Peter declared in the first sermon preached in the new Church, delivered on the Day of Pentecost – 50 days after Jesus died, that although Jesus was rejected by leaders of Israel, God raised him to life.
Peter said, “Men of Israel, listen to this, Jesus of Nazareth was a man accedited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
[Adapted from Acts 2:22-24 NIV]
Peter repeated this message in the letter he sent to the new Christians in the various Roman provinces and a single client-kingdom in Anatolia [modern Turkey], declaring that Jesus’ death and glorification was the revelation of God’s great mystery, disclosed in part through the Israelite prophets of times gone before.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit send from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
[1 Peter 1:10-12 NIV]
The nature of a Christian life is not “magic,” or mysterious: it is simple. The gift of new life in Christ is free, entirely by God’s grace. Living the new life is a gift of God, given by his grace, but we also have a part to play in this process. This is also made clear by Peter, in his follow-up letter.
The divine power of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is near-sighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fail, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
[Adapted from 2 Peter 1:3-18 NIV]
For Peter, salvation (by which he meant eternal life with God) was just the beginning of the story for the new Christian. It also meant the start of a new life, lived in accordance with Jesus’ teachings.
Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believed in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in him.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
[1 Peter 1:17-23 NIV]
Peter taught that the path of salvation through repentance and baptism into Jesus Christ was open to all, saying, “This promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call” [Acts 2:29 NIV].
Not everyone is called, for not everyone has heard the gospel preached to them. Also many of those called by God do not respond to his call. In addition, Jesus’ parable of the sower [Mark 4] shows that some of those who respond will not remain true to their call. It is only those who respond and remain faithful who become the chosen of God.