1 Peter 1:3-9
Offers Praises and Prayers
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (v. 3).
Peter praised God even though he was facing possible death. Peter wrote this letter to many Christians in Asia minors who were about to experience lots of persecution through the Roman emperor Nero. Throughout the Bible, we can see many faithful Christians who kept their faith and even praised God in the midst of suffering. Acts 16:25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” And God opened the prison door. Although Job lost all of his possession and ten children, he praised God. He said in Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” How about us? Can we still trust God and praise Him in the midst of all kinds of challenges and sufferings we are experiencing. I heard that 50 businesses have closed in Daytona Beach Area because of the hurricane Irma.
Pastor Jim Cymbalas who is the lead pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle wrote in his book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. “I learned as never before that persistent calling upon the Lord breaks through every stronghold of the devil, for nothing is impossible with God. For Christians in these troubled times, there is simply no other way. God is attracted to weakness. He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him . . . No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer.”
A Living Hope
The reason we Christians can keep peace and joy in the midst difficult situation is because we have “a living hope.” Peter said in today’s text, “By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .” A living hope is an active, vital and animated hope. This is a “living” hope for all the born again Christians, which is the very opposite of “the dead, vain and powerless hope of the unsaved” which is based on speculation or mere sentiment with no historical basis. The living hope is the hope of eternal life which the non-Christian does not have. The unsaved people have no hope, no confidence, for beyond the grave lies the dark unknown.
This living hope Peter talks about energizes and empowers our faith in our daily lives. We should notice that Peter is fond of the word living for he speaks of a “living hope” (1:3), “the living word of God” (1:23), “(Christ) the living stone” (2:4). Christian’s living hope is not based on speculation or mere wish-wash but on the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the ground, the foundation and the cornerstone of the Christian’s hope. Christ’s resurrection not only gives the Christian a living, future hope of complete deliverance from sin and suffering at the return of Christ, but it gives us endurance , confidence and motivation to move forward in this troubled world. A famous gospel song singer Bill Gaither wrote a song called, “Because He Lives.” Let me sing one verse for you. If you know the song, you can sing with me!
God sent his son, they called him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my savior lives.
Because he lives, I can face tomorrow
Because he lives, All fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living Just because he lives
Peter also talks about “an inheritance.” He said in verse 4, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” The Christian looks forward to obtain this inheritance. This inheritance is heaven. The word “inheritance” is taken over from the Old Testament promise with regard to the Promised Land—the land of Canaan. In the New Testament, the inheritance is not Canaan but heaven itself. This heavenly inheritance is described for us in other Scripture as eternal life (Titus 3:7), glory with Christ (Rom. 8:17), the kingdom of Christ (Eph. 5:5), salvation (Heb. 1:14), and the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city (Rev. 21:2, 7). Peter describes this inheritance as “imperishable, undefiled, and something that will not fade away.”
According to Peter, this kind of amazing place is “reserved in heaven for you.” This place has been and is being reserved, guarded by the power of God (v.5). Notice once again, “reserved in heaven for you.” Why should heavenly mansions excite our imagination if they are intended for somebody else? This eternal inheritance is reserved for us you and me, and many people who confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ. Are you excited about going to this home someday?
Benefits the Trials Can Bring to the Christian Believers
Peter said in verse 6, “In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials.” The first word we should note is “now.” Twice the word occurs in 1 Peter 1:6-9. Here in verse 6 it says, “even though now . . . you have been distressed by various trials.” It occurs once again in verse 8 where it is said, “and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice.” The “now” tell us that Peter is thinking about our present salvation, which is in contrast to the future salvation which he mentioned in verses 3-5. In verses 6-9, Peter is dealing with how salvation works out in our daily experience. We are told that these trials or testing, which is real, are only for “a little while.” Even if these trials lasted for a whole lifetime, this would only be a short period when compared to eternity. The Apostle Paul described so well this reality in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
But you and I know from our personal experiences that life’s trials and difficulties are real. They can damage us with lots of physical and emotional pains. So Peter said in verse 6, “you have been distressed by various trials.” Peter makes it very clear that suffering causes distress. The word means “grieved,” “heaviness,” or “tearfully sorrowful.” The word “various” means “multicolored.” This tells us of the different kinds and sorts of trials the Christian will face.
In context, these Asian Christians were suffering hatred, suspicion, violence, slander and cruel social persecution from the unsaved world. The non-Christians were giving them fits about their Christian faith and did every conceivable thing to make them deny their faith in Christ. Even now, many Christian believers are experiencing all kinds of trials in this world such as physical sicknesses, financial problem, racism, all kind of injustice, broken relationships, mental problem, poverty, threat of nuclear missile, all kinds of natural disasters . . .etc. Any of these problems can discourage us. They are real problems for the real people.
But did you know that all of these trials can bring benefits to the Christian believers like you and me. God, in His sovereignty, either sends or permits trials to come into the Christian’s life to prove their faith as to whether it is genuine saving faith or just a lip service. The word “proof” means “to test for approval.” These trials come to test the authenticity of faith, whether it is true or false, genuine or unreal. Peter said in verse 7, “So that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though it be tested by fire . . .” In this verse, Peter compares a tested faith to the process of testing gold. Gold is the most precious metal, but faith is even more precious because it is eternal. As gold is tested, proved and refined by fire, so faith must be proved and refined by the fire of trials and suffering.
Life’s trial or testing not only proves our faith genuine, but it also purifies our faith from sin. Through suffering the Christian matures spiritually. God brings suffering into the Christian’s life to bring these impurities to the surface and purifies them. So that we stop trust in ourselves, but turn to the Lord, who is our strength. We learn that God will provide everything we need to face the crises of life. It is only through the various sufferings, we learn to truly trust and depend on God!
Peter also said in verse 7, “May be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Through various trials, we can finally live life that is acceptable, praiseworthy, glory, and honor to our God. This tested faith of the Christian will merit an eternal reward at the second coming of Jesus Christ. James said in James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Dear Christians, do you believe in the living hope, the inheritance, and the benefits of life’s trials? Suffering can become a friend to us to drive you and me to Christ. Ignatius, an early church father who suffered in a Roman prison said, “My chains are spiritual pearls.” He understood that there were lessons in life he was to learn which could only come through suffering.
Yes! We have experienced all kinds of trials in this world. Yes, many people are experiencing so much hardships and difficulties right now. Yes, many of our fellow Christians are still being persecuted because of their faith. Yes, all of these sufferings are real problems we cannot simply ignore. Let us remember what Peter said to the Christian believers who were suffering with all kinds of difficulties in Asia minors. He said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”