestrated all that happened in history – from the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to the migrations of your ancestors and the meeting of your parents – to bring it about. And He orchestrated all that happened in your life to bring it about – from your siblings, friends, and schools to your encounters with believers and the Word. You are in Christ “in accordance with the foreknowledge of God.”

And you are in Christ “through the setting apart for God of the Holy Spirit.” That is, at exactly the right time, when all had been prepared, including your hearing the Word of Truth, the Gospel, the Holy Spirit picked you out of the mass of humanity headed for destruction, setting you apart for God. He opened your eyes to the hopelessness of the path you were on, to the empty promises of sin, to the beauty of Jesus, and to the joy of following Him. He surgically removed your heart of stone and transplanted a new heart of flesh. By His grace, you joyfully chose to repent of your sin, to take up your cross, and to follow Jesus. And that same Spirit continues to conform you to the image of Jesus.

What was the purpose of all this work by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit? It is all “unto obedience to Jesus Christ.” That is, all this took place so that you could glorify God by obeying all that Jesus commands, just as He obeyed all the Father commands. So our obedience is not optional, an extra add-on that might be good to do if we are saved, but is not essential. No! We are saved “unto obedience”! Our obedience is of central importance.

So we are chosen in accordance with the foreknowledge of God, through the setting apart for God of the Holy Spirit, unto obedience to Jesus Christ. Wonderful! But there’s a problem. You know what it is. In this life, our obedience is always imperfect. Chosen and saved for the purpose of obedience, we fail to live up to our purpose. We sin. We rebel. Yet God, having orchestrated all things to bring about our salvation, has dealt with this problem too. Peter says we are chosen and saved not only unto obedience but also “unto sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.” God chose us not only to glorify all persons of the Trinity through our initial salvation, but also to glorify Himself through our being sprinkled, cleansed, covered time and again with the forgiveness that only comes through Christ’s death. In Christ, our disobedience doesn’t lead to our being excluded from Him – because God chooses us “unto sprinkling with the blood”.

Ponder that last paragraph. Realize: By the grace of God we fulfill our purpose even when we fail to live up to our purpose. Obedience is central – we are saved in order to obey! And our failure to obey is covered – Jesus’ blood is sufficient!

What grace! What mercy! What a Gospel!

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