I Peter 1:10-12

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

May 23, 2013

                                                        

There is an interesting exchange which took place between Jesus and Pontius Pilate just before Pilate sentenced Jesus to death.  The conversation is recorded in John’s gospel.  When Pilate asked Jesus if Jesus was a king, Jesus said, “You say correctly that I am a king.  For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” And Pilate’s classic response was, “What is truth?”

 

And that question, “What is truth?” is one that is still being asked by people today.  How can we know what is truth and what is falsehood?  In a world who so many philosophical systems, so many theological perspectives, so many seemingly well intentioned spiritual teachers and advisers, all claiming to have the answer to life’s mysteries, how do we know what to believe?...

 

It has been said that life is a never ending search for meaning. While I wouldn’t dispute that, I believe it is more accurate to say that life is a never ending search for truth.

 

On our flight back from Barcelona last week I watched on the plane the movie Life of Pi.  It is the story of a young boy, named Pi, from India who grew up in a family that owned a small zoo.  Because of economic conditions the family was forced to take the zoo animals and leave India by ship. There was a shipwreck and Pi ends up stranded on a small raft with several of the animals, including a ferocious Bengal tiger. Throughout the movie, which is based on a book by the same name, Pi is searching for God.  In his search for God, he simultaneously embraces the religions of Hinduism, Christianity (Catholicism), and Islam.  In one of the scenes his father confronts him during a family meal.  He said to his son, "Believing in everything is the same as believing in nothing."

 

Contrary to popular opinion, all paths do not lead to God. And because of that, it is vitally important for us to make sure we are on the right path.  That is an issue addressed in 1 Peter 1:10-12.

 

Notice verse 10 begins with the phrase “As to this salvation…”  Salvation is one of the main themes of this first paragraph in 1 Peter.  In its narrowest sense, salvation is the transaction that takes place between an individual and God when that person chooses to trust his/her life to Jesus.  In its broadest sense, salvation is the truth upon which that transaction stands.  That truth is the basic message of the gospel—the good news.  It formed the foundation of the preaching and teaching of the church in the 1st century.  It includes the following:

1.   The promises by God made in the Old Testament have now been fulfilled with the coming of Jesus the Messiah (Acts 2:30; 3:19, 24; 10:43; 26:6–7, 22; Rom. 1:2–4; I Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:1–2; I Peter 1:10–12; 2 Peter 1:18–19).

2.   Jesus was anointed as Messiah by God at His baptism (Acts 10:38).

3.   Jesus began His ministry in Galilee after His baptism (Acts 10:37).

4.   His ministry was characterized by doing good and performing mighty works by means of the power of God (Mark 10:45; Acts 2:22; 10:38).

5.   The Messiah was crucified according to the purpose of God (Mark 10:45; John 3:16; Acts 2:23; 3:13–15, 18; 4:11; 10:39; 26:23; Rom. 8:34; I Cor. 1:17–18; 15:3; Gal. 1:4; Heb. 1:3; I Peter 1:2, 19; 3:18; I John 4:10).

6.   He was raised from the dead and appeared to His disciples (Acts 2:24, 31–32; 3:15, 26; 10:40–41; 17:31; 26:23; Rom. 8:34; 10:9; I Cor. 15:4–7, 12ff; I Thess. 1:10; I Tim. 3:16; I Peter 1:2; 3:18, 21).

7.   Jesus was exalted by God and given the name “Lord” (Acts 2:25–29, 33–36; 3:13; 10:36; Rom. 8:34; 10:9; I Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:3; I Peter 3:22).

8.   He gave the Holy Spirit to form the new community of God (Acts 1:8; 2:14–18, 38–39; 10:44–47; I Peter 1:12).

9.   He will come again for judgment and the restoration of all things (Acts 3:20–21; 10:42; 17:31; I Cor. 15:20–28; I Thess. 1:10).

10. All who hear the message should repent and be baptized (Acts 2:21, 38; 3:19; 10:43, 47–48; 17:30; 26:20; Rom. 1:17; 10:9; I Peter 3:21).[1]

When Peter speaks of salvation in verse 10, I think he is speaking in that broad sense.

 

The question is, how can we know those things are true?  To answer that question, Peter turns to the prophets of the Old Testament who looked forward to the message of salvation.

 

What do you think, what image comes to your mind when you hear the word “prophet?”  Not p-r-o-f-i-t as in a dollar prophet, but p-r-o-p-h-e-t as in an Old Testament prophet.  If you’re like the average person the word “prophet” probably brings to your mind the image of a wild-eyed person, with an unkept appearance, wearing sackcloth, and babbling mysterious things about the future.  And while some of the Old Testament prophets did some things that seem rather strange from our perspective, basically the word prophet simply means one who speaks the truth of God. 

 

In these verses Peter tells us how the prophets came to a knowledge of the truth.  If you’ll look carefully at the text you will see that for them coming to a knowledge of the truth was a two step process.  And the process they followed is the same process we must follow to come to a knowledge of the truth...

 

I.       The discovery of spiritual truth requires personal effort on our part

1.      The prophets of old didn’t neglect the use of their intellects in their efforts to come to knowledge of the truth...two phrases in these verses indicate that the prophets understood that discovering spiritual truth required some effort on their part:

·      “made careful search and inquiry” in last part of v.10 – This implies personal effort on their part.  The prophets didn’t just sit around waiting for truth to fall from heaven into their laps.  They searched, they dug, they studied, they worked, they used their intellectual ability to learn all that they could.

·      “seeking to know the person or (and) time” in the first part of v.11 – From their study they discerned that a Messiah from the line of David would break into human history at a certain time.

2.      See in that two important lesson for us today...


i.     First, we are responsible for our own spiritual well-being...the only people on earth who have to be fed by others are the babies and the infirm...just as you are responsible for feeding yourself physically, you are responsible for feeding yourself spiritual...read your Bible...search... inquire...use your God given intellect...that’s what the prophets did and God blessed them for doing so...

 

ii.  Second, we should approach this responsibility with great diligence...there is simply no excuse for Christians being mentally or intellectually lazy in things of the faith...we wouldn't put up with medical doctor or attorney or teacher or pilot who was incompetent in his/her profession because laziness...and wrong for us be that way in relation things of God...

 

When we stand in the pulpit to preach...when we open Bible to teach SS Class...when we share our faith with another person, dealing with most sacred things in all eternity...as deal with them, ought muster every ounce mental ability have...as did the prophets we  must "make careful search and inquiry"...

 

T.S. - However, that by itself, is not enough...it is impossible to understand spiritual truth on human effort alone...the most intelligent person in the world will come up woefully short if that person’s efforts to come to a knowledge of the truth are based only on human effort...in addition to involving personal effort...

 

II.  The discovery of spiritual truth requires a spirit of dependence on God

1.      Peter tells us that the prophets allowed God’s Spirit to teach them...it is not enough to rely upon our intellect...while we must do our part, ultimately truth is revealed to us by God...


2.      The phrase “...the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating...” in v.11 and the phrase “It was revealed to them...” at the beginning of v.12 reminds that the prophets depended on God as the ultimate source of truth...

3.      Suspect when Peter wrote these words he had in mind what he had heard Jesus say about the Holy Spirit...on several occasions Jesus described to the disciples the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth”...and once He told them, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth...”[John 16:13a]

4.      Read this week that G. Campbell Morgan, the great Bible commentator, said the best way to refer to the Holy Spirit was as “the other Jesus”…I like that…we have the Spirit of Jesus, Himself, to guide us into truth…

 

1.      We must not be arrogant when it comes to spiritual things... ultimately all spiritual truth is revealed truth...what we discover about God through our inquiries...what we learn of God through our searching are those things which God has chosen to reveal to us...

2.      Christianity is a religion of revelation...and in these verses Peter reminds us that God’s ultimate revelation, full revelation is in the person of Jesus...and until we open our lives to Him...until we allow Him a resting place inside of us, we will never come to a knowledge of the truth because, as Jesus said, “He, Himself, is the truth.”

                                                        

1.      When Harvard University was founded, its motto was "Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae" (Truth for Christ and the Church).  Its crest showed three books, and one of the books was face down to symbolize the limitation of human knowledge.  But in recent decades the book which was face down on the crest of Harvard has been turned face up to represent the unlimited capacity of the human mind.  And the motto has been modified to simply "Veritas" (truth), dropping any reference to Christ and the church. [INFOSEARCH]

2.      But the prophets of old remind us that the process of discovering real truth involves more than just human effort...while we certainly should make “careful search and inquiry” as the prophets did, we should also allow the Spirit of God to lead us into truth...



[1] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (220). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

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