Peter was a fisherman. He was supposed to have been "uneducated and untrained." Yet, I found myself struggling with his words as I read through 1 Peter 1. Bemused, I remembered how he said:
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. (2 Peter 3.15-17)
And I thought, "Sheesh, I know Paul is difficult in places to grasp, but Peter, buddy… have you read what you’re writing? Have you smelled what you’re stepping in?"
Perhaps it’s just my lazy brain as I try to read, but you go sit down and read the first chapter of 1 Peter and tell me if it comes easy for you.
I read the Bible through last year using Journey’s Ancient Words website and reading plan, but this year has been a hodge-podge of scriptural reading. There’s been no systematic plan. I know my scriptural intake has been far less in the amount of quantity, and I suspect also, quality, than it was last year. I wonder if that’s why it was hard to dig in and grasp 1 Peter around the neck.
So, I do what I normally do when I’m struggling with God’s Word: I write out my thoughts. It helps me. It might help you when you find yourself in a similar situation. Here goes:
It would probably help you track to flow to read 1 Peter 1 as/before you read this. (I was using the ESV.)
- It is only by God’s mercy that I’m born again. This salvation prompts me to live with electric expectancy and hope in my ultimate future. v3-5
- God has promised, by His power and Christ’s death and resurrection, to guard me, to protect me, through faith so that I will receive what was promised. v4-5
- Even though I encounter hardships, it is all part of my ultimate reward in Christ. Trials prove my faith. v6-8
- The prophets of old questioned God about when their messages would be ultimately fulfilled adn who their message about the Messiah referred to. They were told that their message was for us, a people who would come later. Like them, we’ve never seen the Messiah, but we believe. v8-12
- This salvation by God requires us to have right minds, right thinking. We are told to fix, to set our hopes fully on future grace – "grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus." As our minds are set, fully convinced (and often needing a refresher – a "re-convincing"), we are able to see our evil desires for what they are and choose not to give in to them. v13-14
- We are called and urged to holiness – not necessarily happiness. Holiness is huge. It essentially means that I must live a "separate" kind of life – a distinct life, and obviously God-devoted life. Holiness eliminates compromise. It’s an all-or-nothing way of living.
So few believers that I know regularly and steadfasty pursue it. v14-16 (BTW, I highly recommend Jerry Bridge’s Pursuit of Holiness. We’ll be offering it as a small group elective through Journey next week for collegians, singles, and others who won’t be participating in our marriage and parenting groups.)
- The way we live should reflect the conviction that we don’t belong here. We’re destined, promised, and anticipating our true home, so we should "conduct ourselves with fear throughout the time of our exile." We’ve been bought by the blood of Christ, and this world no longer has any claim on us. In fact, our inheritance is in heaven. v17-18
- Now that I’m saved, I should continue to grow deep in my love and appreciation for other believers. I need to take an active role in encouraging, exhorting, and uplifting individual folks and small groups in practical ways. What should this kind of love look like? v22
- I have a new life that will last forever. v23 That new life equates to new ways of thinking and living. (2.1-3) I need to regularly feed on and be fed by spiritual food.
These are just some simple observations from 1 Peter 1 that I wrote down to help me grasp God’s Word better, or rather to allow it to grasp me. I hope and pray that such similar exercises for you might produce spiritual fruit and application in your own life.