1 PETER - PART 2
Christians are being persecuted all over the country today. Imagine if you were writing to a friend in Manipur right now, what would you say to them?
In 1 Peter, we see a similar situation and the answer to the above question is contained in 1 Peter 1:3-9.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV
As I was studying these verses, I was reminded of going to a buffet. Every section is so rich and we don’t know where to start. Peter is the great apostle who walked with Jesus. In the gospel, Peter is a very well-known person. Paul wrote a lot of letters in the Bible. There are letters that were written to specific people addressing a specific issue. But this book is for a whole group of people who are being persecuted.
While writing to these people, Peter calls them the elect. Elect means people who have been chosen by God. He tells them that they are just passing through this world. There is a new heaven and a new earth we are destined for. The Jews were scattered in the Old Testament times when they pursued idolatry. Peter is using the same word- diaspora, the dispersion. They were mainly Gentiles.
1 Cor 6:11 - “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV
When we are saved, there is a measure of holiness - we have put away some things and pursuing holiness. We are not just attending a new place of worship, we are a new creation. When we are really in love with Jesus doing things like going to the hospital at 12:30 in the night like Sunder did, is a joy, we do it for Jesus.
Then Peter bursts out in praise in verse 3. He describes our salvation as a new birth into a living hope. Today we use the word hope like an optimistic statement. Here the hope that Peter is walking about is a sure and confident expectation. This living hope is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Living hope means we have something to look forward to in the middle of all the suffering and persecution. This hope is as certain as Jesus being raised from the dead- that we will be raised from the dead in glory.
Not only resurrection, but we will also have an inheritance. Peter is telling these persecuted Christians that they have an inheritance to look forward to that will not perish, spoil or fade.
The Bible speaks about inheritance and reward.
Revelation 21 gives us a beautiful picture of our inheritance. In Luke 19:17, we see the principle of rewards. “And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.'”
Luke 19:17 ESV
All we receive right now is that we have a glorious inheritance waiting for us. The most expensive things in this world will fade away someday, but the inheritance stored for us is safe and kept in heaven. Not only the inheritance but we too are kept safe. He will keep us safe till the end. Jesus sees us through.
Then in v.6, he starts talking about the trials that they have to face. Michael Eaton “Any version of Christian life that depicts it as free of trouble is false and ineffective”
But Peter here is helping them process their troubles.
Q. What are some of the troubles that you have in your life right now?
Imagine God speaking into that situation -
We greatly rejoice in the inheritance and reward we have
We realise our troubles are temporary- it’s not by the measure of our understanding but it will end one day.
Sufferings vary - all types of suffering and grief.
The purpose of troubles - “tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ” Will you continue to praise God and serve God when things are not going your way. Job had this trial - his faith was tested and it came out purer than gold.
What do troubles do? They perfect us, bring us to maturity, rebuke our slack, and prepare us for greater dependence on God and for greater usefulness in God’s kingdom.
Luke 8:13 “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.”
Testing will come, but will you fall away when they do? Amy Carmichael - She came to India from Ireland and set up a home for girls who were sold into prostitution. Towards the end of her life, she rescued over 200 girls. She visited a goldsmith who said, "I know the gold is pure when I see my face in it." It’s the same that God is looking for when he is refining us. Biblical writers talk about these troubles as light and momentary. They went through severe persecution, beatings, shipwrecks etc., for the faith. But they considered the glory to come as far outweighing it.
“And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.'”
Luke 19:17 ESV
There is a commendation from God that we are looking forward to.
“Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV
“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
1 Peter 5:4 ESV
The people Peter is writing to are in the middle of a great trial, but they love and trust Jesus. That’s the best we can give the Lord. There are gems of grace that can only be seen in darkness. When we are tested, make sure you don’t come out empty-handed.
Troubles do not stop us from rejoicing. “and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
Acts 5:40-41 ESV
The way to move forward in the Christian life is to trust and obey the Lord Jesus and he will give us the grace to rejoice in it.