Permit us a few remarks concerning the meaning of these verses as we have thus far considered them.

In the first place, we have noticed that we have been born anew unto a living hope, through the re­surrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The power of our hope is the power of God manifested and wrought in His resurrection.

Secondly, we have noticed that our hope reaches out in earnest expectation for the final manifestation of what God has prepared for His saints, the inheri­tance kept for us in heaven.

Thirdly, we have noticed, that this inheritance is incorruptible, undefilable and that it fades not away. It is wholly different than the present world under the vanity of vanities. It is an inheritance that is glori­ously, immortal and everlasting.

Fourthly, we were busy considering the fact, the gospel truth, that God who has begun this good work in us, giving us a new birth unto a living hope, also will complete this work to the very end. No one is able to pluck us out of the hand of the Father, who is greater than all. Jehovah is a man of war. Jehovah is His name! Let us attempt to understand this.

We would remind you, dear reader, that we are considering verse 5, the following clause “we who are kept in the power of God through faith . . . . unto salvation . . .”

The questions, that we face here are the following. We must seek an answer to the question what we are to understand by the “power” of God, and we must also see the proper Scriptural relationship between this power of God and this “faith” of our text.

The word here employed for power in the original Greek really means: ability. It is the potense of God. It is the ability of God which is the strength of all human and creaturely strength. Without this strength there is none. In this strength we live and move and have our being, and it is by virtue of this strength that we believe in Christ.

Further we may say of this “power” of God that it is characterized by all the virtues of God. It is all-wise, just, good, holy, merciful and everlasting. For all God’s virtues are one. Upon this we could delineate in detail. But we prefer not to since the text does not call for it.

What we must here point out however, is, that this power of God in my text is not simply to be i­dentified with the power of creation, of providence. By God’s power and might He called the world into existence. In the beginning God spoke His creative word and all things came thus into being by His word. That was the power that emanated from God’s will the Logos not made flesh. John 1:1-3. And it is by this same power of the Word not-made-flesh that the world is upheld. Hebrews 1:1-3. Although this power cannot be separated from the “power” in my text, yet this power in creation and providence must be clearly distinguished from the latter.

The distinction?

It is this: the power, in my text is the almighty power of God, which God has wrought in Christ Jesus our Lord, raising Him out of the dead, and setting Him at His own right hand far above all principality and might and every name, that is named both in this age and in that to come. It is wrought in and through the Spirit of Sanctification.

Such is not the case with creation and providence.

But such it is here: here we have the power of God wrought in Him who suffered and died, and rose again and having received the promise of the Spirit sent Him forth to empower us from on high.

Such is the power of which Peter speaks in verse five, such is clearly its nature. It is saving power; that keeps, guards us unto salvation. It is well to see this distinction, and to keep it in mind.

But we must proceed.

The next element calling for attention is the rela­tionship between “faith” and this power of God in Christ wrought by the Spirit of sanctification.

It ought to be very clear on the very surface that the relationship is not such as is expressed in the very vulgar and profane quip “God helps those who help themselves”. Yes to speak thus is profane speech. Yet, such is exactly the sin of all “Semi-Pelagianism”. God gives His power and grace to those who make themselves worthy of His gifts. In this case it would mean: God works His power in those who are willing and who believe. This latter statement indeed speaks a truth, but only a half truth. It does not teach the full truth. It was exactly thus that the Arminians also expressed this relationship of the power of God and faith. And thus our text does not express it.

Both the power of God and the faith through which we are kept are solely of God. Salvation is wholly of the Lord. Faith is God’s gift not only in its inception, but also in its continuation. Our perseverance is sim­ply God’s preservation of us. And thus Peter teaches us here. We therefore read: we who are guarded in the power of God through faith.

God’s power in Christ becomes a saving power in us in this that it works faith in our hearts. It is a power in the Spirit of sanctification of Christ, that saves us through the very faith that it works in our hearts. This power works faith, that is, a certain knowledge and hearty confidence, that Christ has not merely died for others, but that He has died and that He rose again in my behalf. It is a glorious saving power working faith in my heart. And then again He works this faith in my heart in such a way that the very act of faith that we perform is His saving power. O, glorious mystery of faith.

In His power we keep this mystery in a good conscience by adhering to sound words, good Christian hygienic instruction for the soul.

Shall we truly be and remain sound in faith and upright in walk that we confess: in His power wrought in His gift of faith in my heart causing me to believe.

Such is the evident relationship between these two elements in the text. Thus alone do we confess the architectural design of God as sketched by Peter in verse two: “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit unto (into) the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” But more must be said.

We refer to the manner in which God causes His power to keep, guards us to the very final salvation to be uncovered in the last time.

In general we may say, that in the wisdom and justice of God He treats every creature according to its created nature. He treats the plant different than the animal, and the animal different than man, and man different again than the angels. Each one is treated according to its kind, (kata genos).

This means that the almighty keeping of God, the power of God unto our salvation is wrought in us working faith in our hearts, in such a way that God does not do violence to our moral rational creaturehood. Our fathers contending with the Arminians confess “this grace of regeneration does not treat men as senseless stocks and blocks, nor takes away their will and its properties, neither does violence thereto.” The Arminians insisted that only when man had an ethically free will could he be treated according to his nature, while the Reformed fathers say: non sequitur. Man does not have the spiritual freedom to do good, but he remains a thinking willing being. God honors His own creative ordinances in man, while bringing him out of death into life, out of darkness into His marvelous light.

That is the first element to bear in mind, also when thinking of this guarding power of God.

The second element to bear in mind that the “manner of the operation of God” in working salvation in our heart, and also the manner of the working of this power we cannot fully fathom, comprehend. It is wholly a divine work. We cannot trace the footsteps of the Almighty. How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways are past finding out. That is true of His dealings with nations, but is also true of our own souls. Compare with Psalm 139.

This makes us approach this subject with utmost humility; here too we touch but the “hem of His garment.”

However, the Word of God does point out by what means this power of God works faith in our hearts.

This faith is wrought in our hearts by means of the power of God. And this power of God unto our salvation is nothing less than the Holy gospel. This gospel is power; power of God it is unto salvation for everyone believing.

This cuts off the error, on the one hand of the Anabaptist, who, among other errors, clings to the erroneous teaching that God simply works faith in our hearts, that He preserves His church in the midst of this world without “means”, with the means of grace, that is, without the means which the Holy Spirit employs to work and strengthen faith in our hearts. The Anabaptist forgets that God deals with the redeemed saints according to their created nature in paradise. Making this power a blind power. Such it is not. God’s power unto salvation is the gospel, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed out of faith unto faith.

At the same time all Pelagianism, Arminiianism and Humanism is cut off for in this preaching of the gospel there is mystery. Is it the mystery of faith. This gospel works faith, strengthens it by the operation of the Holy Spirit in such a way that, although the gospel is preached by man, its operation and efficaciousness is wholly a matter of God’s power. Salvation is never in the power of man, although God uses man to work His salvation. God uses threats, precepts of the gospel (?) as spoken by the preacher to work His grace in our lives. This is simply the case with this epistle of Peter. It is replete with precepts of the gospel! And in a way that is hidden from our eyes, God works grace through the same. Here the sinner remains impotent, while his created nature is honored. God honors His own work, while he maintains our impotency, to in a way effect faith in our hearts.

The manner of God’s working is such, that in our believing consciousness too, we experience: Guarded in the almightiness of God working faith in our hearts by the Word, in us who have been born again unto a living hope through the resurrection of Christ.

G. Lubbers