1 PETER 1: 10-12 [Renewing Hope Series]
THE HOPE OF ETERNAL SALVATION
[Matthew 13: 16-17 / 2 Peter 1:20-21]
The story began one summer's day toward the end of the nineteenth century when an English city boy was on A VISIT TO RURAL SCOTLAND. That afternoon the boy went swimming in a small countryside lake. After swimming quite a distance from shore, a severe cramp seized him so that he could not continue swimming. He was in great pain and soon cried out at the top of his voice for help. A farm boy working in a nearby field heard the city boy's screams and ran as fast as he could to the lake. There the farm boy threw off his shirt, dived into the water, swam to the imperiled city boy, and brought him safely to the shore.
Several years later the two boys met again. The city boy, still filled with gratitude that the other boy had saved his life, was thrilled to see the farm boy again and asked him what career the boy had decided to pursue. The farm boy said he had chosen a career in medicine. Since the city boy's parents were quite wealthy and were greatly indebted to the other boy for saving their son's life, upon hearing of the farm boy's career choice they immediately promised to pay for his medical education. They followed through on their promise and the young man went on to have a brilliant career in scientific investigation.
In 1928 that farm boy, then both a physician and bacteriologist, discovered the famous wonder drug penicillin. In 1945 he shared the Nobel prize with two other scientists for the discovery and development of that antibiotic. That Scottish farm boy turned scientific researcher, who died in 1955, was Alexander Fleming.
The rescued city boy also gained great renown. During World War II he contracted a life-threatening case of pneumonia. He recovered at a hospital after receiving penicillin, which meant that indirectly the one-time farm boy Alexander Fleming had saved his life twice. The city boy's name was Winston Churchill, the famous wartime British prime minister and world statesman. Interestingly, just like Fleming, Churchill won a Nobel prize. But in his instance, he won the 1953 award in literature for his incisive writings on the history of the Second World War.
It's wonderful to save a life, and even more wonderful to save a someone's life twice, especially when the one saved was such an influential person as Winston Churchill. But the hard-working, selfless contributions of Alexander Fleming are nothing compared to the greatness of saving people's eternal souls. That great salvation is the heart of the apostle Peter's concern. He wanted his believing audience to focus on that full, final rescue from sin, Satan, death, and hell that God so graciously chose to give them through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Peter celebrates salvation's great hope by reminding his readers that no matter how difficult the circumstances or how severe the persecution, they can confidently hold to the Hope of Eternal Salvation. [MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary. 2004. Moody Press. P. 49-51]
Peter never allows us to lose sight of the priority of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It was this basic message that Peter proclaimed to the Sanhedrin when he and John were arrested for preaching the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter declared, "Nor is there salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
There is hardly another word as blessed, hopeful, comforting, or assuring as salvation. The message of the Bible is that even though man cannot save himself from the eternal consequences of his sin (Gen. 2:17; Jer. 2:22; 18:12; John 3:19; Rom. 6:23; Eph, 2:1-3; Col. 2:13;2 Tim. 2:25-26), God will rescue from condemnation all those who trust in Him and believe His Word (Mt. 11 :28-30; Luke 19: 1 0; John 1:12-13,29; 3:14-17; Acts 10:43; Eph. 1 :7; 1 Thess. 5:9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 7:25; James 1: 18). The apostle Paul wrote,"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). [Not only does God love sinners, but He alone is able to rescue them since "salvation belongs to the Lord" (Ps. 3:8).] Furthermore, God is willing to rescue sinners; He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4).
As discussed preciously, Peter noted the joy of the church in the glorious gift of salvation (1:6-9). No matter how adverse their circumstances, Christians should never stop rejoicing over the greatness of their salvation. "Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day" (Ps. 96:2; also Pss. 9:14; 21:1; 40:16; 71:23; 1 Chron. 16:23; Isa. 25:9; 35: 10;.1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Thess. 5: 16; Rev. 5:9). [MacArthur, p. 52]
[The living hope of the new birth springs not only from believers' future inheritance and present joy but also out of their faith in God's written Word (CIT).] Here Peter examines the Great Hope of Eternal Salvation from the viewpoint of four divine agents who were involved with the message of salvation: the Old Testament prophets who studied it, the Holy Spirit who inspired it, the New Testament apostles who preached it, and the angels who examined it.
I. SALVATION PROPHESIED BY THE PROPHETS, 10-11a.
Verse 10 continues to discuss the wonder of salvation and grace. "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, (11a) seeking to know what person or time"
The apostle first draws our attention to the salvation [referred to in verse 9] from the viewpoint of the prophets. They were God's Old Testament spokesmen who prophesied of the grace that would come. They then pursued the meaning of their own prophetic writings to know all they could about God's promised salvation. Of all the truth the prophets received through divine revelation (Hos. 12:10; Amos 3:7; Heb. 1:1; James 5:10), the truth of salvation was their greatest passion. From Moses to Malachi, all of the Old Testament prophets were fascinated by the promises of salvation. But despite their exalted status before God they didn't know the full range and detail of the divine plan.
Now the prophets did prophecy of the Messiah, but they never fully comprehended all that was involved in Christ's life, death, and resurrection. The Old Testament prophets could only see glimpses of God's great plan of salvation. The focus of the prophets' intense study in trying to comprehend the person and work of Christ was centered on the grace that would come to sinners through Him. The prophets sought to understand God's salvation that would come through grace to undeserving sinners. Salvation has always been available to repentant sinners, but only and always by God's amazing grace.
God's grace would come with the arrival of His Son, but long before the birth of Jesus, the prophets were inquiring about this salvation and were searching for it. They yearned to discover the appointed time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing. They longed for it to take place in their lifetimes.
Peter echoed the teachings of Christ in Matthew 13:16-17.
II. SALVATION INSPIRED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, 11.
The Holy Spirit had revealed to the prophets the coming of this salvation including its glories and sufferings as we read in verse 11. "seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow."
This verse clearly points out the work of the Holy Spirit in the inspiration of Scripture. The prophets were lead by the Spirit of Christ within them to write what they wrote. [Let me add that the Greek term Christ is the translation for the Hebrew term Messiah.] Sometimes though they didn't fully understand all that the Holy Spirit had authored through them or when it would come to pass. It was the Spirit who predicted the sufferings of Christ (Isa. 53) and the glories that would follow (Isa. 11).
The prophets pondered how the glorious Messiah could be involved in suffering. For example, Isaiah prophesied concerning the suffering of Jesus when he wrote, "He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed" (Is. 53:3--5).
In contrast, the psalmist writes about the glory that was to be revealed in Jesus Christ. "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave My soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show Me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Ps. 16:9--11).
They saw the triumph on the Mount of Olives, where the returning Messiah will stand; but they also saw the blood on Mount Calvary upon which Messiah died. How can it be, they must have wondered, that He will be despised, rejected, and smitten; suffering, yet also ruling and reigning? This doesn't make sense.
What they didn't see was the valley between the two--a valley of over two thousand years. They didn't understand that they were writing about two different comings--that Messiah would come as a suffering Savior before returning as a conquering King.
Some today might say, "I hear the promises, but I don't see the glory." That's because there's a valley between the fulfillment of the promises of God which we claim that might last a week, a month, a decade, or a lifetime. But God's plan is being unfolded nonetheless. Glory will come, for glory always follows suffering. Always. [Courson, Jon. Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 1546]
Corrie ten Boom recorded her heroic legacy in THE HIDING PLACE. She helped her father and her sister Betsie hide Jews from the Nazis in their home in Holland during World War II. Betsie died in the Ravensbruck concentration camp where she and Corrie were imprisoned before Corrie was released on a clerical error. Corrie ten Boom, who lived to be ninety-one and touched millions of lives around the world, said she wished Betsie could have lived to see the way God used their horrible suffering to reach so many people for Christ
Aside from their circumstances, the ten Boom sisters help to illustrate the relationship between the Old Testament prophets and believers on this side of the cross. Peter said that those who spoke prophetically of the Messiah's ministry longed to know the "glories that would follow" the sufferings of the Messiah.
We benefit today from what theologians call the progress of revelation-a blessing we can't afford to take lightly. Maybe you never, stopped to consider that you know things about Jesus Christ that a person like Jeremiah or Isaiah would have given anything to know. When you hear the message about Christ clearly and faithfully taught, you're hearing truth that the most righteous people in the Old Testament never heard.
We're privileged, to say the least. Where the prophets saw only glimpses of Messiah's coming, we enjoy the benefits of Christ's first coming as we eagerly await His return!
Let me also add that Peter's readers would be encouraged by this reminder that Christ's suffering was followed by glory. They too would experience glory after their suffering (1 Peter 5:10), as will we.
III. SALVATION PREACHED BY THE APOSTLES, 12.
Verse 12 states that the prophets knew they were writing for future generations, preparing the ground work for the gospel of salvation that the apostles preached. "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look."
The prophets were called not only to minister to their contemporaries, but they came to understand that they were sharing prophecies which would be a source of instruction and blessing to future generations. It was revealed to the prophets that they were serving those of us who were to be born in later generations. They testified long before Christ's birth and His sufferings concerning the glories that were to follow His death and Resurrection. Their prophetic writings concerning salvation indicated that salvation has come not from the mind of man, but from the Lord Himself. A plan formulate long before the create of the earth or the nation of Israel.
Peter taught that the prophets understood they were not writing for themselves but for those who would live later, those who would hear the gospel proclaimed by the Holy Spirit ("the Spirit of Christ," v. 11), and consequently follow Christ.
Gospel salvation is a heavenly message. This message is divinely authenticated by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is a message which is eternal and is intended for every man, women, boy and girl. It has been good news to every past generation which has received it, and it shall continue to be good news to every future generation which shall receive it until the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is difficult for our minds to conceive just how unusual it is for a message to have eternal qualities--for it to be Good News for every generation. Let me attempt to illustrate this fact by asking you to review THE FRONT PAGE of your morning newspaper. Your first challenge will be to find any good news.
However, the major challenge will be to recognize the temporariness of the relevancy and urgency of this morning's headlines. By tomorrow, new developments will replace those things which seem so urgent today. Within a week, most of the news will be out of date. And if you save that newspaper for several years, it will have historical value and your grandchildren will enjoy reading about the good old days, but it will have little contemporary news value.
But the message of salvation is always relevant and urgent. It is appropriate for every generation, every culture, every person. It is a heavenly message brought by the Holy Spirit and will never become outdated. [Cedar, Paul. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol. 34. James / 1 & 2 Peter / Jude. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1984, S. 119]
In fact, it is such a marvelous message that even the angels of heaven desire to look into it.
IV. SALVATION EXAMINED BY THE ANGELS, 12c.
God's saving act not only enthraled the prophets, it continually amazes heavenly angles. Let's look at the last part of verse 12. "things into which angels long to look."
Can you imagine that? The angels in heaven are in the presence of the glory and majesty of God. Yet they long to look into this message of salvation THAT WE GET to read, share, and proclaim! The verbal form translated as "look into" is a marvelous word in the Greek. It is parak¨²pt¨, and it means to "bend down to take a look."
This phrase "look into" is the same phrase used to describe what Peter did when he peered into the tomb on Easter Sunday (Luke 24:12). Just as the disciples wondered about the meaning of the empty tomb, angels stoop down and look at you and me in wonder.
"What does this mean?" they ask as they look what this amazing salvation is doing in our lives. What does this being born again into the family of God result in?
Isn't that wonderful? The angels of heaven want to take a peek at this wonderful salvation which has been declared by the prophets, revealed by the Holy Spirit, and is available for all who will receive it by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! Although we cannot fully comprehend this, it clearly indicates the supreme importance, the limitless value of our salvation, of our redemption which the angels wish was theirs also.
The reality of the Christian's living hope is held in awe and wonder by the angelic hosts of heaven. Prophets and angels alike wondered about "this salvation" in the grace that has come to us (v. 10).
How do we respond to such things? Certainly one response would be a new, deep appreciation for God's saving work. If the prophets strain to look forward into it and angels presently look into it as the most important event in all of God's creation, in all of life, should we to not intently look into it also?
The writer of Hebrews summarizes the situation well when he poses the question, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Heb. 2:3). For all who receive this great salvation, it brings blessing; it brings us a living hope, joy unspeakable and full of glory; and it promises life eternal [Cedar, S. 119]. And in the final event, when Christ appears to receive us unto Himself, the ultimate outcome of our salvation, will be not suffering, but we will experience glory (Heb. 1:14; 2:3) beyond our present comprehension. Not so for those who neglect so great a salvation.
Do you have a personal relationship with Christ? Have you surrendered your life to Him and are you following Him as your Lord and Savior?
Maybe your membership is else where. We invite you today to come and join with us as we look into God's great salvation that the angles long to be in your place so that they could look into it. You come as the Spirit of Christ leads.