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Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory
1 Peter 1:1-11
As Peter opens his First Epistle he speaks of the strangers scattered throughout certain countries, then he goes on to tell us some things about these strangers, who, and what they are. By way of introduction to the study of this Epistle, let us consider these strangers scattered abroad.
1. The fact that they are strangers. Believers are not strangers to God, neither should they be strangers one to another. However, they are strangers to the world and to sin. We read how the old-time seers, Abraham in particular, journeyed in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. These three, Abraham, his son, and his grandson, as well as Abraham's wife, Sarah, all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off. They all confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, journeying toward a country and a city afar off.
2. The fact is, they were strangers scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. The very mention of these names carries our mind back to Pentecost where we read that there were present people from every nation under Heaven, and then these countries which Peter specified are found in the named groups (Acts 2:8-11 ). This verse in Peter's Epistle shows us, therefore, that the power of Pentecost was still living. The people from Jerusalem had gone back to their own countries carrying with them the message of life, light and love in Jesus Christ. The result was that in the countries represented at Pentecost there were saved believers who counted themselves but strangers on earth, and citizens of Heaven.
3. The fact that they are elect. How striking is this statement that these strangers scattered throughout these various countries were "elect according to the foreknowledge of God." However, not only were they elect, but all the saved are elect. Before ever God created the Heavens and the earth, the saved were elected; before ever Adam was come upon the scene God had already given Christ to die and, according to His foreknowledge, He had given unto Christ all who would ever be saved.
Two other statements are given: they were elect through sanctification of the Spirit, and they were elect unto obedience and sprinkling of the Blood of Christ. As we look, therefore, into the strangers to whom Peter addressed his Epistle, we find that they are believers washed in the Blood of the Lamb.
I. A SUNBURST OF PRAISE (1 Peter 1:3 )
Here is a verse that scintillates with glory. It carries with it the effect of a sunburst through a dark and fore-boding cloud. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
1. The dark skies. The suggestion of the clouds that hung over Peter, is seen in his statement: "Begotten us again unto a lively hope." We know when Peter's hope was veiled. It was when Christ hung on the Cross. There also stand before us, in darksome hues, the two disciples who went to Emmaus. They demonstrated their gloom not only by their tears, but by their words when they said, "We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel."
When Christ hung on the Cross the sky, to the eleven, was dark; their hearts were heavy; their hope was gone. The truth is that if Christ had not been raised from the dead, they, and we would have been of all men most miserable.
2. The sunburst. Suddenly the announcement came to Peter that Christ was raised from the dead. His overwhelming joy lived through the years, and when he wrote this Epistle he voiced his joy with the words, "Blessed be the God." He added to the vision of his joy, when he said that he had been begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the supreme note of joy to the believer. When Jesus Christ met the women near the empty tomb He said to them, "All hail!" that is, "All joy!" And it is "all joy" to His saints to this very hour.
II. A FOURFOLD INHERITANCE (1 Peter 1:4 )
Peter saw in the resurrection of Christ more than the vindication of Christ's Deity, more than the resurrection of his Lord. He was begotten unto a lively hope because Jesus Christ had proved Himself to be all that He had ever claimed to be. Beyond that, he was begotten unto the lively hope of an inheritance which was kept in Heaven for him. He saw in Christ's resurrection his own resurrection, and the resurrection of all saints. He saw not only their resurrection, but also the inheritance it brought. Let us look at this fourfold statement concerning the inheritance.
1. It is incorruptible. The body which we have is a corruptible body. Everything around us is corruptible, that is, it is dying; it carries the marks of decay and of dissolution upon it. The inheritance, however, which the resurrection of Christ assures us is an inheritance which is incorruptible. The new body will never decay; will never die, neither will the treasures of Heaven die or decay.
2. It is undefiled. Our inheritance is not soiled, nor dirty, neither can it know anything of stain. It stands forth forever in the beauty of holiness, pure and clean.
3. It fadeth not away. There is no moth, no rust that can touch it on the one hand; no thieves that can break through and steal it, on the other hand. The things of God in Heaven are things which never die, never fade. The things of earth we have today, but tomorrow they are gone. Our Heavenly inheritance abides for aye.
4. It is reserved in Heaven. Thank God that it is kept. It is secure. It cannot be lost.
III. A TWOFOLD SECURITY (1 Peter 1:5 )
1. An inheritance kept for us. We wish to emphasize the last statement of 1 Peter 1:4 which is that our inheritance is "reserved in Heaven." I am sure that you will all agree when I say that no devastating fires, no destructive storms, hurricanes, cyclones will ever destroy the mansions, the inheritances which God has reserved in Heaven for us. The Lord Jesus Christ said, "I go and prepare a place for you." He also said, "In My Father's House are many mansions." These mansions are all that Peter, in 1 Peter 1:4 , says they are, and, above all, they are reserved , that is, kept for the saints.
2. We are kept for the inheritance. After having told us of the inheritance reserved, or kept, Peter in the Spirit says that we are kept "by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." To us the words are exceedingly beautiful: "reserved in Heaven for you," who are "reserved" for it. If you prefer, you may read it, "kept in Heaven for you who are kept for it." God's keeping power must of necessity be at both ends. If He keeps the inheritance for us, He must keep us for the inheritance. Suppose the inheritance is kept, and we not kept, then over the unoccupied mansions of the once saved but lost, there would have to be written such signs as "For Sale," "For Rent," "To Let," or, something similar.
The security of the saints has a twofold keeping assurance:
(1) Saints are kept by the power of God, and no devil or demon can break God's power.
(2) They are kept through faith, and that faith is secure in Christ.
Saved, sealed, kept,
Secure in Him I stand;
I have a full salvation,
I'm kept in each temptation,
Led on through tribulation,
Safe in His mighty hand.
Saved, sealed, kept,
I cannot ever fall;
His Blood is all my story,
His grace is all my glory,
And so, through ages hoary
He is my all-in-all.
IV. A TWOFOLD CONDITION (1 Peter 1:6 )
There are two things spoken of in this verse. Read it for yourself and see if you can find them. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." Here is the twofold statement:
1. The present heaviness. "Ye are [now, if need be,] in heaviness through manifold temptations." These testings and trials may come to us all. The next verse calls them "the trial of your faith." Where is the believer who does not have his sorrows, in this life? There is much to annoy and to disturb. The Apostle Paul gave a graphic picture of his own testings. If the Christian's joy or peace depended on his earthly environment or condition, there are many times that he would weep and wail.
2. The present joy. Even in the midst of our many temptations we greatly rejoice, even though for a season, if need be, we are in heaviness. We rejoice in the hope that is set before us, the hope which is made real to us through the resurrection of Christ, but which will not be revealed until the last time. The Christian's vision is not circumscribed to the four walls of his present circumstances, but it looks afar off. It pierces into Heaven itself.
Christ lives, all dread is past,
Death's sway is doomed at last,
Its thralldom falls aghast,
I too shall live:
Christ lives, my heart is blest,
Naught can my soul molest,
In Him I am at rest,
Peace He doth give.
Christ lives, whate'er betide
I'll anchor by His side,
Forever to abide
On Heaven's shore.
Christ lives, I can't despair,
For I His joy shall share.
And His great love declare
V. A THREEFOLD JOY AT CHRIST'S RETURN (1 Peter 1:7 )
Let us read 1 Peter 1:7 . "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the Appearing of Jesus Christ."
The next time we have a trial of faith, let us remember God's words which say that the trial of faith is much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire. We need to learn how to turn our clouds about, seeking to wear them inside out, to show their silver lining. If we could keep our eyes fixed on the finished product of our dark experiences, we could sing even in a Philippian jail. There are three things which the trial of our faith accomplishes for us:
1. It will be found unto praise. In other words, the things over which we sigh now, will make us to sing by and by. We remember how Jacob said, "All these things are against me." He was speaking of the reported death of Joseph. His heart was broken. He thought he was forsaken. God, however, was working out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and Jacob should have been full of joy instead of grief. When our disappointments are His appointments we will find them unto praise at His Appearing.
2. It will be found unto honor. Oftentimes our gloom seems to be humiliating. It seems to rob us of everything that looks like honor, but God, in His might, will turn the chains of iron which goad us, into chains of gold at His Appearing.
3. It will be found unto glory. It is what Peter calls later on the glory, "after that ye have suffered a while." All these things: praise, honor, and glory, will be ours at the Appearing, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
At that time we will recall our present trials and suffering as nothing, compared to the glory then to be revealed.
VI. A THREEFOLD ATTITUDE (1 Peter 1:8 )
It is remarkable to us how the Holy Spirit piles things up in Peter's Epistle. We are now studying one of the longest sentences in the Bible. Peter found no place to stop to take his breath. He was carried along under the sweep of the Holy Ghost, and his words flowed like a torrent from his lips. We are still in the sentence which we began in 1 Peter 1:3 . Having mentioned Jesus Christ and His Appearing, the last words of 1 Peter 1:7 , Peter swings on into a wonderful threefold statement concerning his Lord:
1. "Whom having not seen, ye love." And we do love Him! How can we help but love Him? We have not seen Him, but we have felt His power. We have not seen Him, but we have known His grace, and we love Him.
2. "Though now ye see Him not, yet believing" in Him. We believe in Him as strongly as though He were standing in our midst. We believe in Him as though we were able to place our finger into the prints of His nail-scarred hands and feet, We do not see Him, but we believe Him, believe every word He has said, believe everything He ever preached.
3. "Though now ye see Him not * * ye rejoice" in Him. We love Him, we believe Him; we rejoice in Him. Our joy is a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory. We cannot explain it. We find words are inadequate to acclaim our joy. We are too full for utterance.
VII. A THREEFOLD VIEW OF THE SALVATION TO COME (1 Peter 1:9-11 )
1. The salvation of our lives. 1 Peter 1:9 reads, "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." This salvation is the salvation spoken of in 1 Peter 1:5 , unto which we are kept by the power of God, "unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
There is a salvation past. This was our salvation from sin and from the power of darkness; from hell, and from the penalty of sin. There is a salvation present. We are saved daily from the power and dominion of sin. There is, however, a salvation future: a salvation which will be brought to us at the Second Coming of Christ. This is the salvation of our lives. It includes our new bodies. It looks forward to the rewards which we shall" then receive.
In Hebrews 9:1-28 we read "Unto them that look for Him, shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
2. A salvation ready to be revealed. God is keeping this all for us. He is ready to give it to us when the clock strikes the hour. It will be a happy hour for us. It will be a glad day when we shall enter into the fullness of our redemption.
3. A salvation whose marvels cause the prophets to search. 1 Peter 1:10 tells us that the Prophets of old prophesied that grace which should come upon us. Thus it was that as they prophesied of this coming grace, they also inquired and searched diligently, as they studied their own Scriptures. They were searching concerning this marvelous salvation which is to be brought unto us by and by. The verse reads: "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."
"Kept by the power of God unto." The need to look past the present sorrows and trials to Home, Sweet Home.
"A poor beast that is going homeward goeth cheerfully." See how the horse pricks up his ears and quickens his pace when you turn his head to his stable. The proverb saith that even the dull ass doth the same. Much more then should intelligent Christian men feel the attractions of their Heavenly Home. Courage, brothers and sisters; we, too, are homeward bound. Every hour brings us nearer to the many mansions. We are not going from home, or we might hang our heads: our way is towards the Father's House on high, therefore let us rejoice at every step we take.
Strengthening the Brethren
1 Peter 1:10-17
By way of introduction we wish to emphasize the concluding message of our last sermon. 1 Peter 1:7 tells us of the trial of faith. It is described as being much more precious than the gold that perisheth, even though it be tried by fire, even though for a while we may be in heaviness through many temptations and testings. We may rejoice in the midst of trials, because they will be found unto praise, and honor, and glory at the Appearing of Jesus Christ. Let us suggest three things to you about our present-hour trial:
1. Our Lord suffered for us "leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps." The Apostle Paul said, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." He, however, like Peter, is giving a testimony of Christ's humiliation and suffering, even unto the death of the Cross. The Holy Spirit through both Paul and Peter is calling upon saints to suffer with Christ even as He suffered for us. We who would be soldiers of Christ must endure hardness as He endured walking in His steps.
The Holy Spirit in the Book of Hebrews gives this stirring admonition: "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub," said Christ, "how much more shall they call them of His household."
2. We may expect sufferings in this present evil age. There is no compatibility between light and darkness, neither is there compatibility between the spiritual saint and the sinner. Our ambitions, our conceptions of the truth, our ideals of living, are all distinct and opposite. In the world we have tribulation for the simple reason that we are not of the world. It is given unto us to suffer for His sake and as He suffered, because we are among men with the same message, the same attitude toward sin, that He had in the world. If the world hated Him, we know it will hate us.
Paul spoke of the trials which he endured. We read of how Peter was cast into prison. We read of John being exiled on the Isle of Patmos. We know the story of the martyrdom of James. Shall we, who live in the twentieth century (when Satan is so active in a world ripe in its rebellion against God), expect to suffer less than the saints of the first century suffered? It is still true: if any man "live godly in Christ Jesus, [he] shall suffer persecution."
3. How our sufferings work for us. We all love to have some one work in our behalf, but God tells us that our "light affliction, * * worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Peter says that though we be tried with fire, it will all be found unto praise, honor, and glory at the Appearing of Jesus Christ. Sweet then is the result of adversity, and precious are the rewards of suffering.
I. SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES (1 Peter 1:11-12 )
We will here give a fuller consideration to these verses. It is a beautiful thought to see how the Prophets of old enquired diligently concerning the grace which they themselves prophesied should come upon us.
1. We see the Prophets searching the Scriptures they wrote. The ancient seers studied their own writings as well as the writings of other contemporaries. This, in itself, bears testimony that they often wrote that of which they knew not. There is not a writer today who would sit down and study the words of his own pen, trying to ferret out what he meant when he wrote this, or that. If he did such a thing we would consider him crazy; or else that he wrote under the dictation of another.
2. We see the Prophets searching that which the Holy Spirit did signify. Our 1 Peter 1:11 says that they searched "what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify." This is one of the strongest Scriptures in the Bible in behalf of Divine inspiration. Men wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. They put down the words which were given them to put down. Some persons would assert that God only placed thoughts in the minds of the Prophets, and then left them to express their thoughts, in their own language. This could not be, inasmuch as these Prophets did not understand what they were writing. We know they did not understand for the simple reason that they studied their own writings to discover what the Holy Ghost meant when He gave them the message which they wrote.
3. We see the Prophets searching the Scriptures concerning two lines of revelation. Our verse tells us that they searched concerning the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which would follow. The two things seemed incompatible. How could Christ both be rejected and reign? How could He die, and yet be exalted to the throne of David? There is one thing the Prophets did not see. They did not see the Church age, that great space of time which lies between the sufferings and the glory of Christ.
II. THE PROPHETS REALIZED THAT THEY WROTE FOR US (1 Peter 1:12 )
Our Scripture presents a marvelous statement of the relationship of the words of the Prophets to the people of this present age. Let us quote the verse in full: "Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."
There are three things definitely stated here,
1. What the Prophets wrote did not minister unto themselves. We do not mean that there was not much illumination to them, but that the great message of their prophecy was a revelation of things to come, things that should happen in the latter days, things which were to be fulfilled in the days of Christ's first and Second Coming.
2. What the Prophets wrote did minister unto us. This is God's definite statement. How deeply concerned, therefore, should we be in the messages of the Prophets, because thy were constantly writing the things which concerned us. They were writing these things for our admonition, upon whom the end of the ages has come.
3. What the Prophets wrote back there is now being preached by us. The latter clause of our verse says "which [things] are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you." In other words Peter, in the Holy Ghost, said that he and his colleagues were preaching the things unto them which the Prophets wrote in the times past.
This is the mission of every preacher unto this hour. It is for us to give forth the story which God gave to the Prophets of old.
III. HOW THE PREACHERS IN THE EARLY CHURCH PREACHED (1 Peter 1:12 , l.c.)
Our text says "them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."
1. The Spirit gave the message to the Prophets. This we have already stated. However, we need to emphasize that the Word of God is the message of the Spirit of God.
2. The Spirit now clothes the preacher with power. This is a statement which should weigh deeply upon us. The same Holy Ghost who gave the message to the Prophets, now gives His ministers the power to preach that message. This was the promise in the Book of Acts: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem," etc. With what strength of conviction should the Gospel heralders stand forth when they realize that the Gospel they preach is not their own, and the power with which they preach the Gospel is not their own. The Holy Ghost gave the message, and the Holy Ghost gives the power to deliver the message.
3. The angels are distinctively interested in the message of the pulpit. This, of course, is a true statement only when the message of the pulpit is the Gospel which the Spirit gave, and which the Spirit empowers. Our text says, "which things the angels desire to look into." We have a conviction that at this moment there are innumerable angels who would be glad to step, if it were possible, into any orthodox pulpit and preach the Word of God. The time is coming when angelic beings (during the tribulation) will proclaim with loud voices the Gospel of God. Angels have always been interested in everything that concerns the Gospel.
Gabriel announced to Mary the birth of Christ. An angel told the shepherds the glad tidings that Christ was born. A multitude of angels gave forth a marvelous magnificat as they praised God.
Is it not wonderful when we consider how God's angels are really a part of the audience which is interested in the very thing we preach?
IV. A CALL AND A CONCLUSION (1 Peter 1:13 )
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
1. The call to gird up the loins of your mind. The priest in service always tied, with his girdle, his flowing robes. Now, we are asked by the Holy Ghost to tie up the loins of our minds. We are to think. Our brains are to ponder the things which we have just read.
These things are so sublime, so wonderful, and so marvelous that the Spirit of God asks us to gird up the loins of our minds as we meditate upon them.
2. A call to be sober. Soberness is that attitude of thought which deeply weighs and duly considers the. truth of God. There are too many of us who dwell lightly upon Divine things. We skip along and skim over the outer edge of the Truth. We are too frivolous to dig deeply into the things of God.
3. We have a call to hope to the end. There are too many believers who fail because their spiritual conception is weak and effervescent. God is calling us to dwell deeply and profoundly in His truth. He has told us how the Prophets searched diligently. He has told us how the angels desired to look into the wonderful Gospel of God, and now He calls upon us to join with them in this quest, and not to be moved away from the hope of the Gospel.
We are to hope to the end in anticipation of the grace that is to be brought unto us at the Appearance of Christ. Oh, what wonderful things await the child of God! Let us, therefore, live looking for that Blessed Hope of the Lord's soon Returning.
V. A CALL WITH A CONSIDERATION (1 Peter 1:14-16 )
1. A negative viewpoint. Here is the call negatively stated: "Not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance,"
2. Here is the call positively stated: "As obedient children, * * be ye holy in all manner of conversation."
These two things bring a climactic conclusion to the statements concerning the wonderful Gospel which the Holy Ghost through the Prophets wrote unto us. In view of these truths of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit is telling us how we should live. He first states the negative, and then the positive.
1. Let us consider the negative viewpoint. Can a Christian whose mind the Holy Ghost has illuminated concerning the glories of the Gospel walk in the lusts of their flesh? The Gospel covers the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that shall follow. The Christian who grasps these things, cannot fashion himself according to those former lusts, which controlled his life in the days of his ignorance.
Those who know not God, and know not the Gospel, may be worldly, self-centered, pleasure-bent; but how can we who have been enlightened by the Holy Ghost, walk in our former lustings and desires?
2. Let us consider the positive call. God wants us to be "obedient children." He wants us to be holy, not only in our inner life, but in our expressions, our manner of conversation. The Apostle Paul put it this way using both the negative and the positive forms: "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." That is what we have here. Be not conformed, that is, do not fashion yourselves according to the former manner of living: but be ye transformed, that is, be ye fashioned according to the new life in Christ Jesus. "Be ye holy," saith the Lord, "for I am holy."
VI. A CALL TO WALK CAUTIOUSLY (1 Peter 1:17 )
"And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear."
1. The Holy Spirit throws before us the coming bema judgment. He would have us weigh our words, our walk, and our work in the light of that hour when the Father, without respect to any man's person, will judge every one according to his work. There is much written in the Word of God, both in the Old and New Testaments, about this hour when we must stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in our bodies, whether they are good or bad.
The Holy Spirit told us in 1 Peter 1:11 how the Prophets sought the Scriptures which the Spirit in them wrote, relative to the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow. The Holy Spirit now desires to remind us that in the hour of the glory that shall follow, we will be judged according to our work. In other words, in that hour of the glory of Christ, will come the hour of our own rejoicing as we receive the rewards of our deeds.
2. The Holy Spirit throws before us the need of passing our present sojourning in fear. We just spoke of the glory which the rewards will bring, but, beloved, there is also the possibility of standing before the Lord in the hour of His glory and of standing there disapproved, rejected, and a castaway. This is the language of 1 Corinthians 9:1-27 . Paul sought to keep his body under. He sought to run, and to so fight that he might receive an incorruptible crown, and that he might not be a castaway.
We have here an added reason for Christians to be obedient children, and not to fashion themselves according to their former lusts. We have an added reason for the Divine admonition that Christians should gird up the loins of their minds, and be sober, and to hope to the end.
Shall we pass the time of our sojourning here with fear? If we are wise, we will. Christians should walk carefully because Satan goeth about seeking whom he may devour. The world is seeking to allure us away from our Heavenly calling. The flesh is prone to stumble and to fall.
Let us therefore fear, lest any of us should fall short of the rest which He has promised. Remember, young people, we are not discussing the losing of our salvation, but we are discussing the losing of our crowns. There is an old hymn which puts it this way:
"Must I go and empty-handed,
Thus my dear Redeemer meet,
Not one soul with which to greet Him,
Lay no trophies at His feet?"
Beloved in the Lord, we are partakers of the Heavenly calling, and we need to hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of our hope firmly to the end. We are to be made partakers of Christ, so far as His glory is concerned, only if we hold fast unto the end. We must, therefore, labor to enter into His rest. If any of us are prone, because of our own weakness, to give up the conflict for the crown, we remind you, one and all, that if you come boldly to the throne of grace, you will obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need. The Apostle Paul gladly counted "all things but dung" that he might win Christ. With every energy of his being he pressed toward the mark for the prize of the up-calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us, therefore, so run that we may obtain that prize.
TIMBER. SHEEP. WAX.
"We warp in the sunshine, a shower does us good. The dog is let loose that the sheep may run together. A piece of wax, when it is broken, put it together ever so often, it will not close; but put it into the candle and the ends will stick close together." Thus by three figures we see the danger of prosperity and the benefit of affliction.
The first metaphor is impressive. Timber warps if it be exposed to noontide heat, and men are all too apt to be influenced one way or another by success. Poor fools that we are, we cannot, while on earth, bear too much happiness. It is our tendency to warping which often necessitates our weeping. The Lord will sooner damp us with showers of sorrow than allow us to be spoiled.
The dog to fetch back the wandering sheep is a well-known illustration. Some need to feel the dog's teeth before they will mind him, and God has dogs which will bite if barking is not enough. Our good Shepherd will sooner worry us with the dog of affliction than leave us to the wolf of apostasy.
The broken stick of wax prettily shows how we need suffering if we are to be set right after the fractures of temptation. How well the broken heart of a sinner unites with the heart of the suffering Saviour! There must be melting, or there will not be union. Blessed be God for any experience By which He unites our heart to fear His Name.
The Book of Books
1 Peter 1:10-25
It is said on one occasion, when Sir Walter Scott was sick, he called his son requesting him to bring him the book. His son said, "Your library is filled with books. Which book do you want?" He is said to have replied, "My son, there is but one Book, bring me the Book."
From the above story we have taken our theme: The Book of books. The Bible contains everything needed in the way of spiritual instruction. It proclaims prophecies, which will illumine us in the hour of present darkness. It gives us courage and strength for the daily conflict.
One Scripture says, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word." So the Bible cleanses us. Another Scripture says, "The Word of God is quick, and powerful." So the Bible is our strength in service and soul-winning.
As we approach this Book of books, we must recognize it as Divinely inspired. We must seek to receive its message by the illuminating Spirit. We must apply its message to our own individual lives, preparing ourselves to obey its precepts. We must rightly divide its truth, proving ourselves workmen that need not to be ashamed.
The Book of books is the most practical of all books. It touches every phase of human life. It gives instruction in morals, in the conduct of governments, and of households. It presents laws of conduct, laws of diet. It opens up the way to Heaven, and tells us the things to come.
The Book of books is indestructible life. No book has ever been hated as this Book has been hated; maligned as this Book has been maligned; and yet, the Book lives on. No book ever stays fresh and virile like this Book. It is never obsolete; it always presents vital truth, for every age, every clime and for all periods of life. No people can ever say that the Bible has grown old or lost its testimony. Its message through Malachi or through Moses is just as vital to the people of today as it was to the ancients.
The Book of books is the only infallible book. It speaks the truth along every line. Historically it is true; theologically it is true. Its ethics are unimpeachable; its science is absolute.
Every time the spade of the archaeologist digs into the ruins of ancient cities, it seems to verify the historicity of the Scriptures. Every new discovery in science that is real and unchanging, verifies the Word of God.
What a wonderful Book is the Bible. It is unchangeable, inexhaustible and incomparable. Let us become its devotees.
"Oh, wonderful, wonderful Word of the Lord!
True wisdom its pages unfold;
And though we may read them a thousand times o'er,
They never, no, never grow old.
Each line hath a treasure, each promise a pearl,
That all if they will may secure;
And we know that when time and the world pass away,
God's Word shall for ever endure."
I. THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK OF BOOKS (1 Peter 1:11 )
Every time we get a letter, the first thing we do is to see what name is signed at the bottom. We want to know who is writing to us. Thus, as we open the Bible our first question naturally is, From whom has this message come? Our key verse says that the Spirit of Christ was in the Prophets and it was He in them who signified and testified.
There is another Scripture which says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God," and there is yet another which says, "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
In the Book of Hebrews we have abundant proof as to the authorship of the Scriptures. For instance, in Hebrews 3:7 there is the statement, "Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith," and then follows a quotation from Psalms 95:1-11 .
In Hebrews 4:4 we read, "For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise," and then follows a quotation from Genesis.
In Hebrews 4:7 we read, "Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David," and then follows once more a quotation from the Psalms.
In Hebrews 5:6 we read, "As He saith also in another place," and then a quotation is made concerning Melchisedec, which is written in Psalms 110:1-7 .
In Hebrews 9:8 are these wonderful words, "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest." This quotation looks back to the tabernacle as set forth in Exodus and Leviticus.
In Hebrews 10:15 this is written "Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He hath said before," and then follow quotations from Jeremiah 31:1-40 , and Ezekiel 11:1-25 .
In Hebrews 13:5 we read, "For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." This quotation is from Deuteronomy 13:7 .
All of these statements in Hebrews refer to the Holy Spirit as the author of the Scriptures quoted. No marvel then that in the last chapter of Hebrews and Hebrews 13:7 are these stirring words, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God."
As we open the Bible we are preparing to read a message from God, sent by the Holy Ghost.
"Thanks for Thy Word. O blessed Redeemer!
Open our eyes its beauty to see;
Grant us Thy grace to study it wisely,
Close every heart to all but Thee.
Thanks for the Bible, offering so freely
Pardon and peace to all who believe;
Help us, O Lord, its counsel to follow,
Meekly by faith its truth receive,"
II. THE NAMING OF THE BOOK OF BOOKS (1 Peter 1:23 ; 1 Peter 1:25 )
When we receive a book, the first thing that interests us is the title of the book. The title of a book goes a long way toward insuring the sale of the book. The Book of books is commonly known as the Bible. The word "Bible" is from "Biblos" which simply means book. Another name given to God's Word, is the Holy Scriptures. We, however, like the names given in the verses chosen for our theme. In 1 Peter 1:23 , the Bible is called "the Word of God." While in 1 Peter 1:25 , it is called the "Word of the Lord" and again it is called, the "Gospel."
There is no other book that we can open which we can call the Word of God. These words belong exclusively to the Bible. Other books may contain much truth but not all the truth. Other books may be approved of God, but they are not written of God.
It is because the Bible is the Word of God that it is for ever established in Heaven.
There are some who would defame the Bible, calling it no more than legendary; than a compilation of old wives' fables, fit only to be relegated to the scrap pile of ancient dogmas. Such talk is mere twaddle. No one who really knows the Bible fails to recognize in it the finger of God. It carries on every page the marks of its inspiration. It is called the Word of God simply because it is not the word of man, although God spake and wrote through men.
"Whence but from Heaven,
Could men unskilled in arts,
In several ages born in several parts,
Write such unerring truths? Or how or why,
Would all conspire to cheat us with a lie.
Unasked their aim, ungrateful their advice,
Starving their gain and martyrdom, their price?"
III. THE MESSAGE OF THE BOOK OF BOOKS (1 Peter 1:10-11 )
The Prophets of old searched the Scriptures relative to salvation. This salvation, which is mentioned in 1 Peter 1:10 , is enlarged upon in 1 Peter 1:11 , for the Prophets were seeking to know first, the sufferings of Christ, and secondly the glory that should follow.
We believe that we can take this expression as the twofold general message of the whole Bible. The Bible centers of course in Christ, but the two great messages are concerning Christ in His sufferings, and again, in His glory.
The sufferings of Christ include His being made flesh as He took upon Him the. form of man. They include His life of humiliation and His death of expiation.
All of this the Prophets saw but this is not all they saw.
The Prophets also saw and prophesied the glory of Christ. That glory was to follow His suffering. The glory of Christ included His empty tomb, His appearing unto the saints; His rapture and entrance into the third Heaven, taking His seat at the right hand of the Father; His Coming Again, and His reign on David's throne. This is the dominant theme of the Book of books. This is the message which the Spirit of Christ did signify and testify. This is the chief word which each of us should seek to discover as we study the Bible.
No matter where we are reading, whether in the books of history, of poetry, or of prophecy; whether in the Gospels, in the Epistles, or in Revelation, the central figure sought should always be Christ; and, the chief message concerning that Christ, should be His suffering and His glory, No matter of whom we are reading whether of Adam or of Enoch; whether of Abraham or of Jacob; whether of prophet or of seer, of priest or of king, we should always be looking in them for striking types of Christ, His sufferings and His glory.
"Father of mercies! in Thy Word
What endless glory shines!
For ever be Thy Name adored
For these celestial lines.
Here may the wretched sons of want
Exhaustless riches find;
Riches above what earth can grant,
And lasting as the mind.
Here the Redeemer's welcome voice
Spreads Heavenly peace around;
And. life and everlasting joys
Attend the blissful sound."
IV. THE ETERNITY OF THE BOOK OF BOOKS (1 Peter 1:23-24 )
These are words that cannot be said of any other book ever written. Other books may live for a day, or a year, or even a century or more; here is a Book that "liveth and abideth for ever."
Other books are destructible, this Book is indestructible. Other books fade away, they grow old, they become obsolete; this Book never fades, never is old, never is out of date. Other books, all other books are for time, this Book is for eternity.
A book, in the realm of science, which is the word of authority today, will more than likely be repudiated tomorrow. The Bible is authoritative and final in all ages. Men seek to bury it under the debris of their denials, every now and then, but soon it springs forth from the rubbish as a shoot from a buried seed, and grows with ever enlarging beauty and glory.
The Bible never dies. Heaven and earth may pass away; they may perish, as a vesture God may fold them up, but the Word of God liveth and abideth for ever; it remaineth, it is ever the same, the unchangeable, ever-enduring, never-failing Word.
How good it is in this world of vanishing things, where death and decay mark all around us, to find one thing that never dies, never decays!
How good it will be, when we leave all else, or when all else leaves us to find the Word still with us! When we behold the heaven and the earth flee away, and there is no more room for them; we will then clasp with new joy that Word of God to our hearts.
"Oh, wonderful, wonderful Word of the Lord!
The lamp that our Father above
So kindly has lighted to teach us the way
That leads to the arms of His love!
Its warnings, its counsels, are faithful and just;
Its judgments are perfect and pure;
And we know that when time and the world pass away,
God's Word shall for ever endure."
V. THE FUNCTIONINGS OF THE BOOK OF BOOKS (1 Peter 1:22-23 ; 1 Peter 2:2 )
When we first reach out our hand to take a new book and we open its pages to read, we should stop a moment to ask, "What will this book mean to my life?" Some books are pernicious, some are useless, some are read for mere pleasure, some for profit, some for instruction, some for their literary value, some for history, some for science.
What will the Bible do for us? What will it bring into our lives? Is it a book that will impart knowledge? Will it illumine the mind? Will it reveal the secrets of God? Will it tell things to come? Will it impart wisdom to those who read it? What will it do to the earnest soul that ponders its pages?
A volume might now be written. However, we wall hold ourselves to three things suggested by our key verses.
1. The Word of God imparts life. 1 Peter 1:23 says, "Being born again * * by the Word of God." Here is a remarkable thing. It is only life that can beget life. Therefore if the Bible begets life, it must itself be living. That is just what God says it is "For the Word of God is quick (living), and powerful."
James writes of receiving "with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your soul."
No marvel then that the man of God is told to preach the Word. No wonder that the words of the Lord are described as the snow and the rain that cometh down from heaven, and causeth the earth to bring forth and bud. No marvel that God says, "What is the chaff to the wheat saith the Lord? Is not My Word like as a fire? * * and like as a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?"
God has said, "My Word * * shall not return unto Me void." Let us then "sow" the Word, for that Word placed into good ground will spring forth unto eternal life bearing much fruit.
2. The Word purifies the soul. In line with our key text are these statements: "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word." "Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you."
3. The Word causes growth. Not only are we born again by the Word, but we are to desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby.
The Word is our daily food.
"Cling to the Bible, though all else be taken;
Lose not its precepts so precious and pure;
Souls that are sleeping its tidings awaken:
Life from the dead in its promises sure.
Cling to the Bible! cling to the Bible!
Cling to the Bible Our Lamp and our Guide!
Cling to the Bible this jewel and treasure
Brings life eternal, and saves fallen man;
Surely its value no mortal can measure:
Seek for its blessing, O soul, while you can!
Lamp for the feet that in byways have wandered.
Guide for the youth that would otherwise fall;
Hope for the sinner whose life has been squandered,
Staff for the aged, and best Book of all."
VI. OUR DUTIES TO THE BOOK OF BOOKS (1 Peter 1:10 )
There are four things that express our attitude toward the Bible in these Scriptures:
1. We should search the Word, That is the expression of our verse. The Prophets of old not only searched, but they searched diligently. It must have been interesting to see the Prophets sitting quietly, and pondering their own writings, which they had recorded under the Holy Spirit's power. They not only searched their own writings, but they searched the writings of the other Prophets. Let us do the same. We have a whole Bible filled with revelations of God and of His will toward us in Christ Jesus, let us pore over its pages.
2. We should desire and taste the Word. This is suggested for us in 1 Peter 2:2 ,1 Peter 2:3 . Hunger is the forerunner to tasting. Unless we "desire," we will hardly "taste." One wrote of old, "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." May God create in us a hunger and thirst for the Book of books!
3. We should obey the Word. This is found in 1 Peter 1:22 , where it reads: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth."
In Joshua 1:8 we read; "This Book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein * * that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein."
James speaks of being "doers of the. Word, and not hearers only."
4. We should proclaim the Word. In 1 Peter 1:12 , we read, "That have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven."
He that hath God's Word should preach it faithfully. Timothy was admonished, "Preach the Word."
"Where'er it goes its golden light,
Streaming as from an unveiled sun,
Shall dissipate the clouds of night,
Undo the work that sin has done.
It shows to men the Father's face,
All-radiant with forgiving love;
And to the lost of Adam's race
Proclaims sweet mercy from above.
It offers rest to weary hearts;
It comforts those who sit in tears;
To all who faint, it strength imparts,
And gilds with hope th' eternal years."
VII. A FINAL ADMONITION (1 Peter 1:13 and 1 Peter 2:1 )
We close with God's two great "wherefores," which are our final admonition concerning all that has been said of the Book of books.
1. "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind." Christians are in danger of being wearied with the continued trials and testings that come to them by the way. As the end of the age hastens on, we need to grip the dear Book of books the tighter, and encouraged by its messages of life and love and light, we need to gird up our loins and press on our way.
In the Book of Hebrews we have a similar admonition. After we are told to run the race that is set before us with patience, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; and after we have been urged to endure hardness, and necessary chastisement, then the Spirit adds: "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees."
God help us never to cease the fight until victory is won!
2. "Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings." Unless the Book of books leads us to obey this admonition of the Lord, and unless we do lay aside those weights which beset our way, and desire the sincere milk of the Word, that we may grow thereby, we have missed God's best in our lives.
Great God, with wonder and with praise
On all Thy works I look!
But still Thy wisdom, power and grace,
Shine brightest in Thy Book.
The stars that in their courses roll
Have much instruction given;
But Thy good Word informs my soul
How I may rise to Heaven.
Here are my choicest treasures hid,
Here my best comfort lies;
Here my desires are satisfied,
And hence my hopes arise.
Then may I love my Bible more,
And take a fresh delight
By day to read these wonders o'er,
And meditate by night.
"I'M GOING BY THE BOOK"
Two men, the one a foreman, the other one of the carpenters under him, were standing on the deck of a steamship then on the stocks, in one of the shipbuilding yards on the Clyde.
"Well, S ," said the foreman, "I have been anxious to have a conversation with you. I'm told you are one of those people who say they know for certain that they are saved. Is that true?"
"Yes," said S , "quite true; thank God, I know I'm saved; in fact, there is nothing I'm more sure of, than that I'm saved."
"Well, now," said the foreman, "that is something I cannot see through, how any man can say that he is saved as long as he is in this world. I think it is rather presumptuous for any one to say so.
"I used to attend Mr. 's place of worship, a good many years ago, and several of the leading men in it pressed on me to become a member, but I could not, for I knew I was not a Christian, and told them so. In fact, I was disgusted with them. I knew so many who went to that place, and pretended to remember the death of Christ, who were just as bad as I was. I left them, and have never gone to any place since, for I concluded the whole thing was a sham, and that there was no reality in Christianity at all"
"Well," said S , "I'm not at all surprised at you, but there is a reality in being saved, in being a child of God, and in knowing it. What is the breadth of this waterway?" The foreman, astonished at the apparently sudden change in the conversation, said, "Why, 14 inches all round, to be sure; what makes you ask that, when you know?"
"But are you quite sure that it is to be 14 inches?" said S .
"But what makes you so sure?" asked S .
"Why, I'm going by the book," and as he said so, he pulled a book out of his pocket, in which were marked the sizes and position of the various things on the deck. "I'm sure it Isaiah 14:0 inches, for it is here in the book, and I got the book from headquarters."
"Oh! I see," said S ; "now look here; that is exactly how I know I'm saved. I'm just going by the Book. It came from headquarters it is God's Word. I found in here that I was a lost, condemned sinner, worthy of nothing but the lake of fire; but I also found that 'God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life' (John 3:16 ). I took God at His Word, and I'm saved; and you, too, may be saved if you will, simply as you are, a lost, condemned sinner, believe in Jesus; that is, trust Him as your Saviour, and you are saved; and then you can say without presumption, I know I'm saved, for I'm going by the Book."
Reader, can you say, on the authority of God's Word, "I know I'm saved?" Profession without the new birth will never take you to Heaven. Before it is too late, hear the voice of Jesus calling, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28 ). "He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life" (John 5:24 ).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 1 Peter 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30