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12th October 2014
1 Peter was written to give the Church courage. Christians were facing difficulties; they needed to know what hope God offers in times of trouble, and how to respond in difficult situations such as working for an unjust boss, living under an unrighteous government, having an unbelieving husband, and dealing with general suffering. They need to know: in a broken world, what hope does God provide?
Christians are supposed to reign in life. That is what God wants for us. 1 Peter was written to help Christians stand under difficulties and persecution. If the truths and instructions Peter lays down are heeded, any believer, in any situation, will be able to stand strong!
If we want to stand strong through any difficulties that we face, the first place we start is revisiting the gospel and all that God has done for us. We are to marvel at it, enjoy it, be captivated by it. Here are just five reasons from 1 Peter 1:1-12 why salvation is so awesome:
1. It all starts with God – this salvation we have isn't our idea; it started in the heart of God, according to His great mercy (v3). Before the foundation of the world, God picked you out. He knew your best bits and your worst bits, and He chose you! (See Ephesians 1:4-5.) Not only did God start it, but He'll also finish it (v5). The certainty of our hope isn't based on our amount of will-power; God will bring through to completion what He started.
2. It was incredibly expensive (v3) – salvation came free to you, but it cost the Father everything. He was willing to send His Son to die. It cost Him so much, but He doesn't regret it for a moment.
3. It is a 'quality product' – it isn't a lick of paint or a patch-up job, but a living hope (v3). When babies are born, they can't do much: they can't walk, talk, make dinner! But all the potential is there. The same is true when we are born again: all of that spiritual DNA is in us, just waiting to be unlocked, so that we can worship, pray, prophesy, heal the sick – we have all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The thing about children is that they keep trying – however many times they fall over, they get back up and carry on. The problem with adults is that we don't like to fail. But we need to be more like children when it comes to God. And the best is yet to come (v4).
4. It's fully tested – it stands up even when it's put under trial (vv6-9). The gospel had such a profound impact on those Christians Peter was writing to that in the midst of trials they had an inexpressible joy.
5. The prophets and the angels point to it (vv10-12) – every Old Testament book points forward to Christ, centuries of history point forward to the salvation you and I enjoy today. We are in such a privileged position. Not only that, but even the angels are captivated by these things: "things into which angels long to look" (1 Peter 1:12b ESV). Angels get to sit in the throne room of God and yet want to look into this wonderful salvation. They haven't experienced it. All this reinforces how incredible is our wonderful salvation. There have been hints and shadows woven in to history but suddenly, in Christ, all the hints and shadows come together and are understood and seen in all their glory. And this was for us!
Knowing and enjoying our wonderful salvation is the key to finding strength in suffering and difficulty. So do we kick back, let go and let God? Or is there a part I play? Verses 5-7 tell us that God's power does not work separately to personal faith: it is our faith in God that He uses to guard us.
Trials test how genuine our faith really is. Genuine faith is more precious than gold. When you heat gold, impurity rises to the surface; likewise, when we face trials, impurity rises to the surface. As we prove God through trials, it will result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Bill Johnson writes: "God doesn't set us up to fail, but to grow." God allows trials to come along so that we get the opportunity to grow in faith, prove his faithfulness and glorify Him.
We are participants of a wonderful salvation. The angels long to catch a glimpse, the OT prophets strained to understand what was coming in the future. It originated with God the Father, was won by Christ and was revealed by the Holy Spirit. This salvation is now and in the future. It is glorious and wonderful and causes those who enjoy it to be filled with "joy that is inexpressible". It is so good that even the trials we face today and tomorrow, do not compare with the richness of this salvation and all that is to come in the future.
To listen to the 'How do I reign in life?' sermon, click here.
Posted by Paul Mann