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This World Is Not Our Home – Part 2

January 24, 2019

 

 

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the great tensions that every Christian lives with is this: Though we currently reside in this world, this world is not our home.

 

This is an important reality and perspective for Christians to maintain, especially in the midst of the pain and dark valleys we walk though in this life. There is much hope to be found in the biblical teaching that one day we will be with our Lord in heaven forever. And this is assured because of Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf, in our place. 

 

Can you imagine… 

 

No more pain. 

 

No more tears. 

 

No more anxiety.

 

No more cancer. 

 

No more hospitals. 

 

Only eternal joy in the presence of our Savior and King. 

 

Even as I write these words, the thought of heaven makes me want to break out in song, praising the Name of our great and glorious Lord!

 

According to the Apostle Peter, the reality of eternal life for those who have been saved by Christ gives us a living hope in the midst of our suffering right now, today.  

 

In fact, in chapter 1 of Peter’s letter, verses 3-9, Peter provides five reasons we can rejoice through suffering. We looked at the first two in the last post, consider the final three of these with me. 

 

 

The third reason…

 

#3: We can rejoice through suffering because we have divine protection through a secured salvation (vs. 5).

 

Look at verses 3-5…

 

"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."

 

This is what Peter means when he says in verse 5, “…you…who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” The picture is literally of an army holding up shields to protect a town. It is like God holding up this shield of faith, which will secure that you will persevere to the end. Such a powerful image! 

 

Where does our security lie in this life and for our future? Not in our own strength, not in the things of this world. No, our security for this life and the next lies in God as He guards us and protects our faith, the faith He has gifted us! This is what Paul has in mind when he writes in Ephesians 2:8-9,

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

 

Listen to a few other passages that speak to the Lord securing our faith, by His grace…

 

1 John 5:11-13 - And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

 

John 6:37-39 - All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.

 

Here in 1 Peter, Peter is saying the same thing: Nothing and no one can snatch your faith in God away, if you are in Christ.

 

Your faith is being guarded by the power of God Himself! What a comforting truth this is!

 

 

The fourth reason why we can rejoice is this…

 

#4: We can rejoice through suffering because we have a developing and maturing faith (vs. 6-7). 

 

Pain and suffering are not in themselves good. They are the result of living in a fallen world. 

 

For this reason, we don’t rejoice because of trials. No, we rejoice in the midst of trials.

 

There is a big difference.

 

In spite of the evils we face, the pain and hardship we each encounter, God providentially brings about good. 

 

This is the paradox that we see next in verses 6-7…

 

Peter begins verse 6 by saying, “In this you rejoice…” What is “this”? It is what he has just talked about in verses 3-5, that God in his great mercy has caused us to be born again and now we have a living hope because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 

 

He goes on, “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.”

 

Notice here in verses 6-7 that just as gold, when refined in fire, is purified and demonstrated to be authentic, God uses trials to reveal and prove the genuineness of our faith. 

 

William VanDoodewaard writes, “Our faith goes through trials in the same way that gold is purified; impurities are burned out at high temperatures. But Peter notes the great difference—gold is perishable, our faith is not. No matter how hot the fire of the trial it cannot destroy our faith.”

 

Again, trials are revealing, proving the genuineness of our faith, just as gold, when refined in fire, is purified and demonstrated to be authentic.

 

Friends, God uses trials not only to prove our faith but to develop and mature our faith, as well. 

 

As our faith develops and matures, we learn to rejoice even as we grieve. 

 

We don’t rejoice over the trial itself, but we rejoice over the work God is doing in usand through us as a result of the trial.

 

This continues to be the prayer of my heart as we walk this road with Eli: “Lord, do Your work in me! Use this trial to bring glory to Yourself and good to others in and through our family as a result of this trial. We cannot do this but You can, Oh Lord! Even in our darkest moments of despair, strengthen our faith that Your goodness and Your faithfulness might be seen by all!” 

 

 

Finally, the fifth reason why we can rejoice through suffering is this…

 

#5: We can rejoice through suffering because we have a powerful Savior who’s deliverance is guaranteed (vs. 8-9). 

 

Peter closes this section by shifting our attention from our trials to Jesus Christ himself. 

 

Look at verses 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.”

 

Peter is saying that as Christians we can rejoice through times of suffering because we have confidence in the unseen power of Christ. He is encouraging these believers (and us) that they are especially blessed because although they had not literally seen the Savior like Peter had, they still believed in Him and loved Him as if He were present. This is the mark of biblical, God-honoring, saving faith! Believing and trusting in Christ even though we don’t see him physically, knowing that He is alive, He is present, and He is working in every part of our lives for our good and His glory!

 

So often, we “see” Christ most clearly in times of trial. When suffering comes, it often wakes us up to see that Christ truly is our all in all.

 

I’ve heard it said that “You can never learn that Christ is all you need until Christ is all you have.” 

 

I understand the truthfulness of these words now more than ever before.

 

Ultimately, here in verses 8-9, Peter wants us to understand the mind-blowing reality that we can rejoice in suffering because the salvation of our souls is guaranteed through Christ.

 

We read…

 

“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.”

 

As Christians, the “outcome of our faith,” “the result of our faith,” “the fruit of our faith” in Jesus Christ is “the salvation of our souls”. And Peter is saying we will obtain it because Christ has secured our salvation through his death and resurrection on our behalf. 

 

He has secured it.

 

So, friends, can we really rejoice in the midst of suffering? Peter answers this with a resounding, “Yes!” 

 

But our rejoicing is not because suffering is great. Our rejoicing is because Christ is great! 

 

And we are His and He is ours! 

 

He is WITH us and FOR us no matter what trials come our way this side of heaven. 

 

Let me close with these encouraging words from John Brown of Edinburgh, a Scottish Pastor from the early 1800’s. He reminds us that though the trials of life bring us “heaviness of heart” they are “but for a season”: 

 

“God does not afflict willingly, nor grieve without a cause. Everything in the saint’s lot is arranged in the way best suited to promote his true, his everlasting welfare. But in the future state (in heaven) there will be no heaviness, no, not even for a season... Affliction will have served its purpose, and will forever cease. There, then, will be nothing but unmingled happiness and unending rejoicing ... The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and with everlasting joy ... The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them to fountains of living waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

 

 

Brothers and sisters, this is our living HOPE that will one day be our living REALITY, forever.

 

 

 

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