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God’s Word for You

1 Peter 1:20-21 The resurrection

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, March 2, 2022

20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world but revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Here in verse 20 is a profound mystery. God did not plan for sin to enter into his creation, nor did he want sin to enter in. He did not create sin, nor did he manipulate the actions of men or angels in such a way that sin would take place. But he did foresee that there would be sin. Since sin is “deviation from the law of God,” God is incapable of sin according to his nature. “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell” (Psalm 5:4).

If one follows the rules of reason and logic, then we conclude that it is improper to speak about an ultimate cause of sin. A cause, properly understood, is something that produces a positive effect as its appropriate result. Sin is not positive, but negative. Sin is a corruption, a lie, a distortion, and therefore does not flow from a logical cause. But we can assign a moral cause to sin, since the moral cause is a deviation from God’s will (therefore impossible within God) in the free will of the devil (John 8:44) and of the first man (Romans 5:12; Hosea 13:9). Jesus said: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come” (Luke 17:1).

So without willing it, wishing it, ordaining it, or promoting it (Galatians 2:17), God knew that sin would enter the creation like a murk that enters into clear water. And so, “before the foundation of the world” he chose one to rescue the creation from sin and death. He chose the Second Person of the Trinity to be the one who would take up the nature of a human being into himself, entering the world as both true God and true man, to atone for sin and rescue mankind. Since “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22), Christ shared our humanity so that by his death he might destroy death (Romans 6:9) and the one who holds the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14).

When Peter says “these last times” he means the time that he, Peter, is living. That is to say, not the “Last Days” or very end of the world, but the last days or times in the sense in which the Apostles usually mean: the entire time of the New Testament, which is a moment of waiting between Christ’s first coming and his second coming (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2).

“Through Christ you are believers in God.” Without faith in Christ, true faith in God is impossible (1 John 2:22-23). Anyone who rejects Jesus Christ as true God has a false faith and is an idolater. This is not merely the “Christian point of view,” but God’s point of view. We know this is so because God tells us it is so. “Trust in God,” Jesus said, “trust also in me” (John 14:1).

Notice how quickly and confidently Peter brings up the resurrection. The resurrection of the dead is the very first doctrine we want to share; it’s what a lot of unbelievers really want to know about. They’re curious, perhaps with the hope that if it wouldn’t take too much on their part, they might just go ahead and become a kind of “crypto-Christian” for the sake of the possibility of life after death. A person who is sticking out their toe to touch the line between Christian and non-Christian in favor of life after death is ready to hear the gospel, even if they do it for the wrong reason. We don’t need to jump all over their mistaken ideas. Why do that? Proclaim the truth instead. We expose the errors of false teachers, by all means. But the errors of the lost? Grasp the lost by the hand and lead them home. They need instruction; they are already afraid of the fire, or they wouldn’t have turned their face away from the flames.

The gospel of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life is, after all, the message of salvation for all mankind. Forgiveness and life come through Jesus, so let Jesus be the message you share. Jesus is the object of our faith and the reason for our hope. God raised him from the dead and glorifies him in heaven. Everyone who trusts in Jesus is sure to see him in heaven, not just for a moment or a glimpse, but we will have him before our eyes forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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