GOD AT WORK
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV)
1. The Adoration
Peter, the apostle, begins his letter by ‘giving praise to God the Father’. This pattern of adoration is seen in the various letters of the apostles. For example, Paul does the same as he writes to the Romans (1:8), Corinthians (First Letter- 1:4; Second Letter- 1:3), Ephesians (1:3), Thessalonians (First Letter- 1:2-3; Second Letter- 1:3) and so on.
There is an important lesson that we must learn and practice from these examples. The Living God has revealed Himself to us as a ‘Triune God’. By this we mean that God exists as 3 persons- the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. We have one God revealed in Three Persons or Three Persons in One Being (described as the Holy Trinity).
The Triune God is Co-Equal and Co-Eternal. But in their working or functioning, we observe that the Son chooses to subject Himself to the Father (Matthew 20:33; Mark 13:32; John 14:28,31; Acts 1:7; 1 Corinthians 15:24, 28) and the Holy Spirit seeks to glorify the Father and the Son (John 16:13-15; Acts 10:45-46; 1 Corinthians 12:3).
In the context of our relationship with God also, there is a specific manner in which we are to relate to each Person. For instance, we repent towards the Father (Acts 17:30; 20:21), believe in the Son (Acts 16:31) and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 10:47). Prayer is to be made to the Father (Matthew 6:6, 9; Ephesians 3:14), through the Son (John 16:26; Ephesians 2:18) and in the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26; Ephesians 6:18). In worship, our rejoicing or celebration is in Jesus and His work, as we are led by the Holy Spirit and glory is ultimately given to God the Father (Ephesians 5:18-20; Philippians 2:9-11; 3:3; Revelation 1:5-6).
2. The Basis
Every blessing God gives and every expression of His goodness towards is because of His mercy (and not because we are worthy or deserve it). While we are vessels fit for His wrath, He does not treat us as our sins deserve and chooses to shower kindness instead on account of His Son.
It is tragic that while God is so full of mercy and we are in desperate need of it, very few actually acknowledge their condition and ask Him for it. Men like to boast about what they have accomplished and attained. But while the world works on the principle of ‘merit’, God works on the foundation of ‘mercy’.
We must always remember, no matter how much we may have grown in the spiritual life, that the basis for our approach towards God and relationship with Him will always remain His mercy. Paul knew this very clearly and the more he walked with God, the more he realised the depth of God’s goodness and his own wickedness. In his letter to the Corinthians, he describes himself as the “least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9); 25 years later, in his letter to the Ephesians, he sees himself as “less than the least of all God’s people” (Ephesians 3:8); and finally, as he writes to Timothy towards the end of his life, he introduces himself as “the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)!
3. The Act
In His great mercy, God has done something vital, powerful, and eternally significant in our lives. He has given us ‘new birth’.
A birth speaks of a ‘beginning’- something that hitherto did not exist has come to be. And this is exactly what God has wrought in us. From our rotten and hopeless condition, He works within us giving us a new heart and nature. While previously, we were dead in our sins- rebellious towards God and separate from Him, now, He has given us a heart that seeks Him and is sensitive towards Him.
The entire process by which God works out this new birth is not described by Peter here. But a study of related texts as taught by Jesus and Paul reveal the vital role that immersion (baptism) in water and immersion (baptism) in Spirit also play in helping us to begin all over again and receive fulness of life.
4. The Blessing
We are born into a ‘living hope’ and an ‘inheritance’. This is what God promises us and is preparing for us.
Our hope is described as one that is ‘living’ signifying very clearly that it is not false or hollow. It is real and eternal because it comes through someone who is alive forevermore- Jesus Christ the Lord. While the whole world is gripped with a sense of hopelessness concerning what is happening now and what will happen in the afterlife, the believer in Christ knows very clearly what is going on in the world right now and looks forward with eager anticipation to what is yet in store!
There is an inheritance which God has prepared for us. It can never perish, spoil or fade. Jesus spoke of having treasures in Heaven. Infact, a study of His teachings show how much He wanted people to be rich and to store up treasures for themselves…………….. in ‘Heaven’! (Matthew 6:19-20; 19:21)
Further studies on the inheritance also reveal how it refers to the ‘kingdom’ which the Father has made for us since the creation of the world (Matthew 25:34; James 2:5). It is the place where God is actively present and where His rule is fully experienced. It is the new Jerusalem, the new earth where the dwelling of God is with men for all eternity.
5. The Protection
God’s people are living in perilous times. But they have the power of the Holy Spirit as a shield to protect them from every evil attack of the Enemy. As they live by faith, they will experience His grace and presence in their lives.
Peter highlights the fact of a ‘coming salvation’ and the reality that we are living in the ‘last days’. A ‘coming salvation’ speaks of the final phase of salvation, the completion and consummation of the work that God has started in us. And the ‘last time’ refers to how we are living in the final moments of history as we know it. The last stages are the most crucial and critical moments, and reading this with a time lapse of nearly 2000 years tells us how much prepared we ought to be as we draw ever nearer to the grand finale!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you!