Earlier, we explored man’s identity and worth in terms of being created in God’s image. Today, a second truth gives us importance: we are the focus of God’s efforts to save.
Man’s identity and value to God become evident when his eternal plan is explored and appreciated. What makes his plan so impressive is its extension, its reach, and the cost required to carry it through.
Extension: One Eternal Purpose
God did not, after centuries of watching man destroy himself, decide finally to step in and do something to rescue humanity from its plight and certain destiny. This plan was set in place “before the foundation of the world” Ephesians 1.4; 1 Peter 1.20. Therefore, it can be called an “eternal purpose” Ephesians 3.11.
So God did not wake up one fine day and decide, on the spur of the moment, to create something. When he spoke that first word of creation, “Let there be light” Genesis 1.3, the entire creation and the plan to have man as a free-will companion had already been sketched out in detail. With the possibility of man’s rejection of God’s offer, the Lord also had waiting in the wings his plan of salvation.
His eternal plan is evident throughout the Bible. The first hint can be noted in Genesis 3.15. The Fall was not the end. Man’s fortunes would be reversed. A Descendent would deal the death blow to the serpent.
The OT prophets sensed that their writings foretold more than what was of concern to their immediate generation, or the next. They were shown that they also served people who lived far into the future, 1 Peter 1.10-12.
God has “one purpose” in all that he does, Ephesians 1.11. That purpose is to redeem mankind. We are that important to him.
Reach: Every Single Individual
Every single human individual is precious to God. So his plan of salvation is to be offered to every person. The message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins is for “all people everywhere” in “all nations” Luke 24.47; Acts 10.30.
God wants his rescue plan to be offered to all, the gospel must cover the entire world in every generation, because each one is important to him.
This perspective changes entirely the belief that, because all of humanity is God’s focus, the individual has little value. It is precisely because he values the individual that he wants the gospel offered to everyone.
The inclusion of God’s people in this mission shows his interest in the salvation of the whole world and the place that he gives to humans both as the object of his attention and as participants in his eternal project.
Cost: Precious Blood
Man measures value by what an object costs in time, money, or energy. Peter helps wavering saints buckle up their faith by considering the cost of their salvation. He uses the word “precious” (with three Greek words behind it) four times in his letter. The first is especially weighty, when he speaks of the blood of Christ.
You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors you were ransomed—not by perishable things like silver or gold, but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Christ” 1 Peter 1.18-19.
Christ’s blood is precious because of who he is and what it accomplished. His blood represents his death and the sacrifice of his life in our place. Ransom, or redemption, means that something was given in order that something might be freed or returned. Jesus’ life is the price that was given to redeem us, to free us from the bondage of sin and restore us to God. His life as a man was the result of God sending him to earth to die in our place.
Peter later calls Jesus a living stone “chosen and priceless” 1 Peter 2.4, 6, upon which the church is built. We are living stones in God’s temple only because Jesus is there and we grow as we get closer to him. It is by keeping in sight the “great worth” (REB) of Christ that we realize our own place and value in the sight of God. One short commentary appropriately titles the section of 1 Peter 2.1-10, “Remember who you are.”
This Is Who I Am
So who am I, really? The target of God’s love. The focus of his every effort. The desire of his heart.
If that realization doesn’t cause a person to see the value of his soul, nothing will.