Feelings can be dangerous. They can tend to excesses of emotion at the expense of reason or faith, often fluctuating like the rolling sea. In spite of that, feelings can also be good. Both can provide a healthy release or corrective. When reason is controlled and taught of the Holy Spirit, then we learn things so wonderful about God and truth that we need to give expression to our emotions. Most of the time that should happen in the secret place for it can be too personal to be shared widely. But emotions need to be vented. Songs of praise, worship and prayer are a good way to accomplish that.
King David of Israel could testify to this after the tongue lashing he received from his wife when the Ark of the Covenant was returning to Jerusalem. He became so emotional, he forgot to be discreet. He dropped his kingly robes and to the blowing of trumpets took to leaping, dancing and shouting in the streets. His wife, watching from their house, was appalled for she saw him dancing before the people in what would be tantamount in our day to boxer undershorts. It offended her sense of kingly decorum. On the other hand, the return of the Ark was a huge event, for it assured the king and his people of the presence and blessing of God among them. It was too much for him to enjoy without an explosion of emotion, but it wrecked the marriage, which says a lot of things we will not go into.
Dear saints, our salvation from sin and judgment to an abundant life now, and heaven hereafter, is so wonderful that it ought to cause in us the exuberance of inexpressible joy that comes from heaven itself! Think on the wonderful salvation God has given us and which His Son, Jesus, purchased. Let us refresh our memories of that blessed occasion when we were drawn into God’s great salvation. That will renew our dedication/commitment to God by reminding us of the pit of sin from which we were released. It will stimulate faith and zeal for obedient, holy living. It will encourage praise and worship, motivating the sharing of our faith with others.
Born again of the Spirit, let us be filled with joy because of what Christ purchased for us when He shed His blood on Calvary’s cross. The Scriptures clearly outline for us the nature of this holy work of God on our behalf. Our salvation is no small thing! It is huge, beyond our feeble comprehension. The Godhead and the very courts of heaven itself are involved. Consider Who and what is involved in it.
I. GOD, THE FATHER
We start with God, the Father, for to the believer all things must start with Him. The Bible states, “Beside Him there is no other.” The so-called new atheists have been emboldened by the ignorance and indifference about God that abounds, especially in the Western world these days. The gods of false religions are allowed equal rights among us. The numerous idols of every kind, from materialism, sports, entertainment, personal rights to relativistic and hedonistic philosophies, dominate the scene and detract from essentials. For many the Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth, has been replaced by trivial things and shallow thinking.
But the Word of God cuts through all of it, declaring in no uncertain terms, we are to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.” The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) help us to understand what that really means. Review them regularly for they provide a measuring stick as to the exclusiveness of God’s nature and the breadth of His saving work in our attitudes and actions.
So, what is God’s role in our salvation? Everything, really! But specifically, He “chose us according to His foreknowledge.” (I Peter 1:1-2) If you are wondering how in the world God happened to choose you for salvation, look to verse 3, “It was according to His great mercy.” We cannot understand that, for it is beyond us; but we can accept it. And we should accept it with exuberant praise. Thus the outburst, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The wonderful truth is that our God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance. Like the hound of heaven He tracks us down, confronts our sin and reveals His immense love for us. His patience seems boundless though it would be folly to presume upon it. Thus we are warned, “today is the day of salvation, the night comes when no man can work.”
Furthermore, our great God is protecting His children by His mighty power. (verse 5) Do not worry about how weak, helpless and undeserving we are. That is just a fact! Do not be overwhelmed by the many wiles of the devil, persistent temptation, or the invasive world system in which we live. The power of Almighty God Who made heaven and earth, Who holds the whole world in His hands and keeps the stars in space, that great God is committed to protecting us. Let Him! But there is Someone else who is involved:
II. GOD, THE HOLY SPIRIT – Verse 2
Note, our salvation includes the “sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.” Perhaps our first encounter with the Holy Spirit was His convicting/convincing work regarding our sinfulness and desperate need of God. John said of Him, “He will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.” (John 16) Often using the Word of God, circumstances or personal testimony, the Holy Spirit makes us face our sinfulness. Then He confronts us with the righteousness of God, thereby giving us the benefit of comparison between what is wrong and what is right. In this process He makes us aware of judgment. The fear of hell and divine punishment have driven many into the loving hands of a merciful and forgiving God.
When we repent of sin and call upon the name of Jesus for salvation, then the Holy Spirit bears witness to our spirit assuring us we have been accepted by a holy God. The Holy Spirit, when we listen to Him, makes obedience to the words and ways of Jesus a big issue in our lives. And, because we tend to fail, He applies the cleansing blood of Christ to us, returning us to fellowship with Him. We need that work of the Spirit because He wants to lead us into all truth which is critical to our spiritual growth and to the pleasure of God.
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, lives in us who believe. He must rule us or we will stray from truth. That is our natural tendency. The Apostle Paul warns us not to grieve the Holy Spirit, which happens when we disobey or stray from the truth. When we do not listen to Him, or follow His guidance into obedience to Christ, we grieve Him. We make Him sad! Remember, He lives in us who believe so we go nowhere or do nothing without His presence and knowledge. What caution that should bring to our way of life!
Paul goes a step further, warning of the danger of quenching the Spirit. (I Thessalonians 5:19) If we quench the Spirit we are blocking Him and His work. That is a very dangerous state in which to live. Only outright rebellion against God’s will and ways, crass disobedience, causes such a condition. Never quench the Holy Spirit! Deal with sin when you have fallen into it, and do it quickly and thoroughly.
On the other hand, what a wonderful assistance to saving grace is the sensitivity, presence, power and enabling of the Holy Spirit in our salvation. Be encouraged to know we are not saved and then pushed out of the nest to make it on our own. God stays with us in the person of the Holy Spirit, working in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. Wonderful! Next, there is –
III. GOD, THE SON, JESUS CHRIST
Surely, I need only to touch briefly on the role of Jesus Christ in this great salvation of ours. At Easter we celebrate Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He died the just for the unjust to bring us to God. Without His sacrifice on our behalf we would still be in our sins. Jesus shed blood paid the penalty rightfully charged against us by a holy God. He died in our stead and rose again from the dead to present to His Father the satisfaction of justice. What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord; what a wonderful Saviour to me. Jesus came, sent by the Father, to live among us and to die for us that we might be saved.
If you have not entered into this great salvation, call upon the name of Jesus this very moment. He will receive you and grant you His salvation. He promised to do that, declaring, “All the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (John 6:37) Then, consider –
IV. THE PROPHETS OF GOD – Verses 10-12
If you have read I Peter 1 you have noted verses 10-12. “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things into which angels long to look.”
What amazing verses! What an amazing book is the Bible! There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like it on earth in all the millions, perhaps billions, of books that have been written filling a million libraries.
Listen with understanding. For thousands of years, long before Christ was born of the virgin Mary, the pre-existent Christ was teaching the prophets of old about His coming to earth as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Read, Isaiah 53, just one prophet and one Scripture of many, to grasp the clarity and significance of this. Read the seeming complicated book of Leviticus and understand, at least, that the detailed instructions regarding the various animal sacrifices, spoke of that one and only sacrifice, Jesus, that would be sufficient to take away our sin. Those early writers never saw its full meaning in their day, but they wrote it down so we would know that this great salvation we experience was the longing of their heart. More importantly, it was in the heart of a gracious and loving God! What they longed for, we are privileged to experience.
No wonder the writer of Hebrews warns: “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard.” (2:1-3) We must not neglect the Old Testament and its teachings for they predict and confirm the essential nature and importance of God’s eternal plan of salvation.
Ah, but notice something else about our salvation. This gets better and better. If you think God’s saving grace, which has touched our lives, is not something absolutely huge, then think again! It involves the triune God, the prophets of old and now –
V. THE ANGELS OF GOD ARE INVOLVED – Verse 12
God’s salvation is so wonderful and mysterious that even the angels look into it with wonder. Angels are God’s messengers. They are doing God’s bidding bringing about the circumstances and conditions suitable to the work of the Spirit of God to bring us into union with Himself. If you have a heart for God they are steering you in the right direction.
If the angels are looking into the matter of God’s saving work, surely they are also helping things along. When we get to heaven perhaps we will be able to find the one who helped work things together for our salvation and to thank him or her. Maybe you were such a rough diamond that it took a hundred or two to get you in? Find them all and thank them! But, not until you have thanked the Godhead adequately – if we ever could. Next, involved in our salvation are –
VI. THE BELIEVERS IN GOD, THE CHURCH
When we think about our great salvation, let us not forget the saints of all the ages who have played a part. Important to our salvation has been that great host of witnesses down through the ages who loved and served Christ, serving and maintaining the Church in every generation until this very day. Without them and their faithful, sacrificial ministries where would we be? Never, never belittle the role of the church, God’s faithful people, down through the ages. Without them how would the next generations hear truth?
Old and New Testament people sought God, yielded to His call, learned to know Him, suffered and died to proclaim and uphold His holy Name. The Scriptures and church history have told the fascinating story, and it is still a work in progress. The gates of hell have opened wide intending to corral and destroy truth. The devil, his demons and endless helpers have done, and do, everything in their power to shout down, or shut up, or mess up the message of God’s saving grace through the church. None of it has ultimately worked! Truth has prevailed. Christ has triumphed. Against all odds Jesus has built His Church and will continue to do so until the trumpet sounds, and the devil, with his agents, is dropped into the bottomless pit.
We have read the last chapter of world history, and we win! God wins! Hallelujah for ever and ever. Do not belittle the faithful testimony of the generations who have preceded ours. So, hang in there, dear saints. Do not get discouraged, or drop the ball. Serve well and faithfully for Jesus gives us the victory. Finally,
V11. YOU/WE ARE PART OF THIS GREAT SALVATION
Recognizing the work of the Godhead on our behalf, the truth of the Scriptures and the ministry of the saints, we believe and therefore live in Christ Jesus. If you have yet to believe, do not waste another opportunity to call out to Jesus, Who will gladly save you and bring you into His family. Our obligation in this process is to believe, to repent and to call upon Him for His great salvation.
We are saved to serve. Hold to the promises of God and act on them. Cooperate with the Holy Spirit who seeks to build in us, and to demonstrate through us, the character and beauty of Jesus. Learn to pray, to give and to witness. Be sure your family, friends, neighbors and associates know you are a follower of Christ, a part of His kingdom. All of us are an important link in the chain of God’s saving purposes for this generation and the next. How will we do it? A. B. Simpson wrote a hymn to answer that.
There’s a battle raging in the heavenly places,
Sin and death and sickness with Satan leading on;
With the hosts of earth and hell arrayed against us,
How in all our weakness shall the fight be won?
Jesus giveth us the victory.
He, who overcame on Calvary,
Overcomes again in you and me.
Hallelujah! Jesus gives the victory!