************ Sermon on 1 Peter 1:8-12 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 25, 2021
1 Peter 1:8-12
"Joy Because of Salvation"
"The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue." Or, how about this: "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint ... solitary as an oyster." Do you know who I am describing? Ebenezer Scrooge. His was a sad, dark, depressing, grim life. His was a life without joy.
The Christian's calling is to be as joyful as possible. This is God's will and God's plan for each one of us. God wants us to be joyful Christians. That's why the words "joy, rejoice" show up 193 times in the New Testament. That's why we are commanded to rejoice (1 Thess 5:16; Phil 4:4).
So many times we don't have joy. So many times we don't obey this command. We allow life and its problems to drag us down. Or, we rob ourselves of joy because we look at others and think they have it better than us; like cows, we think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Or, like Scrooge, we tend to have a negative and depressing view of life.
Peter, don't forget, is writing to suffering Christians. In spite of their suffering they are still filled with joy. Remember verse 6 we looked at last week?
(1 Pet 1:6; NIV84) — 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.They were cruelly persecuted throughout the Roman Empire, yet they were filled with great joy.
As an aside, do you know how joy is expressed? In song. Muslims don't sing in worship. Hindus don't sing. Buddhists don't sing. These groups might chant but they don't sing. Christians sing. This congregation sings. We are a singing congregation. We love to sing and we sing joyfully.
Now, Peter answers two questions for us this morning. First, how do we get joy? Second, what are we joyful about?
I How to Get Joy
A So, how do we get joy? Look at what Peter writes in the first verse of our Bible reading:
(1 Pet 1:8; NIV84) — 8 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 ...Peter tells us joy springs out of love and belief.
Now, did you catch that Peter is amazed by his audience? They have not seen the Lord, yet they love Him and believe in Him. Peter is amazed because he remembers how Jesus had to question his love three times after he denied Jesus three times: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" (Jn 21:15,16, 17). He remembers that Jesus said he had "little faith" when he sank into the water after he saw the wind and the waves (Mt 14:29-31). Peter saw Christ, walked with Christ, talked with Christ, ate with Christ; yet, his love and faith were questioned by Jesus. Peter's audience, on the other hand, never saw Jesus either before or after His resurrection, never walked with Jesus, never talked with Jesus, never ate with Jesus. They never met Jesus. They never heard His voice. They never felt His hands. They never heard His teachings or saw His miracles. They never saw His cross or His grave. They never saw Him go up into heaven. Yet, they love Jesus and believe in Jesus.
Do you hear Peter's unspoken message? Peter is saying, "Wow, you are better than me. After three years with the Lord my love and belief were shown to be weak. You have not been with the Lord at all, and yet your love is true and your faith is strong."
In John 20 Jesus praises those who love and believe without seeing Him. The setting is the Upper Room. Thomas declared he would never believe unless he sees the nail marks in Jesus' hands, and put his finger where the nails were, and put his hand into Jesus' side. Jesus appeared and invited Thomas to do these things. Then Thomas believed.
(Jn 20:29; NIV84) — 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”Blessed. That's what Peter's audience is. That's what we are.
B Peter's audience displays great joy because, first of all, they love Jesus. The Greek word is "agape." This is love that chooses to love, that wants to love, that is willing to sacrifice for the sake of the other person. Peter's audience chooses to love Jesus in spite of the threats and hatred of the world. The Greek makes clear it is an ongoing, constant love.
Peter's audience displays great joy because, secondly, they believe Jesus. That is, they trust Him. They trust Him so much they do not doubt He will provide whatever they need for body and soul. They trust Him so much they do not doubt He will turn to their good whatever trouble He sends them in this sad world. They trust Him so much they can be patient when things go against them, thankful when things go well, and for the future are confident nothing can separate them from the Father's love.
Here we see that Christians love and trust Jesus. I have met people who think they are Christian because they know certain facts about God and Jesus. Well, the devil and his demons know the same facts. They know God is triune. They know God made heaven and earth and everything in them. They know Jesus is the eternal Son of God. They know He was born of a virgin, died for our sins, and arose from the grave. They know He now sits at God's right hand. The devil and his demons know all this. And they fight it. The issue is that they don't love and trust Jesus.
It is not enough, my brothers and sisters, to know facts about Jesus. You must also love and trust Him. When you do, you have great joy.
C Peter's persecuted and suffering audience love Jesus and trust in Jesus. The result: they "are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 Pet 1:8). Inexpressible joy -- joy that is beyond language, joy that is beyond speech, joy that is beyond our ability to express. Glorious joy -- joy that has the glory of God, joy that comes from God. Theirs is great joy.
II What We Are Joyful About
A This brings us to our second question: What are we joyful about? Listen to verse 9:
(1 Pet 1:9; NIV84) — 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
We greatly rejoice about salvation. Notice, it is a present salvation. Peter doesn't say, "you will receive." He uses the present tense: you are receiving. In the here and now.
Peter calls it "the salvation of your souls." We usually think of soul as the inner person, the heart, the mind. Here it stands for the whole, complete person, body and spirit.
Salvation from what? Every Spring we have people who are saved from area rivers when they get swept up by the current. Fire fighters save people from a burning building. Doctors save someone from a stroke or heart attack. Jesus saves us from the wrath of God because of sin, guilt, condemnation, defilement. We greatly rejoice that we are delivered from the judgment we deserve. We greatly rejoice we are saved from the life of sin. We greatly rejoice, congregation, because of the greatness of our salvation. Great salvation equals great joy.
B Let me ask: How great is the salvation we rejoice in? To answer this question, most Christians today would talk about themselves. They would give a testimony about the greatness of their sin and the even greater greatness of their salvation. For them, it is about me, myself, and I. Or they would talk about the wonders of heaven. But that is not the approach of Peter. How great is the salvation we rejoice in? To answer this question, Peter points to four different persons or groups: first, the prophets; second, the Holy Spirit; third, the apostles and evangelists of the early church; and fourth, the angels.
i To show the greatness of the salvation we rejoice in Peter first looks at the prophets:
(1 Pet 1:10–12; NIV84) — 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you ...There is so much packed into this I should probably have done a sermon on the prophets alone.
To show the greatness of salvation we rejoice in, Peter says the prophets "spoke of the grace that was to come." Don't conclude from this there was no grace in the Old Testament. Too many evangelicals think of the Old Testament as being all law and no grace. Nothing can be further from the truth. God is, was, and always will be a gracious God. The Old Testament prophets and saints were saved by grace, just like us. But they were saved without seeing its accomplishment at the cross and grave of Christ. In a way, they did not understood salvation. How could they? After all, Christ had not yet come, lived, taught, healed, ministered, suffered, died, and arose. Yet, they spoke of it -- often -- from Genesis through Malachi. They spoke for our benefit.
The Old Testament prophets were intrigued by God's promises of salvation through the sufferings and glories of Christ. They did not fully understand and wanted to know more. They wanted to know the who, what, why, where, when, and how of salvation. So what did they do? They "searched intently and with the greatest care." Where did they search? What did they study? The Old Testament Scriptures. They searched and studied their own writings. Salvation is so great and so wonderful that they spent time and effort to understand it.
How great is the salvation we rejoice in? So great that it was the preoccupation of the prophets, the focus of their studies, the goal of their search. Year after year, decade after decade, century after century one generation of prophets after another strived to understand what most of us have known since childhood. They could have searched out all sorts of other things: election, heaven, judgment, the Holy Spirit. But they chose to search out everything they could about salvation. How dare we take this for granted or pretend this is no great thing!
ii To show the greatness of the salvation we rejoice in Peter secondly looks at the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament prophets were so committed to our great salvation because of the Spirit's inspiration within them. Everything the prophets received came from the Spirit. Keep in mind what Peter writes in his second letter:
(2 Pet 1:21; NIV84) — 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.It was the Spirit of Christ within them that predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
By the way, not just the Old Testament prophets but also the New Testament apostles were inspired by the Spirit to speak about Christ and the gospel (cf 1 Pet 1:12).
How great is the salvation we rejoice in? It is the preoccupation of the third person of the triune Godhead.
iii To show the greatness of the salvation we rejoice in Peter thirdly looks at those who have preached the gospel to his audience -- namely, the apostles and evangelists of the early church.
The apostles preached salvation. They preached the cross, grave, ascension, and rule of Christ. Salvation in Christ was their constant theme. They preached what was foolishness to the world but was, in fact, the wisdom of God. They died for this: Peter, Paul, James, and so on. They gave their life for it. That's how great and how important salvation is.
iv To show the greatness of the salvation we rejoice in Peter fourthly looks at the angels: "Even angels long to look into these things" (1 Pet 1:12). Have you ever wished to be an angel, able to fly, appearing and disappearing at will, being in God's presence, giving wonderful messages, protecting God's people, punishing the wicked, battling the forces of evil?
We might wish to be like the angels but guess what? The angels wish to be like us. "Angels long to look into these things" (1 Pet 1:12). What things? Things concerning our great salvation. They wonder what it is like to receive grace and be saved. They wonder what it is like to be forgiven.
"Angels long to look into these things" (1 Pet 1:12). Long. Not just interest. A strong desire. An irresistible urge. They are passionate about this. And, guess what, it is a passion that remains unfulfilled. They will never know firsthand the greatness of the salvation we rejoice in because God's holy angels don't need to be saved and God's fallen angels can't be saved. So they long to look into these things. Like the Old Testament prophets they are searching.
Remember the point of our Bible reading? Joy. Inexpressible and glorious joy. Great joy. Because ours is such a great salvation.
Is this great joy yours? Or have you lost it? Is this joy yours? It is, if you love Jesus and trust Jesus.
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