1 Peter #2 1 Peter 1:3-12
1 Peter #2 1 Peter 1:3-12
We are exploring the letter the Apostle Peter wrote to encourage non-Jewish Christians who were facing difficult times. We can summarize last week’s lesson as a greeting to affirm that non-Jewish Christians have been incorporated into God’s chosen people through faith in Jesus. Non-Jewish Christians belong to the family of Abraham. The hostility and persecution they are experiencing are not a result of God’s disfavor, but actually, their worldly problems are because of God’s blessings upon their lives.
In the passage, we will examine today Peter uses almost poetic praise to introduce the three main ideas within this letter. Peter calls to our attention that God is to be praised because He has opened the door to everyone who desires a right relationship with Him to enter His favor, to become part of God’s family, and to become one of His beloved children. Those who were outsiders are now insiders, with a new Family, a new identity, and a new Hope that all will be set right when Jesus returns. Then there is the big curve ball. Persecution and suffering are to be understood as a blessing because when you face hostility for your faith it purifies; the worldly opposition requires you to cling to your faith, you grow deep in faith, you grow up in faith and you produce the fruit of faith. Because of difficulty. Worldly conflict, the troubles brought on by living out your faith, deepens your relationship with God. Peter will develop these ideas throughout the rest of the letter.
Four things you can take home with you today. 1. There is hope for better things ahead. 2. Trials, tribulations, and hard times strengthen your faith. 3. When times are tough be thankful for the great gift of salvation. 4. No matter what happens, remain obedient to God. Let's work these thoughts out of the text.
1 Peter 1:3-12 (MSG)
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, 4 including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! 5 God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole.
6 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. 7 Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
8 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don't see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. 9 Because you kept on believing, you'll get what you're looking forward to: total salvation.
10 The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. 11 The Messiah's Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. 12 All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!
Outsiders are brought in, and become family together, because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Every mess in your life is because of sin. The root of sin is disobedience. This disobedience is the result of doing what you want in ways that are out of sync, out of harmony, with God’s ways. When life is not right, it is because of sin. Sin always deters, damages, and or, destroys what is right. Sin prevents you from living your life to the full. Sin separates you from God, the God who is light, who is life, who is salvation. God desires that everyone thrive in a right relationship with Him. God in Jesus makes forgiveness of sin a reality. All that is required is your desire to ask for it and your willingness to repent from it. John Wesley said, “know your disease, know your cure.” If sin and separation from God is the disease, then the cure is forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness and reconciliation are found in God, seek Him, and He will find you, ask to be found by Him. When you acknowledge the self-made messes in your life, believe that Jesus can forgive your sin, and commit yourself to follow Jesus (John 14:6), to begin living God’s way, then God makes you an insider (Acts 16:30).
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (NLT)
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.
Are you ready today to exchange the old for the new? It’s your choice, your decision, and old messes for new chances to live your life to the full. You make your choice right now. Yes, maybe later is a no.
For those who live the yes, Peter encourages you that you have everything to live for. You get to live your life to the full here and now. Your adoption is into a life of love and loving others, you’ll spend the rest of your life learning how to be a lover. You discover that other believers accept you, giving you a place to belong. As you mature you discover acceptance of yourself, and you grow comfortable in your skin. In this life, you find meaning and purpose. You are given spiritual gifts to use to bless other people, and the use of those gifts makes a difference in the lives of others, this makes your life significant. The character qualities of Jesus become the dominant way you do life; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control begin to describe who you are (Galatians 5:22-23). New goals take over, you want to do everything that you can deepen your relationship with God while refraining from behavior that would harm it. As you continue to experience God’s mercy and forgiveness, you become a forgiver of those who has wronged you, setting yourself free from the debts they owe which can never be repaid.
For those who live the yes, we have a future in heaven. What heaven is no one knows, but it surely has to do with life beyond what we know as life now. Life continues to exist in some form after this body dies. Heaven surely has to do with an intimate relationship with God who because of our closeness to Him, every tear is dried and every sorrow ended, living beyond pain and death. Heaven surely involves existence free from the fears of life in a broken world. Slavery, oppression, prejudice, and bigotry all come to an end. There will be a new social order where each one looks out for the welfare of the other. You will always have enough. Heaven is surely a Garden in Eden type actuality, a paradise, a place that meets with all your desires. Heaven will feel like the home you always have longed for. Heaven is surely a place of continued spiritual growth, free from all the distractions of a broken world. Heaven is surely a place of worship and work, the worship is being the person God created you to be and the work is the restoration of planet Earth [the work is my speculation based on humanity’s task of caring for the Garden in Eden].
For you who live the yes, you “have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!” Things are tough now, but the day is “coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole.” Let this God-fueled hope empower you to keep on keeping on in a world that wants to stop you dead. Hope creates the power to cope and when you are in the midst of every kind of aggravation you need to cope.
In verse 7 Peter tells us that it’s these very aggravations that compel us to seek God with all our hearts. The challenges, difficulties, and even the tribulations and catastrophes that the world throws at you God uses to strengthen you. Maybe you’ve experienced a parent, a teacher, a coach, a mentor, or a drill instructor being very hard on you. In high school, two weeks before school started, every weekday, twice a day, football practice, running, conditioning in the heat of summer, discipline, and being pushed to your limits. Why? So, you can be the best you can be when the season starts. When you a living the yes, the difficulties, the injustices, and the storms can be used by God to make you fit for the rest of your life. One reason the day's gone by seem like the good ole days is that you made it through them, tomorrow is an unknown, what will happen, who knows, but you know that God has gotten you through before when you were at wit's end when you thought you would not survive, that God will walk with you through the next in your face, brick wall, giant, heart-crushing event too. You may feel like giving up, but you don’t, you may feel like you can’t take another step, but you do, because you know somehow Jesus will make you victorious and you with the gold medal around your neck, will be standing on the victor’s podium for all to see.
When you’re living the yes, you keep on believing. Even though you have never seen Jesus, you are convinced that He is active in your life. Faith trusts the unseen. No evidence except your subjective experience. No proof, other than the impressions left on your heart that you are loved by God. Please notice, you keep on keeping on with singing and laughing. Singing and laughter even in the bad times. Wow. Don’t you want to be there? You can sing and laugh even in the darkest of the night because you know that full salvation is coming your way, and the abundant life becomes life eternal.
Romans 8:18 (MSG)
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times.
2 Corinthians 4:17
These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.
Peter reminds us that this gift of God, abundant life now, life eternal later, total salvation, this right relationship on the inside with God is what the prophets wrote about. A day would come when God would take up permanent residence in the lives of those who desire to obey Him. It’s a big deal. Throughout the Old Testament, we get glimpses and promises of the day when the Spirit of God would indwell believers. Now the time has come to enter into the favor of God. Once you’re living the yes, you can’t help but be grateful for what has been done for you. That gratitude is demonstrated by obedience to God's will, accomplished God’s way. Gratitude compels you to be a lover. Love is expressed in your obedience. The Holy Spirit empowers you to be a lover, that’s salvation.
We’ve gleaned some encouragement from this passage.
Remember when the world is crashing in on you, you are not alone, you are part of the family of God, ingrafted into God’s blessings upon Abraham, living in God’s favor as you obey His law of love. You are God’s child. You are one of the chosen. You have brothers and sisters to help. This gives you the power to endure.
Amid the tough times remember that you have been "born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." This living hope convinces you that God will one day make all things right. This gives you the power to endure.
Remember that when you are in the midst of that difficult time, facing the unknown, dealing with hostility, when you surrender the aggravation and the injustice, and the injury to God, God can use that pain to refine and strengthen your faith, helping you grow spiritually, getting you ready for the next challenge. This gives you the power to endure
Remember during your lowest moments, when you hear the “fat lady singing,” the roadies have cleared the stage, and the lights are going out, that God has given you the great gift of salvation. You could not earn a right relationship with God that secures total salvation. You do not deserve the power to live your life to the full and gain entrance into life eternal. It is God’s love gift to you. You win regardless. Be grateful that God is faithful and He will see you through. This gives you the power to endure.
It's time to live the yes.