May 1, 2011
1 Peter 1:3-9

“In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”
(1 Pet. 1:3b).

In an orphanage in Barysevo, Russia, was a 13-year-old boy, small for his age, everyone called the Little Deacon. One of the directors would come into the dormitory and shout, “Where is the deacon? Where is that little devil? I’ve got some Vitamin R for him.”

The frail youth would slip quietly from his bunk and walk over bravely to take his medicine. Vitamin R sounds to us innocent enough, but the boys in the home knew the Russian word for buckle begins with the letter R. Vitamin R was a severe beating with a heavy belt with a large metal buckle on the hitting end. Lumps and bruises lasted for weeks. Sometimes bones were broken.

What did the little deacon do to deserve this treatment? He was in a family that believed in God and taught their children the Bible. The state convicted the family of that crime and stripped the parents of rights.

He suffered mocking at the state school, also, where the job was to teach young people Darwinism, Marxism and Leninism. The little deacon studied hard and made the best grades, but he kept his dream that one day he would be able to go to a Bible college. I don’t know if those prayers were ever answered.

The Christian life, like any other, has its measure of joy and sorrow; but unlike non-Christians, we have a hidden resource that makes it possible for the dominant note of our lives to be joy—even if the circumstances of life are filled with testing and trials. What is the secret of Christian joy in spite of such trials?

I. We have a hope for the future that never will fade (v. 4).
If Jesus is your Savior, your inheritance is one that “is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” Moses was able to forsake the palace of Pharaoh because he had the long view. Those who live as if this world is all there is do not have such assurance. We have a living hope.

II. We know trials are temporary (v. 6).
“In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, Even if our trials last a lifetime, in the light of eternity’s endless day, that is but for a little while.

One of my favorite poems is Theodore Tilton’s, “Even this Shall Pass Away.”

Once in Persia reigned a king, Who upon his signet ring,
Graved a maxim true and wise, Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance, Fit for every change and chance,
Solemn words and these are they; ‘Even this shall pass away.’

One man said his favorite Bible verse was “It came to pass.” Whatever trial came, he reminded himself it didn’t come to stay; it came to pass. He may have had the wrong verse, but he had the right attitude.

III. We know trials come to Christians only in God’s purpose (v. 7).
In verse 6, there are three words found in some translations and not in others. The words “if need be” (AV) or “if necessary”(NASV) are in the NEB, ASV, TCNT and others but not in the NIV, NAB, New RSV and others. If the preferred Greek texts omit that phrase, the thought is nevertheless taught in other Scripture verses.

One of the clearest promises is Romans 8:28: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.”

Verse 7 tells us trials come to prove the value of our faith “more precious than gold (so that it) may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Gold in recent days has soared to more than $1,000 per ounce. For many years, it hovered around $300 per ounce. Peter says there is something more precious—genuine faith in Christ Jesus.

IV. We know trials never can touch the true source of our joy (vv. 8-9).
“Although you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

When Paul and his traveling companies were in a terrible storm at sea, despair and hopelessness prevailed except in Paul. God assured the apostle that he would make it to Rome, his destination, and God would also spare all who were on board with him. He told the captain and crew and all the passengers. How could he be so sure? Paul said, “I have faith in God!” or as the KJV puts it, “I believe God!”

When no other anchor holds, this One will. Hold on to Him!

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