The Promise (1 Peter, Part 4)

14 May

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Last week looked at our future inheritance, our joy, and our confidence. We learned that we have an inheritance to look forward to and that we can have confidence in the Lord whom protects us by His power. We saw that the proof of our faith is more precious than gold. Even though we don’t see Him, we love Him because we walk by faith, not by sight. This morning we’ll look at something the prophets could see, but only dimly.

1 Peter 1:10-12 says, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things into which angels long to look.”

Peter reminds his readers and us of the prediction of the promise. The salvation that Peter refers to is the salvation that is provided by the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood in verse 2. This is the same salvation that the prophets foretold throughout Scripture. Prophets were men of God moved to write the things that God told them to write. 1 Tim. 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” Scripture is good for teaching, good for refutation, good for instruction, and training. You can use the Scriptures to improve all areas of your life. You can use the Scriptures to prove others wrong. The prophets of old were moved to write. A prophet is someone moved by the Spirit of God and is His spokesman. A prophet declares what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as relates to the kingdom of God and to salvation. A true prophet’s predictions always come true. They are not his predictions, but God’s. They never have to be changed if the prophecies don’t come true because God’s prophets are always right. Today’s prophets are not the same as the prophets of old. Today’s prophets declare the truths of the Bible. They don’t receive special revelation from God. Yes, they’re moved by God; yes they’re led by God; but I do not believe today’s prophets receive special inspiration by God. The prophets said that grace would come to you. Titus 2:11 says “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” The prophets said grace would come and Paul says grace has come. Grace has come in the form of Jesus Christ and He has bestowed upon all men unmerited favor allowing the possibility to enter into a relationship with God the Father through the work of the Son on the cross. The prophets knew of His coming because they received the revelation of God. The prophets, “made careful searches and inquiries.”  This phrase literally means to sniff out like a dog sniffs out a scent. They sought out; they scrutinized; the prophets wanted to make sure they understood what the Lord was showing them. The idea is that they perceived that there were some great and glorious truths that they didn’t fully comprehend. They used their natural faculties to understand what they were inspired to write. They became students and interpreters for themselves of their own predictions. These prophets were men and had souls that needed salvation the same as we do. They needed to be sanctified by the truth; and the truth needed to be applied to their own hearts in the same way as it is in others. Just because the Lord chose them to reveal His mysteries would not save them any more than a man who preaches the truth to others will save himself.

We have the prediction of the promise, now let’s look at the person of the promise. The prophets searched out, “what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” They sought to know the character of the One who would bring this grace. The prophets knew they were talking about the Messiah. They didn’t know what He would look like. I’m sure they thought of His work and His nature and wondered what it would be like to be with Him. Much like we wonder about things like our future spouses, our children, or our grandchildren. They sought to know the time the Spirit of Christ was indicating. This is not the specific time that Christ would come. This refers to the age that He would come. What time is right? Would the people and the condition of the age receive Him? Notice that the Spirit of Christ was within them. Peter is simply saying that the Spirit had to be within them so they could write without error. Do notice that Peter says the Spirit of Christ. This is the Greek word Christos meaning anointed one. Remember that Peter is talking about the prophets of old being indwelled by Christ. That means that Christ was around prior to His arrival in the flesh as recorded in John 1:14. His existence did not begin with His incarnation. As Christ has always existed, He knew of His sufferings that would come. The suffering of the Messiah is recorded in the Old Testament, but the glory that would follow is also recorded. David speaks about it in Ps. 16. Isaiah talks about it in several places in his prophecy. The glory followed the suffering and Christ knew that He would have to endure that in order for us to be sprinkled with His blood to secure our inheritance.

We’ve seen the prediction of the promise, the person of the promise, now the purpose of the promise. Verse 12 says, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things into which angels long to look.” The prophets knew that the Spirit was inspiring them for our benefit. The prophets benefited, but the prophecy was for future generations. Remember the prophecy that Peter is referring to here is that the grace of God would come. This grace has been announced or made known by those who preached the good news of Christ’s love, of His life, of His shed blood, of His payment for our sin through His death on the cross, of His resurrection, and of His ascension. That’s the good news. That’s the gospel. The time in which Peter is writing to these strangers is an awesome time. They’re around to see these prophecies actually happen in their lifetime. Jesus said it this way, “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matt. 13:16-17)  I think we’re experiencing things the same way. The angels longed to look at the gospel. The word picture here is of one that can’t see something clearly so he has to stoop down to get a better look, to get a better understanding. Angels don’t have a clear understanding of the gospel. They are not omniscient and must evaluate the things of God. It is not unreasonable to think that there are many things in the plan of God that angels do not understand. They clearly have an advantage in that they are in the presence of God and know much more than we do about some things. They surely have an interest in us. They are ministering spirits. What is so interesting that the angels, “long to look.” There is something so unique about earth that we don’t find anywhere else in the universe. Man was created on earth. Man fell on earth. Christ came to earth to redeem mankind. Angels are intrigued by this and long to understand all of it. But we have the privilege of knowing the gospel.

Peter’s talked about our future inheritance and he has confidence in Christ. Grace was predicted to come by the prophets of old and those prophecies came true in the person of Jesus Christ. Peter sets all of this up to set the stage for what he will talk about next.

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