Was it one of those days? You had lots of plans but everything went downhill? How did you handle the frustration? Listen to this lesson to hear the purpose of the tests and trials that come into our lives. See that God is using these tests to reveal our obedience. Understand the importance of endurance and where it leads. Find out three basic reasons we have adversity and about two categories of suffering. When trials come your way, trust God and see the deliverance that will come at the end of the test.
Spiritual Focus: Deliverance in Adversity and Prosperity
1 Peter 1:7–9
1 Peter Lesson #033
November 12, 2015
“Father, it’s so wonderful we have the opportunity to come before Your throne of grace. As we watch the news every day, as we hear what goes on in and round our homes in this large city and in and around the country and the world, we see a world that seems to be more out of control and more chaotic than we’ve ever seen. Yet we know that this presents opportunities for us, opportunities perhaps to witness, opportunities to share the gospel and help others understand it, opportunities not to go on the mission field because the mission field is coming to us. We should be willing and available to talk to people and be involved in communicating to these who are coming to this country the gospel. We know that’s the only help. Father, we need to have a heart for evangelism.
“Father we’re thankful that we can trust You in this election time. We pray for leaders who are insightful, who understand the truth of these issues, and leaders who are willing to take the strong, accurate, and necessary steps to protect this nation so we can be strong and secure.
“Without strong and secure borders, you cannot have a strong, secure nation at all. The only way to secure the nation is to stop the incoming traffic and to stand firm. Father, we pray we would have leaders who recognize the importance of nationalism and national identity.
“Father, we pray for us that we might focus on our spiritual life when we hear these things. It’s easy to become discouraged. There are some who become far more than discouraged. They become depressed. They may give in to hopelessness but yet we know that You are the God of hope. You are the God who strengthens us and You are the God who is going to provide the solution to the problems.
“We need to keep our eyes on You and not on circumstances. As we study tonight, we pray that we might learn even more about how we should live our Christian life from Peter. In Christ’s name. Amen.”
Peter is talking about the spiritual life. This whole epistle is talking about how we live the spiritual life in the midst of opposition, in the midst of oppression, and in the midst of what may be just personal persecution, hostility, and animosity and that can take a variety of different forms.
It can be on the official level or it can be on just the individual level. We not only face opposition from the world around us but we face opposition from our culture. This is nothing new for Christians. I think it’s a shock for a lot of evangelicals. They respond with depression and discouragement.
Decisions that are made by the Supreme Court. Decisions that are made by governors and presidents and mayors are quite disheartening. They’re that way because for the last 400 years in this country we have a tradition of supporting Christianity and basing our decisions on the Bible. That’s gone.
We don’t know what it is to live in a world where the Bible is considered hostile to culture, hostile to advance, and hostile to where civilization is going. Now we’re living in that kind of a culture and most Christians haven’t adjusted to the fact that we’re living not just in a post-Christian environment but an anti-Christian environment.
It’s difficult for us to make that adjustment but we need to. This has been the norm throughout 2,000 years of Church history. We’ve lived in this kind of historical bubble for 400 years. That bubble has now burst. There are a lot of good lessons here in Peter.
Not only do we face the hostility and the animosity from the world around us but from our own sin nature which has tendrils that go out into every aspect of our life and every aspect of our thinking, our attitudes, and our emotions. One of the things that people struggle with, I think today, or at least they’re diagnosed that way and it’s depression.
My opinion is that it’s highly over-medicated. There are articles that support that. There’s an article I read just in the last month that suggested that over 90% of people who are taking anti-depressant medication are not medically qualified to receive them. Now that’s astounding. That has a significant impact on people’s thinking and on their brain chemistry.
It causes a re-wiring of things. A lot of people in modern times, in the era of modern psychology and modern psychiatric medication, have assumed that depression is something that might be just a mild case of the blues. They think maybe the Bible can kind of help.
But if you’re really seriously depressed, you need to go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to get help. There may be some extreme cases that are related to certain biological chemical realities that need to be addressed, but most people think that if they’re just kind of down for two or three days that that’s not normal and they need something to help that.
I want to read to you something. I enjoy reading a book written by a guy named Robert J. Morgan. It’s called “On This Day”. It’s one of these little daily devotionals. It’s made up of different historical events. I love reading it. He’s got several other books that he’s written. He’s done a great job of this.
I just thought I would read this. This was the entry for October 19th in that book. I thought it opened up a lot of insights because a lot of people don’t talk about these things. I’m sure that wasn’t something that was talked about from the pulpit at the time. It’s about Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Charles Spurgeon, if you don’t know, was considered the greatest preacher in Victorian England. His church was the largest church in London and in England from about the 1850s to the 1880s. I believe he died in 1892. His church and his preaching provided a good bit of the foundation for Victorian England and the tremendous spiritual strength of that nation.
He was a strong five-point Calvinist and there were some other areas of his theology that we might have some contentions with, but he did proclaim the gospel. According to this article, a quote that probably comes from his book called “Lectures to my Students”, he says, “Fits of depression probably come over most of us, Charles Spurgeon once told his students. The strong are not always vigorous. The joyous are not always happy.”
Spurgeon, himself, was living proof for he often suffered agonizing periods of depression. He would go into these bouts of depression that would last for weeks and months where his life was just in a black cloud. Here’s one of the greatest pastors and preachers and believers in England.
How did he handle it? He handled it with the truth of God’s Word. This is one of the instances. This author said this was one of the worst bouts he had. He was 22 years of age and he was just an up-and-coming pastor. His congregation had outgrown its building so they had rented the Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall, which was the largest and most beautiful building in London, for his Sunday night services.
Surrey Hall usually accommodated all kinds of secular entertainment from carnivals, circuses, and concerts, and it was quite a shock for a lot of Christians that they would use that to meet for the worship of the Lord. But on Sunday morning, October 19, 1856, Spurgeon preached at his New Park Street Chapel saying, “I may be called where the thunderbolts brew, where the lightnings play and the tempestuous winds are howling in the mountaintop. Well then, amidst dangers He will inspire me with courage, amidst toils he will make me strong. We shall be gathered together tonight where an unprecedented mass of people will assemble, perhaps from idle curiosity, to hear God’s Word and to see what God can do just when a cloud is falling on the head of him whom God raised up to preach.” See he’s talking about the fact he’s mired in this deep, dark depression.
That night 12,000 people came to hear him at Surrey Hall and there were an additional 10,000 people overflowing into the surrounding gardens. As Spurgeon got up to begin to preach, someone in the audience yelled out, “Fire. The galleries are giving way.”
There was no fire but the crowd bolted in panic. In the resulting stampede, seven people were trampled to death and 28 more people were hospitalized. He was so overcome with depression that he was carried from the pulpit to a friend’s house where he remained in seclusion for weeks afterwards, all because of this particular event.
He said it was like a box of knives were cutting into his heart every day. His solution was to immerse himself into the Word of God and to think about it every day. That is what finally brought him out of his depression. That is what I’ve been talking about the last few weeks.
Unfortunately in our busy lives we rarely have the time to do what we need to do spiritually in terms of our own immersion in the Word. We also have people say, “If I read it, but I don’t understand it.” How many times have you heard people say that?
Let me guarantee you one thing. Pay attention to this. If you don’t read it, you will never understand it. Okay? You have to start somewhere. Most of us didn’t really understand it very much when we started but it’s one of those things you have to grow through. You just have to read it and read it and read it.
Over time you will come to understand it. It’s God’s Word that has power. It’s the Word of God that’s alive and powerful. It’s not the word of the pastor that’s alive and power. It’s not the word of the theologian. It’s not Lewis Sperry Chafer’s “Systematic Theology” that’s alive and powerful. It’s the Word of God that’s alive and powerful.
God the Holy Spirit uses His Word to challenge us. This is what people did, what Christians did, over the centuries. This is how they learned to trust God to handle the situations in their life.
This is what we’re talking about, what I’ve been on in the last couple of lessons. Deliverance in adversity and prosperity. So we’re going to wrap up this section here in 1 Peter 1:7–9 tonight. Just a reminder of this long section. It’s talking about testing, that we are to greatly rejoice, if need be, when we’ve been grieved by various trials.
I’ll tell you that the trials that grieve us the most are not the really big trials. They sometimes do. It’s the little ones, the little aggravations that pile up. Yesterday morning I woke up and said, “I’m going to quit teaching on testing and adversity. I’m going to become a motivational speaker. Now we’re just going to talk about the love of God every single week. That’s all we’re going to do. And we’re going to talk about how wonderful God is and that we need to reach our full potential? Right?” No, probably not.
Yesterday morning I had a very busy day planned. I was going to come down and record a lesson on 1 Thessalonians. I had all kinds of things I needed to get done. It was one of those days where every 15 minutes was regimented and segmented. The first thing I heard from my wife before I even got out of bed or she got out of bed, “Oh, I forgot to tell you last night. I turned the faucet on last night and it’s leaking right where it joins the drain board, the countertop.”
I said, “Okay, I’ll go look at it.”
After doing that and sending a little video of that to Brice and having a little discussion it was determined that this was a serious problem that was going to have to go away. Wednesdays are busy days so I just immediately cancelled everything and rescheduled it to other days and blew it off.
Fortunately Brice was coming over yesterday morning. He took the faucet off and I learned how to take it off so I could learn to put one on. Then we had to find time in the afternoon to go buy a new one. Husbands, never go buy a new faucet without your wife. Let her pick it out. That’s just a lesson you learn in life. It’s wisdom. Don’t do it yourself. That’s foolish. Take your wife and let her pick it out.
By the time we had time to do that, it’s already late and we had some other things we had to do, so it was this morning before I got a chance to crawl under the sink and put that thing back together. It just dominoed. There were about three or four other things that happened yesterday that were all just piled out like that. You have to learn to just sort of roll with that and trust the Lord that this is the way it’s going to be.
Whatever it was, obviously, it wasn’t that important, perhaps. So we’re going to start learning positive things now. Right? No. We go through tests and they demonstrate the quality of our faith or the lack of it, sometimes. Think about some of the tests.
When I went through Abraham, one of the ways I structured that was that Abraham went through ten or eleven tests that God took him through to teach him to mature. The very first one that comes after God’s promise that He’s going to give him the land, when he came down to Shechem and he built an altar, the Lord said, “Abraham, I’m going to give you this land.”
God made a promise and He was going to test Abraham to see if Abraham was going to obey Him. He said, “This is the land I’m going to give you. This is where you are to live.” So then a famine came and what did Abraham do? Instead of trusting God to provide for him in the land, he went off to Egypt.
Abraham got into trouble there because he picked up a slave girl that later became his concubine, Hagar, and through Hagar, he gave birth to Ishmael at the insistence of his wife, Sarai. So now throughout all of history we’ve had this battle between the Arabs and the Jews, the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac.
So Abraham failed that test. That was a test and it exposed his failure because there wasn’t much quality there. But the purpose of a test, based on the Greek word used here, is to expose the quality of our faith unless there’s not any that’s there. As we grow, the quality of that faith as it grows and matures, is more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire. Its goal is to be found to the praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
We’ve been talking about how to rejoice and how to use the spiritual skills God has given us so that we can rejoice in the midst of the present fiery trial. It’s based on the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We went through this quite a bit.
We went through the doctrine of suffering for blessing.
I’m just going to go through this fairly quick so that our thinking comes back to where we were. We looked at the point that every believer goes through tests. Every day we go through tests. We go through little tests. We go through big tests. We go through all kinds of a variety of tests and some of the tests have tests within them. It’s how God causes us to grow.
We hit these tests of doctrine. This is our blueprint chart. We’re either going to go positive or negative. When we’re walking by the Spirit we live in the midst of this cycle where we experience the abundance of life. As we do our life gives evidence of the quality and justice of a loving God and His plan. It leads to maturity.
But when we fail to apply doctrine, it leads to sin, human good, and temporal death which is a death-like existence. We’re living like we’re spiritually dead, though we are spiritually alive. It leads to spiritual weakness and instability and it can lead to spiritual regression and a hardened heart.
Eventually at the end of life when we are face-to-face with the Lord and after the Rapture there will be the Judgment Seat of Christ. We’ll either see rewards or inheritance at that point or we’ll lose rewards and there will be shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is real.
God takes us through a training program which utilizes adversity as well as prosperity to teach us to use these spiritual skills. These are something we need to practice and practice and practice. I talked about this last time.
These are the ten spiritual skills here. We learn to implement them through practice. We drill ourselves. We become disciplined. Last time I talked about the importance of being mentally focused and studies that show that people who are mentally focused, not counting the spiritual realities just in everyday life and learn to be disciplined, to be focused, to meditate [whatever that means for the world, it’s not biblical meditation], that has a positive benefit of stabilizing them. It can even lead to overcoming depression.
I quoted from a book that came out recently and the findings of their particular studies. When it comes to the spiritual life we go far and above that. We go far beyond that because our spiritual life is empowered by God the Holy Spirit who is producing a level of maturity within us and stability which goes beyond any kind of normal everyday happiness or joy or peace or stability.
Then I developed this little diagram where we talk about the human soul which is comprised about four areas: our self-consciousness (S/C), our mentality (M), our conscience (C), and our volition (V). This was a new diagram so I wanted to go through this again. That soul is the real you. It doesn’t ever exist without a body.
Isn’t that interesting? In the Middle Ages, through the influence of Aristotelian philosophy, there were a lot of things written and discussed about how the soul interacts with the body. It was all philosophical and doesn’t give us a whole lot of illumination because their concept of science was so Aristotelian at the time and it was flawed in terms of a lot of its presuppositions but the Christian theologians understood that the soul was immortal. It will always exist. It doesn’t go out of existence.
The soul functions, although it is immaterial, within a material frame and that we can never understand that which is immaterial interacts and interfaces with the matter of the brain. But it does. It’s what goes on in the soul that affects the chemistry of the brain. Later on the chemistry of the brain may have a backwash effect but ultimately, the ultimate determiner in our lives is our volition and how we’re going to focus our thinking.
Just looking at a couple of verses where we ended. Philippians 4:8 where Paul tells us what to mentally focus on every day. Things that are true. You focus on the truth. I look around at this congregation and I know a lot of people, not everybody, because we have thousands who livestream and listen, but I know from looking at y’all, a lot of you are news junkies. You are in the image of your pastor.
You like to get up in the morning. You like to go to the “Drudge Report”. We go to Breitbart and we go to Politico and we go to all these different sites. We go to the Jerusalem Report. We want to know what’s going on in the world. But if you take that time and you focus your thinking on the Word of God every morning, then what happens, then that begins to impact how you look at the world every day, rather than waking up and seeing all that garbage and all that bad news and letting that shape your thinking.
You need to focus on things that are true. Not on all the garbage in the current events. Whatever things are noble. Let me suggest that about 99.9% of what we look at on the news and keeping up to date on the current events has nothing to do with either truth or nobility. Yet we spend way too much time focusing on that rather than the truth of God’s Word.
Whatever things are just, that is consistent with God’s integrity, His righteousness [DIKAIOS]. Whatever things are pure. That is morally unstained. That means you’re not going to spend your time watching all those little gossip shows, sitting around and seeing what the girls on “The View” have to think this week. Or some of those other talk shows in the morning. They gossip about whoever was married, not married, or living with whoever, whatever.
Whatever things are lovely. That is things that are acceptable and pleasing to God. Whatever things are of good report, if there’s any virtue [moral excellence] and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. That word for meditate is the verb LOGIZOMAI which means to reason, to think through, to mentally take something apart and put it back together. Really to focus on those particular things.
In Romans 8:5 Paul said, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” That should be true of us. This is just basic mental attitude dynamics, if that phrase means anything to some of you.
Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep up with those things because they impact and relate to our professions, our jobs, and our careers, but we need to make sure that what wraps around everything else we’re doing is being immersed in the Word of God. So that’s just review.
I pointed out that of those spiritual skills joy is emphasized in 1 Peter 1:6–9. Faith is in terms of what we believe. Our doctrinal orientation is emphasized here. Our love for Christ, our focus on Him and at the end we see it’s translated believing but it should be an instrumental participle there, by believing. The key to the Christian life is trust. It is the Faith-Rest Drill. We are believing what the Word of God says. We’re trusting it. We’re claiming those promises and we are mixing our faith with Christ.
Verse 8 says, “Whom having not seen you love, though now you do not see Him, yet by believing, you rejoice.” Rejoice is a result of the Faith-Rest Drill. That’s why when I structured this logically the first thing we have to learn to do is trust God, the Faith-Rest Drill, because everything else gets built on that, mastering that particular skill.
We looked at the third point which is that God trains us through various situations which teach us to respond biblically. We can respond to the training or not. It’s our choice.
Fourth, a skill is something that is mastered through constant repetition and practice, but only perfect practice makes perfect. I covered this two lessons back. We went through the first seven points so I’m just reviewing this briefly. A skill is something that is practiced and we have to practice and discipline ourselves to do this over and over again. That’s part of our volition.
Fifth, we have two options, either we walk by the Spirit and apply the teaching of Scripture or opt for the sin nature. This is lost in most teaching of spirituality today. Most people teach that you can be a little bit of both. The Scripture is clear. You either walk by the Spirit or you walk by the flesh.
Galatians 5:16 and following. And Romans chapter 8. If you remember I went through all of these passages connecting these things together. Walking according to the sin nature in Galatians 5:16. It’s called walking according to the sin nature in Romans 8:4. It’s called walking in darkness in 1 John 1:6, 2:11. Walking according to our lusts in 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 16.
In contrast to that we have all those passages that talk about walking in the light, abiding in Christ, abiding in the light, walking in truth, walking by the Spirit, walking according to the Spirit, and living according to the Spirit. Those phrases are surrounded by synonyms that connect all those concepts together so they’re virtually synonymous.
Getting into new territory. Now, a test is a test of doctrine in our soul. If you’re not spending time in the Word, then there’s no doctrine in your soul. Then you’re going to be like Abraham in Genesis 12 when God takes him through that first test and he just blows it completely because he hasn’t learned to trust God and he hasn’t focused on who God is. He doesn’t believe that it’s God who has given him a promise and is going to carry it out and is able to sustain him. It took him from that time when he was about 70 years of age until about Genesis chapter 22 for him to really get what God meant by those promises.
Over that period of time, it’s 30 years before he and Sarah have Isaac so it’s probably another 30 years before that event in Genesis 22 when he takes Isaac to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him. So 40 or 50 years go by before he gets it more and more. But it takes time.
The eighth point is that tests are not designed to expose our flaws, but primarily to reveal our obedience. God is more concerned about developing us and presenting what’s positive than the negative. That’s what comes across in so much legalism today. We have to point out sin because we live in a world of licentiousness that wants to relativize morality and relativize sin so people minimize it and dismiss it.
What we see in the Scripture is that God really doesn’t want to just expose where we fail but to expose where we succeed and reveal our obedience. That’s what comes out in the Judgment Seat of Christ. The gold, silver, and precious stones survive. That’s what goes on into eternity. The garbage in our lives that we do in our own power, the wood, hay, and straw, that’s what disappears. No one sees it. It just burns up and it’s destroyed.
Now we come to point nine and we see an important principle taking us back to James 1:3 as we come to understand that process of how we grow. He says to count it all joy [that’s the command] but how do you do that? I really think, having studied James a lot and having taught James a lot over the course of my life and career, that when James says count it all joy that’s the chief command of this whole epistle.
What he’s trying to do in the rest of the epistle is to teach his readers how they can count it all joy. That’s not simple. It doesn’t come naturally. It doesn’t come immediately. In fact, joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23. He says count it all joy my brethren when you fall into various trials because you know that the testing of your faith produces patience.
It’s not really patience. It’s endurance, HUPOMONE. Patience is a totally different concept. I’ve got a handle on endurance but I don’t have much of a handle on patience. Endurance is continuing to be obedient even when it’s difficult. It’s hanging in there when times get tough and it’s easier to bail out than it is to keep a path of obedience.
James 1:3 says that the testing of our faith produces endurance. Endurance is what’s critical to develop maturity. That comes out in verse 4. Verse 4 says, “Let endurance have its perfect work.” The word there is TELEIOS, growing to its intended conclusion, which is maturity.
When we fail we confess sin so that we reboot. The way John writes is as if the normative Christian walks in the light and he doesn’t need to use 1 John a lot. He’s trying to talk about what should be normal in the Christian life, not what should be abnormal, which is spending a lot of time out of fellowship.
From there I want to go into the next little subsection when we talk about why we suffer. Suffering is related to testing, one aspect of testing. We have testing in adversity and we have testing in prosperity but we have to understand why we suffer.
It’s really simple. There are basically three points for us to understand in terms of why we have adversity. The first is because we lived in a fallen world. We live in a world that is corrupted from the very core of the subatomic structure and the sub-molecular structure into the DNA of every creature. In every living thing there’s corruption because of sin.
It is profound. It’s invasive and it is very quiet. It appears to us to be normal. The reality is that up until Adam ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil there was perfect environment. That’s what is supposed to be normal. Everything since then is abnormal. It’s below what God intended.
We live in a fallen world. As long as we live in a fallen world bad things are going to happen to relatively good people. That’s what Job and his friends needed to understand. It didn’t have anything to do with what Job did, Job’s loss of his sons, Job’s loss of his property, Job’s loss of his wealth, and Job’s loss of his health. It wasn’t because of anything Job did. It was because he was living in a fallen world.
Because we live in a fallen world God allows that corruption to work its way out for us.
Second reason we have adversity is because we live with fallen, corrupt, and sinful creatures. They inhabit places of power in corporations and in universities and in the government. The decisions they make impact millions of people who have no say whatsoever. It’s getting to where we have less and less say as time goes on.
These people who are the politically elite who are operating on totally fallacious ideas make decisions that impact our retirement plans, impact our hopes, impact our medical care, and they impact how much it costs when we have children. It impacts how much we take home in a paycheck and all of these things are impacted because we live in a fallen world with sinful creatures.
We associate more intimately with sinful creatures. We’re married to them. We are the children of sinful creatures and we have babies and children who are sinful, corrupt creatures. As such they are going to make bad decisions. They’re going to make awful decisions because they’re really giving into their sin nature and other times they just make awful decisions because it’s part of being a corrupt, sinful creature. We sometimes just make really, really bad decisions that are devastating, not only to ourselves but to those around us.
When we live in close proximity then we have those problems. Someone once asked me, twice I’ve had this conversation this week, so that’s why I’m bringing this up. They asked me if I believe there’s a right person for every person to marry. One right person. The Bible doesn’t teach that anywhere at all.
When you are living in close intimacy with someone who is walking by the Spirit and you’re walking by the Spirit, I’ve found you can get along with anyone. You can have incredible rapport. With some people you can have better rapport than with others. There are some people with whom I have had great rapport but because of their sin nature, they’re living in carnality, I can’t have rapport with those people at all. But if they were walking with the Lord I would have a closer friendship with them than I might have with anyone else.
So the problem that happens in marriage is a problem of sin. You get two people who are walking and living with the Lord and you can see incredible things that happens. The other day I had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants here in Houston. I went over to Christie’s Seafood.
I’ve been going to Christie’s Seafood since I was a little kid and Christie’s used to be down on Main Street. Then in the mid-70s it moved out on Westheimer. During the time I was in the seminary in the 70s and the time I was later pastoring in Dallas, pastoring different places, I would frequently come to Houston and could always find my parents at Christie’s.
I remember when my Dad turned 60, I surprised him and drove down from Dallas [I won’t tell you how short a time I drove from Dallas] in order to meet him and surprise him at Christie’s one night. In fact, my parents were such regular customers that when my mother died, Mr. and Mrs. Christie both came to the service. They didn’t come to my dad’s because they were out of town at the time. Mr. Christie died a couple of years ago.
They have this little table, this little section, inside the restaurant with articles about the history of the restaurant and the family. There’s this wonderful article there about how Mr. and Mrs. Christie met. There are some of you know them because you know their kids and some of you have kids who went through St. Thomas. Some of the people in this congregation taught their kids when they went through St. Thomas High School here in Houston.
Anyway, this story is telling about how they met. This is a great story because this is a story of integrity at the human level, although they’re possibly both believers but I’m not absolutely sure. Mr. Christie was 33 years old. It was 1968 and he wanted a wife. He had originally immigrated here from Greece so he went back to the homeland to find a wife. He spotted her on a bus. He didn’t know her. He spotted her and he said, “That’s the woman I want to marry.”
He found out who she was and he went and asked her parents if he could court her. Three months later they got married. Mrs. Christie said she had no idea who this guy was she was marrying but she married him. When she was younger she had prayed to God that He would give her a man who was stable and faithful and would provide for the family and would be faithful to her and to God. She said that’s what she got.
They came back here and they worked hard. They built that restaurant. They had five children and what I’m saying is that we get this romantic idea that comes out of platonic idealism that we’ve got to find this one right person. As long as we live in a fallen world, when people are living according to the sin nature, they’re not right for anybody. It comes down to integrity.
There is human integrity and there is spiritual integrity. People with integrity can have a profound, loving relationship and they may not know each other until the day they get married. I’m not just talking about knowing each other in the biblical sense of the word. They may not know anything about the other person until they get married.
That’s how it was in most of the Bible. People met not long before they got married and that was it. They spent a lifetime together. The Christies spent 45 years together. They were deeply devoted to each other. It’s just a challenge. What I’m saying is that we live with sinful creatures and so there’s going to be a lot of difficult times because of suffering by association. There are also wonderful times from blessing by association, as well.
Then we have our own fallen, corrupt nature that we have to deal with. I don’t know about you but that’s not my most pleasant thing to talk about because of my own sin nature. We struggle with that. We’re to put to death the deeds of the flesh.
I put this chart together a while back. What happens is we hit adversity and we may think it’s unfair and unjust. We may go through areas of people testing because we have to deal with in-laws and out-laws and we have to deal with teachers and professors and employers that are horrible. Sometimes they will target you.
So we have people testing, system testing, and health testing. All kinds of things can happen. I am more and more aware of how many people I hear about who are in their teens or their twenties or their thirties who are facing serious and significant health problems. And the cost of trying to solve those health problems is growing astronomically. I’ve heard so many stories in the last few weeks of people working for a company who are seeing the fruit of Obama care now and that what’s happening to their health insurance costs.
I see a lot of people nodding their heads. What’s going to happen and how that’s going to eat away at their income is just profound. We have weather testing. We just had some flooding here in the Houston area not long ago. We had a bad flood back in May on Memorial Day that flooded lots of these neighborhoods back of the church.
We have financial problems that plague everybody. We live in a world where some people are trying to tell us that the economy has improved and yet the purchasing power of peoples’ dollars in the last eight years, which coincides with this presidency but it goes back to the end of Bush’s time as well, has eroded so that people have much, much less available spending money than they did eight or nine years ago.
In all of this we experience a loss of freedom. The issue is always volition and we either trust the Lord and look at life from divine viewpoint and use the ten problem-solving devices or we react and we don’t trust God. We try to trust in something in the creation which is a form of idolatry, and we develop all of our own little self-protective strategies to somehow make life work apart from God. That is idolatry.
We let the sin nature dominate through mental attitude sins, sins of the tongue, personal sins, and our arrogance skills. This is what this testing is designed to do, to get us to learn to trust God.
When we get into suffering we have to realize there are two categories of suffering. There’s deserved suffering and there’s undeserved suffering. The reason we have deserved suffering is fairly simple. We understand that. We know we did something wrong and we’re reaping the consequences of it. God is either taking us through some sort of intensified suffering or He’s just letting us reap the natural consequences of it.
In Hosea 8:7, God is indicting Israel and said, “They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.” Sowing the wind is socialism and progressivism. Reaping the whirlwind is the eventual collapse that comes because of that. Socialism and progressivism have never worked and it’s not going to work now just because we’re another generation and we think we’re smarter. It’s amazing the arrogance of the human heart. Socialism and progressivism are as much a part of the devil’s thinking as atheism and as materialism, Marxism, and so many other things. What happens is we’re going to make bad decisions and we’re going to reap the consequences.
Galatians 6:7 says, “Don’t be deceived, God’s not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”
Now when there’s deserved suffering for the unbeliever lots of time it’s a wake-up call for the need for salvation. God is trying to get their attention saying they need to find a solution to the miseries and problems of life. For the believer, deserved suffering is often God’s rebuke. He uses it to rebuke us and correct us and to remind us that we need to confess sin and return to Him, and that we need to use the problem-solving skills.
Often it’s a witness to others: both human and angels as to how we handle suffering. Our lives are on display before the angelic hosts.
Another chart. We have direct testing and indirect testing. We’re talking about deserved suffering here. There’s direct testing which is the result of sinful choices and actions that we take. We just bring it on ourselves. We make foolish choices because we’re operating on human viewpoint and human good.
Then God sometimes intensifies the natural consequences of our bad decisions with divine discipline. That’s when it really gets bad. We call that suffering for discipline.
Then there’s indirect testing because we live in Satan’s world, the kosmic system. There’s suffering by association with fallen creatures and then there’s also suffering for growth. God takes us through a certain amount of adversity in order to teach us. This suffering provides evidence to angels, to believers, and to unbelievers. We become an example for them. If we are responding to that indirect testing correctly then it leads to suffering for blessing.
Now let’s look at the last verse in this section. “Receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” This is an important verse because this transitions us at the end of this long sentence going from 1 Peter 1:6 down through verse 9, it comes to this conclusion. Verse 9 says, “Receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
How does verse 10 begin? It says “Of this salvation”. We better understand what the salvation in verse 9 is because that’s going to be the topic, the starting point for verse 10. If we get past that into the meat of verses 10 and 11, talking about the prophets we can let that shape our understanding of the verse and we may miss the point.
We’re going through a process here where we’re going through suffering. We’re going through adversity and we’re trusting the Lord. Then what happens? We’re growing and we’re maturing. We’re using the Word of God and the principles of Scripture and we’re applying that to adversity in our life. Eventually we come out the other end.
Some people think, “I sure wish I could even see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Someday, one day, somehow we do come out the end of the tunnel. Maybe we just go from stage one to stage two but we come out the end of the tunnel. We receive the end result which this passage is talking about.
The word KOMIZO here is a participle and the translators don’t translate the nuance of the participle but its best understood as a temporal participle and should be translated “when you receive the end of your faith”. It happens at some point, eventually, when you receive the end of your faith.
The word there for receiving is a word that means to bring something to someone else, to convey something from one point to another, to recover something that is owed, or to get something that is owed, to come into possession of something or receive something. That’s the idea here. You’re finally going to come into possession of something so it’s when you receive the end of your faith.
“Receiving the end of your faith.” This is the word TELOS which is where we get our word for God, the teleological argument. Today they usually use a different word. They talk about the argument for design but that’s part of the teleological argument that everything has a purpose. So we come to the purpose or the end or the goal or the conclusion.
So we’re receiving the conclusion of our period of trusting God. What we receive after we go through this testing phase is the salvation of our souls.
It’s real easy to bring a lot of bad theology to that phrase because we come out of an American institution of evangelicalism which uses the phrase saving your souls to be a synonym for justification. “Brother, are you saved?” What we mean by that is whether you’re going to go to Heaven. Have you trusted in Christ? But the Bible doesn’t always use the word “saved” that way. In many places it doesn’t as we’ve learned so many times in this congregation.
It talks about deliverance. In a lot of ways it’s just deliverance of temporal adversity. So what do we receive at the end of our faith? The faith in context is trusting God, believing Him, believing His promises in the midst of adversity and we receive as the result of the conclusion of our trusting Him, deliverance from the problem. Deliverance through the adversity.
The word soul there isn’t really talking about soul. Many times the word soul just means life.
Now here are some examples. Romans 11:3 which is Paul talking here related to Israel. He’s expressing the view of Elijah. It says, “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” Literally in the Greek it says that they seek his soul. Soul is used just to refer to our earthly life.
Matthew 2:20, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” That should be soul [instead of life].
John 10:11, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life [soul] for the sheep.” This is a universal principle that the shepherd gives his life for his sheep.
Philippians 2:30, “Because for the work of Christ he [Epaphroditus] came close to death, not regarding his life [soul].” Now he was regarding his soul in ministry. He was growing spiritually. But he didn’t regard his life. He was willing to lose his life for the sake of the ministry. So that’s the meaning of the word soul, life.
In 1 Peter 1:9 it should be understood this is the deliverance of your life in the midst of temporal adversity.
It’s the same thing James talks about in James 1:21, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word.” He’s not talking about getting saved here. He goes on to say, “which is able to save your souls.” He’s not talking about getting justified because he’s already said these people are going to go to Heaven.
In James 1:18 he says, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.” That’s regeneration and all through the epistle he calls them “my brethren” and “my beloved brethren”. So when he says to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls”, he’s not talking about getting justified. They’re already justified. He’s talking about this is going to be able to deliver your life in the midst of trials which is what James is talking about.
So it’s using saving your souls in relation to deliverance from trials in your spiritual life, Phase Two. What we’ve seen here is that these verses from 6 to 9 really sets the stage for understanding the next section of how this relates to our spiritual life and it’s going to connect it in a very interesting way to the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament and we’ll get into that next time.
All of this, by the way, is really setting us up for some great material in the rest of this chapter.
“Father, thank You for this time we’ve had to be reminded that we’re really to be in Your Word. We’re to let it just soak into our souls, immerse ourselves in Your Word that we need to think and focus and let Your Word just be the dynamic of our mentality. Therein we have the ability to survive the adversities of life.
“Father, we pray You will challenge us with these truths. In Christ’s name. Amen.”