1 Peter chapter one and the three tenses of salvation


I find 1 Peter chapter one a very interesting chapter.  It speaks of God’s foreknowledge, His election of the saints and our salvation.  But is Peter’s account of these three things in compliance with church doctrine? 

Peter calls the believers he was writing to as the elect and in doing this he adds according to the foreknowledge of God. 

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.[1]

There is an understanding in large portion of the church that this election that was done by the foreknowledge of God puts the believer in a state of eternal security.  That once converted there really is no more hope of salvation.  Instead what is taught is believers have gone from a state of been saved (elected by God’s foreknowledge) to a state of being saved (being born again).  According to this teaching the believer only needs to be saved at His coming.  This is called the three tenses of salvation.  Are saved, being saved and will be saved.

I have written about this before in my post Three red flags on the three tenses of salvation.  Now I would like to consider the three tenses of salvation from 1 Peter where we see Peter affirming election by God’s foreknowledge.

Right after his pronunciation of our election by God’s foreknowledge we see in the very next three verses exactly what we have been elected to by God’s foreknowledge. 

Peter taught we have been born again (begotten) by the mercy of God into a hope of a very real and living nature.  And because of this living hope Peter appropriately gives praise to God who is the Father of Jesus.  He did not praise Him because he had received anything.  Instead he praises Him because he knows and lives according to this hope.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,[2]

There is for us believers who have this hope, an inheritance kept for us in heaven which is sure and reliable.  Our hope in our election is not on some changing event or uncertain ability of God to deliver to us who hope.  Rather it is sure in the one who has made the promise.

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,[3]

Peter after telling the believers in his letter of the hope they have kept for them in heaven through the resurrection of Christ from the dead, doesn’t let his readers know they are saved.  Instead he says they are kept by the power of God though their faith unto salvation. 

Scripture screams of this hope and this faith in what we do not possess, yet hope for.  Instead we believers what to preach salvation as an event that comes at the point of conversion, not the hope that it is.  We take Peter’s statements about election and God’s foreknowledge and twist it to mean something that is not taught by Peter or any other writers of either Testaments.

Peter clearly teaches that as believers we have the power of God that keeps us in the promises of God through our faith.  By a faith that is as lively as our hope is, we wait for our salvation to be revealed to us at His appearing.

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.[4]

At His coming those who have been elected through the foreknowledge of God and remained in the faith of Christ will receive their salvation.  The promise will be fulfilled.  We will no longer hope for what we do not have, as Paul says.  We will no longer have to have a faith that hopes for what is not seen, as the writer of Hebrews says, for we will see Him on that day.  Our God who calls things that are not as if they were will no longer speak so concerning our salvation since our hope will be revealed and realized through Christ’s appearing. 

Because of this hope we can go through the trials of the next three verses because we know as we continue in our faith we are closer to our end of hope, even our salvation.  Peter says by living our faith in trails we can look forward to His praise and His glory and His honor.  Those of us who are elected and living for God, are living out in our lives the evidence of things not seen.  This is why Peter can so confidently say we are receiving not the beginning but the end of our faith, the very salvation of our souls.

Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.[5]

This salvation, this hope this election by the foreknowledge of God was spoken of by the prophets.  As I said already, no writer of either Testaments teaches what is taught in the doctrine of the three tenses of salvation.  You won’t find this teaching in the Law of Moses or the Prophets and it is not taught in the New Testament. 

Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:[6]

Peter lets his readers know they are to live a sober in their lives and thinking as they hope to the end for the grace to be given unto them when Jesus comes as our King of Kings.  Since our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed as someone has once said and Peter speaks of this salvation as coming at the end of our faith.  Let us not do disservice his message and say we are waiting for the third tier of our salvation.  We are waiting for the one hope of grace unto salvation to be given to us when Christ returns.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;[7]

What we do see in scripture is a hope in what is not seen.  Again, read my post The three red flags on the three tenses of salvation.

What does this mean for the believer?

Since scripture doesn’t teach there are three tenses of salvation and instead there is only one hope of salvation coming to us at Christ’s return, what does this mean for believers? 

What does it mean for believers that we were not saved simply because God knows and foreknows everything?  What does it mean that His foreknowledge of us receiving Christ as our savior is not the first tense of the three tenses of salvation?  Peter talked about election and God’s foreknowledge and still yet Peter talks about only one salvation, a future salvation coming to us who believe.  What does this mean if we bought into the three tenses of salvation?

What does it mean for believers who never heard of the three tenses of salvation but do believe they were saved at conversion?  What happens to the believer that realizes that scripture is not teaching the race was one at conversion, but rather at Christ’s return?  What happens to a believer’s confidence in what they been told by the church, when the Holy Spirit reveals to them the true teaching of our gospel?

What they should do is praise God!  They should rejoice that God so loves them that He does not leave them in their stupor of anti-gospel.  A gospel that tells them they are saved at conversion and no longer need to hope in what they do not see.  A gospel that teaches them they don’t have to remain steadfast to the end in order to make their hope sure.

And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:[1]

It is for no reason that the writer of Hebrews warns believers in Christ Jesus about falling away from the faith into which they were born again.  Don’t listen to the Calvinist who say the word “if” in Hebrews means “since it is impossible”.  If the word “if” means “since it is impossible” why can’t we find one translation that interpreted it that way?  Ask the Holy Spirit who to listen to, the Calvinist or the Word of God?

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.[2]

If this Word of God is witnessed to you by the Holy Spirit, rejoice in the God who loves you and is still speaking to you through His Word.  We get to be like Abraham who did not hope in something he possessed, rather his hope was in the promises of God that he did not see.

For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.  And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.[3]

We too need to patiently endure to the end to see the promises of God given to us in our hope of salvation.  It is not those who have what was promised who have faith like Abraham.  It is those who hope in what was promised and endure patiently for this promise who have faith like Abraham.

And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.[4]

If the light of the true Gospel According to the Gospel, not according to men, has shined its light on your hearts, then obey this gospel.  Know, live and run the race to the end.  Knowing that you have a hope of salvation, do not fall away from the gospel that could have saved you.  Do not shipwreck your faith.  And for Pete’s sake don’t let the gospel according to men cause you to shipwreck others faith by telling them salvation comes at the altar of conversion. 

Don’t put their mind at ease with the anti-gospel when it needs to be at its sharpest.  Let those who hear of your hope in Christ, love God with all their mind, heart and strength.  Give them what they need to live a life worthy of their calling unto salvation to the end. 

The anti-gospel of men is there to bring about death by causing men to assume they have salvation when they do not.  It is there to cause men to not live out their hope to the end, so they will with hardened hearts treat the gospel as finished instead of being manifested in their lives until their race is done.

Reject the gospel of men and embrace the gospel as God has given it to us in His word.  Let me know if the Holy Spirit bears witness with your spirit concerning our one true gospel of hope found in scripture.


[1] Hebrews 6:11

[2] Hebrews 6:4-6

[3] Hebrews 6:13-15

[4] Romans 4:12


[1] 1 Peter 1:2

[2] 1 Peter 1:3

[3] 1 Peter 1:4

[4] 1 Peter 1:5

[5] 1 Peter 1:9

[6] 1 Peter 1:10

[7] 1 Peter 1:13

3 thoughts on “1 Peter chapter one and the three tenses of salvation

  1. The problem with how you present 1 Peter in this post is that you misconstrue what is being presented by Peter in the opening of his letter. Here you show your readers 1 Peter 1:2 where he uses both the word sanctification and sprinkling, both of which deal with salvation for “God’s chosen people”, both of which deal with a present-tense state for “God’s chosen people”. Sanctification as used here in 1 Peter 1:2 means the state of purity, signifying a separation to God from a state of unholiness to holiness. The same Greek word used here is also translated as holiness in Romans 6:19,22; 1 Thess. 4:7; and 1 Tim. 2:15. This Greek word means the state predetermined by God for His people, into which in His grace He calls them, and in which they begin and pursue the course of their lives as His people. This is also where we get our word for saint. Furthermore, the use of sanctification and sprinkling in this opening speaks of the Jewish sacrificial rites, which Peter’s Jewish audience would instantly understand as referring to purification of sin on Yom-Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Jesus is our Savior because of His atoning sacrifice, as all the Apostles write. His sacrifice delivers us, therefor He is our deliverer. So our salvation, which is our deliverance, is rooted in our being purified, namely by the shedding and sprinkling of blood. The shed blood brings forgiveness, the sprinkled blood purifies. In the Jewish mind, this is an immediate action, not something you hope for at a later date (i.e., your presenting Jesus’ work on the cross and our trust in that work being for His second coming). On Yom-Kippur, when the blood is shed and sprinkled on the alter, Israel IS forgiven for that year. So when Peter is writing these words in his opening, he is evoking this sacrificial meaning that we are sanctified by the shed blood on the cross and the sprinkling of that blood by our faith in Him. Proof of this immediacy is found in 1 Peter mere verses later in 1 Peter 1:9-“And you ARE receiving what your trust is aiming at, namely, your deliverance.” The Amplified Bible says “[At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” This is not as you say things said as if they were, but truly are, by what is the Jewish sacrificial system. To say anything else of the shedding and sprinkling of blood as immediate to forgiveness and purification makes God as seen in the OT Levitical system and NT new covenant by way of the cross (which is of the OT Levitical system) a liar. It is a delusion of the sacrificial significance to say 1 Peter teaches our salvation is to come at any other time than when the blood cleanses. The NT teaches time and again in the Apostolic writings that the blood was shed (forgiveness) at the cross for all people in all times (confirming what you teach against Calvinism’s predestination) and that the sprinkling of the blood (our purification) comes from our faith in Him and what He has done (see Heb. 9). By the Jewish understanding of sacrificial atonement, our conversion by faith is our deliverance from sin, our salvation here and now, not to come at a time when the Bible teaches Jesus comes not to save but to judge.

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