if they were away all day you wouldn’t have the opportunity to work with them like you do. And if they weren’t there they would probably wouldn’t be where they are spiritually, and neither would you. You’ve had to work with them on their diligence, their integrity, their lying. And you’ve had to rely on God more, and learn to trust Him for each day’s strength and graces.
And it is only after you remember how blessed you are that you are willing to rip up the enrollment forms that you so hastily printed out. Your encouragement to keep pressing on in home education came only after you have recognized how much you have benefited from it all.
Perhaps you’ve experienced the same thing with your exercise program, or your new devotional habits. When someone is waving a big piece of pie in your face or if you are tempted to blow off your prayer time, it can be hard to keep plugging along. And perhaps the only thing that helps you persevere is knowing how much you’ve benefited from this daily regiment.
The truth of the matter is, “when the goings get rough, the tough tend to peter out.” And what we need most is simply a reminder of what God has done in our lives. The fuel that allows us to persevere is the recognition of how blessed we are.
And the same is true for our spiritual lives. Sometimes it’s not easy being a Christian. When the masses of humanity are flowing in one direction, often times we feel like we should just give up and go with the flow. We can get sick of being so meticulous when it comes to our morality. Everyone else is having a jolly old time doing whatever they please. And as they do so they invite us to come along and join them. And it gets old after a while, having to say no all the time. You start feeling a little too Puritan, and your friends and family start hounding you for it.
Add to that all the other pressures that accompany the faith and you can sometimes feel like you want to give up. And if that is your case, then you must consider what God says in this passage. Because in this passage Peter reminds us of how blessed we are as Christians. He encourages us to persevere in the faith by reminding us of our salvation.
In verse 10 he starts out by saying, “Concerning this salvation.” He makes it the main focus of his argument in these verses. And he wants us to focus on the blessings of this salvation, specifically how it was predicted for us, proclaimed to us, and how it is possessed by us.
He begins, in essence, by saying, you are blessed because this salvation was predicted for you.
I. This salvation was predicted for you
Note that carefully. It wasn’t just predicted. It was predicted specifically for you—for your benefit. Look at what Peter says in verse 10, “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.”
Think about that. Here you have a man who has been inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God comes upon him and opens his mouth so that he prophesies. And the things he prophesies are the most excellent, the most glorious concepts that ever could be uttered. They spoke about the very person of Jesus Christ and how he would become the Savior of men.
And when they were done speaking (or when they were done writing out their prophesy) there’s no doubt that they were overwhelmed by the things they had just uttered. And as they thought about it and pondered their own words, they’d marvel at what they had said. But despite their the great blessing of having spoken such grand things, they were still very much in the dark! They searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit was indicating. But alas, the full knowledge wasn’t theirs to have.
That’s why it says that they were serving not themselves, but you. You here today are the beneficiaries of that revelation. You have the opportunity to grasp the concepts that were so elusive to the saints of old. You have had the full revelation of Jesus given unto you so that you can comprehend the wonders of his person and redemptive work. You have the overflow of information that they were lacking. All they could say is that a Messiah is coming. That’s the best they could do. But you have the 20/20 vision of the gospel and the New Testament witness to him.
Earlier this year CBS News did a story on a man by the name of John Bramblitt , a man who is known to be quite an accomplished artist. His work is absolutely wonderful to behold. Much of his work is dedicated to portraits—painting pictures of people who come to his studio. And his artistry is defined by bold and expressive use of color. The colors are typically of such intensity and beauty that they automatically evoke emotion and elicit a sense of awe. When you view all his work, you can’t help but confess that his paintings and portraits are unbelievable masterpieces.
What really makes them so unbelievable though, is that this painter of these brilliantly colored portraits is completely blind! A bout of epilepsy left Bramblitt with the ability to see only one shade of color: pitch black. He learned to paint simply by the sense of touch. He can mix his paints by simply feeling the different texture of each of the oils. He also learned how to apply paint by outlining an image and using his fingers to guide the brush strokes. And when he goes to paint a portrait he begins by taking a picture of his subject with his hands.
You might think that its an absolute sham, but I tell you it is true. His portraits are of an unbelievable caliber. They are so good that he travels the country displaying his work in galleries for all to see. And yet, the irony of it all is that he’s never seen a single one.
My friends, just like that artist who created marvelous works with his hands those prophets long ago expressed some of the most profound realities with their mouths. And those prophets didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the fullness of their predictions, just like that artist doesn’t have the opportunity to fully enjoy the great works he produces. But those of us who are gathered here today have the fullness of the revelation. All of us get to witness the full brilliance of their predictions because through the gospel we have been made to cast our eyes upon JESUS!
My friends, those prophets, if they could speak to us today, would tell us that they are green with envy at you. They admire you because you get it all. You are blessed far above them.
I hear people from time to time saying, “Wouldn’t have been great to be there when Isaiah lived? To hear him speak? To be right there when he spoke those prophesies?” Well my friends, the answer to that is no! No, it wouldn’t have been great. Because they didn’t have the full picture! They longed to be where you are. They longed to have what you have.
So consider yourself blessed. You are the recipient of the full revelation of the saving work of Jesus Christ. And all that the prophets did was for you to enjoy. All that they said and did was for your benefit.
If you are tempted to think that there’s nothing to this whole Christianity thing, just remember: The whole of history has been served up just for you. Every tid-bit of revelation since the beginning of time was written out for your benefit. And Peter reminds you of this so that you might remember just how blessed you are.
But let’s not forget that this salvation wasn’t just predicted for us. We are blessed (and we should be encouraged to persevere in the faith) because it was also preached to us.
II. This salvation was preached to you
In verse 12 Peter says that this salvation has “now been announced to us through those who preached the good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.”
You are blessed because of what you have heard—not just the prophesies of long ago, but the present realities of the saving work of Christ. You heard the good news of the gospel. The truth that Christ has come in the flesh, that he was pierced for our transgressions, and then raised up again on the third day as the victor over the grave—that message was delivered to each and every one of you.
You’ve been blessed because you have had the opportunity to hear that. You need to remember just how great a blessing that is. Of all the people in the world who have never even heard of Jesus, let alone those who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel message presented in its entirety—of all those people God chose to send his Spirit to you. And he had someone preach and tell you that you don’t have to go to hell for your sins. He came to you and told you that Christ can save you if you just trust in him. Do you understand how great a blessing that is? It is tremendous!
In my younger days I played football. My Senior year we got a new coach. And after every game and after every practice this coach had us all take a knee recite the Lord’s Prayer together. And one day after practice, as we were walking back to the locker room, one of my teammates said to me, “What’s that all about?” I said, “What’s what all about?” “That prayer thing? What’s that all about?” I was a bit flabbergasted that he didn’t even know the Lord’s Prayer, one of the most basic elements of Christianity. So I said, “It’s a prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.” And you know what he said? He said to me, “Who’s Jesus?” He’d never heard of Jesus.
When I heard that, I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe it. Here was a kid right here in “conservative Ashland” who had absolutely no clue who Jesus was. Maybe he had a vague notion of him and something having to do with Christmas, but there was a huge vacuum of knowledge.
And right there, while my heart was breaking for this guy who had never had the pleasure of hearing that Jesus can save him from his sin, I realized how blessed I was. I was blessed because I had had many people preach that gospel to me over the years. Several years before there was a minister who explained to me that there was redemption in Jesus Christ. I was blessed because the Holy Spirit had been sent from heaven, on a direct mission, to intercept me so that I could hear the great blessing of God’s mercy and grace.
And you should recognize how blessed you are too. You’ve had that same opportunity. And many of you can look back and remember that first time you heard the gospel preached. You can remember exactly where you were and how elated you felt as the power of God came over you and washed away your sins.
Others of you may not remember a specific date or place, but you know you’ve listened to many preachers, and you’ve had many encounters with the gospel. What a wonderful thing that is. What a wonderful thing to know that it has been announced to you your whole life. Because there are a lot of people who have never heard the gospel; not even once! They’ve never had the opportunity. And that makes you blessed of God.
Just think of the myriads of people in hell today. There are thousands upon millions of souls who are now suffering eternal, conscious torment. Every one of them envies you, and every single one wishes they could have sat here today in your place and heard me talk about how they could come to Jesus and have the forgiveness of sins and release from the condemnation they are now facing.
My friends, remember how blessed you are that you have had this salvation announced to you.
And I do want to interject this: If you are here today and you have not ever heard these how you can escape the wrath of God due to you for your sin—Or maybe you’ve come to church all your life but you’ve never really understood that you need a Savoir, let me say that this is your day. I am here today for this purpose: to announce to you the good news. This salvation can be yours. The Spirit of God has been sent here today to tell you that you don’t have to go to hell. All your sins can be forgiven and you can be made right with God. All you have to do is come to Jesus and receive him as your Lord and Savior. If you put your faith in him and believe that he took the penalty you deserve by dying on the cross, eternal life can be yours.
If you are such a person, know that Jesus is now offering you the salvation we’ve been talking about. And don’t be one who is left out. Receive him by faith and let this be the day that you come to share in this great blessing.
And yes, that is the greatest blessing of all. Now, certainly, it is a great blessing to know that it predicted for us and it was preached to us. But the greatest blessing of all is to actually possess it.
III. This salvation is possessed by you
That’s what is emphasized in the last phrase of verse 12. It is one of those lines that fills you with a sense of wonder. Peter says that this salvation is something “into which angels long to look.”
The language that is used here is that of deep investigation. It literally means “to stoop down to take a closer look.” You know how when you are standing up and see something on the ground, but you can’t quite get a good look at it. If you want to check it out, you must stoop down—perhaps get down on your hands and knees—so you can get a little closer and examine it a bit more intently.
At one of my relative’s house they had a key painted into the floor tile when they were moving into the house. It’s a little joke that they played. If you are standing in that doorway, you look down and see this key. And your automatic reaction is to crouch down and pick it up for them. But when you get there you find that it’s not real. So you stoop down a little more to examine it and see how wonderful the artistry is.
That’s what’s being said about the angels and how they react to your being saved. It is so amazing that they really want to get closer to it so they can check it out a little more intently.
You know, it is almost as if they gawk at us. The wonder of salvation—the immense glory of being converted and having a saving relationship with Jesus Christ—these angels wish they could understand it in the same way we do. They squint their eyes and cock their heads, wishing they could have the same kind of intimate, experiential knowledge that we have.
But you know what? They can’t. It’s not for them to possess. They can only peer over the fence like a jealous neighbor who covets what you have in your back yard.
When my wife and I lived in St. Louis, we would travel the beltway that looped around St. Louis almost every day. We had to travel it virtually everyday to get to school or to work. And sometimes the 8 lane highway would get all jammed up. Cars would be lined up for miles upon miles, and it would be a mess of traffic. When that happened we’d turn on the radio to the local news station to listen to the traffic report and see what they had to say. And a lot of the time they said that 270 was backed up from here to there for a “gapers delay”. We didn’t understand that for a long time. What we did know was that we would finally get to a point where there some cars had wrecked on the other side of the road. And once we passed that point we could start driving again. We could get back up to the speed limit, rather than poking along like we did. That had us flummoxed for the longest time. We never understood why the traffic would be backed up so far on our side when the wreck was on the other side of the road. After a while my wife figured out what a “gapers delay” was. When there was a wreck on the other side of the road, people on our side would slow way down because they wanted to check it out. They were gaping at it, longing to get a closer look at what had happened there. They wanted to see the cars that had collided and if there were any casualties.
And that my friends is exactly what happens in heaven. All the angelic beings are busy flying around, going about their business. But there are times when they come to a standstill. Everything stops because they just want to stop and look at what happens when a sinner like you collides with the mercies of Jesus Christ.
So if you are ever tempted to give up on Christianity, just remember that. Remember that you have a distinct advantage over perhaps the most glorious beings that God has ever created. You possess something that angels can only gaze at from afar with wide-eyed wonder. You possess a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and a unique relationship with him.
You can easily imagine a couple who has been having some rough times in their marriage. Perhaps the finances are a little shaky. Maybe they are having some problems communicating. Overall, things are rather tense. Perhaps they are even to the point where they are wondering if the marriage is going to work out.
Let’s then say that the wife is out with some friends. They are sitting around a table at a restaurant talking, as girls tend to do. They are covering all sorts of topics, particularly their relationships. And as they talk the women start to confess that they deeply admire this woman because she obviously has a man who loves her deeply. One lady confesses, “I wish I had a husband who would talk to me like yours does. All my husband does is watch TV and play video games.” Another friend pipes up and says, “And he helps around the house too. How do you get him to do that?”
Before you know it these ladies are asking her advice on what they could do to get the kind of relationship she has. And as she sits there she recognizes, that though they’ve been facing some trials, she’s the envy of friends. She recognizes that the blessings of her marriage far exceeds what otherwise may be.
My friends, that is what Peter is telling you. You might feel like things are a bit tense because you have chosen to follow Christ. You might be facing all kinds of trials, and you might be tempted to give up on Him. If that is the case, you need to remember how the blessings far outweigh the pains. There are multitudes who envy you. The prophets of long ago do. The souls languishing in hell are perhaps envious to the point of resentment. Even the angels in heaven eye you with a yearn-ful curiosity.
And may that be an encouragement to you. May you be encouraged to press on as a pilgrim in this world.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.