This Coming Salvation is so Great We Can Rejoice Even in Sufferings: 1 Peter 1:1-12
- Called To Salvation as Exiles (1.1-2:10)
- Opening (1.1-2)
- Praise for Salvation (1:3-12)
- A promised inheritance (1:3-5)
- Result: Joy in Suffering (1:6-9)
- The privilege of revelation (1:10-12)
The main point of this passage is that God is worth our praise because we have been given through faith a wonderful and sure salvation, a salvation that those who came before us longed for and sought it, a salvation that is worth enduring any sufferings. OR another way to say it is, This coming salvation is so great we can rejoice even in sufferings.
Peter opens this letter in a very strange way. Peter calls his readers of his letter elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus. To understand this letter we have to know a little about the background on why it was written. In early church history, the church went through much persecution and Peter is writing to his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage them during their hard times. Peter himself is no stranger to persecution and will one day be placed upside down on a cross because he refused to be murdered in the same way that his Lord, Savior, and Treasure died.
He calls his readers elect exiles to give them an identity. They are God’s chosen people. Just like how in the Old Testament the Jews were God’s chosen people, now Peter is reassuring his readers that they are God’s children and that they can trust Him to take care of them because he loves them. They are exiles, not because they have been dispersed from their home country like how the Jews were exiles in some parts of the Old Testament, but because since they have been adopted into God’s family their home is no longer here on earth and that they will long to be united with their heavenly father while they are here on earth.
God’s election is what accounts for them being exiles. Divine election reminds the readers that they have a relationship with God, not because they are so worthy or noble but because God has bestowed his grace upon them. Therefore, they have the energy to counter accepted cultural norms and live in accord with God’s purpose.
This is true for us, we as believers are exiles because we suffer for our faith in a world that finds our faith strange and offensive. In America, suffering is more subtle than it is some places in the world, where you can literally lose your life if someone found out you were a Christian. Just this week, an Islamic extremist group massacred a 100 Christians in Nigeria. (Open Doors News, 2012)
In America, most of our persecution is that of the mind. Many believe that Christians are unintelligent, that they hold onto their beliefs because they are not mentally strong enough to stand on their own. You can see this in the media anytime a controversial issue comes up with religion. It is similar to when a tornado crosses through a town in the south. The media never interviews the guy that actually has something intelligent to say. The person that makes the news is the guy that is the biggest redneck that makes the biggest scene about how his trailer was only two miles away and he could see everything and it was pandemonium.
Therefore, you come away thinking that everyone in Alabama is named bubba and lives in a trailer and can barely speak English because their dip is so big they can’t speak. That is how the media portrays Christians when they interview them in these controversial issues. They find the craziest looking professor, with crazy hair and glasses are crooked or a crazy King James Only Pastor that has never even had the first theology class and the media will ask their opinion on the issue. Therefore, you walk away thinking all Christians are crazy, old fashioned, and completely disconnected from the rest of the world. So to counter our culture it is good to be well studied in scripture and to study apologetics so that when people challenge you in your beliefs you are able to give a reasonable answer.
Then in verse 2, Peter says that because you are chosen by God that He will through the sanctification of the Spirit make you more like Christ because you have been cleansed from your sins by what Jesus Christ did on the cross for you. The Spirit sets apart God’s people int the sphere of the holy, so that believers are now holy and righteous in their standing before God, and they grow in actual holiness in their lives.
The sprinkling of blood appeals to the covenant that God made with Abraham. In the Old Testament sacrifices had to be made in order to forgive their sins. However, Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice and because of his blood shed on the cross, our sins have been forgiven. Believers enter the covenant by obeying the gospel (repent and believe) and through the sprinkled blood of Christ, that is, his cleansing sacrifice.
PRAISE FOR SALVATION (1:3-12)
A PROMISED INHERITANCE (1:3-5)
In verse 3 the author makes it clear to us what he is going to be writing about. God is to be blessed and praised for his saving work. In other words, because God has saved you from an eternity in Hell separated from him, which we all deserve because we all have committed sins, if he was to do nothing else for us during our earthy life then God would still be worthy of our praise and worship. However, since we know that God did the hardest thing, to send his only begotten son to be murdered for us, then we can trust our loving heavenly father to do the smaller things as well.
In verse 3, it says that we have been born again. Does anyone take credit for being born the first time? No, and in the same way the focus of this passage is that we do not take credit for our second birth either. The focus therefore is on God’s initiative in producing new life. The second birth of believers is a result of God’s great mercy and grace, giving life to those who are opposed to him.
Have you ever thought about this before? The only reason why you are a Christian is because God has revealed himself to you. It was not because you were so smart that you choose Jesus, because there are plenty of intelligent people that have yet to except Christ. And it was not because of you family history or because of your personality. God’s people are diverse because God gets joy out of taking the least of society and having his glory shine through them.
Because they know more than anybody that in our weaknesses Christ strengths are magnified. So God saves poor people, rich people, white people, black people, Hispanics, Asians, rednecks, Yankees, geeks, nerds, athletes, tall people, short people, intelligent people, foolish people and even people with mental health disabilities. God has the power to save anyone and there is no one that we should not witness to because the gospel is powerful enough to reach them.
I want you to picture someone that you are afraid of. Whether it be a terrorist, a gang member all inked up, a big biker dude, or a teacher, or your grandmother. Whoever it is imagine yourself sharing the gospel with them. Are you still afraid, are they beyond reach?, no the Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to save even the most fearful of people and in fact often that is who God calls us to witness is those that are outside of our comfort zones.
Now we also have to remember that although God is all powerful that does not mean that we will not go through suffering. God’s power does not shield believers from trials and sufferings, but it does protect us from that which would cause us to fall away. Did you know that sin is a result of our unbelief?
When we sin, we are saying that we do not believe that God’s commandments are good and that we could get more joy out of doing it our way. We are saying to God that we could be a better god than him. So when we steal, we are saying that God’s provision is not good enough for me, I will take care of myself my way. When we lie, we are saying that our way is the best way to get out of this circumstance. When we lust, we are saying that we could fulfill our fleshly desires better than God could. When we over-eat we are saying to God that we do not trust you to bring another meal along so I have to make sure I get my fill now.
What Peter is doing in this passage is encouraging his readers. Since many because of persecution are denouncing the faith and going back to their normal lives, they are asking what assurance do we have that we will not end up like them when are sufferings get too bad. The function of this passage is to encourage believers with the truth that God will preserve their faith through sufferings and the vicissitudes of life.
Faith and hope are ultimately gifts of God, and he fortifies believers so that they persist in faith and hope until the day that they obtain either heaven or the day that Christ returns. Therefore, those that have departed from the faith were never really Christians, because those that God adopts he protects. Just like a good earthly father protects his children from being abandoned, we can infinitely more expect God to do the same with his children.
RESULT: JOY IN SUFFERING (1:6-9)
One of the clearest distinctions between a true believer and an unbeliever is how they react during trials. Suffering is still painful or it would not be described as suffering. Believers rejoice despite suffering because they know that it will not persist forever. A true believer will still have joy because they know that this is not their home, and that this is not their final body.
Our faith in Christ and hope of a better future allows us to have joy amidst affliction. Not only because what the future holds, but because our affliction proves that our faith is real. We do not have to wonder if we are one of the people in Matthew 7 that Jesus says depart from me for I never knew you. Our faith is proved out like fine gold in a furnace our faith is just made even stronger. God brings sufferings into the lives of believers to purify our faith and to demonstrate its genuineness.
THE PRIVILEGE OF REVELATION (1:10-12)
What is important to see in this passage is that the prophecies of the Old Testament were not the invention of the prophets or their best guess. They were revealed by the Holy Spirit. The same spirit that inspired the prophets also speaks authoritatively through the Gospel. In other words, the Old Testament prophecies do not only apply to us, but were intended for us.
The main point of this passage is that God is worth our praise because we have been given through faith a wonderful and sure salvation, a salvation that those who came before us longed for and sought it, a salvation that is worth enduring any sufferings. OR another way to say it is, This coming salvation is so great we can rejoice even in sufferings. (Schreiner, 2003)