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3. Conversa Comigo — A História de Isaque e Rebeca

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Deus prometera a Abraão que ele seria pai de uma grande nação. Para desfrutar dessa posição privilegiada, obviamente ele tinha de ter um filho, e nós acompanhamos as lutas da fé que finalmente levaram Abraão e Sara a ter seu filho. O nascimento de Isaque foi o ponto alto da sua memorável e emocionante caminhada com Deus. Quanta felicidade ele levou àquele esse lar! E que rapaz extraordinário ele era — comportado, obediente e submisso aos pais. Submissão parece ser a única forma de explicar como o idoso Abraão pôde fazer o jovem se deitar no altar do sacrifício. Deus providenciou um carneiro nesse drama de obediência e fé repleto de suspense; Isaque foi libertado e os três foram alegremente reunidos como família.

Tudo indica que eles formavam uma família muito unida. Eles se amavam muito. O fato de Isaque ter ficado de luto durante três anos inteiros após a morte da mãe seria uma indicação do amor que sentiam uns pelos outros (Gn. 24:67).

Com a partida de Ismael, Isaque se tornou a única criança em casa e a vida de seus pais girava em torno dele. Ele não tinha falta de nada. Àquela altura, Abraão já havia se tornado um homem muito rico e a narrativa diz que ele deu tudo a Isaque (Gn. 24:35-36). Talvez houvesse até um pouco de excesso de amor e indulgência no seu relacionamento.

Não é possível saber se Abraão e Sara percebiam que estavam afetando a personalidade de Isaque e produzindo um fraco material conjugal pela maneira como o educavam. Na verdade, eles nem mesmo pensavam em casamento. Eles gostavam tanto do filho que pareciam ter se esquecido de que ele precisava de uma esposa se era para eles se tornarem progenitores de uma grande nação. Mas, após a morte de Sara, Abraão viu que teria de tomar a iniciativa e fazer planos para encontrar uma companheira para o filho. Esta não é a maneira como nossos filhos encontram um cônjuge atualmente, mas, naquela época e naquela cultura, foi uma linda história de amor.

Para Isaque e Rebeca, o começo foi muito terno. Quando a história teve início, Abraão já era idoso. Ele chamou seu servo mais antigo, administrador de todos os seus bens, e lhe disse: “não tomarás esposa para meu filho das filhas dos cananeus, entre os quais habito; mas irás à minha parentela e daí tomarás esposa para Isaque, meu filho” (Gn. 24:3-4). Os cananeus eram um povo depravado, amaldiçoado por Deus e condenado à destruição. Deus não se agradaria se Isaque se cassasse com alguma mulher cananeia. Embora os parentes de Abraão do norte da Mesopotâmia tivessem seus ídolos, pelo menos eram pessoas decentes, que conheciam a Deus e O respeitavam. E eram descendentes de Sem, o qual fora abençoado por Deus.

Harã era o único lugar viável para encontrar uma esposa para Isaque. Embora não possamos mais escolher o cônjuge dos nossos filhos, devemos ensiná-los desde cedo sobre a importância de se casar com uma pessoa crente (cf. 1 Co. 7:39; 2 Co. 6:14). Isso os ajudará a encontrar um companheiro segundo a vontade de Deus para sua vida quando chegar o momento de tomar esta importante decisão.

E, assim, o idoso servo de Abraão começou a difícil jornada até as imediações de Harã, onde o irmão de Abraão havia permanecido após a migração deste para Canaã, 65 anos antes. Abraão garantira ao servo que o anjo do Senhor iria adiante dele. Com esse senso de direção divina, o servo parou junto a um poço na cidade de Naor, que por acaso era o nome do irmão de Abraão. Ali ele orou a Deus para trazer a garota certa até o poço e fazê-la oferecer água a seus camelos. Este foi um pedido bem específico de uma companheira adequada para Isaque. E aqui temos uma lição para nós. A melhor maneira de nossos filhos encontrarem um cônjuge segundo a vontade de Deus é orando sobre isso. Eles podem começar a orar ainda na infância sobre aquele ou aquela que Deus está preparando para eles. Orar durante esses anos os ajudará a ter em mente aquilo que é mais importante na sua escolha — a vontade de Deus.

Antes mesmo de o servo dizer “amém”, a resposta de Deus estava a caminho. Rebeca, neta do irmão de Abraão, saiu com um cântaro no ombro. A Escritura diz que ela era muito bonita, e virgem. Quando ela veio do poço com o cântaro cheio d’água, o servo correu ao seu encontro e lhe disse: “Dá-me de beber um pouco da água do teu cântaro”. Ela lhe respondeu: “Bebe, meu senhor” e, rapidamente, lhe deu de beber. Quando ele terminou, ela disse: “Tirarei água também para os teus camelos, até que todos bebam”. Então, ela despejou a água do cântaro no bebedouro e voltou ao poço para pegar mais, até tirar água suficiente para todos os dez camelos dele (Gn. 24:15-20).

Mas que garota ela era — linda, viva, amável, simpática, extrovertida e dinâmica. E, quando o servo descobriu que ela era neta do irmão de Abraão, inclinou a cabeça e adorou ao Senhor: “Bendito seja o SENHOR, Deus de meu senhor Abraão, que não retirou a sua benignidade e a sua verdade de meu senhor; quanto a mim, estando no caminho, o SENHOR me guiou à casa dos parentes de meu senhor.” (Gn. 24:27)

Desde o princípio, ficou evidente que Deus era o verdadeiro casamenteiro da história. Quando o servo contou à família de Rebeca as indicações da orientação divina, o irmão e o pai dela concordaram. “Isto procede do SENHOR”, disseram eles (Gn. 24:50). Não importa quais tipos de problemas um casamento possa encontrar, sempre será mais fácil resolvê-los quando ambos, marido e mulher, têm certeza de que foi Deus quem os uniu. As dificuldades podem ser superadas sem isso, e precisam ser se Deus deve ser glorificado, mas a ideia torturante de que eles se casaram sem ser da vontade de Deus os deixará menos dispostos a trabalhar seu relacionamento com diligência e autossacrifício.

Rebeca teve de tomar a maior decisão da sua vida — deixar a casa e a família que ela nunca mais veria e viajar quase oitocentos quilômetros nas costas de um camelo, ao lado de um completo estranho, para se casar com um homem que ela não conhecia. Sua família a chamou e disse: “Queres ir com este homem?” E ela respondeu: “Irei” (Gn. 14:58). Foi a certeza da direção soberana de Deus que motivou sua decisão e revelou sua coragem e confiança.

Com certeza, as horas de viagem foram preenchidas falando sobre Isaque. O idoso servo o descreveu com fidelidade e perfeição. Isaque era um homem modesto, bem-educado e amante da paz. Ele faria qualquer coisa para evitar uma briga (cf. Gn. 26:18-25). Ele também era um homem pensativo, não precipitado, mas calmo e reservado. Não era um grande homem como seu pai, mas era um bom homem, com uma fé inabalável em Deus e compreensão do propósito divino. Ele sabia que por meio do seu descendente Deus traria bênção espiritual para toda a terra (Gn. 26:3-5). Ele era diferente da esfuziante e perspicaz Rebeca — muito diferente. Mas, segundo os especialistas, os opostos se atraem. E Rebeca podia sentir seu coração sendo atraído por aquele a quem logo ela conheceria e se daria em casamento.

Isaque estava no campo, meditando ao cair da tarde, quando a caravana se aproximou levando sua preciosa carga. Rebeca desmontou do camelo quando o viu, e se cobriu com um véu, como era costume. Depois que ele ouviu todos os detalhes emocionantes daquela viagem cheia de acontecimentos e de como a providência divina encontrara uma noiva para ele, lemos: “Isaque conduziu-a até à tenda de Sara, mãe dele, e tomou a Rebeca, e esta lhe foi por mulher. Ele a amou; assim, foi Isaque consolado depois da morte de sua mãe” (Gn. 24:67). Foi um começo muito terno.

Entretanto, em algum ponto ao longo do caminho, o casamento deles começou a ir por água abaixo. Vejamos, então, o trágico declínio em seu relacionamento. Não sabemos exatamente qual foi o problema. Com certeza, não foi falta de amor, pois ele realmente amava Rebeca e, diferente de muitos maridos, ele o demonstrava abertamente. Quase quarenta anos depois de se casarem, ele foi visto acariciando a esposa em público (Gn. 26:8); o que pode nos levar a crer que eles tinham um bom relacionamento físico. E isso é importante num casamento. Mas marido e mulher não podem passar o tempo todo na cama. Eles também precisam construir uma comunhão íntima e profunda de alma e espírito. Precisam compartilhar sinceramente o que se passa dentro deles, o que pensam e sentem. E não há muita evidência disso entre Isaque e Rebeca.

Um dos problemas pode ter sido a falta de filhos. Isaque talvez tenha ficado ressentido e ainda não tinha admitido. Ter filhos era muito mais importante naquela época do que é hoje em dia, e eles tentaram durante quase vinte anos sem sucesso. Em vinte anos, muita amargura pode se juntar dentro de uma pessoa. Contudo, Isaque finalmente levou seu problema ao lugar certo: “Isaque orou ao SENHOR por sua mulher, porque ela era estéril; e o SENHOR lhe ouviu as orações, e Rebeca, sua mulher, concebeu” (Gn. 25:21).

No entanto, ter bebês não resolve problemas. Os gêmeos, que logo iriam nascer, só aumentariam um problema já existente no seu relacionamento. Parecia uma questão de comunicação. Rebeca, com sua personalidade borbulhante, amava conversar. Isaque, de personalidade retraída, preferia a solidão e o silêncio. Era muito difícil falar com ele. Com o passar dos anos, eles conversavam cada vez menos um com o outro. E a amargura de Rebeca cresceu devido a falta de comunhão e companheirismo que toda mulher almeja. Sua voz talvez tenha assumido um tom cáustico. Seu rosto talvez tenha desenvolvido uma expressão de aversão e desprezo. E seus olhares desdenhosos e comentários maldosos só levaram Isaque a se afastar ainda mais em busca da sua preciosa paz. Talvez ele até tenha se tornado meio surdo ao som da voz dela. Alguns especialistas modernos dizem que isso realmente pode acontecer.

Quando Rebeca concebeu, sua gravidez foi terrível. Isaque lhe foi de pouca ajuda, por isso, ela clamou ao Senhor por respostas, e Ele lhe disse: “Duas nações há no teu ventre, dois povos, nascidos de ti, se dividirão: um povo será mais forte que o outro, e o mais velho servirá ao mais moço” (Gn. 25:23). Não há nenhuma indicação na Escritura de que ela tenha compartilhado com o marido essa rara profecia divina, de que Jacó, o filho mais novo, receberia a bênção da primogenitura. Na única menção feita ao nome de Rebeca fora do livro de Gênesis, a promessa ainda era exclusivamente dela. “Já fora dito a ela: O mais velho será servo do mais moço” (Rm. 9:12). Por que ela não conseguia nem contar ao marido a incrível promessa de Deus? Por que era tão difícil para ela conversar com Isaque sobre qualquer coisa?

Conselheiros matrimoniais estimam que pelo menos metade de todos os seus casos envolva um marido silencioso. Em algumas situações, como no caso de Isaque, talvez seja uma dificuldade real de conversar. Talvez ele não goste muito de ficar pensando e não tenha o que dizer. Talvez seja muito calado e não saiba como se comunicar. Em outros casos, um homem normalmente comunicativo pode não querer compartilhar coisas com sua esposa porque está preocupado com outros assuntos e não percebe como é importante conversar com ela. Se ela fica reclamando por causa disso, ele pode construir um muro protetor ao seu redor de si e retrair-se ainda mais.

Contudo, seja qual for o motivo da sua quietude, ele precisa trabalhar sua comunicação. Sua esposa precisa de comunhão verbal e companheirismo. Deus a fez assim. E Deus pode ajudar o marido a melhorar nessa área, se ele quiser ser ajudado e buscar o auxílio que vem de cima. Não importa se ele vai se transformar ou não num tagarela, ele pode aprender a ser um bom ouvinte. Sua esposa precisa que ele a ouça com toda atenção, não com um ouvido na televisão e outra nela, mas com os dois voltados para ela, e bem abertos. Talvez isso seja tudo o que ela realmente deseje. Homens, amem o suficiente para ouvir!

Em alguns casos, talvez o problema seja o inverso. O marido pode gostar de conversar e a esposa pode encontrar dificuldade de se comunicar. Seja qual for a situação na sua casa, você pode facilitar a vida do seu cônjuge lembrando-se de alguns princípios simples. Antes de qualquer coisa, não fique pressionando; deixe-o escolher quando quiser falar. Não o julgue quando expressar seus sentimentos e frustrações. Quando não concordar com alguma coisa, faça-o com delicadeza e respeito, não com sarcasmo e acusações. Tente entender o outro em vez de querer somente ser compreendido. Não tire conclusões precipitadas, ouça-o pacientemente até o fim. E, acima de tudo, não fique reclamando! A reclamação é a assassina número um da comunicação.

Evidentemente, nunca ninguém disse essas coisas a Isaque e Rebeca. A relação deles ia de mal a pior. Quando os gêmeos nasceram, como era de se esperar, suas personalidades eram totalmente diferentes. A Escritura diz: “Cresceram os meninos. Esaú saiu perito caçador, homem do campo; Jacó, porém, homem pacato, habitava em tendas” (Gn. 25:27). Como quase sempre acontece quando marido e mulher têm relacionamento ruim entre si, Isaque e Rebeca se apegaram cada um a um dos filhos como substitutivo ao seu relacionamento, a fim de preencher o vazio de sua alma. “Isaque amava a Esaú, porque se saboreava de sua caça; Rebeca, porém, amava a Jacó” (Gn. 25:28).

Isaque viu em Esaú o caçador machão que ele mesmo nunca foi, e aprendeu indiretamente a gostar das façanhas desportivas do filho, enquanto saboreava seus deliciosos guisados de carne de veado. Rebeca, por outro lado, favorecia Jacó. Ele ficava mais em casa. Provavelmente conversava com ela, a ouvia e a ajudava em suas tarefas. E ela encontrou nele o companheirismo nunca desfrutado com o marido. Foi um arranjo patético e, com certeza, teve séria repercussão na vida dos garotos.

Psicólogos atuais chamam a atenção para os mesmos problemas que vemos neste antigo lar. Eles dizem que uma mãe dominadora e um pai passivo tendem a criar filhos problemáticos, e que o favoritismo na unidade familiar tende a causar graves danos na personalidade dos filhos. Enquanto uma criança recebe mimos e concessões de um dos pais, é criticada e rejeitada pelo outro. Nenhum dos dois faz bem a ela, e ambos contribuem para a baixa autoestima e sentimentos ambíguos que a confundem e enchem de culpa. A criança cresce desrespeitando o pai que a mima e desprezando o que a rejeita. Em última análise, ela pode menosprezar a ambos e começar a fazer o que bem entende, não importando a quem magoe por conta disso.

Foi exatamente isso que aconteceu no lar de Isaque e Rebeca. Jacó mostrou sua ambição egoísta ao roubar o direito de primogenitura do irmão (Gn. 25:29-34). Esaú mostrou seu desprezo pelos pais ao se casar com duas mulheres hititas contra a vontade deles (Gn. 26:34-35). E o amante da paz, Isaque, ficou sentado, comendo seu guisado de carne de veado, deixando tudo acontecer.

O trágico declínio desse relacionamento foi seguido, finalmente, por um fim traiçoeiro. “Traição” é a melhor palavra que encontro para descrever os acontecimentos registrados em Gênesis 27. Rebeca, espionando do lado de fora da tenda, ouviu o idoso Isaque dizer a Esaú para caçar alguma coisa e preparar-lhe um guisado saboroso, para que pudesse ter forças e abençoá-lo antes de morrer. Na verdade, Isaque viveu ainda muitos anos depois disso, mas ele tinha se tornado retraído e absorto, quase hipocondríaco.

É importante entender que ele ainda não sabia que Jacó deveria receber a bênção da primogenitura e a liderança espiritual da família. Posteriormente, a Escritura declara que “Pela fé, igualmente Isaque abençoou a Jacó e a Esaú, acerca de coisas que ainda estavam para vir” (Hb. 11:20). Isaque pensou estar abençoando Esaú, não Jacó. O Espírito de Deus certamente não teria dito “pela fé” se ele tivesse dado a bênção em deliberada desobediência à vontade conhecida de Deus. Isaque ainda não sabia!

Esta era a hora perfeita para Rebeca se refugiar em Deus e pedir a sabedoria divina, e depois entrar e, com muito tato, falar com Isaque sobre a promessa feita pelo Senhor a ela antes do nascimento dos gêmeos. Se havia uma ocasião certa para conversar sobre isso, a ocasião era essa. Se ela tivesse falado com ele com cuidado, com base naquilo que Deus lhe dissera, certamente ela teria garantido para Jacó a bênção desejada por Deus. No entanto, em vez de orar e raciocinar, ela escolheu trair e enganar.

Ocultar os verdadeiros pensamentos e sentimentos pode, na verdade, ser uma forma de fingimento, e fingir tinha se tornado um modo de vida para Isaque e Rebeca. Agora, tudo estava prestes a vir à tona. Seria muito bom prestarmos bastante atenção a isso, pois este é o tipo de coisa a que, muitas vezes, leva a falta de comunicação.

O plano diabólico de Rebeca era ajudar Jacó a se passar por Esaú, para que o cego e idoso Isaque fosse enganado e o abençoasse ao invés do irmão. Jacó não gostou da ideia, pois Esaú era peludo e ele, liso. Era possível que o pai colocasse as mãos nele e sentisse sua pele lisa, e sua farsa seria revelada, trazendo-lhe maldição em vez de bênção. Mas Rebeca se ofereceu para receber sobre si a maldição e lhe disse para seguir em frente e fazer o que ela havia dito. Sua oferta soou bastante sacrificial, mas era doentia e pecaminosa.

Confiança é essencial para um relacionamento amoroso e não pode se desenvolver em um lar onde haja desonestidade e fingimento como havia nesse. Maridos e mulheres que, propositadamente, ocultam coisas do parceiro, evitam dizer a verdade sobre as finanças, suas atividades, o que os filhos estão fazendo ou qualquer outra coisa, nunca irão desfrutar da plenitude do amor de Deus em seu relacionamento. O amor só pode crescer em um ambiente de sinceridade. Pedro nos exorta a deixar todo tipo de dolo e hipocrisia (1 Pe. 2:1). Paulo nos diz para falar a verdade em amor (Ef. 4:15).

Rebeca e Jacó haviam se esquecido de como era a verdade. Com auxílio de peles de cabra, os dois farsantes colocaram em prática seu plano fraudulento. Isaque estremeceu quando, mais tarde, descobriu ter sido vítima da esposa e do filho, mas não reverteu a bênção. Ele abençoou Jacó, “e ele será abençoado”, afirmou com segurança (Gn. 27:33). Isaque percebeu que Deus fez prevalecer Seu intento original mesmo sendo por meio de uma farsa. Sua disposição em aceitar a vontade de Deus foi uma expressão tão grande de no controle soberano de Deus que lhe valeu menção na galeria da fé (Hb. 11:20).

Esaú, no entanto, não tinha tanta fé assim. Ele jurou matar o irmão. Mas, como era de se esperar, Rebeca apareceu com outra ideia genial. Quando ouviu o que Esaú pretendia fazer, ela chamou Jacó e lhe disse: “Eis que Esaú, teu irmão, se consola a teu respeito, resolvendo matar-te. Agora, pois, meu filho, ouve o que te digo: retira-te para a casa de Labão, meu irmão, em Harã; fica com ele alguns dias, até que passe o furor de teu irmão, e cesse o seu rancor contra ti, e se esqueça do que lhe fizeste. Então, providenciarei e te farei regressar de lá. Por que hei de eu perder os meus dois filhos num só dia?” (Gn. 27:42-45).

Para fazer Isaque concordar com seu plano, ela tinha de enganá-lo de novo. Foi outra atuação magistral. Dá quase para sentir o melodrama quando ela exclamou: “Aborrecida estou da minha vida, por causa das filhas de Hete; se Jacó tomar esposa dentre as filhas de Hete, tais como estas, as filhas desta terra, de que me servirá a vida?” (Gn. 27:46).  Assim, Isaque, obedientemente, chamou Jacó e lhe deu instruções para ir a Harã para encontrar uma esposa. Uma farsa sempre leva a outra, até que a vida do farsante se veja numa angustiante teia de desespero.

Pobre Rebeca. Ela achou que estava fazendo a coisa certa, mas Deus nunca nos pede para pecar a fim de realizar a Sua vontade. Por causa da sua farsa, ela afastou ainda mais de si o seu marido, enfureceu o filho primogênito e o isolou completamente, e, embora pensasse que seu amado Jacó ficaria fora por poucos dias, ela nunca mais o viu. Quando ele voltou ao lar, vinte anos depois, Isaque ainda estava vivo, mas Rebeca jazia ao lado de Abraão e Sara no sepulcro da caverna de Macpela.

Alguns detalhes podem variar, mas, em geral, esse padrão tem se repetido em muitos lares desde então. Talvez esteja sendo reencenado exatamente agora na sua casa. A comunicação está suspensa. Vocês vivem sob o mesmo teto, mas vivem em seu próprio mundo, sozinhos. Não importa quem é o maior culpado, se o marido ou a esposa. Parem de se afastar; façam meia volta e digam: “Preciso de você. Preciso que fale comigo. Preciso saber o que sente e o que pensa. Por favor, converse comigo. Preciso que me ouça e tente me entender”. Então, comecem a conversar aberta e honestamente. Examinem-se profundamente e compartilhem um com o outro suas mágoas, seus medos, suas lutas, suas frustrações, suas fraquezas, suas confusões, suas necessidades, assim como seus ideais e aspirações. Depois, ouçam um ao outro, com paciência, compreensão e espírito de perdão, e encorajem-se com amor. Novas alegrias irão se abrir para vocês à medida que crescerem juntos.

Vamos conversar sobre isso

  1. Há alguma indicação desse “amor sufocante”, que causou tantas consequências infelizes no casamento de Isaque, na sua relação com seus filhos?
  2. De que forma você pode ensinar a seus filhos sobre a importância de se casar com uma pessoa crente e buscar a vontade de Deus em sua escolha?
  3. Por que você acha que Rebeca nunca contou a Isaque a promessa de Deus relativa a seus filhos?
  4. Por que maridos e mulheres de nossos dias às vezes escondem coisas um do outro? O que pode ser feito para consertar essa situação?
  5. Você sente que pode compartilhar abertamente com seu cônjuge seus sentimentos mais íntimos? Se não, por quê? Converse com ele sobre isso.
  6. Aquilo que seu cônjuge lhe diz é muito importante para você? Você realmente presta atenção? Como pode corrigir alguma falha nessa área?
  7. Que coisas específicas vocês podem fazer para incentivar uma comunicação mais aberta e uma comunhão mais íntima um com o outro?
  8. Você é sensível às necessidades do seu cônjuge ou só pensa em como pode ser mais bem servido? Como você pode evitar um desejo egoísta de ter suas necessidades atendidas ao invés de atender às necessidades do seu cônjuge?
  9. Como as pessoas às vezes usam o relacionamento com os filhos como substitutivo de um bom relacionamento com o cônjuge? Quais as razões por trás disso e como podem ser corrigidas?

Related Topics: Christian Home, Marriage

उद्धार के लिए परमेश्वर की योजना

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1 यूहन्ना 5:11-12 और वह साक्षी यह है: परमेश्वर ने हमें अनन्त जीवन दिया है और वह जीवन उसके पुत्र में प्राप्त होता है। वह जो उसके पुत्र को धारण करता है, उस जीवन को धारण करता है। किन्तु जिसके पास परमेश्वर का पुत्र नहीं है, उसके पास वह जीवन भी नहीं है।

ये वचन हमें बताते हैं कि परमेश्वर ने हमें अनन्त जीवन दिया है और यह जीवन उसके पुत्र, यीशु मसीह में है। दूसरे शब्दों में हम कह सकते हैं कि अनन्त जीवन पाने का रास्ता यानि परमेश्वर के पुत्र को पाना है। अब प्रश्न ये है कि कैसे एक व्यक्ति परमेश्वर के पुत्र को पा सकता है?

मनुष्य की समस्या

परमेश्वर से अलगाव

यशायाह 59:2 किन्तु तुम्हारे पाप तुम्हें तुम्हारे परमेश्वर से अलग करते हैं और इसीलिए वह तुम्हारी तरफ से कान बन्द कर लेता है।

रोमियों 5:8 पर परमेश्वर ने हम पर अपना प्रेम दिखाया। जब कि हम तो पापी ही थे, किन्तु यीशु ने हमारे लिये प्राण त्यागे।

रोमियों 5:8 के अनुसार, “अपने पुत्र की मृत्यु के द्वारा परमेश्वर ने अपने प्रेम को हमारे लिए प्रदर्शित किया।“ यीशु मसीह को हमारे लिए क्यों मरना पड़ा? क्योंकि वचन बताता है कि सभी मनुष्य पापी हैं। “पाप करने” का अर्थ है निशान को खोना। बाइबिल बताती है, सब ने पाप किया है और परमेश्वर की महिमा (सम्पूर्ण पवित्रता) से रहित हैं रोमियों 3:23। अन्य शब्दों में, हमारे पाप हमें परमेश्वर से दूर करते हैं जो कि सम्पूर्ण पवित्र है धर्मी और न्यायी, तथा इसीलिए परमेश्वर को पापी मनुष्य का न्याय करना उचित है।

हबक्कूक 1:13 तेरी भली आँखें कोई दोष नहीं देखती हैं। तू पाप करते हुए लोगों को नहीं देख सकता है।

हमारे कामों की निरर्थकता या व्यर्थता

वचन यह भी सिखाता है कि मनुष्य की किसी भी प्रकार की भलाई, उसके काम, उसकी नैतिकता या धार्मिक क्रियाएँ उसे परमेश्वर द्वारा न तो स्वीकृति दिला सकती हैं, और न ही स्वर्ग ले जाने में मददगार हो सकती हैं। सदाचारी मनुष्य, दुराचारी मनुष्य, धर्मी मनुष्य या अधर्मी मनुष्य सब के सब एक ही नाव में सवार हैं। उन सभी में परमेश्वर की सम्पूर्ण धार्मिकता की कमी है। रोमियों 1:18-3:8 अनैतिक या व्यभिचारी मनुष्य, नैतिक मनुष्य, तथा धर्मी मनुष्य के बारे में बातचीत करने के बाद, पौलुस प्रेरित ने कहा कि दोनों ही, यहूदी तथा यूनानी पाप के वश मे हैं, कोई भी धर्मी नहीं, एक भी नहीं। रोमियों 3:9-10। बाईबल में से निम्नलिखित आयतें इस बात का समर्थन करती हैं

इफिसियों 2:8-9 परमेश्वर के अनुग्रह द्वारा अपने विश्वास के कारण तुम्हारा उद्धार हुआ है। यह तुम्हें तुम्हारी ओर से प्राप्त नहीं हुआ है, बल्कि यह तो परमेश्वर का वरदान है। यह हमारे किये कर्मों का परिणाम नहीं है कि हम इसका गर्व कर सकें।

तीतुस 3:5-7 उसने हमारा उद्धार किया। यह हमारे निर्दोष ठहराये जाने के लिये हमारे किसी धर्म के कामों के कारण नहीं हुआ बल्कि उसकी करुणा द्वारा हुआ। उसने हमारी रक्षा उस स्नान के द्वारा की जिसमें हम फिर पैदा होते हैं और पवित्र आत्मा के द्वारा नये बनाए जाते हैं। उसने हम पर पवित्र आत्मा को हमारे उद्धारकर्ता यीशु मसीह के द्वारा भरपूर उँडेला है। अब परमेश्वर ने हमें अपने अनुग्रह के द्वारा निर्दोष ठहराया है ताकि जिसकी हम आशा कर रहे थे उस अनन्त जीवन के उत्तराधिकार को पा सकें।

रोमियों 4:1-5 तो फिर हम क्या कहें कि हमारे शारीरिक पिता इब्राहीम को इसमें क्या मिला? क्योंकि यदि इब्राहिम को उसके कामों के कारण धर्मी ठहराया जाता है तो उसके गर्व करने की बात थी। किन्तु परमेश्वर के सामने वह वास्तव में गर्व नहीं कर सकता। पवित्र शास्त्र क्या कहता है? “इब्राहीम ने परमेश्वर में विश्वास किया और वह विश्वास उसके लिये धार्मिकता गिना गया।” काम करने वाले को मज़दूरी देना कोई दान नहीं है, वह तो उसका अधिकार है। किन्तु यदि कोई व्यक्ति काम करने की बजाय उस परमेश्वर में विश्वास करता है, जो पापी को भी छोड़ देता है, तो उसका विश्वास ही उसकी धार्मिकता का कारण बन जाता है।

मनुष्य की किसी भी तरह की भलाई परमेश्वर के समान भली नहीं हो सकती। परमेश्वर सम्पूर्ण धार्मिक है। इसी कारण हबक्कूक 1:13 बताता है कि परमेश्वर ऐसे ही किसी के साथ संगति नहीं करते जो सम्पूर्ण सिद्धता में नहीं हैं। परमेश्वर द्वारा स्वीकार किए जाने के लिए हमें परमेश्वर जैसा भला होना पड़ेगा। परमेश्वर के सम्मुख हम सब अपने आप में असहाय, नग्न तथा आशा रहित हैं। किसी भी तरह का अच्छा रहन सहन हमें स्वर्ग नहीं ले जा सकता या अनन्त जीवन दिला सकता है। तो फिर इसका हल या रास्ता क्या है?

परमेश्वर द्वारा हल

परमेश्वर, न केवल सम्पूर्ण पवित्र है, जिसका पवित्र चरित्र हम न तो हमारे धार्मिक कार्यों से और न ही किसी और रीति से प्राप्त कर सकते हैं, परन्तु वह अनुग्रह एवम् दया से भरा सिद्ध प्रेम भी है। उसके प्रेम और अनुग्रह के कारण ही, उसने हमें बिना आशा और बिना हल या रास्ते के नहीं छोड़ा।

रोमियों 5:8 पर परमेश्वर ने हम पर अपना प्रेम दिखाया। जब कि हम तो पापी ही थे, किन्तु यीशु ने हमारे लिये प्राण त्यागे।

पवित्र शास्त्र की यह खुश खबरी है, सुसमाचार का संदेश। यह संदेश है परमेश्वर का उपहार जो उसने अपने इकलौते पुत्र के रूप में दिया, जो मनुष्य बना (परमेश्वर-मनुष्य), पाप रहित जीवन जिया, हमारे पापों की खातिर क्रूस पर मारा गया और जिन्दा हो गया और कब्र में से निकलकर दोनों बातों को सत्य साबित कर दिया, पहली बात कि वह परमेश्वर का पुत्र है और दूसरी यह कि हमारी मृत्यु की जगह उसकी मृत्यु।

रोमियों 1:4 किन्तु पवित्र आत्मा के द्वारा मरे हुओं में से जिलाए जाने के कारण जिसे सामर्थ्य के साथ परमेश्वर का पुत्र दर्शाया गया है, यही यीशु मसीह हमारा प्रभु है।

रोमियों 4:25 यीशु जिसे हमारे पापों के लिए मारे जाने को सौंपा गया और हमे धर्मी बनाने के लिए मरे हुओं में से पुनः जीवित किया गया।

2 कुरिन्थियों 5:21 जो पाप रहित है, उसे उसने इसलिए पाप-बली बनाया कि हम उसके द्वारा परमेश्वर के सामने नेक ठहराये जायें।

1 पतरस 3:18 क्योंकि मसीह ने भी हमारे पापों के लिए दुःख उठाया। अर्थात् वह जो निर्दोष था हम पापियों के लिये एक बार मर गया कि हमें परमेश्वर के समीप ले जाये। शरीर के भाव से तो वह मारा गया पर आत्मा के भाव से जिलाया गया।

परमेश्वर के पुत्र को हम कैसे ग्रहण कर सकते हैं?

यीशु मसीह ने क्रूस पर हमारे लिए जिस काम को पूरा किया, उसका कारण पवित्र शास्त्र बताता है, वह, जिसके पास पुत्र है, उसके पास जीवन है। हम यीशु मसीह को, जो परमेश्वर का पुत्र है, ग्रहण कर सकते हैं। विश्वास द्वारा अपना व्यक्तिगत उद्धारकर्ता मानकर, यीशु के व्यक्तित्व पर विश्वास करके और हमारे पापों के लिए उसको मृत्यु दण्ड मिलना, इस पर विश्वास द्वारा ।

यूहन्ना 1:12 पर जिन्होंने उसे अपनाया उन सबको उसने परमेश्वर की संतान बनने का अधिकार दिया।

यूहन्ना 3:16-18 परमेश्वर को जगत से इतना प्रेम था कि उसने अपने एकमात्र पुत्र को दे दिया, ताकि हर वह आदमी जो उसमें विश्वास रखता है, नष्ट न हो जाये बल्कि उसे अनन्त जीवन मिल जाये। परमेश्वर ने अपने बेटे को जगत में इसलिये नहीं भेजा कि वह दुनिया को अपराधी ठहराये बल्कि उसे इसलिये भेजा कि उसके द्वारा दुनिया का उद्धार हो। जो उसमें विश्वास रखता है उसे दोषी न ठहराया जाय पर जो उसमें विश्वास नहीं रखता, उसे दोषी ठहराया जा चुका है क्योंकि उसने परमेश्वर के एकमात्र पुत्र के नाम में विश्वास नहीं रखा है।

इसका अर्थ है कि हम सभी को परमेश्वर के पास उसी तरीके से आना अनिवार्य है जैसे

  1. एक पापी अपनी पापमय अवस्था को पहचानता है,
  2. जो इस बात को समझता है कि मनुष्य के किसी भी तरह के काम उसे उद्धार नहीं दिला सकते, और
  3. जो उद्धार के लिए केवल विश्वास द्वारा यीशु मसीह पर ही पूरी तरह आश्रित रहता है।

यदि आप यीशु मसीह को अपने व्यक्तिगत उद्धारकर्ता के रूप में ग्रहण करना चाहते है और उस पर विश्वास करते है, तो एक साधारण प्रार्थना के रूप में, यीशु मसीह पर आपके विश्वास को आपको प्रदर्शित करना चाहिए जिसमें अपनी पापमय दशा को जानना तथा मानना, उसकी माफी को स्वीकारना तथा उद्धार के लिए यीशु मसीह पर विश्वास को दर्शाना शामिल हो।

यदि आपने यीशु मसीह पर विश्वास किया है, तो आपको अपने नये जीवन के बारे में तथा परमेश्वर के साथ कैसे चलना है, ये जानने की आवश्यकता है। हम आपको सुझाव देना चाहते हैं कि आप अपना अध्ययन मसीही उन्नति के क, ख,ग जो कि www.bible.org पर उपलब्ध है, से करें। यह श्रृंखला आपको परमेश्वर के मूल सत्यों से कदम दर कदम अवगत कराएगी तथा मसीह में आपके विश्वास की नींव को मजबूत करने में आपकी सहायता भी करेगी।

हिन्दी अनुवाद रोमा हैरल्ड
तकनीकी सहायता तथा मार्गदर्शन संजय राम

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation)

9. We Don't Respond in Kind (1 Peter 4:12-19)

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1 Peter: Suffering Precedes Glory (part nine)

Our unjust suffering becomes more tolerable when we remember that it has been permitted by God. And though it might not feel like a blessed life, that's what the Bible calls it. This enables us to endure mistreatment with grace, even rejoicing. Jesus suffered without retaliation, and so should we. Our natural impulse might be to respond by treating others the way they've treated us, but we're instructed to embrace unfair treatment instead. Furthermore, we're not the ultimate judge over others. God is. Those who mistreat us will be held accountable by a perfect Judge. So instead of responding in kind the next time we suffer unjustly, let's reply with kindness by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Related Topics: Character of God, Christian Life, Spiritual Life, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Bible Teacher's Guide: First Peter

The letter of First Peter was written to persecuted Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. It was meant to both encourage and instruct them on how to live as pilgrims in a hostile society. This message is still relevant today.

Christ declared that in the end times believers would be hated by "all nations" because of him (Matthew 24:9). With the continuing culture shift, animosity and persecution towards Christians is increasing at an alarming rate. Over 400 Christians are martyred every day, and more saints have died for the faith in the last century than all the previous combined. The words of First Peter are a message of hope, desperately needed to encourage and prepare the Church for what lies ahead. Let's journey through Peter's letter together with the aid of the Bible Teacher's Guide.

This book is also available for purchase here on Amazon.

Related Topics: Christian Home, Christian Life, Establish, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Introduction

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Authorship

The Apostle Peter is the author of this letter, with an estimated writing date of around AD 64 – 65. Several pieces of evidence support this belief, starting with the introduction of the letter. It says, “Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:1). He introduces himself in the very beginning of the letter, which was common practice in ancient times even as it is today. There is also other internal evidence in the epistle of Petrine authorship. We see Peter call himself a “witness of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Pet 5:1), which clearly is true of the Apostle Peter, as seen in the Gospels. The author also uses phrases that would seem to reflect Peter’s correspondence with Christ. For instance, Peter calls for the elders of the congregations to “be shepherds of God’s flock” (1 Pet 5:2). This certainly is reminiscent of Peter’s restoration after denying his Lord. Christ repeatedly said to Peter “tend my sheep” and “feed my lambs” (John 21). Peter now says the same to the elders of the churches.

Also, Peter calls each believer “living stones” being built into a spiritual house for God (1 Pet 2:5). We see this clearly in the fact that Peter’s original name was Simon but Christ called him Peter, which means “stone” or “rock.” Christ also told Peter that on this “rock” he would build his church (Matt 16:18). In addition, we see Peter’s warning to these churches to be self-controlled and alert for the devil is roaming around like a lion seeking whom he could devour (1 Pet 5:8). This cannot but conjure up the picture of Christ warning Peter about how Satan had asked to sift him like wheat (Luke 22:31). Again, Peter speaks to the churches in a similar manner to how Christ spoke to him. Throughout the letter, the experiences of the Apostle Peter radiate, therefore, confirming his authorship.

Who was Peter? Obviously, Peter was one of the original disciples who was called to follow Christ during his early ministry (Mark 1:16, 17), and later on, he was called to be one of the twelve Apostles (Matt 10:12). There is ample evidence that suggests that Peter was actually the head of the twelve. In each of the list of Apostles, he is always placed first, which showed his importance (Matt 10, Mark 3, Luke 6, Acts 1). The Gospel writers focused on Peter throughout the narratives, as there is more material written about him than anybody else besides Christ. Also in the book of Acts, we see his importance in the establishment of the church. He leads the Apostles in the selection of the replacement for Judas (Acts 1) and he preaches several sermons that led to the salvation of thousands (Acts 2, 3 and 4).

God also gave him the vision that led to the salvation of Cornelius and the welcoming of Gentiles into the church (Acts 10 and 11). He is the prominent figure in Acts until the commissioning of the Apostle Paul in Acts 13. Tradition says that soon after the writing of this letter, Peter was crucified in Rome around AD 67 or 68. His wife was crucified before him, and he encouraged her with the words, “Remember the Lord.” After the crucifixion of his wife, he begged to be crucified upside down because he was not worthy to die in the same manner of his Lord, and his request was granted.

There are those from liberal traditions who have tried to cast doubt upon Petrine authorship. One of the primary reasons is because of the high level of classical Greek in which the letter is written. Is it possible for a fishermen who was called “unlearned” (Acts 4:13) by the Pharisees to be able to speak and write in such high-level Greek?

There are several ways one could respond to this. The first is the fact that Peter being called “unlearned” does not mean that he was illiterate or unable to write in high-level Greek. Being called “unlearned” simply meant that he had never been trained in an official rabbinical school. It is very probable because of Hellenization (the influence of Greek culture) that Peter did speak Greek as a second language behind Aramaic. Also, since Peter had been preaching and serving in missions for over thirty years by this time, he had probably grown in his understanding of Greek because of his teaching ministry. Finally, in chapter 5, it is possible that Peter is saying that Silas (or Silvanus, depending on the version) was his scribe. We see this in 1 Peter 5:12, “With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”

“With the help of Silas” can also be translated “by Silas.” This could mean that Peter sent the letter by Silas to these congregations or that Silas was his scribe in the writing of this letter. This was a very common practice in the ancient world. In fact, we see this practiced by Paul as seen in Romans 16:22, “Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.” It is very possible that Silas helped in both facets. He served Peter as a scribe for the letter and also manually carried the letter to the churches. This would help explain the high level of Greek. Either way, certainly we must not downplay the work of the Holy Spirit in the writing of every letter of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16).

Background

What is the background to this letter? It is clear that these congregations spread throughout the Roman Empire were going through intense persecution. We see this in many aspects of the letter (1 Pet 4:12, 13). Because of the dating of this letter it seems clear that these Christians are experiencing the after-effects of the Great Fire of Rome. In July AD 64, there was great fire in Rome that spread throughout ten of the fourteen districts.

There was a rumor spread saying that Emperor Nero was the arsonist who started the fire. In fact, there were some reports that he was playing a harp and singing while the fire was happening.1 It was said that Nero had a great lust to build and did not like the current construction of Rome; therefore, he started the fire in order to rebuild. The fact that he built his new home soon after the fire, called the Golden House, in the center of the city only added to this rumor. In order to combat this growing suspicion and resentment toward himself, Nero used the Christians as a scapegoat. They were an easy target because they were already a hated group in Rome. They were hated because of their association with the Jews and the fact that they did not worship the Roman deities. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, there were reports that some Christians were forced to confess by torture that they started the fire. This led to vicious persecution that spread throughout the Roman Empire.

The persecution of Christians took place in many ways. It was said that Nero would place tar on Christians and burn them at night to light up his garden. It was also common for the flesh of animals to be placed on Christians, and they were allowed to be torn apart by dogs. In addition, many Christians were killed by crucifixion. This resulted in Christians spreading throughout the Empire in order to escape persecution.

In fact, many believe that the letter of First Peter was written from Rome and that Babylon was a name used in 1 Peter 5:13 as a pseudonym to protect Peter and the churches that were in hiding. The title Babylon could certainly be referring to ancient Babylon in Mesopotamia. However, there is really no historical witness that Peter went to this city. Therefore, the most probable destination is that of Rome and that it was used to protect the people from further persecution.

Babylon was an apt name for Rome during this period, for throughout Scripture Babylon is seen as a nation that constantly defied God and his people. This began in Babel, as Nimrod built a city where the people revolted against God (Gen 11).  It rose up again during the time of the divided monarchy, as it conquered and exiled the Southern Kingdom of Israel. While the Israelites were living in Babylon, they were persecuted for not worshiping the same gods (Daniel 3). Finally, we see another city named Babylon rise up in the end times which also persecutes the people of God in the book of Revelation (chapters 17 and 18). Therefore, the code name Babylon for Rome would be an apt name to describe its worship of false gods and persecution of believers. Using this pseudonym would help protect Peter and the other saints serving in Rome. Similarly, contemporary missionaries from nations where Christians are persecuted often are very careful about using their names or publishing their sermons online lest it create persecution for their family or church. This was the background for the letter of First Peter.

Purpose

Peter writes this letter to Christians in order to comfort them in the midst of their suffering. He comforts them with the reality of their salvation. In fact, in the introduction of the letter Peter starts off by calling them “elect” and speaks of the benefits of their election (1 Pet 1:1, 2). He then continues by praising God for their new birth and the unfading benefits of it (1 Pet 1:3–5). This is not the normal way you would comfort someone who is going through a hard time. However, if these believers, and us as well, could begin to comprehend how special and great our salvation really is, it would continually comfort us in the worst of situations.

Peter not only comforts them with the greatness of their salvation but he begins to teach them how to live and respond to persecution (1 Pet 1:6; 2:19–21; 4:1, 12 and 13). Listen to what Peter says:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:12–13

Finally, Peter teaches these believers that their obedient and respectful responses in persecution to pagan governments, masters, and even unsaved husbands could potentially lead to evangelization even in a hostile environment (1 Pet 2:12–15; 3:1–6; 3:15). Certainly, we have seen this throughout history. Church father Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Where persecution has happened and Christians have practiced the truths of First Peter, great waves of evangelism have taken place.

The message of First Peter has been tremendously comforting to Christians in Muslim and Communist societies, where they are undergoing constant persecution for their faith. For them, this letter has been a manual on how to live as a Christian amidst persecution. Even in Western societies this letter is becoming more relevant. There was a time where being a practicing Christian in society was not just tolerated but honored. However, now with the change of thinking on what marriage is, the woman’s right to abort her children and many other aspects of society, persecution is constantly growing. Jesus said, “Do not be surprised if they hate you, for they hated me first.” This letter to the scattered and persecuted saints of the Roman Empire is tremendously relevant. It is a manual for pilgrims living in a hostile society. Let its words and message comfort you and prepare you for what lies ahead.

Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.


1 Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Nero,38; Cassius Dio, Roman History LXII.16

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

1. The Privileges Of Election (1 Peter 1:1-2)

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Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1–2

How does it feel to know you are special and loved? How does it feel to be promoted or to be set apart for special favor?

In this passage and in this book, Peter is seeking to encourage Christians who are being mistreated and persecuted for their faith. They are scattered among five Roman provinces in modern-day Turkey, probably seeking to hide for safety from Nero who is burning Christians at the stake and having their lands confiscated.

Peter seeks to encourage them by sharing with them how special they are to God. He starts off the passage saying they are “elect.” Election is often a controversial doctrine among Christians, but here it is given as an encouragement. He then talks about what happens to those who are elect. He talks about how each person of the triune God is involved in their salvation. God the Father elects them, the Son dies for them and sprinkles his blood on them, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies them to make them holy. Believers are special among the people in the world.

In the letter of First Peter, we learn about how to deal with persecution. Peter, the apostle who initially denied Christ at the prospect of death, writes a book to encourage people who are suffering and to teach them how to suffer. After his initial lapse of faith, in the book of Acts we see a man empowered by the Holy Spirit and encouraged by the resurrection of the dead. No more does he cower in fear, but he speaks boldly and suffers valiantly for Christ in the face of persecution.

Now he writes to strengthen the brethren who are receiving the same attacks that he previously encountered. In the first two sentences, Peter seeks to encourage these suffering saints by their election and the benefits of this election. Even though the world mocks them and persecutes them, they are loved by God. This would encourage them in their suffering and it should encourage us as well. Peter tells them that they are different from the world because they are so special to God.

Big Question: What are the privileges of God’s election that should encourage the believer in suffering as seen in 1 Peter 1:1–2? How should these privileges practically affect our lives?

The Elect Are Chosen by God

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect…who have been chosen.
1 Peter 1:1

Interpretation Question: What does it mean to be chosen and elect by God?

One of the things that should comfort believers in this world, especially amidst suffering, is recognizing that they are elect by God. The word elect really means to be chosen by God as mentioned in verse 2. The world rejects believers because of their belief system, their lifestyle, and because they choose to not condone or participate in sin. However, even though they are rejected by the world, they are chosen by God. Christ said this to his disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you (emphasis mine) and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (John 15:16).

Election is often a doctrine that gets many people upset, but as we see here, this doctrine was the treasure of the saints. It was such a treasure that it had become a common title among the saints. They were elect ones (1 Pet 1:1).

Why did God choose these saints? It had nothing to do with their good works, but it was a work of sovereign grace. Look at what Paul says in Romans about the election of Jacob:

Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that Gods purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (emphasis mine).
Romans 9:10–13

In Jewish society the oldest was always chosen to receive the blessing and the inheritance, but in God’s economy it is always a work of grace—unmerited favor. God chose Jacob not based on anything he had done, for the twins, Jacob and Esau, weren’t even born yet.

It says, “In order that God’s purpose in election might stand, not by works but by him who calls” (v. 11). God selected the younger brother to receive the blessing. In the same way, election is a mystery to us. It is based on God’s sovereign right as king and not on the basis of anything we have done.

Often people in Western countries, whom have never been under an absolute monarch, chafe at the thought of this. “This is not right! This is not democracy!” they proclaim. But under a monarchy the King has absolute power; he does what he wants because it is his right. Here we see God chooses based on his right. Scripture everywhere declares that God is king, and he does what he chooses. Some are elect based on God’s choice, not on ours. Look at what Christ says in John 15:19, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (emphasis mine).

Christ chose us out of the world, and because of this, the world hates us. Election is a sovereign right of God. We are no longer part of this world because God chose us out of it.

Application Question: Often, the doctrine of election is met with anger, but how should the doctrine of election encourage the believer?

1. Election should make the believer worship God.

Salvation is a work of God that should make us worship him. We may not fully understand election, but we do understand that it demonstrates the glory and power of God. It also demonstrates that his ways are higher than our ways. Look at Paul’s response to election (cf. Rom 11:28).

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33–36

2. Election should be an encouragement to evangelize.

Some see election as a hindrance to evangelism. Why share the gospel if some weren’t chosen? On the contrary, it should give boldness to share the gospel because we know some will respond. That is what happened in Acts. “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed (emphasis mine) for eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Since God is sovereign, we should share the gospel.

3. Election should make the believer humble.

God is God and he does what he wants to. Look at how Paul responded to those who seemed to struggle with the concept of election.

One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Romans 9:19–21

Paul challenged these believers about their response to God’s election. “Who are you, O man to talk back to God?” Essentially, he is calling them to humble themselves before God. God is God, we are not. He is the Potter, and we are the clay. He is the Creator, we are the creatures. This doctrine should create humility in us before God and before others.

The Elect Are Strangers in this World

Strangers in this world.
1 Peter 1:1

Peter will talk about this throughout this letter. Because we are elect we are no longer part of this world (cf. John 17:14, Galatians 6:14). We are strangers in this world or sojourners. This word has the meaning of being a temporary resident. We are only here for a short time as we are just passing through. Our home is now in heaven.

We see this said about Abraham and the patriarchs in the faith chapter of Hebrews. Look at what it says:

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God…Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (emphasis mine).
Hebrews 11:9–10, 16

Because we are elect, strangers in this world, and citizens of heaven, we must have a different culture, a different language, and different expectations for life. God has a prepared a better place for us and this is not our home.

Application Question: What does being a stranger on earth mean practically for a believer?

1. We should expect some amount of suffering or being considered strange on this earth.

We are not part of this world, and therefore, we will at times be misunderstood and hated.

2. We must continually be looking toward our heavenly country.

The writer of Hebrews says Abraham was “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:9).” Paul calls Christians to set their mind on things above and not below (Col 3:2). Therefore, we should develop a mind-set of looking toward our heavenly country.

3. We should be different than those around us for this not our home.

We are only here temporarily. This includes such things as not storing up on this earth. Look at what Christ said:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19–21

When I visit a hotel, I don’t spend much effort trying to fix it up and make it nice, because I will only be there for a short period of time. In a similar way, a Christian should not spend so much effort focusing on the temporary things of this life. But instead, should be consumed with storing up eternal riches in his heavenly home.

The elect are strangers to this world because their home is in heaven; therefore, they don’t bare the marks of the world’s culture. Let this encourage the believer especially when they are persecuted for being different.

The Elect Are Scattered like Seed to Produce a Harvest

Scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.
1 Peter 1:1

What is another privilege of the elect?

The elect are scattered. The word scattered comes from the word diaspora and carries the idea of that which is sown. It was a word used of the farmer sowing seed in the field.1 These believers were scattered because of persecution. We see this happening in the book of Acts. As persecution intensified, the believers moved from Jerusalem and Judea, to Samaria, and eventually to the ends of the earth. The gospel was spread throughout because of this persecution. Look at some of the narrative:

But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there (emphasis mine).
Acts 8: 3–5

This seems to be an implication of Peter’s use of the word scattered, which again means “that which is sown.” When a farmer sows seed, he does it with the hope of having a harvest. This farming term would have encouraged the saints. Behind the persecution, God was ultimately sowing these believers throughout the world in order to bring a harvest from the gospel. God may have allowed these Christians to suffer, lose their homes, etc., but it was not without purpose. It was ultimately used to spread the kingdom of God and help more people know him.

Throughout this letter, Peter continually encourages them about this hope of evangelism even amid persecution. Look at what he says in 1 Peter 2:12: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (emphasis mine).

One second-century church father said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Historically, we have seen this to be true. Wherever the church has suffered and been scattered because of persecution, the seed of the Word of God has spread and the church has grown. In fact, it is in nations where persecution is not rampant that the church is declining the fastest.

We serve a God that often makes the worst things the best things. He took the death of his Son, the worst thing that ever happened on the earth, and made it the best thing.

The believer must take comfort in the fact that even though this scattering resulted from the intention to harm the church, it was something that God used for good. It was like seed being sown everywhere to build his church. Certainly, we get some picture of this in how Christ talks about the church being salt. We are spread on the earth in order to bring positive change. “You are the salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13).

Application Question: Scripture teaches us to rejoice in trials and tribulations (Rom 5:3, James 1:2). Does this mean that a lack of persecution for the faith is more dangerous spiritually to the church, than times of acceptance from the culture? Why or why not?

The Elect Are Intimate with God

Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:2

What is another privilege of election?

The elect are intimate with God, and this intimacy began before time. In fact, this verse tells us why believers are elect and chosen by God. It says “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” This has created great controversy over the doctrine of election. Some would say that foreknowledge means that God chose us based on the fact that he knew we would accept him. However, this makes God’s choice not a choice at all. It makes man the initiator of salvation instead of God.

Though God is omniscient and knows all things, this foreknowledge is not referring to knowing facts, but God knowing people in an intimate saving relationship. To “know” throughout the Old Testament is used of the most intimate relationships including sex. We see that Adam “knew” his wife and had a son (Gen 4:1 KJV). In the same way, God “knew” certain believers even before they were born and chose them for salvation. Look at Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (emphasis mine).

God knew Jeremiah in a saving intimate relationship and called him to be a prophet to the nations before birth. God is not saying he knew Jeremiah would accept, follow him, and be a prophet. That is passive. God actively set him apart. God knew Jeremiah in an intimate relationship and called him to be a prophet before birth.

We also see this intimate knowledge used in reference to those who do not know God. Look at what Jesus said:

Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers” (emphasis mine)!
Matthew 7:22–23

Jesus says to these professors, “I never knew you.” It’s not talking about having knowledge of them because God knows everybody. It’s talking about not knowing them in a saving relationship. These people never had a saving relationship with God.

One of the things that should comfort the believer about his election is the fact that God knew us before the creation of the earth. He knew us in a saving relationship and called us to be ones that serve him, not based on anything we have done, but based on his grace. This should comfort us in suffering. Look at what Paul says:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will
Ephesians 1:4–5

The elect are intimate with God. He foreknew them even before time and this intimacy continues in time. This is a tremendous comfort, especially, because God knows all our failures, sins, and insecurities, yet he chooses to be intimate with us anyway. This is an amazing fact of election. God chose to be intimate with us, and this intimacy of election should comfort us in suffering.

Application Question: What ways does the fact that God knew you intimately before you were born comfort you? How should it comfort you in the midst of suffering?

The Elect Are Sanctified by the Spirit

Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
1 Peter 1:2

Interpretation Question: What does the “sanctifying work of the Spirit” include in the life of the believer?

The next benefit of election is this “sanctifying work” of the Spirit. This is a work that starts at salvation but continues until we see Christ. In fact, much like election, sanctification is a common term used to describe believers. Look at what Paul calls the Church of Corinth: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints (emphasis mine) throughout Achaia” (2 Cor 1:1).

Paul addresses the people at Corinth as saints. This means they were set apart for the purpose of being holy. He also calls them sanctified in 1 Corinthians 1:2. He speaks about it as a past action. Look at what Paul says:

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours (emphasis mine).
1 Corinthians 1:1–2

Sanctification happens to every believer at the moment of salvation. They are set apart from the world to be holy. Some call this positional sanctification, as we are separated from the world and placed in Christ. At salvation, there are immediate changes in the life of the believer. That is why Paul can say “he who be in Christ is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). At salvation, Christ translated the believer from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Let’s look at Colossians:

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (emphasis mine).
Colossians 1:12–13

However, as mentioned previously, Peter speaks about this action as continuing. He calls it the “sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, sanctification refers not only to what happens at new birth, but also to the continuing process of becoming more like Christ that takes place throughout the believer’s life, and is completed when we meet Christ. This is called progressive sanctification. Below are some verses that talk about this process.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (emphasis mine).
1 Thessalonians 4:3

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (emphasis mine).
Philippians 2:12–13

Paul commands the Thessalonian church to become sanctified by abstaining from sexual immorality. It was a continuous process. Similarly, Paul talks about this continuous process in Philippians.

This process of sanctification, or progressive sanctification, is a process that involves the believer. At salvation, the work is totally of God; we are translated from the kingdom of darkness to light, but in our daily walk, we must work with God in order to become holy. This includes daily spiritual disciplines like prayer, reading the Bible, and the fellowship of the saints (1 Tim 4:7).

This process will ultimately end when we see Christ. The Apostle John talks about this in First John. When we see Christ, we will be just like him. At this point, we will not battle with sin anymore for we will have new bodies. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him (emphasis mine), for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

This final stage of sanctification is called glorification. This is when we will be just like Christ. This makes the believer unique among the world. They are saints, ones who have been set apart for the purpose of becoming holy like Christ.

Let us take encouragement as ones who are elect. God, who began this work in us will complete it until the day of Christ. Listen to what Paul said about the Philippians: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6).

Application Question: What does it mean if a believer is not continually growing in Christ? What should he do?

The Elect Are Obedient to Christ

For obedience to Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:2

Interpretation Question: What does Peter mean by obedience to Christ?

Another privilege of election is that believers have been set apart for obedience to Christ. This happens as a part of the work of sanctification. The believer that initially did not obey God, receives a nature that desires God and desires to obey God’s Word. We see the initial antagonism of the unbeliever in Romans 8:7–8: “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

The unbeliever is hostile to the things of God; they are hostile to his commands and teaching. However, when a person is saved, he receives a nature that delights in God’s laws. Look at how Paul described his experience: “For in my inner being, I delight in God’s law” (Rom 7:22). David said something similar: “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” (Ps 119:14–16).

The born again believer delights in God’s law. He still stumbles and is disobedient at times, but the direction of his life is obedience, instead of disobedience which characterizes people who don’t know God (Eph 2:2).

In fact, in the book of 1 John the apostle gives obedience as a test of salvation (1 John 5:13). Those who are children of God are obedient to the Scripture. Look at what he says:

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:10

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3

Christ taught the same thing in John 8:31: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”

Listen to what one commentator said:

Obedience is the essential characteristic of the elect pilgrim. His transformation from an enemy of God to a pilgrim in this world reveals itself in a life of obedience to God. God’s people obey those in authority over them for God’s sake. They are subject to their employers as serving Christ. They love their spouses because they love God. When the demands of earth’s relationships get in the way of obedience to God, they obey God rather than man. The law of God is their rule throughout life. Without living in obedience, the people of God could not be pilgrims.2

Application Question: In what ways have you seen this change in your life since you became a follower of Christ?

The Elect Are Sprinkled with Christ’s Blood

And sprinkling by his blood.
1 Peter 1:2

Interpretation Question: What is Peter referring to when he talks about the elect being sprinkled by his blood? Why is it a “continuous” action?

Peter talks about the sprinkling of Christ’s blood as a continuous action and not just something that happened in the past to a believer. What is he referring to? This must at least refer to the forgiveness of sins that occurred as a result of Christ’s death. We see this in Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”

It says we were “justified,” which means to be made “just as though we never sinned.” However, the “sprinkling” Peter mentions is a continuous action and not just something that happened in the past to a believer—meaning, it still affects us today. John talks about this in his epistle. Look at what he says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us (emphasis mine) from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

John says if we walk in the light as Christ is in the light, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sins. When he says “walk in the light,” it seems to mean not only holiness, but specifically confession of our sins to God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When we confess known sins, God takes Christ’s blood and cleanses us so we can have a restored relationship with God.

In fact, John says “from all unrighteousness,” which means that when the believer confesses a known sin, God cleanses us even from sins we are not aware of. The blood of Christ is still effective in the believer’s life. The blood of Christ purchases for us forgiveness of our sins, and therefore, justification before God. It also purifies us so we can walk in continual relationship with God as we confess known sins.

Some might ask, why is there a need for confession and continual cleansing by Christ if we were initially cleansed at salvation? Some have called the initial cleansing judicial forgiveness so we can stand before God as righteous since Christ paid for all our sins on the cross. Because of this cleansing, we no longer have to be separated from God and will never ultimately be separated from him.

The other type of cleansing is often called parental or familial forgiveness. If I sin against my wife, this creates a distance in our relationship. It doesn’t change the fact that she is my wife. However, in order to be in right relationship with my wife again, I need to confess and make it right. Christ’s blood not only changes my relationship to God at salvation, making me a son, but it continues to cleanse me so I can be in right relationship with God when I fail.

In addition to this, there are several times in the Old Testament that this sprinkling with blood is mentioned, which may help us further understand what Peter is talking about. In the book of 1 Peter the apostle continually uses Old Covenant references and, therefore, many see this as an Old Covenant allusion fulfilled in Christ.

Interpretation Question: What did sprinkling with blood represent in the Old Covenant, and therefore, what could this mean for Peter’s reference to the believer being “sprinkled” with Christ’s blood?

1. Sprinkling with blood represents the believer’s obedience and participation in the New Covenant.

When Moses initiated the Old Covenant with the Jews he sprinkled blood over the people. This meant they would participate in the covenant and obey God’s laws. Look at what Exodus says:

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.
Exodus 24:7–8

Similarly, Christ as our High Priest has sprinkled us with his blood as we participate in the benefits of the New Covenant. We see this in Hebrews 12:24, “To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (emphasis mine).

2. Sprinkling with blood represents the believer being set apart to serve God as a priest.

When the Old Testament priest was set apart to do ministry, he was sprinkled with blood. We see this in Exodus:

And take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.
Exodus 29:21

Similarly, believers have been set apart for ministry. Peter talks about how believers are now a royal priesthood that offer spiritual sacrifices unto God (1 Pet 2:5). As priests, believers pray for people; they serve, they sing praises unto God, and they seek to bring those apart from God into relationship with him. No doubt, Peter speaks of this reality.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 2:4–5

3. Sprinkling with blood represents the believer’s cleansing from sin.

In the Old Covenant, a leper would have to be sprinkled with blood after his cleansing from leprosy.

He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the infectious disease and pronounce him clean. Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields.
Leviticus 14:6–7

Similarly, our High Priest cleanses us from sin by his blood.

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:13–14

One of the benefits of our election, is that we have been sprinkled with the precious blood of Christ. He cleanses us from sin and forgives us, he initiates us into the New Covenant, he anoints us to be priests of God.

Application Question: How should the believer apply or actualize the reality of Christ’s blood, in order to walk in victory over sin and to have a clear conscience?

The Elect Are Called to Abundant Grace and Peace

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:2

Finally, one of the privileges of election is that the believer is a continual recipient of God’s grace and peace. This was a common greeting in the early church. However, it is more than a greeting; it is the inheritance a believer should continually receive from God.

Paul talks about these blessings as something that comes from Christ. Listen to what he says in Ephesians 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (emphasis mine). In the same way, there is more grace and peace in Christ that each believer can receive. James says this: “But he gives us more grace” (Jas 4:6).

In fact, Paul talks about the peace that God desires to give each believer in Philippians 4. Listen to what he says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (emphasis mine).
Philippians 4:6–7

Grace means “unmerited favor.” It is favor over one’s spiritual life, one’s work, one’s family and everything the believer does. It is grace to find freedom from sin and addictions.

Peace is not the absence of problems or conflict; it is the state of the heart of a believer who is walking with Christ. The believer has peace of mind even in the midst of the storm. This peace of heart and mind leads to peace in relationships with God and man.

Interpretation Question: How does the believer receive abundant grace and peace?

1. Abundant grace and peace come through prayer.

In this text, Peter prays for these believers to have abundant grace and peace, because this is one of the ways we receive more of God’s blessings. This includes other believer’s praying for us but also our continual practice of prayer. Again, look at what Paul says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (emphasis mine).
Philippians 4:6–7

In this text, peace is promised to those who pray and give thanks in everything. When believers live in an atmosphere of prayer God “guards” their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus with peace.

2. Abundant grace and peace come through obedience to Christ.

God blesses those who are obedient to him. It was Abraham’s faith that led to not only his blessing and favor but also to that of his family. Listen to how the Psalmist describes the blessing of the believer that stays away from sin and delights in God’s Word.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (emphasis mine).
Psalm 1:1–3

This delight in God’s Word is a form of obedience that results in grace. Everything this person does prospers. He bears fruit in season, which includes peace, joy, perseverance, etc. Grace and peace come through faithful prayer and obedience.

3. Abundant grace and peace come through a constant meditation on God.

Listen to Isaiah: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa 26:3 KJV).

Application Question: What ways is God calling you to pursue grace and peace in your life? Who is God calling you to pray for, so that they may receive these blessings?

Conclusion

What are the privileges of God’s election? What makes the believer so special?

  1. The elect are chosen by God.
  2. The elect are strangers in the world. Their home is in heaven, and therefore, they are different.
  3. The elect are scattered by God throughout the world to be a blessing to it.
  4. The elect are intimate with God, foreknown before creation in a saving relationship.
  5. The elect are sanctified by the Holy Spirit to be holy and righteous in the world.
  6. The elect are set apart for obedience. Whereas before, they were disobedient to God, now they love and obey his Word.
  7. The elect are sprinkled with Christ’s blood. This is a rich allusion that means forgiveness of sins. It means to be set apart as a priest to serve God, to be purified from sin, and to participate in the New Covenant.
  8. The elect are recipients of God’s abundant grace and peace.

The church is special, and we must know that. This will help us understand why our relationship to the world has changed and how our relationship with God has changed. This should encourage us even in the midst of suffering.

Application Question: What ways did this lesson challenge, encourage or increase your understanding of election?

Chapter Notes

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Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.


1Expository Pulpit Series – Expository Pulpit Series – First Peter: A Holy Walk in a Hostile World.

2Hanko, Herman. A Pilgrims Manual: Commentary on I Peter. Reformed Free Publishing Association. Kindle Edition.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Election

2. Praise God For Our Great Salvation (1 Peter 1:3-5)

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:3–5

Why have so many of us lost the joy of our salvation? Why have so many of us lost our praise and, instead, walk around sad, depressed, angry, and complaining about the events in our life? How can we again have our joy?

It is wonderful to see a newborn Christian who wants to share his faith with everybody because he is so excited about what God has done in his life. Sadly, as many Christians “mature,” this joy tends to fade away. David said this, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation” (Ps 51:12). Many of us have lost this joy as well.

Peter is writing to Christians that are being persecuted for their faith and have been scattered from their original homes in different parts of the Roman Empire. It would seem like this is not the response you would give to someone who has lost a family member to persecution or lost their friend or home. However, Peter starts off this letter glorifying God. He says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:3)!

Peter can do this because he realizes that whatever they had lost on this earth was miniscule to what God had done in their salvation. This is why he calls them to praise God. Similarly, look at what Paul says about our afflictions on the earth:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (emphasis mine).
2 Corinthians 4:16–18

In this text, Peter is calling these Christians, and us through them, to not lose heart but, in fact, to glory as we look at our great salvation. The hope for this lesson is that we will again look at our salvation and have our “joy” restored even in the midst of various trials.

Big Question: What is so great about our salvation according to 1 Peter 1:3–5 that it should cause us to worship God and have joy?”

Believers Praise God Because of God’s Mercy in Our Great Salvation

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:3

Here Peter begins to worship God specifically because of God’s great mercy. Mercy focuses on how deplorable the believer’s state was before Christ. This is one of the reasons we often don’t worship God. We have forgotten how bad our situation really was before Christ.

Interpretation Question: What are some Scripture texts that remind us of how far away from God we were and how much mercy God had to give us in salvation?

Listen to what Paul said about us:

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world (emphasis mine).
Ephesians 2:11–12

Paul says remember we were separated from Christ, excluded from the promises made to Abraham and Israel, without hope or God in this world. We were in bad shape. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

Paul says we were dead in our transgressions. We were not physically dead but spiritually dead. This means we couldn’t commune with God. We would try to read our Bible or worship, and it would mean nothing to us. We were far from God. He says not only were we dead in our transgressions, but we were following this world and even the devil, who is the ruler of this world. We lived to gratify the cravings of our sinful nature and were objects of God’s wrath.

The Christian who has forgotten the bad shape he was in before salvation will often lose his worship. It is the gravity of how bad our situation was that makes our salvation so great. If a person saves you from making a mistake on your taxes, that’s great, but if they save your life, then there will be a greater thankfulness. Many have lost the joy of their salvation because they have forgotten how much God has saved them from.

Consequently, not only are they often lacking joy but are also prone to bitterness and complaining over things that happen in their lives. Sometimes they may even be prone to pride and becoming judgmental over other’s failures. This happens because they forgot how bad their situation previously was and how gracious our Father has been to us (2 Pet 1:9).

It’s good to remember that Paul still saw himself as chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). This means he never lost sight of God’s mercy in his salvation. He saw how far away from God’s standard he really was even as an apostle.

Application Question: Why are Christians so prone to forget or lose sight of their sinful past or their current sinful state?

1. Christians often lose a view of their sinfulness because they start to focus on other people.

When we are looking at others, we start to think we are pretty good, which will affect our worship of God. If we think we are pretty good, then we will tend to honor ourselves instead of worshiping God for saving us from our sin and ugliness. In fact, we saw this in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18. The Pharisee came before God and exalted himself because he was looking at the tax collector. He said, “Thank you Lord I am not like this tax collector” and began to boast about all his good works (v. 11).

We even saw this with the good son in the parable of the prodigal son. In Luke 15, the good son had lost the joy of being in the father’s house because he was focused on his sinful brother, which made him lose sight of the grace and the mercy he had received. He boasted to the father about how he had never disobeyed his orders (v. 29) even though at the moment he was dishonoring his father and refusing to fellowship with him. He couldn’t see his own sin and failures, and therefore, couldn’t enjoy the grace of the father.

We must be careful of focusing on others because it will skew a proper view of ourselves and our view of God as well. Listen to Paul:

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
2 Corinthians 10:12

2. Christians often lose a view of their sinfulness because they don’t spend enough time with God.

When Isaiah was in the presence of God, he lamented about how much of a sinner he was. Look at what he said: “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isa 6:5).

Looking at God gave him a proper view not only of his own sins but also of his nation’s sins. We must continue to look at Christ by living in his Word and worship. This will help us have a proper view of ourselves, and therefore, have the appropriate joy and worship in our lives over our great salvation.

Believers Should Praise God for the New Birth in Our Great Salvation

In his great mercy he has given us new birth.
1 Peter 1:3

Interpretation Question: Peter worships God for giving believers the new birth. A literal reading of verse 3 says he has “caused us to be born again.” What can we learn from the rendering “caused us to be born again” about our salvation?

The next wonderful truth about the believer’s salvation that should cause worship is God’s gift of the new birth. A more literal rendering of verse 3 is translated “he has caused us to be born again” (ESV).

What is Peter referring to by the phrase “caused us to be born again?”

First of all, this reminds us of John 3, where Christ tells Nicodemus no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born again. One must first be born of water and the Holy Spirit (v. 5). Water seems to refer to the necessity of the Word of God in the new birth. Water is a common metaphor for Scripture. Paul uses it in Ephesians 5:25 for Christ washing the church with the water of the Word of God.

When a believer hears the Word of God and the Holy Spirit moves upon him, there is a birth. A person is made a new creation. Now certainly, this happens when a believer responds by putting his faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior, but in another way this is a work totally of God.

The reason that Peter says God caused us to be born again seems to be because he is referring the readers back to what he talked about in verse 1 and 2. He talked about the believer’s election, which speaks of how God chose them before time. Yes, there is a sense in which the believer must choose to respond to the gospel but just as human birth has nothing to do with the child, neither does the second birth.

When a child is born, does he have anything to do with the process of birth? It is something that begins in the minds of the parents and consummated through their bodies. The child has nothing to do with it. In the same way, spiritual birth is an act of God. It has nothing to do with the one who is born again. Yes, Scripture everywhere calls us to believe and repent, but the means to repent and believe does not come from man. Look at what Paul says in Ephesians 2:8–9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (emphasis mine).

When Paul says we are saved through faith and not from ourselves, he is saying that even the faith we demonstrate in order to be saved is a gift of God. Man himself cannot choose God. Sin has so fractured the will of man in such a way that man cannot in himself respond to God apart from grace. Look at what Paul said about this: “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Rom 8:7–8).

Paul says the natural mind is hostile to God. It cannot submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. People often talk about free will, but before a person is born again, they are not free at all. Their will is in bondage to sin. They may know God law’s, they may know his gospel, but it is impossible for them to respond because they are slaves of sin.

It is grace that comes in and shatters this bondage and allows a person to respond to Christ so that they may be born again. One of the wonderful things about our salvation is that it is totally a gift of God’s grace. It is an act that began in the counsel of God even before creation. God has caused us to be born again.

I think many times people have lost the joy of their salvation because they have lost or never come to an understanding of true grace. Saving grace means I could do nothing for my salvation. It is all a gift of God. He gave me birth. This is something that we can’t fully understand or comprehend, but it is something that we must affirm because Scripture teaches it and worship because of it. Look again at how Paul responds to the doctrine of election (cf. Rom 11:28) that leads to salvation.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33–36

Look at Christ’s worship over this truth:

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
Luke 10:21

Christ worships God because he has hidden it from some and revealed it to others. This is essentially election. “I don’t understand it, Lord, but I thank you for the grace you have given me, and I declare your paths are past tracing out. You are good, oh Lord! Your salvation is great!” This should be the proper response to the God who has “caused us” to be born again. Thank you Lord for this new birth!

Application Question: Why is election and the reality that the new birth is a work totally of God so controversial and difficult for many to accept?

Believers Should Praise God Because of Our Living Hope in Our Great Salvation

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by the “living hope” the believer has in salvation?

Another reason the believer should praise God is because God has brought us into a living hope. Scripture would declare everywhere that the lost are without hope in the world. Listen to what Solomon said about the wicked: “The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing” (Prov 10:28). If your hope is built on the economy, your career, your family, or your investments, all these hopes will come to nothing. The economy is shaky at best; one could lose his career or retirement at any time. Life as we know it will eventually come to an end. These are dead hopes because one day they will come to nothing. Yet these are the only hopes that the world can really have.

But, those who believe in Christ have a hope that will last forever. Listen to what John said about this world and specifically the man who obeys God: “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17). Because of the resurrection of Christ, the man who does the will of God abides forever. Death is just a passage way into eternity, and therefore, his hope is living and will never pass away. Look at what Paul said about his death: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).

To live is Christ, but to die is gain. For the believer, his hopes should be eternal. In the next passages, Peter talks about why our hope is living. It’s living because of Christ’s resurrection. He says a living hope “through the resurrection of Christ” (1 Pet 1:3). It is living because we have an inheritance in heaven that will never be taken away; it’s living because God is saving us for it, as we will one day be resurrected.

It’s because of this reality that the believer must set their eyes on things above and not on the earth. If the believer’s hope is on the earth, he will be up and down like the waves of the sea, as the economy changes, health changes, etc. But our hope in heaven is eternal, and therefore, is stable and living. Look at what Paul said:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1–4

Application Question: Why is it important to have a living hope? How should having a living hope encourage you in your daily life and specifically in persecution and trials?

Believers Should Praise God for the Inheritance We Have in Our Great Salvation

And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.
1 Peter 1:4

Interpretation Questions: What is Peter referring to as our inheritance? What are the adjectives referring to this inheritance and what do they mean?

The next thing Peter says is that a believer should praise God because of his inheritance in heaven. He uses three adjectives to describe this inheritance. What are they and what do they mean? He says our inheritance is

  • imperishable, which means “not able to be destroyed”
  • undefiled, which means “not polluted”; and
  • unfading, which means “not subject to decay.”1

But what is this inheritance that he is talking about? Because Peter’s audience was primarily Jewish, as he was the apostle to the Jews, they would have immediately thought about the inheritance the Jews were promised in Canaan. Look at what the book of Joshua said: “So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel (emphasis mine) according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war” (Josh 11:23).

We see here in this passage that Israel went into the promise land and conquered the nations in Canaan. There they took the inheritance that God had given them—the land of Israel. However, the Jews whom Peter was speaking to knew that the promised inheritance was at times taken by other nations. It was taken as they were exiled from it by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. In fact, at the time of Peter’s writing the land was under Roman rule.

The inheritance in the Old Covenant was perishable. The temple was destroyed along with the buildings and the walls. It was polluted with sin and the idolatry of the nation. It was prone to decay because it was temporal and not eternal. However, the inheritance of the believer in the New Covenant is much greater than that of the Old Covenant. It is imperishable, undefiled, unfading and it is being reserved in heaven by God. God is keeping the inheritance of the believer in heaven. This is something to praise God for because in this life our inheritance is temporal at best. The money we save fluctuates in value with the economy; it’s prone to be lost, but not our inheritance in heaven. Look at what Christ says:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Matthew 6:19–20

He says don’t store up on the earth because it is temporary but store up in heaven because it is eternal. But what exactly is the inheritance of the believer?

It is essentially everything that comes with Christ. Scripture calls Christians co-heirs with Christ. Everything that is Christ’s is ours. Look at what Romans says: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co–heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom 8:17).

Everything that is Christ’s is ours. This includes ruling the earth in the millennial kingdom and the eternal state (Rev 20). It includes the beauties and riches of the new Jerusalem (Rev 21). It includes the crowns and riches we will receive for faithfulness on the earth (Rev 4:4) and much, much more.

However, the greatest part of our inheritance is God. He is our portion, he is our joy, and in heaven we will have unhindered fellowship with him. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:26). Listen to Psalms 16:5: “The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot” (KJV).

The saint should rejoice because of this inheritance that is waiting for him in heaven and the chief part of that inheritance is God. He is our inheritance and our portion. We enjoy him here on earth, but in heaven, it will be in an unhindered manner. Thank you Lord!

Application Question: What excites you most about the believer’s future heavenly inheritance? What questions do you have about heaven and its rewards?

Believers Should Praise God for the Future Aspects of Our Great Salvation

Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:5

The final aspect mentioned in this passage that should make the believer rejoice even in suffering, is one’s coming salvation. This may sound strange to some because we are already saved. However, Scripture talks about salvation in at least three ways. We were saved when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is called justification, as God canceled our sin debt and gave us Christ’s righteousness. He now sees us as his Son in perfect righteousness. Scripture speaks of this salvation in the past tense as in Ephesians 2:8: “For it is by grace you have been saved (emphasis mine), through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

The second way is that we are being saved; this is called sanctification. Every day, we are being saved from sin as we become more holy and look more like Christ. This is a progressive process that will happen until we reach heaven. We see this in Philippians 2:12-13:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (emphasis mine).

Finally, there is a future aspect of our salvation called “the coming of salvation.” It is often called glorification, which happens when we see Christ. We will have resurrected bodies and will no longer sin or have a sin nature in our bodies. We will be completely saved from sin and temptation. This will happen when we see Christ.

Look at what 1 John 3:2 says: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him (emphasis mine), for we shall see him as he is.” Scripture constantly talks about this as a future salvation. “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now (emphasis mine) than when we first believed” (Rom 13:11).

These are three aspects of our salvation: (1) justification in the past, (2) sanctification in the present, and (3) glorification when we see Christ and have our resurrected bodies. This is something we should get excited about. There is a coming day where we will no longer wrestle with pride, fight against lust or temptation. One day, we will be completely like Christ and until that time, we fight and “work out my salvation” so we can look more and more like our Lord.

Believers Should Praise God for His Protection over Our Great Salvation

Who through faith are shielded by Gods power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:5

However, not only do we praise God about this future aspect of salvation, but we praise him that we are being protected for it. Look again at what Peter says: “Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:5).

The word shielded is a military word. It can also be translated “guarded.” Another exciting aspect about this salvation and future inheritance is that God is guarding us for it. As you could imagine, there were many of these persecuted Christians that were kept from their earthly inheritance because of the scattering (1 Pet 1:1) or because it was taken by the Romans. Some had even died for the faith, and therefore, could not receive the inheritance of their fathers or grandfathers. However, the believer’s inheritance is different. God is guarding us for it.

This teaches the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. If they are truly born again, they will not lose their salvation. They will not lose it because God shields and protects the faith of every true believer. They will never ultimately fall away from God because God keeps them. We see many promises about this in the Scripture. Look at what Jesus said to his disciples:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
John 10:27–29

Christ puts the believers in his hand and also in the Father’s hand, and says no one will snatch them out. They will have eternal life. In fact, Christ taught that this was one of the reasons that God sent him. He was sent to not only save people but to keep them from stumbling away from him. Look at what he says in John 6:37–39:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 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 that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day (emphasis mine).

Interpretation Question: How does Christ keep the saints from losing their salvation?

How does Christ keep the salvation of those God has given him?

Christ’s job is to lose none of the saints—he keeps their faith. He does this in several ways:

1. Christ shields the faith of believers through prayer. We saw this with Peter when he was sifted by Satan in his denial. Look at what Christ said to him: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail (emphasis mine). And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).

Christ kept the faith of Peter when he stumbled in sin by praying for him. Christ kept Peter from falling totally away from Christ and apostatizing. The writer of Hebrews says this is a ministry Christ does for every believer in order to keep their faith. Look at what he says: “Therefore he is able to save completely (emphasis mine) those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb 7:25).

Christ can save completely those who come to him because he prays for them. Christ is always praying for his saints, and he keeps their faith as he did with Peter.

2. Christ shields the faith of believers by limiting the trials they go through. Look at what happened to the disciples right before Christ went to the cross:

Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: I have not lost one of those you gave me (emphasis mine).”
John 18:7–9

When the soldiers came to take Jesus, he protected his disciples from being taken and crucified. Why? John says so that he would lose none of whom God gave him. Christ knew this trial was too big for them. If they would have faced crucifixion for their faith, at that point, they would have totally turned away from Christ. Their faith was not strong enough. He was keeping the faith of his elect; he was shielding them.

Christ does that for every believer. He holds the temperature gauge on the trial. He only lets you go through what you can handle. We see this clearly in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it (emphasis mine).

When we see those in the church who go through a trial, fall away, and never come back, that means they were never truly saved. Christ will not lose any of those God has given him. This is how Christ handles those who claim to be his followers but do not have true saving faith. Look at what he says in Matthew 7:21–23:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers” (emphasis mine)!

Christ doesn’t say they lost their salvation. He essentially says they never had it. He “never knew” them. Of those who are truly saved, Christ will lose none. He protects their faith and keeps them out of trials that would ultimately cause them to turn away as he did with Peter and the disciples. Our God guards the faith of the saints. This is something we should worship God for in our salvation.

I think some do not have a proper worship towards God for their salvation because to them, their salvation is not sure. It is not sure because of wrong doctrine about the security of their salvation. For some it may not be sure because they lack assurance of salvation. Each believer is called to make their election sure by growing in their faith so they no longer will be tossed to and fro at every temptation or failure (cf. 2 Pet 1:10, 5–9)

One of the reasons we praise God for our salvation is because it is eternal. It cannot be lost because Christ is active, and God is active in guarding it like a soldier. Listen, there is nobody better to guard your salvation than God. You can have ultimate confidence that Christ will lose none.

This is something we can worship God about!

Application Question: Why do so many people lack assurance of salvation? How can they develop assurance and trust in God as the guardian of their faith and therefore salvation?

Conclusion

Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Many of us have lost it. We don’t worship God anymore about it, and maybe part of it is because we have lost our gaze on the benefits of this great salvation. Peter writes to believers who are suffering to help them again have the joy they are meant to have even in the midst of their tribulations.

  1. Believers should praise God for his mercy in our great salvation. Many have forgotten how rotten they were and how numerous their sins were. God had mercy on us and did not give us what we deserve. He had mercy on us and delivered us from his eternal wrath.
  2. Believers should praise God for the new birth in our great salvation. God has caused us to be born again and given us a new life.
  3. Believers should praise God for the living hope in our great salvation. The world does not have a living hope but only hopes that pass away. They pass away at the grave, their degrees, their finances and their dreams. But this is not true about the believer’s hope. The believer’s hopes are eternal because of their resurrection in Christ. This should bring us joy.
  4. Believers should praise God for the inheritance in our great salvation. Our inheritance is being reserved in heaven by God. In this world all inheritances will ultimately be lost but not the believers’.
  5. Believers should praise God for the future aspects of our great salvation. Thank you, Lord, that we have not received all the benefits of our salvation yet. One day, there will be no more sin, no more sickness, and no more mourning. We will reign as co-heirs with Christ in the new heaven and new earth. Thank you, Lord, that you are protecting this for us.
  6. Believers should praise God for his protection over our great salvation. The believer’s salvation is secure. This should make us sing praises to God as Peter did.

Application Question: How can we keep the joy we are supposed to have in our great salvation especially when going through trials?

Chapter Notes

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Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.


1 Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christs sufferings. Preaching the Word (32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Soteriology (Salvation), Worship (Personal)

3. Secrets To Joy In The Midst Of Trials (1 Peter 1:6-9)

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In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:6–9

Application Question: What are common responses to suffering?

In this epistle, Peter is writing to Christians that are spread throughout Asia Minor, which is modern-day Turkey. They had been scattered because of the persecution coming from Rome. These believers were being persecuted for following Christ; they were being persecuted for being different. He writes to encourage them. Listen to what he says in 1 Peter 1:6: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (emphasis mine).

Peter says it is possible for these believers to have both great joy and grief in the midst of their trials. This verse can also be translated as a command rejoice in this. The believers were suffering in all kinds of trials. The word kinds can be translated “various or multicolored.” Some had, no doubt, lost their land, their loved ones and their careers, and yet Peter says they can still have great joy in the midst of these multicolored trials.

What is the secret to joy in trials? What’s the secret for a Christian to have joy while suffering through bankruptcy, cancer or even a lost child? Is it realistic that both joy and grief can exist together?

As we look at Scripture, we see that Peter is not the only writer who teaches this apparent paradox. Paul in fact lived it. Look at what Paul said about his trials in 2 Corinthians 6:10: “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (emphasis mine).

Paul said he was at the same time “sorrowful” and still “rejoicing.” To have joy in trials is not to deny pain. It is to recognize the fact that they can exist together. They can co-exist in the same way an expectant mother can go through the travail of birth and still have joy in thinking about what is to come. She has joy because she has the “right focus” as she considers this new baby that will be birthed into the world. In the same way, believers must have the right focus in order to have joy in their multicolored trials.

In this study, we will see six secrets to having joy in the midst of trials.

Big Question: What does Peter teach as secrets to joy in the midst of trials? How can we live this type of Christian life in the various multicolored trials we go through?

Focus on the Benefits of Salvation

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:6

Observation Question: What is Peter referring to when he says in “this” you greatly rejoice?

In the flow of thought, this is pointing back to our new birth and inheritance in heaven in verses 3–5. Listen to what he says in the previous verses.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by Gods power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:3–5

Why should believers have joy in their trials according to 1 Peter 1:3-5?

1. We rejoice in our new birth.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth (emphasis mine) into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3).

Peter says we have been given a new birth (v. 3) into a living hope through the resurrected Jesus Christ. We rejoice in the fact that we are new and we are not the same anymore. There was a time when we were dead to God, but now we are alive to him. We are alive to his Word, alive to worship, alive to one another, where before we were dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1–5). This is something we can rejoice in even in the midst of trials. But that’s not it. Peter says there is more.

2. We rejoice in our undefiled inheritance.

“And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet 1:4).

With this new birth, we receive an inheritance in heaven (v. 4). Jesus said in his high priestly prayer in John 17:22 that the glory he had in heaven has been shared with us. Romans 8:17 declares that we are co-heirs with Christ, and therefore, what is the Son’s is ours.

In fact, in some way, we benefit from this inheritance now. Ephesians 1:3 says we have every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. Ephesians 2:6 says we are seated in heavenly places with Christ. This means Christ is ruling in heaven but we are there in spirit with him. Everything that is his, is ours; we are co-heirs. This is a phenomenal concept. In fact, God is preserving this inheritance, keeping it from decay or being stolen, even right now. Let us hear that this inheritance is not only heavenly, but it will be earthly. Jesus declared that the “meek” would “inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5).

There are many people in this life who never receive their natural inheritance. Maybe they don’t receive it because the inheritance is lost or its value changes. But the inheritance to which Peter refers can never perish, spoil, or fade and God is protecting it for us. That’s something we can rejoice in, even when our natural inheritance is taken away.

3. We rejoice in our eternal security.

“Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation” (1 Pet 1:5).

Some people are kept from their inheritance because of their own death. Peter says this is not true for the believer; though the believer may die, we are being sheilded by Gods power until the coming of the salvation (v. 5). Now this is something that only those who understand the reality that God is keeping the salvation of every believer can truly rejoice in. I have found many young Christians that have lost joy or even fallen into spiritual depression, thinking they had sinned in such a way that they had lost their salvation.

Listen, if you are truly born again, you are kept by God’s power “until the coming of salvation” which will be “revealed” at the coming of Christ (1 Pet 1:5) and not the power of your faith. God is the one who gives you faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), and he is the one who keeps it. The promise of Romans 8:28 is only true if our salvation and inheritance are secure; only then can all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. This is a wonderful truth for us, and it is one in which we must focus on in the multicolored trials we may go through. We can focus on our inheritance and security in heaven.

Too many Christians fail to focus on the benefits of their salvation, and therefore, have lost joy when their inheritance on earth is affected. Scripture says we should “rejoice in this” (1 Pet 1:6). We should rejoice in all the benefits of our coming salvation. This is how Paul could suffer and yet still be joyful (2 Cor 6:10); his salvation was always on his mind and he did not lose focus on it.

Application Question: Why do so many Christians lose this joy in their salvation which is meant to sustain them during trials?

It is very possible for Christians to lose the joy of their salvation. We see evidence of this with David. Look at what he prayed in Psalms 51:12: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (emphasis mine). Why had David lost joy in his salvation? The Psalm tells us it was because of sin. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge” (Ps 51:4).

Listen, many of us have lost our joy. The heavens are our inheritance, and the earth will one day be as well, yet so many of us walk around in sadness, anger, and depression. Why is that? It’s because sin has taken away our joy. It may be personal sin, as with David. It may be the sin of a wrong focus—focusing on the things of the world, the economy, and the problems in life. Scripture commands us to “think on godly things.” Listen to what Paul says:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8–9

Many of us have lost our joy because we have sinned by losing the right focus. What must we do if we have lost it? (1) We must confess our sins and turn away from them. (2) We must regain our focus on Christ and the inheritance that he is bringing at his revelation.

One of the things I love about 1 Peter is his focus on the gospel and having joy in our salvation. He has brought us back to the basics. In fact, one of the things that I respect about the reformed tradition (Presbyterians, Reformed Baptist, Reformed Church of America, etc.) is their focus on the gospel as well. I don’t come from a completely reformed background. As you may know, reformed people see the major theme of Scripture as “redemption,” and therefore, in many of their sermons they come back to the gospel because they see everything connected to the gospel. I feel like Peter is doing that here—he brings us back to the gospel; he brings us back to our salvation. It’s extremely important because it so easy to lose the joy that should be ours.

How can we have joy in the midst of our trials? We do that by rejoicing in the benefits of our salvation. We have experienced the new birth. We have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven, and our salvation is secure because God is shielding it for us.

Application Question: What ways have you experienced the loss of joy in your salvation?

Why did you lose it? How can we better strive to keep it?

Focus on Eternity

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:6

Next, he says the trials are only for “a little while.” Now for some of us who have been going through a difficult situation for six months, a year, or ten years, the timing may not feel short at all. Maybe we have been in a bad marriage or dealing with a difficult boss or some type of persecution. In what way is this temporary?

It is temporary, not just because of the fact that it will end in time, but it is a “little while” in comparison to the salvation and inheritance you will experience for eternity. That is the context in the previous verses (1 Pet 3-5). Paul said something similar in 2 Corinthians 4:17–18:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (emphasis mine).

See when Paul was looking at his troubles being “momentary” (v. 17), it was in comparison to the coming glory, which would be eternal (v. 17, 18). It seems to be the same argument used by Peter, since he has just talked about our heavenly inheritance. Trials only last for a little while in comparison to our eternal salvation.

This is the type of view Christians must develop on the earth. Many people are only thinking about tomorrow or focusing on the next immediate milestone: graduation, marriage or retirement, but that view is too shortsighted. We must develop an eternal perspective.

This life is not just about our future career, marriage, or retirement. Do you know we are being prepared for eternity and an eternal destiny? It is not just about getting to heaven. It’s also about the role we will play once we are there. What we do today will affect our eternity. In the Parable of the Minas, listen again to what the master told the servant who used his minas well:

The first one came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.” “Well done, my good servant!” his master replied. “Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities” (emphasis mine).
Luke 19:16–17

How he served on earth affected his future service—the service he would do for the rest of his life. Oh yes, this is the perspective we must have. Our short fifty to seventy years are all about preparing for eternity, not just getting into heaven.

Paul saw his trials as short and momentary. Peter saw them as little in comparison to the glories of eternity, and so must we. We must develop an eternal view in order to have joy in the midst of our trials. If we only are thinking about tomorrow, next year, or thirty years from now, we will not have a sustainable joy. We must have an eternal view. When we view our trials in comparison to eternity, then they become light and momentary. Therefore, we can have joy.

Application Question: What things keep you from developing this eternal view point in the midst of your trials? How can we develop and sustain an eternal view point?

Focus on God’s Sovereignty and Purpose in the Trial

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:6

What is the next reason we can rejoice in trials?

We can rejoice in trials because they have purpose. They are not haphazard; they are not by accident—and God has not forgotten about us. Look at what Peter says: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to (emphasis mine) suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Pet 1:6).

He says “you may have had to.” This can be translated “if necessary” as in the ESV or “if need be” as seen in the KJV. What does Peter mean? He means that God is in control of our trials and they do not happen by accident.  As a father, he only allows us to go through things that are necessary for us.  He doesn’t waste anything.  Understanding this reality is one of the major reasons we can rejoice in the midst of trials.

It is this way with any good father.  A good father only allows his child to go through trials if they are necessary. The child wants to quit Little League Baseball because he’s not very good, but the father knows that the discipline and perseverance he is developing is needed for whatever career God leads him into. The father makes the child finish the season only because it’s necessary for his growth. The child may cry and complain, and it is not that the father is immune to the child’s tears, but it is because he knows what’s best. Our Father knows what’s best as well. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews said about trials: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father” (Heb 12:7)?

In this passage, the writer says to endure “hardship” as discipline—God is treating you as sons. The writer uses the word hardship to refer to any kind of trial we go through. The point the author is trying to make, is that God is in control of every hardship a believer goes through (cf. Eph 1:11; Rom 8:28)

Now there are those who struggle with this and say, “What about trials that come from Satan or my own failure?” Yes, God is in control of those trials as well. That’s why the author uses a general term for hardship. Paul says the same thing in other texts, look at 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it (emphasis mine).

Paul says not only is he in total control, but he is specifically controlling the temperature gauge on every trial. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. He knows exactly what you need and how much you can handle. Believers can rejoice in trials because of this--they have purpose.

Now why would these trials be necessary for us? The fact that they are necessary means there is “intention” behind them. Let’s look at a couple of reasons why trials would be necessary.

Interpretation Question: Why would some trials be necessary and in what ways?

1. Some trials are necessary to turn us away from sin.

This is what we see happening to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11. They were abusing the Lord’s Supper, and God brought weakness, sickness, and even death on them. Look at what Paul says:

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:30–32

Sometimes God brings trials to discipline us, to turn us away from sin. Listen to what David said about his experience with discipline: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word” (Ps 119:67). Before discipline came, David was living in sin, but after the affliction, he obeyed God’s words. Often, trials are necessary to turn us away from sin and toward obedience. Like every good parent, sometimes God will bring discipline in the life of a believer to give them motivation to obey. In the situation of the Corinthians, this included weakness, sickness, and even death.

Death is the ultimate way to turn someone from sin. He did this with Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5. They were lying to the church about their giving and because of this God took them home.

2. Trials sometimes are necessary to protect us from sin.

What does that mean? Let me explain through the illustration of Paul and his thorn in the flesh.

Second Corinthians 12:7 says: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (emphasis mine). We are not sure what this “thorn” in the flesh was. God has chosen not reveal it. I have no doubt that God did this so that we could apply it to any trial we experience, whether sickness, depression or demonic persecutions. Whatever Paul’s trial, it was given to him because of the “surpassing great revelations” he had received from God.

In the previous verses (1-6), Paul had talked about how he was taken to heaven and saw visions and things he could not speak about. These would make any person proud. If Satan, who was originally an angel without a sin nature, fell into pride—how much more likely a human who was exalted to write near half of the New Testament? In order that he would not become proud, God humbled him through a demonic affliction. It does not say Paul was prideful, but God was saving him from the sin of pride through this humbling experience. Maybe that is why God touched Jacob’s thigh and caused him to limp after wrestling with God and prevailing. Maybe that was why God allowed Peter to go through such a humbling trial at the cross since he would be the Lord’s chief Apostle.

In the same way, many trials we go through could possibly be a form of God’s grace to keep us from sin. We have probably seen this in some of the people God has chosen to use in the greatest ways. Charles Spurgeon, who was called the Prince of Preachers, used to struggle with depression that was so bad at times he couldn’t leave his bed for weeks.

The trial given to Paul was a work of grace to keep him from the sin of pride.

3. Trials are ultimately needed in order for us to grow in character.

Listen to what Hebrews says: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12:11).

For those who are trained by going through hardship, it produces a harvest of righteousness. Hear this: peace, patience, endurance, love, and joy are fruits of trials. There is a harvest for those who have been trained by pain. Look at the life of any truly godly man or woman, and you will see that godliness has always been marked by trials.

We are trained by persevering through the trial and seeking the Lord and his Word in the midst of it. However, those who are not trained by it often develop strongholds. Hebrews 12:12, 13 says this: “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (emphasis mine). Many develop strongholds and addictions by going through trials. It is harder for them to love, harder for them to forgive, or harder for them to have peace. They become “lame” and “disabled.” Only those who are “trained” by the trial, develop the character God wants.

4. Trials maybe necessary in order to further equip us for ministry.

Listen again to what Paul said:

Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer (emphasis mine).
2 Corinthians 1:4–6

Paul said he had learned that God comforted him in the midst of trouble so he could comfort those in any trouble. There are some Christians, especially young Christians, who struggle with how to comfort somebody in the midst of a failure, a loss, or some depression. This is not their fault, and it is not necessarily a lack of spirituality. Many of them just don’t have the experience of going through trials with God yet. This is where he prepares his counselors.

One of the wonderful promises about this text is that God uses trouble in order to comfort us so we can comfort those who go through “any trouble” (v. 4). This means that my trial with depression is used to help believers who have experienced trials that are different from mine. I don’t necessarily have to experience exactly what they have gone through to comfort them.

In the midst of pain, God creates a reservoir in you. This reservoir allows you to go deeper than you have before. Those of you who are hard-hearted and never cry, God teaches you to cry through pain. He teaches you how to be able to feel others’ heartaches. He teaches you how to better hear God’s voice in times of suffering. All this will enable you, in a special way, to be able to minister to others.

My calling to ministry was also marked by trials. After feeling impressed to go into ministry, I struggled with depression for over a year. But, during this depression God comforted me through his Word. I probably read through the Bible fifteen times in close to a year and a half. When people hear me preach, they will hear a strong emphasis on the importance of Scripture, the importance of daily meditation on the Word of God because that is the way God “comforted me” and I, therefore, comfort others the same way.

It is a mystery, but God brings comfort through the broken. It’s only the broken whom he can pour his precious grace through to minister to others.

What other reasons are trials necessary? The next reason is because it “tests our faith.” We will focus on that in the next section, as it is also a secret to having joy in the midst of trials.

Application Question: What are your thoughts about the concept of God being in control of every trial and him only allowing them if they are necessary?

Focus on Your Faith

These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:7

Peter says that trials are used to prove the genuiness of one’s faith. The word proved is used of testing metals through fire. In this passage, faith is both compared and contrasted with gold. Gold is one of the most precious metals because it is one of the most imperishable. It lasts for a very long time. Gold can be passed from generation to generation. The imperishableness of gold is one of the things that make it valuable. If it only lasted for a couple of years, it would be less expensive.

The contrast is that true faith is more precious than gold in that it never perishes. In fact, true faith is indestructible. If faith is genuine, it will last until the revelation of Christ when he comes, and it will result in praise, glory, and honor from God (v. 7).

Trials to our faith, are like fire to a precious metal—the fire tests the genuineness of it. Each metal has a different melting point, and that is one of the ways you can tell if something is really genuine. The metallurgist will put it in the fire and see at what temperature it melts. If it melts early, it is not real. Trials have the same effect on a believer’s faith.

No doubt there have been many miners who found something that looked like gold. It was beautiful, but when they put it into fire, they found out it wasn’t. It melted at a lower temperature. It was not as strong or valuable. Genuine gold will last at high temperatures.

That is similar to genuine faith. However, genuine faith lasts forever, and faith that ultimately falls away from God in the midst of trials is spurious. It is false faith. A lot of times we don’t talk about false faith in church, but it is a reality. In fact, James talks about a faith without works, as “demonic faith.” He says even the demons believe and shudder (Jas 2:19).

How do we know if we have genuine faith? One of the ways we can tell is by our response to trials. Listen to the story of the seed sown upon rocks.

The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away (emphasis mine).
Matthew 13:20–21

See, this person was in the church, heard the Word of God, and he responded with joy. In fact, it seems like a very emotional “conversion.” However, this person’s faith was very shallow and didn’t last. Why is that? Maybe the conversion was based on bad teaching? In many of our churches, we call people to faith saying that if you come to Christ, you will be able to hit homeruns, you will be able to make straight A’s, you will never be sick, and you will be wealthy. At times there is an unhealthy form of the gospel taught in the church.

When this person eventually encounters trouble or persecution, they fall away from God and never return. Maybe they were believing God for healing, and it didn’t happen. Maybe they realized following Christ would mean being different, or as with the people in Asia Minor, it meant being persecuted for their faith. This person inevitably falls away from Christ and never returns. His faith was not real, and the trial was meant to demonstrate that. That is one of the blessings of trials; it proves our faith, whether it is real or not.

For many, when they go through a church split or they were harmed by a church leader, they fall away from the faith and never return. This is not true faith. Listen to what John said about those who were in the church but left the church of Ephesus to follow the Gnostic cults.

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us (emphasis mine).
1 John 2:19

He doesn’t say they lost their salvation or lost faith. He simply says “they did not really belong to us.” They weren’t really saved. He says if they were saved, they would have “remained.”

See, true faith, unlike gold, is imperishable. Gold is valuable in part because of how long it lasts, but gold will eventually fade and corrupt, unlike true faith. True faith will last in the face of trials. It’s one of the ways we can tell if it’s genuine.

Let us remember, how Jesus responded to those who professed salvation in Matt 7:23; he says, “I never knew you.” They were not saved and lost it. No, they were never saved. He never knew them, though they were in the church and served in the church. It was never true faith.

A good example of this is Peter and Judas. They both denied Christ when they were tested through the trial. Peter fell away and came back because he had genuine faith. Judas denied Christ and never returned. Jesus had always said that one of the disciples was unclean and a devil (John 6:70). Judas didn’t have genuine faith.

In the same way, trials are necessary in order to prove the reality of one’s faith.

How do you respond to trials? Does it draw you closer to God, closer to his Word and closer to the people of God? Or, does it pull you away from him, his people, and his will for your life? Trials help us evaluate our faith.

True faith is ultimately indestructible because God keeps it by his power. One of the reasons we can rejoice in trials is because it proves the genuiness of our faith. It proves to us and others that we are part of the kingdom of God (Philip 1:28, 29).

Application Question: What are some ways we can focus on our faith in trials in order to keep our joy?

Focus on the Future Glory

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:6–7

What other reasons can we rejoice in trials? We rejoice because trials bring a greater future glory. When it says the trials have come so that our faith “may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed,” this seems to be referring to the reality that God will praise you, glorify you, and honor you for your faithfulness in going through trials. Christ taught the same thing. Listen to what he said:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (emphasis mine).
Matthew 5:11–12

He said, “Rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in heaven.” There is a reward given for suffering. James said the same thing: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life (emphasis mine) that God has promised to those who love him” (Jas 1:12).

Here is a question: does simply going through a trial warrant reward in heaven? No, its how we go through the trial. James says blessed, or happy, is the man who perseveres under trial.

We see Israel going through trials in the wilderness, and God disciplined them. They fell away from God, they complained about God, and they were divided. But there is another way to go through trials. It is the way of faith—it is the genuine faith that is tested through the trial. God rewards those who faithfully “persevere.” Listen to a few other texts:

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life (emphasis mine).
Revelation 2:10

Listen to what Christ said: “Be faithful” and you will be rewarded. God will honor those who have been faithful in the way they have persevered through trials. They did not become like the Israelites who murmured, gossiped, became divisive, and ultimately turned away from God. Those who are faithful—meaning that they didn’t quit, meaning that they continued to trust in God and honor him in the midst of trials—will be richly rewarded.

The writer of Hebrews says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (emphasis mine)” (Heb 11:6).

Are you faithfully seeking him in the midst of your trial? God says, “That’s what I’m looking for. I will reward those who have faith in the midst of their trials. I will rejoice over them and honor them. I will give them a crown.” Peter saw this and focused on this in the midst of his trials. He also called these suffering saints to focus on it as well.

This is a wonder. Typically, we honor those who are successful and do great things. This is common in the world. But look at Christianity—we honor and worship a man who died on a cross. This was something shameful in that culture. Who would honor a person who died in an electric chair?

But we see this reality throughout the Scripture. We see the man Job, memorialized in Scripture for his faithfulness in going through trials. God honors him in Scripture and, no doubt, in heaven.

We can rejoice in our trials because those who are faithful will be honored and praised by God. They will be memorialized even as Job was.

Application Question: In what ways should the prospect of future reward and glory encourage us as we face trials? How can we encourage others with this when they are suffering?

Focus on Your Relationship with Christ

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:8–9

Peter, in speaking to these Christians, says they are “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” because of their love and belief in Christ. How can this bring joy? It brings joy because it is in the midst of the trial that we see Christ and know him more. It is this loving relationship with Christ that allows us to endure and have joy in trial or tribulation.

I cannot help but think about Jacob and Rachel. As you know in that story, Jacob served Laban for seven extra years to receive Rachel. Genesis 29:20 says: “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (emphasis mine).

It was hard work to serve for her, but it felt like only a few days because of love. Many people have experienced this in the midst of trials. It is the relationships around us that often enable us to endure hard times. There is often a bonding that happens with others while going through hardship together.

Trials can create a tremendous intimacy. Many have experienced this in athletics or the military, as they have gone through both joys and difficulties with those around them. There is a deep intimacy created, which is often hard to replicate apart from the experience of trials.

For the believer, the great thing about trials is that Christ goes through them with us and in the trial we can experience deep intimacy. Christ said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Matt 28:20). He is there, and his presence enables us to get through it, and even experience the sweetest joy. You will find that it is in the fire that your intimacy with Christ becomes the greatest. Ask the three Hebrews who were thrown into the fire in Babylon. While in the fire, they found the Son of God there with them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God (emphasis mine).
Daniel 3:24–25 (KJV)

Our loving relationship with Christ can create some of the greatest joy even in the midst of the fire. How many of us are missing joy in our trials? Maybe we are lacking joy because we are not cultivating this loving relationship with Christ. Listen to what Christ said to the church of Ephesus in Revelations 2:2-4:

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love (emphasis mine).

It is possible to work hard for Christ, persevere through trials, to hate what God hates, and yet still lose our love for Christ. This happened to the church of Ephesus, and it is common for us. When you lose your love for Christ, trials don’t feel like they last only a few days as it was for Jacob working for Rachel. Christianity can become like arduous labor; it can become legalism, and it can steal our joy, if we have the wrong focus.

Many Christians go through trials without joy, because they are not focusing on their loving relationship with Christ. In fact, they have lost their first love like the Ephesians. They have lost it, and instead, are loving other things more than Christ. They love work, friends, TV, hobbies, etc. If you have lost your first love, you cannot have joy in the midst of trials or in the midst of your service for Christ. It will become drudgery. When this happens, the secret is to refocus on your relationship with him.

Are you lacking joy in the midst of your trial? Go back to your first love. This relationship will carry you and give you joy.

Application Question: How do we cultivate our first love again so we can have joy in trials?

1. Spend intimate time with him one on one.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20).

2. Spend intimate time with him among his people.

Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt 18:20). Though this was originally given in the context of church discipline, we can be sure that this is true whenever God’s people gather together for religious purposes.1 Christ is present wherever his people gather for the purpose of worshiping, honoring, and serving the Lord.

3. Obey him. In obedience to Christ, we experience God’s love.

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love (emphasis mine), just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10).

4. Spend intimate time with him through the Lord’s Supper. He knew we were prone to forget. The Lord’s Supper is given to help us remember him.

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (emphasis mine).
Luke 22:19

Conclusion

How can we have joy in the midst of trials?

  1. Focus on the benefits of our great salvation—our new birth, our inheritance, and our security.
  2. Focus on eternity; trials are brief in comparison to eternity.
  3. Focus on God’s sovereignty and purpose in trials. The trial was not an accident it was necessary for your growth and maturation in Christ.
  4. Focus on your faith; trials prove the genuineness of our faith.
  5. Focus on the eternal glory; faithfulness in trials will be rewarded.
  6. Focus on our relationship with Christ; trials can bring deep intimacy with Christ.

Chapter Notes

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Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.


1 Ryle, J. C. (1993). Matthew (164). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

4. Remembering Our Great Salvation (1 Peter 1:10-12)

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Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
1 Peter 1:10–12

Application Question: What things bring you the greatest joy in life?

Peter writes to believers who are being persecuted in Asia Minor, which is current-day Turkey. They were being persecuted for their faith. Some wives were married to husbands who would not respond to the gospel, and they needed to be encouraged.

Peter starts off his letter encouraging these suffering saints with praise to God for their salvation (1 Pet 1:3). He then goes on and talks about what makes it so great. We have a living hope and the new birth. We are being protected for this salvation by God. We have an inheritance that will not fade (1 Pet 1:3–6). Peter writes to them about the greatness of their salvation in order to encourage them and bring them joy in the midst of suffering.

Most people find their joy from family, friends, career, or hobbies, but when family is sick or when there are problems at work, they lose their joy. No doubt, many among these congregations had lost their joy as well since the world around them was falling apart. The greatest joy in our life should be Christ, and the salvation we have received from him. It is from this relationship and the benefits of salvation that we can have enduring joy.

In this passage, Peter wants the Christians to refocus on how great their salvation is so they can have joy and persevere. He starts off with “concerning this salvation,” calling them to remember things they already knew so they can again stand in awe.

Similarly, there are some truths that we already know about our salvation that can help us restore our joy even in midst of trials. In this lesson we will see eight truths about the greatness of our salvation.

Big Question: What does Peter teach us about the greatness of our salvation that should help us have joy in our salvation and encourage us in the midst of our trials?

Remember the Greatness of Salvation in that It Is a Work of God’s Grace

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you.
1 Peter 1:10

The first thing that makes salvation great is the fact that it is a work of God’s sovereign grace.

Interpretation Question: What is saving grace?

1. Grace is “unmerited favor.”

Salvation is not something we deserve because of our good works but is something given as a work of unmerited favor from God. We see this in Ephesians 2:8–9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (emphasis mine).

2. Grace is given regardless of our sins, or in spite of our sins.

Romans 5:8 reads: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (emphasis mine). This truth makes our salvation even more wonderful. It’s in spite of us and based on God’s grace that we have received salvation.

Interpretation Question: Peter said this “grace” was spoken of by prophets about how it would eventually come to us. Does this mean that people in the Old Testament did not experience grace (v. 10)?

The Old Testament saints did experience God’s grace, but they did not fully understand it as we do today. Scripture says the benefits of Christ’s cross were applied to their sins as well. But they did not fully understand the unmerited favor they were receiving from God. God dealt with them in forbearance on the basis of the sacrifice that would come for their sins. They were looking forward to Christ as pictured through the sacrifices. Listen to Romans 3:25–26,

God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

This shows the application of Christ’s blood. It applies to those who by faith have followed God since the beginning of the world. We see God accrediting righteousness to Abraham because of his faith as mentioned in James 2:23: “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.”

Abraham was saved by grace. God accredited the righteousness of Christ to his account on the basis of the future grace that we have received. Yet, Abraham did not fully understand why this grace was applied to his life. He did not have a full understanding of the coming Messiah and his future death for the sins of the world.

Application Question: How should the fact that our salvation is based on grace affect us?

1. This truth should make us worship God.

He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: Let him who boasts boast in the Lord(emphasis mine).
1 Corinthians 1:28–31

God’s amazing grace should draw us to worship him and boast only in him.

2. This truth also should encourage us when we fail and humble us when we succeed.

Many people, though saved by grace, still relate to God on the basis of their works. For some people, if they read their Bible or went to church, then they feel like they can approach God or relate to him. When they fail, they feel unworthy to go to church or read their Bibles. They relate to God based on their works, and therefore, Satan continually discourages them when they fail or tempts them to pride when they succeed. When we understand that we are saved by grace and Christ is the sole basis of our relationship to the Father, it should encourage us when we fail and help us remain humble when we succeed.

Look at how Paul rebukes the Galatians who were trying to relate to God based on law and legalism. “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort” (Gal 3:3)?

Understanding the grace given in salvation should make us joyful. We didn’t deserve it; it came from God on the basis of his mercy and grace. This should give us joy. Amazing grace should make us rejoice even in suffering!

Application Question: What ways are you tempted to still relate to God based on works instead of grace?

Remember the Greatness of Salvation in the Sufferings and Glory of Christ

To which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:11

What other ways was Peter calling these Christians to remember the greatness of their salvation? We see the greatness of it in that Christ suffered to bring us this salvation.

One of the qualities of something that many times makes it special is its cost. We are very protective over a house, a car or electronics because of how expensive they are. There is a great cost. In the same way, one of the things that make our salvation so great is its tremendous cost. It cost God his Son and it cost Christ tremendous pain and suffering. He bore the wrath of God on the cross. We see the afflictions and suffering of Christ clearly in Isaiah 53:3–5,

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

It is no surprise that when Peter is trying to encourage suffering saints, he points out that Christ was prophesied to suffer and receive glory after. We can be sure Peters mention of the Saviors sufferings was strategic to encourage the saints.

In essence, these words show us that the prophets were given a particular insight into salvation’s mystery—that the Christ would be a suffering Christ—and that only after suffering would he be given “subsequent” glories. For the typical first–century religious Jew, this thought was simply unacceptable. They wanted a Christ of glory. They had no time for a Messiah given over to suffering. Yet Peter’s early readers had been saved by just such a gospel. For the discouraged believer in Peter’s audience, this reminder would have been greatly encouraging. The life they were living, filled as it was with trials and difficulties, mirrored the life of the Messiah, in whom they had put their trust.1

This is very important to remember. Our Lord suffered on this earth and now has glory in heaven. This should help us persevere in our trials. Look at what the writer of Hebrews said:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood (emphasis mine).
Hebrews 12:2–4

We should consider Christ’s sufferings as we suffer. The writer of Hebrews says we should consider him so that we will not grow weary and lose heart. We must focus on the sufferings of Christ and also the glory that followed Christ as he sat down at the right hand of God (v. 2). Our salvation is great because of its tremendous cost, the sufferings of Christ.

Application Question: In what ways do you find encouragement in suffering by looking or “fixing your eyes” on Christ?

Remember the Greatness of Salvation in that It’s a Fulfillment of Prophecy

To which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:11-12

Another thing that makes our salvation great is the fact that it is the fulfillment of many biblical prophecies. The first prophecy in the Bible predicted Christ’s sufferings and his glory. Look at Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

The woman would have an offspring that would be bitten by the serpent and this offspring would crush the serpent’s head. There has only been one seed of the woman throughout history and that is Christ. When a child is born, he or she comes from the man’s seed. But, Christ was the woman’s seed because he came through a virgin birth. His flesh wound was his death on the cross. His sufferings were predicted from the beginning of time. However, Christ crushed the head of the serpent, Satan, at his resurrection and he will complete the work at his second coming (Rev 20:10).

The prophecies fulfilled in Christ’s suffering and subsequent glories are seen throughout the Old Testament. In fact, there were twenty-nine prophecies fulfilled in one day, the day of Christ’s death. Let’s look at a few:

  1. He would be betrayed by a friend (Ps 41:9).
  2. The price of the betrayal would be thirty pieces of silver (Zech 11:12).
  3. The money would be used to buy a potter’s field (Zech 11:13).
  4. He would be forsaken and deserted by his disciples (Zech 13:7).
  5. He would be accused by false witnesses (Psalm 35:11).
  6. He would be silent before his witnesses (Isaiah 53:7).
  7. He would be wounded and bruised (Isaiah 53:5).
  8. He would be hated without cause (Psalm 69:4).
  9. He would be struck and spit on (Isaiah 50:6).
  10. He would be mocked, ridiculed, and rejected (Isaiah 53:3).
  11. He would collapse in weakness (Psalm 109:24-25).
  12. He would be taunted with specific words (Psalm 22:6-8).
  13. People would shake their heads at him (Psalm 109:25).
  14. He would be executed among sinners (Isaiah 53:12).
  15. His hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22:16).
  16. He would pray for his persecutors (Isaiah 53:12).
  17. His friends and family would stand afar off (Psalm 38:11).
  18. His garments would be divided and won by casting lots (Psalm 22:18).
  19. He would be given gall and vinegar (Psalm 69:21).
  20. His bones would be left unbroken (Psalm 34:20).
  21. He would die for our sins (Isaiah 53: 4–6).
  22. His side would be pierced (Zech 12:10).
  23. He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9).

Now as we look at this list, we must say, “Wow! That is pretty convincing.” If Jesus fulfilled all those prophecies, he must be the Son of God—he must be the seed that everybody was waiting for.

What is the probability that a person would fulfill only eight of these prophecies? Professor Peter W. Stoner states that the probability of just 8 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 1 x 10 17th. That is 100,000,000,000,000,000.

It has been illustrated like this: if you take 1 x 1017 silver dollars and placed them over Texas (the second largest US state), you would not only cover all of Texas but would have a coin pile two feet deep. If you blindfolded yourself, took one of the coins and threw it back into the pile, and walked from the beginning of Texas, stopping only once to find that coin, that is the chance that one person would fulfill only eight of these prophecies, let alone the sixty major prophecies fulfilled in Jesus. This again shows the greatness of our salvation. It is the fulfillment of many prophecies given in the Old Testament.

Application Question: What applications can we take from these prophecies about Christ’s sufferings?

It reminds us of the accuracy of Scripture and that we can trust it. God fulfilled his prophecies “to the letter” concerning Christ. We can trust them for our lives, and we can trust them specifically as we look forward to the glories that will come with Christ at his second coming. Listen to what Paul said about Scripture:

All Scripture is God–breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (emphasis mine).
2 Timothy 3:16–17

Because Scripture is God’s breath, we can be sure it is accurate and trustworthy for God cannot tell a lie (Titus 1:2).

One of the reasons our salvation is great, is because it was prophesied from the beginning of time. It is the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies. We now are walking in the fulfillment of them.

Application Question: Do you think fulfilled prophecy is a great witnessing tool? Why or why not? How can you use it more affectively in your ministry?

Remember the Greatness of Salvation in the Prophets Labor to Understand It

Searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:10-11

Observation Question: What ways does Peter describe the labor of these prophets in seeking to understand the prophecies about Christ in 1 Peter 1:10-11?

1. They tried to understand the time (v. 11) when the Messiah would come.

2. They tried to understand the circumstances, or person, in which he would come (what person or time, as in the NASB).

We only labor to understand important things. The prophets labored because the knowledge of this saving grace was so special, and it should be special to us as well. We get a hint of how draining the prophetic work was through the words of Daniel. Of the sufferings he had to go through, he writes:

My spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me (Daniel 7:15). And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it (8:27). When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute. And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breadth is left in me” (10:15–17).2

The prophets labored to understand God’s Word, even becoming sick and worn out in the midst of these visions. Listen to what Christ said in Matthew 13:17: “For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (emphasis mine).

Application Question: What applications can we take from the prophet’s labor in seeking to understand prophecy?

1. It reminds us of our need to labor hard and search the Scripture intently to understand it as well.

Peter said they “searched intently and with the greatest care.” They studied Scripture looking forward to much of what we have experienced. Yet, we find ourselves often less enthusiastic than them, in our pursuit of truth. Look at what Paul told Timothy: “Do your best to present (emphasis mine) yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).

We must do our best as well. We must labor to understand Scripture. That is an application we can take from the zeal of the prophets.

2. It should encourage us to study prophecy specifically.

No doubt, many in those times had wrong ideas of this coming Messiah, which eventually affected their reception of him. Some saw only his coming as a conqueror and missed his sufferings. Some did not study prophecy at all and were simply not ready to receive Christ at his coming.

Let us take an application from this that the study of prophecy is important. Often people neglect the study of prophecy, specifically end-time prophecy, saying it’s too difficult or too controversial. However, the all-wise Father has still chosen to give us these teachings. He deems them important for our sanctification and preparation for the second coming of Christ.

Let us never think they are not important to study. No, they are important, and that’s why Satan works so hard to bring division or frustration over them. He realizes that in the same way a faulty understanding, or lack of understanding, of prophecy negatively affected Israel’s readiness for the coming Messiah, a lack of understanding also will negatively affect us in being prepared to receive his second coming.

Our salvation is great, and that is shown in how the prophets devoted their lives to studying and understanding its coming through the Messiah. We should devote our lives to studying and understanding it as well.

Application Question: What ways is God calling you to search the Scripture intently in order to know him more? What are some practical ways you can implement this discipline?

Remember the Greatness of Salvation in the Worldwide Proclamation of It

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:12

Today people are really big into social media. Everybody has a Facebook or Twitter. There are people who constantly post on YouTube. If something posted does really well, it could have thousands of hits. A person who is really well-known on Facebook or Twitter might have thousands of friends. What these “hits” and “friends” indicate is popularity. Some videos with humble beginnings actually get world-wide acclaim.

Similarly, this is something that makes this gospel so special. It was revealed to a small group of people by the Holy Spirit but now is being preached everywhere around the world. God sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles to reveal it and to the preachers to proclaim it to all who would listen. Listen to what Paul said about this gospel:

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to Gods holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power (emphasis mine).
Ephesians 3:4–7

The apostles and prophets were the original recipients of the gospel and its messengers. The word apostle actually means “sent one.” They were sent all over the world to preach the gospel to people, and it reached those in the Roman Empire. No doubt, there is a sense in which 1 Peter 1:12 also refers to other missionaries and teachers teaching the gospel through the Holy Spirit.

One of the things that makes this gospel great, is its worldwide acclaim. It has been preached all around the world and still is being preached. Romans 10:15 says: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Application Question: How is God calling you to share in the spreading of this great gospel? Whose salvation are you praying for at this time?

Remember the Greatness of Salvation in the Blessing of Hearing It

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:12

In this passage, Peter says the gospel was preached to “you.” One of the greatest things about salvation is the miracle of us hearing the gospel. Many of us have grown up in Christian homes or with great exposure to Christianity. However, many have not. It is a tremendous work of grace that we have been exposed to this wonderful message that saved our souls. Because of our exposure, many of us have lost the awe of this reality, and maybe that had happened to these Christians in Asia Minor who were scattered. Thus he reminds them that this great message had been preached to them.

I remember hearing the story about a Chinese lady who had just heard the gospel and accepted Christ. She asked the missionary, “How long have you known about this gospel?” The missionary shrugged and said, “I was taught it as a kid.” The Chinese lady responded, “How come we are just now hearing about this?”

Let us not forget how great this salvation really is and how great it is that we have been exposed to this message by God’s sovereign grace.

Application Question: How should we respond to this sobering reality of how fortunate we are to have heard the gospel?

1. It reminds us of how thankful we should be for hearing the gospel. Not everybody has heard it. I think we also should be grateful to those who specifically shared it with us.

2. It reminds us of our need to share the gospel. When something is really great news, you want to share it with others. The apostles and preachers went all over the world sharing this good news through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must seek to do the same.

When we remember how we heard the gospel and how it is being spread around the world, it should give us joy.

Application Question: How did you first hear and receive the gospel?

Remember the Greatness of Salvation in that the Gospel Came through the Holy Spirit

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:12

Peter says this gospel is great not only because it is being preached everywhere by apostles and ministers, but it is great because it came through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the author of this gospel. Listen to what Paul said about the gospel:

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ (emphasis mine).
Galatians 1:11–12

The gospel was given to the apostles through the Holy Spirit, who was sent by Christ. This makes the message of the gospel great, and therefore, salvation great. It does not come from man but from God.

Application Question: What applications can we take from the fact that the gospel came through the Holy Spirit?

This reminds us of the certainty of our salvation since it is not a gospel of men but one that came through the Holy Spirit.

Religion comes from men. That is why when we look at the religions of the world, we see things that largely reflect man’s nature. In ancient Greek religions, the gods made war, came down and had sex with women, were jealous and power hungry. Religion reflects man, but the gospel reflects God and his work of grace. No other religion has a savior. All religions show man working for their salvation. This is the gospel.

Peter says the “Spirit of Christ” prophesied through the prophets and the Holy Spirit through the apostles (1 Pet 1:10-12). It reminds us that these truths about our salvation were not given by man. It was Christ, through the Holy Spirit, working through prophets to teach us the Word of God (2 Tim 3:16). Look what Peter says in his second epistle:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (emphasis mine).
2 Peter 1:20–21

This also is a tremendous comfort in the midst of persecution and trials. We can stand in the midst of persecution or trials because our salvation is real. The message comes from the Holy Spirit. We can trust and put our faith in it; even if we die, we will go to heaven. This reality should comfort the believer.

Remember the Greatness of Salvation in that Even Angels Desire to Understand It

Even angels long to look into these things.
1 Peter 1:12

This salvation is great because even angels desire to look into it. It was not only the labor of prophets, the endeavor of preachers, but also the focus of angels. In what way?

The word long in the Greek means “an intense desire to know something”—it is not a whimsical thought but an intense desire. The word look means to “stretch one’s head forward” or “to bend down.” It was used of Mary stooping down to look into Christ’s tomb (John 20:11). These words show the strong interest that angels have in understanding the experience of our salvation.

In the same way that believers stand in awe of such realities as the angels communion with God and the doctrine of the Trinity, angels stand in awe of the grace in our salvation. Look at what Paul says in Ephesians:

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (emphasis mine).
Ephesians 3:10–11

It has been said that when the original angels fell, God gave no grace but only justice. He judged them by kicking them out of heaven. Therefore, the angels never knew God’s grace but only his justice. However, with man, God chose to not only give them justice but also grace. Therefore, the angels stand in awe at an experience they have never had. No doubt, this is not just a fascination, but a desire to know God more so they can more fully worship him, which is their primary reason for existence. In fact, Scripture declares this is one of the reasons God chose to save man, in order to show his grace in the coming ages (Eph 2:7).

Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (emphasis mine).
Ephesians 2:5–7

Maybe this makes Satan a little angrier at man. David himself said, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” Why does God choose to give grace to one and not to another? For this reason, the angels stand in awe.

Application Question: What applications or encouragements can we take from the reality of the angels looking at the mystery of the gospel?

It again reminds us of the grace we have received and our need to worship God. God did not give the angels grace but justice. We cannot but respond as the psalmist:

What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.
Psalms 8:4–6

Conclusion

Why is our salvation so great and why should we be encouraged from it during suffering?

Listen to what one commentator said:

  • Prophets labored their entire lives to present the true gospel to us.
  • Preachers have traveled around the globe to ensure that it has gained a hearing before us.
  • Angels would like nothing better than to gaze into what God has done for us.

“Surprise!” says Peter. “This is how much God cares for you.” I can almost hear the shouts of joy rolling across the rugged topography of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. This is amazing love. Ancient prophets, itinerant preachers, and exalted angels have for ages stood in service to this salvation that has come to us! The fullness of your salvation has been the joyful business of God’s servants over the centuries.

Knowing this, I hope you have a surge of spiritual fortitude to remain faithful wherever God has placed you. Hearts were made to rise in worship. And looking ahead, our minds are to be made ready for action.3

Our salvation is great and should encourage us even in suffering because

  1. it is a work of God’s grace, not merited by us
  2. it was acquired for us through Christ’s sufferings and glory
  3. it was the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies
  4. it was the labor of the prophets to understand it
  5. it was proclaimed by apostles and preachers around the world
  6. it was proclaimed to us
  7. it is the work of the Holy Spirit
  8. it is the fascination of angels.

Remember how special this salvation is and let us have joy in the midst of our suffering.

Chapter Notes

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Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.


1 Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christs sufferings. Preaching the Word (50). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

2 Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christs sufferings. Preaching the Word (50–51). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

3 Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christs sufferings. Preaching the Word (53). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Soteriology (Salvation)

5. The Christian’s Duty In Response To Salvation (1 Peter 1:13-16)

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Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13–16

Big Question: What are the Christian’s duties in response to our great salvation as seen in 1 Peter 1:13–16?

Many think salvation is just about heaven and it doesn’t affect life now. However, this is not true. Our salvation should affect us tremendously.

In these verses, Peter moves to the imperative mode. He leaves describing and explaining our salvation to sharing the Christian’s duty in response to it by giving commands. What is the Christian’s duty?

The Christian’s Duty Is to Be Mentally Ready to Serve God

Therefore, prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Prepare literally means “gird up” and can refer to tightening a belt, cinching up a cord or rope, or tying something down in preparation for a certain action. In ancient times, this concept referred to the gathering up of one’s robe (Ex. 12:11; 1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 4:29; 9:1; Jer. 1:17). If a person wanted to move quickly and easily, often he would pull the corners of his robe up through his belt or sash to tie those corners in place. Peter metaphorically applies this process to the mind.1

The fact that Peter applies this concept to the mind, means that it is in the mind, or the way a person thinks, that is especially important in serving God. It also means that it is through the mind that a person is often tripped up and kept from fulfilling their calling in Christ.

Peter shows us the importance of the believer’s thought life in serving God. Certainly, we see this emphasized throughout Scripture. Christ taught that adultery first happened in one’s mind in Matthew 5:28. He also talked about anger being the seed that brings forth murder (Matt 5:22). In fact, we commonly see Paul focusing on the way a person thinks.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:1–2

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:2

Application Question: What are some common ways we can get tripped up in our spiritual life by how we think?

1. Anxieties or worries are common stumbling blocks to a girded mind.

One of the most common ways I find myself being tripped up in my spiritual life, which hinders my effectiveness, is being too future-oriented. I have learned this both biblically and experientially. I can get on my computer and start thinking about further education, future ministries, or writing books, and it steals my mind, steals my sleep, and steals my meditation from God. Now there is a place for all these things, but when it creates “anxiety,” it leads me into sin.

Consider some of these texts.

Anxiety in the heart of man brings depression.
Proverbs 12:25

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
Matthew 13:22 (emphasis mine)

The anxious person will find himself depressed. But even worse than that, Christ taught that an ungirded mind would choke the Word of God and keep it from ever producing fruit or truly saving someone. The duty of a Christian is to gird his mind because worry and anxiety brings depression and also keeps God’s Word from producing fruit in our lives.

2. Condemning thoughts are a common stumbling block to a girded mind.

This seems to be a special ministry of the enemy. Devil actually means “accuser or slanderer.” He will commonly bring accusing thoughts about God, others and even yourself. He will slander your works and motivation in order to deter you from serving God. This often leads to depression or apathy. It will make a person want to give up and sometimes leave the faith. Listen to what Paul said: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation (emphasis mine) for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).

The believer must understand that because of our new relationship to God, Satan has no rights to accuse us in regards to our salvation. Our flesh has no rights and neither do other people. We must understand this in order to gird our minds and protect ourselves. Listen to what Paul said:

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us (emphasis mine).
Romans 8:33–34

Paul says no one can condemn us because God has justified us. He has made us as though, we had never sinned. He can do this because Christ died, was raised from the dead, and now intercedes for us at the right hand of God. When we truly understand this truth, it will help us gird our minds from accusations.

3. Comparing ourselves with others is a common stumbling block to a girded mind.

If you are a person whose mind is always looking at others instead of Christ, you have a mind that is being tripped up. This will create pride, or it will create insecurity or despair. Listen to Paul:

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
2 Corinthians 10:12

We also may get a picture of this in 1 Corinthians 12 when Paul describes the church as a body. Listen to what some Christians may say:

If the foot should say, Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be (emphasis mine)?
1 Corinthians 12:15–17

It is clear that some people in the church look around at others’ gifts, their ability to sing, their ability to preach or pray, and they say I am not important. They discourage themselves by looking at others and their gifts. But they forget that they have a role in the body as well and each part depends on one another.

Understanding the importance of every part of the body will help keep you from discouragement or insecurity. This will help you have a girded mind so you won’t be tripped up as you see what God is doing through others.

4. The fear of man is a common stumbling block to a girded mind.

Another common way Christians are kept from serving God is the fear of man and worrying about what others think. Look at what Solomon said: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” (Prov 29:25).

This is important to hear because many Christians are not serving God because they have a fear of others’ opinions or of ruining their reputation. Their fearful thoughts keep them from fully serving God.

Interpretation Question: How do we gird our minds up? What should we do in order to practice this?

1. The believer must first recognize unbiblical mindsets that commonly trip them up in order to gird their mind.

What trips you up?

Jesus said in Matthew 5:29 and 30 that if your right eye offends you, pluck it out; if your right hand offends you, cut it off. The hand obviously is referring to what one does, but the eye not only refers to what one sees but what one thinks about because the eye is the door to the mind. In order to cut something off, we must first recognize what is tripping us up.

If there is something that offends you when you think or meditate on it, or something that causes you to sin, we must first recognize it. That is the first step. One of the only good things about a stumble or some failure is that we can look back at it and learn how to never let it happen again. Like Christ taught, we must find out what is causing us to sin and cut it off (Matt 5:29).

For some, it is insecurity. They are insecure about their body image, and looking at certain magazines that depict what the world would call a “perfect body” brings them down. For others, it is the future.  When they watch the news, they get really discouraged about the economy and their future. For some, it is the fear of man. We think about parents or friends and their expectations, and it keeps us from following God.

We must look intently at and recognize what is causing us to stumble. Sometimes, we may need the help of others in order to do this. We need pastors, mentors, small-group leaders in helping us properly evaluate our thoughts through a biblical grid. There is safety in the multitude of counselors (Prov 24:6 KJV).

2. The believer must take the ungodly thought captive and get rid of it in order to gird their mind.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (emphasis mine).
2 Corinthians 10:4–5

Interpretation Question: What does it mean to take a thought captive and how do we practice this?

It means to stop a thought that is causing us harm or could result in causing others harm. We need to stop it right in its tracks and submit it to Christ. Some mindsets need to be demolished because they are demonic in nature.

a) Believers take thoughts captive by confronting thoughts with Scripture as Christ did when the enemy attacked him in the wilderness (Matt 4:3–4). We confront lust with Scripture, anxiety with Scripture, and we choose not to think on it anymore.

b) Believers take thoughts captive by prayer.

  • Confess the thoughts before God for forgiveness and deliverance (1 John 1:9).
  • Seek corporate prayer. Sometimes we may need others to pray over us as we are wrestling through an ungodly mindset. James says confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that we can be healed (Jas 5:17).
  • Ask for God’s help in turning away from these thoughts. David prayed in Psalm 119:36, “Turn my eyes from worthless things.” We need to ask the Lord’s help in turning away from whatever is causing us to stumble.

What other ways do we practice girding our mind?

3. Believers must not only confront sin with Scripture but continually saturate their mind with Scripture in order for it to be girded.

This is the picture Paul uses in the spiritual warfare text. Look at what he says: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (Eph 6:14 KJV).

It’s the same analogy. You are prepared to fight, prepared to serve, when your mind is filled with Scripture and it is Scripture that sets you free from the lies so you can serve. Look at these texts:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8–9

It’s the Word of God that sets us free from the mindsets we have been conformed into by the world culture. There are many Christians who are kept from serving and doing what God has called them to do because of the way that culture has trained them. They are trying to fit into the world and be accepted by the world, instead of being what God has called them to be.

Peter speaks to each one of us and says, “Gird your mind.” Get rid of all that excess baggage you have picked up in the world. Get rid of all those lies that are guiding your life. They tell us, we must go here, we must do this, and we must be that in order to be a success. But Christ says the first will be last and the last will be first. The way down is the way up. He who wants to be great, must be the servant of all.

For many Christians, in order for them to be free to serve God, they must first wage a battle to be set free from all the previous teaching that they have been “conformed to.” The believer’s duty after salvation is to gird their mind.

What have you been conformed to? What has the world taught you that has been tripping you up? Is it the teaching of what beauty is, you must look like this and look like that? God says it’s the gentle and quiet spirit that is beautiful before the Lord (1 Pet 3:1–7). It is the character of a person that makes them beautiful. Are you caught in comparing yourself to others? Are you always looking around? Gird up your mind.

Application Question: What ways does the enemy trip you up in your mind, and how will you practice preparing mentally for action?

The Christian’s Duty Is to Be Sober and Disciplined

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled.
1 Peter 13–16

What’s the next thing we should do in response to salvation? Peter says we must be self-controlled or it can be translated sober.

Interpretation Question: What does Peter mean by being “self-controlled” or “sober?” Why is this important and how do we apply this to our lives?

The word that Peter uses here has several meanings:

1. To be sober means to be free of intoxicants both spiritual and physical.

a. Spiritual Intoxication

Because we are saved, we must be free of spiritual intoxicants. Listen to how Paul describes a believer who is living for the world.

Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will (emphasis mine).
2 Timothy 2:25–26

What analogy is Paul using of the person trapped by the devil? He is using the picture of Satan being a hunter, and one of the ways he traps Christians into doing his will is by “intoxicating” them. He drugs them so that they do his will. That’s why it says “come to their senses.”

There are many Christians trapped because of spiritual intoxicants. We see this picture with the prodigal son to some extent (Luke 15). He was in the pig pen. He had left his father’s house because he loved the things of this world, and in the midst of the pig pen, it says he came to his senses (v. 17). He was thinking crazy thoughts; he was drugged with the allure of the world and the things of this life.

There are a lot of Christians who are not spiritually sober. They are drugged with all the things of this world, and it keeps them from living for Christ. This is what John says about the things of this world: “If anyone loves the world and the things of this world the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

Satan uses the things of this world and sin to draw believers away from the love of God. Many of them find themselves like the prodigal son and one day they wake up and say, “What am I doing here? “Why am I so far away from the father’s house?”

We must stay free from spiritual intoxicants and everything that would create apathy to the things of God. This includes false doctrine and any type of sin. Sexual immorality and materialism are particularly potent. They can intoxicate us and keep us from living as God has called us to.

A person who is intoxicated can’t drive properly, and it is the same for Christians with spiritual intoxicants. Many Christians are swerving on the roads and getting into accidents. But what makes this common scenario even worse, is that people who are intoxicated often hurt other people in the process. It’s the same with Christians who are “under the influence.”

b. Physical Intoxication

Because we are saved we must be free of physical intoxicants. What does this mean?

“Be sober” no doubt refers to not only spiritual intoxicants like sin, but also physical intoxicants. This is a call to be free of addictions to cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. Scripture commonly calls Christians to live a sober life. Look at what Paul says in Ephesians 5:18: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

I watch many Christian kids who, instead of being controlled by the Spirit, are controlled by some drug. They can’t go too long without having it. “I’ve got to have a smoke,” “I’ve got to have alcohol,” or “I’ve got to have caffeine.”

Listen, if you’re a Christian like that, you are a Christian who makes Satan happy. The enemy is content to control people indirectly through another influence. That is his plan through the entire world system. He wants to control people and keep them from submission to God and his will for their lives.

Peter says because you are saved, don’t give yourself over to the slavery of some intoxicant. Scripture says be sober and instead be controlled by the Holy Spirit. For the believer, you are allowed to only have one master, and that is Christ. You cannot have two or three (Matt 6:24).

It also important to be sober because the enemy is seeking to devour you, and he will use whatever doors you give him. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8 KJV).

It should also be noted that the word sorcery or magic in the Bible comes from the word pharmakea, where we get the word pharmacy (Rev 18:23). Commonly, witches, or those who were worshiping other gods, would use drugs in order to open themselves up to be controlled by demons. No doubt, this was in Peter’s mind when he called the Christian to be sober. The ancient society would have understood this command because this type of idolatry was happening all around them.

Does this still happen today? Is it any surprise that in most heinous crimes there are drugs involved? I have no doubt that the enemy commonly uses people who cannot control themselves because of submission to a drug in order to rule over them and cause many heinous acts.

This call to be free of physical intoxicants would also be important because the context of this letter is trials. Often, the way people respond to duress is seeking to escape their problems through drugs, like alcohol. Don’t seek to find your relief in a drug, but find your relief in God.

The duty of a believer is to be sober. Do not submit yourself to the control of a drug; you must be controlled instead by God.

Application Question: Do you think that drugs can be an avenue that opens doors to the demonic realm? In what ways do you see this still happening in society?

2. To be sober also means to be disciplined. This is why it can be translated “self-controlled.”

One of the ways a Christian lives a sober life is by being self-controlled. This keeps them from the tricks of the devil, the lure of the world, but also the lure of the flesh. We don’t only have enemies from without—we have enemies from within. Our own flesh works and fights against the things of God. Therefore, a Christians who is not “self-controlled” is a Christian who cannot fulfill the things God has for them.

Listen to how Paul describes the Christians in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training (emphasis mine).
1 Corinthians 9:24, 25

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable (emphasis mine).
1 Corinthians 9:25 (ESV)

Other versions say the athlete is “disciplined in all things.” The Christian must be disciplined in their eating, their drinking, their sleeping, and their media. The Olympic athlete does this for an Olympic crown, but we do it for an imperishable one in heaven. How much more should a Christian be disciplined in all things when we will be rewarded by God, not an Olympic committee?

Listen, many Christians, especially Christian young people, fail this aspect of Paul’s command just by the time they go to bed at night. They don’t get good sleep, which affects their ability to get up and spend time with God. They are not living self-controlled lives. They live school-controlled lives, socially-controlled lives, media-controlled lives, girlfriend or boyfriend-controlled lives, etc.

Being self-controlled is important in order for us to make the most of our time in serving God. Many believers are wasting their life, instead of being disciplined with their time and being self-controlled. Many are wasting their time overly indulging in video games, movies, TV or the internet. Listen to what Paul says: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:15).

The reason we must make the most of our time is because if we do not, there is a tendency to fall into sin. Paul says “the days are evil.” The Christian who is not disciplined with his time will have a tendency to fall into sin.

Are you making the most of your time by being disciplined? Or is Satan using your time to draw you into evil? If we are going to complete the work God has given us to do, we must be self-controlled in all things.

Are you living a sober life? The Christian has a duty to be free of intoxicants both spiritual and physical. The believer should not be controlled by the world, drugs or the devil. The Christian must be controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Christian has a duty to be sober and self-controlled in all things in order honor God through their lives.

Application Question: Why is self-control so important in one’s spiritual life? How is God calling you to be more self-controlled?

The Christian’s Duty Is to Be Hopeful and Expectant in Future Grace

Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13

Application Question: What are your current hopes and how do they affect your life?

Typically, what you are really hoping for affects how you live now. If a person wants to work in the medical field or law, this “hope” guides their life. They make plans to go to undergraduate and then to graduate school because of this future career hope. Hope is very important because it gives us direction. It is a future expectation that propels us.

Similarly, if you have truly “set,” or “fixed,” your hope on the grace that will be given at the coming of Christ, it will affect and guide your life as well. This “grace” includes the person of Christ at his coming, it includes our future complete salvation, our inheritance, heaven, and all the good things God has for us.

This is one of the problems with most Christians; they don’t have their minds fixed on this future hope, and therefore, it affects their lives negatively. It has been said that hope is the same thing as faith—faith is a trust in God for present blessings, and hope is trust in God for future blessings. Listen to what happens when a person has lost their hope, their future faith in Christ and his coming grace.

But suppose the servant says to himself, “My master is taking a long time in coming,” and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
Luke 12:45–46

Christ describes himself as a master and his disciples as servants, or stewards, of his household. In this parable, he describes how the master leaves and some servants, because they said the “master delays his coming,” begins to beat the menservants and eat and drink and get drunk.

Because this particular servant had lost his “expectation” of the coming of the master, he threw off restraint. His life was marked by “discord with people.” It was marked by waste. Every servant ate and drank; however, this seems to be a picture of excess and waste. He also was marked by “drunkenness,” instead of soberness to more effectively serve the master. When the master returns, he punishes the servant and sends him to a place with the unbelievers, which seems to imply that this person was not truly born again.

When you look at the Christian church, we see this in many professing believers. Their relationships are marked by discord—discord with family, friends and employers. Their life is marked by waste, prodigal living, and even sometimes drunkenness or other habitual sins. Why does this happen? It happens because they are no longer “expectant.” If they knew Christ was coming tomorrow, they would radically change their priorities. The duty of the believer is to stay hopeful in the grace to be revealed.

Well, how do we grow in this future hope and expectation in order to live a life in line with this hope?

Application Question: How can we better develop hopeful lives in Christ that will affect how we live?

1. We must be people of the Scripture.

Remember hope is just faith in future promises. What does Scripture teach about faith? Romans 10:17 says, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

Typically, people who are living prodigal lives, without a God-centered expectation, are Christians who neglect the Word of God. The Word of God increases our faith, our hope. It not only is the foundation of saving faith but the conduit of daily faith. You will lack trust and expectation in God if you are not a Christian living in the Word of God.

2. We must be people living in a community of hope.

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Prov 13:20).

He whose companions are serious about God and living in hopeful expectation will grow in this expectation daily. But those who hang around fools will eat and drink and get drunk with fools. Those who walk with people whose lives are primarily earthly, consumed with the things of this life, will probably live for the temporary instead of the eternal. But hopeful people find fire for their hope by being around others who are godly.

Your companions affect your ability to live expectantly. Who are your friends?

3. We must be people practicing the Lord’s Supper.

One of the ways that God has given us to stay expectant of the Lord’s coming and the grace that will come with him is the practice of the Lord’s Supper. It is given to help us remember and to look forward in hope.

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes (emphasis mine).
1 Corinthians 11:25–26

Christ gave us an ordinance, or sacrament, because he knew it was easy for us to forget and lose our expectation. In the midst of suffering it is easy to focus on one’s pain. In the midst of prosperity, it is easy to focus on one’s wealth. However, the Lord’s Supper is given as a means of refocusing us on our greatest gift, which is salvation through Christ’s death and our future hope in his second coming. Christ knew the tendencies of our flesh, so he gave us a discipline to stir up hope.

I think it’s something great to practice with the church, but it can be practiced with mature believers in small groups and homes. The early church broke bread from house to house in Acts 2:46.

The Christian’s Duty Is to Be Obedient Children

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:14-16

What’s the final challenge that Peter gives in response to our salvation in this passage? He calls believers to be “obedient children.”

Interpretation Question: In this text, what does being an “obedient” child entail?

It entails at least four things:

1. To be obedient children, we must break with our former way of life—a life of desire.

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance” (1 Pet 1:14).

It is interesting to consider that the phrase “evil desires” does not just refer to lust. It refers to all types of ungodly desires. This is a characteristic of the world—they live for evil desires. Life is based on what makes one happy, or gives one pleasure, instead of what makes God happy and gives him pleasure. It may be desire for success, materialism, or even love. But the people of this earth are characterized by running around to fulfill their desires rather than to serve God.

What makes a life pursuing our desires wrong is that we were not made as gods. We were made to bring pleasure to God and to live for him. But unredeemed men pursue their desires for their own glory and not to honor God. The greatest commandment is to love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, mind, and soul. He is to be our chief purpose in life, to please him and enjoy him forever.

This is what we must break with. We must break away from a life of living for selfish desires. This is what led Adam and Eve to sin. They looked at the tree and saw it was good for food and good to make one wise, and they ate of it. They pursued their own desires over God’s.

When we look at our society that’s all it is, it is a society just like Adam and Eve in the fall. They desire this new phone, this new car, this degree, this job, this food and they are running around the world for it. They live a life of pursuing pleasure apart from God. In fact, listen to how James describes temptation:

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
James 1:13–14

Dragged and enticed are hunting terms. It’s a picture of Satan being a hunter and flashing desires in front of man in order to draw them into sin and away from God. The TV is full of these “desires.” Like the scenario of a hunter putting bait on a hook, man bites and becomes hooked and caught in sin. This is a picture of the world running after desires: eating, drinking, sex, wealth, success, acceptance, etc.

Again, it should be noticed that desires such as eating, drinking, sex, and entertainment are not wrong per se. They are wrong apart from God. That’s what makes them evil, and that is how Satan traps people by perverting their natural desires and drawing them to seek these things apart from God and his will.

What else does it mean to be an obedient child?

2. To be obedient children, we must know and live for the Father’s desire.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:14–16

The alternative to running after our desires is to be obedient children. What does an obedient child do? He is seeking to fulfill the desires of the Father. This happens by knowing the Father and thus seeking to please him.

Peter tells them the Father’s desire. He says, “Be ye holy because I am holy.” This is what God told Israel. They were to be different because of their relationship to him. Therefore, this must guide our holiness as well, knowing and understanding God.

If God loves a giver, if he enjoys those who love his Word, if he enjoys those who love serving others, then let those things be our passion.

3. To be obedient children, we must do everything for God.

1 Peter 1:15 says: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”

One of the problems with the church is we only do some things for God. We come to church—maybe we also attend small group—but there are some areas of our lives that are off limits. It may be our entertainment that we keep away from God, it may be our friends, or it may be our career. But God says, “I want holiness in all you do.”

Holiness means being distinct and separate from the world, and it also means doing righteous acts. We must remove the secular and spiritual label and commit everything to God. Believers must be holy and distinct in every aspect of their lives. This is how we become obedient children.

4. To be obedient children, we must know Scripture.

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Pet 1:15–16).

He says, “For it is written.” He expects us as Christians to obey the Word of God. He is quoting a verse from Leviticus 11:44. If we are going to be obedient children, we must be Christians who love the Word of God, read the Word of God, and obey the Word of God. Shortly after, Peter says this, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Pet 2:2). He calls us to desire and eat the Word of God just like a baby craves his mother’s milk. This is the normal Christian life. If we do not do this, we cannot be faithful children of God.

Application Question: What do you think of Peter’s description of unbelievers as a people of “desire?” Are Christians any different? Why or why not?

Conclusion

What should be the believer’s duty in response to salvation?

  1. The Christian must be mentally prepared to serve.
  2. The Christian must be self-controlled and sober in daily life.
  3. The Christian must be hopeful and expectant of future grace.
  4. The Christian must be an obedient child.

Application Question: What ways do you feel God is calling you to apply this text to your life?

Chapter Notes

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Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.


1 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter. MacArthur New Testament Commentary (64). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Discipleship

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