Faith & Hope in God

20 “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (I Peter 1:20-21).

In today’s world, all roads lead to God. Religious pluralism says that all religions are equally valid and therefore true. The prevailing worldly wisdom is that it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you have a faith which is sincere. However, the Bible teaches otherwise.

The Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Salvation is exclusively through the person and work of Christ. His person refers to His eternal existence as God (John 1:1-3), and His virgin birth (Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25). His work focuses on His sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21), His substitutionary death on the cross (I John 4:7-11; Romans 5:1-10), and His resurrection from the dead (I Corinthians 15). Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5).

It is through Christ that we see the Father (John 1:18; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 6:46; 14:9). It is through Christ alone that we trust, depend, are committed to, and worship God the Father. It is God the Father who Peter says raised Jesus from the dead as did the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:1-6).

As one pastor has written, “It is through Christ, whom the Father resurrected (cf. v. 3) and glorified in His Ascension (John 17:5; Heb. 1:3) that people may come to know and trust in God. As a result of God’s eternal plan and priceless payment for sin, faith and hope can be placed in Him.”

There are but two religions in the world. First is the religion of human achievement and there are many religious systems which are under this category. The second is the religion of divine accomplishment and this solely focuses on the person and work of Jesus Christ who reconciles sinners unto God.

Where is your faith? Is it in what you can accomplish, or rather what Jesus Christ alone has already accomplished?

Soli deo Gloria!

Holy

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13-16).

As we noted in our previous devotional, one of the most basic disciplines in the Christian life is to not be conformed to the world’s desires which stem from a disobedient spirit towards God. The Apostle John described these desires as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:15-16). The Apostle Paul also encouraged believers to not be conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2).

Along with what we are called to not do, God also reveals to us through Peter what we are to do. God commands each believer in Christ to be holy. The holiness of God is His most important attribute (Isaiah 6). It stands to reason that the Christian should be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7).

What does it mean to be holy? Holiness (ἅγιος; agios) means to be separate from sin. It means to have pure, moral qualities. Consequently, we are commanded to be holy in all our behavior or conduct (ἀναστροφή; anastrophe). This refers to how we daily live and conduct ourselves. A holy inner life from God (Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21) leads to a holy outer walk before God (Ephesians 2:10) and other people.

As one commentator has written, “Though absolute holiness can never be achieved in this life, all areas of life should be in the process of becoming completely conformed to God’s perfect and holy will.”

Our standard of holiness is God. It is His moral perfection which we are to pursue (Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 5:1). As people recreated in His image to be like Him in His holy character, let each of us today reflect His holiness. Read today elated Isaiah 6:1-7; Revelation 4-5.

Soli deo Gloria!

More Precious Than Gold

 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith —more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6-7).

What is the result of God ordained tests? The answer is that the tested genuineness of one’s faith (trust, commitment; dependence; worship) in and of Christ would result in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

In the midst of this revelation, Peter inserts a dependent clause illustrating the importance and value of an individual believer’s faith in Christ. God views our trust, commitment, dependence and worship of Him through Jesus Christ as being “more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire.”

Peter distinguished the believer’s purified faith with purified gold. Faith is more precious, or of greater value, than gold. Even purified gold, though it lasts quite a long time, eventually deteriorates and loses its value (cf. 1 Peter 1:18; cf. James 5:3). It will be without value in eternity. But faith in Christ is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (I Peter 1:4).

Even believers in Christ can often evaluate worth by something as temporary as gold. How often do we see commercials touting the value of this precious metal and how important it is to possess it? In God’s eyes, your faith in Christ is far more valuable and eternal. Regard your faith in Christ today as something precious. It truly is! Today read Matthew 6.

Soli deo Gloria!

Trials

 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (I Peter 1:6).

The blessings we have from God, which Peter spoke of in 1:3-5, are eternal. This is in contrast to the problems believers face here on earth. These problems, or various trials, are only for a little while. That is to say they last for only a short or brief time.

The adjective “various” comes from the Greek word ποικίλος (poikilos) meaning diversified or many. This word is used throughout the New Testament (Matthew 4:24; Mark 1:34; Luke 4:40; 2 Timothy 3:6; Titus 3:3; Hebrews 2:4; 13:9; James 1:2; 1Peter 1:6; 3:7; 4:10). I read somewhere that poikilos may be the word from which we derive our English expression Polka Dot.

Believers in Christ do not encounter just one kind of trial or persecution. On the contrary, we experience many different kinds of trials in all shapes, sizes and durations. It is not a one size fits all kind of teaching or reality.

The word trial (πειρασμός; periasmos) refers to a test or examination. The word is in the plural form which means that there is more than one trial or test we will face as believers in Christ. One person may experience physical persecution, while another believer faces emotional suffering. Still another may encounter social or relationship persecution because of their faith.

Regardless of the kind or type of trials we face, they are temporal. We will experience them for only a little while. Yet, make no mistake we can and are grieved by them. They irritate us and cause us heartache. They are painful and there is no timetable as to when the grieving will end.

So what do we do? We rejoice in the eternal blessings from God. Remember, God’s blessings are eternal and our various trials causing us grief are temporary. The trials will eventually end. Thankfully, God’s blessings are eternal. Read today James 1:2-4.

Grace & Peace

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you” (I Peter 1:2b).

One of the most familiar phrases found in the New Testament Scriptures, particularly in the epistles, is grace and peace. The Apostle Paul uses this expression in various forms in all of his writings. So too does the Apostle Peter. This was a common greeting during the first century.

Grace, meaning unmerited favor from God to sinful man unto salvation, was an important word for Peter. He used it ten times in this epistle ((1 Peter 1:2, 10, 13; 2:19–20; 3:7; 4:10; 5:5, 10, 12). Grace is not only the basis for God saving sinners, but also for conforming us to be more like Christ.

Peace is freedom from worry. Peace is not necessarily tranquility because of our circumstances, but rather often in spite of our circumstances. Also, notice that the word grace always precedes peace. Peace is a result of God’s kindness and goodwill and not the other way around. We do not make peace with God and therefore earn His grace. Rather, He by his grace choses to save sinners resulting in peace (Romans 5:1).

What Peter is saying is that he hopes that believers, because of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’s work in their lives, will recognize God’s abundant and multiplied grace in their lives. This grace is not just God’s work in saving them from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin resulting in peace.

The Lord is continually at work in our hearts and souls, whether we recognize it or not. Hopefully, because of this passage, we will remember and thank Him for His faithfulness to complete the work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

Have a blessed day as you worship the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

Central Themes

What are the themes of the Epistle of I Peter? What is God teaching us through this apostle?

There are several significant doctrinal themes contained in I Peter. First is the reality that Christians will be persecuted for their faith (1:6; 2:12, 19-21; 3:9, 13-18; 4:1, 12-16, 19). This parallels not only truth found in the Old Testament (Psalm 69:26; Isaiah 50:6; 53:7; Jeremiah 15:15; Daniel 3:28; Zechariah 2:8), but also in other New Testament writings (Mark 10:30; Luke 21:12; John 5:16; 15:20; Romans 8:35; 2 Corinthians 1:10; 4:9; 2 Timothy 3:12). This suffering eventually results in the believer’s maturity (I Peter 5:10-11).

Secondly, there is the recurring theme of the character of God. Several of God’s manifold attributes are mentioned in I Peter. These include God’s accessibility (1:17; 3:18), faithfulness (4:19), holiness (1:15-16), justness (1:17), long-suffering (3:20), mercy (1:3), and righteousness (2:23).

Thirdly, the person and work of Jesus Christ is a central theme found in this epistle. Several aspects of Christ mentioned by Peter include Christ’s sufferings (1:10-12; 2:24; 4:12-13), perseverance (1:13-16), and Christ being the believer’s hope in a hostile world (1:3-4). Preeminent among these is Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sinners (2:24).

Along with these doctrinal themes are several key words. These include the following: (1) word or logos (1:23; 2:8; 3:1) referring to the gospel message; (2) example (2:21) referring to Christ being our example of godliness and wisdom in the midst of persecution; and (3) love or agape (4:8) which refers to a self-sacrificial love of the will towards strangers and fellow believers.

These doctrinal themes and words are just as applicable to believers today as they were to the first century church.

Soli deo Gloria!

Peter: The Rock

As we begin our study in I Peter, let us notice some background information about this epistle written by the apostle known as “the rock.” (Matthew 16:13-20).

Acceptance of Peter’s authorship of this letter is virtually unanimous. His letter was written during a time of religious persecution of Christians. Rather than an official edict from the Roman government, the sufferings these first century believers faced were then, and are today, the trials common to all Christians. These include insults (4:4; 14), slanderous accusations of wrongdoing (2:12; 3:16) and beatings (2:20); resulting from social isolation and resulting in mob violence.

The Roman government and culture perceived Christians, like many Jews, as antisocial. Certain stereotypes became common: Christians were “atheists” (like some philosophers, for rejecting the many Roman gods), “cannibals” (for claiming to eat Jesus’ “body” and drink his “blood”), and incestuous (for statements like “I love you, brother,” or “I love you, sister”).

According to some early first century historians, the Roman Emperor Nero burned Christians alive as torches to light his gardens at night. He killed other Christians in equally severe ways such as feeding them to animals for public amusement. In all, it is estimated that Nero must have murdered thousands of Roman Christians, although most Christians escaped his grip. Many Christians saw Nero as a type of antichrist.

Peter intends to instruct and encourage believers who are experiencing the pain of persecution for their faith in Christ. Such encouragement was not only needed then, but also today as Christians are increasingly experiencing the pain of persecution and discrimination because of their faith.

God has much to communicate through the Apostle Peter. Let us begin to listen to what He has to say.

Soli deo Gloria!