1st Peter: Episode 1

Beth's Notes

As mentioned in the introduction, Peter begins his first epistle humbly stating his apostleship rather than elaborating on his standing with the Lord Jesus.  He places himself on equal footing with the others.  He writes to the scattered, chosen and persecuted family of God dispersed among the nations sending them grace and peace in abundance.

He begins by praising the Lord Jesus for their new birth into a living hope though Jesus’ work on the cross.  Jesus speaks of this to Nicodemus – the Pharisee who visited Him at night under the cloak of darkness:  

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’   John 3:1-7 (NIV) 

Every believer has been given a new birth into a living hope as well as an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade guarded in heaven for us.  The Gospel is to be preached to all, and all who believe it may be assured that they are numbered among the elect.  Through the Spirit’s sanctification – that is, His separating work – men are awakened and brought to see their need of Christ.  When in the obedience of faith, they appropriate the privilege of finding shelter beneath the sprinkled blood of Jesus Christ, like the people of Israel on the Passover night in Egypt, who were safe within the houses, protected by the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels, they are forever safe from the judgment that their sins deserve.  God said, of old, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13).  So today, all who are sheltered by the blood of Christ may be assured that we stand where the wrath of God will never each us.    It is no wonder Peter begins with praise!  Praise should be as natural to the believer as breathing.  Paul tells us 1 Thessalonians:

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.   1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) 

The Psalmist writes in Psalms 100:

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.   Psalms 100:1-5 (NIV)
  The fact that God works everything together for good for those who love Him is the basis for this entreaty.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.  Romans 8:28-30 (NIV)

We are predestined by God to be conformed into the image of sweet Jesus.

“Be not afraid of saying too much in the praises of God; all the danger is of saying too little.”   Matthew Henry

1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.   Psalm 33:1 (NIV) 

Often our circumstances are hard and not of our choosing yet the Truth remains that God is working through everything He allows for our ultimate good and for His glory.  Laura Black, a young mother who succumbed to breast cancer wrote:   

“I cannot understand Him, but I can trust Him.   And so today, when everything physical and emotional in me is completely drained, and there is not a single note of praise in my heart, I choose to praise Him anyway.  Not for what He does, but for Who He is.  When I cannot praise Him out of joy, I will praise Him out of obedience.  And I am learning that when I praise Him out of obedience from the depths of the pit, it is always more meaningful than when I praise Him out of an overflow of my heart from the heights of the mountain.  And because I know His nature, and I know that even when I don’t feel it, He is still a kind, loving, good God, then I know that soon, He will fill my heart with joy once again.  And the praise will flow easily from the depths of my heart.”   Laura Black

For me, “the sacrifice of praise” spoken of in Scripture comes when I praise Him even when my circumstances are not of my choosing.  This also shows trust – that I believe He has my best interest at heart even if I don’t understand it.  I am confident that the first readers of Peter’s epistle were undergoing circumstances not of their choosing either.  Yet Peter points them (and us) to a heavenly perspective of which they (and we) could rejoice.

It was to such as these that Peter wrote, wishing that to them grace and peace might be multiplied.  It was not the grace that saves that he had in view, rather the grace that keeps; nor was it peace with God of which he wrote, but the peace of God that garrisons the hearts of all who learn to commit their way unto the Lord.  It will help us to appreciate Peter’s writings even more if we remember that his audience was to Jewish Christians who were suffering great trials and persecutions for their faith.  They had been forced to leave their homelands and whatever inheritance would have been theirs.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8 (NIV) 

We are pilgrims marching on to glory.  Ours is a living hope in contrast to Israel’s dead hope, because of their inability to fulfill the terms of the covenant entered into at Sinai.  Further, our confidence rests not on any ability of our own to carry out certain promises, but is according to the abundant mercy that God has bestowed upon us, and that is assured to us by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead by the power of the Spirit.  We are not depicted here as already in the enjoyment of our inheritance rather we are journeying toward it.  Our living hope is that we know this inheritance will never fade or perish as it is incorruptible and undefiled, and it is kept safe in heaven for us.  Not only that, we are kept for it by the power of God through faith unto salvation in its complete and final sense which will be revealed when we reach the end of our wilderness journey.  Believers are shielded by God’s power while we “wait patiently and groan inwardly”, as Paul states in Romans 8, “for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Until then, griefs and trials will be a given in this fallen world.  We should not be surprised as they are to be expected.  Indeed, Jesus gives us this news but follows it with a promise to take heart – be courageous:

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV) 

Christians are called to endure with joy through the power of the Spirit knowing that our pain has purpose.  James tells us:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.   James 1:2-4 (NIV) 

Are we willing to trust the wisdom of God in the affairs of our lives and allow Him to plan for us as He sees fit? Giving Him our whole heart and not holding back anything?  Living lives with open hands so to speak.  He seeks to purge us of our most beloved Delilah’s – for our own good.  Also, faith must be tested, otherwise it could not be verified.  Therefore, we need not fear when our faith is exposed to trial that it is indicative of God’s displeasure towards us.  Rather it indicates His deep interest in and concern for us.  For just as gold is tried in the fire in order to separate it from the dross, so faith, which is much more precious and valuable than gold which will perish, must be tested in order that it may be found genuine resulting in praise, honor and glory when Jesus is revealed. 

To be sure, if we are living and breathing, none of us as yet has been made perfect.  We are all works in progress pressing on the upward way toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Trials are also used to be a purifying process to purge us of what is not of importance – to separate the believer from those things that hinder fellowship with God and growth in the spiritual life.  That is God’s method, His school.  BTW, there are no shortcuts to maturity.  Trials are also of a temporary nature and we will one day see the value in them.  Paul tells us:

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV) 

A good question for us to ponder would be:  Are we as ready to suffer for the sake of our blessed Lord as we are to profit by His sufferings on our behalf?  Even the philosophic worldling can endure suffering without complaining, but it is only the regenerated one who can glory in tribulation.  Also, do we truly love Him and believe Him?  Remember he asks Peter three times “Do you love Me?”  Loving Christ brings joy to the heart.  Peter tells these scattered sheep that though they have not seen Christ, they love Him.  This is the secret of the Christian life.  When we love Him everything else falls into place.

Salvation was a subject of prophecy in the Old Testament.  Both the prophets and apostles bore witness to the truth of it.  What an encouragement that was to the Diaspora – those scattered who were suffering for their faith.  All the prophets prophesied diligently concerning it speaking of the sufferings of Christ and the grace of God.  Also, they spoke of Christ’s sovereignty and of the glory that is to come when He comes as King to the earth to establish His Kingdom.

Inspired by God, the prophets of the Old Testament wrote by the Spirit of Christ.  This is one of the many statements in Scripture declaring that the Old Testament was inspired by God.  It was revealed to them that their message had to do with a future day.  What they reported by the Spirit’s inspiration is now the basis of our confidence and the first source of information for those who preach the Gospel in the energy of the Spirit.  Peter tells us that even the angels long to look into these things.  Paul tells us in Ephesians:

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.    Ephesians 3:7-13 (NIV)

In view of all this, Peter bids them to prepare their minds for action - that is, bring every thought into subjection to the revealed will of God for we are to have the belt of Truth buckled around our waist.  It is a serious thing to be called out of this world to live for God in the very scene where once we dishonored His name.  No longer are we to conduct ourselves, or fashion our behavior as we once did when, in the days of our blindness and ignorance, we were under the dominion of carnal desires.  We are called to exhibit heavenly character through His power, for God has said: “Be holy, because I am holy.” We are to manifest holiness in all our words and ways as becomes a heavenly people passing through a world of sin.  Neither carelessness nor indifference becomes a child of the King who are privileged to call God “Father”.  In reverent fear our desire is not to grieve His heart or discredit His Great Name.

We have been redeemed not with the perishable things of this world such as gold and silver but with the imperishable blood of Christ.  Because we have been purchased and freed from judgment by His precious blood, we should no longer be conformed to the empty way of life handed down by our forefathers who were opposed to the ways that glorified God.   All sin leads to death and it is an empty and fruitless life.  Life is vain – that is empty – without the redemption of Christ.  There is nothing quite so meaningless as human life apart from redemption of Christ.  It is He who gives life meaning.  Remember our Lord’s Words in John:

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.   John 10:10 (NIV)

Everything else in this world serves a purpose - animals, plants, sun, moon and stars but man without God is meaningless.  To put it very simply, the Cross of Christ was not an ambulance sent to a wreck.  Christ was the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world because God knew all the time that Beth Yoe would need a Savior and He loved her enough to provide One and everyone else.  

All of this had been foreseen and prepared for beforehand.  God had not been outwitted by Satan.  Christ was the true, unblemished and spotless Passover Lamb – free from sin or fault of any kind, either inwardly or outwardly.  Redemption was no afterthought hastily arranged to patch up a wrecked world ruined by man’s sin and rebellion against the Creator.  All had been foreseen and prepared for beforehand – nothing takes God by surprise:      

9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.   Isaiah 46:9-10 (NIV) 

Redemption is a work that was accomplished by Christ Jesus on Calvary. A great change has taken place within the hearts of all those who have obeyed the truth through the Spirit.  The Word of God has been brought home to their souls in the convicting and convincing energy of the Holy Spirit, thus producing new life and nature, the characteristic feature of which is love – the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, as Paul tells us, by the Holy Spirit Who has been given us:

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.  5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.   Romans 5:1-5 (NIV) 

This produces love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, a love that is unselfish and pure, not contaminated by selfish evil desires of the flesh.  For all who believe in Christ are born again, not according to the natural order. not to corruptible seed rather this new birth is the result of believing the Word of God, which lives and abides forever.  And this Word is that which is proclaimed by the Gospel.  Believing the Gospel, we become children of God, and are responsible to walk in a manner worthy of it.  We are not to conform our behavior to what it used to be before we knew better.  We are to live lives which reveal that we have been transformed from the inside.  This is not artificial.  As we yield to God, we will be genuinely transformed.  Holiness is something that is really misunderstood.  To the average person, holiness means to assume a very pious attitude, to become almost abnormal in everyday life.  It is thought to be superficial.  The Lord wants us to be a fully integrated personality.  He wants us to enjoy life and have fun – not in a sinful kind of fun, but real delight and enjoyment in the one sweet life He has given us.  Holiness is to be heathy and robust spiritually – keeping our accounts short with the Lord, being in His Word and applying its Truths to our lives, having a keen eye not to miss pleasures from His Hand and to be thankful.  The Word of God is what produces this kind of growth.  The Gospel transforms lives from the inside out by the power of the Spirit.  Remember Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians:

14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  2 Corinthians 5:13-17 (NIV)

We are to search our hearts sincerely asking God to point out things that make Him sad and then do it.  King David writes a prayer in Psalm 139 we daily and sincerely need to pray:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Interestingly, the word translated “offensive” is the Hebrew word “Oseb” which means “pain, labor, affliction and sorrow”.  This is what sin leads to and that is why God wants us rid of it.   

 We must adopt a serious attitude in the study of the Word of God.  We do this in the awareness of realized dependence upon the Lord from day to day as we pursue our pilgrim course – fixing our eyes upon Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith, as the writer of Hebrews states, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart: 
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) 

We hope to the end.  This is the great epistle of hope.  We can endure trials because we have hope and that hope rests upon the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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