Elect Exiles?: Guarded By God

1peterElectExiles01-646x484Safety can be fleeting. One minute your confident of protection and comfort, then suddenly it can be gone. I was sitting in my living room last night working on an essay when out of nowhere a bat flew through the room and circled multiple times. Immediately my comfort was gone. Now, bats, I realize, aren’t incredibly dangerous animals, but they’re certainly not desirous. And after I lost this one and couldn’t find him again the rest of the night, I found myself lying awake in bed startled by every sound. Safety and comfort are fleeting. I imagine that for the exiles to whom Peter was writing that was certainly true. And yet Peter writes them to encourage them they are safe in the hands of God almighty himself. They are “elect exiles.”

Peter begins his letter with the affirmation that nothing they are enduring is unbeknownst to God (1 Peter 1:2). They make seem like a strange form of encouragement, but the intent is to tell them that God is orchestrating these events, and from Peter’s vantage point, to inspire and test the genuineness of their faith (v. 6-7). But he adds comfort to this pronouncement too. He informs the exiles that though they are far from home now, they have a great inheritance waiting for them, one that can never be taken away. It is an inheritance not subject to the decay of this world (v. 4), and more to the point, one that is be preserved for God’s children in heaven. It’s here that Peter piles the encouragement on. He writes:

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,  4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  5 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)

Peter says that not only is their inheritance kept in heaven for them, but they themselves are being “guarded” by God. There are several important words in that final verse whose understanding can add to our own encouragement.

First, Peter says that they are being guarded by “God’s power.” Think about the profundity of such a statement! God’s power, that same divine sovereign power that created the universe. By His power God brought a people out of slavery in Egypt (Deut.4:37). By His power God stilled the seas (Job 26:12). By His power God made the earth (Jer. 10:12). By His power God upholds the universe (Heb. 1:3). And it is by means of this very “power” that the believer is being guarded. If this God is for us, then, who could possibly successfully oppose the believer (Rom. 8:31)? We are being guarded by the very power of God almighty.

Furthermore, we are being guarded through faith. This is important because it reminds us of two things: (1) I am not being kept by my own work and energy, but rather by means of my faith in God’s work; and (2) the fact that I still have faith in the midst of trials is evidence that God is still keeping me. It’s important to consider that faith in the midst of difficult seasons is hard. It’s easy to doubt God, not believe his Word, doubt his goodness, distrust His faithfulness. And yet, so many have been faithful in the midst of trials to believe in the power of this God. If I see faith in my own life, no matter how small, I know that God is still keeping me. It is evidence that I am His. Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31b). John MacArthur writes, “By His grace God’s omnipotent, protecting power and the believer’s perseverance of faith always work hand in hand” (1 Peter, 36). I can be encouraged both by God’s work, and by the evidence of faith in my own life.

Finally, the text tells us we are guarded for a “salvation ready to be revealed”. This is a peculiar phrase. It reminds us that rescue is not finally realized yet, though it has begun. This “salvation” is “ready”. It is already fulfilled and waiting its time of final consummation. We can hope in the surety of that, even as we wait for the realization of it. It will be revealed “in the last time.” We know that in the end all things will be made right, all suffering will end, all oppression will cease, and Jesus himself will rule as King. This is the salvation that awaits us and is guaranteed.

Friends, whatever you are going through know that God is with you, knows it, has ordained it at some level, and better yet, is going to bring you through it. You are, if you are His, being guarded by the very power of God, through faith, for a salvation ready to be revealed!

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