“Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.”
In the last post, I wrote about trials and how God uses those to refine us. We rejoice in them so that the proven character of our faith may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. One thing I did not mention, but have been thinking about, is that our trials are meant to bring God glory. So often, we make them about us. Everything is so “me” focused. Our suffering is self-centered. Our worship is self-centered. Our experience at church is self-centered. But that is not what it is about. We need to take our eyes off ourselves and put them back on our Creator! We live in a “me-centered” world. As Christians, we are called to be different! We are to point to God.
Peter goes on to write that although these early Christians had not seen Christ, they loved him. Peter had seen Jesus and walked with him, both before and after his resurrection. But even though these early Christians had not seen him, he was very real to them. Adam Clarke, the 18th century British theologian writes in his commentary, “In short, there is an equality between the believers in the present time, and those who lived in the time of the incarnation; for Christ, to a believing soul, is the same today that he was yesterday and will be forever.”
Peter then writes, “…though not seeing him now, you believe in him…” The word ‘now’ refers to this present age. They had not seen him, but they loved him. They don’t see him now, but they believe in him. The word ‘believed’ translates to “trust” or “rest one’s confidence in” or “depend upon.” My favorite is “rest one’s confidence in.” It makes me think of the verse where Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He will give us rest. And we can rest our confidence in him!
Because they believe in him, they rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy. This word inexpressible is translated as unutterable in other Bible versions. It is only used this one time in the New Testament. It denotes a joy that is so deep that words cannot express it. Wayne Grudem writes that this reminds us of the value of singing and other kinds of music in worship. I was reminded of what Paul writes in both Ephesians and Colossians. “…speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord…” (Ephesians 5:19). “Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16). Grudem describes this glorious joy this way. “It is a joy that results from being in the presence of God himself, and joy that even now partakes of the character of heaven…”
The goal of our faith is the salvation of our souls. Notice that Paul uses the verb ‘receiving.’ He does not say ‘you will receive’ implying that this will happen in the future. It is something that is happening in the present. It is the process of growth. Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.” It is the process of Christian growth until we are called home or until Jesus returns.
Peter then writes that the prophets searched and investigated about this salvation. One of the ways we know that the Bible is true is by the prophecies in the Old Testament that came true with Jesus. I looked at gotquestions.org to see how many prophecies Jesus fulfilled. This is what I read. “One scholar, J. Barton Payne, has found as many as 574 verses in the Old Testament that somehow point to or describe or reference the coming Messiah. Alfred Edersheim found 456 Old Testament verses referring to the Messiah or His times. Conservatively, Jesus fulfilled at least 300 prophecies in His earthly ministries.” That is amazing!
Peter writes that they the prophets had the Spirit of Christ in them. We know that before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was not permanent. It was selective and temporary. He came upon certain men such as the prophets, judges, and David. The Spirit revealed to the prophets that they were not serving themselves but to future generations. Peter also says that those who preach the gospel to them now, do so by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. This time he is referring to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Now we all have access to the Holy Spirit.
The last part of today’s verse is “…angels long to catch glimpse of these things.” I covered this when we did Ephesians. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:8-10, “This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens.” God did not reveal his plan for creation to the angels. They are watching us, longing to catch a glimpse of God’s plan for us.
How are we handling our trials? Are we making the mistake of thinking that God only wants health and wealth for us as some of the popular pastors on television are preaching? Or are we looking at our trials as the way God refines us and then using them to point others to him? “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). I was thinking last night about what a magnificent chapter all of Romans 8 is. I am going to conclude with the end of the chapter.
“Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
Because of you
we are being put to death all day long;
we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
Grace be with you!