by Pastor Adekoya Akinbode
PERSECUTED BUT NOT ABANDONED!
1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
Obviously, the whole essence of the book of 1st Peter is to encourage the believers scattered all over the ancient northern areas of the Asia Minor who were facing persecutions and what we may call trials of faith in their various regions under Nero.
Like Paul would always make mention of his office as an Apostle, which simply affirms his authorised capacity or position from which he is writing to the Saints, Peter also is adopting the same pattern, writing from his position and his office as an Apostle to encourage the faith of the believers who are facing trials, troubles and unbecoming situations in their various regions. That is important because at some critical times in your life, you don’t want to listen to just anybody but a certified professional; an authority in the area of concern.
The best way Peter was inspired by the Holy Ghost to bring this word of encouragement was to help the believers see the glory that lies ahead, and the ability to see the glory that lies ahead renders the present trials inconsequential and something not to be discouraged or perturbed about.
In Hebrews 12:2, we read about Jesus Who for the joy and for the glory that was set before Him endured the Cross. That is the scriptural life-pattern for the believers in Christ and Peter is adopting the same pattern to help us see the beauty and the glory of our inheritance in heaven so as not to be moved by the present trials.
1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Apostle Peter is helping us to know that the reason for the trial of our faith is because our faith is so precious and everything that is precious must go through fire for its real worth to be made known. Consequentially, the key to living above or overcoming the trials of our faith is simply perseverance in faith!
Peter is helping us to know that what we have already and what we are looking up to at the appearance or at the revelation, or yet, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is something far better, something much more precious to hold onto and to hope for than whatever we may have to go through now in this world.
THE ELECT’S MINDSET
Aliens in/to This World!
Knowing that we are pilgrims or strangers in this present world; knowing that our citizenship is in heaven we are encouraged to endure the persecutions that we may have to face or come across as we journey through this transient and soon-to-end world. I’ve always believed and said that the greatest source of joy of dreamers is the picture of the preferred future clearly in mind. The picture of the future in mind always encourages us to forge ahead in the present, no matter what the situation is. So, Peter is helping us to see Who we are: God’s elect; What we have: incorruptible inheritance in heaven; What to hope for or the picture of the future: the grace and the salvation to be brought to us at the revelation (coming) of Jesus Christ, so as not to be submerged in the present unpalatable circumstances.
It is worth shouting about that we have been elected by God before the foundation of the world! That means, our salvation is not a random plan of God but that which He had in mind long before we came on scene. And to execute and consummate this plan of salvation for us we see the entirety of the Godhead playing a crucial role:
— The Father elected us! Not that we begged Him, bribed Him with some religious engagements to elect us, but of His will, He did even long before we were born!
— The Son cleansed us with His blood! and
— The Holy Ghost sanctified us and makes us holy. This makes our salvation complete and eternal.
That we have an inheritance in heaven denotes and further corroborates the truth that our citizenship is in heaven. We are certified, bonafide citizens of heaven. Interestingly, we are not just going there, we are going there to fully and practically lay hold on our inheritance. So, heaven concerning us is a done deal!
Tested, Yet Still His Elect!
Some religious people mistake trying times to mean that God has left or abandoned you. Nothing can be more erroneous.
Yes, you’ll face some test,
Yet, it doesn’t mean He’d left
You’re eternally His Elect!
Studying carefully we will see the reason for the trial of our faith:
One, it is to test the SINCERITY or the genuineness of our faith. I always say that we are not a class of people “trying” God; we are not a people testing God whether He’s real or not; whether He’s powerful or not or whether He’ll bless us or not. We are a people born of God, full of God and sold out to God. We have no middle ground and we have no one else to whom to turn or go. This level of sincerity of faith is what makes us hold on and hold forth no matter what comes up; irrespective of the situation around us.
Two, the trial of faith or persecution tests the STRENGTH of our faith. It is not all believers that are actually being perturbed with persecutions or discouraged when facing persecution. Also, it is not all that will not be perturbed when facing persecution. It all depends on the individual strength of faith or strength in the faith. Importantly, the strength of our faith is determined by the depth of our knowledge and conviction on the issues of our salvation in and through Christ Jesus. So, the deeper our knowledge and convictions, the stronger our faith. Consequentially, the firmer we are or will become amidst persecutions.
Thirdly, persecution or trial of faith helps to reveal the SUPREMACY of our faith! The Bible says he that is born of God overcomes the world and this is the victory that overcomes the world even our faith. Our faith in Christ is a conquering and overcoming faith. So we potentially have faith strong enough to overcome whatever challenge we may encounter in this present world. The Christian faith is supreme, is solid — a conquering Faith! We have what it takes to go through life’s situations victoriously!
It gives God the glory when we go through what life or whatever even the enemy brings our way without looking back or turning back just like the Old testament three Hebrew boys who, though were threatened with the fairy furnace, yet would not back off or deny their faith in their God.
Seeing that we are born not just to radiate the glory of God but also to bring glory to God, being steadfast in the faith in the midst of persecutions, trials and troubles (with the conscious awareness and understanding that the Lord is with us, for us, by us even as He is in us; always remembering His promise never to leave us nor forsake us and therefore knowing that victory is ours no matter comes our way) brings glory to God.
Again, as I mentioned earlier, the answer to every trial of faith, or rather, our expected disposition to every trial of faith is perseverance in faith. We are not just a people struggling to make things work or trying to endure suffering or a people given to fate. We are not trying to console ourselves that “all will be well”, WE KNOW that all will be well! OUR HOPE IS A LIVELY HOPE, PREDICATED UPON THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. ALL THINGS ARE WORKING TOGETHER FOR OUR GOOD. Glory! We know that, irrespective of what comes our way we are more than conquerors through Christ that strengthens us.
Peter further helps us to appreciate the preciousness of our salvation, though the prophets of old had a glimpse of what it entails yet it wasn’t for them but for us. This salvation is so precious that the Angels of God are keen to know and to learn what it is all about. That they do as they observe our manners of life both in words and in deeds. We cannot have so precious an inheritance and yet be submerged in the turbulence of the present transient age.
Let’s be encouraged therefore, fellow believers in Christ. Whatever comes up is never to swallow us up but to brace us up in the Faith.
Understand that whatever we are going through or will ever have to go through is not for us to question our faith but to prove the sincerity and the genuineness of our faith. It is to strengthen our faith and to prove the supremacy of our faith as we triumph gloriously over and above all, to the praise of God our father. It is interesting and encouraging to know that whatever evil is present in this present world, you have been saved from it, you are being saved from it, and you shall be saved from it. There’s no occasion for you to be disadvantaged!
So, we’re encouraged to hold on and hold forth irrespective of the circumstances we find ourselves per time. We are encouraged to live in this world as of God, separated from the traditions, the fashions or the system of the world which does not bring glory to God just by being who you are already: you are elected by God; live for him, hope for him, hope in him! You are sanctified by His Spirit; live a sanctified life. You are cleansed by the blood of Christ, live accordingly!
Always remember that every demand to be holy or to be righteous is all about you manifesting who you already are in Christ Jesus. It is unholy/unrighteous to back down or back off in the midst of persecution as an elect of God. It is unholy/unrighteous to doubt the reality of your eternal salvation or the genuineness of it, irrespective of what the circumstances around you are saying. It is unholy/unrighteous to neglect what the word of God says to embrace what the world says or presents on any issue. Therefore, be holy (manifesting the nature of the thrice Holy God who is and is in you) as He is holy!
Till He returns, don’t stop expressing your faith in Christ; don’t stop expressing your hope in His soon coming and don’t stop expressing love to all, irrespective of the circumstances around you.
Here’s a word of assurance for you: right in that situation you’re in, the glory of God shall be made manifest; you will praise His name and sing His praise. Amen!