#33 BUT NOW ...

In Peter’s understanding, as in Paul’s, once a person has been united to Christ by faith, it’s a whole new world. Nothing can ever be the same again. To be reunited to God is to have not only a new life-giving relationship with God but also a new outlook on life and meaning. In the words of the Old Testament prophets, it is to have a new heart, a new spirit, and a new mind:

‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh’ [Ezekiel 36:26].

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts’ [Jeremiah 31:33].

Peter repeatedly refers to the strong contrast between our identity as believers and our identity before we became believers.

Once we identified with the unbelieving world: now we are strangers in the world [1Peter 1:1; 2:11].

Once we did not belong to God: now we have been purchased and set apart by God as his special and treasured possession [1:2,18,19; 2:9,10].

Once we were among those who rejected Christ: now we have believed in him [1:8,21] and acknowledged him as our Lord [1:2].

Once our sin and guilt was held against us: now we have been sprinkled by his blood, our sin and guilt borne by Christ [1:2; 2:24].

Once we were without hope: now we have a living hope through the resurrection of Christ [1:3, 13].

Once we were not a people: now we are a chosen people, the people of God [2:9,10].

Once we had not received mercy: now we are the recipients of God’s great mercy [1:3; 2:10].

Once we were in spiritual darkness: now we live in God’s wonderful light [2:9].

Once we were like sheep, going astray: now we have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls [2:25].

Along with this radical new identity and radical new relationship with God, we who believe in Jesus Christ also have a new reason for living and a new perspective on life. Our new relationship with God means that God is now at the centre of our lives. We need no longer be self-focused, self-centred, self-serving. We now know that all that we are and have is from God. God has supplied in Christ everything we need to secure permanent acceptance in his presence. We no longer need to trust ourselves, to depend on ourselves, to seek to establish our own merit. We no longer need to be forever worried whether or not we are good enough, or praying enough, or serving enough. We no longer need to work to gain or maintain our relationship with God.

Because we now trust in God, not in ourselves.

Everything we are and have is from his mercy. All of this amazing salvation of which the New Testament speaks. All of this incredibly secure and permanent relationship with God in and through Christ. It is all, completely, sheer grace, sheer gift. It is all from God. It is all ours in Christ.

Because of this we can live for him freely without any thought of merit or gain, but simply because he is our great, loving and merciful God, worthy of our praise, worthy of our love, worthy of our trust, worthy of our obedience.

As Peter says ‘your faith and hope are in God’ [1:21].

And in this trust there is another contrast:

Once we were burdened by a fearful awareness of our own inability and failure to gain God’s approval: but now we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy because our salvation both now and in the future is secure, absolutely secure [1:3-6,8,9].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018