Groans From Within, Part 3: Problematic Passages, 1 Peter 1:4-5

I have been in a series of posts describing the title of this blog: Groans From Within. A foundational belief that I have and express regularly is that salvation extends to the whole created order, not merely the ‘souls’ of Christians. The text that expresses this is Romans 8.19-27. What I have been arguing is that heaven is not the final state of the Christian, but a renewed universe is. In order to address this, I am looking at some problematic passages.

One such problematic passage in the New Testament that is often misunderstood is found in 1 Peter 1:4-5.[1] It states that Christians will have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”[2] In one commentary this passage is applied to the physical death of the Christian or when the so-called rapture will take place; meaning that a believer needs to go to heaven to enjoy the fullness of the inheritance from God.[3] This could not be further from the intent of this passage. Tom Wright would have us imagine that someone has come to visit your home and you were to offer her or him a piece of cake. Suppose the cake is currently stored in the fridge to maintain its freshness, so not to spoil. No one would expect that the guest would have to go into the fridge to eat and enjoy the cake. That would be absurd! You would pull the cake from the fridge and bring it out to where the guests were already at in the living room. A similar idea is at work in this passage. The fullness of the Christian inheritance is being kept safe in heaven for now, but when the time is right, God will bring that inheritance to where His people are, which will result in the renewal of the cosmos and the resurrection.[4] God’s space of present reality is heaven which is hidden from humanity at the current time,[5] less the Christ-followers who have died and are in an intermediate state;[6] will be fully revealed and brought to this world for eternity.[7]

[1]Wright, New Heavens, New Earth: The Biblical Picture of Christian Hope, 7.

[2]Holy Bible, New International Version, 1 Peter 1:4-5.

[3]Herold L. Fickett Jr., Peter’s Principles: From 1 and 2 Peter (Glendale, California: Regal Books Division, G/L Publications, 1974), 18.

[4]Wright, For All the Saints: Remembering the Christian Departed, 51.

[5]Wright, New Heavens, New Earth: The Biblical Picture of Christian Hope, 7.

[6]Alcorn, Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions, 8.

[7]Wright, New Heavens, New Earth: The Biblical Picture of Christian Hope, 7-8.

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  • Thats a great anaology with the cake. Again I think your spot on here about our inheritance Kurt. It’s not talking about escapism, though we too often read it that way.