Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Thinking about Future Grace (1 Peter 1:13)

Peter says that there are aspects of divine grace that will be given to God’s people when Jesus returns. I find it helpful to think of God’s grace from five perspectives.

First, there is pre-temporal grace (Paul reminded Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:9 that God ‘saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began’). It was God’s purpose that his people should experience his grace and he fixed then what he would do for them in the future, and this promised grace was linked to Jesus back then.

Second, there is conversion grace, which describes what he does for them when they become believers. He provides regeneration, justification, adoption, and the Holy Spirit, and each of these is connected to union with Jesus.

Third, there is sanctifying grace, which is given to believers throughout their journey in this life, and given in a wide variety of ways (through the means of grace as individuals and as church members) and in a range of situations, but all through union with Christ.

Fourth, there is grace that is given to believers when they die and go to heaven (their souls are perfect in holiness and glorified and experience a deeper relationship with Jesus than they did while on earth).

Fifth, there is the grace that will be given to them when Jesus returns, and this is the aspect that Peter has in focus in verse 13.

What expressions of God’s grace will be given to us when Jesus returns? Remember Peter is writing to spiritual exiles, so what would his words mean to them? They would want to experience life in the homeland, and I suspect that concept sums up what Peter means by the grace that will be brought to believers. They are to think about the heavenly country and descriptions given of it in the Bible. It will be a new heavens and new earth, a liberated creation, a Father’s house, a holy city, and a beautiful Paradise.

Not only are they to think about the homeland that will be prepared for them, they are also to think about the great changes that will happen to them personally. These changes include resurrection from the dead, transformation into the glorious likeness of Jesus, participation in the affairs of the heavenly kingdom, increased ability to comprehend God and his plans, and joyful fellowship never interrupted by sin or sorrow.

it is good to remind ourselves of some of the great benefits we will receive. Yet we should remember that what we will receive then is all of grace. There will be degrees of glory, and the degree is connected to service in this life, but the amount of grace will far surpass what could be remotely expected. That day is not about us, but about God and his overflowing grace.

And we can see how stupid is the notion that we can be so heavenly-minded that we will be of no earthly use. Indeed, such an attitude is a statement of defiance against what God commands us to do, which is to think deeply about the grace we will yet receive, to think about it to such an extent that it becomes a living hope within us.

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