Summit in General
Dave in Wisconsin Preaching
Sloan’s Home Church in Virginia
Text – 1 Peter 1:3-9
So, some review. Who wrote First Peter? Peter.
What is another name for this Epistle? Epistle to the Pontians.
Who is its intended audience? Christian exiles from Israel living in rich and poor locations doing all sorts of different work; in effect, everybody.
Who was responsible for these people becoming Christians? Peter and his brother Andrew.
Not that it’s theologically important, but who was the faster runner, John or Peter? John.
We’re going to look at some chemistry today, in order to try to show you how great our saving faith is. Gold right now is going for about $950 an ounce, that is a very little bit of gold for a whole lot of money.
Gold is used for all sorts of things; jewelry, electronics, dentistry, medicine (arthritis), aerospace (heat reflecting), atomic energy (radiation reflecting) and it used to be the standard of monetary value, albeit we’ve gone way past that in our inflation.
Gold is awesome, it is easy to mould and/or cast into what you need it to be, it is very malleable/ductile in that regard. Its ductility refers to the ability to stretch it out without breaking. A single ounce of gold can be drawn into a wire 60 miles long. Gold is the third best conductor of electricity after silver and copper. We use gold in electronics because it doesn’t corrode like silver and copper.
Its malleability refers to how you can squish it. Gold is so malleable that you can squish it so thin that you can see through it and barely even know it is there. F-16’s have gold in their canopies to protect pilots against nuclear attack, likewise, astronauts have gold in their face shields to protect against the heat of outer-space.
Gold is worth a lot of money, because it is very useful. It will never be useless while this earth is still around, and if you buy gold today, it will be exactly the same when you die.
We don’t know how long it takes gold to wear out, or how it wears out; throughout history a lot of people have thought maybe it would last forever. The Blanchard gold company has this on their website:
“Gold does not perish, tarnish or corrode, nor does gold have quality grades. Gold mined thousands of years ago is no different from gold mined today.” (http://www.blanchardonline.com/beru/why_own_gold.php)
The reason that people think gold lasts forever is because it doesn’t corrode in the air or in water, even sea water. Golden chariot wheels from Pharoah’s army, when they were drowned in the Red Sea over 3,000 years ago, are still hanging out on the bottom of the ocean. (http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/c/chariot-wheels.htm) An interesting fact about sea water is that it contains huge amounts of gold and would be very valuable if we could figure out a way to get it out that didn’t cost more than the gold we get out of it. But if we found a cheap and easy way to do it, then it would drive the price of gold down because everybody would do it.
Gold is measured in Karats, which comes from the Carob seed which used to be used to measure things. Gold is called things like “14Karat” or “18Karat”, what this means is the purity of the Gold, the higher the number the better, up to 24. The reason is because the Karat is the percentage of gold in the alloy out of 24, for example, 22Karat gold would be 22 parts gold and 2 parts something else, maybe copper or silver. 24Karat would be pure gold, 8Karat would be a little gold. If you had 22Karat gold and the other 2 parts were lead, you could refine the gold in fire and the lead would burn off and you’d get 24Karat gold.
If you were going to invest in one thing on earth, gold would be a good thing to invest in. But when you die, what would happen to it?
Psalm 49:10 For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.
We’re going to look at something today which you can hold onto when you die, no matter how much of it you give away. So, let’s see why this matters to Peter’s Epistle.
1 Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
So let’s look at its parts.
v. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Peter doesn’t play around with the Free-Will debate…he doesn’t believe in it. He starts out by praising God for causing us to be born again in order to display his great mercy. In our being born-again we have a hope now which is found in Jesus Christ dying for our sins and being raised for our justification, or in order to declare that our fine is paid and we are declared innocent and blameless in the sight of God.
Peter introduces a lot of things in these verses which he talks about a lot more later in the letter, like the being born-again, we’ll revisit that soon.
Here is what we’ve been born-again too:
v. 4-5 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Our inheritance, as children of God, is Heaven, which we have inherited with Jesus Christ, albeit we don’t have the perfect version yet. We have a hope of these things, and an assurance because God’s power has ensured it. In the last time we will see sin eradicated and we will have Heaven in its imperishable, undefileable, unfading glory, and in it we will see the perfection of God’s creative ability and power. His saving ability will also be perfectly demonstrated.
v. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
Our hope is for Heaven, and we rejoice that we have been reconciled to God and are being sanctified by the Spirit, even though we are temporarily stuck on earth going through various trials. For the people that Peter is writing to, this could be all sorts of things, starting in Cappadocia where some believers were driven deep into hidden caves where they lived most of their life underground. In Asia Christians were subjected not to painful persecution, but were tempted in all sorts of way with idols, sexual immorality, and legalistic religions. A little later and Christians would be losing their heads in Rome and other places.
These trials truly are various. Today you have a pretty small chance of being burned at the stake, but you have a huge chance of someone propositioning you with some sexual or drug sin. John Piper recently made an incredible point that none of us has any power in of ourselves to face these temptations. We were talking about various great Christians who were martyred for their faith, and we made the point that we should at least consider how we would react in those circumstances.
For example, William Tyndale was a great Bible translator and preacher. The Roman Catholic Church threw him in prison and then decided to burn him at the stake. He was preaching the whole way to the stake and as they tied him to the stake. The Catholics who were officiating were so afraid that he would convert people that they had Tyndale strangled to death. He actually died of strangulation while tied to a stake to be burned. Then afterwards the Catholic Church burned his body.
Beloved, I don’t know if I have the courage or ability to withstand that; actually, I know I don’t. But I do know that in that hour the strength and grace would be given to me by God.
The same with trials we will face that are not life and death, God will give us strength and grace to overcome them if we will fight against sin.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
But why are we put through these trials? Let’s look at verse 7.
v. 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Remember if you have 22Karats of gold and 2 parts lead, how do you get the lead out and the gold pure? You fire it and the dross and impurities burn off. Our faith is the same, with one major difference. Our faith will never go away, it is imperishable. Now here is something awesome about the Bible.
Many people throughout history, and even today, think that gold is imperishable, that it will last forever. The Hindu’s say of their god Brahman, “Just as gold remains even when the ornaments are melted…it remains immortal.” They thought that two things were imperishable, their god and gold. But today we know that gold can perish, if you pour various acids on it, it stops being gold and becomes something else. We don’t know how long it lasts if you don’t pour acid on it, but undoubtedly it’s a long time. Various manmade golds can stop being gold in as little as three days.
Again, talking about the perishing of gold is Peter introducing a subject he is going to talk more about later in 2 Peter 3. Our faith is imperishable because it is from God, it is his gift to us, yet we need to have it tested, run through the fire, so that the impurities burn off and we have a pure faith. This is done partly on earth, but when we get to Heaven, our faith will be totally pure.
What happens to your gold when you die? You leave it behind.
What happens to your faith when you die? You take it with you, it ensures your salvation and your inheritance in Heaven.
Have you ever heard the quote, “You want to have your cake and eat it too.”? It’s kind of confusing, but when you understand it, it’s cool. It pretty much means I want to have a piece of cake, but I also want to eat that cake, but then I wouldn’t have cake, because it’d be eaten, but if I had cake, then I wouldn’t eat it…understand?
Gold is the same way. You can’t have your gold and give it away too. You can do one or the other.
But faith is boundless in how much you can give away, and the more you give away, the more you get. You can give of yourself and still have all of the blessing. And as your faith abounds, you will be able to better offer to Jesus Christ praise, honor, and glory, and so will those whom you have led to faith in Jesus Christ. Truly the faith given by Jesus Christ is so much better than gold, and not just because gold is fleeting, but because there is so much more blessing and eternality in faith than in gold.
C.S. Lewis said it best, “Whatever is not eternally useful is entirely worthless.” So set your faith on Christ, realize that worldly things are fleeting and that only what is done for Christ will last.
Finally, what do we put our faith in? Peter concludes the thought with verses 8 and 9.
v. 8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Though we have not seen Christ, we know that he is the faithful and true one, he who was dead but is yet alive, he who provided a ransom for our souls. We were once his enemies, but we have been reconciled to be his friends, and as his friends we love him. And because of every good thing that is in him and the promises he has made for us, we rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible.
So let us press forward in our faith, seeing it tested, rejoicing as we are sanctified and purified to be images of the Living Christ, preaching the gospel and faith which are capable of saving the souls of our relatives, friends, and even strangers, for everything we do that does not have a view to Christ will perish.
Finally, a poem that I think sums up this section beautifully on our faith that is worth more than gold. The author of this poem is unknown, some think it was CT Studd, which is as good a guess as any, albeit I think it predates him and I think he only turned it into a much bigger poem:
‘Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when at last I'll hear the call,
‘Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Write a least two sentences considering Christ’s question, “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and yet lose their soul?” and how it relates to a world that is perishing.
Then consider if gaining the world is evil. Look at 1 Timothy 6:10 and write at least one sentence describing why the love of money is different than having and using money.
Finally, if the world is perishing and the love of money is the root of all sorts of wickedness, why is it so much better to set your affections on Heaven and God?