As often happens, I will be re-reading Scriptural ground that I have covered before and detect the tip of buried treasure within a verse, and it leads me on a journey of new revelation. So, I invite you to take this ride with me.
I am still deep in Hebrews, and as I finished Chapter 9, the verses 27 and 28 caught my spiritual eye: And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him (ESV).
As I often do, I like to compare various translations to see if I receive a new or different insight to God's inspired Word. Here's what the Passion Translation says: Every human being is appointed to die once, and then to face God’s judgment. But when we die we will be face-to-face with Christ, the One who experienced death once for all to bear the sins of many! And now to those who eagerly await him, He will appear a second time;
not to deal with sin, but to bring us the fullness of salvation.
There is agreement between the two versions of Hebrews 9:27-28 that Christ is a Living Hope for those of us who eagerly await His return. As I searched Scripture for more revelation on the connection between Jesus as our hope and His eventual return, I found it in 1 Peter, Chapter 1. To begin, we find ample reason to glorify the Father for bringing us into relationship with Him... We give Him praise for His extravagant gift of mercy and grace into a new life in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. We exalt Him for granting us the position of "children", including the rights and privileges as heirs, and the impartation of spiritual life. We recognize our spiritual rebirth from above; that we've been spiritually transformed, renewed, and sanctified. We acknowledge that we must be reborn by the Living Water of the Word [which cleanses and gives spiritual life] and the Holy Spirit, who moves our spirit to respond to His voice. And then, in verse 5, Peter references that there is more to be unveiled regarding salvation: Through our faith, the mighty power of God constantly guards us until our full salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time.
There it is again! "Our full salvation"! As I contemplated these verses and revisited my understanding of salvation [as I learned it at the time of my conversion], a bigger picture began to form. I understood that at the time I repented for my sins and asked Jesus into my heart as my Savior, I received immediate spiritual and eternal deliverance from my sins; the debt I owed God for my disobedience had been paid by the blood of Jesus on the Cross.
But here is Peter telling us that at the return of Christ, our full salvation will be revealed. A careful word study showed me that the word "revealed" comes from the Greek word apokalupto, meaning to "uncover, unveil; reveal for the first time". So obviously there is some other aspect of our salvation that is unknown to us at this time, which will be unveiled to us "in the last time", i.e at Christ's return at the end of this age. It will not change the effect of our salvation, but I believe it will unveil the depth of it --- just how much we have been saved, and from what.
And it takes a willingness on the part of the believer to consider what that will look like. Too often, I think we modern Christians are satisfied to bask in the knowledge that we don't have to pay the penalties for our sins; and as a result we get to live eternally with our Father in Heaven. We don't give too much thought to the warnings that the Bible gives us about what that time will look like, when Jesus comes back to "judge the quick [alive] and the dead".
We think of ourselves as safely established in this "Age of Grace", and many still believe that they will experience no part of the coming Great Tribulation; that they will be whisked away to Heaven before any of "the bad stuff" happens on the earth. But would it change your mind if you knew that the same word, apokalupto, used in 1 Peter, is also used by the Apostle John to refer to the full revealing of Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation?
In this last book of the Bible, the divine program of redemption for mankind is brought to its fulfillment. The Book of Revelation is an unveiling of the character and the plan of God. It depicts visions and symbols of the resurrected Christ, who alone has authority to judge the earth. And because everything about God is holy, so is His Justice. That Justice will be the wrath of God against those who have continued in their rebelliousness and lawlessness -- the wrath that we will be spared from because of our imputed righteousness that comes through our initial salvation experience.
But take another look at what Peter says in 1 Peter 1:13 ... Through our faith, the mighty power of God constantly guards us until our full salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time. I have often said that our salvation is a process and a journey. We are told to "work out our salvation with fear [holy awe] and trembling", indicating that it is a continuous action throughout our lives. Therefore, it makes sense that we will have no idea of the magnitude of what Jesus did for us until it is unveiled and displayed when He comes to judge the earth and its wicked.
The fullness of our salvation has nothing to do with the value or completeness of it. Jesus accomplished everything we needed in order to be saved when He went to the Cross. Rather, it has to do with our full comprehension of what we were saved from: the wrath [anger, fury] of a righteous God. But we need not approach that time with misgivings or fear because there is hope in the Word. Peter also says, So then, prepare your hearts and minds for action! Stay alert and fix your hope firmly on the marvelous grace that is coming to you. For when Jesus Christ is unveiled, a greater measure of grace will be released to you. When those days come, we will have no fear of the wrath of God, or of Jesus as Judge of the world. Instead, we will, by God's grace, be able to share the tremendous joy of knowing the fullness of our salvation and the divine revelation of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Messiah!
Philippians 3:12 I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into His abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover.