1 Peter 1:9

1 Pet 1:9

“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls”

Next, we see the reason for these Christians’ rejoicing.  Peter calls this the salvation of their souls.  Salvation.  It is one of the most important subjects in the whole Bible.  Many have devoted their lives to the study of salvation.  Salvation has been proclaimed since the time of Adam and Eve.  Peter wrote, “of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.” (1 Pet 1:10)  This is the subject that brings great joy to the sinner’s heart.  The unspeakable joy of Salvation!  It is not by works of the law, nor by the pride of ancestry, but by grace through faith.

The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 states, “God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience, which was written in his heart.” [1]  Furthermore, it states this law binds all of Adam’s descendants to obedience.  This law was also given at Mount Sinai, see Deuteronomy 10:4.  It was summarized by our Lord when he told the lawyer in Mathew 22:37-40, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  The law is a law of perfect obedience.  First perfect love to God, and then perfect love to your neighbor.  The love expressed here encompass the whole individual.  It requires all the heart’s affections, all the soul’s power, and all the mind’s intellectual devotion.  This love to God must be first above all external objects, family, and self.  Christ said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)  Jesus was stating that his sustenance was to do his Father’s will.  Thus fulfilling the command that man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God, see Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4.  Now, this is what the law is talking about.  Our sustenance, our true bread is from doing the will of the Father.

What does perfect obedience mean?  Perfect is defined as, “being entirely without fault or defect” [2]  Perfect obedience is without fault or defect.  Perfect obedience is from the heart.  Its motives are genuine; its purpose is pure.  It seeks to obey out of love instead of servile fear.  Moreover, perfect obedience is unwavering, trusting, and does not question the command or author of the command.  Christ, the Son of God, obeyed perfectly the Father’s command to suffer death on the cross.  Furthermore, Christ’s obedience was constant.  It never lacked.  It was never short of what the law demanded.  His obedience was always perfect.  Christ was without blemish, just as the Passover lamb, see Exodus chapter 12.  Christ obeyed the law perfectly when looking at the different qualities of perfect obedience we cannot keep the law.  We are born dead in sin. We are naturally dead to the law of God, and we are insensitive by nature to the things of God.  From childhood, we seek out selfish desires in one form or another.  The command of God is therefore broken by mankind going all the way back to Adam.  The only one to have ever kept the Law perfectly was Christ.

Second, this salvation did not come by heritage.  Many people assume that since their parents were members of a church they will be too.  They assume that since they grew up in a good household with Christian parents they too will be Christian and without any need to be born again.  This is simply not true.  This was the attitude of the Jews during the time of Christ.  “They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” (Joh 8:33)  Next we see an earlier warning to the Pharisees and Sadducees by John the Baptist, “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”  (Mat 3:9)  The Jews viewed themselves as God’s chosen people because they were the descendants of Abraham.  John tells them not to trust in this.  He uses an extreme to point out God was in control of who was his.  Salvation was not determined by heritage.  You could not go around and say, “I am from Abraham, therefore I am a child of the living God.”  God had told Israel what were the marks of his children through the law and prophets.  In Micah 6:8 he shows what is “good” and required of man, “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”  Time and time again Israel is called out for the hypocrisy between its conduct the profession of faith.  If you just read through Judges and the book of Jeremiah you find a people who time and time again backslide into sin despite their ancestry, and what would seem as a promise given to a particular bloodline of people.  Paul deals with this in Romans 9:6 when he wrote, “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.”  What he is getting to is the difference between the children of the flesh and the children of promise.  “That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (Rom 9:8)

Now hopefully we see that salvation is not by keeping the law, we cannot do that, nor is it due to or ancestors.  Salvation is by grace through faith, see Ephesians 2:8.  When the child of God comes under a sense of guilt under the law the ground has been prepared for the Gospel, see Matthew 13:8.  This is the salvation that gives the child of God reason to greatly rejoice.  The miracle of the great exchange that took place on the cross ought to give us reason to rejoice each day.  Christ died in our place.  He died instead of us.  He did no wrong, committed no sin, nor did he deserve to die.  He as God the Son, took our sins upon himself to satisfy his Father’s will.  He redeemed us by his blood.   The faith Peter wrote of is a faith that rests in Jesus as accomplishing all the tenets of the moral law.  It is a faith that rests on Jesus satisfying God’s justice. It is a faith the relies on his promises.  It is a faith that works sanctification through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is a faith by which we receive the salvation of our souls.

[1] The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, section 19.1

[2] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perfect?utm_campaign=sd&utm_medium=serp&utm_source=jsonld

Notes on 1 Peter 1:8

1 Pet 1:8

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Peter continues, by commending these, “strangers” for loving Christ despite having never seen him.  He also connects love with faith by stating, “in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing…” Faith and love, love and faith.  What Peter writes here is praiseworthy to the Holy Spirit of God.  We cannot see where the Spirit comes from or where the Spirit is going, but we can see the effects of the Spirit, see John 3:8.  Peter had seen Christ in the flesh, in sufferings, in his resurrection, and in his transfiguration.  However, scripture is replete with evidence disproving the saying, “seeing is believing.”  See John 10:25, Matthew 13:13-15, Matthew 21:15 and consider the many instances of public miracles followed by outright denial, read John 6.

The Christians Peter writes to, like us, never saw Christ with their own eyes.  Yet, they loved him and they believed in him.  Their affections were set towards him because he first loved them.  They received the Gospel with joy and rejoiced in the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.  His office as priest, his work on our behalf, his paying our sin debt ought to stir all the greater sense of duty within ourselves.

They laid their total trust in what Christ had said and did.  They laid their all in the sufficiency of his crucifixion and the power of his resurrection.  Behold the marvelous work of God’s Spirit!  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  This light comes from God.  This knowledge is due to Christ’s work and ministered by the work of the Holy Spirit.  Here is something for us to hang our hats on.  This light does not come through the intellectual powers of the mind, nor does it come from the strength of youth, but this knowledge comes from the divine revelation of the Spirit through the Gospel.

Having this in mind, we see that Peter had cause to commend their love and faith.  I do not know if Peter knew any of these Christians personally or via good reports from other Elders, but for Peter to commend them for their love and believing in Christ means that were working works according to the faith given to them.  How do we outwardly measure a person’s confession of faith? When they keep his commandments such as loving each other and following presenting the fruits of the Spirit in their daily or our daily lives, see John 14:15; 1 John 2:5, 3:11, Gal 5:16-25. If we love the Lord, let us seek a deeper fellowship with him.  One way to do this is through daily reading his word, prayer, and serving each other according to our gifts.

Lastly, this love and believing in Christ results in, “joy unspeakable” that is to God’s glory.  Our trials may be many, and our worldly comforts at times few, but here is a well from which we may draw never ending streams of grace, mercy, and comfort.  We may look to Calvary the place at which our burden was rolled off and we proceeded forth on the narrow pilgrim’s walk.  Here we see the joy in Christ is such that words cannot describe it.  It is beyond description and quantification.  It is a joy which is given from the infinite to the finite.  Such a joy glorifies God.  It does not seek to exalt self or achievements.  This joy is to the glory of God.  This joy ought to fill us the more we study our scripture and the more we pray for each other and ourselves.  I hope and pray God will keep us by his power that we should be partakers of this joy springing forth from love and faith.

1 Pet 1:5-7

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.

Notes on 1 Peter 5:8-9

Here are some study notes from Sunday.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
(1Pe 5:8-9) KJV 

 Sober: According to Strong’s Greek concordance, this word means to be discreet. To be discreet means to take care, or be circumspect. This care has to do with how we act and talk to each other and how we act when nobody is looking. The word can be found in the Strong’s Greek concordance number 3525.

Vigilant: According to Strong’s this word means to watch.  Here is the direct quote from Strong’s Greek concordance, “to keep awake, that is, watch (literally or figuratively): – be vigilant, wake, (be) watch (-ful).” This word’s concordance number is 1127 in the Greek concordance.

Peter charges his audience in chapter 5 to meet the trials set before them with a careful watchfulness.  This attitude is to be maintained because their and our adversary is, the devil, and he is going about, “as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet 5: 8) Though the devil has been defeated, the adversary must not be underestimated.  We must take care to be watchful against his snares, tricks, and persecutions.

Paul also uses these two words together in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”  If you start reading at the beginning of this chapter, you will see Paul was talking in the context of the second coming of Christ.  He is telling the Thessalonians to be watchful because no one really knows when the day of the Lord will take place, except the Father (see Mark 13:32). He does not want them to be sleepy in mind and body, but to always be watchful over themselves and each other.  I think the contrast between sleep and watchfulness helps to emphasize their difference in effort.  One takes strength and exertion while the other does not.  This imagery goes deeper than that, but I do not want to go into that here.

These apostles are echoing what Christ said time and time again when he was preaching to be watchful because we do not know when the Lord will return.  Have you ever thought to yourself, what if the Lord comes now and I am doing, thinking, or saying this? Sober watchfulness is important for the individual church member as well as the whole church.  We must take care to walk in a biblically sound manner in full dependence on God for strength to do such. I am often comforted by John’s words in 1 John 2:1.

How can we know how to walk if we do not read our Bibles?  Further, we are called to resist the adversary, “steadfast in the faith.” (1 Pet 5:9) We cannot do this alone.  We are ever dependent on Almighty God. ( see Phil 2:12-13, Psalms 121:2, Col 4:2, etc.)

I hope these notes from Sunday will help further our study and reflection on sober vigilance.