1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Peter was someone who loved Jesus having seen Him, to a degree matched only by John, perhaps, but He was also present when Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) We are in the same situation as Peter’s immediate readers, not having seen Jesus physically but having apprehended Him by faith. The question is, though, whether our faith has filled us with inexpressible joy. If it hasn’t, then we have some growing to do! This isn’t the same thing as “happy, happy, happy” all the time, but rather a deep-seated awareness that “my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25) (It is fascinating that such a declaration of faith was written so many centuries before Jesus walked the earth!) Those who are shaky as to whether Jesus really rose from the dead, for example, don’t have that joy. That’s because they don’t have the assurance of the three tenses of salvation: past, present, and future. If you don’t know in your heart that you have been forgiven of your sins and saved from their penalty, that you are being saved from the power of sin, even though you stumble occasionally, and that you will be saved from the last vestige, the very presence of sin, then you won’t have the fullness of joy that Peter is talking about here. When you have that assurance, then you are indeed receiving the salvation of your soul, and that is true joy.
This is something I try to help people understand, and at times am mystified at their inability to do so. It goes without saying that a non-believer won’t understand it, but the problem comes with Christians who don’t really seem to be there. It’s almost like they are “half born again,” stuck in the birth canal, so to speak. I think repentance is probably key here. They may have an intellectual understanding of the facts of the Gospel but haven’t really grasped that apart from the grace of God, they are destined to rot in hell. I am not to run around pointing fingers at people’s sins, but I am to pray for the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:8) Until we understand we are lost, we can’t really be saved! That’s rarely an issue for people who have done horrendous things, but it often is for those that society would call “good people.” I need to help people understand that, as the Lord had me say at the wake the other night, comparing sins is like acorns comparing height.
Well, Father, I had wondered what You wanted me to preach on Sunday, and now I know! This ties together last Sunday’s message and what You had me say in the wake and funeral. Thank You for the overflowing evidence of Your presence, Your gracious guidance. Help me indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, staying out of Your way so that You may use me freely to build up the Body of Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!