1 Peter 1:5-7
“kept by the power of God…the appearing of Jesus Christ”
What follows in Peter’s opening verses is an encouragement to the brothers and sisters who are suffering for the name of Christ. This epistle addresses persecution and encourages suffering brothers and sisters to stand in the faith. See 1 Pet 1:5-9; 2:11-12, 18-25; 3:14-17; 4:12-16. For this entry, we will look briefly at verses 5-7
In verse 5 Peter reminds his audience that they are, “kept” or guarded “by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” (1 Pet 1:5) Is this not a great well of comfort from which we may draw? To know that we are kept by Christ himself not by our strength, good works, or how well we obey (though obedience is a fruit of true faith)? God be praised we are kept, or guarded, by his power and not another. Peter is reminding his audience that it is not in this life that our inheritance is reserved, but in the life to come. Too many Christians get wrapped up in this life and may come to act like this is all there is. They may not publically acknowledge it, but look at their conduct. Not through our words, but through our actions do we make our beliefs known. God be praised we are kept by his power and not our strength. See John 10:27-29 for further reference.
At times, they may rejoice in this knowledge, but they are troubled by their current situation. For this reason, Peter reminds them the proof of their faith which is more precious than gold itself is praiseworthy faith. Is this to their praise or to the praise of Jesus Christ? Surely it is to Christ’s praise, for he is the author and finisher of our faith, see Hebrews 12:2. So if we are kept by the power of God. If we are held by Christ, why would our faith be tried? If we look at the word trial, we will find another rendering of the word is, “to prove.” God sends his trials to prove our faith. Not that our faith stands in jeopardy, but to refine it in the fire and make it purer.
In our youth, we are prone to thoughts of invincibility. Thoughts that we cannot be hurt, or we can bounce back from hurt quickly. Sickness, the loss of a job, persecution, or the loss of loved ones often reminds us of the fragile nature of life. You may say, “I am young I have a long way to go before any of that happens to me.” Remember what the proverb says, “Boast not thyself of to-morrow, For thou knowest not what a day bringeth forth.” (Prov 27:1) To the child of God this realization makes them more reliant upon God’s grace. Not just for immediate healing and worldly prosperity, though Christ teaches us to pray for our daily bread, but to preserve and grow our faith in hard times. These trials are brought by God to refine our faith. Not only upon God’s preserving grace, but to rest in his sovereign.
It may be these Christians were never physically delivered from their tormenters. They may have died under torture or have been cruelly executed before a public mob. The point Peter makes here and later, see 1 Pet 2:18-21, is in suffering we become partakers of Christ’s sufferings and are taught the humility of submission to the Lord’s will.
There is no higher example than the sufferings of Christ. Witness his humiliation before the high priest, Herod, and the Romans. View the awful spectacle as the crowd gathered around and fulfilled the Psalmist’s prophecy, “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” (Psa 22:7-8) He suffered the great spectacle to purchase life for his sheep. What wondrous love for those that were born rebels, reviled him, persecuted him, and yet would be born again and lay all their faith in him. What wonderful mysteries lay yet to be discovered when we explore the depths of God’s love!
Paul gives us another example of sufferings in 2 Corinthians. Paul speaks of being given a thorn in the flesh to buffet him. We find it was given to him to keep him humble, see 2 Cor 12:7. Paul prayed that this thorn would be removed. It must have hindered him greatly, because he states, “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” (2 Cor 12:8) Three times he pleaded that it should depart. Note here, Paul acknowledges the thorn, while a messenger of Satan, was permitted by God why else would he beseech God to remove it? (For further proof that God permits some things, see Job 1:12 and 2:6.)
Christ’s response to Paul is not what many would expect. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2Co 12:9) Our infirmities make us more dependent on Christ our Redeemer. If he told an apostle his strength is perfected in our weakness, how much more does it apply to us? Also, we need to remember that God has said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Heb 12:5)
I hope these words may be received as words of comfort among our assembly. It is especially comforting to remember that God preserves us in Christ through all our trials. We must pray for one another that we may be upheld by God’s omnipotent power as we journey through the trials of life.