Is it hard for the righteous to be saved?

I am including an audio version of this blog for your convenience.

Audio 1 Peter 4 – Hard to be Saved

 

I want to look at a difficult passage of scripture, that I just had an inspired thought about. I say the scripture is difficult because it contradicts other bits of scripture and seems to suggest that salvation is hard for the believer to obtain. I believe my understanding of the scripture came from the Holy Spirit, but we will see. Let me pull up the scripture.

1 Peter 4 Suffering for Being a Christian

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?18And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,

what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

At first glance it seems he is saying that it is hard for the righteous to be saved because God has such a high standard of achievement. However, this bypasses other scriptures that confirm that Christ’s sacrifice well saves us apart from our works.

Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

Titus 3:5 “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”

John 3:18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

etc…

If a scripture seems to contradict other clear scriptures, then we need to reevaluate how we see them. In context what is this passage talking about? “Suffering for being a christian.” Let’s read these troubling verses.

“17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?18And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Remember he is talking about persecution. When we hear, “hard for the righteous to be saved,” we think that believing in Jesus just barely makes the cut, we are still being judged for our deeds. However, I believe this “hard” is not referring to that. Here is a passage to illustrate.

Matthew 11 28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Jesus did teach that is is extremely hard for an unbeliever to be saved on the basis of the law, but for those who came to him it is easy (according to our works) to be saved. Peter is not saying that Jesus has such a high standard for christians that it’s hard for them to be saved. Again, this passage in 1 Peter is talking about persecution. The hard he is referring to, is the suffering of being a christian.

If being a christian and doing the right thing causes us suffering, how much more suffering do you think the sinners will receive, who ignore the gospel and live life in luxury while we suffer for doing what’s right?

“17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

The “time of judgement” the believers are facing now, is the fact that in “this life” they are giving up their lives and being persecuted and subjected to hardship for their faith. Peter tells them.

15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name”

He is calling the judgement “suffering” for either doing the right or wrong thing. But he says to suffer for doing the right thing rather than the wrong thing.

Then he says,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

The “hard” is meaning “uncomfortable (to live as one who is saved).” Paul encourages them, that if we have it hard “now” (begins with us), how much more will God’s judgment make it hard on those who ignore the gospel when his “judgement is revealed to the world,” (ends with them). “If we suffer for doing right, how much more will they suffer for doing wrong.” Therefore, he says to continue in your faith.

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”

The phrase, “suffer according to God’s will,” does not mean God wants you to suffer or is causing it directly. It means you are suffering for doing the right thing, it means by submitting to the good God asks of you other people may bring you trouble from that, nevertheless God asks you to do it anyways. Thus, in following God’s will you encounter suffering for it. Thus this suffering is “as it should be,” “according to God’s will,” not as “a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.”

Does that help you to understand it? It makes more sense in context. He is saying, if we are being judged so that life is hard for us now, how much worse will it be for those who don’t believe and who live doing wrong?

Hope this encourages you!

6 thoughts on “Is it hard for the righteous to be saved?

  1. Love it Jon! This passage makes a lot more sense now.I was reminded of where Paul told Timothy that all who live Godly in Christ will suffer persecution (2Tim.3:12). So it is like Peter is saying that being saved brings hardship, but how much more hardship will come to the unsaved. This is actually a word of encouragement. He is saying that suffering according to the will of God is suffering for your faith in Christ. The faith, not the suffering itself, is His will. Jesus said:

    For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day (John 6:38-40).

    So these believers were suffering because the will of God had been performed in their lives. They were not suffering to become save or holy as some legalists might believe.

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  2. That’s it! You understood it dead on! I like how you further explained. “The faith, not the suffering itself, is His will.” We are suffering, “because we do right.” Thus the suffering is, “as it should be.” Not because God wants us to suffer, but because we are blessed by it.

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  3. Pingback: Eternal Security | Revelations in Grace

  4. I was loosing sleep over this enigmatic verse but you have made it clearer and less threatening for putting it into context. i imagine a great many people lost heart with this difficult scripture and felt salvation to be hopelessly out of reach.
    I think maybe the Holy Spirit did lay this on your heart to encourage those who found themselves stuck and resigned themselves to their fate. Thankyou.

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  5. …Then i realised the Bible (kjv) says something else.
    ” And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear”.
    Close, but not the niv
    This is saying something else altogether. But then that’s the new versions.

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  6. Thank you so much for taking the time to breakdown the scripture. Sometimes I forget to look beyond a verse and see the context in which it is being used.

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