Protected until the End

April 26, 2020 Preacher: Luis A. Cardenas Series: First Peter

Topic: English Passage: 1 Peter 1:5

The Singer Laren museum in the Netherlands borrowed a Vincent van Gogh painting from another museum, in order to put it on display. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, however, the museum closed its doors.

That didn’t stop one individual from getting in though. On Monday, March 30, around 3:15 in the morning, someone used a sledgehammer to shatter the entrance door and another security door and steal the painting, which is only about 10 inches tall by 22 inches wide. Security footage showed this person walking out of the museum with the painting rolled up in their hand before authorities had even arrived.

How does somebody do that? Obviously, there’s the moral aspect of that question. How does someone decide to steal a valuable painting from a museum? What’s the motivation there?

But there’s also the logistics side of the question: How did this person get away with it? How is that even possible with what seems to be nothing more than a sledgehammer and motorcycle?

If you owned a museum filled with priceless works of art, I would think security would be a pretty high priority. This kind of stuff isn’t supposed to happen, at least not that easily.

This kind of theft helps confirm something that we don’t really like to think about: our stuff really isn’t all that safe. With the right equipment and the right plan, most things can be stolen—that is, the things of this world.

For the past couple weeks, we’ve been looking at the opening verses in First Peter, and Peter reminds his readers that they have been given something that can never be lost or stolen.

In God’s love and mercy, Christians have been eternally chosen and set apart to be forgiven, to be made a part of God’s family, and to receive an eternal inheritance. That inheritance, we said last time, is reserved (or kept) for us in heaven.

Now, as we come to verse 5, we find that God’s protection is not just over our inheritance, but over us as well. It says there that “by God's power [we] are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

The word for “guarded” there is different than the word Peter used in verse 4 for God keeping our inheritance. In verse 4, we had a general word for keeping something, but here in verse 5 we get a much more vivid word.

Literally, this word referred to a military guard, keeping watch over something. It was used for a prison detaining a man until his trial. And it could also be used for a troop of soldiers watching over a city, either to keep it safe from an invasion or to keep people from escaping. Either way, this word conveys a careful and powerful watchfulness or protection.

Well, as those who have placed our trust in Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin, and as those who have called out to Him for mercy, through repentance and faith, we are protected. And verse 5 describes for us 3 attributes of that protection.

First of all, we get to see the power behind our protection—the power . Who is the One who protects us? God is. That probably wasn’t anything new for Peter’s audience. But God’s protection here isn’t connected to some kind of sentimentality; it’s connected to His power.

Peter doesn’t even say that we’re protected by God, who is powerful; he says we’re protected by the power of God. He wants our attention zoomed in on that single attribute. There is no greater power than the power of God, right? No one can do what God does.

God created and sustains everything in this world. Every scientific discovery or advancement is a reminder of God’s power in this world. He made it possible. Every act of power by some government or military is a reminder of the One who has supreme power. Every single person, and every single angelic being is subject to the power of God.

And God’s ultimate power to triumph over evil and over sin and over death was put on display in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That was a demonstration of His victory over Satan, over demons, and over sin.

Focusing on God’s power reminds us that no matter what’s happening to us in this life, our spiritual state and our eternal future can’t be changed. We are protected by the almighty power of God.

Speaking of our eternal protection, Jesus said it like this in John 10: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”

Now, I have heard people respond like this: “Yes, nothing can snatch you out of God’s hand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t walk out on your own.” What’s the biblical response to that? Is it possible for someone who is saved to basically undo his salvation? The answer is, “No,” and we’re going to see it now in our second point for today.

After seeing the power of our protection, Peter moves on to describing the means of our protection—the means of our protection.

we saw that we are protected by God’s power. Secondly, we see that we are protected (or guarded, like the ESV says) through faith. We are protected through faith.  What does that mean?

Peter is talking about the instrument of our protection. Faith is the means by which God protects us. Maybe you’ve heard someone say the phrase, “My faith protects me.” That’s not a biblical statement. Your faith doesn’t protect you. God protects you. And part of the way He protects you is by granting and sustaining your faith.

It’s not that our faith enables God to protect us. That’s an incorrect way to think about it. The biblical truth is that God is protecting us by giving us faith, by sustaining it. If faith were a candle, sometimes it would be burning brightly, and sometimes it might be flickering dimly. But God’s promise is that it will never go out altogether. It won’t be abandoned.

Our eternal protection is not dependent on our faith. Otherwise, we would have to say that if our faith was weak, then our protection would be weak. And there’s no encouragement in that at all. Our eternal protection is not dependent on our faith. Instead, our eternal security depends on God, who powerfully grants and sustains our faith. That so important to understand.

Someone might feel absolutely certain about their salvation and be wrong. They’re self-deceived. And it’s also possible for someone to not be very sure about their salvation, and still be eternally secure. Because the subjective feeling of your faith isn’t the final grounds of your security. A Christian’s security is rooted in God’s eternal and powerful protection.

Peter was writing to a group of people suffering tremendously. And their faith was faltering. It was wobbly. Some of them may have been tempted, because of the persecution, to deny Christ altogether. What if things got worse? Would their faith be sustained?

And here Peter is saying, “Yes.” God is protecting you, and He does that through faith. We don’t want to be like Peter, who told Jesus, “I will never deny you!” That’s a dangerous self-confidence. At the same time, though, we don’t have to despair, thinking that we might one day abandon the faith. God will not let His people go. That’s why He brings discipline at times. And it’s why He always restores the repentant—because true believers belong to Him eternally.

If we come to a true crisis, will any Christians walk away from the faith? Jesus described something like that in Matthew 13 with the parable of the 4 different kinds of soils. He said, “As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”

Jesus used that parable to illustrate what fake faith looks like. False believers will walk away. But the good soil, the regenerate heart, will be saved eternally.

It is impossible for someone who truly belongs to Jesus to fall away. We Christians can stumble, we can lose battles, but we will never finally fall away from the faith.

Those who fall away, like Judas for example, are simply demonstrating that they were not genuine believers to begin with. That’s what the Apostle John is talking about in First John 2:19— “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

True believers will have their faith sustained—not because they are more powerful or more determined, but because the all-powerful God sustains them through faith.

Ultimately, faith is a gift from God. He granted it to us. And He will sustain it. Ephesians 2:8 (a very familiar passage) says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

The gift there is referring to the whole package of grace and faith. We are saved by grace through faith. And that’s all God’s gift to us—His grace and our faith.

In Philippians 1:29, Paul says to a suffering church: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”

They had been granted the opportunity to suffer for Christ, and that was basically an extension of the fact that they had been granted the ability to believe in Him in the first place.

God is the one who grants faith, and He does not take it away. Sometime this is known as the doctrine of perseverance, or the doctrine of eternal security. A true believer is eternally secured by God, and God produces in that person a persevering faith. This amazing doctrine should give us confidence. It should strengthen our faith in difficult times. We will fail at times, but our faith will never be lost if we truly belong to Christ. He upholds us. We are protected by God’s power, and we are protected through faith.

Let’s wrap up our time with a final component of our protection. We saw the power of our protection. We saw the means of our protection. And now, here at the end of verse 5, we see the result of our protection. The result of our protection.

First Peter 1:5 ends by saying that we are being guarded “for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Obviously, that’s talking about a future component of our salvation. It can’t be talking about the moment we were saved because that’s in the past. It already happened.

Here, Peter is talking about our future salvation, or our glorification. We’ve talked about that in past messages. We are going to be free of this body. We are going to be reunited with Christ. And when Jesus returns, we will be given a resurrected body, and we will reign with Him over a new earth.

In verse 4, Peter called that our inheritance. Here in verse 5, Peter highlights the fact that it’s almost ready. It’s almost here. That’s where our faith is heading. That’s the goal. That’s the finish line.

Verse 9 says that salvation of our souls is the outcome of our faith.

That salvation is ready. When Jesus died, He said, “It is finished!” And then, after He resurrected, He was teaching the disciples about the kingdom which could begin to come about at any moment. The disciples were expecting, or at least hoping, that Jesus would come back for them in their own lifetime. And that was Paul’s hope too. You can see that in the way he writes about the rapture in First Thessalonians.

The end times is a topic that gets overlooked many times in a church’s teaching. And there are some disagreements with regard to the timing of some event.

But if you study that topic, I believe you will see that the Bible teaches about an imminent rapture.

That means it could happen at any time. Christ could come for His own at any time. And that kicks off everything you read starting in Revelation chapter 4.

Some people get very worried when they see bad stuff in the news. And they start to think, is this the Tribulation? Are all those dreadful things going to happen now?

I think a biblical response is: “I don’t know. But we aren’t going to be here for it.” If you have already surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, if you have renounced your sin and trusted fully and completely and only in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, you are going to be spared all that.

In the Bible, the response of a child of God to the end of this world is never, “Oh God, please don’t do that!” The response is, “Come, Lord Jesus.” The response is gratitude and joy and relief and vindication and worship. This is the finish line! This is what we have been moving toward and waiting for ever since we came to faith.

And this is what God has guaranteed for us one day very soon. It’s all ready to go. All we’re waiting for is for the day we see Jesus. And then this life will be a thing of the past.

I think about what it was like as a child to wait for dinner. I would ask my mom, “Is dinner ready?” And sometimes, she’d say, “No, not yet.” But then the time came when she finally said, “It’s ready!” But if I rushed to the table, the food wasn’t there. Why not? It was all cooked. It was all ready to go, but it still needed to be served. And I needed to be patient.

I think that’s a good analogy for our lives. Our salvation is ready. It’s done. It’s all complete. God has it all ready to go. We’re just waiting for Him to bring it to us. We don’t how much longer is left in our own life or in human history. But compared to eternity, it’s not long at all.

Knowing that we’re so close might make it difficult sometimes, because we get impatient. But knowing that it’s close and knowing that it’s guaranteed should fill us with joy and with confidence.

Our inheritance is protected for us, and we are protected to obtain it. We’re protected by God’s power. We’re protected through faith. And we are protected until the end. Let’s pray.

Father, all glory goes to you. You are the Author of human history. And you have graciously called us to faith in Christ—faith in His atoning death and in His glorious resurrection.

And as surely as Christ rose from the dead, we know that we will rise too one day. Fill us with that confidence.

Knowing our eternal destiny doesn’t take away the pain and the difficulty of our trials today, but it does fill us with hope. We ask, Lord, that that hope would be made visible in our lives, and would give us opportunities to tell this world about Jesus Christ.

Lord, some are listening to this message, and they don’t know You in a saving way. They might be deceived about their salvation, or they might be openly rebellious. We ask you to save them. Your call on their life is that they surrender to Christ. And Your Spirit needs to work to open their hearts to that message. Do that for them, Lord, like you did so for us, so that you would be glorified eternally as a gracious and merciful Father, abounding in lovingkindness.

We ask these things in Christ’s name, Amen.

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