Thursday, 9 September 2010

The hope of the Christian

Just read this fantastic outline of the message of the book of 1 Peter! Find the book towards the back of the Bible, and read below to get a sense of what it's about.
Facing impending assaults on the gospel, Peter witnesses to the grace of God, the overwhelming reality of what God has done in Jesus Christ. The apostle knows that Jesus rose from the dead; he saw him ascend to heaven. He knows, too, why Jesus died, and what his death accomplished, as he writes: ‘Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed’ (2:24).

The reality of what Christ has done makes sure the hope of the Christian ‘brotherhood’. Christians can not only endure suffering for Christ’s sake; they can rejoice, for in their agony they are joined to Jesus who suffered for them. Their very sufferings become a sign of hope, for, as Christ suffered and entered into his glory, so will they. The Spirit of glory and of God rests on them (4:14).

Whether their neighbours attack or respect them, they can bear witness to the grace of God by their Christian lifestyle. Quietly and humbly they can live holy lives, not seeking to claim their own rights, but honouring others. Such humble living is in no way servile or demeaning, for Christians know themselves to be the royal people of God’s own possession, the chosen heirs of the new creation. They need not avenge themselves, nor need they claim for themselves what is their due; their trust is in the judgment of God. Christians are ‘resident aliens’ in [their towns and cities], but they are members of God’s own household.
The gift of God’s love, the blood of Jesus Christ, has redeemed Christians from the corrupt and empty lifestyle of their God-less past; that grace now unites them in fervent love for one another. They serve and help one another, using the rich spiritual gifts with which God’s grace equips them, ... [Jesus watching over them].
By the victory of Jesus Christ over all the powers of darkness they are freed from the power of Satan. They can repulse the roaring lion; in the fires of trial their faith will not be destroyed but purified like gold in the furnace. They may cast all their cares on God, knowing that he cares for them.
The grace that already fills Christians with joy will be brought to them fully at the appearing of Jesus Christ. The Lord, whom they love but have not seen, they will see and adore. Knowing well the doom and darkness from which they were delivered, the new people of God sing forth his praises. Their hallelujahs ring from their assemblies, their homes, even from the prison cells where their fear of God has set them free from the fear of man. Their witness is a witness of praise. Nourished by the unfailing Word of God, they taste already the goodness of their Saviour. The true grace of God has called them to his glory: everything, even their sufferings, will serve his purpose who redeemed them at such a price.
Some may scorn the comfort and triumph of Peter’s letter as unpractical theology. His answers are answers of faith. But Peter knows that his witness is true, that Jesus Christ is real. He has tasted that the Lord is good, and that his goodness will not fail. ‘This is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it’ (5:12).

Clowney, Edmund P.: The Message of 1 Peter : The Way of the Cross. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA : Inter-Varsity Press, 1988 (The Bible Speaks Today), S. 23

Praise the Lord! Praise Him for Peter's witness to us and for the certain hope of being saved by Christ, if we ally ourselves with him and his people on earth. Amen.

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