Study 2 AN APOSTLE’S GREAT HYMN OF PRAISE
THE FIRST LETTER OF PETER
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portions: 1 Peter 1:3-9; Psalm 103:1-12)
Throughout the New Testament there are a number of doxologies – ‘hymns expressing praise and honour to the Trinity’ – look up 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3. This song of praise in 1 Peter 1:3 seems to be the key-verse to this short section of the letter. It is as though Peter said, ‘I’m praising God for all He has done for me and for all the great blessings He has given me.’ What blessings? Seven are mentioned in verses 3-9.
1. Praise God for the great mercy He has shown us.
Peter says this in verse 3. Do you ever think of God’s mercy? Why should God take any notice of us? We have no claim upon Him at all; we did not love Him – we were sinners (Romans 5:8), enemies (Romans 5:10), condemned (Romans 5:18); our sins deserved eternal death, but God had mercy upon us – look up Psalm 103:8-11. What a merciful thing it is that He had mercy upon us! Had it been otherwise we could never have come back into fellowship with Him and we must forever have been banished from His presence.
2. Praise God that He has made us His children.
The words in verse 3, ‘given us new birth’, mean that we have been born again – look up John 3:5. God is the author of our natural life and our spiritual life. Physically, we had a natural birthday, but if we are Christians we have also a spiritual birthday, and because of this we are members of God’s family – look up John 1:11-14; we are His children and are related to Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – look up Galatians 3:26. Do you ever meditate upon this amazing fact that you are a child of God? look up 1 John 3:1. You were a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), a child of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2), but now you are a child of God – ‘Praise Him!’
3. Praise God that He has given us such a living hope.
See the last part of verse 3 and verse 4. The unbeliever has no hope for the future, except a few more years down here in this sinful world, with tears, wars, fears, alarms, and then death and eternity – look up Ephesians 2:12; but as Christians we have a living hope. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus was the demonstration of His complete victory over sin, death, Hell and Satan, and by His death and through His resurrection He has opened the kingdom of Heaven to every believer. If Jesus had not died and had not risen our position would have been hopeless and we would have been helpless; we would have had no salvation (Acts 4:12); no forgiveness (Acts 13:38-39); no chance of becoming members of God’s family (Ephesians 3:14-15) and no Heaven (John 14:2); but because He died and rose again we now have ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven…’ (verse 4). What is our inheritance? It is all that is ours now in Christ – look up Ephesians 1:3; it is all that is ours in the future – “kept in heaven”; but more, our inheritance is the Lord Himself – not the blessings only, but the Blesser – look up Numbers 18:20; Psalms 16:5-6; 17:15; 73:25. How rich we are! – look up Romans 8:15-17. Our inheritance “can never perish”, which means that it is ‘beyond the reach of change and decay’; it will not “spoil”, which means that it is ‘pure’, ‘not touched by earth’s stains’, and it will not “fade”, it will last forever – look up Matthew 6:19-20.
4. Praise God that He has promised to keep us until the journey’s end.
Verse 5 tells us this. We have a wonderful inheritance waiting for us – but what if we fail and sin against the Lord by grieving Him and backsliding? The answer is that we “through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation….”. This is the biblical teaching of the perseverance of the Saviour and the preservation of the saints – look up and compare John 10:27-29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 4:18.
5. Praise God that He is testing us now that we may receive praise and honour when we see Him.
Verses 6 and 7 state this important truth, and note that the testing is only “for a little while”, and that we are able to praise the Lord for the trials He permits to come across our path. We praise Him because these trials and testings have a purpose. God permits them, and indeed sends them for a glorious purpose. Gold is purified by fire, which is necessary to remove the alloy. This is one reason why God permits trials and testings. He is disciplining us so that we may be prepared for a reward when we see Him. This truth is clearly taught in Hebrews 12:5-13 – also look up James 1:12; Romans 8:28-29.
6. Praise God that with every trial and testing we experience His deep and abiding joy.
The apostle mentions this in verse 8, and for an illustration we need only to turn to Acts 16:25, where we see Paul and Silas in the prison at Philippi, physically unwell, suffering from the treatment they had received, and yet praying and praising God for His goodness – look up John 15:11. This is not natural joy but supernatural joy. It is rejoicing with “an inexpressible and glorious joy”.
7. Praise God that one day soon our salvation will be complete.
This is what Peter says in verse 9. We have been saved from the penalty of sin (Romans 8:1); we are being saved from the power of sin (Romans 8:2); but soon we shall be saved from the very presence of sin – fully saved – look up Philippians 1:20-21; Revelation 22:1-5.
Someone once remarked, when hearing these glorious truths expounded, “Well, if that is all true, nothing else matters!” Do you agree?