The Gospel Works When Life Doesn’t – I Peter 1
Written by Dr. John F. Klem Th.D., President of Clearwater Christian College, Clearwater, FL

In the midst of darkness and uncertainties, the Lord has given us the most wonderful gift, the gospel. It is not something minimal or elementary. It is a stout doctrine of divine love and justice. The eternal Son of God reconciled us to Himself by defeating sin and death. He paid our sin debt. The gospel delivers in both a once for all and an ongoing sense. We believe and repent at a point in time to become a child of God. As children of God, we continue believing the Word of God and let His grace teach us to say no to sin (Titus 2:10-11).

So how does the gospel work in our everyday lives? Consider how the suffering Asia Minor readers of 1 Peter were encouraged with the gospel. First, Peter addressed their present suffering by looking at the gospel work of God from eternity past to the future. From this perspective, past and present readers are motivated to apply the gospel to life routines.

The letter begins with the details of gospel work done in eternity past (1 Peter 1:1-2). The Triune God’s work includes election, foreknowledge, sanctification, and blood shedding. These Bible facts are for people living through a season of suffering. The stable reality of the gospel for this life is grounded in God's past work on our behalf.

Next Peter explains the value of the gospel in the present and the future (1 Peter 1:3-5). The historic resurrection of Jesus Christ resulted in new life and hope for those who repent and believe. The gospel includes an in-heaven inheritance reserved for believers. It also includes a keeping of those who believe by God’s power through faith. This good news points us to the future. Earthly inheritances can be lost and mismanaged, but the inheritance associated with the gospel will never be improperly managed. Stability through every season of life is rooted in what God's prepared for us. The gospel is our future hope (1:4-5). Our life inheritance is reserved and kept by the means of God's power. We can fight our fears and disappointments with the gospel hope of a reserved inheritance.

In 1 Peter 1:6-9, the author spells out how the gospel works when we live through periods of suffering. Basically, a genuine faith in the gospel when tested by fire will be praised and glorified at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:5, 7, 13). Suffering believers love the Christ they can’t see and look forward to receiving the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls (1:8-9). Stability in this life is anchored in the Christ-centered joy that comes through trials. The gospel is our focus in suffering (1:6-9). Our painful trials are only for a short time. Our faith is being polished to bring glory to God. We can fight these challenges with a focus on glorifying God when He returns,

At this point you might be thinking that a lot is riding on the gospel. What if it is not true? Can I be sure that the gospel is reliable? Peter affirmed its historicity explaining that the Old Testament anticipated the grace of God that would come (1:10-12). The Old Testament prophesied the suffering and the glories of the coming Messiah. The preaching of the gospel reveals that we are the full beneficiaries of this anticipated grace of salvation. The Old Testament and the gospel are a consistent, authoritative, and long desired message. Stability in this life is grounded in a consistent Old and New Testament message of a coming Savior,

The instruction regarding the prophetic nature of the gospel is followed by an admonition in 1:13. The New Testament exhorts us to rest our hope on the grace associated with the return of Christ. Peter smothers us with the eternal and historic truth of Christ’s resurrection, redemption, and return (1:3, 5, 7, 9, 13, 21, 23). The admonition to be holy (1:14) is based upon the character of God, the Word of God (1:15-16), and the fact that God is an impartial judge (1:17).

The writer zeroes in on the value of our redemption in 1:18-21. Stability in this life is grounded in living a holy life by means of the power of our resurrected Christ. Religion and its related laws enslave us in depression and despair. The gospel, however, transforms us into God-fearing men and women who live holy lives with unshakeable hope. The gospel is our reason to live a God-fearing life of hope, holiness, and fear (1:13-21).

Verses 22-25 are critical. It is the living and the abiding WORD that makes the gospel work. Obedience to the TRUTH is the means God uses to purify us (1:22). The Word of God is the means God uses to give us new life (1:3, 23-25). New life is connected with the resurrected Christ (1:3); the truth (1:22); and the eternal Word (1:23-25). It is the way God lavishes us with mercy, love, and grace. If this is the case, then we can fight our doubts and every work of the flesh with our in-Christ new life and His reliable Word. Stability in this life is grounded in the Word of God.

Peter does not give us gospel tickets to escape hell. He does not tutor us in elementary details. He is not showing us how to gain divine approval, nor is He coaching us how to get more of God's love. Peter is declaring the gospel to us. He provided a wide-angle view of the gospel that allows us to see our present life between eternity past and the future. He encouraged people who were hurting and then motivated them to a holy life with the gospel work of God.

How should we respond to the offer of truth, new life, hope, and help in suffering? By living a life of humble gratefulness to the ONE who gave us these things. The Gospel is the power of God!



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