1 Peter 1:3-9
Stephen Caswell © 2000
Hope, Taking The Hand Of God
Many years ago, King George VI of England addressed the British commonwealth on New Year's Eve at a moment in history when the whole world stood on the brink of uncertainty. Despondency and uncertainty filled the air. The king's own body was racked by cancer. Before that year was over, his life ended. Unaware of his own physical maladies, he uttered these memorable words: I said to the man at the gate of the year, Give me a light that I might walk safely into the unknown. He said to me, Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. It shall be to you safer than the light and better than the known.
Last week we saw how Peter wrote his letter as an encouragement to suffering saints. Peter knew that their suffering was about to increase so he shared his living hope with them. Peter revealed to them something of God's plans for His people. He wanted them to focus their attention on the things that really last. Man’s glory simply does not last, but God’s glory is eternal; and He has deigned to share that glory with us! In this first section of his letter, Peter shared some wonderful discoveries that he had made about the glory of God. He shared with them how rich God's salvation is. We will see three wonderful attributes of our faith.
I. An Excellent Hope II. An Examined Faith III. An Exuberant Love
Firstly An Excellent Hope
a. Born Into God's Family
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
When we were born the first time, we were not born for glory. Our first birth brought us into the human family. Every person that is born into this world becomes a descendant of Adam. Because of this they receive his sinful nature. The entire human family has been separated from the life of God. They are destined for eternal judgment. Because of our sin, we are spiritually dead. But God who is rich in mercy has provided us with a way to be born again. The words begotten again ajnagenaw in verse 3 mean to be born again or born a new. When Nicodemus came to see Jesus by night, the Lord told him that he must be born again if he wanted to enter the kingdom of God.
When a sinner believes in Jesus Christ to save them from their sins the Holy Spirit comes into their heart and gives them new life. Instead of being dead in trespasses and sin believers experience the life of God. This new birth results in a living hope. God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are all involved in our salvation. We have been chosen by the Father, purchased by the Son, and set apart by the Spirit. It takes all three if there is to be a true experience of salvation. As far as God the Father is concerned, I was saved when He chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world. As far as the Son is concerned, I was saved when He died for me on the cross. But as far as the Spirit is concerned, I was saved on the 4 th of July in 1978 when I heard the Gospel and received His spiritual life.
This was when it all came together, but it took all three Persons of the Godhead to bring me to salvation. If we separate these ministries, we will either deny divine sovereignty or human responsibility; and that would lead to heresy. When we were born again, we exchanged the passing glory of man for the eternal glory of God! What a thrilling thing it is to know that we were born for glory! Have you been born again? Are you bound for glory or destruction?
b. Become Heirs Of An Inheritance
1 Peter 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
In verse 4 Peter calls this living hope an inheritance. This inheritance is both rich and lasting. God reserves it to all that are born into His family. The word reserved threw means to keep, guard or take care of. This word is in the perfect tense. It has been reserved for us with the result that it can never be lost. As the children of the King, we share His inheritance in glory. We are included in Christ’s last will and testament, and we share the glory with Him as He prayed we would in John 17:22–24.
Note the description of this inheritance, for it is totally unlike any earthly inheritance. For one thing, it is incorruptible, which means that nothing can ruin it. Because it is undefiled, it cannot be stained or cheapened in any way. It will never grow old because it is eternal; it cannot wear out, nor can it disappoint us in any way. In 1 Peter 1:5 & 9, this inheritance is called salvation. The believer is already saved through faith in Christ, but the completion of that salvation awaits the return of the Savior. Then we shall have new bodies and enter into a new environment, the heavenly city. Believers have been born into a wonderful family. Their heavenly Father has reserved a glorious inheritance for them. One that will never fade away.
My Most Precious Possession
Pastor Rittenhouse and his family were on vacation traveling down the highway when they saw a suitcase fly off the top of a car going the opposite direction. They stopped to pick it up, but the driver of the other car never stopped. The only clue to the driver's identity was a twenty dollar gold piece inscribed: Given to Otis Sampson at his retirement by Portland Cement Company. After extensive correspondence, Otis Sampson was contacted. He wrote a letter telling them to discard the suitcase and all its contents, and send only the gold piece.
Mr. Sampson used the phrase my most precious possession, several times to describe the gold piece. Pastor Rittenhouse sent the gold piece, and wrote a cover letter telling Otis Sampson about his most prized possession, Jesus Christ. A year later, the pastor received a Christmas package. In it was the twenty dollar gold piece. Mr. Sampson wrote, You will be happy to know we have become active members of a church. We want you to have this gold piece. I am seventy-four; my wife is seventy-two. You were the first one to tell us about Jesus. Now He is our most prized possession too. Is Jesus Christ your most prized possession?
c. Being Kept By God's Power
1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Not only is glory being reserved for us, but we are being kept for the glory! The word keep frourew is a military word that means guarded, shielded or protected. The tense of the verb reveals that we are constantly being guarded by God, assuring us that we shall safely arrive in heaven. God is watching over His precious children. Nothing can snatch us out of His care. 2 Timothy 4:18a And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for his heavenly kingdom. He has promised to complete our salvation at Christ's' return. Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
A visitor said to a wounded soldier who lay dying in the hospital, What church are you of? Of the Church of Christ, was the immediate reply. I mean, what persuasion are you of? Persuasions? said the dying man, as he looked heavenward, beaming with love to the Savior, I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come … shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38
God is keeping us safe and sound for Himself. He will bring us into His heavenly kingdom.
When mankind was lost in sin and death, God revealed abundant mercy and grace. He provided a way for us to come home. Have you been born again into God's family? This is the only way you can be saved from death and hell. God gives His children a living hope. God saves us from sin and gives us an inheritance. Eternal life, a new glorified body and the joys of living with God. We are destined to walk the streets of gold by the river of life. And nothing can take it away from us because God is watching over His children. The Christian has a truly excellent hope. Is this your hope? Are you looking forward to Christ's return? Have you been born again? Are you reserved for glory or heading towards destruction?
Secondly An Examined Faith
a. Trials Have A Purpose
1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
We must keep in mind that all God plans and performs here is preparation for our service in heaven. He is preparing us for the life and service yet to come. Nobody yet knows all that is in store for us in heaven; but this we do know: life today is a school in which God trains us for our future ministry in eternity. This explains the presence of trials in our lives: they are some of God’s tools and textbooks in the school of Christian experience. The phrase if need be indicates that there are special times when God knows that we need to go through trials. They are vital to the Lord's work within us. God uses them to conform us into the image of Christ. He develops our character and prepares us for heaven.
Sometimes trials discipline us when we have disobeyed God’s will. At other times, trials prepare us for spiritual growth, or even help to prevent us from sinning. Sometimes God allows us to suffer so that we can minister to others that will go through this too. We do not always know the need being met, but we can trust God to know and to do what is best. Peter used the word manifold, which literally means variegated or many colored. He used this word to describe God’s grace in 1 Peter 4:10. No matter what color our day may be - blue Monday or a gray Tuesday - God has grace sufficient to meet the need. We mustn't think that because we have overcome one kind of trial that we can automatically win them all. Trials are varied, and God matches the trial to our strengths and needs.
Peter did not suggest that we take a careless attitude toward trials, because this would be deceitful. To deny that our trials are painful is to make them worse. Christians must accept the fact that there are difficult experiences in life and not put on a brave front just to appear more spiritual. But we can face trials confidently knowing that God is using them for good.
1 Peter 1:7 That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
Trials are controlled by God. They do not last forever; they are for a season. When God permits His children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. If we rebel, He may have to reset the clock; but if we submit, He will not permit us to suffer one minute too long. The important thing is that we learn the lesson He wants to teach us and that we bring glory to Him alone. The person who abandons his faith when the going gets tough is only proving that he really had no faith at all. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. The patriarch Job went through many painful trials, all of them with God’s approval; and yet he understood somewhat of this truth about the refiner’s fire. Job 23:10 says But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. And he did! Trials prove whether or not our faith is genuine.
James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Peter illustrated this truth by referring to a goldsmith also. No goldsmith would deliberately waste the precious ore. He would put it into the smelting furnace long enough to remove the cheap impurities; then he would pour it out and make from it a beautiful article of value. It has been said that the Eastern goldsmith kept the metal in the furnace until he could see his face reflected in it. So our Lord keeps us in the furnace of suffering until we reflect the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ. The important point is that this glory is not fully revealed until Jesus returns for His church. When we see Jesus Christ, we will bring praise and honor and glory to Him if we have been faithful in the sufferings of this life.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Thankful For Trials
A man whom many believe was the greatest American president is a good example. When he was 7 years old, his family was forced out of their home, and he went to work. When he was 9, his mother died. He lost his job as a store clerk when he was 20. He wanted to go to law school, but he didn't have the education. At age 23 he went into debt to be a partner in a small store. 3 years later the business partner died, and the resulting debt took years to repay.
When he was 28, after courting a girl for four years, he asked her to marry him, and she turned him down. On his third try he was elected to Congress, at age 37, but then failed to be re-elected. His son died at 4 years of age. When this man was 45, he ran for the Senate and lost. At age 47 he ran for the vice-presidency and lost. But at age 51 he was elected president of the United States. The man was Abraham Lincoln. He learned to face discouragement and move beyond it. Did you know that it was Abraham Lincoln who, in the midst of the Civil War, in 1863, established the annual celebration of Thanksgiving? Lincoln had learned how important it is to stop and thank God in the midst of even trials. Trials helped make Abraham Lincoln a great man. A man that God used mightily.
Trials are a part of life that we can't escape. Do you see trials as a curse and rebel against them? Or do you recognize that God has allowed them into your life to prepare you for greater service both here and in glory? Do you recognize that God has many reasons for putting us through trials? Through them God purges us of sin, helps us to grow and prepares us to be able to minister to others going through a similar trial. Let us seek God's grace in trials and seek to honor him. God will remove the trial after we have learnt from it!
Thirdly An Exuberant Love
a. Love Christ 1 Peter 1:8a Whom having not seen you love.
Hudson Taylor was interviewing some young people who had volunteered for the Lord’s service. He asked several practical questions to find out how well qualified they were for the life they were anticipating. And why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary? I want to reach others across the sea because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, one replied. Another said, I want to go because millions are dying without ever having heard of Jesus, the only One who can save them. Others have similar answers.
Hudson Taylor looked at them thoughtfully for a moment and then said. All of your motives are good, but I fear they will fail you in times of severe testing and tribulation — especially if you are confronted with the possibility of having to face death for your testimony. The only motive that will enable you to remain true is stated in II Corinthians 5:14. Christ’s love constraining you will keep you faithful in every situation.
Our love for Christ is not based on physical sight, because we haven't seen Him. It is based on our spiritual relationship with Him and what the Word has revealed. Romans 5:5 tells us that the Holy Spirit has poured God’s love into our hearts, and we return that love to Him. When you find yourself in some trial, and you hurt, immediately lift your heart to Christ in true love and worship. Why? Because this will take the poison out of the experience and replace it with healing medicine. Satan wants to use life’s trials to bring out the worst in us, but God wants to bring out the best in us. If we love ourselves more than we love Christ, then we will not experience any of the glory now. The fire will burn us, not purify us.
b. Trust Christ 1 Peter 1:8b Though now you do not see Him, yet believing,
We must live by faith not by sight. Faith means surrendering all to God and obeying His Word in spite of circumstances and consequences. Love and faith go together: when you love someone, you trust him. And faith and love together help to strengthen hope; for where you find faith and love, you will find confidence for the future. How can we grow in faith during times of testing and suffering? The same way we grow in faith when things seem to be going well: by feeding on the Word of God. Our fellowship with Christ through His Word not only strengthens our faith, but it also deepens our love. It is a basic principle of Christian living that we spend much time in the Word when God is testing us and Satan is tempting us.
Moody’s Favorite Verse
Dwight L. Moody’s favorite verse was Isaiah 12:2: I will trust, and not be afraid. He used to say: You can travel first-class or second-class to heaven. Second class is, What time I am afraid, I will trust. Psalm 56:3 First class is, I will trust, and not be afraid. That is the better way. Why not buy a first-class ticket?
c. Rejoice in Christ . 1 Peter 1:8c you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory
You may not be able to rejoice over the circumstances, but you can rejoice in them by centering your heart and mind on Jesus Christ. Each experience of trial helps us learn something new and wonderful about our Savior. The three Hebrew children discovered His nearness when they went through the fiery furnace in Daniel 3: Paul learned the sufficiency of His grace when he suffered with a thorn in the flesh 2 Corinthians 12. The apostles rejoiced at being counted worthy to suffer for Christ's name in Acts 5. Note that the joy Christ produces is unspeakable and full of glory. This joy is so deep and so wonderful that we cannot even express it. Words fail us! Peter had seen some of the glory on the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus discussed with Moses and Elijah His own impending suffering and death. We can rejoice in trials because Christ uses these for our good and He is with us.
d. Receive From Christ 1 Pet 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith the salvation of your souls.
Believing ... receiving is God’s way of meeting our needs. If we love Him, trust Him, and rejoice in Him, then we can receive from Him all that we need to turn trials into triumphs. First Peter 1:9 can be translated, For you are receiving the consummation of your faith, that is, the final salvation of your souls. The word receiving is in the present tense. In other words, we can experience today some of that future glory. Charles Spurgeon used to say, Little faith will take your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul. It is not enough that we long for heaven during times of suffering, for anybody can do that. What Peter urged his readers to do was exercise love, faith, and rejoicing, so that they might experience some of the glory of heaven in the midst of their suffering now.
Suffering In God's Will
An elderly lady fell and broke her leg while attending a Bible conference. She said to the pastor visiting her, I know God led me to the conference. But I don’t see why this had to happen! And I don’t see any good coming from it. Wisely, the pastor replied, Romans 8:28 doesn’t say that we see all things working together for good. It says that we know it.
How should we respond in times of trial and testing? Peter lists four things that will help us to come through triumphantly. Firstly we should love and worship Christ. The Lord gives grace to those love Him and seek His honor. Secondly we must trust the Lord. This helps us to see our trials as tools that God is using to build us up. He has a planned them for our good. Thirdly we can rejoice in Christ. When we do this God is glorified and our faith grows. Finally when believers love Christ, trust Him and rejoice in Him God steps into deliver them. They experience the glory of heaven now. Paul experienced this in a Philippian jail.
Yes, for Christians, it is glory all the way! Christians have an Excellent Hope, an Examined Faith and an Exuberant Love. When we trusted Christ, we were born for glory. We are being kept for glory. As we obey Him and experience trials, we are being prepared for glory. When we love Him, trust Him, and rejoice in Him, we experience the glory here and now. Joy unspeakable and full of glory! Yes, for Christians, it is glory all the way! Let us take hold of the glory God has for us now, even in the midst of trials.
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.