Thursday, September 17, 2015

Joyfully Redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-23)

The focus of the believers' quest for joy cannot be that God would relieve them from suffering. It is necessary that before the appearing of Christ, believers will be called upon to suffer various tests (vv. 5, 6). What makes them jubilant (literally, “much leaping”) is that salvation works for them even in the midst of their trials. The trial itself will cause grief (“sorrow”), so how do believers balance the command to be joyful with the sorrows that suffering brings? The answer is found in understanding salvation’s glorious hope in the end.
First, they needed to understand that trials reveal the genuineness of faith (v. 7). Saving faith always results in praise, glory, and honor at Christ’s revelation because fiery trials prove Christ faithful. Seeing God faithful in trial results in love for Christ, continued trust, and settled joy (a state of being as compared to the act or expression of emotion, v. 6), waiting faith’s full revelation (v. 9).
Second, they needed to understand that this salvation is a work of such grace that it captivated the attention of the prophets and angels to whom it was first revealed. They saw that their message was serving future generations of Gentile and not merely their own Israelite peoples. So, they were driven to search it out deeply (vv. 10–12).
Third, they needed to understand the purpose of this salvation to produce a holy and obedient people who refused to shape their lives by the passions that ruled them in their former ignorance. They were now to be governed by godly fear, protecting them in their sojourn (vv. 13–17).
Fourth, they needed to understand how this salvation accomplishes the purpose just stated (vv. 18-23). These believers needed to know that they were liberated from the slavery of futile ways inherited from their forefathers. This is a reference to v. 14 and their having been enslaved to the sin-conforming immoral passions of their pagan past. Redemption or ransom means that a payment was made to free them from sin’s bondage. The ransom payment consisted of Christ’s own blood. Here is the wonder that captivated prophets and angels: the sinless Son of God became the perfect sacrificial lamb, bearing the sins of His people. How can this be?
Our election (v. 1) rests on the election of Christ (“foreknown before the foundation of the world,” cp Acts 2:23). Foreknowledge cannot be understood here as God’s foresight of something Christ would do. It was determined before the first man sinned that the Lamb would die for sinners (note verse 21). Christ shed His blood and because of that, God raised Him from the dead so that, through Him, we can believe to salvation.
Now you see why we can jump with joy in the midst of trial. Our faith and hope are in God so that in the test our souls are purified through obedience to truth. The clear mark of sonship is obedience to Christ, manifesting genuine love from a pure heart (John 14:18–24). We do this because we are born again (vv. 22, 23; 1 John 3:9, 10, 16–18).

Thursday, September 10, 2015

True Faith (1 Peter 1:3-9)

       Believers in Christ Jesus have a glorious inheritance that is being reserved for them in heaven while they, the heirs, are kept on earth by the power of God (vv. 4, 5). This inheritance pertains to the complete deliverance from the effects of Adam’s fall. Such prospects are worthy of rejoicing in the anticipation (v. 6).
       Faith itself is nothing but trust in an expectation from another outside of us. The real question involves what we are expecting. This problem is illustrated for us in Luke 22. In verse 29 Jesus informed the disciples that they were appointed a place in His kingdom and that they would sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
       The very next thing Luke records is that Jesus turned to Peter and informed him that Satan wanted to sift him in the brutal mill of trial. Satan would destroy Peter, but Jesus prayed that his faith would not fail in that hour (v. 32). In fact, his emergence with faith intact would be the means of strengthening others, which seems to be the purpose that God designed in his trial. I wonder if this incident was the foundation of what Peter wrote in this chapter.
       Peter’s faith did not fail because of the intercessory work of the Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14, 15). The test came against Peter’s own self-assurance (v. 33). In spite of his insisted loyalty, he denied the Lord as predicted (v. 34). Discouraged by his own failure, Peter attempted to return to his former fishing career, only to fail again (John 21:1–3). However, when Jesus prays that your faith will not fail, He takes it upon Himself to assure that end (John 21:4–14).
       On the other hand, there is faith that rests on false assumptions. While God does not withhold what He promises, no one can force Him to grant what He never promised. This principle is illustrated in Matthew 13. When people hear the word of the kingdom, they must also understand what they hear (v. 19). Understanding is a work of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14 and 12). Nevertheless, the Word was readily and joyfully received (v. 20). Why was there joy? That is not explained, but we may assume that hope was set on what God never promised. And, as with Peter, Satan was there, testing faith with tribulation. The false believer fell away. Why? His faith was not supported by the prayers of the Great High Priest. Believers are not kept by their faith but by the power of God (v. 5).
       Faith that flourishes in the fire is like refined gold, resulting in praise, glory, and honor at Christ’s appearing (1 Pet. 1:6–9). Tested faith increases love for Jesus, trust in the Word, and inexpressible joy in the experience of waiting for faith’s outcome. As A. W. Pink observed, “The best is yet to come.”
       We have been appointed a kingdom. We are preparing now for that kingdom. Although it is often very difficult here, true faith enables us to rejoice in suffering, understanding that we are destined to share in the glories of our overcoming Lord.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Paul Tripp wrote about the importance of obedience in his blog recently.* He addressed the fact that our attempts at obedience could never gain God’s favor. Nevertheless, the Scripture is full of commands, laws, ordinances, and exhortations for us to obey. In light of this, Tripp wrote:
“We all live under the same weight of the law, crippled by the inability of sin. We’re better at rebelling than submitting, more inclined to arrogance than humility, more skilled at making war with our neighbors than loving them. We leave a trail of evidence every hour that we’ve fallen short of the glory of God one more time.*
So, does God really require obedience? Yes, He does. Peter refers to the believers as “obedient children” (1 Peter 1:14). Indeed, the whole context presses believers to obedience in light of the glorious change in us wrought by Christ’s salvation. The grace that saves is the same grace that enables obedience. That is why He saves. God intends to restore His kingdom on earth, so, the disobedience that characterized our fallen condition should also be reversed.
Peter calls upon believers to prepare their minds for action (obedience) in three ways (vv. 13–16). First, they are to set their minds fully on the grace that is to complete their salvation when Christ returns (v. 13). They do this by refusing the old desires that shaped them in their ignorance and disobedience. However, if the grace of salvation is to conform believers to the image of Son, then conforming to the image of the world must stop.
Second, what negatively controlled their desires before salvation, causing them to obey the desires of their evil hearts, must be replaced with the positive control of the Spirit in new desires to be holy, as God is holy (vv. 15, 16). The term that Peter uses (anastrophe, translated “conduct” [ESV], “conversation” [KJV]) refers to deportment—one’s manner of living or life-style. One’s life must demonstrate the change wrought by grace (Eph. 4:22; 1 Peter 1:18; 2:12; 3:1, 2, 16; 2:7; 3:11). The point is simply this, if salvation takes away the old heart of rebellion and replaces it with a new heart of submission, should not obedience to God characterize our life-style before the world. If we are children of God, then, we must act like it (1 John 3:7–10).
Third, even though we are saved from the penalty and power of sin, we, as God’s children, still face God’s judgment (v. 17). He will impartially judge all on the basis of their works (Rom. 14:12). So, let us be motivated to living that conforms to God’s righteous standards and holiness. Our life-style will be scrutinized by God, not for salvation, but to weigh our progress in becoming more like Jesus. Let us “perfect holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). This fear is necessary because of remaining sin. Thus, a continual awareness of God’s purpose of grace in us and His careful attention to us and supervision of us should make us careful in our obedience before the world as His witnesses.

* /posts/why-obedience