Begin with the End in Mind
1 Peter 1:3-4
1 Peter Lesson #012
April 16, 2015
“Father, it’s a great joy we have that we know with certainty that we are in Your family because of faith in Jesus Christ, that it is by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that we have eternal salvation, and that You have bequeathed to us an infinite number of blessings that we have on reserve for us in heaven, a host of rewards, possessions that are ours potentially depending upon our obedience, our walk by the Spirit while we’re here in this life. Father, we’re thankful that we have Your Word to guide and direct us. Father, we continue to pray for this nation. There are enemies, external enemies as well as internal enemies, that seek to destroy this nation. We stand in the gap with Israel historically. We have stood for the truth of Your Word historically and yet, both of those situations have eroded gradually through the last century, and they are in serious threat of being destroyed today. Father, we need believers to stand in the gap through prayer, to stand in the gap through whatever action they can take and to make their voice heard and not to just go along to get along. Father, we need to have courage and strength. We need to focus on Your Word because the day may come when we are an oppressed and persecuted minority, and the only thing we will have at that time to strengthen us is the doctrine in our soul that we take in today. Once the time comes when we need it, it’s too late to try to get it. We need to get it now. Father, we pray that You would strengthen us from Your Word as we study this evening. In Christ’s name. Amen.”
We‘re continuing our study in 1 Peter 1. Today we’re probably just going to start looking at verses 3 and 4. I want to do a bit of an overview as well for this first section which goes down through verse 12, depending on how some things are organized and structured. So we’ll do a bit of an overview of this first section, verse 2 through verse 12, wrap up a couple of things in the salutation at the end of verse 2 as we get ready to go into this next major section.
Like most of you, a couple of weeks ago we had Resurrection Day and I don’t know how many of you went out to dinner somewhere afterwards. We went out for an Easter brunch at one of the local hotels, and it’s usually my procedure when I go to a place like that, or even when I sit down at a restaurant and take a look at the menu, if I’m going to have dessert, I make sure I understand I’m going to have dessert and what it’s going to be because you don’t won’t to make the mistake of eating so much at your meal that there’s no room for dessert afterwards. Right? You have to begin with the end of mind.
That’s just a general principle in life that you always, whenever you start a job or a task or a responsibility, you need to clearly define what the end game is. In the military, they have ten basic principles for guiding any operation. The first one is objective – you have to define your objective. You have to know where you’re headed so that when you get there you know you’ve arrived. You have to begin with the end in mind, and that’s what Peter does in this section. He focuses on the end game of the Christian life, and sets that stage. Everything that comes after this in the epistle relates to that end game, which is our rewards or our inheritance in heaven. That is the end game, as we’re going to see in our study.
(Slide 3) He introduces that as we see in the salutation, identifying himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Then he names the recipients, to those who are resident aliens in the diaspora. These are the Jews that have been scattered. He’s writing to Jewish-background believers, to Messianic Jews in the 1st century. He is addressing particular issues that they have. Even though he is addressing them as Jewish believers, in the Church Age with their particular background, they are still part of the Church; so there is an application of what he is saying to all believers. We must understand that in terms of the original situation and circumstances, he is addressing Jewish-background believers. So there’s a certain overtone to some things that he is saying that has a particular resonance with them because they are heirs of Abraham in more ways than you and I are. They are heirs of Abraham as heirs of the Abrahamic covenant, where we are just spiritual heirs of Abraham because of our faith in the promise of God, specifically that Jesus Christ is the One who died on the cross for our sins.
So these terms, PAREPIDEMOS, are pilgrims or resident aliens, as I like to translate it, of the diaspora in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. We’ll look at that map again in a minute. They’re the choice ones, emphasizing their quality of their spiritual existence because of their position in Christ, their possession of imputed righteousness. Three things qualify that. First is the foreknowledge of God, which means prescience every time it’s used. It has that idea of knowing something ahead of time. It doesn’t change its meaning just because God is the subject of the verb. This is a logical flaw that occurs in a lot of Calvinistic theology. Second, it’s by means of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. That’s positional sanctification. We’re choice by that. When we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, that fits and works together with that imputation of Christ’s righteousness. So these are distinct things that happen at the instant of salvation. They are co-terminus. That means they all happen at the same time or simultaneously.
Third, it is for a purpose. We are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, set apart by the Holy Spirit, for a purpose. That purpose is to execute our spiritual life, to fulfill that spiritual life, to work it out to grow to spiritual maturity. As I’ve said many, many times, when we were kids, we wanted our parents to treat us like adults. We knew that it was only in adulthood that you really get to experience all the great things in life. You didn’t want to be treated like a kid any more. When you got to be 8, 9, 10, 11 years old, you would say, “Treat me like I’m older. Don’t treat me like a kid anymore.” Most Christians just want to be treated like a kid. They want to stay a baby and they don’t want to grow up and assume the responsibilities of spiritual maturity, but that’s where real life begins in the spiritual life – when we hit spiritual maturity.
We are saved for obedience. That’s not legalism. Obedience is walking by the Spirit. In churches that emphasize the grace of God, as Peter says in 5:12 that we’re to stand in the true grace of God, grace doesn’t mean it’s okay to disobey God. Grace means that God has a way for us to recover from disobedience, but it doesn’t mean it’s okay to disobey God. Emphasizing obedience isn’t legalism. I’ve heard a lot of people say that over the years. When someone comes along and says you need to pray, you need to do this, you need to do that, all Biblical commands, some say, “That’s just legalistic.” No, it’s not legalistic. It’s legalistic if you’re not doing it in the power of the Spirit; but if you’re doing it when you’re walking by the Spirit, those are the protocols of the spiritual life. We are saved for the purpose of obedience.
We are saved for good works, Paul said in Ephesians 2:10 just after he gives that very clear statement of the nature of salvation. It is by grace through faith that we are saved, not of works lest any man should boast. Then he turns right around and says that we are saved for this purpose, for good works. We are saved to walk in those good works. Sometimes we fail. As I pointed out last time, that is what the term sprinkling of the blood of Christ is related to. In the Old Testament the sprinkling of the sacrifice, the sprinkling of the blood, was what occurred in ongoing cleansing. When you sinned and you had to come back to the Temple or the Tabernacle and you were worshiping, then there had to be a sin offering or a trespass offering, burnt offering. Then the blood of the lamb or the goat or the bullock or the dove or whatever was sprinkled or splattered on the altar as a sign of cleansing. This is just imagery for what we do all the time in terms of confession of sin, 1 John 1:9, and moving forward.
Then Peter closes this with his greeting, “Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” That’s the King James or the New King James. I would translate it with a “may”. It’s the expression of a wish or a desire on his part. “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” That’s expressing one of his themes in this epistle, that they truly become grace oriented. When he comes to the end of this epistle, he says, “This true grace in which we stand.” Throughout this epistle, grace is mentioned 10 times. We’ll see the word “mercy” mentioned in verse 3, mentioned one time, and there are other synonyms of grace that are emphasized several times in the course of this epistle.
This epistle is very much about grace. In fact, if you’ve got a Ryrie Study Bible, and you look at the notes there, Ryrie makes that the theme. I don’t think that’s the theme. I think the theme is what he expresses in this first opening paragraph. It’s very similar to James. Many of you have gone through the James series with me. You have an opening introduction in James that goes from James 1:2 down to about verse 17 or 18. That’s your introduction. It’s a mirror of the conclusion that comes in at the end in James 4:13 down through chapter 5. So you have the opening introduction. Then you have the conclusion and the body in-between. So the major theme, the major focus of what is said, is in between your introduction and conclusion. It’s like a sandwich.
I got e-mailed this morning a list of the ten best burgers in Houston. I like hamburgers! One of them was from what used to be Bernie’s Burger Bus, but now they’ve got their actual location in Bellaire in what used to be the old triangle. This has got to be the most decadent burgers I’ve ever seen. Most burgers you have a bun, top and bottom. For the top bun on this burger you have a grilled cheese sandwich. For the bottom bun you have a grilled cheese sandwich. So that’s four pieces of bread. The top two have cheese in the middle. The bottom two have cheese in the middle, so that goes on top of about three inches of filling in that hamburger. It’s got to be a walking heart attack.
That’s kind of how an epistle is structured. Your top bun and your bottom bun is your introduction and your conclusion. In between you have the meat of the epistle, the main message that’s there. You have a lot of the ideas that are developed, and even though the words may not necessarily be used in between, the ideas are there.
That’s definitely true with James. James is all about how to endure testing and how to persevere in times of testing. When you look at the word HUPOMONE for endurance in the introduction and conclusion, words like endurance and longsuffering, MAKROTHUMEO are used several times in the introduction and the conclusion. That tells you what that epistle is all about. It’s unified.
I remember when I was studying James years ago as a young pastor I started reading through numerous commentaries. Back then we didn’t have as many as we do today, and they weren’t always very good. They all looked at James as the New Testament counterpart to Proverbs – that it was really disconnected and was just a lot of wise sayings, and there was no internal unity. That was completely false. James has a unity. It’s “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” and that’s your outline of the book.
Peter is much the same way. Peter has a very clear expression of the organization or themes that are going to be laid out in this epistle. It’s not clear in one verse as succinctly as James, but it’s the same idea. He emphasizes this. This salutation we have here, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you” is often glossed over in a lot of Bible studies. It’s glossed over by a lot of Sunday School teachers. It’s glossed over by a lot of seminary professors. What you’ll typically hear is that the standard greeting in the classical world, in the Greek speaking classical world, was CHARIS meaning grace, grace to you. The standard greeting in the Jewish community was shalom which is peace. What they’re doing is just taking the standard greeting of the Greeks and the standard greeting of the Jews and combining that. It’s not anything more than that.
I don’t think you can say that about anything in Scripture. Every word, down to the grammatical forms, is breathed out by God. We have to look at this as something significant. I believe it’s significant that only grace and peace come to us from God, and it can be multiplied in our lives if we walk by the Spirit. If we take in the Word of God, and it maximizes our souls, then we can experience grace and peace at different levels. A baby believer can have a measure of grace orientation and happiness and peace and stability as an infant. As he grows in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is going to expand even more over the course of His spiritual growth, over the course of his spiritual life so grace and peace will be multiplied if, as a believer, we grow and take in the milk of the Word. [1 Peter 2:2] We are to desire the milk of the Word that we may grow thereby. It’s very important.
(Slide 4) We looked at the three-fold structure there modifying the noun which should be choice ones according to prescience by means of sanctification of the Spirit for the purpose of obedience and the sprinkling of the blood. (Slide 5) Now this is the map where we saw what is probably the route of the messenger who carried this letter from church to church: at Pontus, here in the north, which is just south of the Black Sea; then Galatia, a large province which extended from the north to the south; then he would cross over to Cappadocia; and then back to the west, crossing through southern Galatia and going to Asia, the Roman province of Asia. This is where Paul established many churches when he was in Ephesus, and he had his training school there in Ephesus where they sent out young pastors and missionaries all over Asia to establish churches everywhere, like the seven churches that are mentioned in the beginning of Revelation. Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Smyrna, Philadelphia, Hierapolis, Laodicea and Colosse. All of these were started by Paul out of the school of Tyrannus there in Ephesus. I showed you this map last week. I used it particularly because it has such bold colors identifying those different Roman provinces. That helps you to see that.
(Slide6) A lot of the maps just do it like this, and its rather hard or difficult to make out what the territories were; but this map was one I had in Logos Bible Software which is a map showing the diaspora where Jews had settled, if you can read it, and you probably can’t unless you’re up here on the front row even though I tried to enlarge it. If I made it any larger, it would just lose focus. The index for the map says all these cities where there are black dots had a Jewish population at the time of the Day of Pentecost. That shows you how widely spread the Jews were in the diaspora. They’re just scattered all over in all of these major cities. The areas that are marked in red, are Asia, Phrygia, Pontus, Cappadocia, and Pamphylia. And if you go further to the area off to the east, Mesopotamia, Media, Parthia and Elam are all in red because these are mentioned in Acts 2, that there were Jews who had come back to Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Those places in red indicate locations of Jews who came back to Jerusalem. Those locations are mentioned in Acts 2. Then you come to North Africa, Saranac, Libya, Egypt, and then you have Arabia. That just gives you an understanding of how widespread the Jewish population was.
Peter is writing to this group of Jews in the diaspora who were in the area now known as Turkey. At the end of the epistle he mentions Babylon, which is located in what is now Iraq…the country formerly known as Iraq. Until things settle out we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be in the future. Things are really wild over there right now. Some people don’t like politics. I know most of you kind of like politics, but a lot of people don’t. They’re just so busy with their lives, which is great and wonderful, but we’re living in a very interesting time right now. It’s more interesting than anything in the last how many years, centuries. We have the breakout of what some have said is a thirty year war, some have said a hundred year war, between the Shiites and the Sunnis. They’re engaged in a nuclear arms race.
Immediately after the United States announced this screwball framework for a peace agreement with Iran, that very night from what I heard, the Saudis made a deal to get some nuclear missiles, smaller missiles from Pakistan. It’s started. People don’t understand. This bill that is before Congress right now is so critical, and this issue is so critical because we are weak. In that vacuum there’s going to be a huge power play between all kinds of different bad actors on the international scene. All the Arab countries all perceive us to be very weak. If we’re not going to stand with them, then they have to protect themselves. The only way to protect themselves against a nuclear Iran is to go nuclear themselves.
Aren’t you excited about the fact that all of these crazy nut jobs who are running dictatorships in the Middle East are going to be involved in a nuclear arms race? It’s a great time to be alive! We get to trust God in ways that our parents never had to deal with. They had just a little something going on in World War II, but I think this is really going to be a big show. This is going to be very, very interesting. Anyway, back to Babylon and the ancient world. That was the largest Jewish community at the time; and of course, Peter was the apostle to the Jews. He had a ministry there. He had been involved in Babylon, and he also had a ministry in this particular area.
The other thing that I talked about is something important to understand as a backdrop to where we’re headed in this first part of 1 Peter 1; and that is to understand the three stages of salvation (Slide 7) Some people call them the three tenses of salvation. I think Earl Radmacher used that phrase: past, present, and future. Others call it the three phases of salvation. The word salvation is used three different ways in Scripture, and we have to understand that. Phase 1 or Stage 1 is justification. We believe in Jesus Christ in one instant of time. At that instant of time we are justified. We receive the imputation of God’s righteousness, and God declares us just. It just takes a second. On Sunday morning I talked about what faith is. Faith is the assent to the truth of what the Bible says. It says, “That’s true.” When you say that’s true, you’ve believed it. I wonder how many people who just for a nanosecond, when they heard the gospel, thought, “That makes sense, but no, I just can’t believe that.” I’m wondering if in that nanosecond when they said it was true, but then thought they were going to catch all kinds of grief from their parents, their friends, and they just couldn’t become a Christian right now, but maybe, in that nanosecond where they said it was true they secured it. And they’re going to be surprised when they turn up in heaven that they trusted in Christ for that nanosecond. So, if we believe that it just takes a moment in time, then it just takes a moment in time. That is justification.
Also that is related to positional sanctification which I talked about last time where we’re identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and we are placed in Christ by the Baptism by the Holy Spirit. At that same time, we are freed from the eternal penalty of sin.
We still have that nasty sin nature within us, so Phase 2 starts. After we’re born we have to grow. A lot of Christians are stillborn and they’re alive, but they never get fed. They never learn the Word. One of the big problems in lordship salvation is they say that if you’re truly saved, you’re going to have works that are consistent with your salvation. You’ll know you’re saved by your fruits. The trouble is it takes a long time. People today have just lost sight of agriculture. It takes a long time for a tree to bear fruit. It takes an oak tree about seventy years before it produces acorns. I know a lot of Christians who are oak trees. That’s not a compliment. It’s taken them seventy years before they see any kind of fruit in their life.
Others are more like tomato plants. It takes about 90 days and they’re out there rocking and popping. But it takes time. Growth has to take place before fruit is borne. A lot of folks confuse growth with fruit. They say, “Well, so-and-so led somebody to the Lord.” That’s not fruit. That’s part of your spiritual responsibility as you grow in the Lord. Don’t confuse those things. You have to be fed. That is why Peter says in 2 Peter 2:2, “Desire the milk of the Word that you can grow thereby.” You grow by taking in the Word of God. If you haven’t taken in any more of the Word of God but “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”, then you’re not going to grow. You’re just going to be a little baby in diapers. If you’re not fed, pretty soon you’re just going to become emaciated and starve to death. There won’t be any growth, and there won’t be any fruit. Unfortunately that’s true for a lot of Christians. They never go anywhere after they get born, and that’s very similar to what Jesus says in the Parable of the Soils in Luke. You have the second type of soil in which the seed falls on rocky ground, and it is germinated and sprouts [new life], and then it’s choked out. So there’s no growth beyond just that initial germination, but that shows there’s new life there. All that’s necessary is to trust in Christ and you’re regenerated.
So Phase 2 we talk about it as the spiritual life. This is experiential sanctification in theological terms. At justification we’re free from the penalty of sin. In the spiritual life we’re free from the power of sin, Romans 6. We’re learning to walk by the Spirit and not under the power of the sin nature. No one up until the Day of Pentecost was ever free from the power of sin. Then in ultimate sanctification we’re glorified. We’re absent from the body, face to face with the Lord. No more sin nature, and we’re free from the presence of sin. We have to keep those three things in our minds, especially as we go through this first chapter of 1 Peter.
One of Peter’s favorite words to use in verses 3 through 12 in the first chapter is salvation. Guess what? He’s not using the term salvation in this first chapter as a means of talking about justification. He’s primarily talking about either the whole package with an emphasis on glorification, or he’s taking specifically about glorification. If you’re reading justification into the word salvation, then you’re going to have a problem.
This is always a problem for American evangelicals because we’re taught over and over and over again that salvation always means getting into heaven. And yet a lot of times in Scripture the word SOZO, which means salvation, doesn’t mean getting into heaven. It means working out our salvation, our Christian life after salvation, or realizing our glorification.
Let’s just look at this first section, and we’re going to look at an overview of verses 3–12 (Slide 8). Some of you went through the Bible study methods class I taught a year or so ago. That’s going to come into play here because I’m trying to implement a few of those principles in the way I’m teaching this to help you see how to apply some of these things. When you start off in Bible study methods, you come to a section of Scripture, usually a paragraph and you study that paragraph to understand what that paragraph is all about, because sentences make up a paragraph. A paragraph is a collection of sentences that revolve around the same theme, making one particular point. Each sentence expresses one major thought.
A compound sentence is where you take two statements, such as he went to the store, and he bought some milk; and you conjoin these saying “he went to the store, and he bought some milk”. [I just love grammar. Everyone glazes off a little bit. Everyone takes a vacation. Some of you really need to go to the Bahamas, so this is your opportunity to go to the beach for a little while.] A complex sentence starts adding a lot of relative clauses, and purpose clauses, and all kinds of other stuff to it, which is usually what you find when you’re studying through Scripture. You take a look at that paragraph which is 1 Peter 1:3–12 and wonder what in the world Peter is talking about here. What’s his focus?
This is how I’ve summarized this. He’s saying that living in light of eternity, which is the major theme of the whole epistle, means we can rejoice in the midst of present fiery trial because our love for God enables us to focus on the glories to come. Now that’s an important statement. Don’t just let that fly by you. That is really important. We can have joy in the midst of the present fiery trial. I know that every one of us are going through difficult times in one way or another, in one degree or another. Some folks I know are going through some extremely difficult and challenging times in their lives. I know some folks who are listening to this message, and they’re going through just some hellacious challenges right now. They need to learn how to have joy in the midst of all the chaos and calamity and everything else that’s going on around them. What enables us to do that is our realization in our spiritual life of the love that God has for us. That becomes more real to us than the antagonism, the hostility of people or the terrible, oppressive circumstances that we may be encountering.
We need to learn to focus on the glories to come. Now glory is an important term. If you’re reading through this several times, I would encourage you to highlight words like faith and salvation, words like believe, words like joy or rejoicing, words like glory. These words are all used several times; and they tell you that that’s what the writer is talking about. (Slide 9) I’ve highlighted some of these. We’re going to put a little instructional video up on the Dean Bible Ministries website before long on how to use a little application called “One Note”. Some people have Microsoft One Note, and this will give you some ideas of how you can use that in your own personal Bible study to really bring out and focus on what’s going on in the text. So I’ve just copied over some of the things I’ve been doing there and highlighted and boldfaced different words to bring out these terms that are used again and again. So this is the opening. This is the first sentence. The first sentence really focuses us on the end game of our inheritance.
Look at the word hope in verse 3. Hope is a future concept. It is an expectation of something that will definitely take place in the future. The word inheritance has to do with our future possession in heaven. That inheritance is reserved in heaven for you. Then this term salvation in verse 5 also relates to the idea of glorification when we are face to face with the Lord. This first section emphasizes a number of doctrines that come together and are intertwined, such as the doctrine of regeneration where God has begotten us again to a living hope, that confident expectation.
(Slide 10) Hope for the Christian isn’t something that is wishful optimism, like “Well, I really hope it doesn’t rain in the next couple of days because we have a campout planned.” We’re not sure what’s going to happen and what’s not going to happen. That’s not how the Bible uses the term hope for the believer. We have a certainty, a conviction, and an absolute knowledge of what will happen. It’s connected to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a reference to our inheritance, and we’re going to see that this relates to what I call the personal sense of our eternal destiny. We’re focusing on what’s reserved for us in heaven; and we’re living in light of that. We have to also understand the phases or stages of salvation that I mentioned earlier.
When we look at these verses, it begins with a statement of praise, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. As we will see when we see these statements in the Old Testament and New Testament, the phrase blessed be God is the idea of praise. In the Greek, the word is EULOGETOS where we get our word eulogy. What do you do in a eulogy? You praise the person who just died. That’s what this word means. You’re praising God the Father for something – that He has begotten us again to a living hope. This is related to inheritance and salvation; so we have to come through and take a look at these particular things. We have to understand that there are two aspects to this inheritance. There’s an aspect that every believer in Christ has in common. We all have eternal life. We’re all going to get a resurrection body. We’re all going to have joy. We’re all going to have happiness, and we’re all going to spend eternity with the Lord. It’s going to be a little different in the experience of each and every believer depending on the capacity they develop during this life. There are going to be distinctions based on rewards and based on the roles and responsibilities God gives us, based on the spiritual capacities we develop during our times of testing in this life. There are going to be different levels of fellowship and proximity to the Lord in the Millennial Kingdom and in Eternity. We’re going to have different roles, different responsibilities, and different privileges.
Everyone is going to be in heaven, and everyone is going to have capacity. For example, some people are going to have a bowl that’s this big, and some people are going to have a bowl that’s this big; but that bowl is going to be filled with joy and happiness. So everyone is going to experience it to the fullest, to the degree of their particular capacity. This inheritance is for all who were justified. In Romans 8:29–30, Paul says “Those who are justified, these He will also glorify.” In glorification, we learn that we are kept by the power of God and not by our own power, but by Him.
The next set of verses (Slide11) I Peter 1:6–9, Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice…” Now this is what he comes up later to say, and that’s really laid out in verse 7. “In this you greatly rejoice that [what you greatly rejoice in] the genuineness of your faith may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” That’s what these four verses are talking about. You can have present time joy because you understand that even though your faith is tested by fire, it will be found to the praise, honor, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then he goes on to talk about some of the motivational aspects in that, which is our love for the Lord. And what we receive at the end game [verse 9] is the salvation of our souls. That’s not talking about getting into heaven. It’s talking about a lot more than simply getting into heaven. It’s experiencing the fullness of everything the Lord wants to give us when we get to heaven. We’re going to go through this in detail when we get there.
(Slide 12) We see an emphasis on problem solving and facing adversity. There are a lot of similarities between these verses, especially 6 and 7, a lot of language and vocabulary similarities between this and James 1:2–4, talking about the fact that we handle adversity by understanding its role and purpose in our life. It’s not just something that just happens, that somehow God just forgot to watch over us today. But He allows this in His perfect timing and perfect planning to come into our lives so that we will learn to walk in dependence upon Him, and so that we can be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then we come to verses 10 and 11 (Slide 13) where Peter goes on to expand this. “Of this salvation…” Here we use the term not just in terms of justification again, but here he’s probably using the term as the whole package: phase one, phase two, and phase three, probably with the focus a little bit more on the end game of this whole process. We might say “of God’s whole plan of salvation” is the focus of the prophets. We learn that these Old Testament prophets were curious. They studied what was revealed to them and what was revealed to others in the hopes of discovering everything that God was going to do in the future to provide this perfect salvation. We’re told that they prophesied of the grace that would come to you. They knew about this. This validates the whole concept of Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, that the prophets in the Old Testament were searching for the manner of time that the Spirit of God who was in them working through divine revelation. I’ve pointed out numerous times that in the Old Testament, no believer was indwelt for their spiritual life and spiritual growth. They were indwelt for responsibilities in relation to leadership. Kings like Saul and David were given the Holy Spirit to guide and direct them in their responsibilities as kings. Judges were given the Holy Spirit to fulfill the mission God gave them as a judge. Prophets were given the Holy Spirit to enable them to prophesy, write Scripture, and to copy Scripture, transmit it, and preserve Scripture.
So they’re searching for what the Spirit of Christ was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. That is important because it shows the two-fold aspect. The first aspect is the suffering, the cross. The second aspect is the glories that would follow. This emphasizes the first and second comings of Christ. So in terms of the key doctrines (Slide 14) that are being taught in that particular sentence, we have Messianic prophecy, the First and Second Advents of the Messiah, the Suffering Messiah, and the Royal Messiah. There are a lot of doctrines that are touched on in these verses. To really comprehend what Peter is saying here, we have to relate this to a lot of Scripture.
Then we come to the last verse (Slide 15), which appears to give us our transition to the next section. It gives also a hint of additional motivation for the believer – that he is observed by the angels. He says, “To them [the prophets] it was revealed that not to themselves but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit from heaven, things which angels long to look into.” Yes, there are “watchers,” and they are angels. They are watching us because they can learn a lot about God from watching how God deals with us in our Christian life. We are exhibits before the angels, both the fallen angels and the elect or holy angels. So in the last verse (Slide 16) we see the role of prophecy, the role of the Holy Spirit and the role of angelic observation. This gives us a good framework for understanding these particular verses.
Now let’s go back to just the first two verses in this section. (Slide 17) 1 Peter 1:3–5. This is one sentence in the Greek. This expresses one thought. One of the things I teach Bible students and pastors is that when you’re doing Bible study and exegesis and you have a long sentence here, you have to find your main clause. Your main clause is comprised of your grammatical subject and your verb. That tells you your subject. It’s always, or 98% of the time, a finite verb. “God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is the subject. Then you have a relative clause that tells us that “He has begotten us again to a living hope”. That’s what this is all about. God the Father has begotten us again to a living hope. Everything else just expands or elucidates on those particular comments.
So that’s the core. Everything else just fills in the gaps. The best way, really, to approach this is to start at the end and work our way backwards. Instead of starting in verse 3, we’re going to start in verse 5 and work backwards. This is just setting us up for when I come back next time and we spend a little more time in our exegesis. Then we’ll go forward in a normal, verse-by-verse, word-by-word format. What we see in the last verse in the last part of chapter 5 (Slide 18) is that this salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time. It gives us our timing of our full realization of our inheritance. It’s going to come when we are at the last time.
This is a reference to the Judgment Seat of Christ for Church Age believers. This is referenced in 1 Corinthians 3:12–15 (Slide 19). That’s a familiar verse to many of us, that at the Judgment Seat of Christ it states in verse 13 that each person’s work will become clear, will be evaluated. Some of that work is, by analogy, going to be burned up. Some of it is not going to be burned up. The focus of the Judgment Seat of Christ is not to expose our failures but our successes. It’s not to expose the wood, hay, and straw but to expose the gold, silver, and precious stones. Everybody has their whole production of their life. It’s not that it’s literally going to be burned. That’s just a metaphor used, using the metaphor of the purification of the refinement of metallic ore as the analogy. What’s left after the refining process is what is going to last, what has been purified by the removal of that which was irrelevant. Everyone is going to be saved [verse 15] but some are not going to have anything left over.
This is important. What do you want to have revealed at the last time? You want to begin with the end in mind. When the end comes, and we’re at the Judgment Seat of Christ, do you want to be sitting there looking at a pile of ashes in the palm of your hand, or do you want there to be something substantive there by which God is glorified by the work that He has produced in your life? That’s the issue.
(Slide 20) The second thing that we see here is the certainty of our future salvation at the beginning. “We are kept by the power of God through faith.” It is the power of God that keeps us. It’s interesting, if you look at the end of verse 4, we have the phrase, “reserved in heaven for you”. That uses the top Greek word that I have on this screen – TEREO, which means to keep or to guard something. That inheritance is guarded. It is watched over for us in heaven. It’s not going to disappear. Then a parallel or synonymous term is used – PHROUREO, which indicates that we are guarded by the power of God. He guards us. God is the One who keeps us. No one can get past that guard. He preserves us. It’s the power of God, not our power, that preserves our salvation. We don’t have to make sure that we’re going to get there by continuing to be obedient, which is just works salvation. That’s legalism. So the certainty of our salvation is guaranteed by the power of God.
This is what we see Jesus talking about in John 10:28–29 (Slide 21) where he says, “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.” That’s a dogmatic assertion from the Lord Jesus Christ. “Neither shall any one snatch them out of My hand.” The hand is often used in the Old Testament as a metaphor for the omnipotence of God. The hand of God is the power of God. What Jesus is saying is that nothing can break My power. It is My power that is keeping you. Then He doubles down on it in the next verse and says, “My Father who’s given them to Me is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” It’s a double grip. The Son’s hand which is omnipotent and can’t be broken and then the Father’s hand wrapped around that and can’t be broken. Our future is secure.
Then the third thing that we see is the nature of our inheritance. This takes us back to a concept we studied in Romans and several other places. (Slide 22). In Romans 8:16–17, we have the phrase “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs.” This is how it’s usually punctuated. This whole section is inheritance. “Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” Two different kinds of heirships mentioned there. Normally this is punctuated the way it is on the screen. I highlighted the commas in red, which you may not be able to see. “If children [comma] then heirs, heirs of Christ and joint heirs with Christ [comma]” as if those two concepts are synonymous. “If indeed we suffer with Him.” That “If indeed” clause is related to both heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. That heirship then is qualified or conditioned with suffering with Him.
Now that’s just a bad way of punctuating this. There’s no punctuation, you know. You don’t have commas, you don’t have semi-colons, colons, or anything like that in the Greek. You supply it. Greek didn’t have all those punctuation marks. You did it through grammar. You could understand what they were talking about by the way they structured sentences. What we have here is what we have in any language, a certain level of ambiguity. (Slide 23) Here’s an ambiguous sentence in English. No punctuation. If you put this sentence out as a little pop quiz and say punctuate the sentence, where do you put two commas? Most women will put them in the same place and most men will put them in the same place, but men and women do not put them in the same place. (Slide 24) So the first way they do that is this way. This is the way a woman will usually punctuate it. “A woman, without her, man is nothing.” So the main thought is that without the woman, man is nothing. Where you put the commas changes the meaning of the sentence.
(Slide 25) Here you have the way most men will do it. “A woman without her man, is nothing.” That one comma changes the whole meaning of the sentence. If you put it one place it means one thing. If you put it another place, it means something else. (Slide 26) If we take out the comma at the end of Christ over here and we move it over here, right about God, we have “heirs of God, and joint-heirs of Christ if we suffer with Him”. That means two types of heirship. Heirs of God, which is true for every believer, and joint-heirship, which is true only for those who suffer with Him.
Heirs of God are those who get all the same package. We all get eternal life. We all get a certain measure of joy, happiness, a resurrection body. We all get certain things in common. But for those who grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and want to be godly as Paul says to Timothy, “Those who desire to be godly will be persecuted” then those get additional rewards and inheritance.
Part of our inheritance starts on the earth, and it has to do with our relationship with God. This will expand when we’re in heaven. Remember, as we develop fellowship, as we enjoy fellowship with God, we possess God in a certain way. He becomes our possession. That is how these verses are used – not that we own God, but He becomes closer to us, and that richness of our fellowship develops. We often use the phrase “in fellowship” just like a static thing. It’s not a static thing. It’s the rich enjoyment of a relationship. That’s why I much prefer to use the word “enjoying fellowship”. When we sin, we’re not enjoying anything with God. Then when we confess sin, then we can enjoy the fellowship with God.
These are some great verses to learn. (Slide 27) Lamentations 3:24. Jeremiah says, “The Lord is my portion.” He’s my share, like a share in an inheritance. “The Lord is my portion; therefore I hope in Him.” Notice how he connects hope with inheritance, just like Peter does. (Slide 28) Then we have Psalm 16:5-6, “O Lord, You are the share of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen on me in pleasant place. Yes I have a good inheritance.” (Slide 29) Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but You, Lord, and there is none upon the earth that I desire but You.” Our relationship with the Lord and that intimacy with Him is a major part of our inheritance which begins today in this life and is going to expand when we’re in heaven, based upon the capacity we develop in this life.
To know Him means to explore and learn everything we can about Him and to live on the basis of His fullness. The only way to do that is to know the Word, because He only reveals Himself specifically to us in terms of His Word.
Another thing we learn about here that begins in this life (Slide 30), is in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” It’s already ours, but He’s not going to let us have it until we develop capacity to enjoy it and to use it. We need to learn all that God did for us in salvation. We need to learn all about redemption, propitiation, reconciliation. We need to learn all about imputation and justification – all of these different terms, so that we can truly understand what happens in salvation. When we first trusted Christ, we just knew about a molecule of doctrine, just enough to know how to be saved. Afterwards, we go back and study to learn about God, the fall of man, the grace of God. We learn about substitutionary sacrifice. We learn about expiation. We learn about atonement. We learn about cleansing. Then we learn about all the spiritual skills. We learn about confession of sin, walking by the Spirit, faith-rest drill, grace orientation, doctrinal orientation. We learn how to focus on the future in terms of our personal sense of eternal destiny. We learn about our personal love for God and impersonal love for all mankind. We learn about occupation with Christ and the joy of Christ that is shared with us. All of those are spiritual skills that we have to maximize and that takes a lot of time. We learn from reading the Scripture how God deals with people over time, and we have example after example after example that we can then take and apply to circumstances in our own life. That’s what we get from studying much of the Old Testament.
We learn analogies with the Old Testament, like just as Israel entered into the land, they still had to conquer all of it. It didn’t happen just in one day or one week or one year. They had mopping up operations that went on for year after year after year.
This is analogous to what is described in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (Slide 31), that we are to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ. That’s every single area of intellectual activity between your ears. Literature, art, music. You didn’t think about that. Engineering, mathematics, science, meteorology, biology, geology. All of these things are entire disciplines that people spend their entire life learning. You need to bring every area of thought in each one of those disciplines under the authority of the Word of God. We can’t do that in ten lifetimes if we’re giving it maximum effort. Most people don’t even come close to giving it maximum consideration for two minutes.
(Slide 32) Then we learn the qualities of this inheritance: that it’s incorruptible and undefiled. The first word indicates that it’s imperishable, immortal, and incorruptible, cannot spoil, cannot ruin, and can’t be corrupted. The second word means it can’t be stained. It’s can’t be defiled. You can’t express or define the inheritance positively because our vocabulary fails, so Peter has to define it through negatives. It can’t be defiled. It can’t be destroyed, and it won’t fade away. It is permanent and it is there forever.
(Slide 33) Then we get back to the beginning of this statement in verse 3. We’re told that God has begotten us. He has caused us to be born again to what? A living hope. That living hope is connected to the inheritance that is developed in verses 4 and 5. It is not a dead hope, like in human viewpoint. It is a living hope. That concept of living is related to the resurrection of Christ. Once again the resurrection of Christ is connected to life after justification. So the resurrection of Christ gives us a focus on the spiritual life that comes as a result of our regeneration. Once we dwell on all of that, it causes us to do what? To praise God for what He has done. That’s where Peter starts. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We’ll start there next Thursday night.
“Father, thank you for this time we have to get together, study these things, and be challenged by Your plan for our lives. It’s a plan with purpose that has ramifications down through eternity. It is preparation for our future role and responsibility in the eternal kingdom. It’s not just taking care of business today, but it is doing that in light of your plan and purpose for us in the kingdom and on into eternity. The decisions we make today not only impact today and tomorrow, but they will, in many cases, reverberate down through the millennia and into eternity. Father, challenge us with what we’ve studied that we might recognize that we are to live today in light of eternity. We’re to begin with the end in mind. The end game is realizing that full salvation that is reserved in heaven for us to the maximum that we can enjoy You and enjoy and experience everything that will be ours in heaven because we’ve developed that capacity here and now in our life on the earth. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”