How can you explain why difficulties come? One moment you are in your own lane, moving at the posted rate of speed. And in the next, the waves splash high over your head. We have a true Friend in Peter. As we learned in our Introduction to First Peter this is a man uniquely qualified to speak about trials and sufferings. We begin at verse 3 (Restart will return to the previous verses when we cover our upcoming series on Doctrine)
I will place this verse before you and ask you to return to it as we squeeze it hard for the great Truths it contains.
- 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 – 1 Peter 1:3
If Jesus is God – how can the Father be His God and His Father? We’ll not try to unpack the magnitude of the Triune God here. But we should remember that Peter walked with Jesus – he knew Him as a Person. Jesus is God yes, but God in the flesh. Someone who needed to eat, who cried, who shivered in the winter cold. Peter’s remark here brings to mind Christ’s consistent instruction about His submission to the will of the Father – a practice He extends to His followers:
- I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me – John 8:28
God’s Great Mercy
Look above to our verse in Peter. What was the special ingredient God applies to you and I – that Peter draws our attention to – “Who, according to what?” That’s right – His great Mercy. Now think about that word. When you are at home studying the Word it is at this point that you should do a word study. Search on mercy. Wikipedia says that mercy is “Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one’s power; clemency.” You can see immediately the direct application to you and I. But let’s consider – Who’s mercy is it? – that’s right. It is a Great Mercy from God Himself. And so my question is what have we to do with it? Nothing. That’s a critical point I will make again and again from here all the way through verse 5 – Everything we read through verse 5 are things that will be done by God for our benefit and whatever is being done – it being done outside of our will or intentions. And what is this great mercy going to do – how has mercy acted?
Being Born Again
That’s right, He has caused us to be born again. Now a quick sidebar. Some of our Protestant denominations start new churches over this. Many state that being born again is solely the work of God. That you and I sit still and take our medicine, that Bam; you are now a Believer (even if you didn’t intend it) – and that guy sitting over there is not going to get in. That both sides of the transaction of being born again takes place without our willpower being involved. God offers and God accepts for the person. This is not what these verses instruct:
- But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name – John 1:12
- If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved – Romans 10:9
This teaching instructs that though the offer of salvation from sin is made unilaterally, beyond the intentions of the individual – yet each person must accept this rebirth. The offer is unilateral; the mechanism by which we are born again was His idea, His plan, He caused the path to the Cross to exist. Okay back to our verse. What is the outcome peter cites that is the benefit of being born again?
A Living Hope
Not to insult your intelligence, but a living thing is something that is alive, something that grows. This verse assures us that our hope will grow with us as we walk the Jesus Path. Our hope is something that lives with the changing nature of our life challenges: at 16 I want a car – at 86 I want health. So look at our verse about and find the mechanism that brings this living hope alive to us.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ
That’s right, the resurrection of Jesus Christ transforms our own feeble hope into something that is alive. Let’s remember that you and I have had nothing to do with God providing these things we’ve mined out of verse 3. As we continue to work through verses 4 and 5 we will find more like these – benefits accrued to us without our active participation. The listing of these benefits comprise the Security you find in the title of this message. We have these things forever protected and under God’s care throughout our trials, struggles and sufferings and they will chaperone you and I into the Presence of Joy.
First Peter 1:4
- To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you – 1 Peter 1:4
In the same way then, refer to this verse as we continue our list of things provided by God in the Great Treasury of His love for us. Peter points to a purpose – a pointing here from what he wrote to you and I in verse 3 – what is it?
To Obtain an Inheritance
That’s right. To obtain an inheritance. What must be true of someone who inherits A relationship must exist with the one who writes the Will. What has the beneficiary of the Will have to do with the content of the Will… – NOTHING. Peter reminds us that we are beneficiaries, that we are going to inherit. But what is the threefold nature of this inheritance?
- Imperishable – infinite shelf life – not to be revoked
- Undefiled – there is nothing you can do that will change the nature of your inheritance
- Will not fade away – will always remain in view no matter how cloudy your circumstance, it is always available to ponder, to glory in.
And where is this inheritance kept? In a safe deposit box?
Reserved in heaven for you
No, most certainly not in an earthly safe deposit box. It is reserved in heaven. What’s more the name on the reservation is Yours. God is not distant and disinterested Deity stuffed away in the great beyond. He is personal and interested in you; so much so that He has stored up a great deal of benefit for you to think about – the source of infinite Security. Its secure because He gave it – you and I can’t muff it up.
First Peter 1:5
- Who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time – 1 Peter 1:5
Who is protected? – you and I. The KJV says “kept” – you and I are kept by God, by how? By His Power, that’s how.
The Power of God
Have you stopped to think – i mean really think and dig in about the power of God?
How protected are you then? – it there anything that He Himself has made that can overpower you? What is the mechanism that sets loose the protection and keeping of God? – Why Yes. Our Faith. Now we will finish this study with a look at the twofold construction of faith, and how faith will empower our focus on our Security and hence from there to heaps of Joy – inexpressible joy. I must first summarize this utterly terrific list of benefits Peter has kindly offered for us in verses 3 through 5 – benefits that belong to us, that are ours.
- God’s Great Mercy
- Caused to be Born Again
- To a Living Hope
- Through Jesus’ Resurrection
- An Inheritance
- Reserved in Heaven
- For you personally
- Protected by the Power of God
- Through Faith
- For a Salvation ready to be revealed
Amazing, isn’t it. Dwell on these for a moment! Work them over. But now we come to the real core of this instruction – and that is how the mechanism of faith conducts the Believer to the place of Joy in difficult circumstance. Note that verse 7 starts with this important word and emphasizes that “It” is the thing under trial:
- That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire – 1 Peter 1:7 KJV
Peter instructs us that difficulties we face, the sufferings we encounter are aimed at our Faith. It is best then to look into this word and squeeze it for all can. Let’s turn our attention to Hebrew chapter 11 for a wonderful and insightful definition of this word. But beware! It contains something many Believers fail at – and why many end up living life outside the blessings of Joy and Contentment. When you read the verse below you are reminded that Faith it is comprised of two things… two things that fit into what Peter has been instructing us up until this point.
- Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen – Hebrews 11:1 HCSB
The Reality of what is hoped for
The first is to remember the reality of those things we are secure in – the real, tangible things in our list above that God maintains control of – the things eternally safe with him – the things we focus on and hope for. The reality of what is hoped for! Reality means things that are true – we may not have them in our hands yet – but they are true. And we have an expectation of them – we hope for them. And for that let me return your attention to our list above.
The Proof of what is not seen
Here then enters the more difficult – or certainly the more often disregarded truth about the nature of faith:
- The proof of what is not seen – HCSB
- The evidence of things not seen – KJV
- The conviction of things not seen – NASB
Notice the legal feel of these words. They are terms reserved for the courtroom. They infer something concluded based on what we have learned and experienced; something we didn’t know before – but know we do know now. This something is the second key ingredient to faith – that we must come to the proof, evidence and conviction that there is an unseen world at work. How much time do you spend – if any – thinking that your faith – the thing you lean on day to day – depends upon living a life convicted that there are powers at work that you cannot see? That 50% of what the Holy Spirit instructs us about the nature of faith is found in a vast and complicated part of the Creation lurking beyond your sense of sight? That the bedrock of faith is in fact seeing that which is unseen?
- By faith Moses left Egypt behind, not being afraid of the king’s anger, for Moses persevered as one who sees Him who is invisible – Hebrews 11:27
By Faith Moses persevered as one who sees Him who is (what?) invisible. If we are to figure this suffering thing out we must get this part right. To build our faith we must know that faith is the proof of that which is unseen – we must live convicted that there is a whole world of unseen things – in fact, nine different orders of angels. To know this – to be convicted of this great TRUTH of our ACTUAL REALITY. That life is MORE than what we can SEE and TOUCH – it is going to change the way to live.
- For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places – Ephesians 6:13
The Rulers, powers, world forces, and spiritual forces who share this world with us – right here on the flat earth. We must be convicted of this; we must not neglect this. We must remember who we are fighting in our sufferings. Our faith in Christ must account for the fact that the real war is spiritual. One last verse on this topic.
The King of Aram sent horses and chariots and a great army by night and surrounded the city where Where the prophet Elisha was living. Elisha had no army there – he and his servant were surrounded. The servant was panicked. Surrounded by bad guys, he had no army… well no army that the Servant could see:
- And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So Elisha answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. – 2 Kings 6:15-17
This is not something to creep you out. God has designed creatures of an entirely different order which we cannot see. Now our focus is not on the evil elohiym and there crowd. But on the Most High God. There are some specific things we ought to be about if this second component of our faith is to flourish and thrive:
- We must live alert to unseen influences
- We must pray protection upon ourselves
- We must pray protection upon others
- We must live obediently to the Word
- We must view adverse people as being deceived and show them mercy
If we actually believed, if we actually were convicted by the evidence and proof of our the true reality that our daily life is complicated by unseen creatures – then we will live differently. But with this view of the duel nature of faith – the reality of things hoped for (like our Security List above) and the conviction of things not seen… if we live these two truths of our faith out – then faith is set loose upon our lives and sufferings and we are led into the arms of Joy.
- 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 – 1 Peter 1:8
When you take up the fight – putting on the full armor of God. When you take up the fight – not taking on the devil and his crowd yourself – No, no, no. Your arms are too short to box with the devil. But if the Holy Spirit of the Most High God has taken up residence in you then your prayers, your powers, are all turned into joy – a joy so complete that you are unable to describe it. It is inexpressible and glorious. This is the life the Word of God is promising you – right in the midst of your suffering. And frankly – because of it. And what is the outcome of living like this?
The Salvation of our Souls
- For you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls – 1 Peter 1:9
This is the outcome. The Lord will preserve you alive. If you build both aspects of your faith – the things promised to us (the things we hope for) and the certainty that you live amidst a sea of unseen influences. This should affect your concern about your time in the Bible and time on your knees.
To live in pain and suffering is something we must expect. To use our faith to access Joy – joy inexpressible – is something we must use our willpower to address – but it also is something that is available to us!. Please watch the video to get more out this summary.