Salvation in Three Tenses (Part One)- 1Peter 1:1-12

The term salvation is very familiar to Christians, but exactly what does it mean to be “saved”? The Greek word translated “to save” in the New Testament is sozo. This word literally means “to rescue or deliver from danger”, so salvation is a divine rescue, it is Jesus delivering us from something. What is it that He delivers us from? We find the answer to this in Matthew 1:21, in which we find the angel of the Lord telling Joseph in a dream that he is to give his child the name “Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins”. Salvation then is deliverance from sin, and we will turn to 1Peter 1:1-12 for a further explanation of this. Peter begins, in verses 1 and 2, by reaffirming the purpose of our salvation, worded here as “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ”. This is simply another way of saying that Jesus saves people from sin, which is what obedience to Jesus Christ will always do. He then tells us, in verse three, “In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope”. The term translated “new birth” here is literally “born again”, and this verse is where describing salvation as being born again comes from. What is of note here is the tense of the term “has given”, which is in the past tense here. Every Christian has been given new birth at the moment of salvation, we have been delivered from sin, and into a “living hope”. The word hope in the bible is not used according to our common understanding of hope, which is commonly used to express a wish, as in “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow”. The biblical concept of hope is of an expectation, you expect something to happen, so you act as though it already has. The hope which we have is described here as “living”. We expect to live eternally, so we act in accordance with that expectation, and our expectation is of a share in an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven”. This passage describes for us the past tense aspect of salvation. We have been delivered from sin and into an eternal inheritance, an eternal home in heaven, never to face death, which is the penalty for sin. As Christians, we “have been saved”(delivered) once and for all from the penalty of sin (which is death). This is the past tense aspect of our salvation, we have been delivered once and for all from the penalty of sin, and will never suffer the death which is the penalty of sin, but will live eternally with God in heaven because we “have been saved”.

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