We need to keep the setting for the letter Peter writes here in our minds. This is in all probability written as a first and godly response to the persecution brought about by Caesar Nero’s false accusations levelled at our brothers and sisters of the day–the burning of Rome, and the death and distress that set of events (caused I might add BY Nero himself who ordered that fire be set and then blamed on this new sect who did not recognize the “gods” of Rome). We don’t actually live in a very different time. I am reminded of the words of French journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, “plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.” Translated into English, it translates as, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” We live in a world of mis- and disinformation, and it is difficult at times to know the truth of what has been going on in the world. Worse, the modern-day “truth tellers,” the media seem to be either as confused as the rest of us or worse, complicit in the mis- and disinformation campaign of those who would be our lord (the Greek kurios) instead of our Lord Jesus christ, who is greater than whoever that is, whether they like it, and even whether they will acknowledge it or not. Whatever that frightening reality may be, Peter is calling us to a very different calling in Christ.
With all of the world falling apart around him because of the fake news of the day, that his peer group, Believers in the Christ and followers of Jesus, being blamed for everything, Peter’s message was very plain and very simple–persevere. A modern military phrase captures this meaning for me, and it is a senior officer’s instructions to his troops: “Hold the line.”
Beloved, it is absolutely critical that we hear Peter’s burden here in a day when our world also seems to be dominated by fake news and everything is being blamed on God’s servants by those who claim to be Christians and are not, that we are to follow Christ and His example in everything. He became the archetype of humble, and so must we. He suffered the ignominy of false accusations from false followers and brothers. So must we. He suffered for wrongs He did not Himself commit! As hard as it is to say this or even think it, SO MUST WE. I’m not saying go down without speaking the truth, but if go down we must, then let’s go down for what we are…Believers in the Christ and followers of Jesus.
Or are we saying that the current political situation in Canada which now features government-mandated tyranny is somehow worse now for us as believers than it was for the believers under Caesar Nero? I think I beg to differ if that’s what we’re saying. I have not been threatened with personal harm of any kind by agents of the government because I am a believer in Christ. I’m not saying that can’t happen–it likely will as we progress towards the end of time–but it hasn’t happened yet, and the Scriptures say we must work while it is the day, for the night is coming when no one will be able to work. As we used to say on the farm, we need to make hay while the sun is shining.
There is a song I like to listen to by the group Acapella called “Angels long to look into these things.” It is based on this passage of scripture, and very uplifting. Remembering that Peter lived in a world where being revealed as a Christian meant intense persecution and even death by whatever the meanest tyrant could conceive for you, including being turned into a human torch for Nero’s garden, used for target practice by Roman spearmen or archers, fed to the wild animals in front of cheering pagans, even being crucified, or any other torture that could be devised, Peter’s message begins with (care to guess?) the gospel! Writing from the perspective of a believer in the Christ, Jesus, He outlines the kind of joy that we should have on a continual basis, regardless of our circumstances.
This song goes something like this: He has given us new birth, into a living hope / Through His resurrection from the dead / He has given us new birth into inheritance / That can never perish, spoil, or fade / In this we greatly rejoice / Even though we suffer griefs and trials / We have genuine faith / We are filled with Joy / We love Him / We believe in Him / Even though we have not seen His face / Joy inexpressible and glorious / We are receiving the goal of our faith / And I know / Angels long to look into these things / The glory of Jesus. You can find it on YouTube, and it’s worth the hunt, because no matter what is going on in your walk with our Master, it is encouraging and edifying.
I broke the text into paragraphs as follows:
KV7: More Precious than Gold
…so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1-2: Grace and peace to the “resident aliens”
3-5: From glory (the new birth) to glory (the future inheritance)
6-9: Joy in troubles to glorify God in Christ
10-12: Angels long to look into these things
Let’s get into what the Lord is showing us in this text.
KV7: More Precious than Gold
…so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Some have said that you are more precious than gold from this text, and although that may be true to God, that isn’t what this says is more precious than Gold. Charismaniacs will tell you that it is your faith that is more precious than gold, and that too misses the mark, although it is closer. What is more precious than gold here is the PROOF of your faith. The Greek word is dokimion, and it means a completed test that has been passed, more or less. The margin of the NAS says “genuineness,” but that also can be open to some “interpretation.” In my opinion as a non-Greek scholar, this is one’s faith being put to the test and that test has been PASSED. Our modern word for this is “evidence.” There is actual evidence, or proof like in the mathematical sense, of your faith. It exists, and we can see it and demonstrate it evidentially. It is this PROOF or EVIDENCE that is worth more than all the gold you can find, because gold itself will perish (eventually).
A great deal could be said about the ability of gold to withstand time and elements untarnished or undamaged, and compared to most things, it is near eternal–and yet we as believers in Yahweh know that one day EVERYTHING will perish, including gold, because (and Peter will say so) the Lord will raise his voice and the elements will melt into nothing. Gold is important in terms of the world economy. It has been called a hedge of sorts against inflation by many leading economists. I guess if you’re speaking in terms of currency, that kind of makes sense, but it doesn’t from this perspective–you cannot eat it. And not everyone is willing to accept your gold in exchange for food, like what happened in Croatia some years back. However, Gold used to be the reserve currency of the world. Your country could only have the amount of money in circulation that it had in gold bullion. That changed in the early 20th century when the world moved to a floating point currency (and the reserve currency of the world became the US Dollar, and is now transitioning to the Chinese Yuan), but the value and evident beauty of gold has become a standard for wealth all over the world even today. And yet we know it perishes. The evidence of the genuineness of our faith will NOT pass away if WE do not pass away, being preserved by God as his beloved and believing children.
This becomes important when we understand that testing that proves our faith comes in the form of metaphorical fire. Fire is used to melt raw gold and blast away the impurities in intense heat. Metaphorically for us, this speaks of how the believer is exposed to troubles that try their faith. Those that are actually God’s chosen people will be purified by this kind of fiery trial. Those that are what we call false converts will be burned away in this metaphor. Seek that evidence of your faith in how you respond to those trials, because this is the very engine that drives sanctification, which as we know from Paul and James, is what we will need to stand before God.
This evidence is what will give glory to Christ in that day, because it is truly He and not we who is singly responsible for us being included in any measure at all in this glorious inheritance that Peter is speaking of.
Let’s get into the text.
1-2: Grace and peace to the “resident aliens”
In this section, Peter is greeting people and giving his credentials, much like Paul and James did to their target audiences. In fact, it becomes clear that Peter does not view us as citizens of earth any longer by his use of the term parepidemos, meaning a “sojourning in a strange place away from one’s own people,” according to Vine. Our modern language would call those people resident aliens. Alien because they are not from there natively (that is they have another country from which they derive their citizenship), and resident because they happen to live there at the moment. Let’s look.
1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
- Peter first identifies himself as the author (or at least the one who dictates) the letter. Then he credentials himself, identifying himself as an apostle. It is worth noting that there are only 14 men in history that were given that title, and only 13 of them were actually redeemed, one being lost, that being Judas Iscariot. Peter was chief among them. This is the man that wrote this letter. What we will see as we continue through the letter is that he wasn’t puffed up about that, and with his writings, there is no sense of bragging. In fact, I get the exact opposite read…that of humility, not hubris.
- Peter also identifies his specific audience, and even gives geographical place names, which are important for the overall context, but I want to focus on a specific phrase that actually applies to us: “those who reside as aliens…who are chosen.” I know that the sentence doesn’t end here, but if I could make an observation before moving on, this is what shows Peter is in fact speaking about believers. The Greek word is eklektos, and it means “chosen out, or selected,” and is sometimes translated in the classic sense of “elect.” The Greek is also clear that eklecktos is referring to those who are residing as aliens, and not Peter himself or just the folks in those regions listed.
- What that means in a larger sense is that if you are one of the ones that God Himself selected, you are in that group, and that is significant. We see why in the next verse.
2: according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
- These eklektos are the same group that we have been talking about as having been chosen by the foreknowledge of God the Father. Who are these people? Look at Romans 8:29, 30.
- For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
- In that passage in Romans, Paul perfectly describes what it means to be one of the eklektos. He explains that the very first thing characteristic that this group has is that they were chosen by God the Father by His foreknowledge. Some say that means that God the Father looked down the corridors of time to see what our response would be and chose us on that basis, but that cannot be the case. This is actually a form of open theism where God does not know everything. To people that would say that, I ask this question: Do you mean to say that the omniscient God had a day in the universe that He had to actually learn something? That contradicts the very idea of His omniscient (all-knowing) character, and that cannot be valid. Rather, it must be that God the Father chose us for His own reasons (related to His foreknowledge) that He has no obligation to inform us about, and then according to Paul, He predestined, or if you prefer, foreordained that those he chose would become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He (His Son) would be the firstborn among many brethren. And He called them, and He justified them, and then as Peter says next, “by the sanctifying work of the Spirit,” glorified all of those ones.
- What does that Sanctifying work of the Spirit do? It causes us to have a holy character, by which we “obey Jesus Christ,” and “be sprinkled with His blood,” which is a reference to the purifying of an instrument or vessel to be used in holy service. Interestingly, the cross references in my NAS go to Hebrews 10:22 and 12:24, both of which deal with the sanctifying of the servant of God and also mention the washing of the water of the word of God and that “better sacrifice of Christ,” using Abel as a type.
- Those that God the Father chose and sanctified by His Spirit just by default obey Jesus Christ. These are those that are more concerned with pleasing God than pleasing men. Rather than virtue signaling with a tweet or Facebook post about how theological they are, these are instead engaged in actually being Christians, or “little Christs” as they first were in Antioch. To these, Peter not only writes this letter, but wishes the fullest possible measure of the grace and peace that can only come from Christ upon them, and by extension, us.
Now, I know that I’m making some complex (though not complicated) statements here at the very beginning, but Peter here is setting the tome for what is coming in the letter, and it is worth knowing what it means to be a “resident alien” and just who those people are before we get into the rest of the text. Moving on, because there is more.
3-5: From glory (the new birth) to glory (the future inheritance)
In this paragraph, Peter progresses into just what it means to be one of those who are chosen by God the Father after introducing the concept back in the last paragraph. These elect creatures are being transformed from glory to glory as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18. Peter seems to refine this phrase a bit without using the words that Paul did, so we will focus on it and see what Peter is saying here.
3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
- Peter, like Paul launches into a doxology at the drop of a proverbial hat. What does he say? The very first thing he does is offer praise to God the Father, and it is worth noting that he identifies God and “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ is our Lord, but this is His Father and His God, who is also our God. And what did this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ do?
- Peter tells us that because of His great mercy, our God and Father has caused us to be “born again.” We’ll look at that phrase first, because it is not the first place it has appeared in Scripture. The very first place the phrase itself occurs in Scripture is when Jesus our Lord says the phrase to Nicodemus in John 3:3. I’ll give the verse for context:
- Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
- Jesus was actually answering Nicodemus, a man that was clearly not like the rest of the Pharisees and came to Jesus under the cover of night, maybe because he didn’t want to be exposed to the ridicule of his contemporaries, but also because he did not wish to identify with what some could already see as their willful ignorance. Whatever the reason, the Lord answered him straight up with truth with this phrase.
- The Greek phrase is gennethe anothen, and is a bit of wordplay. It seems to be deliberately imprecise, and can be translated as “born again,” the most common, or “born from above,” and Jesus seems to be deliberately using BOTH meanings here. Don’t worry if you don’t understand, neither did Nicodemus until the Lord Jesus explained it to him.
- What this means in context for 1 Peter is that those who are chosen by God as His eklektos (and Peter includes himself in that number) are born from above and will be allowed to see the kingdom of God, and perhaps not in just the ultimate sense of that phrase. It might include understanding things that the world does not, vis-a-vis that heavenly wisdom that James talked about. More than that, that rebirth or regeneration Peter tells us is a “living hope,” or elpida zosan, a hope that is alive in the sense that God is alive, an absolute hope. Remember, the Greek uses “hope” differently than we do. We HOPE the local sports team will win the championship. It is little more than a wish in reality, and may or may not happen. Something that is described by “hope” in the New Testament is rooted in certainty of fulfillment. We as God’s elect have been literally born from above into a certainty of promise. How?
- “Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” This is the gospel! God the Son (Jesus) became a man, and lived the life we couldn’t live so that He could die the death that belonged to us all so we wouldn’t have to. He died according to the Scriptures, and He was buried and raised on the third day according to the Scriptures so that all who will turn to Him in faith will escape the wrath of a holy God that is coming on the world to judge it for its sinfulness and instead be with Him and serve Him forever. Did I miss anything? Nope. It’s that simple. And if YOU want to escape that coming wrath and be born again into that same living hope that we have, all you need to do is repent of your sins and believe that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for YOUR sins personally. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is YOUR Lord, and then believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, and YOU WILL BE SAVED from that coming wrath, and even better, be made holy so that you may serve Him and be with Him forever. And if you think that’s all there is to it, hey, you might want to buckle up, because we’re just getting started.
4: to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
- This new birth is not without purpose, either. It tells us that we are born again/from above so that we may “obtain an inheritance.” You actually get to have this cake and eat it too. That word “inheritance” is the Greek word kleronomia, and it means simply a lot or property that one would inherit, but in this case, Vine says that this refers to the “prospective condition and possessions of the believer in the new order of things to be ushered in at the return of Christ.” Nobody clearly understands everything this means, and if anyone tells you they do, tell them they’re a gnostic. Really, they are–they are telling you that they have “special knowledge” that only their own acolytes can understand even if they are using different words for it. We don’t need to understand it, we should just be filled with joy that it is there, for no other reason than God has had mercy on us, and he loves us, and is giving us anything at all, because He isn’t obligated to do so. We sure didn’t earn it.
- Moreover, this inheritance is “imperishable.” The Greek means that it is not subject to corruption or decay. It is also “undefiled.” The Greek here means that it is free from contamination. Beloved, the only thing that contaminates us now is sin, and praise the Lord that will be gone. If you are like me, you fight with that particular monster every day, and you don’t always win. O wretched man that I am, I thank God that Jesus Christ my Lord will deliver me from this body of death, and that there is therefore now no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It also “will not fade away.” The Greek here means it is unfading. Milton used this in Paradise Lost as the Amaranth flower, which was unfading. Non-Biblical uses of this word can be found on a gladiator’s tomb, in that his glory was unfading. It was even used as a proper name, according to Moulton and Milligan in their Vocabulary of the Greek Testament. And this inheritance, Peter tells us is reserved in heaven for YOU! Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whose mercy and grace have made it possible that we sinners are able to someday stand as redeemed saints in glory!
5: who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
- Peter then tells us that these eklektos are protected! The Greek word for my tongue is nearly unpronounceable, but it means to be guarded or kept under guard. The concept gives the picture of an object or person being protected by a garrison in a citadel of some description. Vine tells us that it is used in this text as referring to the security of the Christian until the return of Jesus Christ to claim His own.
- How is it protected? By the power of God through faith. The word for “power” is the Greek dunamis, meaning the miraculous power of God. We get our English word dynamite from here, and there is a kind of explosive connotation to the word in English that isn’t here in Greek I don’t think. But it is the miraculous power of God. More, this power is accessed by faith, but this doesn’t mean what Charismatics and Pentecostals think it means. Faith is not a “substance that coats the object you want” so that Big Sugar Daddy in the Sky will give it to you if you just believe. The Greek word here is pistis, and according to Vine, it means, “primarily, “firm persuasion,” a conviction based upon hearing (akin to peitho, “to persuade”), is used in the NT always of “faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual.” He goes on to state, “The main elements in “faith” in its relation to the invisible God, as distinct from “faith” in man, are especially brought out in the use of this noun and the corresponding verb, pisteuo; they are (1) a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth, e.g., 2 Thess. 2:11-12; (2) a personal surrender to Him, John 1:12; (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender, 2 Cor. 5:7. Prominence is given to one or other of these elements according to the context.” The particular version of the word used here has a secondary meaning that is implied here, and it means, according also to Vine, that of an “assurance or guarantee.” So we are guarded by the power of God through a guarantee.
- And Peter tells us the purpose as well: a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. The Greek phrase here is one that even non-Greek scholars recognize: ἀποκαλυφθῆναι ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ, or literally revealed in the last time. Some suggest, like Amir Tsarfati and his organization (He’s actually someone I enjoy listening to, although I don’t agree that he can get some of his eschatology where he gets it), that this salvation will be revealed at the coming harpazo event when all the real believers will be removed from the earth. Some say that is charging this phrase with energy that the writer did not intend. To be honest, I don’t know what to do with this phrase. Paul says there will be a harpazo of real believers at the end, and it is not my purpose to debate that matter here, though we should do a study on it. I have heard Chris Rosebrough give a fairly detailed analysis from Scripture that this will occur just before the millennium begins, as Christ returns in Revelation 19. I have read accounts from theologians like Hal Lindsey, Donald Barnhouse, Marv Rosenthal, and others giving different analyses that are just as compelling. This all leads me to the conclusion that the timing of this event does not matter so much as our being ready for it. Like the five wise maidens, we must be prepared for the call of the Bridegroom, that’s Christ so I am absolutely clear about that, and that call can come at any hour. The 5 of the 10 that were prepared went in, and the 5 who weren’t didn’t and then couldn’t, because they were unprepared. The Lord gave this parable in his Olivet Discourse with His disciples when they asked Him what it would be like in the last time and how things were going to end. If you want the reference, you can find it in Matthew 25:1-13. Oil is used in that parable as a representation of the Holy Spirit in my thinking, and those who had the Holy Spirit, that is real believers, would be able to respond to the call. They couldn’t share it with those that did not have the Holy Spirit, and those that did not have the Holy Spirit could not respond to, or perhaps even hear, the call of the Bridegroom that He (Christ) is ready to bring His heavenly bride (the real believers) home. A lot more could be said, but I’ll leave off with the parable here.
- This brings me to a point. Do YOU have the Holy Spirit living inside of you? If you do, you will show that with how you live your life. Salvation by the death of Jesus Christ will make a difference in your life. If it doesn’t you don’t, and you are not a real believer. However, if that bothers you, you can be! Repent of your sins (that means to confess them to God and FORSAKE THEM) and believe that the price Christ paid on the cross applies to you personally. If you do those things, YOU WILL BE SAVED, no ifs, no ands, no buts, no conditions, no quids-pro-quo. This is the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. Jesus, God the Son, became a man and lived the perfect life required to become a willing sacrifice to pay the penalty for your sins. Turn to Him and be saved from the coming wrath, and from the things you do that you kick yourself for the next morning. Don’t wait to “clean up your act,” you can’t because God already knows, and He is inviting you anyway! Turn to Him.
The Gospel is GOD’S plan of salvation, and it is the complete opposite of every other religion that man has invented as a way to do it themselves. God wants people to turn to Him and be saved. He does NOT want you to “do good works,” which is what every false system of belief involves, including atheism. Atheism says there is no need to satisfy any condition because there is no spiritual reality. All they need do is live moral lives that benefit others for self-fulfillment. Question: Where does that morality come from? And what standards does it have, and how are they derived?
You can see that the only effective solution is the Lord’s. Why people will not turn is because of their sin, and we all know about that, even as believers. Paul did, James, did, and Peter certainly did. Don’t use your sin as the reason to not turn to Christ. Now that you know the truth, that’s blasphemy. Moving on.
6-9: Joy in troubles to glorify God in Christ
Now the last verse talked about being protected, or guarded. Have you ever given thought to why this is necessary? Is this just a promise of good things to come? Or is there more to it? I think there may be a little more to it, and it is found in the text.
6: In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
The fact that we are guarded or garrisoned by the power of God through faith in Christ that will lead to our ultimate salvation that is ready to be revealed to us and to everyone else in the last time, whatever that means, should cause us great joy! “In this you greatly rejoice,” it says. The problem for most of us is that this is not all it says.
“…even though…” This is Peter’s way of saying the word nobody likes to hear: “BUT…” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that while I was being given good news, I would be able to retire on the amount I would have, even if I live another 50 years, which if I’m being honest is unlikely. What is Peter saying that is so bothersome?
Now for a little while. Peter seems to be going out of his way to soften his tone and language. Is there bad news coming? Well, yes and no…at least it is only for a little while. It has a time limit, even if we don’t know what that is.
If necessary. My question is was that phrase necessary? Because, yes, for most of us, it IS necessary. What is necessary?
You have been distressed by various trials. What? You mean that a child of God will have trouble in their life? Yes, Beloved, that is EXACTLY what that means. You are going to suffer. The word various indicates you will suffer more than one way, and more than one time. As it turns out in my experience, this life is actually more suffering than not. Everyone goes through it, too. But are you suffering as a Christian? If you are, I have some VERY good news, which is in the next verse, because this verse ends with a comma!
7: so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
- To cut directly to the point, what Peter is saying here is that the various trials that we go through and suffer have a point, and that point is to give evidence of our faith. I picked this verse, you will recall, as the key verse for this section of text. Peter is describing what both Paul and James have referred to in great detail. Suffering as a Christian as we go through hard times is the very engine that God uses to gain Christian maturity in our lives. It isn’t a lot of fun to go through, and I don’t think it is supposed to be, but it demonstrates to the world as we DO suffer as believers, God through Christ has done something in us to be desired and pursued. By the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we demonstrate the changed nature that Christ died and rose again to give us, and we display love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, mercy, self-control, endurance…all of that stuff as the fruit of the seed of sanctification (holiness) planted by Him in us. That is EVIDENCE, or PROOF here in the text. Now that’s a REAL proof text! [hahahaha]
- That “proof” of our faith, the evidence of it is much more precious than gold, which as permanent as we know it now, will one day perish when God unmakes the universe. That proof will NOT pass away, even though the day will test it in fire.
- There is another passage that we should look at here, because I believe, and you can agree or disagree with me, but I think it is speaking of the same thing.
- According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Cor. 3:10-15)
- Here is the day, it is testing what we build with our works that God gives us to do (See Eph. 2:10-11), and those works, what we build is tested by fire, symbolic of and used metaphorically most of the time to refer to the judgement of God. That word “test” in this passage in 1 Cor. 3 is the same Greek word as the word “tested” in this verse. It is the word dokimazo, meaning to test, or rather to approve by a passed test, as we looked at a little earlier this evening. Some of our work will undoubtedly burn away, and if this means what I think it means, that all of the bad decisions we made sinfully that had bad consequences in our lives, will burn away, then I think this is very good news if we are walking in that changed nature won by Christ on the cross! All those things that I know are sinful and that I hate about myself will burn away, leaving all those things that Christ worked in me as I cooperated with Him in my sanctification, the very thing Peter is talking about! Hallelujah! Now to Him who is faithful and who is able to do it because He is God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by the will of God the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit in us, praise God! How can I NOT break into doxology at the thought?
- And the ultimate goal makes sense to me more and more as I go on in Christ. This isn’t about ME, though I greatly benefit. It is, and always was, and will ever always be about HIM! Praise His name forever! Hallelujah.
8: and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
- Peter is continuing to fill me with joy, and not just emotional by-product, but real joy at this knowledge. Listen to what Peter writes! “And though you have not seen Him.” Has any one of us actually seen Him with our eyes? I have not. I have never heard Him speak audibly to me in person. I have never physically met my Lord, but I still know Him, because I HAVE met Him spiritually, and I continue to meet Him as I read His word and meditate (that is clearly direct my thoughts as opposed to emptying my brain) on His laws every day.
- Through that deep inner connection by faith in Him and through reading His word and thinking clearly about His words and principles for life, I have come to know Him, not just know about Him, and that knowledge MAKES me love Him. That man died in my place. No one I know would ever do that, and even if they would, it would never have had this kind of eternal and lasting effect. Remember what it says in Galatians 2:20, where Paul talks about that great exchange:
- I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal. 2:20)
- Peter goes on with the thought. “Though you do not see Him now.” I cannot see Him now. I am but flesh, and He is now MORE than simply flesh. He is the firstborn of all the brethren that will be His eternal companions, and we do not know what form that will take.
- Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (I John 3:2)
- But we know that He has saved us, though we DID not deserve it, and that He is making us to be like Him, not in appearance, but in CHARACTER as we walk by faith with Him, as we obey Him. That is what it means to “believe” Him. Believe, pisteuo, is the verb form in Greek of the English word faith, pistis. It is the same word, and can be directly equated. And that belief/faith fills us with real joy, that frankly I have little ability to put into words, and I am somewhat of a wordsmith! And it is most decidedly filled with glory–not our glory, HIS glory, and that is how it should be.
9: obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
- And this walk of faith with Christ at His side and our obedience to His word to us through the Apostles that He chose 2000 years or so ago has an actual endpoint. The outcome is the Greek word telos, and end or a completion. The end of our faith in Christ is nothing other than the salvation of our souls.
- Now here is a little derived theology for you. It is my studied opinion (and I will state it as such, and there are brothers that I respect that disagree respectfully) that this salvation of our souls does not refer to our simple justification alone. Justification is where our dead spirit is made alive in Christ by the Holy Spirit at our regeneration. At least that is what I see in Romans, Ephesians, and other places. This is a result of our SANCTIFICATION, the process whereby we cooperate with our Lord in obedience to His commands and He makes us HOLY, as He is holy. This sanctifies our inner being, not our “flesh” as Paul puts it in Romans 7. It is this inner being that is closely attached to and yet different from the spirit, the entity we call the soul. It is this process of remaining faithful in trials that makes us holy like Him as we follow the opportunity to suffer for His name.
I say this because Peter was writing his first letter as a response to the beginnings of fierce Roman persecution of the church under Caesar Nero. The trials that Peter was mentioning was not holding your tongue from uttering curse words because you stubbed you toe in the dark on the way to use the washroom at 3:00 a.m. Peter was talking about the government coming to arrest you for your “unacceptable views,” and freezing your bank accounts, and putting you in jail on trumped up charges over things you didn’t do, or simply because the head of government didn’t like what you said. Back when Peter wrote this letter, they put the believers they found to death. Paul was re-arrested and beheaded under this persecution. Others were raped and tortured by soldiers. Some were turned into human torches to light Nero’s garden. Others were used to entertain the crowds in the arena, either forced to fight as gladiators or fed to the wild animals that had been starved for a week to incite them to kill prey. Beloved, as much as I find this frightening to talk about, I must be real here–such or similar fates could await us as believers, and perhaps in the near future if the Lord does not directly intervene.
What Peter is saying here, is not to ignore this and put our heads in the sand to avoid it, but rather to view this in its proper perspective, that of eternity. Tyrants come and go. Jesus remains forever, He has personally overcome them by allowing Himself to be put to death, and then rose from the dead as if to say, “just a flesh wound.” He took their licking and kept on ticking! And He has called us to follow Him. Moreover, He warned us this would happen. The world hates Him, to be sure. It should not strike us as strange that it hates us as we follow Him as well.
That same eternal perspective is something that drove all the prophets of old to study the Scriptures and to walk with the Lord. Isiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Zechariah, Malachi, Samuel, and many others that God used to speak and demonstrate His truth to man all pursued the Lord with the kind of zeal that Peter did and that he is telling us to use in our pursuit.
10-12: Angels long to look into these things
These men all had questions, they all had very human weaknesses, they all had emotions to deal with, sometimes that overwhelmed them, and these servants of the Ancient of Days had many questions about what we now know at this point in history. At the time they lived and served though, it was not so. See what I mean.
10: As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,
- This salvation we are speaking about here is the salvation of the soul, as per verse 9 for context. It says here that the prophets that prophesied specifically of the grace that would come to believers had questions. Think about Isaiah as he penned his 53rd chapter.
- Who has believed our message?
- And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
- For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
- And like a root out of parched ground;
- He has no stately form or majesty
- That we should look upon Him,
- Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
- He was despised and forsaken of men,
- A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
- And like one from whom men hide their face
- He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
- Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
- And our sorrows He carried;
- Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
- Smitten of God, and afflicted.
- But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
- He was crushed for our iniquities;
- The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
- And by His scourging we are healed.
- All of us like sheep have gone astray,
- Each of us has turned to his own way;
- But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
- To fall on Him.
- (Isa. 53:1-6)
- I cannot help but think that Isaiah knew that he was talking about the great Messiah, the Son of David, the coming anointed One that would be the suffering servant. Isiah did not think that his own personal revelation was enough is what Peter was telling us. Peter tells us tht they made careful searches and inquiries. Where or to Whom would one make such searches or as such questions? Well, God of course, but also, the Law, and the other writings of the Scriptures, like the Psalms, or the Proverbs of Solomon, or any other part of Holy Writ that would help. It wasn’t like, Well, I’ll go ask Ol’ Ben-Hur over there, he’s a smart guy and stout of heart. No, even these men would have consulted what they had available of the Scriptures.
11: seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
- Peter knew that not even the prophets, as great as those men were, had all the answers. They all wanted (SO like us…) more information, I suspect, so that they could act more appropriately and serve better, because that is the servant’s desire, to please their master. God gave them great knowledge to communicate, and even they did not completely understand it.
- I also find it interesting that Peter credits their prophecies to the Spirit of Christ within them. They weren’t just making all this stuff up via collusion (I mean, over 1500 years or so, that’s not really possible, but that is the accusation that so-called higher critics level at the scriptures in a vain attempt to invalidate it’s sufficiency and authority.
- I picked that passage of Isaiah deliberately, because it is the clearest passage to me of the suffering servant of Yahweh, and the clearest one that fits the works of Christ during His time on Earth. It predicts in very clear fashion, and poetic language, the suffering that the Messiah would undergo when He did come to Earth. If you want to read about the glories that follow, Just finish the book of Isaiah, because they are all there, and they take more time that we have here this evening.
12: It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.
- In their inquiring and searching, something else happened to these men. God showed them that they were not actually serving themselves. This is important to realize, because it should NEVER, EVER be about us. Rather, God showed them they were actually serving those who would follow them in the future, and if you are here today and a believer in Christ, that includes you. And they had a very specific message or parts of it, according to Peter.
- It was the gospel! God made man, man disobeyed God, God engaged a plan to rescue man, by becoming a man Himself and living a perfect life under obedience to His own law and then dying as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all who would ever believe, past and future, since time is not a variable in this equation for God. His idea (like all His ideas) worked, and He rose from the dead to show He had won, and then called all men everywhere to turn from their sins and believe in what He accomplished on our behalf. Did I leave anything out?
- These men preached the gospel, and Peter tells us that those who did that did so by the Holy Spirit speaking through them. That Holy Spirit was sent by God the Father in heaven for just this purpose in fact! To preach the good news of salvation for those that will turn to Him in faith.
- This news was so good, it attracted the attention of other beings in the universe that also serve God, the angels. No angel has ever known the grace of God extended to themselves in mercy because none of the angels have ever been saved like this. Certainly there are angels that have sinned and accomplished great evil. None of them want to be saved. There are also angels that have never disobeyed God, and who serve Him still. They don’t need to be saved. But ALL of them want to know what it means to have the grace of God extended to you, to be regenerated and made alive so that you as a human can once again make free choices for Him and no longer be bound by sin.
You can see why I like that song. It begins with the phrase, “Angels long to look into these things…the glory of Jesus.” And it ends the same way. “…and angels long to look into these things.”
Beloved, it is clear that we as humans, I believe the future senior administrators of the universe, will know experientially some things that angels never will. This does not make us better than them, they either had no need of it, or didn’t want it in the first place. It is the latter group that likely caused the persecution of our first Christian brothers and sisters, and it is the same group causing the trouble we are reading about in the news locally today. None of them can know the grace and mercy that God has showed those He has chosen by regenerating us and then purifying us, all for the day coming when He will glorify us with the image of Jesus as He makes us like Him in character. This truth is so filled with glory and so fills us with joy that it can truly be said to be incomparable–so incomparable that even the angels long to look into it and understand it if not experience it.
Yet today, many people are turning their backs to this glorious truth. Their sin is more interesting and valuable to them than being with the living God for eternity and reigning with Him over His creation. May it not be so with us. May we see that He has caused us to be born from above into a new and living hope and an inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade away, and that even though we suffer griefs and trials, this is an opportunity to obey God and walk in the Spirit of Christ in us, and to be sanctified as the evidence of our salvation is made known to all around us, and that come what may, He will guard us until the end and then save not just our souls, but our entire being in the resurrection, whatever that means and whenever that may occur.
That’s what I saw in the text this time.