“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
– 1 Peter 1:3-5
Throughout Scripture, any time election is spoken of, it is always meant as encouragement for God’s people. When Peter writes at the beginning of his book in this chapter, he says, “To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” The elect are chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” When most people hear that, they assume what is meant is that God, in eternity past, foresaw who would choose Him, and therefore chose them. As Tommy Nelson from Denton Bible Church says, this is the same as throwing a dart at a wall, drawing a target around it, and calling it a bulls eye. The knowledge or foreknowledge that is spoken here is not one of facts but of persons. When God foreknows people, it is essentially the same to say that He fore-loves them. The word “know” throughout the Scriptures is used in an intimate way, not to indicate mere knowledge or facts about people, but to indicate intimate love for people. “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…” (Genesis 4:1) “Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Lead this people!’ … Yet You said, ‘I have known you by name. You have found favor in My eyes.’ So I pray to You, if I have found favor in Your eyes, let me know Your ways.” (Exodus 33:12-13) In one instance, Adam intimately loved his wife, and she conceived. And in another instance, Moses is asking God to intimately reveal His ways to him. This is not just knowing about God, but knowing Him personally, intimately. And so it is in many instances of the Scriptures.
We who love Christ have been elected by the fore-love of God to faith, to be conformed to Christ. If God chose us in eternity past based on our choosing of Him, this would be the beginning of salvation by works. This was the core issue in the Reformation. What an incredible thought! He loved us before eternity so much that He not only saved His people by the blood of Christ for sure, but made sure that we would be brought to faith. Our faith is dependant upon God sustaining it. Peter says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again…” According to God’s mercy (fore-love) He has caused us to be born again. This new birth is the birth by the Holy Spirit from death, and sin, the bondage of our souls and wills, to new life in Christ. By Christ’s blood, we have been made alive, those who believe that is. And this results in what Peter continues talking about: we, “by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” This new birth is the creation in our hearts of something that was not there; belief, faith, repentance, these are all gifts of the work of Christ in the shedding of His blood. Not only is our salvation the mercy of God, but even our desire to even want Christ at all for salvation is the mercy and gift of God! God fore-loved us so much that through Christ, He raised us from death to life, and chose to do so of His own free will and free grace to us. And not only does God create faith in the hearts of His people, but as Peter says, “by God’s power [we] are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” God creates and sustains our faith so that we do not fall away in unbelief. See a theme here? From beginning to end, salvation is of the Lord and not our doing in any manner.” He starts, sustains, causes us to grow, and preserves us unto final salvation through the precious infinitely valuable blood of Christ. And He chose to do this from eternity in love. Our hope is not in our will power, sustaining our faith and holding on for dear life to salvation, but even our faith is upheld by the power of God’s Spirit!
And finally in 1 Peter 1:13, Peter shows that as a result of this mercy shown to us, where we are fully accepted by the Father because of the work of Christ through the application of the Holy Spirit giving us new birth to faith in Christ, he says, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Now because of the Father’s grace in Christ, walk in the Lord’s ways, being changed by the divine knowledge of what will be brought to us when Christ is revealed in power. What will be brought to us? Conformity to Christ! Sinlessness! Eternal life! And the greatest gift, eternal intimacy with the Creator and sustainer of all things! This is itself eternal life! What a hope!