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Before Christ was crucified, Peter was with him, eating, living, and interacting with him for at least three years. Yet, when crunch time came, Peter vigorously denied his Lord three times. Along with all the other disciples, he fled into the night, leaving Jesus to face crucifixion alone.
Three days later, the risen Christ appeared to these very disciples; those who had denied him and run away. Several days later he appeared to Peter, James, and John while they were casting nets from their fishing boat, inviting them to breakfast on the shore.
Despite the faithlessness of Peter and the disciples, Jesus never stopped being faithful to them.
Here’s a question. If we had to identify the precise moment when Peter was saved, what would we say?
Was he saved when Jesus first chose him as a disciple? Was it when Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church”? Or when Peter said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"?
Was he saved at the moment when he was convinced of Jesus’ resurrection? Was it when Jesus appeared to the disciples on the shore and then asked Peter, “Do you love me?” and then told him, “Feed my sheep”? Or was it at Pentecost when the assembled group was filled with the Holy Spirit?
Or was it none of the above?
One thing we know: The Peter we see in Acts is definitely a believer—a bold and uncompromising one at that. But precisely when conversion happened, whether for Peter, or in comparison—ourselves, is not easy to pin down. We can’t say it happened at baptism. We get baptized because we believe, not before we believe. We can’t even say it happens at the moment of belief, because it is not our belief that saves us, it’s Jesus who saves us.
Paul says it this way in Ephesians 2:4-9: “…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
The truth is, our salvation was secured by Jesus 2000 years ago—in fact, from the foundation of the world—long before we ever made any decision. Our faith doesn’t save us, or cause God to change his mind about us. God always loved us and he will never stop loving us. We are saved by his grace, and for one reason only—because he loves us. When we believe, we are simply seeing for the first time the way things really are. We’re finding out the truth that God loves us, wants us and includes us in Jesus Christ. We’re finally walking in the Light, following the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Author of eternal salvation.
And that’s good news.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.