1 Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”
The text – 1 Peter 1:3-12
The theme – “Remember God’s care” … during our times of trials, God sees us.”
Peter is the author of this epistle and describes himself first by his name, Peter, the same with Cephas, which signifies a rock, or stone; a name given him by Christ at his first conversion. He was an apostle of Jesus Christ, being one of the twelve apostles, who saw Christ in the flesh, had his call and commission immediately from him as recorded in Matthew 4:18, Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
John 1:42 tell us, “He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter), and he further describes himself by his office. He was qualified by Him to preach the Gospel; and was sent out first into Judea, and then into all the world to publish it, nor does he call himself the prince of the apostles, but only an apostle, as he was upon an equal foot with the rest.
As noted in 1 Peter 1:1 was to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia”. While Peter undoubtedly had scattered Jewish believers in mind, his Epistles included Gentile believers also (1 Peter 2:10). This Epistle, written from a church on Gentile ground presents all the foundational truths of the Christian faith, with special emphasis on the atonement. The distinctive note of 1 Peter is preparation for victory over suffering. The last-named word (suffering) occurs about fifteen times, and is the key word of the Epistle.
Remember the story of Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid. She was being treated unkindly by Sarah, so she fled into the wilderness. As Hagar stood beside a spring in that desolate and lonely place, The Angel of the Lord visited her. He assured her that God Himself was aware of her situation. Hagar responded, “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees” (Genesis 16:13). She found great comfort in knowing that the Lord God saw her and knew about her distress. My brethren, we can also have the same confidence in God’s watch care. We can be sure that our God is with us wherever we go, and He knows everything that happens to us.
As the all-powerful Creator, He is able to solve every problem, no matter how overwhelming or perplexing it may be … we are never alone, never forgotten, and never beyond hope. Whatever our troubling circumstances may be, whether it’s an affliction by illness or injury, brokenhearted over the loss of a loved one or disillusioned because our dearest friend has betrayed or rejected us, God knows and cares. We may be deeply depressed, or perhaps are plagued by loneliness and discouragement. Whatever the circumstance, we can be confident that we are under God’s watchful eye. Yes, like Hagar, we can know that God sees us and cares deeply for us.
THE PRESENT POSITION OF THE BELIEVER (1 Peter 1:3-5)
1 Peter 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively or living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”
We should note here Who it is Who has made it possible for us to have this hope … it is God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … and we should note what He has done for us. He has begotten us again to a living hope (note the emphasis on living). And we should further note the means by which He has accomplished this, ‘by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’, and what the result is for us, ‘to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that does not fade away’, an inheritance as sure and eternal as His own resurrection life.
WE HAVE A LIVING HOPE
Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope” … English poet Alexander Pope wrote, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man, never is, but always to be blest.” Is there a hope when hope is taken away? Is there hope when the situation is hopeless? That question leads us to Christian hope, for in the Bible, hope is no longer a passion for the possible, but it becomes a passion for the promise. When our expectation is rooted in God and in His Son Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin and death, the blessing that Alexander Pope says we are always looking for becomes a present reality. Because God is the God of Hope, He alone keeps hope flowing when its springs dry up in the human breast. There can be no better hope than a future spent with God, and that’s the promise He has given us.
There would be no salvation for anyone without God taking the initiative and acting. God’s gracious actions providing salvation grows out of His mercy (verse 3). The compelling force of God’s merciful heart moved Him to provide salvation for sinners. In salvation, we are “begotten” (v. 3) or “born again” (v. 23). This particular verb is used only in these two places in Peter’s epistle. It means renewal or the impartation of new life through the seed of the Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our priceless salvation, our privileged position as sons and daughters of God, and our enjoyment of eternal life didn’t begin with our merit, our discernment, our better-than-average wisdom, but rather in the abundant, and compelling mercy of God. God’s mercy makes it impossible for anyone to boast of their own contribution to salvation.
Each person who trusts Christ as Savior is born “unto a living hope.” A living, or lively, hope energizes the believer daily. This living hope is an attitude of eager anticipation as well as a blessed assurance that the glories of Heaven are as certainly ours as if we were already there, for we are already there in the Person of the resurrected Christ, our High Priest. God’s Word teaches that the only foundational basis for hope is the empty grave and “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” for apart from His death, burial, and resurrection; we have no hope at all. Thus, God has provided for us in Jesus Christ a rock-solid foundation for hope. Because He did rise from the grave, no one needs to die in despair.
1 Peter 1:4, “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you”
WE HAVE A RESERVED INHERITANCE
The Lord Himself is the inheritance of the child of God. Psalm 16:5 reads, “The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup …” His presence alone will make eternity priceless. Our Lord has reserved for His children Heaven itself and its indescribable eternal city (Revelation 21; 22), the prepared mansions of John 14:1-3 and eternity with Christ, with our saved loved ones and with the glorious hosts of the redeemed. We look forward to glorified bodies delivered from weariness, disease, pain, and physical limitations, and to hearts free of sorrow. Since God has already set the inheritance aside, it is the most secure deposit in the universe. It can never be destroyed by the enemy, never diminished in value, never polluted, and never wasted away. It is an assured inheritance, which the Lord promises to deliver at full value.
1 Peter 1:5, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”
WE HAVE A SECURE SALVATION
Not only is the inheritance of the believer set aside and reserved in Heaven and guaranteed, but also the inheritor will be kept safe to enjoy his inheritance. The indwelling Spirit’s presence in our hearts is God’s declaration that He will finish His work (Ephesians 1:14). “Who are kept” refers to those who have been born again (v. 3), those whose inheritance is reserved in Heaven (v. 4). Believers are the “kept ones.” God continually performs this action in our behalf. Because of His unbroken care twenty-four hours each day, the believer will be on hand in Heaven to receive his reserved inheritance. The believer’s assurance of his inheritance is not at all dependent on his own strength, his perfection of life, or his determination, but rather on God’s strength and purpose. “Faith” is the channel which relates us to the divine power.
By faith in the Savior, the believer entered into the divine family. Now by faith also, the believer claims this power of God acting in his behalf. Even our faith is a gift of God, worked in us by the Holy Spirit through His Word (Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”), so that in salvation all boasting is excluded. The term “salvation” involves several truths. It includes justification (being declared righteous by God, which becomes ours the moment we trust the Savior. “Salvation” also embraces our sanctification, the day-by-day deliverance from the power and dominion of sin in our lives. Peter’s statement in verse 5 points to a third aspect of salvation, our glorification. Only at that “last time” will Christians experience the fullness and the wonder of “so great salvation.”
TRIALS OF A BELIEVER (1 Peter 1:6, 7)
1 Peter 1:6, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations”
THE PRESENCE OF TRIALS
Before passenger trains were equipped with electric lights in their coaches, a Christian man was traveling by rail to a distant city. The route led through several long tunnels. As the man was enjoying a pleasant conversation with the person beside him, the train was suddenly enveloped in total darkness. The other man also a Christian had traveled that way many times before. Reassuringly he said, “Cheer up, my friend, we’re not in a sock … there’s a hole at the other end!” That’s good to remember when passing through the “various trials” that Peter spoke of in his epistle. These times can be very difficult for even the most mature believer.
Frequently, and almost without warning, we can pass from the brightness of some great moment with God into a state of gloom and disappointment. Some of the most devout Christians have written in their diaries or autobiographies about dark days when they experienced grief and discouragement because of their trials. Yet, how comforting to know that God’s children are never “in a sack … there’s a hole at the other end!” Our “tunnel experiences” are merely the Lord’s way of getting us through some mountain we could never scale on our own. At the other end, the light of His love shines more brightly than ever.
Consequently, any testing of our faith must be in the here and now … not in the next life. Life on earth is where we are candidates for problems but only for a season. God does not say that everyone needs trials all the time or that each believer will face equal testing. The measure of trials may depend on God’s purpose for a particular individual. Have you ever thought about or considered the trials Joseph faced? His trials included hatred, attempted murder, false accusations, and imprisonment. I’m also reminded of Job. He was covered with boils head to feet. His children were killed; his livestock was killed or stolen.
On top of all that, his wife told him to renounce God, and his friends said all his trials were because of his sins. Both Joseph and Job were both blessed by God for the godly manner in which they handled their trials. At the longest, the time of trial can be only for a lifetime, which in comparison to eternity, is almost as nothing. The Lord in His infinite wisdom and love tailors the time, the duration, and the quantity of the trials to fit each of His children. His purpose for some may be greater spheres of usefulness, while for others; He may design disciplinary trials to remove sins or to teach correct behavior.
1 Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”
THE PURPOSE OF TRIALS
James’ words “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (1:2) offer a vital key for turning trials into triumphs. Although we don’t choose to have trials, we can choose how we respond to them. J. P. Phillips paraphrased it like this, “Don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends.” The trial is a test to determine genuineness and durability. The trial examines the quality of our faith with God’s desire being to demonstrate our faith as approved. It’s like a teacher giving a test so the student can prove what he knows and gets a good grade. Will faith stand the test of dark days, disappointments, sorrow, criticism, rebuffs, physical pain, and unrecognized service?
These are but some of the “manifold temptations.” The testing of one’s faith is much more precious than the testing of gold. The fiery testing of gold purifies the metal and increases its value. The fiery testing of faith (4:12) is of far greater value because it purifies saints to better reflect the image of Christ. Proven faith outlasts even precious metal. In the phrase “praise and honor and glory”, Peter may have meant that the believer shall receive praise, honor, and glory from the Lord, but in the light of other Scriptures, the intent seems to be that our successfully overcoming trials will result in praise, honor, and glory to the Lord.
THE PRESENT JOY OF THE BELIEVER (1 Peter 1:8)
1 Peter 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”
WHOM HAVING NOT SEEN YOU LOVE
Our faith finds full expression in the direction of our faith … the Lord Jesus. We find joy in a person. The emphasis in this phrase is upon the person of Christ – “whom”. We do not need a picture of Jesus to love Him. We do not rely on some artist conception of Him to appreciate what He has done for us. However, we cannot love someone unless we have a clear conception of who that person is. A vivid portrait of Him is painted in the Word of God. We cannot see until we believe. If you do not believe you cannot see, thus, you are blind spiritually. When people come to Christ, God removes the scales from their eyes. They see spiritually for the first time. John 20:29 tell us, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Joy depends on our present relationship to Jesus Christ. Yesterday’s meals will not satisfy today’s hunger.
Present joy depends on present trust in Christ. It springs from our sense of forgiveness and our appreciation for the cross. Joy comes from the fact that we are daily in a right relationship with God through faith in Christ. If we removed an electric cord from its source of energy, the light goes out. The same is true in the Christian life. If we separate ourselves from the person of Christ, we lose the source of our joy. He is our source of power. If we do not plug into Him, we cut off fellowship with Him; we cut off our source of joy. The joyous Christian is not necessarily the one with the least trouble. Often, he is the one with the greatest trouble. He has found the truth that Christ is with him in his difficulty. Nowhere does God promise us an easy path of roses. Anyone can glory in prosperity. To say with Job, “though he slay me, yet will I trust him” is true Christian living.
Joy – 1 John 1:4 says, “These things we write to you that your joy may be full.” Favorable circumstances can produce smiles. A person with good health, an adequate income, and a nice house finds it easy to look happy. The best smile, though, comes naturally from within. If reflects a joy that remains even when a person has few of life’s material blessings. It comes from knowing God, believing and obeying His Word, being assured of sins forgiven, possessing eternal life, and anticipating the glories of heaven. The believer who depends on God for these blessings can smile and have joy despite adversity. The prophet Habakkuk declared triumphantly, “I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
Even if everything were taken from him, the Lord would be his strength. Thus, Biblical joy is beyond description. Joy is found in the “whom” of this verse. Joy is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Romans 5, the apostle Paul gave these reasons for joy … we have peace with God through Christ, access into grace, and hope of future glory. We have assurance that tribulation produces perseverance, which in turn builds character and leads to hope. We have hope that doesn’t disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts. We need to fill our minds with these truths. Then, no matter what our circumstance, we can choose joy unspeakable.
THE FUTURE BLESSINGS OF THE BELIEVER (1 Peter 1:9-12)
1 Peter 1:9, “Receiving the end of your faith, even in salvation of your souls”
THE PROMISE OF OUR SALVATION
In verse 9, Peter affirmed the great truth that the end or result of faith in Christ would be the salvation of their souls. While all believers have salvation the moment they trust Christ as Savior, Peter was referring to the future aspect of our salvation, which is the time when the believer will finally be with the Lord in heaven. Thus, our inheritance is set aside, reserved and kept safe for us to enjoy in Heaven. (Romans 8:18-23; 13:11; 1 John 3:2). Have you ever taken one of those vacations? You planned to arrive at a distant location where you knew you’d have a great time, but on the way you had so many traveling difficulties that you wondered if the journey was worth it. Car problems, traffic delays, getting lost, sick children, irritable fellow travelers.
You knew the destination would be great, but the trip was anything but smooth. Yet, you kept pressing on because you knew it would be worth the trouble. That’s a picture of the Christian life. Those who have trusted Jesus as Savior of their life are on a journey filled with difficulties, setbacks, tragedies, and obstacles. Trouble always seems to be present or just around the corner. But we know that an indescribably great destination is in our future (1 Peter 1:4). And sometimes the assurance of what’s reserved for us in heaven is all that keeps us going. Peter understood this. He said that as we make our way through life, we will suffer grief as a result of our troubles. Yet, we can actually rejoice through our difficulties, because God has reserved something special for us at the end of our journey. Trouble today? Look ahead … heaven will be worth the trip.
1 Peter 1:10-12, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; (11) Searching what, or what manner of time in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (12) Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into”
THE MYSTERY OF OUR SALVATION
Peter elaborated on the matter of the believer’s salvation, saying that the prophets who foretold of the grace that should come occasionally had a difficult time understanding what they were writing about. They searched the matter to find out the time and the character of the time relating to the suffering of Christ and the glory that should follow. The fact that there would be both suffering and glory was a mystery to the prophets. They could not see how both of these could happen. The Spirit of Christ, or the Holy Spirit, was the One leading the Old Testament prophets (2 Peter 1:20, 21). The prophecies about Christ, which God revealed to the Old Testament prophets, were intended for later generations, those of Peter’s day and following. The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, by Holy Spirit empowered preachers, fulfilled God’s intent. Salvation is so special that even the angels desire to look into it.
Trials are going to come into our lives and sometimes it will hurt. They are inevitable and will come into our lives for our good. Through our trials, our High Priest, Jesus Christ, is able to give us the help and comfort we need. The light at the end of the tunnel will come, and we must faithfully endure whatever trial God sends our way, as He did with Joseph, Job, Stephen and the apostle Paul. Psalm 119:71 puts it this way, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” Affliction, when we accept it with humility, can be instructive, a discipline that leads us to a deeper, fuller life. “Before I was afflicted, I went astray,” David said, “but now I keep Your Word” (Psalm 119:67).
Peter would also agree, affliction leads us not to live for ourselves “but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2). Far from being an obstacle to our spiritual growth, pain and suffering can be the instrument of it, if we’re trained by it. It can push us closer to God and deeper into His Word. It is a means by which He graciously shapes us to be like His Son, gradually giving us the compassion, contentment, tranquility, and courage we long and pray for. With pain and suffering, we wouldn’t be all that God wants us to be. His strength shines brightest through human weakness. So, my brethren Has God set you apart today to receive instruction through suffering and pain? If so, endure this training patiently, because through your suffering He can turn the trial into a blessing to:
(1) Use it to draw you closer to His heart and into His Word,
(2) Teach you the lessons He intends for you to learn, and
(3) Use it to bestow His grace on you.
The storms of our life prove the strength of our anchor.