1 Peter 1:1-2 NIV
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
“To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
“Grace and peace be yours in abundance.”
Those of us who are in Christ Jesus, by God-given faith in him, have been chosen by God before he even created the world. But we were not chosen just to believe on him so we could escape hell and so we could go to heaven when we die. We were chosen to be obedient to Jesus Christ, our Lord.
A lot of people today who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ bulk at this idea of obedience. They regard that as works-based salvation, which they are to avoid. And so, they have decided that they don’t have to obey the Lord or repent of their sins or submit to him as Lord of their lives.
But is that what the writers of the Scriptures in the New Testament intended when they said that we aren’t saved by our works? I think it was primarily Paul who taught that. No! It isn’t! Yes, we can’t do what we think will earn us favor with God and expect that to save us. But that doesn’t mean our salvation is absent of works (Eph 2:8-10; Tit 2:11-14; Gal 6:7-8).
So, how do we differentiate between us trying to do good works hoping to gain God’s approval so that he will save us from our sins, and us following our Lord in obedience in doing the works he planned for us to walk in which are required for us to have eternal life with God? (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Lu 9:23-26; Gal 6:7-8).
If it is us doing it, in our own flesh, in order to try to earn our way to heaven, then it isn’t of God. It is still flesh. And it will end in death, not life eternal with God.
But, if we are chosen by God according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, according to his will and purpose for our lives, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Christ and sprinkled with his blood, then it is not us trying to earn our salvation.
It is Christ now living within us sanctifying us, making us holy, and putting his Spirit within us who empowers us to live godly and holy lives for the praise and glory of God. It is us as God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10; Tit 2:11-14; Phil 2:12-13; Jas 2:17; Rom 2:1-11).
And it is us yielding control of our lives over to the Lord, letting him work in and through us, submitting to his will and purpose for our lives, and in his strength, power, and wisdom doing what he has equipped and empowered us to do, by his grace and for his glory, honor, and praise.
1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
A lot of people who are teaching that we do nothing – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ as Lord – like to claim these promises regarding our inheritance as saints of the Lord. They like to proclaim that a fruitless faith guarantees them eternal life with God no matter how they live while they are still on this earth.
But is that what this is teaching? No! First off, we are called and we are chosen to be obedient to Jesus Christ, our Lord. That is not open to debate! Secondly, it is through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our lives which makes such obedience possible. It is God working in us, but we have to submit to his working in our lives.
Thirdly, this new birth in Christ comes from God, and if from God then it is going to be in accordance with God’s will and purpose for our lives, which has not changed, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament. In both the Old and New Testaments, we are taught that we must obey the Lord, and if we don’t, we don’t have eternal life (1 Jn 2:3-6; Jn 14:15-24).
So, what is this new birth into a living hope he has given us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? Paul describes it for us in Romans 6 and 8, and in Ephesians 4, and in other passages. It is that by faith in Jesus Christ we died with him to sin that we might live a new life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
It is that he freed us from our slavery to sin so that we can now, by the Spirit, walk in newness of life, in the power of God, now according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. For our old self was crucified with him so that we would no longer be ruled by sin but that we would now become slaves of God and of his righteousness (Rom 6 & 8; Eph 4:17-24).
And the Scriptures make it quite clear that we must walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will not inherit eternal life with God, but we will die in our sins (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10).
So, this inheritance being promised here is not guaranteed to anyone who makes a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. It is kept in heaven for us, who through faith (continuous faith) are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time, when our salvation will be made complete.
So, don’t mess around. Don’t take God’s word lightly. Don’t read Scriptures out of context and make claims over your lives which are not biblical. If you live to the flesh, you will die in your sins. But if you live to the Spirit, then you will inherit eternal life with God (Gal 6:7-8; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 6:1-23).
1 Peter 1:6-9 NIV
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
On March 19, 2012, I was talking to the Lord about stuff going on in my life. I had just written out my devotions from the book of Amos, chapters 1-2. I was thinking about how Amos was just a shepherd when God called him to be a prophet and to give out his messages.
I thought about all the prophets from the Old and New Testaments who had to give out difficult messages, confronting sin, calling for repentance, and often warning of judgment, and of how unpopular they were among the people, and how often they faced much rejection, too.
And I thought about the calling of God on my life to share what he teaches me each day from his word, in all practicality in applying Biblical truth to today’s world and church, and to my own personal life, too.
So, I talked with the Lord about all of this, and how I sometimes weary of giving out such difficult and unpopular messages, and how wish I could share happier messages more often. I often identify with Jeremiah who sometimes lamented over the weight of the messages and the responses of the people to the messages.
Yet, as I prayed through all of this, I told the Lord, “Yet, I can do no less than obey you in whatever you have called me to do, say and be.” And, from that, he gave me the words to this song, “No Less.”
An Original Work / March 19, 2012
I can do no less than praise You,
Lord, for all You’ve done for me.
You died for my sins to save me,
So I would be set free.
I adore You! Lord, I praise You!
Jesus, Savior, King of kings!
You provided my redemption.
Your grace has pardoned me.
I can do no less than serve You.
Lord, Your witness I would be,
Telling others of Your love,
And why You died on that tree.
Tell of how You gave of Your life,
So from sin we’d be set free,
So we could worship You forever,
And live eternally.
I can do no less than love You,
Lord, for You have first loved me.
You gave of Your life so willing,
Because You cared for me.
Turn from my sin! Obey freely!
Live for You each passing day.
Read Your word, and follow Your lead,
Lord, as I humbly pray.