What is a right theology of suffering? We will all face different trials in life, but God can use your suffering for your good and His glory. 1 Peter 1:3-12 shows us that we can praise God and have joy in suffering because we have the hope of ages.
When Life Is H.A.R.D. | 1 Peter 5:6-14
Who’s in Charge at Watermark? | 1 Peter 5:1-5
Trusting in the Suffering | 1 Peter 4:12-19
The End Is Near | 1 Peter 4:1-11
What Christ Accomplished Through His Death, Burial, and Resurrection | 1 Peter 3:18-22
Hope in Jesus on Display | 1 Peter 3:8-17
The Key to a Better Marriage | 1 Peter 3:1-7
God’s Identity, Calling, and Example for You | 1 Peter 2:13-25
How To Find The Right Church | 1 Peter 2:4-12
3 Indicators of Spiritual Growth | 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Battling Spiritual Amnesia | 1 Peter 1:13-21
Praise in Present Suffering | 1 Peter 1:3-12
Remember Who You Are | 1 Peter 1:1-2
We will all experience suffering in this life, but God works for good even through trials. We can praise God as we suffer well because salvation has come. In 1 Peter 1:3-12, the Apostle Peter demonstrates the praise of God, surpassing joy in suffering, and the hope of ages.
Good morning, Watermark, family of God. Welcome to the outdoors. You're not cooped up anymore. Praise God. So thankful. Four days shut in. We parents got a sentence handed down to us with four days of school cancellation. I walked out to my car on Wednesday, because I had to go somewhere, but I didn't have an ice scraper, and there was a sheet of ice over my windshield. So I went into the garage, and I was like, "I don't have an ice scraper. What do I have?" So I grabbed this. It's a putty knife for mortar.
I'm here to tell you this is the best ice scraper ever invented. It has been marketed wrongly. It took it right off. So, get yourself an ice scraper. I show this because this is an unexpected tool for the problem at hand. This is for masonry. This is an unexpected tool for the problem at hand. So it is in the passage we're going to see today. God is going to give us an unexpected tool for the problem of suffering. He's going to say, "In the midst of suffering, the tool I have given you is praise."
This tool of praise is going to take you out of the presence and power of suffering, that you'd be able to look upward and escape it all, as you look and praise and set your eyes upon the Lord and not on the present pain. I was also, throughout the week… You're there, indoors. You can't really do anything. I started researching wine, a particular vineyard of wine. If you know my story, I was a recovering alcoholic.
You're like, "Oh man. It must have been really bad in your house. Four days in, and you're researching wine." It's not because of that. It's because one time… I had already been sober. The Lord had sobered me, but somebody was talking about wine in my presence. I was listening to it, and I was like, "I'm never going to forget what you just said." So here, years later, I'm Googling "Howell Mountain." I remembered the name because of what the person said.
Howell Mountain is this rare, prized, incredible wine, I suppose. I'm never going to have it, not in this life at least. The reason it's so esteemed and valued is because of the difficult condition in which this vineyard grows. Howell Mountain has what are called diurnal temperatures…di meaning two. It has extreme temperatures. It has really warm days and then really cold nights. The warm days create the sweetness of the fruit, and then the cold nights, because of the variance, locks it in and keeps it because of the extreme cold night.
In addition to that, because there's really no topsoil there…it's this volcanic mountaintop…the roots have to make their way through this rocky, volcanic ground in order to get enough nutrients from deep down within and, as a result, don't even have enough nutrients for much foliage, but instead, all of the nutrient effort go toward the fruit.
I'll never forget it because, as I'm reading this passage on suffering, I'm like, "That's it." In the physical life of that vineyard is the spiritual life and our reality. The problem is we want that robust spiritual fruit without the difficulty of that deep root. We want the sweetness of life without the cold, dark nights, but God has told us in his Word it is only from that deep root in him that we will bear that fruit, the Holy Spirit's fruit. In this paradoxical way that only God could do, in the cold, dark night of suffering, there will come sweetness of life.
So, today, what we're going to talk about is the praise of God and the surpassing joy in suffering because we have received the hope of ages in Christ. As we continue today… TA kicked us off last week in this new series, 1 Peter, and led us through the first two verses and all that God has done. These verses are not throwaway introduction. Rather, this is the goodness of God there in the first two verses. Peter is going to continue now as we go through verses 3-12 in the first chapter.
I want to tell you three things before we read this passage. It's so important to step out and not just be like, "Okay. First Peter. This is a deep, theological book." This is a fisherman. This is some backwoods Galilean fisherman. In fact, in Acts, chapter 4, Caiaphas and Annas are persecuting Peter and John for proclaiming the name of Jesus, because they're like, "We crucified him under Roman authority, and now you guys are claiming he rose from the dead. You've got to stop," and they're like, "You can decide whether we follow you or God. We're going to preach Jesus."
It says they were bewildered by the two of them. They were bewildered by this old fisherman because, they said, he was an agrammatos idiotes. Agrammatos is without grammar. That's uneducated idiot. It's from where we get the term idiot. Like, "Who is this uneducated idiot whom we can't stop?" They're like, "Because he spent time with Jesus." He went from fisherman of the deep to deep theologian through which doctrine and blood poured as he led the church.
The other thing you're going to see in this passage is it is incredibly doxological and trinitarian in nature. Doxological is a construct of doxa, which is glory, and logos, which is words. It's words of glory to God. It's all praise to God, and it's one giant run-on sentence. The Holy Spirit, as leading Peter, starts to pen these words, and he just goes off in praise to God. As it's praise to God, he thus speaks of the three persons in the Godhead…Father, Son, and Spirit…as he just pours forth glory and praise and all of the benefits to mankind.
So, this is not a humanistic passage, like, "What's in it for me?" Rather, because of what God has bestowed to us in his grace, he's like, "Oh my goodness!" and just bursts forth in praise and awe and wonder and glory and honor, as we just did. With that in mind, 1 Peter 1:3-12: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to…" You can start to feel the run-on.
"…to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 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."
Here's our outline for today. The praise of God… There's the doxology: the praise of God. This is verses 3-5. Then we're going to do surpassing joy in suffering (verses 6-9), and then, finally, the hope of ages (verses 10-12).
"…he has caused us to be born again…" He has caused us to be born again. There's nothing we could do to cause ourselves to be born again. It says in Ephesians, chapter 2, that though we were dead in our sins and trespasses, he made us alive. Think about if a person was dead, flatlined, on the table, and then, from an outside force, the defibrillators, compressions, mouth-to-mouth, just bringing them to life. There's nothing that dead person could do. Dead is dead. There's nothing in them that could cause them to be alive.
So, God, as an outside force acting upon us, dead in our sin, has caused us to be born again. We were physically alive though spiritually dead. This is why in John, chapter 3, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus and says, "You must be born again," and Nicodemus' response… He's like, "I'm already physically alive. What am I going to do, be physically born again? Can a man enter again into his mother's womb?" Jesus is like, "Oh, man. You're the teacher of Israel, and you don't understand this? Yes, you're physically alive, but you're spiritually dead in your sin."
So, you're physically alive. You must be spiritually born again, and only God can cause you to be born again. But it's not just to be born again. It says we have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the resurrection. This living hope comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is incredibly important for us.
We alone, as Christians, have a living hope. Hope is a noun. Biblically, hope is not like wishful thinking, toss a penny in a well and make a wish. It's not "What ifs" or "I hope one day." Biblically, a hope, in archaic language, is a trust. Think about a financial trust. It is there. It is yours. There is a certainty in the future as a hope.
I told my son, as one of his Christmas gifts, "Hey, I'll take you to a wings place, and we're going to watch a game on TV." He reminds me of this all the time, like, "When are we going to go? When are we going to go watch a game at a wings place?" I can't take him to a sports bar, and I shouldn't be in one anyway. That's a hope he has because I told him. It's not wishful thinking. I told him, "We're going," and we will go.
We now have a hope, but it's living. The attributive adjective is that this hope is living. How can what you sense or feel or know to be true be living? It's because it's in Jesus. It says, "…through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…" The reason we can have that hope and why it is living is because Jesus is living. He has been raised from the dead.
I was reading recently in Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Underneath Rome there are the catacombs, just this porous rock where the poor and the Christians who were hated would be buried underground. They weren't given the prime land to have a proper burial, so they were literally buried in the catacombs beneath Rome. As they discovered the Christian graves that were marked with hope and symbols of a sheep upon a shepherd's back and Scriptures, they came across a pagan's epitaph.
They would put mortar across the front of the tomb. The pagan epitaph… You contrast this with a living hope. Here's what it said: "Live for the present hour, since we are sure of nothing else." Already, it's haunting. "I lift my hands against the gods who took me away at the age of twenty though I had done no harm." Every person has sin. "Once I was not. Now I am not. I know nothing about it, and it is no concern of mine. Traveler, curse me not as you pass, for I am in darkness and cannot answer."
The haunting reality of all mankind apart from Jesus that lives without a living hope. When they die, they have no idea what's on the other side. You think about Islam, Muslims who are following Muhammad, yet he is in the grave. He can't tell you what's on the other side of death because he is dead in the grave. You can visit his tomb. Or the founders of Hinduism, who wrote the writings of the Bhagavad Gita. They can't tell you what's on the other side because they didn't rise and come back to tell you.
Or the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, whose remains are in the Temple of the Tooth. You can visit them to this day. Christianity alone… Jesus dies for our sins, raises from the dead, and says, "I've seen the other side. I have gone to prepare a place for you. You have a living hope. Because I live, so shall you." It's because of the resurrection that we have this living hope. We praise God for our salvation. He has caused us to be born again.
Then in verse 4, we praise him for our eternal expectation. Not just our salvation, that we've been born again, but our eternal expectation. It says, "…to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…" He's saying apart from decay… That's where it says it is imperishable. It says it is undefiled (that means no evil can touch it), and it says unfading (no passage of time can touch this). Not death or decay, nor any evil, nor any amount of time can ever keep you from the inheritance, the eternal expectation, that awaits you if you are in Jesus.
When Laura and I were first married, we had this rent house, and somebody broke in. All that would have been in that house… We don't keep our money there. Our money is in the bank. That burglar was never going to touch our meager savings. They could have gotten an old laptop and some Craigslist furniture. That's it, because our treasures weren't stored there. In the same way, God is like, "Hey, in this life, you're going to encounter suffering, and no death, no evil, no amount of time, will ever take from you what I am keeping for you in heaven."
You have salvation and an eternal expectation. Then, thirdly, in this passage, praise God for his protection. This is crazy. Verse 5: "…who [you] by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Right here it says that God's power guards us through faith. The term here is a military term, this guarding, akin to Psalm 34 where it says, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them."
It's mind-blowing because in military terms, the general, or the commander, would be somewhere, and then the troops would surround him. Here, God flips that, and he's like, "No, no. I'm God. You're actually going to be the middle, and me, sovereign ruler, Lord of all… I'll be around you." Kingdom upside down. Like, "Who am I that you would guard me?" He's like, "I'm God, and there is no other way. You can't guard yourself. You're about to walk through fiery trials. I've got you. I'll guard you by my power."
There's no amount of gumption, trying harder, or bootstrap of anything we would have that would guard us…no amount of strategy, no amount of New Year's resolutions. It is God's power that guards us. It begs the question… It's like, "I don't feel very guarded with the sickness that has come and the diagnosis that has come and how my boyfriend just treated me or the brokenness from my family of origin or whatever is going on at work. You say your power is guarding me?"
He says, "Through faith." As you walk by faith and not by sight, it says elsewhere. It says without faith it is impossible to please God. So we set our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. We're trusting in the Word of God and saying, "If you say you're guarding me by your power, then, amen. Let it be so. No matter what I see or feel in my circumstances, I'm going to look above, doxologically. I'm going to praise you for your protection, knowing that you will carry me home."
It says there at the balance of the passage, "…ready to be revealed in the last time." Oren Martin, our equipping director, sent me this quote by J.I. Packer. It's incredible. It says, "[God] wills also to guide us…" Because it's not just evil from without; it's evil from within. He's guarding us from circumstances, or whatever, but he's like, "And I'm going to guard you from yourself, too, and the evil within, the flesh."
He says, "…ensuring that, whatever happens, whatever mistakes we may make, we shall come safely home. Slippings and strayings there will be, no doubt, but the everlasting arms are beneath us; we shall be caught, rescued, restored. This is God's promise; this is how good he is." Right there, in verse 5, it is God's promise. It says, "…who by God's power are being guarded…" Guess what verb tense that's in. Present tense.
So, you have the past tense where it says, "He has caused us to be born again." That's past. "I've got you in the past." Then he says, "Kept an inheritance waiting for you in heaven." That's future. Then he moves to the present and says, "Who are being guarded by God's power." He's like, "No matter what has happened, what will be, or what's here, I've got you. I've got you all the way safely home because of Jesus." Let it result in resounding praise, that we would praise him again and again. He has caused us, keeps us, and guards us, and may it be praise. As this brother just said, "Amen."
It says, "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary…" And it is necessary. It says the sufferings of Christ overflow to us. So also does the comfort of Christ. "…you have been grieved by various trials…" It says, "In this you rejoice…" If we don't read carefully, it can be like, "Are you crazy? Are we masochists? In this we rejoice, though we're facing trials of various kinds? Why would I rejoice at this loss or hardship or difficulty or strain? That's crazy."
The word this is everything we have just read. He says, "In this we rejoice," that God has your salvation, your eternal expectation, and your protection. He has got you all the way through. In this we rejoice, although right now we're in these fiery trials. We can rejoice. We have surpassing joy and praise even in the midst of these trials.
My kids go to a Watermark doctor, Dr. Abbie Smith. They used to go to a different practice, but now, when we're like, "Hey, it's time to go get a shot," they're like, "That's okay." Literally, they're like, "That's okay." It's not a big deal, because they know when they're done with their shot they will get to choose a prize, a sticker, and a lollipop. They're focused on the future promise rather than on the present pain.
In fact, my kids will literally testify. They're like, "Yeah, they use better needles. They don't hurt as bad." I'm like, "I hate to break it to you. The needles are the exact same." Do you see how that future hope, that promise, makes my kids believe the needles are different? The sting of suffering feels different when you look not to the present but to the future. Future focus gives present power. Future focus (this world is passing away) gives you present power. It did for Jesus.
As it says in Hebrews, as he looked forward, he went to the cross. For the joy set before him, it says, knowing, "This is not the end." For the joy set before him, he endured the cross. There's a Watermark family, Justin and Michelle Smith. They have awesome kids. One of their kids, Mila, has a medical condition that has caused her to have more surgeries at the age of 6 than I have in my entire life at 47, just an affliction she lives with.
I ran into Justin yesterday. I'm always praying throughout the week, like, "Lord, lead me. I don't want to just give a good message. I want to be led by the Spirit. What would you have me say?" I'd been thinking about the Smiths because of the suffering they walk through with this precious daughter of theirs, Mila, who's full of joy even in her suffering, which is an example in and of itself.
I ran into him at a kid's basketball game, and I was like, "Oh, Justin. Man, it's crazy that I'm running into you. I've been thinking about you. I'm teaching on suffering tomorrow, and I've just thought about you all. It's about praise in suffering." No rehearsal. No cue. What comes out of that brother's mouth… He goes, "Oh yeah, John." It chokes me up. "It's true. My greatest praise has come from my deepest lament." I was like, "What?" What they're walking through…
He's like, "My greatest praise has come through my deepest lament." When he is hard-pressed, what comes out is praise. That is surpassing joy in suffering. My wife Laura, right when we first married, started an iPhone note. You know, the little yellow and white note on an iPhone. She started this note and titled it "On suffering." I was like, "Is that because we just got married? Why did you just start that 'On suffering' note? Just curious."
She didn't know why. She wasn't going through anything hard. It was our first few years of marriage. She just kept this running list of quotes and verses and books and songs on suffering. Now, 11 to 12 years in, you just scroll through that thing… It's a long note. Then breast cancer hit a year and a half ago. She got a diagnosis that she had invasive breast cancer, and that girl was ready. God had been preparing her all along, knowing, "Hey, suffering is coming."
That's one of the promises of Scripture: you will suffer. I mean, from Genesis and the fall, as sin entered into the world and sickness entered into the world and Satan began to attack and hate God's people. You see it in Job. "I'm going to kill his family." There was death. "I'm going to give you sickness. I'm going to strike all of your finances." God was like, "Don't take him." There was affliction.
Then we get to 2 Corinthians 1 where it says, "The sufferings of Christ overflow to us." It's not optional. It says everyone who desires to live a life of godliness will be persecuted. It says in Acts 14:22… Paul writes, it says, to strengthen the church. Here's how he strengthened the church. He said, "It is through many trials and tribulations that you must enter the kingdom." Not that you might. "…you must enter the kingdom. Your Savior suffered, and you will as well."
That is the promise of Scripture so that we wouldn't be surprised, as we live in this fallen world, and glorify God in the midst of all of that. So, Laura has this note about all of that, knowing that suffering was coming. We're going to make it available to you all, not because she aced the test, but because I think what God has given to her as truths to encourage her in the day of suffering you're going to have now too. It'll be in the sermon guide as a link you can click on.
God's purpose in suffering… Like, why? Do we have some cosmic torturer? Why would he allow suffering? I get it that Jesus had to suffer, but why us? Verse 7: "…so that the tested genuineness of your faith…" First he said, "If necessary…" Now he says there's a testing happening. Not a destroying…a testing. It says in Proverbs 17:3, "The crucible for silver, the furnace for gold, but God tests the heart."
"…more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." This is crazy. There can be two intentions but only one outcome with suffering. Suffering can have two intentions but one singular outcome if you are in Christ.
You see, Satan means for it to discourage you and destroy you, and God means for it to strengthen you and press you into dependence upon him. With gold there's both smelting and melting. Smelting is the removal of impurities. That's when you take the raw ore, you heat it to 3,000-plus degrees, and all of the impurities that have gripped onto it through time are burned off.
Then you just have this amorphous shape of gold, so then you heat it again within a foundry and shape it to whatever purpose you might have for it. So, Peter is writing here, knowing that suffering is coming, writing under the reign of Nero. He says, "There's going to be a smelting. It's going to be a testing that's going to remove impurities."
So, God uses trials to remove greed, lust, ego, pride, control, worry, and fear. As we go through the passage of trials, those things are burning off. Then he's shaping us into the image of Christ as a useful vessel to bring glory to him and to proclaim Christ to the world. Two intentions but one outcome. It says in Genesis 50:20 of Joseph, who suffered at the hands of his brothers…
Joseph says to his brothers, "What you intended for evil…" There's an intention. "You sold me into slavery, left me for dead. I got imprisoned, accused of rape in a foreign land." "What you intended for evil, God intended for good for the saving of many lives." It's like spiritual jujitsu. Jujitsu is this martial art where you use your opponent's strength and weight to flip it on them. They come at you, and you turn it on them and pin them down.
God is like, "Hey, Satan, this fallen world, the brokenness, other people's sin, even your sin… It's going to come at you, and I'm going to flip the script. I'm going to use all that coming against you. I'm going to flip it, and I'm going to redeem it for your good." Only God can do that. You can't. So, we take shelter under the Lord and trust in him in our difficulties, in our testing.
We submit and surrender in glad submission, being like, "Not my will, but your will be done," as Jesus prayed in the garden. Or as Job said when suffering came upon him… It says he tore his clothes, put ashes upon his head, fell to the ground, and worshiped. When hard-pressed, what came out of Job was worship. He said, "The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Then later, he would say, "Though he slays me, yet I will praise him, and I will talk to him to his face."
Job knew, "My God is sovereign. He's not asleep at the wheel. He's not cosmically torturing me. I live in a broken, fallen world." Though he didn't know what was going on between Satan and our Lord, he trusted himself to a sovereign Savior. He was like, "Hey, my life is in your hands, so your will be done. I'm going to praise you through the storm."
Spurgeon said, "I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages." It's interesting he said, "I have learned." It's not our natural reaction when affliction comes to greet it. He's saying, "I have learned to kiss the waves," like a greeting, a welcome. He's saying, "I have learned. It is not intuitive, but when these afflictions come, these waves of grief and sorrow and trials, I've learned to welcome them, knowing that what they're going to do is thrust me upon the Rock of Ages, slam me into the Rock of Ages."
That is a grace to us, because our natural inclination is not to be dependent upon the Lord, so God will allow these sufferings to come, that we might be in greater dependency upon our immovable Rock of Ages. It says in that passage, "…will result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Praise, glory, and honor. You're like, "Well, for whom? For me or for Jesus?" You know what? Theologians are torn on it.
I would say… For whom? The answer is yes. We are given eternal rewards, and at the same time, all praise, glory, and honor are due unto Jesus. So I think it's going to be like the 24 elders of Revelation, where they have received crowns and, when they see Jesus, fall to their knees and cast their crowns to him. "Worthy is the Lamb! All glory to you." Psalm 115:1: "Not to us, but to you be the glory because of your love and faithfulness."
It says, "At the revelation of Jesus Christ." Do you remember I told you to focus on the future, which gives you power in the present? Future focus gives you present power. It says, "At the revelation of Jesus." In the midst of the suffering, he says, fix your eyes on the revelation of Jesus. It's the second coming of Christ. He's like, "That's your hope." Your hope is in the coming of Jesus Christ. Here we have the second coming of Christ, written in 1 Peter, and guess what. The Holy Spirit, through the New Testament authors, mentions the second coming of Christ 318 times.
He's like, "In this troubled world, remember Jesus is coming again. He's going to make all things new. If he delays for the salvation of the lost, you will go to him, but he is coming again, and a new heaven and new earth. That's the end of this." I was recently teaching our 5-year-old how to ride his bike. He was cruising along, and he kept looking down, and when he looked down he wobbled. I was like, "Judd! Judd! Look up and pedal. Look up and pedal."
I had my hand on the back of his neck. I was guarding him by my power. Correlation, if you're listening. I was guarding him by my power, and I was like, "Look up and pedal. Look up and pedal." He'd look down. "Look up and pedal. If you look down, you're going to wobble." So it is with us spiritually. Jesus is telling us, "Look up. Look up and pedal. Don't stop and fret and worry and be paralyzed by fear. You look up at the promise of the coming of Jesus Christ and pedal in me. I've got you."
Then you have the proof of suffering. This is amazing. He says, "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." TA began last week and said he wrote this to the Dispersion, to all the people…Cappadocia and Bithynia and all of these Gentiles who were scattered throughout the ancient Near East and Rome.
Peter is like, "You've never even seen him. I saw him. I saw the resurrected Lord. I walked with him. I talked to him. I saw him ascend unto heaven. You've never seen him, yet you love him." He goes on to say, "You've never seen him, yet you believe in him." The belief there is not like, "I know you historically existed." It is, "I have put my trust in you for the forgiveness of my sins. My trust is in you and nothing else."
He's like, "You love him and believe in him. You've never even seen him. Let me tell you what's happening, Gentile believers. It's proof of your salvation. It's proof of life. This is not just a commonplace thing that you think some man walked and talked in Jerusalem, was crucified, and raised from the dead. You love him though you have never met him. You believe in him though you have never met him."
Here we are 2,000 years later in a room filled with people who love him and believe in him, and Peter by the Spirit is saying to you, "That is proof of life, proof of being born again, proof that you have received salvation for your souls." It's the proof following suffering. When Laura was pregnant with our third, Penny, she had horrible morning sickness. People told us it was because of the hormones of a daughter, but that's a different topic for a different thing.
So there she is, throwing up in the toilet. She's not showing at this point. No one would know she's pregnant. She throws up, and I'm sitting in the bedroom like, "Oh, man! I'm glad I'm a guy." She's vomiting, and the second she's done she's like, "Thank you, God. Thank you for what this means. Thank you that there is life in me. Thank you, Lord, for this child," not even knowing if it's a boy or a girl. She's in the midst of suffering and praise is coming out.
So it is with us. As we walk through suffering, the praise that's coming out is proof of life. Just as there was proof of life in Laura (there was another child growing), it's proof of life, your faith in Jesus, if praise comes out in the midst of the furnace. I'm looking over at dear friends who have been in a furnace, and praise comes out. Here they are, worshiping.
The Spirit was teaching them of Christ. "I'm writing to you about the one who is to come, the suffering servant who will die for the sins of the world and be raised again, showing that he was not just man but God in flesh, no mere teacher or prophet or moral man. He was God in flesh, is God in flesh, raised from the dead."
"…was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories." What they wrote is now our hope. What I would offer to you is from Genesis, chapter 3, where it says, "The snake will strike the heel, but the seed, the son of the woman, will crush the serpent's head," and every prophecy that has followed…
Isaiah 9: "The virgin will be with child." Isaiah 53: "He will die between criminals yet be laid in a rich man's tomb and will see the light of life." There's the resurrection. Or Psalm 22 where it says, "My hands and feet you have pierced, and they have cast lots for my clothes. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Or Zechariah: "Behold, your king comes to you riding on a donkey." Or Micah that says, "He will be born in Bethlehem." All of the prophecies of Scripture.
They were like, "Who and when is the one coming, the hope of ages who will save us?" You tell me any other holy book, which is not holy, that can tell you of the things to come. There is none. These are the words of God, written to us, and we have now received the hope of salvation. The hope of ages has come to us. The rest is details.
I get, we get, so tripped up by our car trouble, how we're going to pay for college, and this sickness, and everything. God is like, "No! No! It's details. It's all fleeting. It's moth food and rust rot. You've received the hope of ages, all of time culminating in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
It says, "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…" It's good news. Though we have sinned and were separated from God, he sent Jesus that we could be reconciled back to him by placing our faith in him. "…to you by the Holy Spirit…" Trinitarian, doxological passage. "…things into which angels long to look." Even the angels are peering down, like, "God, what are you doing? What is this? You're going to them to suffer and die for them?"
Then it says subsequent glories, the resurrection, the ascension, the sending of the Holy Spirit, the second coming of Christ, the reign of the kingdom of God on earth when all of the nations will come and worship him, and then a new heaven and new earth…all of the subsequent glories. He's like, "This is the hope of ages." Yet we miss it. We get so focused on the present.
My father-in-law gave my son and me Mavs tickets. So, we're there at the Mavericks game, and the announcer comes over the speaker and is like, "Ladies and gentlemen, if anyone would commit to being a designated driver for the evening, you will receive a free signed Mavericks team photo." My son is like, "What's a designated driver?" I'm like, "I am, boy. Seventeen years running." He's like, "You are? Go get it!" I was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I will, I will. I want to see the opening where the teams come out." He's like, "Okay. Okay." The teams come out. "Dad, go get the photo!"
"Hold on. This is tip-off. I don't want to miss this."
"Dad, go get the photo. It's free. You're a designated driver. You qualify. It's you. Go get it."
I'm like, "I don't know. The first quarter is kind of close, son. I will at halftime." At halftime I wanted popcorn and refills. Then it comes to the end of the game. He's like, "Dad, go get it." I was like, "It's closed, son. It's over. We have to leave now." He looked at me like, "What? It was free. You qualified for it. Why didn't you go get it?"
Friends, today, the only thing that qualifies you to receive this free gift of salvation from Jesus Christ is that you're a sinner, that you confess, "I'm a sinner; I need to be saved," and that you receive it. I couldn't buy that autographed thing. I couldn't say, "Hey, I'll work for it." It just was free if I qualified for it.
So it is today, that you would receive the free gift being offered to you by Jesus. If you just come forward and say, "Jesus, I'm a sinner; save me," today can be the day of salvation. The hope of ages has come to you. You have the praise of God, the surpassing joy in suffering, and then the hope of ages.
Do you remember the harsh conditions of Howell Mountain and the fruit it produces from the root and the sweetness? We had harsh conditions this past week in Dallas. I don't need to remind you. But no one fretted. We had ice sheets covering every road and all of our cars. It was not a great place for four days, but no one panicked. There wasn't rioting in the streets. No one was breaking into grocery stores. There was one reason there was not pandemonium and panic.
There was one reason: the forecast. No matter how terrible those four days were, we could just pull out our phone, listen to the news, and be like, "Oh, dude, Sunday is going to be sunny and 63, so come what may. The sun is coming out again." Here it is. The Lord is telling us. No matter what storm you face, no matter what difficulty you face, no matter what trial you are in, the Son is coming again, and light will break forth.
The ice of death and the chill of loss are going to melt and thaw, and we will be forevermore in this forecasted place in time where there are no tears, sorrow, or pain. He has promised. May it all result in resounding praise. Amen. I love the fact that some of you can't contain the shouts of joy and the applause, and it's not because of me; it's because you can't contain the inexpressible joy we just read about. How good is our God!
So we lift our voices to you, Lord, into the throne room of heaven, overflowing with praise, this fragrant offering. We are not singing words on a screen; we are singing to our risen Savior. If anyone in this room has not received the free gift offered to them today, I pray that after this service, they would walk forward and not delay, not neglect the kindness of God, but would walk forward at the end of this service and say, "I'm a sinner. I need to be saved," and that today could be the day of salvation.
Lord Jesus, we love you and we praise you. Thank you. Amen.