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January 4 2015

 

Three Salvations and Two Inheritances

 

Scripture reading: I Peter 1:3-9. 

 

Have you ever seen that, in the New Testament, which is the fullest and complete revelation of all that God has revealed in the Bible, that there is more than one kind of salvation spoken of? Moreover, there is more than one inheritance? Most Christians only have one thought – going to heaven or going to hell; being saved or perishing. This was my own simplistic idea for the first few years I was a Christian. However, as one studies the Scriptures more carefully one receives deeper insight. 

 

One radio talk show host is fond of a particular saying.  For years now, he has been repeating an aphorism. It is “Ideas have consequences.” This is true in every area of life. It is true in math. If you making a cross country trip and are going to drive through Nevada on highway 50 you will pass through two mountain ranges in a desert where the summer temperatures can be over 100 degrees. There are no gas stations for 73 miles. If you do your math wrong and do not have enough gas there could be adverse consequences, even death. We drove that highway once and in the 90 minutes it took to drive from the last town on the eastern border of Nevada to Ely, NV we only saw one car, or may be two. But the longest stretch is in Utah I-70 between Green River and Salina: 110 miles with no service station. If you have an SUV that gets 11 miles to the gallon, you had better have at least 10 gallons in your tank or you will be in trouble.

 

But the longest stretch of road without a gas station in the world is the Trans Taiga in Northern Quebec, which is 233 miles. You would need over 20 gallons of gas in your SUV. Or, you would still need 7 ½ gallons in your Honda Accord.

 

Ideas have consequences in math. They have consequences in politics. They especially have consequences in matters of faith. The better our understanding of the truths of Scripture that we have then the better our life will be. Especially, the prospects of what happens after we pass into the next phase of our living will be immeasurably better if we understand what the Lord has revealed.

 

[1] In order to grasp the Lord’s great salvation and how complete it will be we must first see that man is tri-partite, meaning man is constituted of three parts. This must be emphasized for two reasons. First, it is sometimes denied. Some people will say that man only has a body and a soul. They think that the soul and the spirit are different words for the same thing. But this is clearly not true. Second, the Scripture plainly identifies us as being constituted of three parts. 

 

    Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ESV)

 

    For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

 

These passages make it crystal clear that there is a difference between the spirit and the soul.

 

The soul is the seat of our mind, our emotion, and our will. It is what makes us a person. The spirit is the deepest part of who we are and is the part of us that was made to contact God, commune with God, and even contain God.

 

Our passage this morning begins with “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” To bless means to speak well of. Oh, how we ought to speak well of God our Father. He should be the topic of our conversations. We should exalt Him, praise Him, thank Him, and magnify Him to others, both in the household of faith and outside the household of faith.

 

Then we read,     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,

(1 Peter 1:3 ESV)

 

Have you seen that God is merciful? Mercy means that he does not give us what we deserve. We deserve punishment, even severe punishment (yes, we do!), for 

 

  • all the sins that we have committed, 
  • for our rebellion against Him, 
  • for our lack of love for Him, 
  • for our self-centered ways.

 

Instead of giving us what we deserve many of us have been born again. But what has been born again? 

 

[2] It is our human spirit that has been born anew or, in biblical terms, our spirit has been regenerated. Our spirit was once dead but it has now been made alive. God has come to dwell therein if, indeed, we have repented of our sins and fled to the Savior for salvation. The spirit is saved. This is the first salvation in this passage.

 

Once our spirit is regenerated it affects our soul. That is, it affects our mind, our emotion, and our will.  A person whose spirit has been born again has new thoughts. They think of God and Christ often and fondly. They desire to obey God and they do begin obeying God whereas before they only obeyed their own wayward thoughts.

 

They have new emotions. Whereas they once loved self, possessions, and the lusts of the flesh, they then love the Father, Jesus, their parents, and their spouses with a better love.

 

They have a renewed will. Whereas before they exercised their will to get things and fulfill their desires, their will is directed to follow God’s will. 

 

 

If none of this happens then they have not been born again. There are many false professions. Many have a said faith but no reality.

 

Although all of this is true, there are many things about our mind, emotion, and will that are still out of harmony with God. The Lord needs to capture our souls completely! We need to gain our own souls! 

 

  • Those who seek to keep their souls will end up losing what they thought they had. 
  • Those who lose their souls for the Lord’s sake will gain them.

 

In verses 8 and 9 we read:     Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

[3] There will be an outcome of the faith that we now have and that outcome will be the salvation of our souls. Verse 9 is not speaking of our initial salvation, the salvation of our spirit, but a salvation that is still going on, the salvation of our souls. Our spirit has been saved (past tense). Our souls are being saved (present tense). 

 

To gain our soul in the coming age will be a great reward (Hebrews 10:35) to our suffering for following Christ in this age. If we care for the enjoyment of our soul, the psychological pleasures, and do not follow Christ faithfully today, we shall suffer the Lord’s discipline in our soul in the coming age. If we are willing to lose the enjoyment of our soul for the Lord’s sake today, we shall have the full enjoyment of the Lord for our whole being, especially for our soul, in the coming age. That will be a reward to our suffering today. 

The gaining of the soul is conditioned on our losing of it for the Lord’s sake. In the Gospels the Lord tells us many times that if in this age we lose our soul for His sake and the gospel’s, at His coming back in the next age we shall gain it (Matt. 16:25; Luke 9:24; 17:33). Although these verses are very familiar to so many of the saints, not many know what they really mean. As human beings, we have a spirit, but we are a soul. A human being is a soul. To lose our soul in this age means to suffer for the Lord’s sake and for the sake of the gospel. When we suffer, our whole being suffers. This means that we lose our soul. Those who are rich and comfortable today, enjoying their physical life, are having enjoyment for their soul. Not many Christians are willing to pay the price to follow the Lord strictly, because they do not want to suffer in their soul; they want to enjoy their life today, desiring luxurious cars, large houses, and many worldly things. They are unwilling to lose their soul.

    But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

(Hebrews 10:39 ESV)

 

The theme of the book of Hebrews is not missing out on the reward, on the conditional inheritance of the coming Sabbath rest. If we live by an unwavering faith we will preserve, transform, and gain our souls by the time that the Lord’s returns.

 

Another version (Recovery) has:      But we are not of those who shrink back to ruin but of them who have faith to the gaining of the soul.

 

This is the second salvation mentioned in our passage: the salvation of our souls.

 

[4] There is also the salvation of our bodies. (READ verses 3-5 again.) Verse 4 mentions the inheritance that we will speak about shortly, but verse 5 says that we are being guarded by God’s power for a salvation “ready to be revealed in the last time.”  This “last time” is when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth. This is seen as the thought is repeated by Peter in the last part of verse 7: It “may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Do you realize that this praise and glory and honor is not from us to the Lord Jesus but it is praise and glory and honor that the faithful ones will receive!

 

It is glory that we will receive if we are faithful! Hallelujah! In Romans chapter 8 the apostle Paul clearly identifies the glory we may receive at the Lord’s return with a new body.

 

Joni Eareckson Tada is a sister in the Lord. As a teenager, she enjoyed riding horses, hiking, tennis, and swimming. On July 30, 1967, she dove into Chesapeake Bay after misjudging the shallowness of the water. She suffered a fracture between the fourth and fifth cervical levels and became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down.

During her two years of rehabilitation, according to her autobiography, she experienced anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, and religious doubts. However, Tada learned to paint with a brush between her teeth, and began selling her artwork. To date, she has written over forty books, recorded several musical albums, starred in an autobiographical movie of her life, and is an advocate for disabled people.

 

She very much looks forward, as one might expect, to the new and glorified body that the Lord has promised her. It will be fully functional, without weakness and without disease. It will be wonderful. Can you imagine not being able to move except from the neck up for most of your life and then receiving the gift of a super-body?

But it is not just Joni. All disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ will receive the salvation of our bodies – a new and glorious body that will never wear out or grow old. Praise God! I am looking forward to that!

 

[5] We have three salvations. We also have two inheritances. Verse 4 states that we have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for” us! This inheritance is the New Jerusalem, which every true believer in the Lord Jesus will receive. It is imperishable. Every one who has been born again will receive it. This inheritance is not based on what we do (not based on our work) but is based on the work of Christ for us. We receive it by virtue of who we are: children of the King.

 

There is another inheritance, not mentioned in our Peter passage, that is conditional. This is the inheritance of the kingdom age. This inheritance can be read in many passages. 

 

In Colossians we read:     Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

    

(Colossians 3:19-24 ESV)

 

The inheritance that Paul speaks of here is not an unconditional promise, but a reward. A reward is based on works. There are a multitude of passages that establish this principle. A gift is not based on merit. Our eternal salvation and eternal life are a gift.  A reward is based on merit. In this passage we see that we “work heartily” and then we will receive a reward. This reward is the inheritance.

 

Paul begins this section by commanding wives to submit to their husbands. Let me ask this question: Are there real Christian wives who do not submit to their husbands? The answer is “yes.” Yet, what is strongly implied here is that the way we live in our households and at our workplaces determines our reward in the next age. An inheritance is a reward. Then husbands are commanded to love their wives. Let me ask this question: Are there real Christian husbands that do not love their wives? The answer is “yes.” It ought not to be so but, sadly, for some families it is.

 

The same question could be asked about Christian children, how fathers live with their children and about how well heartily we work for our employer. How those questions are answered will determine whether we receive an inheritance.

 

Therefore, in addition to an unconditional inheritance, which is in the distant future, there is a conditional inheritance having to do with the kingdom of God and Christ that will be established at the Lord’s return.

 

We see this again in Ephesians 5.     Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

 

    But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

(Ephesians 5:1-5 ESV)

 

Are there real Christians who are sexually immoral? (KJV, NKJV, and ASV have “fornication” in verses 3 and 5.) I think the answer to that is that most are not, but some are. Are there Christians who are covetous? I cannot even say “most are not” in answer to that question. It is true that some are.  But Paul writes that, if one is covetous, that person has no inheritance in the kingdom.

 

There was a wealthy man who had two sons. In the culture in which this man lived the oldest child always received a larger inheritance than any younger siblings. One day the older son desired something very much. He desired it so much that he made a deal with his younger brother, who possessed what he desired, that if he would give it to him he could have his inheritance. The deal was made. As soon as he received the object of his desire he then regretted giving up his inheritance. But it was too late. Do you know what it was he traded his inheritance for? Ans: A meal! I speak of the story of Jacob and Esau in the Old Testament.

 

Why is the story of Jacob and Esau in the Bible? It is there for more than one reason but, primarily, it is there to teach God’s own people – you and I – that we may lose our inheritance. That we must think highly of the inheritance that awaits and that we must look forward to it, putting it above earthly pursuits, especially the desires of body and mind.

 

Conclusion: That radio talk show host was right. Ideas have consequences. The Scriptural idea that we have an inheritance which at some level depends upon our consecration to the Lord has positive consequences. Those consequences are praise, glory, and honor if we will take this revelation to heart and get serious with the Lord. With a new year upon us now is the time to resolve to live for the inheritance and not for our stomachs or our eyes.