THE BOOK OF 1 PETER
1 Peter Chapter 1
OUR LIVING HOPE
How do you feel about the future
right now? A little nervous? Wondering where terrorists are going to strike
next? Wondering if you will have enough
money to provide for your retirement, or your children’s college educations?
For many the future holds a lot of question marks and uncertainties. What will
happen with gas prices? Will the bird
flu really become a pandemic and sicken or kill millions of people? Is the
conflict in the Middle East really the beginning of World War III?
Many people in the early church
also lived in uncertain times. Persecution of Christians was becoming an
entertaining sport and many were unfriendly to the followers of Christ. Peter
wrote a couple letters to these Christians and today we will start looking at
the first of those letters. But first a little background about the man, Peter, himself.
Peter came from a family of fisherman who lived in Bethsaida and later in Capernaum. Andrew was Peter’s brother
and introduced him to Christ. Peter was married and his wife apparently
accompanied him in his ministry.
Jesus clearly singled out Peter for special lessons throughout the gospels.
Peter often served as the spokesman for all 12 apostles. After the coming of
the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), Peter was empowered to become the leading gospel
preacher from the day of Pentecost on (Acts 2-12).
When it came time for Peter to be crucified, he claimed he
was not worthy to be crucified in the same way that Jesus was crucified, and
asked to be crucified upside down, which he was. Now let us look at what Peter
was called to tell us by His Lord and ours, Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1: 1,2 NLT:
This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God’s chosen
people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia,
Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a
result, you have obeyed him and have
been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more
grace and peace.
The author of this letter
identified himself as, “Peter, an apostle
of Jesus Christ.” Some have questioned whether a common fisherman could
have written this letter, especially since Peter and John were both called “unlearned and untrained men” (Acts
4:13). That simply means that they did not have a doctor of theology degree
from Harvard. We must not underestimate, however, the training Peter had for
three years during which he spent day and night with Jesus. We must also
remember the powerful impact of the work of the Holy Spirit in Peter’s life.
The Holy Spirit empowered Peter to write this epistle, making Peter a very good
example of what Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, NLT:
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the
world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame
those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to
shame those who are powerful.
28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all,
and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be
wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and
he freed us from sin.
31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about
His given name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to
Peter, which means “a stone” (John
1:42). The Aramaic equivalent of “Peter” is “Cephas,” so Peter was
a man with three names. Nearly fifty times in the New Testament, he is called “Simon”; and often he is called “Simon Peter.”
Peter and Paul were the two leading apostles in the early
church. Paul was assigned especially to minister to the Gentiles, and Peter to
the Jews (Galatians 2:1–10). The Lord had commanded Peter to strengthen his
brethren (Luke 22:32) and to take care of the flock, and the writing of this
letter was a part of that ministry. It
was a letter of encouragement to the churches and to those Christians who
were and would be suffering trials.
In chapter 5, verse 13, Peter
indicated that he wrote this letter “in
Babylon” where there was a community of believers. There is no evidence,
either from church history or tradition, that Peter ministered in ancient
Babylon, which is modern-day Iraq, which at that time did have a large
community of Jews. There was another town called “Babylon” in Egypt, but we have no proof that Peter ever visited
it. Peter is probably referring to Rome in a symbolic way when he speaks
of “Babylon.” We do have reason to believe that Peter ministered in Rome and was probably
martyred there. It was not unusual
for persecuted believers during those days to write or speak in “code” in order to protect themselves
and their fellow believers. For
instance, in Revelation 17:5 and 28:10 Rome is called “Babylon.” When writing this letter, Peter probably referred to
Rome as Babylon so that the Romans would not have any reason to be offended by
his comments, nor would they be provided with any information that could be
damaging to the churches.
There is, however, no evidence whatsoever that Peter founded
the church in Rome, as many people think, or that he served as the first bishop
of the Roman Catholic Church.
Peter directed this letter to: “aliens” in verse 1. They are called “strangers and pilgrims” in 1 peter
2:11. These people were citizens of Heaven through faith in Christ (Philippians
3:20), and therefore were not permanent residents on earth. Like Abraham, they
had their eyes of faith centered on the future city of God (Hebrews 11:8-16).
Just like a very old gospel song said, “This
world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through . . .” these Christians were in the world, but not of the world (John
17:16). We also, who have accepted Jesus Christ, are temporary citizens in a
foreign land, ambassadors so to speak, but we long for our true home which is in
Because Christians are “strangers” in the world, they are often
considered to be “strange” in the
eyes of the people around them (1 Peter 4:4). Christians have beliefs,
standards and values different form those of the world. We will discover in
this epistle that some of the readers
were already experiencing suffering because of their different lifestyle.
These believers were also a “scattered” people. The word translated “scattered” (diaspora) was
a technical term for the Jews who lived outside of Palestine at this time.
had been driven from their homeland of Israel. However, Peter’s use of this
word does not imply that he was writing only to Jewish Christians, because some
statements in his letter suggest that some of his readers were converted out of
There was undoubtedly a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles in the churches that
received this letter and we will notice a number of Old Testament references as
we go through these chapters.
The important thing for us to know about these “scattered strangers” is that they were
going through a time of suffering and persecution. At least
fifteen times in this letter, Peter refers to suffering. Some of these
Christians were suffering because they were living godly lives and doing what
was good and right.
Others were suffering rejection for the name of Christ (1 Peter 4:14) and being
insulted by unsaved people who just loved to ridicule them (1 Peter 3:9–10).
Peter wrote to encourage them to
be good witnesses to those who were persecuting them, and to remember that their
suffering would lead to glory.
So 1 Peter is a letter of
encouragement (1 Peter 5:12). We see also that a theme of suffering is contained throughout the letter. But in addition there
is a theme of glory. One of the
encouragements that Peter gives suffering saints is the assurance that their
suffering will one day be transformed into glory. This is possible only because
Jesus suffered for us and then
entered into His glory.
As believers, we have a “living
hope” because we trust a living
Christ. This hope enables us to keep our minds under control and “hope
to the end” (1 Peter 1:13) when Jesus will return. We must not be
ashamed of our hope but be ready to explain and defend it. Since suffering
brings glory, and because Jesus is coming again, we can indeed be hopeful.
However suffering does not automatically bring glory to God
and blessing to God’s people. Some believers have weakened and fallen in times
of trial and have brought shame to the name of Christ. It is only when we
exercise our faith in God’s promises and depend on the grace of God that we can
glorify God in times of suffering. Peter
also emphasized God’s grace in this letter. In chapter 5, verse 12, Peter
writes: “I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this
is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”
The word “grace” is
used in every chapter of 1 Peter. Grace is God’s generous favor to undeserving sinners and needy saints. When we
depend on God’s grace, we can endure suffering and turn trials into triumphs.
It is grace alone that saves us (Ephesians 2:8–10). God’s grace can give us
strength in times of trial (2 Corinthians 12:1–10). Whatever begins with God’s
grace will always lead to glory.
As we study 1 Peter, we will see how the three themes of suffering, grace, and glory unite to form an encouraging
message for believers experiencing times of trial and persecution. These themes
are summed up in 1 Peter 5:10 and 11, verses I would recommend we all memorize:
And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace,
who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore,
support, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the power
forever and ever. Amen.
The cynical editor and writer, H.
L. Mencken, once defined hope as ”a pathological belief in the occurrence
of the impossible.” But that definition does not agree with the New
Testament meaning of the word. True Christian hope is more than an “I hope so” with fingers crossed. It is confident
assurance of future glory and blessing.
An Old Testament believer called God “the Hope of Israel” (Jeremiah 14:8). A New Testament believer
affirms that Jesus Christ is their hope.
unsaved sinner is “without hope” (Ephesians
2:12); and if one dies without Christ, he or she will be hopeless forever. The
Italian poet, Dante, in his Divine
Comedy, put this inscription over the world of the dead:
“Abandon all hope, you who enter here!”
This confident hope Peter speaks of
gives us the encouragement and confidence we need for daily living. It does not
mean that we should put on our pajamas and go up on the roof to complacently
await the return of Jesus Christ. Instead, it puts us in the workplace, on the
battlefield, where we keep on going when the burdens are heavy and the
battles are hard. Hope is not a
sedative; it is a shot of adrenaline, or a blood transfusion. It infuses us
with energy. Like an anchor, our hope in Christ stabilizes us in the storms of
life (Hebrews 6:18-19); but unlike an anchor, our hope moves us forward, It
does not hold us back. Some translations of the Scripture use the word “expectation” instead of “hope.” Expectations keep you looking
1 Peter 1:3-5 NLT:
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great
mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the
dead. Now we live with great expectation,
4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an
inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the
reach of change and decay.
5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you
receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all
Peter outlines a progression that
is easy to follow. Everything begins with salvation, our personal relationship
with God through Jesus Christ. If we know Christ as Savior, then we have hope. If we have hope, then we
can walk in holiness and in harmony. There should be no problem submitting to
those around us in society, the home, and the church family. Salvation and
submission prepare us for suffering, and if we focus on Christ, we can overcome
and God will transform suffering into glory.
Because of Christ’s resurrection, Christians have a hope of eternal salvation that is actually a certainty, for it is as verse 4 tells us: “beyond the reach of change and decay.” It is guaranteed and
protected by God Himself. Listen to what Jesus told His disciples in John
It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the
Festival of Dedication.
23 He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s
24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in
suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you do not believe me. The
proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.
26 But you do not believe me because you are not my sheep.
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them
away from me,
for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.
No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”
Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
believers have been born into a living hope, and that hope includes the glory
of God. But, what do we mean by “the
glory of God”?
The glory of God can be described as His complete splendor
and perfection. The glory of God means the sum total of all that God is and
does. “Glory” is not a separate
attribute or characteristic of God, such as His holiness, wisdom, or mercy.
Everything that God is and does is characterized by glory. He is glorious in
wisdom and power, so that everything He thinks and does is marked by glory. He
reveals His glory in creation (Psalm 19), in His dealings with the people of
Israel, and especially in His plan of salvation for lost sinners.
When we were born the first time, we were not born for
glory. “For all flesh is like grass, and
all the glory of man like the flower of grass” (1 Peter 1:24, quoted from
Whatever feeble glory mankind has will eventually fade and
disappear; but the glory of the Lord
is eternal. The works of mankind done for the glory of God will last
and be rewarded (1 John 2:17). But the selfish human achievements of sinners
will one day vanish to be seen no more.
The miracle of salvation that
Peter begins to describe in verse 2 of 1 Peter originated with God. We were
chosen long ago by the Father, according to verse 2 as well as Ephesians 1:3-4,
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christbefore the foundation of the world to be
holy and blameless before him in love.
Another biblical word used to
describe “being chosen” is the word “election.” This election was not based on anything we
had done, because we were not even on the scene at the time. Nor was it based
on anything God saw that we would be or do. God’s election was based totally on
His grace and love. We cannot explain it (Romans 11:3-36), but we can rejoice
Verse 2 speaks of “foreknowledge.” That does not suggest
that God merely knew ahead of time that certain of us were going to believe and
therefore He chose us. This would take our salvation completely out of God’s
hands and place it in ours. Remember, it is only because of the grace of God
that we can be saved. God has made it possible because of His grace for a
person to be saved if he or
she is willing to confess that they are a sinner and to accept Christ’s death
as payment for those sins. God did, however, initially bestow His
special love on the Israelites and He did this for the special purpose of
having them lead the rest of the world to a knowledge of God as well.
The plan of salvation, however, includes more than just
God’s love; it also includes the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting the
sinner and bringing him or her to faith in Christ. The best explanation of this
is 2 Thessalonians 2:13–14 NLT:
As for us, we cannot help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters
loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the
first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who
makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.
14 He called you to salvation
when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord
Remember, the Son of God had to die on the cross for our
sins, or there could be no salvation. Verse 2 clearly indicates the role of the
Trinity in our salvation. While the word “trinity” never appears in the New Testament, we find a number of passages like this
one, which clearly delineate the existence of each Person of the Trinity as
co-existing. Notice the roles of each Person. We have been chosen by the
Father, purchased by the Son, and set apart by the Spirit. It takes all three
if there is to be a true experience of salvation.
As far as God the Father is concerned, I was saved when He
chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world. As far as the Son is
concerned, I was saved when He died for me on the cross. But as far as the
Spirit is concerned, I was saved sometime around 1990, when I heard the Gospel
and received Christ. Then it all came together, but it took all three Persons
of the Godhead to bring me to salvation. If we separate these ministries, we
will either deny divine sovereignty or human responsibility; and that would
lead to heresy.
Peter emphasizes the balance and
cooperation between God and His human servants in His plan to save sinners. In
1 Peter 1:23 we see that the Gospel was preached to these people by the
ministers of God and that they heard it and believed (see also 1 Peter 1:12).
Peter’s own example at Pentecost demonstrates the progression and balance we
see in Romans 10:14:
But how can they call on him to save them unless they
believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about
him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
The same God who ordains our salvation, also ordains the
means to that salvation, the preaching of the Gospel of the grace of God.
Our hope as believers is a living hope because it is grounded on the living Word of
God (1 Peter 1:23), and was made possible by the living Son of God who arose from the dead. A living hope is one that has life in it and therefore can give life to us. Because it has life, it grows and becomes better and
better as time goes on. Time destroys most hopes; they fade and then die. But
the passing of time only makes a Christian’s hope that much better.
Peter called this hope an
inheritance (1 Peter 1:4). As the children of the King, we share
Christ’s inheritance in glory.
are included in Christ’s last will and testament, and we share the glory with
Him according to John 17:20–26 NLT:
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever
believe in me through their message.
21 I pray that they will all be one, just
as you and I are one—as you
are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world
will believe you sent me.
“I have given them the glory you gave
me, so they may be one as we are one.
23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity
that the world will know that you sent me and
that you love them as much as you love me.
24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then
they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the
25 “O righteous Father, the world Does not know you, but I do; and these
disciples know you sent me.
26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love
for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
to 1 Peter chapter 1, note in verse 4 Peter’s description of this inheritance for it is totally unlike any earthly inheritance. For one thing, it is incorruptible, which means that nothing
can ruin it. Because it is undefiled, it cannot be stained or cheapened in any way. It will never grow old because it
is eternal; it cannot wear out, nor can it disappoint us in any way.
In 1 Peter 1:5 and 9, this inheritance is called “salvation.” The believer is already saved through faith in Christ as Paul
described in Ephesians 2:1–10 NLT:
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.
2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the
devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work
in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.
3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and
inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s
anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,
5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he
raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been
6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in
the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible
wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us
who are united with Christ Jesus.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you cannot take credit for
this; it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can
boast about it.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can
do the good things he planned for us long ago.
So when a person believes in
Christ and His work on the cross and receives Him as their personal Savior,
that believer is then saved through Christ, but the completion of that
salvation awaits the Second Coming of Christ. At that time we will be given new
bodies and enter into a new environment, the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem.
Paul called this “the blessed hope” in Titus 2:13.
What a thrilling thing it is to know that we were born for
glory. When we were born again, we exchanged the temporary glory of mankind for
the eternal glory of God,
our future home and inheritance are guaranteed and reserved.
But there are some who think they might not make it, that
they might lose that guaranteed salvation. Do not ever think that way because
if you have made a true confession of sin and an honest expression of faith
that Jesus Christ died as a payment of your sin, you are in. You can never lose
that salvation because as verse 5 says, your salvation is being “kept by the power of God.” The word
translated “kept” is a military word
that means “guarded, shielded.” The
tense of the verb reveals that we are constantly being guarded by God, assuring
us that we shall safely arrive in Heaven.
Believers are not kept by their own power, but by the power
of God. Our faith in Christ has so united us to Him that His power now guards
us and guides us. We are not kept by our own strength, but by His faithfulness.
How long will He guard us? Until He returns and we share in the full revelation of His great salvation. This
same truth is repeated in 1 Peter 1:9.
it is encouraging to know that we are “guarded for glory.” According to Romans 8:30, we have already been glorified. All that awaits
is the public revelation of this glory (Romans 8:18–23). If any believer were
lost it would rob God of His glory.
And therein lies our hope—that
because of the salvation Christ offers us, we have Him and all that He provides
to guide us, empower us, and encourage us. Because of our hope in Christ we
have a future that is secure. Because of our hope in Christ we can live each
day in the knowledge that He is always with us and that God keeps every promise
He makes. What more could you want?
The purpose of suffering
1 PETER 1:6-13
have already learned that 1 Peter is a book of encouragement with three main
themes that run throughout it: Suffering, grace, and glory. We will now begin
looking at the theme of suffering, something which I am sure we can all relate
When we covered 1 Peter 1:1-5 l,
you may recall that Peter taught us that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, had
to die on the cross for our sins, or we could not have salvation. Peter also taught us that the same
God who made possible our salvation also makes possible the means to that
salvation, the preaching of the Gospel of the grace of God. If you do not hear
the Bible taught, you won’t know the road to salvation and eternal life, and
therefore will not be able to exercise your free will to choose Christ. We just
looked at Romans 10:14 but we see it has application again here. In Romans
10:14, 17 NAS, Paul writes:
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how
can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can
they hear about him unless someone tells them.
17 So faith comes from hearing, that
is, hearing the Good News about Christ.
Peter continued teaching us that because of Christ’s
resurrection, Christians have a hope of
eternal salvation that is an absolute certainty, for it is as verse 4 tells us: “beyond the reach of change and decay.” It
is guaranteed and protected by God Himself. Whatever feeble glory mankind has
will eventually fade and disappear; but
the glory of the Lord is eternal. The works of mankind done for the glory
of God will last and be rewarded (1 John 2:17). But the selfish human
achievements of sinners will one day vanish to be seen no more. Let us now
continue our study beginning in 1 Peter 1:6-9 NLT:
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have
to endure many trials for a little while.
7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested
as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious
than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it
will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is
revealed to the whole world.
8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him
now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
Peter had some inside information from Jesus, and he knew
that a “fiery trial” was about to
begin, and that trial would be an intense persecution against all Christians by
the Roman Empire (1 Peter 4:12). When the Church began in Jerusalem, it was
looked on as a branch of the traditional Jewish faith. The first Christians
were Jews and they met in the temple compound. The Roman government took no
official action against the Christians since the Jewish religion was
accepted and approved by Rome. But when it became clear that Christianity
was not a branch of Judaism, that it
was a religion with its own unique belief system, Rome had to take some action.
Several events occurred that helped to jump start this “fiery trial.” To begin with, Paul had
defended the Christian faith before the official court in Rome (Philippians
1:12–24). He had been released but was then arrested again. His second defense
failed also and Paul remained in prison (2 Timothy 4:16–18). Secondly, when
the city of Rome burned, the Romans believed that their insane Emperor, Nero,
had set the city on fire because he was possessed with the thought of building
an entirely new city that would be more spectacular than any other city in the
known world. Their suspicions about Nero were right on, because in order for
that new city to be built, the existing city had to be destroyed. So by all
accounts, sometime during July a.d. 64, Nero did set fire to Rome.
The Romans were totally devastated by this fire. Their
culture, in many ways, went down with the city. All of their religious figures
were destroyed. This had tremendous religious implications because it made the
Romans believe that their gods had been unable to deal with this
disaster and were also victims of it. Many Romans were homeless and many
more had been killed. As you can imagine, the Romans were outraged. So Nero
realized he had to find a scapegoat for what he had done.
The emperor chose the Christians as his scapegoat because
Nero knew that the Christians were already hated because of their association
with Jews and because they were thought to be hostile toward the Roman culture. Nero spread the word that the Christians had set the fires.
A vicious persecution of Christians followed throughout the
entire Roman Empire including the cities we read about in verse 1 of 1 Peter.
Peter was most likely in Rome about this time and was
probably executed by Nero while all this persecution was going on. Nero was
also responsible for executing the apostle Paul. But before he was executed, it was Peter’s desire to prepare
the churches for this coming persecution.
Not all Christians in every part of the Empire were going
through the same trials to the same degree at the same time. It varied from
place to place, though suffering and opposition were pretty common throughout
the empire (1 Peter 5:9). Nero introduced official persecution of the Church,
and other emperors followed his example in later years. Peter’s letter must
have been a tremendous comfort to Christians then as well as for those who were
to suffer during the reigns of Trajan from AD 98–117, Hadrian from AD 117–138, and Diocletian from AD 284–305. Christians in the world
today also have Peter’s letter as a source of comfort and hope when their own “fiery trials” of persecution begin.
There is mounting evidence that we could be approaching the end times, the
seven-year Tribulation, and the return of Christ. We cannot be certain of this
of course because nobody knows the time other than God, but we can tell you
that all the prophecies regarding the Tribulation are in place, and I do
believe that these latter days, whenever they come, will bring a great
deal of suffering and persecution to the people of God. Therefore, this is a
most appropriate time for us to take comfort in Peter’s message.
Today personal “fiery trials” for North American
Christians include many things: the boss or co-worker that picks on you for
your faith, teenagers who are making bad decisions and messing up their lives,
physical illness of your own, dementia or physical illness in your parents, financial
or legal problems. The list is long and the trial is unique for each
individual. But God’s promises apply in these trials also.
We as Christians should especially rejoice in the assurance
of our salvation, even during earthly trials. Our goal should be to demonstrate
the kind of faith that will “bring us
much praise and glory and honor” when Christ returns. Let us remember that
all God plans for us, whether in times of joy or trial are a preparation for
what He has in store for us in Heaven. He is preparing us for the life and
service yet to come. Nobody knows all that might await us in Heaven. But this
we do know: life today is a school in which God trains us for our future
ministry in eternity. This explains the presence of trials in our lives.
They are some of God’s teaching methods in God’s Christian School.
Peter shared several facts about trials. There are special
times when God knows that we need to go through trials. Sometimes trials
discipline us when we have disobeyed God’s will as the psalmist wrote in Psalm
119:67 NLT: “I used to wander off
until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.” At other
times, trials prepare us for spiritual growth, or even help to prevent us from
sinning. Listen to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians
This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about
visions and revelations from the Lord.
2 I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my
body or out of my body, I do not know—only God knows.
3 Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do
4 that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding
that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.
5 That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I
will boast only about my weaknesses.
6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be
telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I do not want anyone to give me
credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message,
7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep
me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger
from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best
in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the
power of Christ can work through me.
that is why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults,
hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I
am weak, then I am strong.
We do not always know the need being met, but we can trust
God to know and to do what is best.
Trials are not easy. They can bring grief and pain, the same
kind of grief and pain that Jesus suffered in Gethsemane, and that the
Christians suffered at the death of their loved ones who were executed. Trials
are, however, controlled by God. They do not last forever; they are for a
season. When God permits believers to go through fiery trials, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the
thermostat. If we rebel, He may have to reset the clock; but if we submit, He
will not permit us to suffer one minute too long. The important thing is
that we learn the lesson He wants to teach us and that we bring glory to
Peter illustrated this truth by referring to a goldsmith. A
goldsmith would not deliberately waste valuable gold. He would d put it into
the smelting furnace long enough to remove the cheap impurities. Then he’d pour
it out and make something valuable. It has been said that the Eastern goldsmith
kept the metal in the furnace until he could see his face reflected in it. So
it might also be said that God keeps us in the furnace of suffering until we
reflect the glory of Jesus
This glory will not be fully revealed until Jesus returns in
the end times for His Church. Our trials today are preparing us for glory in
eternity. When we see Jesus Christ, we will bring “praise and honor and glory” to Him if we have been faithful in the
sufferings of this life. Listen again to the words of Paul in Romans 8:14–18
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.
Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own
children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s
17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together
with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his
glory, we must also share his suffering.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us
While we may not be able to
rejoice over what constitutes the trial itself, we can rejoice in the God who
controls the trial and we can rejoice as we look ahead to what is waiting for
us. Just as the assayer tests the gold to see if it is pure or counterfeit, so
the trials of life test our faith to prove its value. A faith that cannot stand
up to trials and testing is of little value. Too many people who claim to be
Christians do not have a true faith, and that will be revealed as trials come
up in their lives, for they turn to other things rather than to the Lord.
Jesus spoke of this in a parable. Listen to what He had to
say in Matthew 13:1–6, 18–21 NLT:
Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake.
2 A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat
there and taught as the people stood on the shore.
3 He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A
farmer went out to plant some seeds.
4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the
birds came and ate them.
5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds
sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.
6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they did not
have deep roots, they died.
“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds:
19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message
about the Kingdom and do not understand it. Then the evil one comes and
snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.
20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and
immediately receive it with joy.
21 But since they do not have deep roots, they do not last long. They
fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing
The seed that fell on shallow soil produced rootless plants,
and the plants died when the sun came up. The sun in the parable represents “trials.“ The person who abandons their
faith when the going gets tough only proves that they had no real faith at all.
Job went through many very painful trials, trials much more
severe than any of us will ever go through. Listen to what he said in Job 23:10
NLT: “But He (God)
knows where I am going. And when He tests
me, I will come out as pure as gold.” And Job did come out as pure gold. is
not it exciting to know that we were born for glory, that we are being kept for
glory, and that we are being prepared for glory?
1 Peter 1:8, 9 NLT:
8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see
him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
Our love for Christ is not based on seeing Him physically,
because we cannot yet see Him. It is based on what the Bible has taught us
In Romans 5:5 Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit within the
believing Christian has poured out God’s love into our hearts. This love He
offers us allows us to love Him in return. When you find yourself in some
trial, and you hurt, immediately lift your heart to Christ in true love and
worship. Why? Because this will give you a sense of hope even while you are
going through the trial.
Satan wants to use life’s trials to bring out the worst in
us, but God wants to use these trials to bring out the best in us.
If we love ourselves more than we love Christ, then we will
t experience any of the glory now. The fire will burn us, not purify us.
Faith in Christ means that we surrender everything to God
and obey His Word in spite of our circumstances. Love and faith go together.
When you love someone, you trust them. Faith plus love equals hope, a formula
you might want to commit to memory (Faith + Love = Hope). Where you find faith
and love, you will find confidence for the future.
How can we grow in faith during
times of testing and suffering? The same way we grow in faith when things are
going well. Paul tells us in Romans 10:17 NLT, that: “faith comes from hearing, that is hearing the Good News about Christ.” The only way our faith will grow during times of trial is when we turn to the
Bible, not just to read it, but to study it, to internalize it, and to pray to
the God who wrote it. We will grow during times of trials if we apply
what we have read and studied in the Bible to what we are going through. Merely
to read it, though important, is not sufficient for dealing with big trials. We
must, as Ephesians 6:17 tells us, implement the Word of God as our weapon in
the battle, for it is “the sword of the
Spirit.” Such familiarity with the Word of God will also help us to resist
the temptations that will come from Satan during those trials.
you have heard of resistance
training? Perhaps you engage in it during your workouts. But in case someone is
not familiar with resistance training, it involves using machines with
graduated weights. You push or pull these weights, depending on what part of
the body you are exercising, and as you do so specific muscles become more
developed. As the muscles develop you increase the weight so as to become even
stronger. Previous levels that once seemed so difficult become easy for you.
Well, rest assured Satan will keep bringing his heavy guns against you, but as
you practice resisting him your spiritual muscles will grow stronger. Our
relationship with Christ through His Word not only strengthens our faith,
enabling us to resist Satan more effectively, but it also deepens our love for
You may not feel like rejoicing over the circumstances, but
you can rejoice in them by focusing your heart and mind on Jesus Christ. Each
trial offers us the opportunity to learn something new about the love of
Christ. Abraham discovered new truths about God on the mount where he was
willing to offer his son as a sacrifice in obedience to God‘s command (Genesis
22). God had no intention of allowing Abraham to go through with this, but He
wanted to test Abraham’s faithfulness before He gave him the awesome
responsibility of founding the Jewish nation. Three Hebrew young men discovered
His nearness when they went through the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). Paul learned
the sufficiency of His grace when he suffered with a thorn in the flesh (2
Corinthians 12).The joy God produces is “glorious
and inexpressible” according to 1 Peter 1:8. This joy is so deep and so
wonderful that we cannot even describe it. Words fail us.
1 Peter 1:10-12 NLT:
This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about
when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you.
11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within
them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s
suffering and his great glory afterward.
12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And
now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power
of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the
angels are eagerly watching these things happen.
The Old Testament prophets
faithfully recorded God’s promises of eternal salvation, even though they
realized that they would never see the fulfillment in their own lifetime but
that they were recording those words for future generations. In the same way,
the angels, though they’re not fallen creatures and therefore do not need
redemption, are interested in the subject of salvation as well.
If we love God, trust Him, and rejoice in Him, then we can
receive from Him all that we need to turn trials into triumphs. Someone once
told me that “Every adversity is the seed
of a greater benefit.” Charles Spurgeon used to say, “Little faith will take your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring
heaven to your soul.” It is not enough that we long for Heaven during times
of suffering, for anybody can do that. What Peter urged his readers to do was
exercise love, faith, and joy, so that they might experience some of the glory
of Heaven in the midst of present suffering.
The amazing thing is that this “salvation” we are awaiting—the return of Christ—was a part of God’s
great plan for us from eternity. The Old Testament prophets wrote about this
salvation and studied closely what God revealed to them. They saw the
sufferings of Jesus the Messiah, and also the glory that would follow; but they
could not fully understand the connection between the two. In fact, in some of
the prophecies, the Messiah’s sufferings and glory are blended in one verse or
When Jesus came to earth, the Jewish teachers were awaiting
a conquering Messiah who would defeat Israel’s enemies and establish the
glorious kingdom promised to David. Even His own disciples were not clear about
the need for His death on the cross (Matthew 16:13–28). They were still
inquiring about the Jewish kingdom even after Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:1–8).
If the disciples were not clear about God’s program, how could the Old
Testament prophets understand it?
God told the prophets that they were also ministering for
future generations. Between the resurrection of Jesus and His return in glory
in the end times, we have what is known as the “church age.” The truth about the Church was a hidden “mystery” in the Old Testament period.
Now let us look again to Paul’s writing about this mystery, Ephesians 3:1–11 NLT:
When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the
benefit of you Gentiles …
2 assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility
of extending his grace to you Gentiles.
3 As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me.
4 As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this
plan regarding Christ.
5 God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles
And this is God’s plan: Both
Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches
inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the
promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.
By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him
by spreading this Good News.
8 Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me
the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available
to them in Christ.
9 I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious
plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from
10 God’s purpose in all this was to use
the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen
rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Old Testament believers looked ahead by faith and saw,
as it were, two mountain peaks: Mount
Calvary, where Jesus was crucified and died (Isaiah 53), and Mount Olivet, where He will return in
glory (Zechariah 14:4). They could not see the valley in between, which is the
present age of the Church. Even the angels are interested in what God is doing
in and through His church.
The same Holy Spirit who taught the prophets and, through
them, wrote the Word of God, can also teach us the truths that are found within
it (John 16:12–15). Furthermore, we can learn these truths from the Old
Testament as well as from the New Testament. You can find Christ throughout all
of the Old Testament Scriptures. Listen to the words of Christ in Luke 24:25–27
Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe
all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.
26 was not it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer
all these things before entering his glory?”
Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets,
explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
In times of trial, you can turn to the Bible, both the Old
and New Testaments, and find all that you need. When we trusted Christ, we were
born again and this time born for glory. We are being kept for glory. As we
obey Him and experience trials, we are being prepared for glory. When we love
Him, trust Him, and rejoice in Him, we experience the glory here and now.
1 Peter 1:13 NLT:
So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious
salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.
The revelation of Jesus Christ in verse 13 is another
expression for the “living hope” and “the appearing of Jesus Christ.” Christians
today live with the expectation of one day seeing Jesus Christ. When you focus
your thoughts on the return of Christ, and live accordingly, you are able to
divorce yourself from worldly attractions that would lead you into all kinds of
unnecessary temptations which could bring many unwanted
consequences. What you think about most generally determines
what you will do. What you put in your mind is what you become. A Christian who
is looking for the glory of God has a greater motivation to do what is right in
the eyes of God than a Christian who ignores Jesus’ eventual return. The
contrast is illustrated in the lives of Abraham and Lot.
Abraham had his eyes focused on the throne of God, so he had no interest in the
world’s real estate. But Lot, who had tasted the pleasures of the world in
Egypt, gradually moved toward Sodom to take all the land he could. Abraham
brought blessing to his home, but Lot brought judgment. What each of these men
allowed themselves to think about determined what they practiced in their
The fact that Christ is coming again is cause for confident
assurance in the way we live each day (1 Peter 4:7). The fact that Satan is on
the prowl is another reason to keep our minds under control (1 Peter 5:8). We
should also have a positive outlook on life. The result of submitting one’s
mind to the control of the Holy Spirit will bring the grace of God into that
person’s life. we will experience grace when we see Jesus Christ upon His
return. We can, however, also experience that grace today as we look for Him to
return. We have been saved by grace and we need to depend on that
grace every living moment. Thinking frequently of the return of Christ will
strengthen our faith and hope in our times of trial and provide us joy in the
good times. I feel that Titus 2:11–14 NLT states this as well as it can be
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.
12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We
should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God,
13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our
great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to
make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
The assurance of Heaven is a great help to us today. As Dr.
James M. Gray expressed it in one of his songs, “Who can mind the journey, when the road leads home?” If suffering
today means glory tomorrow, then suffering in a way becomes a blessing to us.
The unsaved have their “glory” now,
but it will be followed by eternal suffering away from the glory of God (2 Thessalonians 1:3–10). In the light
of this, let us close by reading 2 Corinthians 4:7–18 NLT and rejoice:
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like
fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our
great power is from God, not from ourselves.
8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are
perplexed, but not driven to despair.
9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down,
but we are not destroyed.
10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that
the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.
12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for
13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the
psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”
14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with
Jesus and present us to himself together with you.
15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more
people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits
are being renewed every day.
17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they
produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
18 So we do not look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on
things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but
the things we cannot see will last forever.
LIVING UP TO GOD’S
1 Peter 1:14-25
Standards—what are they? you have
probably noticed a little slip of paper in a product you purchase that reads, “Inspected
by such and such.” Most manufacturers have standards for their products. As the
product comes off the production line it is inspected. If it meets the standard
it is approved for packaging and distribution for sale. If it does not, it is
put aside. Schools have standards for grades—students must demonstrate a
certain level of achievement in order to qualify for promotion to the next
grade or for graduation. Society has certain standards for behavior. Even
though we may wonder about some of those standards today, it is still
considered inappropriate to punch someone in the nose if they disagree with
you. And what about standards for the Christian life? If you have been a
Christian for a long time, you have probably noticed a shift in those. For instance
some years ago “good” Christians did not go to movies or dances, drink or
smoke. Today those standards have changed and we find some Christians who do
engage in those behaviors. The standards
of cultural Christianity have changed, but do you think God’s standards have
changed? Let us take a look at what the Apostle Peter had to say about some of
1Peter 1:14,15 NLT:
So you must live as God’s obedient children. do not slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You did not know any better then.
15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who
chose you is holy.
More often than not children inherit the behavioral patterns
of their parents. God is holy. Therefore, as His children, we should live holy
lives. we have “inherited the divine
nature” (2 Peter 1:4) and ought to reveal that nature in godly living.
Peter reminded his readers of what
they were before they trusted Christ. They had been disobedient children
(Ephesians 2:1-3), but now they were to be obedient children. They had been
living to satisfy their own wants and desires just as all unbelievers do. True
salvation always results in obedience. Jesus Himself said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). In
fact, He felt so strongly that we show our love for Him through our obedience
to Him that He said it at least three times in John chapter 14. When we truly
love Christ, we will obey Him.
The root cause of such behavior is a lack of knowledge of
the Gospel message. And the reason for this lack of knowledge is foolishness and pride. Such a mindset
usually leads a person to satisfy the desires of the flesh and live a selfish,
self-destructive lifestyle (Ephesians 4:17ff). Since we were born with a fallen
nature, it was natural for us to live sinful lives.
We would still be living in that prison if it were not for
the grace of God. He called us out of that and to Himself. In Mark 1:16-20 NLT
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw
Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for
17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how
to fish for people!”
18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a
boat repairing their nets.
20 He called them at once, and they also followed him,
leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.
These men responded by faith to Jesus’ call, and their faith
completely changed their lives. we are called to be holy in 1 Peter 1:15. we
are called “out of darkness into His
marvelous light” in 1 Peter 2:9. we are called to suffer and follow Christ’s
example of meekness in 1 Peter 2:21. In the midst of persecution we are called “to inherit a blessing” in 1 Peter 3:9.
Best of all, we are called to “His
eternal glory” in 1 Peter 5:10. God called us before we called on Him for
salvation and it is all because of His grace.
But God’s call involves responsibility and not just
privilege. He has chosen us in Christ according to Ephesians 1:4: “that we should be holy and without blame
before Him.” God has called us to Himself, and because He is holy; we should
strive to be like Him. Peter quoted from the Old Testament Law to back up what
he was saying.
God’s holiness is an essential
part of His nature. John writes: “God is
light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Any holiness that we
demonstrate in the way we live our lives is the result of the Holy Spirit
working in us combined with our willingness to submit our will to His. We are
to steer clear of anything which is immoral, or that even appears to be sinful
(2 Corinthians 6:14—7:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:22). We are to conduct ourselves as
ambassadors of the King in a foreign land. We are to demonstrate to people what
our King is like by being like Him in everything we say and do so that whatever
we do reflects the holiness of God. Even such ordinary activities as eating and
drinking can be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). If something
cannot be done to the glory of God, it is a good sing that we shouldn’t do it.
Would that be a great test to run by everything we consider doing, thinking, or
saying? “Would this (thought or activity) glorify God?”
1 Peter 1:16 NLT:
16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
“It is written” is
the way this verse begins in the NAS translation. These three little words have
all the power of God behind them. Jesus used the Word of God to defeat Satan,
and so can you. We should remember how Jesus used the Word of God to keep from
giving into temptation. We should simply copy Jesus’ behavior as described in
Matthew 4:1–11 NLT:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the
2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.
3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God,
command that these stones become bread.”
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the
6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is
written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, In their hands they
shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him
all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down
and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall
worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
The Word of God can also light our way in a dark world as we
are told in Psalm 119:105 NLT: “Your word
is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path,” and 2 Peter 1:19:
Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message
proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote,
for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns,
and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.
In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said: “The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every
word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Those who love God’s Word, study
it, and seek to obey it will experience God’s guidance and blessing. Psalm
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand
around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
The Word of God given to us in the Bible is God‘s way of
communicating with us. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us. So you cannot know what God expects of you if
you do not have a thorough working knowledge of the Bible. Every part of our being
should be controlled by the Word of God.
If we really want to obey God, we will study the Bible
every day, and take those principles and apply them to our lives. God
remains the same and His spiritual principles never change. We do not study
the Bible just to get a lot of head knowledge about what is in it. We study the
Bible in order to get to know God better and allow Him to change our lives.
1 Peter 1:17 NLT:
And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He
will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in
reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.”
We better realize sooner rather than later that God takes
sin very seriously. He will not allow anyone who is stained with sin into
Heaven. God will not compromise with sin. Because of His mercy and grace He is
willing to forgive the sins of those who confess and accept Jesus’ death on the
cross as payment for their sins, and for those who do that He opens the door
wide to Heaven. But while we are still living on this earth we can expect
God to be a loving disciplinarian who will not allow His children to enjoy sin.
What is this judgment that Peter
refers to in verse 17? It is the judgment of a believer’s works. It has nothing
to do with obtaining salvation. Salvation comes as a gift from God when one
accepts Christ’s death as payment for their sins (Ephesians 2:8-10). However
one’s salvation should then motivate them to do good works. This is an area
where Satan has deceived many, by causing teaching that leaves out the faith in
Christ part and emphasizes the good works part. How often do you hear someone
say, “I’m a good person. I do good things. So I’ll go to heaven.” Or, “I think my good deeds outweigh my bad
ones, I’ll make it past the pearly gates.” They have been deceived by
taking one part of Scripture and not looking at the total doctrine, the one
that says specifically we are saved by faith in Christ alone. But after we are
saved, we will demonstrate our faith by our good works.
Listen to James’ words as he
writes in James 2:18-26 NLT:
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I
say, “How can you show me your faith if you do not have good deeds? I
will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you!
Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
20 How foolish! cannot you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
21 do not you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God
by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his
23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and
God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the
friend of God.
24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith
25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God
by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a
Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good
Paul wrote on this subject as well in his letter to Titus in
Titus 2:7,14 NLT:
And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind.
Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.
gave his life to free us from every kind of
sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to
doing good deeds.
Then in Titus 3:8,14 NLT:
This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so
that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good.
14 Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others;
then they will not be unproductive.
Do you get the idea? When we trusted Christ, God forgave our
sins and declared us righteous in His Son.
have already been judged on the cross (1 Peter 2:24), and therefore they cannot
be held against us (Hebrews 10:10–18). But when the Jesus returns, there will
be a time of judgment called “the
Judgment Seat of Christ.”
Each of us will give an account of our works and each will receive an appropriate
reward. This is a judgment where the Father is dealing with the children He
loves dearly. The Greek word in verse 17 which is translated judge carries the meaning “to judge in order to
find something good.”
will search our motives for what we have done as Christians. He’ll X-RAY our
hearts. But God’s purpose in doing so is to glorify Himself in our lives
and ministries. Then this wonderful promise in 1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT:
So do not make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns.
For he will bring our darkest
secrets to light and will reveal our private
motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
If one of His children disobeys, God must chasten them
(Hebrews 12:1–13). But when His child obeys and serves Him in love, He keeps a
record of that and prepares an appropriate reward.
In view of the fact that the Father lovingly disciplines His
children today, and will judge their works in the future, we ought to develop a
healthy fear of God. This is not the kind of fear some have of God because they
believe he is always looking to hit them with a 2 x 4 in harsh judgment. But rather
it is the loving reverence of a child before his father. It is not fear of
judgment but rather it is the kind of fear a child would have of
disappointing a parent. John tells us in 1 John 4:18 NLT:
Such love has no fear, because perfect
love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment,
and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
It is “godly fear” that we are
speaking of according to 2 Corinthians 7:1 NLT:
Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything
that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness
because we fear God.
Now let us go back to our passage in Peter.
1 Peter 1:18-21 NLT:
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you
inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold
19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of
20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has
now revealed him to you in these last days.
21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith
and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.
This is why we should live holy lives and do good things.
Here Peter is reminding people of what Christ did so that they might have
salvation. This is the primary reason we take part in the Lord’s Supper. We do
this to remember what He did for us until He comes again.
In the first-century Roman Empire there were probably
somewhere around 60 million slaves. Many of these slaves became Christians and
joined local assemblies of the church. So Peter used language they could relate
to. A slave could buy his own freedom if he could get hold of enough money or
if he could convince his master to sell him to someone who would pay the price
and set him free.
Redemption was considered a precious gift back then. it is still a precious
gift today. For those of us who have been redeemed by Christ’s substituionary
payment on the cross, we must not forget that we were once slaves to sin. Not
only were we slaves to sin, but we were also living a life of emptiness
according to verse 18. These people thought they were living rich, full lives
when in truth they were really empty and miserable. Unsaved people today are
living in a state of denial and emptiness and they do not realize how
meaningless a life is without Jesus Christ. How sad. In fact it is more than
sad, it is catastrophic if they die in that state because of where they will
Peter not only reminded them of what they were, but he also
reminded them of what Christ did. He shed His precious blood to purchase
us out of slavery to sin and set us free forever. To redeem means “to set free by paying a price.” A slave
could be freed with the payment of money, but no amount of money can set a lost
sinner free. Only the blood of Jesus Christ is a sufficient price for
Peter was a witness to Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 5:1) and
mentions His sacrificial death often in this letter.
Christ “a Lamb,” Peter was reminding
his readers of an Old Testament teaching that was important in the early
church, and that ought to be important to us today. It is the doctrine of substitution (an innocent
victim giving his/her life for the guilty party). This concept of sacrifice
begins in Genesis 22:1, when God substituted a ram to die for Isaac.
Passover lamb was slain for each Jewish household in Exodus 12. Messiah was
presented as an innocent Lamb in Isaiah 53. Isaac asked the question, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” in
Genesis 22:7; and John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sin of the world” in John 1:29. In Heaven, the redeemed and the angels
sing, “Worthy is the Lamb!” as we
read in Revelation 5:11–14.
Peter made it clear that Christ’s death was planned by God
before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23). It is true from an earthly
perspective that Jesus was brutally tortured and murdered. But it was God’s
plan all along for Jesus to die so that sinful mankind could be reconciled to
God. Listen to the words of Jesus Himself in John 10:17–18 NLT:
“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again.
No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the
authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this
is what my Father has commanded.”
Jesus laid down His life for sinners in the greatest act of
love ever demonstrated. But as that served as Good News, the equally Good News
was that He was raised from the dead. Now, anyone who believes Jesus’ death
and resurrection was on their behalf will be saved for eternity. When we
think about the sacrifice Christ made for us we should be moved to live good
and holy lives so that He will be glorified. Frances Ridley Havergal, as a
young woman, saw a picture of the crucified Christ with this caption under it: “I did this for thee. What hast thou done
for Me?” She was moved to sit down and write a poem, but was dissatisfied
with it and threw it into the fireplace. Somehow the paper did not burn. Her
father discovered it and at his suggestion she had it published.
“I gave My life for thee,
precious blood I shed;
thou might ransomed be,
quickened from the dead.
gave, I gave, My life for thee,
hast thou given for Me?”
You might want to give some thought to how you would answer
that question. We must not ever forget the great price paid for our salvation:
the “lifeblood of Christ, the sinless,
spotless Lamb.” God has been planning our salvation from before the dawn of
time (Ephesians 1:1–6).
1 Peter 1:22 NLT:
22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you
must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each
other deeply with all your heart.
As trials refine faith, so obedience to God’s Word refines
character. A person who has purified themselves by living according to God’s
Word has found the joy that comes by living a life of obedience. Part of that
new obedient personality should make
itself evident in the way a person treats his/her fellow believers. A
purified life allows one to sincerely love those who share the same faith.
All unkind thoughts and feelings regarding one’s fellow believers must be
removed. This kind of love (agapēsate, from agapē) can only come from a
changed heart, from one whose motives are pure, and who seeks to give more than
he/she takes. Such love meets other people at the point of their need.
Peter used two different words for love: philadelphia,
which is “brotherly love,” and agape,
which is godlike sacrificial love. It
is important that we share both kinds of love. We share brotherly love because
we are brothers and sisters in Christ and we are therefore family because we have the same Father. We
share agape love because we belong to
God and therefore can overlook differences.
By nature, all of us are selfish; so it took a miracle of
God to give us this kind of love. Let uss go back for just a moment and look at
Romans 5:1-5 NLT:
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace
with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved
privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to
sharing God’s glory.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that
they help us develop endurance.
And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our
confident hope of salvation.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves
us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Because we obeyed God through the power of the Holy Spirit
He placed within us, God poured His love into our hearts. Love for other
believers is evidence that we truly have
been born of God. Let us read together 1 John 4:7-21 NLT:
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from
God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.
8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the
world so that we might have eternal life through him.
10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each
12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us,
and his love is brought to full expression in us.
13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in
14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father
sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and
they live in God.
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is
love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be
afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because
we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are
afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully
experienced his perfect love.
19 We love each other because he loved us first.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister,
that person is a liar; for if we do not love people we can see, how can we
love God, whom we cannot see?
21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their
Christian brothers and sisters.
Now we are “obedient
children” (1 Peter 1:14) who no longer want to live in the selfish desires
of the old life.
It is not a pretty situation when people pretend that they
love each other because the evidence of such behavior is pretty obvious. We do
not know about you but we generally can spot this kind of phoniness a mile off.
David speaking of his enemy in
Psalm 55:21 says, “His words are as
smooth as butter, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion,
but underneath are daggers.” There
is an attitude at work in the world today that encourages people to manipulate
others in order to get what they want. If our love is sincere and from a
pure heart, we could never use people for our own advantage. The love that
believers share with each other and with a lost world, to be sincere, must be
generated by the Spirit of God. Believers love with a pure heart. Our motive
for loving is not to take but to give.
Love is something we have to work
at. Christian love is not a feeling; it is a matter of the will. We show
love to others when we treat them the same way God treats us. God forgives us,
so we forgive others. God is kind to us, so we are kind to others. When we read
1 John 4:17 a few minutes ago, we heard, “we
live like Jesus here in this world.” Do we? Especially in the area of
showing love? Christian love involves our actions and sometimes gets very
practical. Perhaps you have heard the story about the elderly Mrs. Diamond, who
was seriously ill? Several women were visiting her one day. After a while, they
rose to leave and told her, "Esther,
we will keep you in our prayers."
"Just wash the dishes in the
kitchen," the ailing woman said, "I can do my own praying."
The Word of God and the Spirit of
God will help us to generate this kind of love. It is impossible to love God‘s
Word and hate a fellow believer. The Spirit of God produces the “fruit of the Spirit” in our lives, and
the first of these is love (Galatians 5:22–23). If we are filled with the Word
of God (Col. 3:16ff) and the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:18ff), we will make
evident the love of God in our daily lives.
1 Peter 1:23-25 NLT:
For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your
new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word
24 As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower
in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades.
But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good
News that was preached to you.
The only way to enter God’s spiritual family is by a
spiritual birth through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:1–16). Just as there
are two parents in physical birth, so there are two parents in spiritual birth:
the Spirit of God (John 3:5–6) and the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23). The new
birth gives to us a new nature (2 Peter 1:4) as well as a new and living hope
(1 Peter 1:3).
Our first birth was a birth of “flesh,” and the flesh is corruptible. Whatever is born of flesh is
destined to die and decay. This explains why mankind cannot hold civilization
together: it is all based on human flesh and is destined to fall apart. Like
the beautiful flowers of spring, mankind’s works look successful for a time,
but then they start to decay and die. All the way from the Tower of Babel in
Genesis 11, to “Babylon the Great” in
Revelation 17–18, mankind’s great attempts at unity are destined to fail. If we
try to build unity in the church on the basis of our first birth, we will fail;
but if we build unity on the basis of the new birth, it will succeed. Each
believer has the same Holy Spirit dwelling within them (Romans 8:9). We call on
the same Father (1 Peter 1:17) and share His divine nature. We trust the same
Word, and that Word will never decay or disappear. We have trusted the same
Gospel and have been born of the same Spirit.
Unredeemed human life will fade like a fallen flower, but
God’s Word is everlasting, as are all who put their trust in it. As lifetime
members of God‘s kingdom we should love each other with a genuine and sincere
This is God’s standard for us.