A continuing look at 1 Peter chapter 1.
1 Peter 1: 7-9
“….at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (8) Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
(9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
It is oft-times impossible to just jump in without asking what you are jumping into, and diving into this passage at verse 8 is no different, so I have included a portion of verse 7. I had written to you on previous occasions about Jesus Christ, the living one, our savior, and I had talked about the strong, living hope that we are entitled to hold on to. Why say entitled? Because I feel that many will try to beat this out of you, implying that you are not entitled. Peter used some strong words in describing this hope, and lively is one of them. As a recent acquaintance said, lively is something that is fresh, clean, strong, as in a mountain stream that is running without obstruction, and that is how powerful this hope is intended to be in us.
Anyone feel that definite or secure in your hope? Probably not; if not, then ask yourselves why? Did someone dispel that hope in you. The means is irrelevant, it happens too often. There is only one way to support a strong foothold in many aspects of God life he has planned for us, and that is personal knowledge. Even if all you had was an audible word that someone spoke to you. Constantly reminding yourself that the promise of his coming is true keeps that alive in you.
The Dake’s bible notes indicates that this part of verse 7 is where the rewards will be made known in the eternal kingdom. “At the appearing of Jesus Christ:”. On that day, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be caught up to meet him in the air. (1 Corinthians 15:52)
What if any rewards come as a result of some judgment that we are to receive? This of course makes the assumption that there is the potential for punishment as well. Let’s see if we can make sense of this.
We still have local fairs around here, and folks enter the things they make in contests just so that their item can be judged. The winners take home rewards in the form of ribbons and the knowledge that this day they were the best. So, even in judging there can be a reward. Of course the parallel is a criminal case in which you are either guilty or innocent. If found to be guilty then you are judged and sentenced, and this only punishment. I think it is more common for us to think of judgment in this way.
When it comes to our guilt or innocence, we should have been judged for our sins; we were born guilty.
Sin being the debt that we could not pay, but Jesus took all that judgment for the sin upon himself, freeing us from the judgment for sin. I know people who cannot or will not grasp that.
Do I still sin? Absolutely, but I am covered by his blood and I do not make a habit of it, and scripture tells me that I will not be judged for my sins, and neither will you. Having been forgiven by God my sins, no matter how small, I still affect other people as I choose to continue sinning and being selfish. That make things very difficult later when I try to tell them about a God that loves them. Why? Because we all do it, we make judgments about how everyone else is going to treat me based upon the bad example that sin always gives.
What I do know is that in spite of me God still loves me. I am a working example of his grace. I have experienced his mercy first hand and if I know anything, I know God is merciful. NO, I do not take advantage of his mercy by constantly pushing the envelope. Paul spoke of this when he wrote about using your liberty in front of those who are weaker, causing them to stumble. You are not sinning at that point, but you are certainly being selfish, because your liberty is not considering anyone but you, and there are people who will think that what you are doing is sin. Yes, I realize that this internal struggle they are having is all them, but why promote it.
If you knew that a person among you was an alcoholic, and that alcohol was a tremendous and detrimental draw to them. Would you be serving up alcohol with them at the gathering? Taking it a step further, if someone close to you was an alcoholic would you torture them with your freedom to drink, at all?
1 Corinthians 8:9 NIV Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
Look at Romans 3:4 KJV God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, that you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged.
The word judged here is: krino, and means to separate, to pick out or select.
Certainly God has and is going to separate us out, that is the purpose behind the snatching away. Jesus spoke a parable to this effect that describes the angels coming and separating the wheat from the tares; this happens in the last days, and is an example of him judging, as he picks out those that are his. Matthew 13:30
What if this judgment is something else? What if it is based solely upon our actions toward others? That is the scariest part of all, for we might have some good moments, but far to many of us have damned someone to hell for the way they drive. Jesus said, in: Matthew 7:1-2 NIV “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (2) For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Who was Jesus talking to? Religious Jews that refused, with minor exceptions, to accept who he was. This becomes important because this lifestyle of judgment is what Jesus was describing in Matthew 25 where God separates the sheep, from the goats.
When it comes to judging people I do not think I ever really learned my lesson, but I got a good dose of what the effects of judging is all about.
I had a moment where I was put in charge of the crew, primarily women. To tell you the truth, they were all great, knew how to do their jobs, and did them well. One in particular, a Christian girl, a bit of a whiner, was really going into a tailspin. As I look back on the situation she had bad feet, as I do now, but she integrated that pain into every other aspect of the job. She was having a meltdown on the day that I was in charge, saying that she could do the job anymore.
I really did not understand, but I tried to reason with her, pointing out that she was the one that had taught me how to do what they did. That did not end the rant so I got religious on her, and told her that I was ashamed of her and her lousy Christian example. Those are the words I used. There was a pained look on her face and she shut up. Six months to year went by, and I was working at another site when I learned, first hand, how painful those words could be as I was now the brunt of them. I truly believe that this was an example of Matthew 7 coming back to slap me in the face.
Paul wrote in: 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 NIV (31) But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. (32) Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
Paul had addressed those who came to the Lord’s table in an unworthy manner. If you come, not being a glutton, but one who is giving thanks for the Lord’s sacrifice for you, then I suspect you are doing this act in a worthy manner. This address by Paul came from a time when there was actually something of a shared meal that the early Christian church would gather for. Apparently many would intentionally come hungry and eat everything in sight. Choosing not to gather to remember that Jesus paid a tremendous price for them, but treating God as common, it appears many got ill and paid the price in their physical bodies. In other words they were judged.
Here is the key to all this, hope.
Peter initiates this letter with a solid attempt at establishing or reestablishing hope. Not only hope, but a living hope.
Verse 8 begins with. “whom you have not seen, you love,”
This Jesus Christ, the one in whom we await.
If men were honest they would tell you that they fall in lust with the woman’s looks, and then they fall in love. Love is a growing process of interrelationship based upon trust. The problem with the way we fall in love becomes clear when you contrast it with our relationship with Christ, one whom we have never seen, and with only his Word to go on we must build the trust necessary for love.
So then, what was the thing that drew us to him? It was love, given without measure, and with no demands, merely open arms.
“…even though you do not see him now, you believe in him…”
How peculiar, coming from Peter. He saw him and yet denied Jesus, just to preserve his own skin. After Jesus death on the cross Peter quit and went back to fishing. Jesus, addressing a small group of disciples after the resurrection said, go tell the disciples and Peter. Jesus knew he had quit, and sought him out, just like a good shepherd might.
I can just see that father in the prodigal story, running down the road to greet the son that returned to him, receiving him back into the household.
Peter, witnessed his death and saw him alive after the resurrection, experienced the years of ministry, and had hands on evidence of his love. All I have is his word, and the feeling of love I feel as I bring my brokenness to him. Perhaps Peter is stunned and proud that so many have come to love him, someone they cannot experience in the same way that Peter did.
Can I be honest here. After ten years of relationship with a girlfriend, a woman who I would have wed. I finally called it quits. In almost every way she was wonderful, but she changed. I think that a constant stream of stresses, she acts like they are not there, and the change of life prompted her to turn her frustrations against me. My leaving was not what I meant to do, but in anger I sent a message that I could not retract, and through a combination of actions I brought the relationship to a crashing halt. Now here I am writing about a God that gave his own life for me, and a love I have with him even though I cannot see him. There is a huge incongruity inside me now.
When I made the commitment to marry, I had to make the choice to invest all of me into this. If a person jumps quickly into a relationship without knowing how the other person thinks and functions then you will have to learn. If your wise then this learning curve has to be integrated into the relationship.
Now what would make this easier as time goes by? Both parties consistently striving to love the other one. God loved this world, comparing his actions to entering into a marriage, knowing full well what scum we are.
There was no learning curve for God, he already knows everything about us. Does He overlook sins? He was fully aware that we all sinned and had become masterful at it. So what he did was obliterate that sin, and forgot it; on purpose.
What is left for God to do in relationship to us? He runs to us when we come to him. He puts the cloak of his kingdom upon us to show that we are still his, and he keeps his arms open wide so that we can return easily to him when we turn away.
To be a part of a marriage breakdown you have to work at it. You have to decide that your selfishness is more important than the relationship that God may have actually put together. You have to choose to destroy the team partnership that God may have intended to bring life to other people through. You have to choose to put others first, not God or your mate. You have to choose to degrade and ignore. You have to teach yourself and your children to disrespect the other. Do I need to go on?
And the oddity is that marriage is the relationship that God uses to relate to us. To reject him is to act like this toward him, a choice you make.
1 Peter 1:9 KJV Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
I see hope in this, a lively hope, and yet there is the terminology souls used. I will tell you that I want this body pulled out of here too. I will come back to this thought.
Another version puts it this way. 1 Peter 1:9 CJB And you are receiving what your trust is aiming at, namely, your deliverance.
What have we been talking about? Trust and relationship building without being able to see the other person. Without being able to read the others facial expressions as they speak of testing, trials and judgment. Without speaking Greek it is difficult to know that
the word krino used in Romans 3:4 KJV when Paul says, “… when you are judged. “ Means to separate, to pick out, or select.
Because we have this life with him, we have a promise of salvation. Salvation means deliverance and rescue, but from what?
Not from life and brutal people that surround you. Not from life’s steady stream of tribulations, but from the wrath that God is bringing upon the world, the Great Tribulation period.
1 Peter 4:12 NIV Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
2 Peter gives us clarity on this question of what we are being delivered from. Jesus told us that a Great Tribulation is coming upon the earth and that without God shortening time no one would survive it. The great tribulation period is a time of judgment upon the nations of the earth. This would not be the first time that God has destroyed man upon the earth, and Peter gives us Noah and Lot’s scenarios as an example (Look at 2 Peter chapter 2). God rescued those righteous men out of the destruction, but it was right up against the destruction. The destruction itself did not touch them, but the evil that God was eliminating was all around them.
I pointed out that several translations use the word souls. We should not have a problem with that for:
- The soul is currently an embedded part of the body. You cannot separate the two, but God can. We were first a soul or spirit, and then we were put into a body.
- 1 Corinthians 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall be changed. Changed into what? Jesus said, “Flesh and blood, the body, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore we will be changed into what ever Jesus became after his resurrection, incorruptible. Keep in mind that he was able to cook, eat a meal, and relax with the disciples.
My wish is that we escape the pain and destruction that is to come. I think that would require getting this body out of here. I suppose that I am fortunate and should not be complaining for Christians all over the world are being killed for their faith in Christ. We here in America believe that will not happen to us. I truly think that we are being naive when we espouse that kind of narrow-minded thought. There are very vocal people in America that are calling for Sharia law to govern this nation. When that happens they will come after you.
Don’t think that you are safe because you are a “bible” thumping Mormon or Latter Day Saint. If you adhere to something that looks like a bible then Islam will come after you as well. You are considered an infidel by them and will be beheaded. Apparently Islam is somewhat fair about this in that they will give you the opportunity to convert to Islam, and acknowledge that the only god is Allah and Mohammed, not Jesus Christ, is his prophet. To accept their deal is to take the mark and worship the beast. Trust me, you do not want to do that, for you will have excluded yourselves from any mercy God would have shown you.
Think about this for a moment. Why would taking the mark ( probably a prominently displayed armband, much like the Jews had to wear) be such a big thing? Because there are a couple of things that God absolutely cannot tolerate, idol worship and adultery. To give your “love” to someone else when he paid for your freedom with his own blood would have to be the last insult. Not only did he create, but had to buy you back, and why? To give you the opportunity to live with him in eternity. Therefore to reject him is like pushing every button necessary to bring about a divorce.
Don’t you realize that you have work at destroying a marriage. You have to choose selfishness, fornication, adultery, distrust, cheating, jealousy, lack of communication. These things were not part of a reasonable persons game plan on their wedding day. Why are they part of your game plan, in relationship to the Father, now?