HOPE LIVES | 1 PETER 1:1-9
We Are Sojourners
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
—1 Peter 1:1
On this earth, you and I who are believers in Christ, are sojourners, strangers, exiles, resident aliens, and pilgrims. Do you feel like you do not belong here? I do. Our permanent address and citizenship is in heaven. Still, we will see later in 1 Peter 1:8-9 that being residents of heaven does not mean that the experience of joy is only reserved for that future place. But for now, we can take heart that if we long to follow our babies to the place of their and our citizenship, we are right to do so. For this is not only a longing of our hearts, but a part of who we are because of Christ. Those who have gone ahead of us remind us of our future home.
Where Hope Starts
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
—1 Peter 1:2
“Obedience” and “sprinkling with His blood”–both can represent initial salvation from our sins and our daily cleansing from sins by which we grow. The believer’s standing before Christ being emphasized at the beginning of this epistle infers that our considerations of a future heavenly life must all begin with matters of salvation from sin. The themes we’ll see later—the hope v. 3, the inheritance v. 4, the joy vv. 8-9, and the list goes on—are solely accessed by those who belong to Christ. For what would we want of His hope, inheritance, and joy if we have not first loved the One upon whom it is all based? Thankfully, the crux of it all is not on our effort of faith—it is all based on the foreknowledge of God. Do you want to give yourself to Him for the first time or do you want your hearts’ love for Him renewed? Repent of your sin and believe in Jesus Christ. He will lovingly hear us and He will powerfully secure us to Himself!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
—1 Peter 1:3
Living. We believers have a living hope. It is based on the two solid truths of the living Word of God (1 Pet. 1:23), and the living Stone (1 Pet. 2:4-5), who is Christ. As surely as Christ rose from the dead, we will experience a final resurrection in the last day when our pain will be no more. Why does our hope live? Simply, our hope lives because Christ lives. And what does that mean for us? In stark contrast to the death that we know all too well exists, this hope will never die. While we have the hope that our babies were transported into a new heavenly reality in an instant, we wait for our heavenly reality. As we do, we see in ourselves the effects of something that has life. We see that in contrast to earthly hopes, it is a hope within that grows and grows. It becomes more beautiful in us over time. Hope lives!
A Future That Won’t Be Ruined
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you
—1 Peter 1:4
We as believers were included in Christ’s last will (John 17:22). That means that with Him, we will inherit new bodies that can never die and a new environment that will not be governed by the effects of sin—like sorrow, tragedy and pain. According to 1 Peter 1:23, our earthly faith came from the seed that will grow into this inheritance—both the seed and the inheritance are imperishable. Surely the imperishable seed we enjoy on earth will grow into something magnificent before our eyes. What’s also sure is that what we know now about our experience of our inheritance is only the beginning. In fact, we hardly know how to begin to describe the glories ahead except by comparison, by use of negatives. Our future is not like this earth: not perishable, not defiled, and not fading. We may feel that our lives are being ruined, cheapened, and are dissipating here. Yet, there is, right now, an imperishable seed in us that will one day grow into a new heavenly inheritance beyond our current comprehension.
who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
—1 Peter 1:5a
Our heavenly future, or, the final step in the process of our salvation (Romans 8:30), is being guarded heavily. Here, the word for “guarded” evokes the image of a military presence that is shielding what is of value. What kind of backing and resources does this “military presence” have? Nothing less than God’s power. No enemy will succeed in passing that barrier! There is nothing, absolutely nothing (not even our own stumbles!), that will take away from us that final culmination of our salvation in which we will be with Christ in heaven. It all rests on His power and faithfulness—not our strength.
who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
—1 Peter 1:5b
Our eternal glory is being guarded on an on-going basis according to the language used here. It is being guarded even now, this minute. Why is that important? This means it is already ready and prepared. It already exists, and, even more, it already exists for us who believe; it is already ours. And the only piece we are awaiting is the manifestation of it when we will finally see and experience it personally. We are not waiting for it as if it is something that still needs to be finished. We are only waiting for God’s perfect and wise timing to see revealed what already is. So, if nothing else right now seems sure, we can know this is. This is a sure thing. Charles Spurgeon said: “See, heaven is kept for us, and we are kept for heaven...There is a double action of God’s grace thus working in us, and working for us, unto bliss eternal.”
A Little While
In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials
—1 Peter 1:6
1 Peter 1:6 speaks the following to our hearts clearly: we are best off when we think about hardship in our lives from the perspective of eternity. The “various trials” referenced here most likely refer to various types and instances of Christian persecution. 1 Peter 4:4 discusses being persecuted for the “name of Christ.” 1 Peter 3:9 discusses being insulted or criticized by unbelievers. And at the time the letter was written, Christians were being increasingly persecuted by government officials in pockets of areas throughout the region (of Rome). So, this trend was on the rise. In our lives, our minds might not first go to instances of persecution as we read these verses; we likely are thinking about trials in terms of missing and longing for the child or children we will never see grow up on this earth. But the application is the same. Our sorrow is only for a “little while” in comparison with eternity. It is not as if we are seeking to muster up enough faith for Him. Instead, we can let Him comfort our souls with His promise that we have a living hope that cannot be ruined, that it is being perfectly and powerfully protected for us, and that it is already, literally ours. Why are we better off with this perspective? Our eternity impacts our “little while” here to bring hope and perseverance. Greatly rejoicing in what is ahead means there is to this pain and longing a very sure ending.
Connecting Little to Great
"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."
—1 Peter 1:7
In 1 Peter 1:6, we saw that we can have our eyes on a solid eternity and noted that this perspective impacts our “little while” here. But how? Right now, He has given us believers the mission of proclaiming His good news of salvation to the world. In a sense, He has staked His name on us. That is a heavy thought. When we endure a trial, like child loss, and remain faithful to Him, we demonstrate that our faith is genuine and precious to us. That results in praise and glory and honor of Jesus Christ. And in this, we see that the “little while” can have a great impact on the eternity.
Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy
—1 Peter 1:8
After we lose our babies, we likely talk about, write about, and focus much on heaven. And that is good. We ought to do so. There is a brilliant future ahead and that informs how we live on this earth. Yet, even while we do not see Him—even before our faith is made sight—there is much joy to experience now. Our longing for heaven can have the great fruit of making us joy-filled today. Read this verse again. It is not speaking about a future experience, but a present one. Because we know that we are glorifying, honoring, and exalting Christ in our faithfulness after experiencing indescribable sorrow, and because we love and believe in Him, we presently have this joy that is already inexpressible and glorious. With this, we are filled.
Faith for This Outcome
obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
—1 Peter 1:9
Continuing with a theme in the 1 Peter 1:8 devotional, in which we discussed having a present experience of joy, we also have a present experience of salvation. But aren’t we already saved? How are we, according to this verse obtaining—present tense—our salvation? We can understand salvation from the perspective of the progressing list contained in Romans 8:30. Being predestined, called, and justified in the past are all our salvation. And being glorified in the future is our salvation. Yet, for those who have endured and have been refined through fiery trial, according to 1 Peter 1:9, we are receiving portions of our future salvation right now. Yes, we believers have already been predestined, called, and justified. Yet, when we are being refined—glorifying Christ and grow closer to Him—we are obtaining something important, something new. As we are refined, what’s truly good and pure come into our view, and more of what is not good or pure falls away from our lives. Grieving the losses of our children can certainly have a way of focusing our hearts and minds on glory and, thus, holiness. Our glorification will be fulfilled on the last day when we will be with Christ in glory. Yet, our closeness to Christ and our honoring of Him through all of the trials mean we are receiving some portions of our ultimate, eternal glorification now. This is why living for Christ amidst the difficulties of our lives is so fulfilling; He gave us faith for this very outcome.
SOURCES CONSULTED FOR THIS SERIES:
The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (General Editors)
A Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, Robert Jamieson and Andrew Robert Fausset
These posts were originally published at Hope Mommies.