By Mike Willis
The apostle Peter spoke of the living hope of Christians as a means of encouraging them to maintain their faith amidst persecution. He wrote,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
Our living hope comes to us through the mercy of God, not through perfect obedience, who begot us again (by the new birth) to a living hope. It is a hope which sustains us regardless of the outward circumstances which we must face.
Peter used several adjectives to describe the inheritance prepared for Christians.
1. Our inheritance is incorruptible. Our inheritance is not subject to decay or corruption; it is imperishable. In 1947 should one have left me as an inheritance his 1947 Chevorlet, it would likely be of little use to me today. Most 1947 Chevrolets have long since been destroyed by rust, deteriorating in junk yards. In contrast to a corruptible inheritance, the Christian’s inheritance is incorruptible.
2. Our inheritance is undefiled. The word “undefiled” points to an inheritance that is unsoiled and without defect. Should someone give me a white shirt which was splattered with printer’s ink, it would be useless to me. However, the Christian’s inheritance cannot be soiled and tainted.
3. Our inheritance does not fade away. Flowers lose their beauty soon after they are picked. A new house becomes old; new clothes wear out. In contrast to these, inheritance of the Christian does not lose it glory with the passing of time. It never fades away.
4. Our inheritance is reserved in heaven. When Jesus departed from his disciples, he said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:1-3). Jesus prepared the place for us and it stands reserved in heaven for us (it is not our present possession). Just as a room at a motel may be reserved for someone, heaven has been prepared and reserved for those who serve God faithfully. It has been prepared for God’s saints, just as a bride prepares herself for her husband (Rev. 21:1-3)
A Kept People
The Scriptures also teach that the children of God are “kept by the power of God.” The idea of being “kept” is “securely protected.” God keeps his children securely protected. Several of the Old Testament psalms teach this same idea. Read them:
But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about (Psa. 3:3-6).
But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him (Psa. 4:3).
But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice; let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee (Psa. 5:11).
Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever (Psa. 12:7).
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall reserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore (Psa. 121).
They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed but abideth for ever.
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever (Psa. 125:1-2).
The Lord keeps his children. What all God does in keeping his children, as he works in his providence, is unknown. Here are some things specifically mentioned:
1. He leads us out of temptation and delivers us from evil (Matt. 6:13).
2. He protects us from temptations which are greater than we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13).
3. He provides a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13).
4. He provides the grace of forgiveness when we stumble into sin (1 Jn. 1:7). This grace is continuously available and conditionally received.
5. He provides his word to keep us from sin (Psa. 119:11).
6. He provides spiritual men to call us to repentance (Gal. 6:1).
These and many other blessings could be cited to show God’s active care for his children.
To realize that God is keeping his children is a beautiful thought. I am not fighting against Satan by myself. I do not rely solely upon my own strength in my battle against sin. I am leaning on the everlasting arms of my merciful God. Trusting in my own strength alone, I have no hope; trusting in the grace, mercy, and providence of God, I cannot be defeated.
In those areas beyond my control, I learn to lean on the everlasting arms of my merciful God who wants me to be saved. Rather than looking for security in the nature of my sin, I look to the providence of my Father in heaven to keep me in his care, leading me to repentance through his goodness (Rom. 2:4). 1 have confidence, not because of my own perfection or ability, but in the knowledge that my Keeper never sleeps nor slumbers.
Kept Through Faith
The keeping of God is conditioned upon faith. We are “kept by the power of God through faith” (1 Pet. 1:5). My part in staying saved and maintaining my hope of heaven is to keep my faith in God. Faith is man’s response to God’s revelation (Rom. 10:17), leading to the obedience of faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). So long as I take God at his word and do what he says, God continues to keep me and continues to reserve a place in heaven for me. When I cease to walk by faith, I am no longer kept by the power of God, whether my ceasing to walk by faith occurs as a willful act of highhanded sin or being deceived by a false teacher (Matt. 15:13-14). Consequently, I must ever examine the spirits to see if what is taught is the word of God (1 Jn. 4:1-3; Acts 17:11).
Saving faith is efficacious to the salvation to our souls. God is able to save the man who has faith in him. The gospel is fully sufficient to save the man who has faith in Christ.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 11, pp. 322, 343
June 4, 1987