I Peter 1:3-12

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

Text: I Peter 1:3-12

SALVATION’S THREE TENSES

INTRODUCTION:

Salvation is the greatest of all blessings. It beats money, friends, and even health. Nothing this world has to offer will ever compare to it. It gives us the most wonderful of all benefits – the happiness of being at peace with God and a confidence regarding eternity.

The Christians who received Peter’s first letter were facing persecution. They had become bewildered and discouraged, and they needed help. The Apostle Peter wrote to tell them that the riches of their salvation could give them joy and victory even in these dire circumstances.

Peter wrote to them of their salvation and how they should live because of their salvation. In I Peter 1:3-12 we see the three tenses of salvation – salvation’s future tense, salvation’s present tense, and salvation’s past tense.

In this passage we see that believers are blessed because they have been begotten unto a living hope by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Accordingly, they have an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance preserved in heaven for them. These believers are guarded by the power of God unto salvation which is not yet complete, but which will be completed when Christ returns for them at the rapture. Meanwhile, they may rejoice in anticipation of the future completion of their salvation; yet, they may find themselves involved in various trials in this life which God allows for their own benefits. The Old Testament prophets searched their own writings carefully to learn about this salvation but realized that their writings were prophetic of things which would be brought to pass in another era. Furthermore, even the angels are fascinated by salvation.

We see –

I. SALVATION’S FUTURE TENSE – I Peter 1:3-5

I Peter 1:3-53 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, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

We note that salvation’s future tense indicates that –

1. He has begotten us unto a living hope – 2:3

I Peter 1:3 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.

The word translated blessed is used only of God and of Christ in the New Testament. It literally means well-spoken of or praised. This is not the same term used of believers in the Beatitudes. In order to complete the thought in English, as indicated by the italics, be has been supplied by the translators. God the Father is the One Who is to be blessed or praised, and He is referred to as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is not only our God, He is also the God of Christ.

God is not only our Father, He is also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is not just any lord. He is the Lord and Master of all believers. The fact that our is used makes this very personal. Our refers to Peter and his readers but is applicable by extension to all believers everywhere.

Which refers to God the Father and is to be understood in the sense of Who.

According to his abundant mercy describes hath begotten . . . again and indicates the relationship that exists between God the Father’s mercy and His begetting us again.

According to is used in the sense of with reference to or in relation to. His abundant mercy refers to God the Father’s great compassion or pity. God saw us as we were before our salvation. We were hopeless, helpless, and hell-bound sinners in need of salvation but unable to save ourselves.

Hath begotten us again means begat us again or caused us to be born again, where us refers to Peter and his readers in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. It also refers by extension to all believers everywhere. All persons have been born physically. All saved persons have been born again, i.e. a second time in addition to our physical births. We have been begotten spiritually by God the Father.

What God the Father has begotten believers to is a lively hope, i.e. to a living hope, to a hope which lives, or to a hope which is alive. In the New Testament hope is not something we desire to happen like in modern English. Instead, it is something which is certain to happen and is understood in the sense of expectation. It is like the difference between a lady who is hoping to have a baby some day but has not yet conceived and a lady who has conceived and is expecting a baby. There is no doubt about our having this living hope; and because we have this absolute hope of eternal redemption, we must do our best to live for the Lord under all kinds of adversity.

By the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead indicates the means by which God the Father has begotten believers unto this living hope. If Jesus Christ had not been raised from the dead, there would be no hope for believers. The resurrection demonstrates God’s seal of approval upon Christ’s atoning work. It demonstrates that God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Had Jesus not been raised from the dead, it would have indicated that, for some reason, Jesus’ offering was rejected by God the Father; and we would still be lost in our sins and on our way to an eternal hell. Similarly, Paul wrote in Romans 4:25 , Jesus was delivered for (i.e. because of) our offenses, and was raised again for (i.e. because of) our justification. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead proves that we have been justified (or declared righteous) in God’s sight and forever gives us hope. Paul also wrote in Romans 1:4 that the resurrection from the dead declared that Jesus was the Son of God (i.e. that Jesus was the Messiah) with power, meaning that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead powerfully declared that He was the Son of God, thus placing God’s seal of approval upon all that He had said and done including the work of atonement on the cross.

From the dead is literally from among dead ones. The word translated from is out of and indicates the removal of Jesus Christ out from among dead ones. He was where they are. He was one of them. There is thus no question that Jesus was dead.

We note next that salvation’s future tense also indicates that–

2. He has begotten us unto an inheritance – 2:4-5

I Peter 1:4-5 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Verse 4 indicates that the lively hope mentioned in verse 3 is the same thing as the inheritance in verse 4. To an inheritance is another way of saying unto a lively hope: the lively hope is this inheritance. It is the end in view to which God the Father has begotten us again and refers to our salvation. Of course, believers were saved the instant they put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ; and as saved people they look forward to an inheritance in heaven. This will become a reality for us at death or when the Lord Jesus Christ returns at the rapture, whichever comes first. Meanwhile, we as believers desire that someday our hope will be brought to reality. We have this inheritance promised at the present time, and it will be ours in the future.

Our inheritance is described as being incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.

Incorruptible means imperishable, immortal, or not liable to corruption or decay.

Undefiled means pure or free from contamination.

That fadeth not away means unfading; it will not disappear like the glory that shone on Moses’ face.

Reserved in heaven for you means kept, held, or preserved in heaven.

This inheritance is something which is yet future which believers will enjoy throughout all eternity. It will be in the very presence of the Lord.

In verse 5 we see that this inheritance is for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Who are kept means who are being guarded or who are being protected.

Through faith indicates that this inheritance is not applicable to everyone but only to those who have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin and its consequences.

This salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time.

This reminds us that, although we were saved the instant we put our trust in Christ, the completion of our salvation is yet future. This deliverance will not only be from the power of sin and from the consequences of sin, but will also be from the very presence of sin.

This salvation is ready [i.e. this salvation is prepared] to be revealed, i.e. prepared to be brought to light or prepared to be made fully known.

In the last time indicates when this completion of our salvation will come. It will come when the Lord Jesus Christ returns for us at the rapture. It refers to the completion of our salvation, which is also referred to as the redemption of the body. Our salvation will be completed when our bodies are resurrected and reunited with our souls. This will occur at the rapture.

Not only do we see salvation’s future tense, we also see –

II. SALVATION’S PRESENT TENSE – I Peter 1:6-9

I Peter 1:6-96 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 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: 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: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Verse 6 indicates that the result of knowing we have this inheritance which is eternal in the heavens is that we rejoice even though we may presently be experiencing some difficulties.

Wherein is in which. It refers to the entire content of verses 3-5.

Ye greatly rejoice you are overjoyed. They were rejoicing in spite of the fact that they were undergoing some personal trials.

Though is although and is to be connected with ye are in heaviness, which means although you are in heaviness.

Now is at the present time.

For a season suggests for a little while.

If need be is if it is necessary and suggests that trials may be necessary in our lives. Now, it is not we who determine whether these trials are necessary, but God; and it is God Who either sends them or allows them to come into our lives for our profit that our Christian characters might be refined.

Ye are in heaviness is understood in the sense of you are grieved, you are sad, you are sorrowful, or you are distressed.

Through manifold temptations is in (or by means of) various tests or diversified trials.

Testings in the Christian life can bring about temporary sadness or sorrow, but they do not cancel out this hope of eternal redemption in which believers are to be greatly rejoicing.

I Peter 1:7 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.

Verse 7 provides the reason believers are overjoyed even though temporarily saddened by trials.

That is in order that or for the purpose that.

The trial of your faith indicates that it is the believer’s faith which is being tried or tested and refers to the proving of their faith. The believer’s faith is tried in order that it might be purified or refined.

Being much more precious than of gold that perisheth draws a comparison between the faith of the believer and gold. The faith of a believer is much more precious than gold is, even though the gold may be highly refined.

Much more precious means much more valuable, of much greater worth, or of much greater value.

Gold is described by that perisheth and means gold which is lost, gold which passes away, or gold which is ruined. Gold is of value, but only for a limited time. By contrast, a believer’s faith is going to be valuable throughout all eternity because it is by this faith that he receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and then lives for the Lord Jesus.

Though it be tried with fire refers to the gold that is perishing. It means though in fact the gold is tried with fire or though indeed the gold is tried with fire.

Peter is referring to the refining process of gold. The gold is heated to a liquid form. Since gold is heavier than the impurities found in it, it sinks to the bottom; and the impurities which are lighter in weight rise to the top and are then skimmed off in the refining process. Thus, Peter has reference to pure gold; and he is stating that the faith of believers is much more valuable even than highly refined or pure gold.

The purpose of the trial or testing of our faith is then stated in the rest of the verse: that it might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

Might be found unto praise implies might result in praise or approval.

Might be found . . . unto honour means might be honored.

Might be found . . . unto glory suggests might be glorified. Of course, this is exactly what is going to happen to believers. They will be glorified; they will receive their resurrection bodies and will be forever rid of their old sin natures. They will be completely like the Lord Jesus Christ because they will see Him as He is. The redemption of the body will be complete. Glorification will have taken place. Of course, if our faith is going to result in praise, honor, and glory in the future, it had better be deserving of praise, honor, and glory in the present as well. One cannot help but wonder who will be the recipient of this praise, honor, and glory. Will it be the believer who hears that Well done, thou good and faithful servant? Or, will it be God to Whom the completed salvation of believers will bring praise, honor, and glory? Both may very well be true.

At the appearing of Jesus Christ is literally at the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ or at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The appearing of Jesus Christ is used in Revelation to refer to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ rather than to the rapture, but in this verse it seems to be referring to the rapture. The same phrase is translated at the revelation of Jesus Christ in verse 13. Thus, the purpose of trials in a believer’s life is to refine his character so that he will be more and more Christlike in his daily walk.

We see the purpose of trials in two other passages –

James 1:2-4 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [i.e. various trials or various testings]; 3 Knowing this, that the trying [i.e. the testing] of your faith worketh patience [i.e. produces endurance or steadfastness]. 4 But let patience have her perfect [i.e. completed] work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting [i.e. lacking] nothing.

Romans 5:1-51 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations [i.e. trials] also: knowing that tribulation [i.e. testing] worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience [i.e. character]; and experience [i.e. character], hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

We return to I Peter 1:8

I Peter 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.

Verse 8 indicates that believers have a special love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whom having not seen suggests although you have not seen Jesus Christ. The majority of believers, even in Peter’s day, had not actually seen the Lord Jesus. Of course, today no one has seen Him.

In spite of this, they love Him as ye love indicates.

In whom is to be connected with ye rejoice, and it refers to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Though now ye see him not suggests although at the present time you are not seeing Jesus Christ.

Yet indicates a contrast between not seeing Christ and believing in Christ. It is the word ordinarily translated but and is used in the sense of nevertheless.

Believing implies believing in or trusting in Christ.

Ye rejoice is you are rejoicing or you are overjoyed.

With joy unspeakable is with inexpressible joy. It is a joy which is incapable of expression.

And full of glory suggests and you are rejoicing with joy that is filled with glory.

Believers love the Lord Jesus Christ although they have never seen Him. They are also overjoyed at the thought of Him, even though they presently do not see Him, because they know that they will someday see Him face to face.

I Peter 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Verse 9 continues the thought of verse 8.

Receiving the end of your faith means receiving the outcome of your belief in Christ.

Your Christian faith results in the salvation of your souls.

The salvation means the deliverance or the preservation; and what is going to be delivered is your souls, i.e. the souls of the believers.

Your souls speaks of the seat and center of believers’ lives which transcend their earthly existence. Believers have been saved from the power of sin, and they will ultimately be saved from both the consequences of sin and from the presence of sin. Their souls will live forever in heaven in perfect harmony with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the end in view or the goal of their faith which they will receive.

Believers have already received the outcome of their faith which is the salvation of their souls; yet, they have only received it by faith. They reckon it to be theirs because God has promised it; yet, their salvation has not yet been brought to completion. It is in process, and it will be completed in accordance with God’s schedule. However, it is so certain of fulfillment that we can regard it as already ours by faith.

Not only do we see salvation’s future tense and present tense, we also see –

III. SALVATION’S PAST TENSE – I Peter 1:10-12

I Peter 1:10-1210 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 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. 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 sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

Verse 10 continues the theme of salvation.

Of which salvation is concerning which salvation or about which salvation.

The prophets are men who held the prophetic office in Old Testament times.

Have enquired is sought out or searched; and searched diligently is inquired carefully. The prophets were fascinated by their own prophecies of salvation and investigated them thoroughly.

The prophets whom Peter has in mind are the specific ones who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.

Of the grace that should come unto you is concerning the grace which should come unto you or about the grace which should come unto you.

Grace is unmerited favor, and it came unto believers at the instant they trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior. This grace was provided for at the cross, but it is not applied to an individual until he places his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ’s death for sinners and His subsequent resurrection from the dead.

I Peter 1:11 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.

The activity of these prophets is described in verse 11.

Searching is an intensive form of the word and means searching diligently, examining thoroughly, or investigating thoroughly.

What they were diligently searching for was what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify.

What is what time, and what manner of time is what kind of time or what sort of time.

The Spirit of Christ is the Holy Spirit, and which was in them should be understood in the sense of Who was among them inasmuch as the Holy Spirit may not have been actually indwelling them at that time in the sense in which He indwells believers in this age.

Did signify means was revealing, was making clear, or was showing. Over and over again the Holy Spirit revealed or made clear to the prophets things regarding salvation.

When it testified beforehand refers to the Spirit of Christ and suggests when He testified beforehand, when He bore witness beforehand, or when He predicted and indicates the time the Holy Spirit was making things clear.

What was testified beforehand or predicted was the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.

The sufferings of Christ are the sufferings of Messiah, i.e. the sufferings that Christ endured, particularly at the cross; and it includes all of them. Of course, some sufferings were endured prior to the cross; but they were in conjunction with the cross.

The glory that should follow refers to the glory that is ascribed to the Lord Jesus Christ as well as to the glory that is provided for believers.

That should follow is literally after the things and suggests after the sufferings.

Glory is actually plural. It is not just one glory; it is all the glories there are.

I Peter 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 sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

Verse 12 continues the idea of what was revealed to the prophets.

Unto whom it was revealed indicates that this truth was made known to these prophets.

What was revealed to them was 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 to you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. In other words, it was made clear to the prophets that the things which they were writing were not just for their own benefit but were also for the benefit of those who would live at a later time.

One is reminded of Paul’s statement in –

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

That not unto themselves suggests not for their own benefit and refers to the prophets.

They did minister must be supplied in the reader’s thinking with not unto themselves.

But unto us means but for our benefit.

They did minister is they were serving.

What they were serving was the things which are now reported unto you, which means the things which, at the present time, are being announced (i.e. are being proclaimed or are being disclosed) to you, i.e. to the readers of I Peter.

By them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven indicates the means by which these things that the Old Testament prophets were serving are being reported in the New Testament era to the readers of I Peter. It is by means of the ones who have proclaimed the gospel message to Peter’s readers.

With the Holy Ghost is by means of the Holy Spirit, indicating that this preaching of the gospel to believers had occurred in the power of God the Holy Spirit or with the aid of God the Holy Spirit.

Sent down from heaven refers to the Holy Spirit Who was sent out or sent away from heaven, indicating that heaven is the place of the abode of the Triune God. The Holy Spirit, just like the Lord Jesus, had been sent from heaven to minister to the needs of believers.

Which things the angels desire to look into refers to sufferings and glories which follow these sufferings, and it is into them that the angels themselves desire or long to look.

To look into suggests to bend over (or stoop over) in order to look into. Apparently, angels are amazed that God the Son, Who knew no sin, would become sin on the cross, that He would endure suffering on behalf of men. They are looking into it carefully.

CONCLUSION:

God isn’t finished with us yet. He has promised us an eternal inheritance in heaven. Meanwhile, we are to be living for Him. The course that He has mapped out for us may have many trials for us to endure in order to demonstrate our faith and to increase our faith. As we study the Bible, however, we see that our salvation was promised a long time ago in the Old Testament. We love Christ for what He has done for us even though we have never yet seen His face. Some day we will see His face, and we will then rejoice and at the same time receive our full salvation. God’s work in our lives will be complete. We long for that day.