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Weekly Word

Entries in Grief (1)

Tuesday
Sep112012

Our Present Joy

We are continuing our walk through the letter of 1st Peter.  As Peter laid out the truth of the believer’s new birth and secure inheritance, he then turns to recognize the affect that has had upon them.  The section we will look at today is 1 Peter 1:6-12.  The thrust of this section is this: Believers rejoice in their New Birth and Secure, Heavenly Inheritance.  It was a wonder-filled thing that they could claim to have been adopted by God and given a portion in his inheritance.  In truth, it would be considered hogwash if it wasn’t for the greatness of what Jesus taught and did.

We Rejoice Even Though We Have Various Trials

In verses 6 and 7 Peter recognizes that their great joy is despite various trials that they had gone through.  Whether it was the persecution back in Jerusalem that led to their scattering, or it was trials they went through in the new areas to which they had immigrated.  He recognizes that trials cause us to grieve.  Notice they are not berated.  They are not grieving as if they had no hope.  However, it is wrong-headed to berate people for grieving over trials and difficulties.  There is a process of feeling the weight of a trial, grieving over it, and finding peace in Christ through it.  This cannot be short-circuited by our knowledge of it.  Christians grieve and there is nothing wrong with that if we are looking to Christ for comfort and encouragement. 

Part of our comfort is to recognize that these trials are temporary.  Peter’s phrase is “for a little while.”  Peter is not an inexperienced kid telling them this.  He has been through the wringer himself.  Peter has been grieved by the treatment of his own people and further crushed by his personal failures at the cross.  Peter knows what it is to grieve.  However, he reminds them that it will not last forever.  In fact, in light of eternity this present heavy thing will not only seem quick, but also light.  This is not intended to object to their grief but rather to soothe it.  We need to find the grace to look past our present grief to the coming inheritance that God has secured for us.  However, this is a process that will occur many times throughout our life.

Peter also reminds them of why God allows trials in our lives.  They serve to “prove” that our faith is genuine.  The picture here is one of a metal that has been melted down and had the impurities removed to demonstrate its purity.  The “heat” of the trials in our life makes our faith stronger by causing weaknesses to rise to the surface so we can deal with them by the help of the Holy Spirit.  This kind of faith is what will be praised, honored and glorified at the return of Jesus.  Yes, only Jesus deserves these things.  But don’t discount the fact that we have been given the grace of sharing in the praise, honor and glory of Jesus Christ.  God’s plan of salvation was precisely a choosing of believing faith.  In fact Peter says that this kind of believing faith is more precious than gold.  God is not looking for the wisest, strongest, most beautiful, etc.  He is looking for those who will simply believe even in the midst of heated times.

We Rejoice Because Faith Enables Us

In verse 8 Peter ties their joy to their believing in Jesus.  How does faith lead to joy?  Well first he mentions Jesus.  Jesus is the Foundation of their faith.  They are looking forward to something, but the thing that holds up those expectations is Jesus himself.  If it wasn’t for Jesus we would have no hope before us.  Thus they have received the testimony regarding Jesus and have trusted it.  To the degree we trust, we have an internal confidence that we are going to receive our hope.  Thus, faith in Jesus yields confidence in our future hope.  This enables us to rejoice even when temporary difficulties afflict us. 

Notice that Peter refers to it as an “inexpressible” joy.  First of all, it is inexpressible because we just don’t know the full reality of what God has in mind for us.  1 Corinthians 2:9 quotes the Old Testament, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him.”  Our joy is expanded by the knowledge that God has only given us a sneak peek at the joys ahead.  It is also indescribable in that we would not have enough time (or enough tongues) to express all the goodness of God.  2 Corinthians 3:18 points out that God is transforming us from one level of his glory to another level.  Little by little we are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit of Jesus.  This ever expanding blessing of God give us an ever increasing joy at his goodness that is present and future.

We Rejoice Because We Have Obtained Salvation

In verses 9-12 Peter reminds them that they have obtained the goal of their faith: salvation.  Yes, there are aspects to salvation that haven’t happened yet: Total Sanctification, Eradication of Sin, Resurrection, etc.  Yet, those who have trusted in Jesus and followed him do have salvation in hand.  It is a present possession.  We are no longer under the doom of the judgment of this world and our personal sin. 

This is the salvation that was promised by God through the prophets.  Now, Peter gives us an interesting look into the lives of the Old Testament prophets.  They spoke of the grace that was going to come to the believing remnant because of a process that led to God revealing to them his plan.

It starts with “indications of the Spirit.”  As they looked around them and saw the corruption of their society and the difficulty of weeding sin out of their own nature, the prophets began to sense indications from the Spirit that if the messiah came he would suffer.  If they had suffered for being faithful to God’s word then how much more would the messiah suffer who would be perfect in righteousness and faithfulness?  Yet, because they knew that no man could stop God’s plan to save mankind they recognized that he would overcome even this and bring mankind to the glories of salvation, but not because we deserve it.  These indications in their hearts drove them to prayer and searching the Scriptures.  It was in this environment of fervent and prayerful Bible study that God spoke of the things he would do.

It was also revealed to them that all the suffering, studying, searching, hearing and writing was not for their own benefit.  But, rather, it was for the benefit of those who would believe in the messiah because of their words.

The Apostles of Jesus not only had these words of the prophets, but they also listened to the One whom all prophecy points, Jesus.  They witnessed his teaching, love, death and resurrection.  Thus they passed on to us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the truth about God’s messiah.  Yes, he suffered and died for us.  However, he has obtained the grace of salvation for us.  What joy we not only have ahead of us, but also can have right now as we recognize the truth of what we have been given.

I love how Peter ends this with the quip that these are things that the angels strongly desire to look into.  Just as you and I may search Scripture to understand the end times, so angels are strongly curious about this work that God is doing among mankind, salvation.  Praise God!

Present Joy Audio