“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change or decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” (1 Peter 1:3-5, NLT)
One of the rich doctrines of my Baptist tradition is the doctrine of eternal security. Or, as our folks like to call it “once saved, always saved.” This selection from 1 Peter is one of the great passages on eternal security. Peter uses wonderful imagery to describe the permanence of our salvation in Christ.
I think the most helpful point Peter makes is his affirmation that our salvation is kept by the power of God. Just as there is nothing one can do to attain salvation, there is nothing one can do to preserve salvation. That which is received by grace cannot be lost by works.
Peter’s statement reminds me of the words of Jesus in John 10:28-29, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and his is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand” (NLT).
Good news, right?
This strong statement concerning eternal security is made in the context of suffering and is addressed to an audience that is suffering. So how does salvation and eternal security relate to suffering?
Salvation is my anchor when pain comes into my life. The suffering I experience is, in Paul’s words, “a light and momentary affliction.” Paul isn’t suggesting that what we suffer is easy. What he means is that what I face is not lasting, eternal, or ultimate. Salvation causes me to think about my suffering in an eternal dimension. It helps me to keep things in perspective. By securing salvation I have secured the most important thing of all.. It cannot be lost or taken from me. Peter begins his letter by writing about salvation and security. By doing so, he is encouraging his readers to view their suffering in light of their salvation and not to view their salvation in light of their suffering.