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Wednesday in the Word                                                                                       Second Baptist Church, Southside

July 29, 2015                                                                                                               Ralph S. Hodge, Senior Pastor

1 Peter 1:1-12                                                                                                          Facilitator, Min. Joseph Williams

  • Introduction: Peter wrote the letter known as l Peter to Christians who lived mainly in the northern provinces of Asia Minor bordering the Black Sea (1 Peter 1:1). This was a region where Paul had not been allowed to preach (Acts 16:7-8), but where Peter later carried on an extensive evangelistic work. By the time of the writing of this letter, Christians throughout the Roman Empire were suffering increasingly severe persecution. Previously the Roman authorities seem to have regarded Christianity as a movement within Judaism. This meant that it was protected by law, because Judaism was a legalized religion. But officials and common people alike were now becoming aware that there were vast differences between Judaism and Christianity. When the Jews in Jerusalem killed the most prominent man in the church, James the brother of Jesus, everybody saw clearly that Christianity was not a movement within Judaism, but was plainly an illegal religion. Opposition to Christians was intense during this time. In general they were considered to be anti-social because of their refusal to join into social practices that they considered idolatrous and immoral. Peter wrote this letter to assure them of their living hope and glorious future.

    1. vs. 1-2 The letter starts out with the usual greetings and salutations to establish the writer’s authority and to introduce its audience. Peter’s readers are ‘God’s scattered people’, an expression that Peter uses with a wide meaning. He reminds us of our divine election and spiritual cleansing. We are reminded that we did not choose God, but God chose us. And that this choice was made before the beginning of time. Also due to our inability to reconcile ourselves to God by the removal of sin from our lives, by giving His Son, Jesus as a sin ransom, God cleansed us of our unrighteousness deeming us worthy heirs with Christ. In relation to their place of local residence, they are God’s people scattered throughout northern 'Asia Minor, the larger portion of the Roman Empire outside of Jerusalem. But in relation to heaven, they as are we, strangers scattered in a foreign land. Peter assures us that we are strangers to the world, but not strangers to God. Their true homeland and ours is heaven, and the foreign land in which we live is the world, which is our temporary residence. We really belong to God. We are His prized possession. He chose us and cleansed us, with the aim that we live our lives in a manner that is holy and obedient to Him.

    2. vs.3-5 Peter began the body of this letter by reminding his readers of their identity as Christians. He did this to enable them to rejoice in the midst of present suffering. They are strangers in this land, but they can shout with joy because they are residents of another land much better than this one. Peter called his readers to bless (praise) God for giving us a living hope. This undying hope has its roots in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a gift of God and because Christ lives, we shall live. Our new birth gave us this new life. Consequently our hope is both alive within us and part of our new life in Christ. As the Israelites anticipated their inheritance of the Promised Land, so too believers should live in anticipation of the promise of eternal life with Christ in the heavens. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, God gives believers new life with the promise of eternal blessings. He also protects this life for us. Our promise is not subject to destruction from any source, defilement from without, or decays from within. No one can ravage or pollute our inheritance, and it will not wear out or waste away. Peter ends this verse by saying our inheritance is kept in heaven and not on earth. If it were stored on earth it would be subject to the conditions of the earth which is decay, but because it is heavenly it is not subject to decay. We can therefore be assured that when the day of inheritance arrives at Christ’s return, they will enjoy the promised blessings and so experience salvation in its fullness.

    3. vs.6-7 Because our salvation is secured by God and we can rest assured of our eternal salvation, we can rejoice in spite of our trials. In comparison with the eternal bliss ahead, our present distresses are only temporary and brief (Matt. 5:4-5; 2 Cor. 4:17-18). This assurance gives Christians joy amid the trials of the present life. Trials produce endurance, and endurance proves that faith is genuine. Trials are a necessity for the believer. God uses them to perfect us (James 1:3- 4). However they tend to rob us of joy if we do not remember what Peter urged his readers to bear in mind here (James 1:2). Trials do to faith what fire does to gold. They purify it and show it to be what it really is (cf. James 1:3). Peter anticipated his readers would respond to their trials as they should. God purifies our faith with trials by helping us realize the inadequacy of anything but trust in Him in our trying situations. This assurance however, gives joy to the believer amid the trials of the present life. Trials produce endurance, and endurance proves that faith is genuine.

    4. vs.8-9 Our faith is confirmed as genuine by God’s demonstration to us of joy in the midst of trials and our acknowledgment that the cause of this joy rests wholly and solely on confidence in Him and His promises. Both results ultimately bring praise, glory, and honor to God, though they also benefit us. Even though we will experience joy when we see the Lord, we can experience joy now if we have hope (v. 3), faith (v. 7), and love (v. 8). These characteristics are inseparable. Our joy is "glorious joy" in that the glory people will see when God reveals Jesus Christ infuses our present joy (cf. John 20:29). Our joy will be no different on that day, only greater. Ultimately we will obtain the full salvation of our souls when we are home with the Lord.

    5. vs. 10-12 Old Testament prophets, who by God’s Spirit foretold this salvation, tried unsuccessfully to find out when it would come about and who the Messiah/Savior would be. God showed them that their prophecies would be understood by a future generation. Peter reminded his readers that the prophets had predicted that Jesus Christ's life, as well as their own lives, would include suffering followed by glory. He mentioned this to encourage them to realize that their experience of suffering for their commitment to follow God faithfully was not abnormal. And that their suffering for the sake of righteousness will be rewarded. This is good news!

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