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The Power of God
1 Peter 1:4-5
1 Peter Lesson #025
September 3, 2015
“Our Father, we recognize that our confidence is not in the things of this world. It is not in politics. It is not in people. It is not in human leaders. It is always in You. Ultimately You are the God who watches over us, protects us, and secures us. You are the God guiding and directing human history. But we recognize that even within human history, you utilize evil and wicked nations and horrible circumstances in order to bring discipline and judgment upon those who have failed the test of prosperity, those who have rejected You, those who have given themselves over to perversion and corruption.
You have used evil nations from the Old Testament times, such as the Philistines, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians, to bring judgment against Israel for their failure to obey You. All throughout history we have seen how You have raised up evil and wicked powers and nations in order to bring judgment against those who have disobeyed You.
Father, we know that if we live in such a time, You still protect us, just as You did with the generation that faced the Assyrians, just as You did with the generation of Jeremiah that faced the Babylonians. You protected them. You provided for them. You gave them wisdom. You gave them the spiritual skills necessary to survive. Those who focused on You, even though their circumstances might have been pretty miserable, nevertheless, they had hope in You because they knew You were in control.
The same thing is true for our lives. When bad things happen, when we face crises and difficulties and suffering and adversities and hardship, we know that You are in control. And we are to learn to trust You. For it is in the midst of those fiery trials that we experience Your grace, Your goodness, Your strength, and Your power. That is our hope and that is our confidence that gives us the ability to live through whatever may happen today because we are living in light of eternity
Now Father as we study tonight in 1 Peter, we pray You would help us to understand these things since this is the very focus of this epistle. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.”
We’re going to get into some interesting stuff tonight. It may challenge our brain cells just a little bit as we think our way through these verses. I have been setting this up over the past several weeks as we’ve painstakingly worked our way through the doctrine of inheritance and through the exegesis of the first part of this sentence (1 Peter 1:3). Tonight we get to understand the last part of this sentence beginning in 1 Peter 1:4 and how it works out into 1 Peter 1:5.
I will give you a little bit of a heads up. What we are going to discover is that the way most of us have been taught this verse probably is not right. The way most of us have looked at this verse, especially 1 Peter 1:5, probably is not quite right. There are a number of verses in the Bible that are that way, where there is an historic, popular interpretation and understanding and usage of these verses that really does not quite fit the context. If you were here at the Chafer Conference where I presented on Romans 10:9–10, which I have taught here many times before, that is one of those passages.
I was in a conversation recently with another pastor who has been working his way through Romans as he struggles with coming to understand how to interpret many of these passages in Romans 9, 10, and 11. He gives me a call every couple of weeks, and we think through what is going on. It is not always easy. What appears to us in a lot of places to be what the text is talking about may not be that. We have to contextualize what is being said.
For example, in the Romans 10:9–10 issue, as you work through that, when you come to Romans 11 you realize certain terms are used in Romans 11. Romans 9, 10, and 11 are an integrated section of Romans.
You have words like salvation. It does not refer to phase one salvation at all, and it does not refer to justification. It refers to an end time deliverance.
When you look at words like righteousness, it does not have the same connotation as it does in the first part of Romans where it is focusing on justification. It is talking about a phase two righteousness.
It is talking about Israel. It is not talking about individual Jews and individual justification. It is talking about the corporate nation. You start working your way back through that section and then all of a sudden, you have that “ah ha” moment where you realize that all the way through Romans 9, 10, and 11, it is talking about God’s plan for corporate Israel and their future deliverance in time.
Even though there are sections like at the end of Romans 9, if you take those verses out of context, it looks like they could be talking about justification and imputed righteousness. But once you plug it back into that context, it cannot mean that, because nothing surrounding it has that connotation.
This is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. You look at that, and all you have is a blue piece. You do not know anything about that because it does not have a context. When you look at this blue piece, you do not know if it might be part of a picture that is somewhat of a blue tint because of the lighting.
It could have a place in a picture like this. You are not really sure where it belongs when it is in isolation. You ask the question, what is its significance? Is it the sky? Is it the sea? Is it a blue 1956 Chevy? Just what is that depicting?
We have to understand that it is only the context that is going to give that individual piece meaning.
Perhaps it could reflect the sky or the water or the shading in the evening as the sun sets on the mountains.
It could be part of the shading of the pattern on a hot air balloon or part of the sky.
It could be part of the ocean, and it could reflect the colors of fish. Or it could reflect the colors of plants, or it could reflect the colors of the water.
That blue could fit just about anything. The only way that individual piece has meaning is with reference to the context around it. That is the real meaning of interpretation.
We stress context, context, context. If you take the text out of the context, you are left with a con job.
Everyone is guilty of that at one point or another, but historically we have done that with a lot of different verses.
One of those that I think is a very obvious one is Romans 6:23, a verse that is part of what has been called the “Roman Road.” It starts with Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Then it goes to Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Then it goes to Romans 10:9–10 which of course does not have anything to do with justification either.
We have the issue of context. And if you take this verse out of the context of Romans 6, then it sounds like it could be talking about becoming justified. “The wages of sin is death.” Well, that could be spiritual death - right? How many people have used it that way? I think probably all of us have heard it used that way and have maybe used it that way. “But the gift of God.”
Well Ephesians 2:8–9 says we are “saved by grace through faith; … it is a gift of God; … lest any man should boast.”
And “eternal life:” this is life eternal, and when we die we go to live in Heaven. Well, it is obvious this must be talking about justification, moving from spiritual death to spiritual life.
But if you put that in the context of Romans 6 and understand what Paul is talking about in Romans 6:23, then this verse has absolutely nothing to do with how to get into Heaven. It has everything to do with why the believer should not walk according to the power of his sin nature.
We looked at just seven verses earlier in Romans 6:16. Paul says, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death?”
We know from our study of Romans that in Romans 1 through 5, the Apostle Paul is talking about justification by faith alone. He is saying that justification is by faith alone, and that is how a person moves from being unjustified to justified. At the moment of faith he receives the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and he is moved from enmity with God to peace with God—Romans, Chapter 5.
But then he builds from that, and in Romans 6 he starts talking about the spiritual life after you are justified. He never again talks about justification, phase one. He is talking about the spiritual life and the problem of sin in the life of the believer. That is, when the believer sins, what he will reap from that sin is death. Not spiritual death. Certainly not physical death. But he will reap a “death-like existence”—what we call carnal death, because he is walking according to the sin nature.
This is used this way throughout Romans 6 and on into Romans, Chapter 8.
The point I am making here is that you can have a verse, and if you take that verse out of context like that blue puzzle piece, it could mean just about anything. You may look and say that looks like it is talking about how to get saved, or how to get justified. But without a context you cannot say that for sure. It could mean a couple of other different things. The only way you can know what that is talking about is to look at the surrounding context.
I am often asked by people if it is okay to use Romans 6:23 as a salvation verse because it fits so well. “Can’t I use that when I am talking to an unbeliever?”
The answer is “No” because in doing it you are contributing to a couple of problems.
Problem number one is that you are contributing to an on-going confusion and misuse of the passage. So that person later on, if they get saved, is always going to think that is a salvation verse.
I have often wanted to write a book on the number of different verses in Romans that people read and somehow God the Holy Spirit used that to convict them and they trusted in Christ. The verses have absolutely nothing to do with justification or saving faith in Christ.
Just because someone is saved because they misunderstand or misuse a passage does not justify the misuse and the misunderstanding in the passage.
The classic is Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock and if anyone lets me in I will come in and sup with him.”
This is a fellowship verse. It has absolutely nothing to do with salvation. But you are going to find that in a vast number of salvation tracts. People will say, “The way you are saved is by inviting Jesus into your heart or inviting Jesus into your life.” They base it on that, and it has absolutely nothing to do with that.
So you contribute to an ongoing problem of confusion.
Another problem is that we’re supposed to, if we are educated in the Bible, use the Bible to mean what God wants it to mean, and not what we want it to mean. The problem we have in post-modernism is that people think they can just make anything mean anything they want it to mean.
Yes, you can make this mean justification, but then you are just operating like a post-modern relativist. You are saying, “I can make the text mean what I want it to mean, not what the Holy Spirit intended and not what Paul intended.” That is just thinking like an unbeliever. So no, if you know better, you cannot do it. You’re just contributing to the problem of misuse and confusion of a lot of Scripture.
The reason that I spent all this time talking about that is we have a passage like that in 1 Peter 1:4–5. It is a passage that, on the surface, looks like it is talking about eternal security.
Eternal security is definitely in 1 Peter 1:4, but it is not in 1 Peter 1:5. 1 Peter 1:5 has often been used by people to talk about eternal security, but it is not really there.
Let us just take this by the numbers and work our way through this.
1 Peter 1:3–5 is a sentence, although as you know there is no punctuation in the original Greek. The punctuation or sentence structure is revealed by how the grammar is set up. This is one sentence, one basic idea, and everything develops from that. The role of this particular sentence is to set up the next sentence. The next sentence begins in 1 Peter 1:6 and goes down through the middle of 1 Peter 1:8.
Let us see where we are going for a minute, shall we? If this is a set-up to what is coming, maybe we can understand it better if we understand what is coming down the road. So look at 1 Peter 1:6 where Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls.”
Notice how many times in there he talks about salvation, talks about faith. What is being talked about in 1 Peter 1:5–9 is how you and I can face trials, difficulties, heartaches, and suffering today because we understand how it fits within God’s plan and how it is going to work itself out towards an ultimate goal.
He is talking about how the believer can look at facing trials, challenges, difficulties, and adversity here and now in light of eternity. This is the same thing we have taught. We have covered this many times: living today in light of eternity - beginning now to live our Christian life with the end in mind.
This is a principle everyone should use whenever they go to a restaurant. Get the dessert tray. Look at the dessert menu. Begin with the end in mind. You do not want to fill yourself up on that entrée when you have something yummy coming for dessert. You have to begin with the end in mind. Right?
That is what Peter is talking about here. It tells us that the context here, while it is definitely located at the end game, while it is definitely oriented toward the future glory, definitely oriented toward our future inheritance, and definitely focused on the fact that Christ will be revealed in the future, the focus is not on the end game.
The focus is on how the end game impacts how we think here and now in our Christian life. That is the key phrase.
He is talking about phase two. He is talking about our ongoing spiritual life—not phase one justification, but phase two sanctification. We will get into that a little bit more in just a minute.
Peter starts off praising God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope.” Begotten us again is what? Phase one. Right? When we believed Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins by faith alone in Christ alone, we are born again. We become regenerate. We have new life in Christ. We move from spiritual death to spiritual life.
That is oriented toward an end game. It is the beginning of something. It is not an end in itself. We are born again to a living hope and the foundation, for this is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
As I have pointed out many times, the resurrection of Christ is always oriented to the new life we have in Christ. We are identified in Romans 6:3 with His death, burial, and resurrection so that we now live in newness of life based on the resurrection.
Peter goes on to say in 1 Peter 1:4, “To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away.”
I have spent the last two or three lessons focusing on what inheritance is, understanding the Biblical background and framework for this so that we can identify what kind of inheritance this is going to be. It does not fade away. It is reserved in Heaven for you. That is where we are going to see eternal security.
Then he says something we need to pay attention to. The way you read it in the English, even in the Greek, it is easy to assume that 1 Peter 1:5 is talking about the inheritance. But 1 Peter 1:5 is saying something else about you. Y’all. About all of us. It is saying something else about believers in Jesus Christ and what they have in Him.
It is saying that we are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation.
Is this phase one, phase two, or phase three? Do not answer that yet.
It looks like it is phase three. If you took this verse out of context, you will think it is talking about future deliverance. But the context in this whole section does not use salvation that way. It is talking about present deliverance from fiery trials.
That is the theme of the whole epistle. Present deliverance from fiery trials. At first glance it looks like this is talking about phase three deliverance, the ultimate salvation. It is not. It is talking about present time salvation as we will see in a minute.
We are kept through faith. Now is that phase one faith in Christ alone for justification? Is that talking about the ongoing faith in phase two? Is it talking about faith in phase three?
No. No. It cannot be talking about faith in phase three because faith does not operate in phase three. Faith is on the basis of things not seen. When we die and go into phase three in glorification, we are face-to-face with the Lord. There is no more faith after the end of phase two.
It is either phase one or phase two. Which is it? We will see that faith is mentioned again in 1 Peter 1:7.
Believing is mentioned again in 1 Peter 1:8–9.
All of those are talking about phase two faith. They are not talking about phase one. So that means if we are not talking about phase one faith, we are not talking about phase one salvation. We are certainly not talking about phase three. We will go through this again. I am giving you a preview of coming attractions tonight.
We are looking at 1 Peter 1:5, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” The “last time”—is that going to be phase two or phase three? It looks like phase three, does it not?
Wait a minute. Maybe not. Obviously, there is a future focus here. That is living hope in 1 Peter 1:3. 1 Peter 1:4 “reserved in heaven for you”. Maybe “revealed in the last time”—that is what I was thinking until I got into a little more study today.
I do not think that is phase three at all. That is phase two.
When we get to 1 Peter 1:7, we see glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. We will have joy inexpressible, full of joy at the end of 1 Peter 1:8. I think that is phase three. We see glory mentioned again, the glories that would follow, in 1 Peter 1:11. I think that is talking about glorification in phase three.
Let’s see what is going on here. Take it by the numbers. What kind of inheritance is this? We talked about inheritance last time and the week before. We see that there are two categories of inheritance.
This is really seen most clearly in Romans 8:16–17. Romans 8:17 says, “if children (and we are children of God), heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” I’ve gone through this many times with you. You understand that the punctuation here is the issue. There’s no punctuation in the original Greek, so is there one kind of inheritance here, or are there two kinds of inheritance here? Just take out the commas. You have to make this decision from context and the broader context of Scripture.
The second category, being a joint heir with Christ, has a condition attached to it: “if indeed we suffer with Him.” If there is one kind of inheritance, and heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ are synonymous, then they are both conditioned on suffering with Christ.
What that means, therefore, is that in that view, you can be saved, but only if you suffer with Christ. You have to believe in Christ. And you have to suffer with Christ. Otherwise, there is no inheritance at all because that inheritance is conditioned on suffering.
That would contradict all the passages in the Bible that say that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. Now we have a problem because that contradicts faith alone in Christ alone. It contradicts that you do not add works. We are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. [Galatians 2:16, not by works].
So maybe we need to re-punctuate it a little bit. I used the illustration from this sentence:
“A woman without her man is nothing.”
Just to show that where you put the commas changes the meaning of the sentence, “A woman without her man, is nothing.” is saying that a woman is nothing unless she has a man.
That is the second example. The top example says, “A woman, without her, man is nothing.” This says just the opposite. It is saying that without a woman, the man is nothing. Where you put the commas completely changes the meaning of that sentence.
That is what happens in Romans 8:17. If we get rid of the comma after Christ and put the comma after God, then we have two different heirships. We have an heir of God which is not conditioned by anything. Every believer is an heir of God. Every believer has an eternal inheritance. Every believer has certain things in common with every other believer. We are going to spend eternity with God. We are going to have a resurrection body. We are going to have “no more sorrow, no more pain, no more tears.” We are going to have a great capacity for what we have in Heaven.
That second category, being a joint heir with Christ, is dependent upon something. It is conditioned on suffering. That does not mean that we are necessarily going to be persecuted. But just living in the devil’s world we are going to face certain kinds of opposition in relation to our faith as believers.
Those who are willing to be obedient to God, which is the meaning of that phrase “taking up our cross daily and following Him,” (we saw that in Roman culture: when they crucified someone they had to carry their cross to the place of the execution. It is a sign that they have been forced to submit to the authority of Rome). So taking up your cross means to submit to the authority of God.
Whenever you submit to the authority of God, things are going to get dicey at times in this life. We are going to face a little opposition. We are living in the angelic conflict; there is going to be difficulty.
If you do not want to take up your cross daily and follow Him, then you are not going to have a joint heirship with Christ. You are going to be in Heaven. You are going to be an heir of God. You are going to have tremendous life that lasts forever. But it is not going to be what it could have been, should have been, and might have been because of a failure to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we come to 1 Peter 1:4, this inheritance is described by three adjectives which are significant:
It is incorruptible. That means nothing is going to corrupt it, it is undefiled, and it can’t fade away. It is not going to be destroyed. This indicates a permanence, something that cannot be destroyed, something that cannot be taken away.
Then we are told that it is “reserved in heaven for you.”
This is where grammar gets important. Several times tonight we are going to see the use of the perfect tense in the Greek, which is so important because it indicates a completed action in past time, and the results go on. The action is completed and the focus is on the fact that it is completed, but the actions continue.
When Jesus ended the payment for sin on the Cross, when John wrote and described that in his gospel, he said, “And when it was finished.” He used the Greek perfect tense there of TETELESTAI—which means when it had been completed and nothing more could be added to it, Jesus said, “TETELESTAI.”
Twice in two verses you have that same form of the verb emphasizing that it was finished; it was completed. If you lived in the Greco-Roman world and you had a debt that had to be paid, when you paid it off, what was written at the bottom of that bill was TETELESTAI, or paid in full. It is finished. Nothing more can be added to it, so it is emphasizing that. That is the sense of the perfect tense.
Here what we are told is that this is reserved in Heaven for us. That is a completed action. This inheritance was set aside in eternity past. It is a completed and finished action by God. And it is our inheritance. It is for each of us. It is for y’all.
This is the second person plural of the pronoun which means it is for everyone to whom Peter is writing. That would include believers who are growing and believers who are not growing, believers who were obedient and believers who were disobedient.
This inheritance has to be that first category of inheritance. It has to be the inheritance that is common to every believer - that we are all heirs of God. That inheritance cannot be lost or diminished. It is the same for every single believer.
Every believer has this inheritance, this possession that is ours forever—eternal life in the sense of life unending, and a destiny where we will be with the Lord in His kingdom, and we will be with Him throughout all eternity.
Our roles and responsibilities in the kingdom will differ. That has to do with the second kind of inheritance, that which comes as a result of a reward—the reward of our inheritance which we saw in Colossians Chapter 3. It is that reward that is a result of our obedience. Salvation is a free gift. That inheritance of being an heir of God is a free gift, but the additional inheritance is a result of obedience. It is a result of what we do in response to Christ.
This tells us in 1 Peter 1:4 that we are talking about that which is common to every believer and where we are headed. We have a secure inheritance. That is where the doctrine of eternal security comes in here - a salvation that cannot be lost. Because we did nothing to earn it, we can do nothing to lose it.
Whenever you hear anyone say you can lose your salvation, hidden somewhere in their theology and understanding is the idea that you have to do something to get it. When you stop doing whatever it is to get it, then you lose it. The Bible says that Christ secured it. He paid for every single sin. You can’t come along tomorrow and commit some sin that the omniscience of God forgot about or the omnipotence of God failed to impute to Christ or that Christ failed to pay. He paid for every single sin. He paid the sin penalty for Adam’s original sin. He paid the penalty for all sin. So this is the point on 1 Peter 1:4.
Now this is where it starts getting interesting. The verse ends by saying that this is an inheritance that is reserved or kept on hold in Heaven for you. We could paraphrase this, each one of you, for “y’all.” Not just “y’all” but it is “all y’all” — every believer, without exception, without distinction.
Now we have to think of what is the relationship of 1 Peter 1:5 to 1 Peter 1:4.
It starts off with a relative participle that is translated correctly in most translations as a relative clause “who”. It is talking about the “y’all” who are kept by the power of God. Now it is going to say something additional to that inheritance.
We look at this word “kept,” It is not the same word as reserved for us. This is the word PHROUREO, which means to guard or preserve something.
Then it is followed by an instrumental phrase, “by the power of God,” which is EN plus the dative of EXOUSIA.
What this is indicating here is that you have two instrumental clauses, “by the power of God” and “through faith.” This is getting off into grammar. Both of these express the means by which something is done. EN is the more immediate means and DIA expresses the slightly more remote means. The primary way in which we are guarded is by the power of God. We are guarded by the power of God.
Is this a guarding related to phase one or phase two? This is where it gets dicey. It looks like it is talking about phase one. The problem is that the terminology that is used here, faith and salvation and last time, are all used in this context to refer to the spiritual life, the life of the believer in time - not the life of the believer in eternity. Let us look at this a little bit. We recognize that we are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation. We will start by looking at salvation and work our way backwards to understand the faith that is emphasized here and the power of God.
The question is what kind of salvation is this? The word in the Greek is SOTERIA which is the noun form. And it can mean not only eventual realization of our justification, but in many passages as we’ve seen in our study of Romans, it refers to the spiritual life. That is, deliverance today from the problems created by the sin nature.
It can also refer to ultimate glorification. The question we are really asking is this: is the phrase “for salvation” talking about phase three, our ultimate salvation, our glorification? Or is this talking about phase two?
They are already justified. He is writing to them as believers, so we know it is not phase one.
This chart explains what I have been indicating by phase one, phase two, and phase three salvation terminology.
Phase one occurs in an instant in time when a person believes Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins. At that instant, when faith becomes knowledge and they know it is true, at that instant, when they have that little glimmer of truth and they know it is true, that is faith. They are believing it. They are giving assent to it as a true proposition. And that is called justification. At that instant we are saved from the penalty of sin. The penalty of sin is eternal condemnation and spiritual death. Now they become spiritually alive and they are regenerate.
Following that, we are like a baby. We have a new life. That new life has to be fed. It has to be nourished. We have to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as Peter says at the end of his second epistle, 2 Peter 3:18.
Now in spiritual life, we are going to be saved from the power of sin. This is generally referred to by theologians as progressive sanctification, or experiential sanctification and spiritual life. We are growing. There are ups and downs. There are failures. There are successes, but this is salvation in phase two.
Then there is salvation in phase three which is ultimate sanctification. We are absent from this body, face-to-face with the Lord. We have no more sin nature, so we are saved from the presence of sin.
The question is what kind of salvation is this?
This salvation is going to be related to the faith that is here. And it is going to be related to the general context of what we are looking at between 1 Peter 1:5 and 1 Peter 1:12.
At first glance, and even at second glance, it looks like a phase three salvation.
However, we have to pay attention to the context.
As I was pointing out in the introduction, you can take a verse and slice it out of the context. If it just hangs there by itself, it could be talking about glorification. It could be talking about phase one. But the context is what defines it. You have to take that blue piece of the jigsaw puzzle and put it back into the puzzle. Then all of a sudden you are going to know if it is the sky or the water or a fish or a plant. It is only the context that tells you.
In 1 Peter 1:5 we are told that we are kept by the power of God through faith. Usually, most often or by 60% of the usage of the phrase “through faith”, it indicates justification.
For example, in Romans 3:22, talking about being justified by faith.
Ephesians 2:8–9, “for by grace you have been saved through faith.” Here “saved” is phase one, and “faith” is a phase one faith. “For by grace you have been saved by faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” That is, the whole package of salvation is the gift of God.
It goes on, “not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Galatians 2:16, “for we are not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 3:9 is stating the same thing - that we are justified through faith. We have righteousness through faith.
However, in a number of other passages, it refers to a phase two sanctification.
For example, in 2 Corinthians 5:7 it says, “We walk by faith.” That is DIA plus the genitive. “We walk by faith and not by sight.”
That tells us that walking through faith is also a descriptive of the faith-rest drill: the ongoing, moment-by-moment, day-by-day walk by faith, faith in His Word.
It is used that way in Hebrews 6:12 and in Hebrews 11:33.
That pretty much covers almost every usage of this phrase “through faith.” It could be phase one, or it could be phase two. That helps us to understand that we have to look further in the context to describe or to understand this.
When you look at the next couple of verses, Peter is going to say, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while…” He is talking about right now. He is not talking about the future when he says “now for a little while.”
The phrase “In this you greatly rejoice” is referring back to 1 Peter 1:5, that faith for salvation. Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” Now, having set things up in 1 Peter 1:3–5, he now gets to his main topic in this paragraph which is how we handle present time difficulty.
It is saying you may be grieved by various trials that [for the purpose of] the genuineness of your faith. Now remember we are trying to answer what this “through faith” is in 1 Peter 1:5, and 1 Peter 1:7 talks about the genuineness of your faith.
This is post-salvation faith. This is your ongoing walk through faith. That is how you handle the trials, utilizing the faith-rest drill. “That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire…” That is present time.
It is not tested by fire in phase three. It is tested by fire today in phase two. “That it may be found [in phase three] to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” That is when it is revealed, at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Then we get to another aspect in 1 Peter 1:5, and that is understanding the phrase “last time.” For many of us we have a knee-jerk reaction caused by pop Christianity and our love for prophecy, that whenever we see the phrase “last time” and “last days,” we think of the end game. We think of the Tribulation. We think of the Rapture.
But as I have said many, many times, in the Bible there are two uses of “last time” or “last days.” One refers to the last days of Israel. And that is the Tribulation, the Second Coming, and the Millennial Kingdom.
Then there is the last days for the Church Age. How long does that last? Through all the Church Age. We are in these last days, which is the Church Age.
Look at these verses. In 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” What he describes after that is what has been going on, the trends throughout the Church Age ever since the 1st century.
Hebrews 1:2 says that God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” Wow. That is right now. These are the last days. These have been the last days for two thousand years.
Then it really gets clear in our context of 1 Peter 1:20, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”
When is Jesus made manifest? The First Advent. He is not talking about the Second Advent. Contextually, the phrase “last time” is talking about this present Church Age. It is not talking about glorification. It is not talking about the end time. It is not referring to the future when Christ takes us home and we have the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Now when we look at 1 Peter 1:5—that we are kept by the power of God through faith, that is phase two salvation, deliverance in these fiery trials, ready to be revealed in these last days, in this time.
When we talk about faith here, we also see faith mentioned in 1 Peter 1:8. We are talking about our focus on Christ, our occupation with Christ. He says, “…whom having not seen you love. Though now [present time] you do not see Him, yet believing…”
Is that phase one, phase two, or phase three faith? There is no phase three faith, so it is either phase one or phase two. It is not phase one so the context is phase two.
Then 1 Peter 1:9 says, “receiving the end of your faith [the end result of your faith].” If there is no faith in phase three, the faith that it is talking about there is the faith that you have today—that the believing you have in this Christian life is going to be revealed in this life through the “salvation of your souls.”
Now that is a very interesting phrase. When we read that we immediately think Heaven, the salvation of our souls.
But salvation means deliverance from fiery trials. So we have to retranslate it to mean deliverance of your life.
If you think about it, for those of you who were alive when the Titanic went down and you read the article about it, it said that so many souls were lost. For years people talked that way. If there was a disaster, they said so many souls were lost. They did not say so many lives were lost. They said so many souls were lost because the soul is often used for a synonym for life.
That is found throughout the New Testament. Those who want to gain their life will lose their soul.
What Peter is talking about here, just as James is talking about it in James 1:21, is realizing the full benefit, the abundant life that we are given and that we realize when we use faith to face the fiery trials that come into our life. Again, we are talking about a present time deliverance of the life.
This is talked about again in 1 Peter 1:10. At the end of 1 Peter 1:9, we read about receiving the end of your faith—the deliverance of your life—how you are delivered from fiery trials. When we go to 1 Peter 1:10 it says, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you.”
On the surface again, it looks like this is talking about what Christ did on the Cross.
1 Peter 1:11 goes on to say, “searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that would follow.”
How did Christ handle His suffering? It is not necessarily talking about what He is doing in terms of justification. It is talking about how the power of God sustained Jesus Christ on the Cross. If the power of God can sustain Jesus Christ through the trials He faced, then it is no problem for God’s power to sustain you and me in the adversity that we face.
This is what the prophets were looking at, how in the process in the suffering of the Messiah, how He is sustained. We will go through all of this as we deal with this material. I am just giving you the overview.
1 Peter 1:5 says, “who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation [deliverance] ready to be revealed in the last time [right now].”
The conclusion to all of this is that Peter is talking throughout this section about deliverance through fiery trials during our present Christian life. It is the only thing that makes sense once you start looking at the word usage and the whole context of what Peter is discussing throughout 1 Peter.
1 Peter 1:6 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” Then at the end of the epistle in 1 Peter 4:12 he says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.”
The whole epistle is wrapped around how to face difficulty, just like James. In fact, when we get there next week and we look at 1 Peter 1:6–8, it is amazing how the vocabulary in those three verses is the same vocabulary that we find in James 1:2–4. We will be looking at that in a little more detail.
Back up to 1 Peter 1:5, which says we are kept by the power of God for deliverance through these fiery trials. This is the same thing that Peter leads off with in 2 Peter.
In 2 Peter 1:3 he says, “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
It is God’s power that sustains us. It is God’s power that get us through everything in life. Nothing else. You cannot add to it. It is God’s omnipotence that sustains us. He has already given us everything related to life and godliness, “through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given…”
Notice “His divine power has given to us” is the perfect middle participle DOREOMAI. These things “which have been given to us, exceedingly great and precious promises,” is also a perfect tense. It is completed action. It has already been provided. What is important is for us to learn how to walk by faith in dependence upon the power of God.
Let me wrap up with about six points of summary:
1. First of all, we are to praise God, “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are to praise God for the totality of His plan of salvation for each of us. That plan takes us from regeneration to the realization of our inheritance that is already reserved for us. We are to praise God in the midst of fiery trials because of His plan which takes us from regeneration to the realization of our inheritance.
2. Second, we recognize that our inheritance is secured by God for our future. That means we cannot lose it. That is 1 Peter 1:4. That is what we all have in common as believers.
3. The third thing that we see here is that throughout this section, Peter wants us to understand that we need to live today in light of tomorrow. Only when we are living the spiritual life are we are suffering with Christ, which is a theme throughout this epistle: are we going to realize we are joint heirs with Christ if we suffer with Him.
This is all about this second category of inheritance. There is a story about a guy who died. They put him in a casket and had an open casket funeral, which I am not real fond of. What got everyone’s attention is that as he is in the casket, his hand is propped upon his stomach, and he has a fork in it. Everyone goes by and wonders, “Why in the world does this guy have a fork in his hand?”
When it came to the message, the pastor said, “You are all wondering why the guy is holding a fork. His wife told him in life to never go anywhere without a fork because you are always anticipating something. Something good may come and you will need that fork.” The fact that he had that fork in his hand indicated he was looking forward to something next - something that was coming.
Being in the casket was not the end. He was ready for the next thing. So we need to live with that future in mind.
4. The fourth point is that every believer has a secured, undefiled, and unfading inheritance. That is our inheritance with God. Every believer has this secured, incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance.
5. Fifth, every believer has the potential of a higher or an additional eternal blessing based on performance here on earth if we suffer with Christ. We are going to be grieved by various trials, Peter said. We will be tested by fire. We need to learn to handle that suffering just as Christ did.
6. That is point six: it is through the power of God, that is, depending upon the Holy Spirit, the power of God is what preserves us. It is not our skill. It is not our intelligence. It is not our physical strength. It is not the schemes we come up with. It is the power of God that sustains us. That does not mean we just sit like a lump, but we trust in the power of God.
David did this. Read the psalms again and again. Just this morning I was reading about the Absalom conspiracy and revolt. Then I was reading in the psalms. Although the psalms don’t specifically state what is going on or what the circumstances were, it easily could fit the Absalom rebellion, and again, how David talks about how God is the one who sustains him against his enemies.
That did not mean he did not use his army. It did not mean he did not have tactics with his advisers but it meant that ultimately he knew that nothing worked apart from the power of God.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things because as we look at the future and look at the circumstances internationally and nationally, we could very well face some extremely difficult times. Whether it is economically or has to do with various laws and trends and corruption that is in our culture, that which will sustain us is Your Word, Your power, and God the Holy Spirit. Nothing else will sustain us. No matter how difficult things might get, no matter how wonderful things might be, we can have stability because we trust in You and You provide for us.
Now Father, we pray that You would help us to understand the flow of thought here in 1 Peter that we might assimilate these ideas, these teachings into our soul, and be strengthened by it. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”