Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hopeful Living

Scriptural Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-12
Devotional Reading: Lamentations 3:19-24

I have learned it is best not to respond to junk mail in my email account. Not only can it be a nesting ground for hackers, but scam offers are presented daily. Scam never delivers on what is offered because it is not built on truth. I believe in Peter’s message of hope which was rooted in the truth of Christ. It is a hope of salvation, not a scam. Believers shall inherit salvation through God’s actions in Jesus Christ. Our Lord did not present us with a scam.

Have you ever received an email from “Mrs. Rose Hills” at British Prime Minister in conjunction with the U.S.A. GOVERNMENT, WORLD BANK, AND UNITED NATION ORGANIZATION? In this email they claim to give you this irrevocable approval order with a Release Code in your favor for your contract entitlement/award winning payment with the UNITED NATION to your nominated bank account. She will send you the money, if you contact “Mr. Ray Carmon”. Naturally you have to send the personal identifying information and an advance fee as directed in the email. Is your hope built on receiving this entitlement/award that does not exist? It is a scam and many are the people who lose monies to scams such as this one. Should they be depressed and give up hope for a joyous life forever? In Lamentations 3:19-24, Jeremiah recalled his afflictions and misery. Yet he felt humbled because he knew God is always in charge. He knew he had been granted fresh mercies on a daily basis and rejoiced at Lam 23b-24 “…great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” (KJV)

The apostle Peter encouraged scattered Gentile Christian communities that were experiencing persecution for their faith. This lesson is a study which focuses on the hope that Jesus inspires for those who are suffering. It is the first lesson of a four-part study under A Call to Holy Living.

In greeting the Gentile Christians, Peter offered praise to the source of our hope in 1 Pe 1:3 “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,” (KJV) God is glorified as the Author of our plan of redemption, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, emphasizing the humanity of our Savior. Peter further praises the Lord Jesus Christ, our Chief Shepherd and Anointed One who has the exclusive right to rule the lives of those who He has saved. The apostle explains that it is through God’s abundant mercy as the Author of the plan of redemption that they have a living hope as carried out by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In describing God’s plan, he later stated at 1 Pe 2:4-5, 9-10 “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (KJV) All believers now have the expectation to be taken to heaven to be with Christ as their living hope. Their hope is made alive through the “new birth”. (See John 3:3-5; 1 Pe 1:23) Believers are transformed when they experience God’s love and recognize His merciful action in Jesus Christ.

The apostle declared at 1 Pe 1:4-5 “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (KJV) Saints are co-heirs of Christ, the adopted children of God, and have been guaranteed a future inheritance in heaven. (See Rom 8:17; Heb 9:15 KJV) It is incorruptible, having no decay or dissolution. 1 Corinthians 15:52b states, “…the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (KJV) The inheritance is undefiled in that it can’t be obtained dishonestly or by fraud. There is no impurity involved. The inheritance shall not fade away. It is a gift from God through Christ Jesus that is reserved in heaven for the saints in perpetuity. The reservation is solely for the believers. While they are yet on earth, believers are kept by the power of God who will watch over and deliver them from seen and unseen dangers. They are kept because of their faith and desire for salvation as sinners saved by grace and the blood of Jesus. The inheritance of salvation has been prepared for a revelation date yet to come in the future for the saints. 1 John 3:2 declares, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (KJV)

In verses 6-7 of today’s reading, we find the apostle Peter encouraging the Gentile communities for suffering on behalf of the Christian faith that can help us in our Christian walk. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness, through manifold temptations: 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:” (KJV) He tells them to rejoice greatly through all trials and temptations. Such trials and temptations are only for a temporary season as compared to the eternal inheritance of salvation. The saints should understand that some trials are not temptations to sin, but trials of their faith. The trial of faith is more precious than gold. Many people love to buy and sell the gold commodity. The gold price performance constantly changes. When gold is tried with intense fire, it changes texture, and perishes through use, pressure, and fire. It is destructible and will not endure the fire. It, therefore, has no value. True faith is indestructible. It stands up in trials of fire and has much more value than the gold. True faith of the saints is genuine and will result in the praise, honor, and glory of Christ. God takes various methods to try the faith of his people. It is written at James 1:2-3, 12, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience…Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (KJV) Believers will persist in faith and hope until the day of the appearing of Christ when they obtain their salvation in Him.

Peter commends the scattered Gentile Christians for their trust, despite the fact they had never seen the Lord at 1 Pe 1:8, “Whom having not seen, ye love, in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” (KJV) The apostles along with many others had met Jesus during his life as a man on earth. These Christians did not fall within that number of persons. Yet without having ever seen him, they loved Him dearly. They had heard of His character, His preaching, His sacrifice for sins on the cross, His Resurrection, and His ascension. Most of all, they believed He did it all for their benefit. How could they not help but to love Him with an unspeakable joy to the highest? He had given them a light to enjoy a life full of glory as they walk toward the pathway to glory.

The apostle then deals with the present outcome of faith in the “salvation of (the) soul” in writing 1 Pet 1:9 “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (KJV) From the moment of confession of faith the believer receives the salvation of his/her soul. This verse includes the believer’s spirit, which allows Christians to connect with God. Also, from the very beginning of the saint’s’ confession of belief in Christ, he/she automatically receives an inheritance of salvation as a result of their faith. This is salvation of the body which is still future when Jesus returns at the second coming. The soul is separated from the body at time of death. By receiving the salvation of his/her soul through his faith and making it his end, he/she shall achieve the inheritance of salvation.

Old Testament prophets studied the salvation and the suffering Servant as identified in 1 Pe 1:10-11 “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 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.” (KJV) Old Testament prophets received Word from God and searched the Scriptures diligently for an understanding of their prophecies of salvation, the sufferings Christ would receive on behalf of the sinners and the glory and grace on behalf of those who believed in Him. They were able to prophesy the “what” to give the Jewish people hope of a Savior over their bondage. However, the Old Testament prophets could not predict the “when” of these glorious events because God had not revealed this part of His plan of redemption to them. This meant the Jewish people were looking for the Messiah. Unfortunately, many within the Jewish nation were looking for a royal ruler and were not accepting of a Suffering Christ. Such was part of God’s plan. As is prophesied by Isaiah at Is 53:3a-5a, 8b-10 “He is despised and rejected of men,…Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:…But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:…for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he hath done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” (KJV)

The apostle advised the Gentile believers of their benefits as having received the mystery of Christ as he states in 1 Pe 1:12 “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 send down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” (KJV) The Old Testament prophets deeply desired to be part of the great truths in which they had searched the Scriptures and prophesied the Word of God. They wanted a deeper understanding surrounding the Gospel of Christ, His sufferings and all the glories to come. The Old Testament Prophets knew of the Holy Ghost as a Spirit of the Lord, but they did not realize He would be sent to remain with the believers. The Old Testament prophets would probably never have imagined their God as being shared with anyone outside of the Jewish nation. However, this was part of God’s plan of redemption. It had been a mystery that was not revealed until Christ appeared. (See Matt 28:18-19; Rom 1:16) The benefits of the plan of redemption were so great that even the angels had a great desire and adoration for the plan. Neither the Old Testament prophets nor the angels would ever be able to benefit from God’s plan of redemption. Peter urged the Christian believers to continue to hope to obtain their benefits despite any persecution.


Written by Deborah C Davis

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