Summary: Don’t give into life’s troubles. You may not see in them the rich potential of a strong faith, but it’s there. To have it developed is much more precious than gold! Faith-Testing Times Can Be Faith-Strengthening Times.
Opening illustration: In the 1980s, Northern Nevada was the site of a gold strike. The discovery would have been beyond the imagination of 19th century prospectors, for the gold in those western hills is virtually invisible. Even after being magnified 1,500 times, most of the particles remain imperceptible.
Modern technology, however, has found a way to extract the gold. First, tons of ore are crushed to the consistency of sand. Then cyanide is added to dissolve the granules into a clear solution. When zinc dust is blended in, the gold separates from the mixture. The gold was there all the time, but it couldn’t be seen.
There is a similarity here to Peter’s explanation of suffering in his New Testament letter. He saw great potential in the mountains of adversity and affliction that faced the Lord’s people. So he encouraged them to look beyond the heat and pressure produced by their suffering to the precious faith of the Lord was developing from it (1 Peter 1: 6 – 7). He showed them that the ‘faith processing’ experience was of great value to their spiritual lives. Therefore, they could actually rejoice in it (v. 8).
Introduction: The theme for 1 Peter is Suffering and Glory. It was written from Babylon (5: 13) a symbolic name for “Rome” much used by writers who wished to avoid trouble with the Roman authorities. It was addressed to the Hebrew Christians living under the persecution of Nero in Rome. Their situation was of suffering and trial. The sufferings referred to are those which often come to Christians as they live faithfully in a pagan and hostile society with wider application to all the believers in Christ. Peter pleads for steadfastness in time of suffering, in the light of the believer’s hope in the resurrected Redeemer. The readers are encouraged to rejoice and live above such reproach. The Epistle is full of exhortations to godly living and is replete with quotations from the allusions to the OT. It is the fulfillment of the commission given to Peter by Christ in Luke 22: 31 – 32.
Effects of Trials and Suffering:-
1. Benefit of Christ’s Death (vs. 1 – 2):
(v.1) The word ‘Pilgrims’ or ‘Aliens’ is applied to those who settled in a town or region without making it their permanent place of residence. The readers, whose true citizenship was in heaven, are viewed as temporary residents of the provinces of Asia Minor as stated in the verse. It would be quite wrong to think that this makes the Christian a bad citizen of the land in which he lives. It is because he sees all things in the light of eternity that he is the best of all citizens, for it is only in the light of eternity that the true value of all things can be seen. Being the chosen people of God we are exiles of eternity.
(v. 2) The idea expressed in this verse is that God in His wisdom has chosen us to salvation through the work of the Holy Spirit, applying in us the worth of the death of Christ so that we might be obedient to Him. All members of the Trinity work to bring about our salvation. The Father chose us before we chose Him (Ephesians 1: 4). Jesus the son died for us while were yet sinners (Romans 5: 6 – 10). The Holy Spirit brings us the benefits of salvation and sets us apart (sanctifies us) for God’s service (2 Thessalonians 2: 13).