CURIOSITY AND CONSISTENCY
1 Peter 1:10-12
Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
June 23, 2013
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
-- 1 Peter 1:10-12, ESV
The paragraph we approach now is perhaps the most curious and consistent in the first epistle of Peter. It is curious, because it deals with mysterious things like prophets and prophecies, Christ in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, and angels peaking through curtains. It is consistent, because the major themes of salvation by grace are prominent. Perhaps by tracing the consistencies of the Christian life we can iron out some of the curiosities that span the past, present, and future of the kingdom of God.
Salvation is Always By Grace
“Concerning this salvation,” it was, is, and always will be by grace. Old Testament prophets could not and New Testament pastors should not preach any salvation that is not by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation by grace means that God does not elect people for salvation because they are good, but because He is great and gracious. Israel was by no means the biggest and best nation on the planet during the days of the Old Covenant, but by grace alone God chose faithful Israelites alone to be his people. The people of the New Testament church are about as mixed up and messed up as any people in the general population, but God by grace alone has chosen the true believers within the church alone to be and bear the body of Christ to the world. Prophets and pastors and all people must acknowledge that salvation is “about the grace” of God.
And, it is received through faith. The job of an Old Testament prophet, like the job of a New Testament preacher, it to call people to faith. There would be no purpose for“prophets who prophesied” and “those who preached the good news” if the prophesying and preaching does not point people to faith. Preaching should make you think, preaching should make you feel, but prophetic and biblical preaching is mainly a gift of God to make you believe. Faith is essential to make grace yours. It makes salvation personal and effectual, as long as such faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“The sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” is the subject of prophesying, preaching, and pointing people to faith. This is the “preached ... good news.” Moses preached Jesus and the gospel in Genesis 3:15 and Deuteronomy 18:15. David preached Jesus and the gospel in Psalms 2, 22, 110 and many more. Isaiah preached Jesus and the gospel in Isaiah 53, Jeremiah preached Jesus and the gospel in Jeremiah 33, Ezekiel preached Jesus and the gospel in Ezekiel 34, Daniel preached Jesus and the gospel in Daniel 7, Zechariah preached Jesus and the gospel in Zechariah 12, Malachi preached Jesus and the gospel in Malachi 3, and that just scratches the surface of the prophets and the places in the Old Testament that point people to Jesus Christ. They knew like we must know that salvation is always by grace alone, always points people to faith alone, and saving faith is in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ alone!
The Spirit Always Reveals Truth
But how did they know, and how can we know the gospel truth? Consistently and curiously, it is by the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
As far as curiosity and mystery goes, this particular text in 1 Peter bears witness to the curious and mysterious true doctrine of the Trinity. “The Spirit of Christ in them,” the Old Testament prophets, is the same Spirit that enabled the New Testament Apostles and preachers, “those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are one in the same Deity who lives within every person of faith to enable them to live and speak the truth of God. There is also no doubt that God the Father and God the Son are one and the same God (ref. Isaiah 9:6; John 10:30, etc.). So, the one true and living God had indeed revealed Himself to us in the triune persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
As far as consistency goes, the Holy Spirit is that part and person of God who always speaks the truth (ref. John 16:13). And nothing is more true than the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us the truth about ourselves, that we are sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. The gospel tells us the truth that death is defeated in the suffering and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us the truth that life is found in the resurrection and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Preachers can know they are true preachers and believers can know they are true believers when the truth comes out of their lives and lips, because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, is living and working within them.
Intellectual truth can only take you so far. You can only know so much with certainty. Emotional truth can only take you so far, for emotions and feelings are hard to read and can prove counterfeit. But spiritual truth can take you all the way to God; or rather, bring God all the way to your mind, heart, and soul. This truth will set you free, this truth will save your soul, and this truth comes from the Truth, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Suffering Always Precedes Glory
Let me reiterate that the key components to the truth of the gospel are “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” Like the Apostle Peter, the Apostle Paul made this the centerpiece of his preaching and writing as well (ref. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Jesus Christ suffered and sacrifice for our sins; then, He was raised again for our salvation and share in His glory. Suffering preceded glory for Jesus Christ, as it does for His true followers.
First century Christians truly suffered for their profession and practice of faith. Never was this any truer than in the days during which Simon Peter wrote his two New Testament epistles. That is why Peter makes suffering a companion theme to salvation in his writings. There is no need to say much about it here, for he will elaborate eloquently as the epistle moves along. It just seems important to note at this juncture that whether you are a prophet, preacher, pastor, or any personal follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are never more Christ-like than when you suffer for your faith. And when you are suffering, keep on believing that the suffering is a prelude to glory. Then, keep on living and preaching the gospel.
The Gospel Always Goes Forward
The prophets preached salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, even thought they did not know exactly when Jesus would come, nor when He would come again. The Apostles, following in the prophets’ footsteps, preached salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, having been eyewitnesses to His first coming, but completely ignorant as to the time of His second coming. Today we preachers and parishioners continue this Great Commission. Moses and Isaiah understood. Peter, Paul, and John understood. We Christians today understand. All while the angels, hovering around humanity this whole time, apparently have no idea what the preaching of the gospel is all about.
This is curious, isn’t it? Angels obviously have propensities and powers we do not possess. They are mostly invisible to our eyes but often appear as strangers. When they have appeared in their actual amenities, the humans involved always had to be told not to fear. They are awesome beings created to overtly glorify God and provide covert service in various ways to the children of God. Everything about unfallen angels seems awesome, except they don’t seem to understand God’s plan of salvation. They are caught here“long[-ing] to look,” literally stooping and peaking at the great transformation that the gospel makes in the lives of human beings.
They cannot understand what it is really like to be saved because they have never been, saved that is. Fallen, unfaithful angels are doomed forever and the unfallen, faithful angels have no need of being redeemed. They do not know what it is like to be lost and found, dead and quickened, condemned then consecrated as a choice child of God.
But if you are a Christian, you know what this is like. You remember when the gospel was preached to you with power and conviction. You remember conviction and repentance. You experienced and continue to exercise faith. The gospel of Jesus Christ, through prophets and apostles and missionaries and preachers and parents and friends, has come to you and you have been saved by grace. You know what the “angels long to look” into. You know what it is like to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!
So what are you to do with the rest of your life? Be sure of your salvation, that it is by grace. Be sure of the truth, rely on the Holy Spirit living within you. Be willing to suffer for your salvation and the salvation of others. Take the gospel and pay it forward, preach it forward.
The Old Testament law-givers preached Jesus as the one who would crush the head of the serpent, the high priest, and the holy sacrifice, and preached it forward to the writers. The writings present Jesus as the commanding General and conquering King who leads us to the promised land, and preached it forward to the poets. The Psalmists preached Jesus who would endure betrayal and murder and rise so that the gates of glory would be opened to let the King come in, and preached it forward to the major prophets. The major prophets preached Jesus as the Suffering Servant, the New Covenant, the Son of Man and Son of God, and the fourth man in the fire, then preached it forward to the minor prophets. The minor prophets preached Jesus as true and faithful one who will come and restore all the years the locusts have eaten away, then preached it forward to the New Testament preachers. Matthew preaches Jesus as King, Mark preaches Jesus as Savior, Luke preaches Jesus as Lord, and John preaches Jesus as God with us. The Epistles explain Jesus as the giver of grace through faith that saves, and the Revelation preaches Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords who is coming again to rule the heavens and the earth and share His inheritance with the children of God.
“Concerning this salvation,” it is now ours. We Christians and we as a Christian church must preach Jesus and pour forward the gospel of the kingdom of God. We must spin these words of Simon Peter where he said of the prophets, “they were serving not themselves but you” and commit our lives to serving not ourselves but others, those who need the everlasting and soul-saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Believe it. Live it out. Tell it when and to whom you can. For the gospel will go forward, consistently, until that curious and mysterious day when Jesus Christ comes again.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org