1 Peter 1.

Notes on a Bible Reading at Guildford.

Like the epistle to the Hebrews, this epistle was written to believers among God's earthly people, but to those dispersed among the nations, strangers and sojourners, as we also are, in this world. The epistle to the Hebrews was evidently written in view of the impending destruction of Jerusalem with all its material religious attractions. Believers were to have their minds on the things of heaven, on Christ Himself in Whom there was the substance of all that was found in the shadow of Judaism. In this epistle, the Apostle Peter points out that the Lord Jesus had died to deliver His own from the vain conversation, the empty manner of life, that was theirs in a corrupt, traditional religion, where men's thoughts had set aside the commandments of God. The precious blood of Christ had redeemed them from their former manner of life, and now they were to live for God in the life of Jesus, a life of obedience to God's will. Though scattered in heathen lands they were God's chosen people, and not now for blessing on earth but for heavenly blessing. They had known the privilege of being the elect of Jehovah, and also what it was to be disowned as "Not my people;" now they were the elect of God the Father as foreknown of Him, and thus blessed in relation to God's counsels. Set apart in time by the Spirit of God Who indwelt them, they were brought under the efficacy of the blood of Jesus, and left in the world to be for God's pleasure as living in the life of obedience set forth in Jesus. The children of Israel were acquainted with blood sprinkling, "Moses … sprinkled both the book, and all the people … moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry" (Heb. 9:19, 21). The leper, at his cleansing was sprinkled, and the blood applied to his ear, thumb and great toe; then the oil was put on top of the blood. At his consecration the priest had the blood of the offering applied, then the blood and the oil mingled and sprinkled upon him. Here in verse 2 we have the oil and the blood together, for the believers addressed were not only cleansed lepers, but consecrated priests.

God has nothing less for us down here than walking in the steps of His own dear Son. The obedience of Jesus Christ is not a single act, but a life of constant obedience. He was obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross. Israel failed grievously as regards the obedience of the law, and God is not seeking from us any legal obedience: but having given us His Spirit He desires us to walk in the power of the Spirit in the steps of Jesus. It is in obedience to God's will that we enter into His mind, and by obedience that we manifest our faith in Him. The truth is only really held in the measure of our obedience to the will of God.

The Apostle breaks forth in praise: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ:" just as Paul does in 2 Corinthians 1 and Ephesians 1. Here the praise is because of God's great mercy. Peter rejoices to see everything secured on the other side of death, all that we have is connected with the risen Christ, and death cannot touch it. Israel's inheritance was on this side of death: they corrupted and defiled it and in consequence lost it; God has given us a heavenly inheritance that cannot be corrupted or defiled. In Ephesians we go up and look down upon the inheritance, upon all that we shall share with Christ in the glory of the coming day; here as pilgrims and strangers we look up to all that is ours in heaven. While we wait for the inheritance, we are kept by the power of God. But faith lays hold of this divine power, the only thing that can preserve us from all the evil of the world through which we pass. Soon we shall be delivered entirely from the present scene, from all the evil of the world, from all the breakdown, failure and ruin of the church: and this through the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. The Lord Himself will come to deliver us, to bring us into the heavenly inheritance: but faith looks up to Christ in the presence of God, and as engaged with Him lays hold of the power that keeps us in the midst of all the evil and ruin.

Well do we exult in the contemplation of the salvation for which we wait; but during the waiting period there is the trial of faith. God finds delight in the faith of those who please Him, for "Without faith it is impossible to please Him.' The reality of faith is proved in testing, and God delights to see our confidence in Him; this is the reason He puts us through the various trials. Very soon it will be the inheritance with all its blessedness, but while we wait for it, there is the work of purification: that which separates in us the flesh from the work of God. But this work has the coming day in view, "That the proving of your faith … be found to praise and glory and honour in the revelation of Jesus Christ." We should realise that there is a day coming when all that God is working out now in His saints will be manifested. When Scripture speaks of Christ's coming, it is more grace that is in view, when it is His appearing it is more connected with our responsible course. (The word "appearing" in verse 7 is another Greek word, better translated "revelation" and compares the Lord's coming out publicly with His being hidden in heaven at the present time). In the path of trial and sorrow the fruits of righteousness are being borne, and the day of their display will surely come (Phil. 1:11; Heb. 12:11: James 3:18). God's glory and praise are secured through the present trials, but those who thus bring glory to God will have praise and glory and honour in that day.

Everything for us now is in faith; we have not seen Christ, yet we love Him; we do not look upon Him with the natural eye, yet we believe in Him, and faith brings to us joy unspeakable and fills our souls with the coming glory. Even now by faith we have the salvation of the soul, a salvation connected with the sufferings and glory of Christ, and spoken of by the prophets of old. These we have clearly set forth by Isaiah, who passes quickly from the one subject to the other at times. See Isaiah 52 for example: "Behold my servant … shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee: his visage was so marred more than any man. … So shall he astonish many nations: kings shall shut their mouths at him." See also Isaiah 53. The prophets, desiring to know of these things searched their own writings to find them out, only to be told they were for a coming generation, not for themselves. Angels desire to look into these things so great and wonderful are they, but it was not for the prophets nor for the angels, but for us these things were written. How great is our privilege! Is it not touching to think that God desires us to know His mind about the sufferings and glories of Christ? It is the same in Colossians where He desires us to know His thoughts about the mystery, "To whom God would make known… ."

A great deal is spoken of the sufferings of Christ in this epistle (see 1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 4:1, 13; 1 Peter 5:1), sufferings for righteousness sake, and sufferings on the cross for our sins. These are brought before us to encourage us in the path of suffering to which we are called. We never could enter into Christ's sufferings for sins, nevertheless these are brought before us that we might see how far Christ went in sufferings for God's will and our blessing. The contemplation of this will surely encourage us to endure whatever suffering God has marked out for us in His wisdom and love.

The things written before have been declared to us by those who have brought the Gospel to us in the power of the Holy Spirit, sent down, from heaven. We have received a ministry from the ascended Christ in the power of the Spirit. In no other way could we have entered into the truth of what has been recorded in the writings of the Old Testament. What has been declared by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven is something far greater than anything manifested in the old creation. Angels rejoiced in what was connected with the creation of old; what the Holy Spirit brings to us now they desire to look into, for they know the surpassing greatness of these heavenly things.

With the knowledge of such wonderful things as have been brought to us by the Spirit, we are to gird up the loins of our minds and be sober. We should not allow the mind to wander, nor should it be the master, but the servant. Our minds are to be directed into proper channels of thought, to the things revealed by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven; to the things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. We are to "be sober" for the time is short. We have seen that faith is tried in view of the day of revelation of Jesus Christ, (verse 7) now we learn of the grace that is to be brought to us in that day. Once we were "children of disobedience," now as "children of obedience" we are to be like our Father, holy as He is holy. The walk is of paramount importance; God our Father is concerned with our walk and work down here; He is no respecter of persons.

Those to whom the Apostle wrote had been redeemed from a religious life of human traditions. Hebrews was written to deliver the believers from a system of ordinances and shadows, to bring them to Christ, outside the camp of Judaism. Peter tells them that what they had been connected with was an empty manner of life, the product of their fathers' traditions. Nor had they been redeemed by the half shekel of silver, demanded of old, or of anything greater in value in the eyes of men; but with what was of infinite value in the sight of God — the precious blood of Christ. He was the true Pascal Lamb. Israel's lamb was taken on the tenth day and kept till the fourteenth day: God's lamb was "foreknown before the foundation of the world."