Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1,215 MP3 Audio File Video File

Salvation in the Last Time

1 Peter 1:4-5

Delivered 04/21/24

Good morning, Bereans. We are continuing our study of 1 Peter this morning. In verses 3-5, Peter gives praise to God the Father for his great mercy. These three verses are a doxology. Last week we looked at verse 3.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua the Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3 ESV

"According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again"—I said last week that this is better translated "born from above." Paul teaches in Ephesian that

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—Ephesians 2:5 ESV

We were all dead, spiritually, and God gave us life. When a person is dead, he cannot see, feel, or act. Until God gives a person life, he is dead to spiritual things. Man is passive in the new birth; he does no more to produce his own birth than Lazarus did to produce his resurrection.

When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out."  John 11:43 ESV

Did Lazarus have the ability in himself to obey that command? No, he was dead! He had no ability at all. Unsaved man, natural man, does not have the ability to believe the Gospel. Regeneration is solely a work of God whereby we are made alive. The Christian is as incapable of starting himself on the new life as he was of conceiving himself for his physical life. Just as we were born physically, so we must be born spiritually. We had nothing to do with our physical birth in that we didn't will it, we didn't help the process, and we certainly did not decide, "I'd like to be born to these parents in this time and way." Likewise, we cannot assist in our spiritual birth. It must come from the life-giving power of God.

Peter says, "According to His great mercy— He has caused us to be born again." God, because of His mercy, caused us to be born again. Peter says God caused us to be born again. Only God can give life to the dead.

Commenting on John 3 and being born from above, John MacArthur writes, "And Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, 'If you want new birth, turn from your sin and your heart saying, 'We have sinned. We have sinned. We have sinned.' And look to the means which God has lifted up to bring you deliverance. This time, not a wooden pole, not any kind of a pole, but a cross. And not a snake but the Son of God."

Where did Yeshua say to Nicodemus, "If you want new birth, turn from your sin?" You can search Yeshua's comments to Nicodemus with a magnifying glass and you won't find the word "turn" or "sin."  


Does the new birth come as a result of our turning from our sin? If it did, how much of our sin do we have to turn from? If this were true, what would be the cause of the new birth?  It wouldn't be God's mercy, but, rather, our efforts.

"To a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua the Christ from the dead"—we sometimes think that a hope is a vague wish that something might happen or come true. That is NOT the kind of hope that we have here. This hope is the anticipation of a future event that is certain. It is a desire and a longing, and in the case of the living hope, the hope they had, it had already started to come to fruition for those who were the children of God through Christ.

At best, worldly hope is uncertain. We say, "I hope my investment will be profitable." There's a lot of anxiety and not much certainty in that kind of hope! But biblical hope is certain, even though not yet realized, because it is backed by the God who cannot lie.

"Through the resurrection of Yeshua the Christ from the dead"—because He lives, we shall live. Our new birth gave us this life. Yeshua's resurrection is a central truth of the gospel. In His death on the cross, Yeshua bore our sins. But if He had not been raised bodily, He would not have conquered sin and death. As Paul said:

"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:17 ESV

We have seen that they had been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua the Christ from the dead, but the sentence goes on into verses 4 and 5.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua the Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3 ESV
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:4 ESV

"To an inheritance"—the word here is klēronomia. It means not just the title to a promised inheritance in the future but a realized inheritance. It is the possession of something in the present. Jews in the Old Covenant also had an inheritance. In fact, this very same word is used in the Greek translation of the Tanakh known as the Septuagint.

The inheritance of the earthly nation was an earthly land. The inheritance of an earthly Israel was an earthly Canaan.

So, Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war. Joshua 11:23 ESV

We see here in this passage that Israel went into the Promised Land and conquered the nations in Canaan. There they took the inheritance that God had given them—the land of Israel.

These are the inheritances that Moses distributed in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan east of Jericho. But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance, just as he said to them. Joshua 13:32-33 ESV

Believers, our inheritance is not land but is like the inheritance of Aaron.

And the LORD said to Aaron, "You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel. Numbers 18:20 ESV

David said that Yahweh was his portion.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalms 16:5-6 ESV

In the Old Covenant, every tribe except Levi received a land inheritance. The Levites, as the tribe of priests, temple servants, and local teachers, were seen as having Yahweh Himself as their inheritance. The New Testament writers often took the rights and privileges of the Levites and applied them to all believers. We are a kingdom of priests, so we, too, are a royal priesthood, 2:9, we can then know that Yahweh, who is the very possession of the priests of Levi, is the possession of the royal priesthood of Christ, as well. We inherit Yahweh. Yahweh is our very inheritance. What a tremendous thought.

Believers, Christ Himself is our inheritance. But it also includes all that He has provided and will provide for those whom He has purchased with His blood. We have been blessed in Christ, we have received the inheritance—everlasting life.

Scripture calls Christians co-heirs with Christ. Everything that is Christ's is ours. Look at what Romans says:

and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:17 ESV

The inheritance in the Old Covenant was perishable. The temple was destroyed along with the city. It was polluted with sin and the idolatry of the nation. It was prone to decay because it was temporal and not eternal. However, the inheritance of the believer in the New Covenant is much greater than that of the Old Covenant. It is imperishable, undefiled, unfading and it is being reserved in heaven by God.

Three descriptive phrases are used to describe the believer's inheritance using OT historical allusions to the Promised Land. Palestine was geographically located on the only land bridge between the empires of Mesopotamia and Egypt. This led to many invasions and much political maneuvering. The believer's inheritance is not affected by earthly conflict.

"Imperishable, undefiled, and unfading"—each Greek word begins with the same letter and ends with the same syllable: It is in substance "imperishable" "undefiled" unfading. "Imperishable"—will not cease or die; "not able to be destroyed." No one can ravage or pollute our inheritance.

"Undefiled"—not a single flaw in any part of it; "not polluted." "Unfading"— "not subject to decay; its glory will never diminish. Peter means that our salvation is free from death and decay. Any human inheritance is subject both to death and decay. I may die before I can obtain and enjoy a human inheritance. I may be the heir to billions, but it won't do me a bit of good if I die. If I manage to get it, it's still subject to moth, rust, and thieves, as Jesus pointed out, so I could easily lose it. Unlike any earthly inheritance which will perish will be defiled and will fade, the inheritance that believers receive will not reflect these faults but will be perfect in every way and will remain perfect.

"Kept in heaven for you"—this is a perfect passive participle, which means God has guarded and continues to guard believers' inheritance. This is a military term for a guarded or garrisoned fortress.

who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5 ESV

"Who by God's power are being guarded through faith"—this is a present passive participle. Thayer says this word originally had a military connotation as something being guarded by a body of soldiers. So, God's power protects us to give us strength to remain faithful. As our inheritance (spiritual life) is guarded, so, too, is our person (physical life). God's person and promises encompass every aspect of our lives. This was such a needed and helpful word of encouragement in a time of persecution, suffering, and false teaching (cf. 2 Peter). This is not to imply that believers will not be killed and tortured; rather God was with them and for them and ultimately they are victors through Him.

This teaches the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 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. John 10:27-29 ESV

Our inheritance is certain because we are kept by the power of God.

"Through faith"—notice the covenantal paradox. God is guarding them and their inheritance, but they must remain in faith. Peter was not saying that our faith keeps us saved. He said God's power keeps us saved. Our faith is the means by which we receive every aspect of our salvation.

"For a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time"—Peter seems to say that their salvation was not yet complete but was to be revealed in the last time. In the last time, which would happen at the return of Christ. But look at what Paul writes,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8 ESV

The Greek word translated "saved" here is sozo. It is in the perfect tense which gives it the meaning that something was done and completed in the past yet it continues to have present results. The Greek scholar, Kenneth S. Wuest, translated this verse, "For by grace have you been saved in time past completely, through faith, with the result that your salvation persists through present time; and this (salvation) is not from you as a source." This seems to be saying that their redemption is complete. Yet, later in the same chapter, Paul writes:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Yeshua himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV

The process was still occurring.

They were "being built" for a dwelling place of God. But the clear blessing of the New Covenant was that God would dwell with His people:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Revelation 21:1-3 ESV

The New Jerusalem is the New Covenant according to Galatians 4:24-26, "For these are the two covenants … but the Jerusalem above is free." Paul tells the Ephesian believers that they are "being built" for a dwelling place of God. It was a process that was taking place but was at that time still unfulfilled.

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:9 ESV
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 ESV

Again, you don't hope for what you have. Salvation was not a completed event in the lives of the first-century believers, but it was their hope. They looked forward to its soon arrival.

Notice what Yeshua says,

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. John 6:47 ESV

The word "has" here is the Greek word echo which is a present active indicative which means that the degree of contingency is zero, i.e., reality rather than hypothetical activity is in view. It means to possess. So, Yeshua is saying that "Whoever believes has (right now) eternal life. Yeshua is speaking this to Jews around A.D. 30 and He says that those who believe have eternal life. But look at what Yeshua says in Luke 18.

And Peter said, "See, we have left our homes and followed you." And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life." Luke 18:28-30 ESV

If you're paying attention, you notice that Yeshua tells them that whoever believes has at that time eternal life. But then Yeshua tells Peter that eternal life is a condition of the age to come. This sounds like a contradiction. Which is it? Do they have it or are they waiting for it?

Let's look at a few more texts to see if we can clear this up.

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Yeshua the Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7 ESV

"He saved us"—saved is in the aorist tense in the indicative mood which indicates past action. "The hope of eternal life"— Do you hope for things you have? I hope not.

keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua the Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:21 ESV

The NIV makes this verse much clearer:

Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua the Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:21 NIV

"Waiting/wait"—is the Greek verb prosdechomai, which means "to wait with great expectancy." Prosdechomai is used of things future in the sense of expecting and at the same time accepting. Earnestly expecting is the idea.

"The mercy of our Lord Yeshua the Christ"—he is talking about the Second Coming of Christ here, and he calls it "mercy." Mercy is usually used of Yahweh, and here it is used of Christ who is Yahweh. It is Yahweh's mercy, "to eternal life"—they are waiting anxiously for this eternal life, which means it was future to them. It would come to them at the Parousia of Christ.

People use these verses to argue against the inspiration of Scripture. These certainly sound like contradictions. Which is it? Did they have eternal like or were they waiting for it? People see this as a contradiction because they don't understand "the already, but not yet" of the New Testament period.

The "already but not yet" paradigm was developed by Princeton theologian Gerhardus Vos early in the 20th century. "Already, but not yet" refers to the concept of a pre-fulfillment of a future reality. It is used to speak of things that the first century believers already had, but they waited for the consummation (not yet). Suppose that you are 18 and a rich relative dies and leaves you a large inheritance but you cannot have it until you turn 21. The inheritance is yours—already, but you can't spend any of it until you turn 21—not yet. The already, but not yet tension underlies the whole New Testament message.

It's not just eternal life that the New Testament says they have but they're waiting for righteousness.

For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. Galatians 5:5 ESV

At the time of Paul's writing, righteousness was still a hope. Now, you might ask, "Didn't Paul and the New Testament saints already have the righteousness of God?" Yes, they did according to:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

If righteousness was already a fulfilled or completed event, Paul made a big mistake in making "righteousness" by faith a matter of hope. If righteousness was a present reality, why would Paul hope for it? This is the "already but not yet" of righteousness.

They had, but were waiting for salvation, eternal life, and righteousness. When Christ returned, he brought salvation, eternal life, and righteousness. As long as the Old Covenant existed, the believers were not perfect and did not have access to God.

By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:8-10 ESV

Under the Old Covenant, they were never made perfect. And because they were not perfect, they could not enter God's presence. When Christ returned, all believers were made like Him.

The New Testament teaches that they had, but were waiting for, eternal life, righteousness, salvation, redemption, adoption and sanctification.

David Briones who is a Professor at Westminster Theological Seminary writes this in an article on the "already but not yet."

"For now, Christians live in a great theological tension: we already possess every spiritual blessing in Christ, but we do not experience the fullness of these blessings yet. In one sense, we are already adopted, redeemed, sanctified, and saved; in another, these experiences are not yet fully ours. Underneath this theological and practical tension are the two comings of Christ. In his first coming, he inaugurated the last days; in his second coming, he will complete them. In the meantime, we live for now in 'the overlap of the ages.'"

This is the typical view of the "already but not yet." Most modern writers believe that it still applies to us today. Dr. Michael S. Heiser, OT scholar and Christian author, continually tries to explain eschatology by using the "already but not yet." But it is my understanding that the "already but not yet" does not apply to us. In fact, it has not been applicable since A.D. 70 when the New Covenant was consummated.

The "already but not yet" ONLY applied to those who lived from A.D. 30 to A.D. 70. This period of time is called the transition period. In order to correctly understand the New Testament, we must understand "The Transition Period." The Transition Period began on Pentecost in A.D. 30, and it ended at the destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70. During the Transition Period, the church was growing from infancy to maturity. A spiritual house was being built for God to dwell in. This was a time of change and growth; it was a time of transformation from the Old to the New.

The Old Covenant was fading away and the New Covenant was being consummated.

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:13 ESV

The Old Covenant may be characterized as promise, as shadow, as prophecy. The New Covenant may be characterized as fulfillment, as reality, as realization.

Notice that the text says, "…is becoming obsolete … ready to vanish away." Is that speaking to us? NO!!!!!!!!!! This is written to the first-century Hebrew believers. As of A.D. 65, the Old Covenant had not yet become obsolete, but it was about to.

At the end of the transition period, the judgment, the resurrection and the second coming all took place. Another name for the transition period could be the "Christ Event" which was a forty-year period of transition for the Old to the New Covenant.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1 ESV

I'm sure that you are all aware of what happened on Pentecost. This is the birth of the Church. How does Peter interpret what happened at Pentecost? He says,

But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: Acts 2:16 ESV

Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed that Pentecost is the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. Then he quoted Joel 2:28-32:

"'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' Acts 2:17-21 ESV

Please notice that this is one prophecy of one event that encompassed the pouring out of the Spirit and the pouring out of wrath. This is a prophecy of "The Christ event." This "Christ Event" encompasses the Cross, Pentecost, the Resurrection, the Judgment, and the Parousia. Please notice that Joel's prophecy covers from Pentecost to the Day of the Lord. It covers a 40-year period that was equal to a generation.

We see this same idea of an event that takes place over a period of time in:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:1-2 ESV

What I want you to see is that John's message also covered a forty-year period. John announced in verse 2 that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, meaning it was very near—this is a reference to Pentecost. But John's message also involved judgment.

Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:10 ESV

In order for the kingdom to be consummated (which would happen forty years later) there must be a time of judgment. The axe is there at the root ready to cut down any tree that is not bearing good fruit. John places an emphasis on fire again in verses 11 and 12. In those verses there is a reference to the coming destruction.

The Jews of John's day knew these prophecies of Hebrew Scripture. They understood that before the kingdom would be consummated, God's judgment would fall on unbelievers who would be rooted out of the kingdom as the Messiah established His rule and reign.

"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11 ESV

Here John refers to the Christ Event. It begins with Pentecost—the baptizing with the Holy Spirit, and ends with fire—the destruction of Jerusalem. A.D. 30, then, began the Christ event, but it was not completed until forty years later in A.D. 70.

So, this forty-year period can be called "The Christ Event" or the Transition Period and it is also what the Bible calls the "last days" (e.g., the last days of the Old Covenant). Those "last days" began at the birth of Christ and ended at A.D. 70 when the Jewish temple was destroyed. The time period is also called "this age" in the Scriptures. We now live in what the Bible calls "the age to come" (the New Covenant age). The forty-year period, from Pentecost to Holocaust, was a time of transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. In this transition period, the New Covenant had been inaugurated but not consummated. It was a time of "already but not yet." It was the ONLY time of the "already but not yet."

"For a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time"—the words "last time" here are eschatos chronos. The word eschatos means: "farthest, final (of place or time), ends of, last, latter end." And chronos from which we get, "chronological time; time on a clock or calendar." Using these same words, eschatos chronos, Peter, speaking of Christ, says:

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you  1 Peter 1:20 ESV

So, Christ appeared in the "last times," the writer of Hebrews confirms this:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV

In the "last time" is a very specific expression referring to the period from Messiah's First Coming, till His Second. The last days began when God spoke through His Son, the last days began when His Son came. Most Christians will agree on that. Most Christians agree that the "last days" end at the return of Christ. And since they believe Christ has not yet returned, they think we are still living in the "last days."

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 ESV

Yeshua spoke these words in answer to the disciples' question as to when the end of the age would come. Their question was, "When will the end be?" Yeshua tells them quite clearly that the end would come in "This generation."

So, the age that was to end was the Jewish age. It would end with the destruction of the Jewish Temple and the city Jerusalem. It was not the "last days" of the earth or the "end" of the world; he is talking about the "last days" or "end" of the age of Judaism, the Old Covenant Age. The disciples knew that the fall of the Temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant Age and the inauguration of a New Age.

The writer of Hebrews said in around AD 65, around the same time as Peter wrote:

For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;  Hebrews 10:37 ESV

"Yet a little while"—the Greek is very expressive and emphatic. The author used a word which signifies "a little while," and then for further emphasis added a particle meaning: "very," and this he still further intensified by repeating it; thus literally rendered, this clause reads: "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come."

What does it mean to us? Can we understand, "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come" to mean over 2,000 years? If the Lord did not return in the first century, this would have meant nothing to the Hebrews. To tell you the truth, it would have been deceptive to them.

God inspired the author of Hebrews to write at around A.D. 65 to the first century saints, "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will com." How could he have made it clearer that the Second Coming of Christ would happen SOON to them?

Most Christians would say that the Lord has not yet returned, making the writer of Hebrews a false prophet. But the problem is that it wasn't just the writer of Hebrews who said that Yeshua was to return in the first century, Yeshua Himself taught this:

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Matthew 16:27-28 ESV

The word "come" is the Greek word mello, which literally means: "Is about to come." The word is used primarily to indicate the nearness of an event, and means: "to be; about to be." Some have tried to water this word down to simply mean: "a certainty," but this is a mistake. The original Greek connotation was more than fact-related; it was a sense of time proximity.

Yeshua is speaking to His disciples and says that some of them would still be alive when He returned in the Second Coming. Was Yeshua wrong? If He was, then according to Deuteronomy, He was a false prophet. If Yeshua was a false prophet, then we are all dead in our sins and on our way to a Christless eternity. If God does not keep the WHEN part of His promises, He has not kept His promise! The inspiration of the Scriptures demands complete fulfillment of every aspect of God's promises. But if Yeshua is Lord, then what He said was true—He returned in the Second Coming before all of His disciples had died.

Continue the Series

Berean Bible Church provides this material free of charge for the edification of the Body of Christ. You can help further this work by your prayer and by contributing online or by mailing to:

Berean Bible Church
1000 Chattanooga Street
Chesapeake, VA 23322