Preserved: Devotional Commentary for January 5-11
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
As noted in last week's meditation, Peter encouraged his suffering brethren by recasting their passing anguish in the framework of their eternal inheritance with Christ. He refocused their attention from the passing to the enduring, imperishable, and incorruptible. Even though their suffering was real, intense, and distressful, it was not without purpose: God's Purpose. So in this, Peter implied, they would rejoice in spite of their sufferings.
Even though the Christians of Peter's time horribly suffered at the hands of a godless Caesar, the sure promise that they are redeemed and preserved by God's Grace unto eternal inheritance would fill their hearts with irrepressible joy. Persecutions and sufferings for the sake of Christ serve a worthy purpose in the lives of those who are subjected to hardships because of their faith. Trials and persecutions test and refine the believer's life, faith, and service, just as fire purifies gold. In the same manner as fire and the process extract pure gold from the ore; trials, persecutions, and unbridled opposition refine the believer's faith and reliance upon God. Knowing that they are redeemed and preserved by God gives them the assurance that their trials are but a refining tool in the hands of their Father, raising their faith and reliance upon their Redeemer to a surpassing quality worthy of praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ as the King and the Lord of all.
8and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
9obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
Peter understood that being joyful by faith in spite of real experiences of hardships is, at best, difficult to the finite human mind, especially when there seems to be no humanly perceivable, tangible evidence showing that the situation could be managed or handled. Such sentiments overwhelm Christians when the believer-in-distress is exhorted just to look to God by faith in the face of real suffering.
At the time Peter wrote this letter, he was one of the few remaining Disciples who had been with the Lord in person. Most of those who read this letter had not seen Jesus in person. But that did not diminish their joy in Him.
Jesus knew that this time would come and pronounced a special blessing on those who would believe the witness of His apostles without actually seeing Him physically, and that believing in Him, His Joy would be complete in them and His love would flourish in their hearts regardless of what they might be facing. Jesus made that clear to Thomas when He appeared to the Disciples after His Resurrection, offering Thomas the opportunity to prove the truth about Jesus' Suffering, Death, Burial, and bodily Resurrection.
This matchless joy is heavenly. It cannot be adequately conveyed in earthly language. It is the Fruit of the Spirit. It is a Gift from God Himself. Such joy is fully experienced as the outcome of the salvation of the redeemed when each one is welcome into the heavenly inheritance preserved for the redeemed of God. But in the meantime during the earthly sojourn, it is the source of strength for the believer.
10As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,
11seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look.
Peter encouraged the suffering believers of his time by reminding them that they were in a closer proximity of time to Jesus' suffering than were the Prophets of old who were also persecuted and killed. They died as martyrs, accepting by faith that they will see their salvation in heaven. The Prophets sought to personally witness this very same salvation, searching diligently for the Grace of God of which they wrote.
Jesus confirmed this ardent passion of the Prophets when He told them that they—the Disciples—saw what many Prophets and many of God’s people longed to see but did not, that they longed to hear what the Disciples heard but did not. Jesus also confirmed this when speaking to the two distraught Disciples on the road to Emmaus on the same day He rose from the dead.
Remarkably, the Prophets understood that they were proclaiming God's revealed Word, not for their own benefit but for those who would come to faith after them. Old Testament saints, living long before the fulfillment of the events that the Spirit of Christ put in their hearts, were absolutely confident that these prophecies would be fulfilled. The Prophets saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth.
Unlike the Prophets of old, Peter and the other apostles were eyewitnesses to the glory of the Messiah, His Ministry, Suffering, Execution, Death, Burial, Resurrection, and His physical Ascension returning to His Father in heaven. This deliberate and gracious unfolding of God’s Plan to redeem the lost is so marvelous, so overwhelming that even the angels longed to know the matchless Glory of the Son of God.
Peter assured his suffering brethren that the certainty of their salvation would be their strength to excel beyond the passing realities of their anguish, persecution, and trials. They persevere because they are preserved.
As we take time to ponder the unequivocal teachings of the Scriptures on the perseverance of God's children, we find Peter continuing to extol the riches of the faith given to us in Jesus Christ. In and through all these experiences, Christ is preeminent. In good or bad times, whether experiencing material blessing or persecution and poverty, the believer is continually molded, tried, refined, and purified.
Indeed, the refining process is difficult and painful. But the Lord employs this process for the strengthening and maturing of His people. The Lord never abandons His own. A refined faith is much more precious to God than perishing purified gold. The Proverbs say: "The crucible is for refining silver and the smelter for gold, but the one who purifies hearts by fire is the Lord.” Slowly but surely, Christians are molded into persons who can be effective in the work of God's Kingdom for the Glory of God.
Therefore, we continue to honor God with our lives regardless of the circumstances surrounding us. We know that there is nothing or no one who can separate us from the love of our Father. We love Him even as He loved us. His Love works through us. We serve Him with all our might and means as He empowers us to glorify Him even through the refining hardships we face.
God the Almighty is our Creator and our Father. He redeemed us for Himself out of His own judgment. We are his children and His servants. We are co-heirs with His Son Jesus Christ. He Who loved us enough to spare us from His judgment with His own sacrifice, how much more is He faithful and trustworthy to protect His own and to preserve us from the annihilative effects of harm, persecution, or suffering for His name sake!
We are His children, His prized possession, and His refined servants. As believers who trusted Christ for our salvation, we must know and understand that His Power in us is stronger than the persecution perpetrated against us. God preserves those whom He redeemed.