1 Peter 1:6-9
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:…
I. BELIEVE, THOUGH WE NEVER SAW. We should not count this a hardship, since we every day believe in places and peoples whom we have not seen. Thus, you all believe that there is such a city as Rome, although few of you may have seen it. You believe also that a Pontiff rules there. But in these days of widespread scepticism men object to believe, in the first place, because the events to which we ask their credence happened so long ago. But if you believe that Julius Caesar fell at Pompey's pillar pierced by traitorous wounds, surely it is not more difficult to believe that about the same period in our world's history the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary for the sins of the world. It is objected, however, in the second place, that we ask faith in something supernatural concerning Jesus Christ, the like of which is not to be found in the history of Julius Caesar — namely, that He was raised from the dead, and that He ascended into the heavens. Quite true; but our God affords evidence correspondingly strong. But the faith that pleases God is not a mere conviction that the sacred oracles are true — it should include also a hearty acceptance of Christ as a Saviour for our own sinful souls. It is one thing for you to believe that a certain individual is the richest man in the city, and quite an additional thing if he, hearing of your straits, should write you to go to the bank and draw on him to any amount. And suppose you had really never seen the rich man, but had only heard of his goodness, as you found all your wants supplied at that bank, you would resemble these primitive Christians who were thus addressed. "Though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
II. ALTHOUGH THESE CHRISTIANS HAD NEVER SEEN CHRIST, THEY, NEVERTHELESS, LOVED HIM. It is possible to love those whom we have never seen. The experience is felt every day. For example —
1. Men love unseen benefactors, and it becomes us to love the unseen Saviour — the greatest Benefactor of all. When the emancipation of the West Indian slaves became an accomplished fact, the liberated them in their humble dwellings loved the men who had done so much for them, and suffered so much for them. They had never seen them, and yet they loved them.
2. But let us introduce another element into the claims of the ascended Christ, and consider that He is also a brother unseen. It sometimes happens that an unseen benefactor is also an unseen brother. I knew a family in this city, the elder brother in which had gone out to an Indian appointment before the younger members of it were born. Their father died before he could be called an old man, leaving a widow and large family without great resources. But this elder brother did a father's part. He sent home remittances quite regularly, which maintained, clothed, and educated the younger children, and, as the daughters grew up, and were, one after another, married, he sent them special presents for their marriage outfits. Oh, how they loved him, although they had never seen him! Does not my parable once more suit? Is not this Jesus whom we have never seen occupied in high heavenly administration?
3. Further, the believer loves Christ, though he has never seen Him, on account of His beauty. We sometimes fall in love with the character of men whom we have never seen.
III. THOUGH BELIEVERS NEVER SAW CHRIST, THEY REJOICE IN HIM WITH JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY. A doubtsome faith, leaving a man uncertain as to whether he is saved or not, is not countenanced in the Word of God. Further, the New Testament does not discourage ecstasy in religious experience. It expects "joy unspeakable" in the heart of the Christian. And if we see men and women in tumultuous joy, making processions and waving banners in honour of Bruce and Wallace, Tell and Garibaldi, whom they never saw, have we not infinitely greater cause to rejoice in present salvation and the hope of future glory through an unseen Christ? When the foreman of the jury says "Not guilty," the prisoner leaps up in the dock with joy unspeakable. When the physician, feeling the pulse, says to the anxious patient: "Your symptoms are much improved today; in fact, you are out of danger, and will henceforth progress to complete recovery," his joy is unspeakable. Now, what is holiness but wholeness in health? — the great blessing which we receive at the Cross, the salvation of the soul, the pardon of sin and the accompanying indwelling and renewal of the Holy Ghost. But the best is coming yet; the joy is also "full of glory." We are down in the valley; but the hilltops are already radiant with the rising orb of eternal day. Beyond these hills our Redeemer is preparing a place for us. In conclusion, let me speak first a word of caution, and then a word of encouragement.
1. The word of caution I address to those who may be ready to proclaim their love to Christ and their assurance of salvation while yet their lives are unholy. Not only must Christ have the throne of our affections, but also the government of our wills freely and habitually surrendered — wills married to His and sweetly lost in His.
2. Such is the word of caution; now for the word of encouragement. How many worthy people are there who, when we ask them whether they love the Lord, or not, are unable to answer in the affirmative. Restricted views of the extent of Divine grace keep some in darkness, while others are the victims of hypochondriacal spiritual or rather unspiritual melancholy. As to the first cause of fear I would simply say that there is no doubt of God's love to you, and therefore you should love Him in return. As to your morbid anxieties, I would exhort you to dismiss them all. Do not go about constantly feeling your own spiritual pulse. The best proof of your love to God is that you keep His commandments.
(F. Ferguson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: