(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, I was thinking that I love 1 Peter, but I think, in this series, I've probably said that ten times approaching a new passage. But there's something particularly helpful and particularly sweet about 1 Peter. I would title 1 Peter, “Suffering and True Spirituality.”
Peter is writing to a now mixed bag of believers, Gentiles who had lived in this world of worldly pleasure and Jews who had lived in the Old Testament traditions and the legalism that came out of out of that. But, now they’re together, they’re aliens and exiles in a hostile world. I think for us, Peter has a very fresh and modern feel because we now exist in a world that's growingly hostile to our faith, hostile to a biblical worldview, hostile to a biblical morality. And like the people to whom Peter was writing, we’re going to begin to experience the persecution and the suffering, the misunderstanding, the rejection that comes out of that hostility.
It's very interesting. If a pastor told you that he was going to write a letter to sufferers, what would you think the letter would be? I would think it would just be filled with compassion and sympathy. And you have a bit of that in 1 Peter, but boy that’s not the content of it. This is really marching orders.
And it reminds us that the sweetest thing that God does for us in suffering is not call us to focus on our suffering, but to focus on who we are and what we’ve been given and get up and follow Jesus. And you really see that from the get go in 1 Peter; the summary message of 1 Peter is in chapter 1, verses 3 through 9. And there, Peter makes, it must've been for his readers, a shocking connection between hardship and holiness, that God has actually chosen to use these difficult things that they’re facing to advance His work in their lives.
The example that Peter uses is metallurgy where a metal is mined; it’s in an ore-state; ore is not very attractive and very usable, and so a chemical agent is added to it and white-hot heat, and what you end up with something that reaches its greatest beauty and its greatest usability. That's what God does with trials. He takes the very things we want to avoid and uses them to produce maturity of faith and godliness in us. There's a way in which, if you follow Christ, that hostility is inevitable. But it's also inevitable because it's a primary tool of the Savior to form His likeness in us.
So, Peter establishes that hardship and hostility, that suffering and true spirituality principal, and then he applies it to our everyday citizenship, our family life, and the church. And then he leaves us with this incredible encouragement; I can't not read this to you:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever, Amen.
Don't worry, God's at work. He's going to confirm and establish you; and because He has dominion, His way will win!