1. Remember that Peter is writing this letter AS A PASTOR to those who were suffering greatly for their faith.
• Scattered. Suffering. Confused. Perplexed.
• They are going through some seriously tough times.
• Nero is taking some & using them for his own sick entertainment.
• Society at this point has completely turned against believers.
• It wasn’t just an ordinary type of persecution,
• But there were many who were trying to stop the gospel from spreading by wiping out those who were spreading it.
• And it’s to them that Peter writes…
I. (1:6-7) GENUINE FAITH
REMEMBER Jesus wrote a short note to a suffering church.
• Let’s look at Rev. 2:8ff, the church in Smyrna.
• You’re suffering for the right reasons church, so you can rejoice.
• Peter says the same thing here… (v6)
NOTE: Persecution never hurt the church.
• It seemed like every time church faced serious pressures, they always grew from it.
• Instead of hurting the church, they just grew all the more.
Have you noticed that GENUINE FAITH is rarely revealed in times of peace & comfort.
• There’s that tendency of our flesh to seek comfort & ease.
• To avoid anything painful, disturbing, or even new.
• AND when we find comfort, to just settle down in it & enjoy!
• It’s in times like these where can so easily settle down into a rut, into a religious routine.
• The people of Moab fell into this trap… Jeremiah 48.11-12
FOR THE Church… God knew what was best for them and allowed this persecution to come… Why?
• So that their GENUINE FAITH would be revealed!
• But isn’t there an easier way, we ask? Sometimes, NO.
MANY TIMES I believe God wants to move us from areas where we’ve become far too comfortable & too at ease.
• So He’ll allow disruptions or He’ll personally disrupt our lives…
• Then we cry out, “Why did you do this?!” Things were so good!
• But God knows what we need and the times of adversity cause our roots to go down all the deeper in Him!
• Flip over to Psalm 1 – a beautiful picture of trusting in Him!
NOW WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS that keep us strong?
• There are at least 3 of them here that I want to show you.
#1 – HOPE - A LITTLE WHILE.
• Now compared to eternity, is just a little while!
• All that you’re facing. All that’s in your life, is only here for a little while!
• Yes you’re suffering now, but like Paul told the Romans, it’s small compared to the glory that will be revealed.
• Let’s see that in Romans 8:18
#2 – PURITY – Faith is PRECIOUS.
• What’s in our lives today is a test.
• Pains have a purpose and God’s hand is on your life.
• You know, even if it’s coming from Satan himself, there is a limitation going on from the throne room of God!
Literally… next to the word translated ‘genuineness’ you could write… “APPROVED, TESTED, PUT TO THE TEST”
NOTE: In biblical times the goldsmiths would heat their gold to extremely hot temperatures & then skim off the impurities.
• He would do this over & over again.
• It was only when he could see his reflection clearly in the gold that he knew he was done, the gold was pure.
APP: You might be in the middle of a serious trial even now.
• There’s confusion. Frustration. Pains. Sorrows. Loneliness.
• When will it be over you wonder? When?
• When Jesus sees Himself clearly in you!
NOTE: I’m sure as you track back through your Christian life you’ve seen wonderful and glorious changes take place.
• You’ve become more like Jesus in so many areas!!!
• One the main ways that has happened was through trials that developed in you a trust which flowed from your surrender.
Gal. 2.20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
HOPE: #1 A little While… #2 Genuine Faith…
#3 – HOPE – TO SEE JESUS!
• One day soon, we will see our Savior and He will say to us:
Matthew 25.23 "His lord said to him, ’Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
• All the pain, all the heartache, and all the sufferings will fade away into forgetfulness… as we see our Savior face to face.
• One Day Jesus will return and it will all be worth it!
• No matter what storm we have gone through, God has enabled us to endure and persevere…
• In this we can GREATLY REJOICE.
John 16.22 "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.
Phil. 4.4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
One more thing… as a side note, I found a few more times in the NT where both Paul & John greatly rejoice…
BROTHERLY CARE: Phil. 4.10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.
WALKING IN TRUTH: 2 John 1.4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.
LIVING IN TRUTH: 3 John 1.3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth.
SO IN THE Church, in our personal lives we find that God allows heavy situations & trials to come.
• Persecution, Trials, Pains, Problems… they do a work of separation and purification.
• As soon as you start turning up the fires of persecution, the impurities are burned away leaving us with purity & strength!
II. (1:8-9) GROWING LOVE
• (8) WHOM You haven’t seen.
a. Is it possible to love someone you haven’t seen? Oh Yes!
b. And that’s the encouragement Peter gives us.
NOW PETER had the awesome privilege of hanging out with Jesus physically and personally for 3+ years.
• He had eaten with the Lord, lived with, walked with, worked with, developed a friendship & a love for Jesus.
• Peter was drawn to the Lord and got to hang out with Him.
• Some struggle with this…
NOTE: How can I ever have that kind of relationship because I can’t see Him & live with Him & walk with Him & eat with Him.
• How can I believe like that w/o ever seeing Jesus with my eyes!
WELL, Jesus anticipated this and before He left this earth, He let His disciples know that they didn’t’ have to see Him in order to believe in Him or be blessed.
• Let’s flip over to John 20.24-29
• Jesus pronounced a blessing on you and me, those that would believe by receiving from the eyewitnesses.
• The blessing is on us who haven’t seen!
• This happens all the time in our every day lives!
We don’t see the electricity… but we know it’s there.
We don’t see radio waves… but we know they are there.
We don’t’ see the wind… but oh how we know it is there!
You Know: It’s not that weird to love someone that you haven’t seen before!
• I think of all the relationships that have developed over the years by pen pals… well now it’s e-mail you know.
• Just sharing your heart in writing, pouring it out to another.
• That’s what Jesus has done for us, pouring out His life not only on paper, but by shedding His own precious blood.
• Why? Because of love.
NOTE: if you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you love Him and your love is growing for Him everyday!
1 John 4.19 We love Him because He first loved us.
2. (9) Receiving the end of your faith.
a. This is where that JOY INEXPRESSIBLE comes in!
b. You can’t put into language, but you know it’s true!
c. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is TREMENDOUS!
d. You’re living out your life in grace.
e. He loves you and you love Him and He’s living in me.
f. Let’s flip over to Philippians 2.12-18
OK… so the circumstances might not change, and you’re finding it impossible to rejoice in the trials…
• But you can, I can rejoice in the Lord!
• One of the greatest evidences of our relationship with Jesus is seeing His joy lived out in & through us.
I don’t always understand the trials. I don’t always see the hand of God working behind the scenes. I don’t always get it!
• BUT I go through them, and I trust in the Lord, and I believe in whom I haven’t seen… and His joy becomes my joy.
• Guys, you’re not alone in your adversity.
• The Bible describes Jesus, our loving savior as…
Isa. 53.3 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.
III. (1:10-12) GROWING INTEREST
• (10-11) The Old Test Prophets wanted to know!
• Hey, when trials come you will face serious doubts!
• Is this true? Is it worth it? Is my faith genuine?
NOTE: For these Christians, all they had to do was bow the knee one time to Caesar. That’s it.
• All they had to do to spare their lives, to avoid this pain, was take a pinch of incense and offer it to the idol of Caesar!
• As they saw their friends tortured, as they heard the cries of other believers… all it took was one compromise!
• At a time like that you want to be sure you believed the right thing right!
AS I SEE THE DIRECTION of the gov’t in our country, more & more liberties will be taken from us as Christians.
• There will be more and more special interest groups coming directly against the church. We’ll see it more and more.
• I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m also not blind to the direction our country is going.
• So guys, we need to know what we believe & why we believe it!
Jesus Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, over 300 of them!
• Jesus is God and worthy of worship, worthy of my life!
• But the prophets didn’t see the whole picture.
• They didn’t really understand…
• One said the Messiah would die. Another said He would rule over an everlasting kingdom.
• Still another said Messiah would live forever.
• See they lived by faith looking predicting the Messiah while we live by faith looking back at prophecies fulfilled by the Messiah!
NOTE: We see the completed picture.
• We see the life, the death, the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
• We know that He’s returning again, at any moment!
• This is stuff any prophet would have traded places with you and me in an instant to see & experience God’s grace like we do!
Notice v11, the Spirit of Christ was in them…
• Their writings were inspired by God!
• They weren’t just jotting down notes off the top of their heads, but rather were carried along by God Himself!
2 Tim. 3.16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
In Peter’s 2nd letter he will write…
2 Peter 1.16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
SO since it’s the truth… what will you do with it?
• You need to make sure of heaven today, right here.
• Maybe the trouble that’s in your life is there to drive you to Christ?
• Maybe you’ve always relied on yourself, your resources, your strength, your know-how… but this one…
• Well this one has painted you into a corner. What will you do?
Rev. 3.20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Matthew 11.28-30 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."