As we open up our study of the books of Peter. Lets spend a few moments just talking about the man. Most Christians regard Peter in a favorable way. Most talk about his personality as a opinionated and bold and brash fisherman, who's words would on ocassion get him in trouble. But most also look at the transformation of his life from his denial of Christ before our Lord cruicifixion and the courage and power of his preaching and life after the day of Pentecost, when he along with the other apostles and disciples were filled with power from on high, the Holy Spirit, in accordance with the promises of Jesus Christ.
We may at times read the Scriptures looking for personalities that are like how we preceive ourselves to be, finding hope in the fact that someone like ourselves was used of God. There is nothing really wrong with that as long as we see it is the transformation of our nature which should give us our most concern. All human personalities are fouled by our sin nature, there is no escaping that fact. it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can be transformed. This speaks to the destructive power of sin, in the fact that only God can negate its consequences. And as we will see in the first chapter of Peter, God has indeed provided for His people a living Hope!
Peter is writing this epistle to believers scattered throughout the world at that time. True Christians are called the elect throughout the New Testament, this word carries much weight, because it declares that God elects people to salvation, people do not save themselves and enter into salvation, God must elect. This is shown most clearly in Ephesians 1:4 which says: "even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world..." Many protest at this for they say but the Bible says those who confess Jesus with their mouths are saved and that is correct, but the Bible says that we are died in sin, and that the faith that we exercise to believe in the gospel and then confess that we believe it and trust Christ with our soul, is a gift from God, God gifts us with faith to believe, He gifts us with grace. He gifts us with these things, and really it is an attack on His graciousness to insist that we, sinful humans have any part in our own salvation other than providing the sin that must be covered in the blood of Christ. Yes, we must exercise our wills to express our belief in what we find in Scripture, but unless, and until God moves first, and graces us with the faith to believe, none will. That's why the Bible says that salvation is of the Lord, for it truly is.
Verse two says that it was through the forknowledge of God that the elect were elected. We should understand this as not saying that God looked down through time and saw who woulfd beleive and saved them, that is not correct for the verse says they are elected for or with the goal of faith, which is obedience, and not because of it. Our initial act of obedience is faith in Christ and the main element of all obedience is our continued faith, our continual trusting in Christ.
We must note that this is a time of intense presecution. Peter is writing to "elect exiles" people who had fled from Jerusalem.. There is suffering for these saints, Peter greets them saying "May grace and peace be multiplied to you." We should note that in the beginning of this verse two Peter ascribes the care and help of all members of the Godhead: the election by God the Father, the sanctification of the Spirit, obedience to Jesus Christ and the sprinkling with His blood. This should bring hope and courage to our hearts today in 2013 just as it did for these suffering saints thousands of years ago. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have provided for the people of God. The continual fruit of the Grace of God is manifested in our lives today just as that Grace has borne fruit all through the ages.
Peter's letter is a bearer of hope to those who suffer, It is a living hope because it is hope anchored in the Eternal God, who lives forever and ever. It is not wishful thinking but a confident expectation of future blessing based on the promises of God. This hope is based on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, people, including Peter were still alive who had witnessed the Resurrection of Christ. Verse four and five are very, very powerful to me. They express the truth of our hope, we are told that because of our being born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ we have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. The inheritance we have is kept in heaven, it cant be touched by the evilness of Satan, it does not change as the fad and fashion of the world changes, it does not lose any of its worth, due to you becoming older, weaker are experienceing suffering. God is keeping it, God is watching over it, again we must say salvation is of the Lord, all of it from beginning to end! None can change it, none can effect it in anyway. We are guarded by God's power.
Peter tells the suffering Christian to rejoice in this!! You may be suffering now hope in Christ for deliverance, but know that your inheritance is not diminshed becasue you are suffering, in fact, your suffering wins for you a more excellent glory. For there is coming a day when the full and final salvation will come. Rejoice in this Christians of 2013! God uses trials to distinguish genuine faith from superficial profession, and at the same time to strengthen faith, so we should make good use of our suffering. Let it strengthen our faith, as we come before the Lord in earnest, fervant prayers of hope.
We will start with verse seven of 1 Peter 1 next time.