1 Peter Bible Study (Hope In Hard Times)

1 Peter 1:20-2:3, Love One Another Deeply

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In our last lesson we looked at the command that we set our hope fully on his grace. We cannot have divided interests or a divided hope. We cannot place some of our hope on the things of this world and some of our hope on Jesus. A divided hope causes us to be crushed and depressed during difficult times. Peter is now going to give us another tool for endurance and another reason for hope during times of suffering and distress. Let us pick up our study where we left off in 1 Peter 1:20.

20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. 21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. (NLT)

The NLT does a good job here with its translation so I have used it. The blood of Jesus has always been part of God’s plan and has always been part of God’s purpose. The death of Jesus was not an accident. Let no one ever teach you that Jesus came to the earth to set up his kingdom but when he saw he would not be successful and that the Jews were going to kill him, Jesus set up the church instead. Far from it! The precious blood of Jesus has always been the plan to buy us back to him, freeing us from sin and the clutches of Satan. The price for our redemption was paid deliberately. God knew it, planned it, and brought it all about.

Notice also when the “last days” are. The last days are not something that is still yet to come in the future. Peter says that in the first century were “these last days.” This phrase is a messianic reference. Peter says that these are the last days because the Messiah, Jesus, has come. Jesus has come and he died. He did it for each of us. We must never lose sight of the ransom price Jesus paid, his own blood, to save us. He did it for us.

Further, it is through Jesus that we have our hope, our faith, and our trust in God. Since Jesus was raised from the dead and given glory by the Father, we know that we can put our trust in God. We know that we can believe the promises given to us concerning our imperishable inheritance reserved in heaven for us. The resurrection of Jesus is one great reason why we have faith and why we have a living hope. Though we have troubles now, we know that God will give glory to those who hold tight to him.

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. (NLT)

Love One Another Because Your Are Purified

Peter tells us the basis for his next command. Since we have purified our souls through obedience to the truth…. We have been set apart by doing what the scriptures teach us. The Lord’s will is not that we do nothing. Look at the words carefully. We are purified (cleansed) when we obey the truth. Peter teaches us that obedience is necessary for us to receive the God’s grace of cleansing from sins. In our efforts to understand Paul’s letters we cannot conclude that he was teaching a salvation without obedience. To do so would place Paul in direct conflict with Peter over the gospel. Yet Galatians 2 tells us that Peter and Paul were entrusted with the same gospel directly from Jesus himself.

It is the word of God as given through the Holy Spirit that consecrates our lives making us ready for worship. It is the word of God as given through the Holy Spirit that sanctifies us (sets us apart) to be acceptable to God. The word has the power to cleanse us when we obey its words. Our purified souls are the basis for this next command.

Love one another sincerely. Love one another deeply. Love one another with all your heart. We are to love one another because our lives have been set apart by obedience to the truth. This is another way that we will be separate from the world. We considered last week that we will be exiles in the world because we will be holy in all our conduct. Peter now tells us that we are different because we will love one another because our lives have been purified.

When we are suffering we need each other. When we are going through trials and difficulties, we have the love of each other to help. Most of the time there is nothing that we can do for each other. But the knowledge that we are there for each other is sometimes all we really need to continue forward. There may be nothing that can be done, but your expression of concern helps. Your phone call or your embrace. It lets us know that we are not alone. It reminds us that we have a community, a family together. While everything else may be difficult, we have righteous relationships with each other that are based on Jesus. The deepest friendships I have are with people who share faith in Jesus. I have friends across this country that I do not talk to unless we are face to face. Years will go by, but we can pick up and continue forward as friends when we are together because of our faith in Jesus.

There is a transformation that is to take place in our lives when we are purified by the word of truth so that we will love each other sincerely. Our love is to be genuine. Our love is to be unhypocritical. We need to share that with people, with one another, that we truly love each other. This is not a fake love. This is not a mask of love that we wear on Sunday. I genuinely care about each one of you. So we need to take a look inside our hearts and see if we are loving each other like we should because our souls have been purified. Does our love for one another look like we have been cleansed by the word of truth? When we act ugly toward each other we are not showing sincere love. When we think about ourselves and not the interests of another person or the interests of this group of people as a whole, then we are not showing the sincere love that God commands.

This kind of love cannot be developed without spending time together. Not only do we need to come together at every opportunity so that we can learn and grow spiritually, but we need to come together so that we can practice loving each other. We need to come together, be here on time, and not leave quickly so that we can share this sincere love especially when we are suffering and are in distress. We are exiles and strangers in this world. We are not to be exiles and strangers to each other.

We are in the process of developing more small groups so that we can increase our love for one another by building better relationship. We want to see everyone join at least one of these groups that we will be rolling out. The building of these relationship will help you endure. It helps us practice the sincere love that we are commanded to have for one another.

23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (ESV)

Love One Another Because You Are Born Again.

The second reason we are to have sincere love is because we have been born again. We were told in the third verse that we have been born again into a living hope. Peter reminds us that we have been born again. We have not been born by physical means. We have been born through the living and abiding word of God. The point is to draw a contrast between the quality of life that comes from perishable seed, whose glory at its best is like fragile and temporary flowers, with the quality of life that comes from the imperishable seed. This love that Peter is describing does not come from natural means. It comes from the new life that we have given to us from the living and abiding word of God. The word of the Lord abides forever and generates eternal life. Remember back in verse 13 we were told to prepare our minds for action, or think clearly and get focus. True living is not in this physical world. True living comes from obedience to the word of God.

The quotation comes from Isaiah 40:6-8 which contextually is the message of comfort after telling the people that they would go into Babylonian exile. God’s word and God’s promises stand forever and that word has come to us. Are we discouraged by suffering? This will pass away. Are we discouraged by a hostile society? This too shall pass. God’s promise of hope and imperishable inheritance will not pass away. Despite suffering, believers are participating in the eternal plan of God. God’s promise of restoration can never fail. As stated earlier, that hope is found in the resurrection of Jesus. Do not be tempted to turn away from God! Do not be tempted to let your faith grow cold! There is no place to go if we turn away from Jesus.

Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are young. (Isaiah 40:10-11; ESV)

Peter is relating the words of Isaiah, a message of comfort. The Lord is coming and his reward is with him. He comes like a shepherd, gathering his lambs to him. He will carry you and gentle lead you. Stay with God through difficult times. The word of God has also come to you as it came to them.

2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (ESV)

What Christian Love Looks Like

Since we have purified our souls in obedience to the truth and since we are commanded to love one another fervently, deeply, with genuine love, then these are the things that must already be set aside from our lives. We will put away all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. These things interrupt godly relationships with one another. These things destroy the unity we are to have with each other. These things destroy love. We are to be a family, a community, and therefore must put these things away. Talk right and act right with each other.

Further, we must crave the pure spiritual milk like newborn infants crave it. All of our children craved milk as infants. They would make an audible groaning sound once they finally received the milk for which they were crying so loudly. Nothing could be substituted. A pacifier would quickly be spit out. Water was unacceptable. It must be the milk and nothing else. We need to have the same kind of focus upon the word of God and life it will generate in us. Once you taste it, you will see that the life of a disciple that comes from the word is good. You will see that it will give you growth. It will make your life better. You will see that the Lord is good even in the face of suffering and distress.

Hope In Hard Times:

  1. Jesus died for you. Never forget it. Our hope is in His resurrection.
  2. Love one another deeply because we have been purified by the word. We must do better in creating the family of God by exercising proper love. Put away things that prohibit godly relationships.
  3. The words of God will never fail. He has promised us an imperishable inheritance reserved in heaven for us. Do not give up. Long for his word. It will not fail you.

Lesson adapted from sermon given by Brent Kercheville

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