Day 344 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete First Peter. Well done!
1 Peter 3 – Peter transitions to the home now. Here there is a mutual submission.
The admonition in 1 Peter 3:3–4 is not so much a prohibition of hairdos and jewelry as it is a prohibition of superficial vanity—a problem in Peter’s day and in ours as well. Women are constantly being bombarded with worldly ideals relating to beauty and identity. But while our human drives tend to fixate on appearances, God’s chief concern is the quality of our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). The gospel works from the inside out, resulting in humility and modesty precisely because of the inner security of a heart captivated by Jesus.
Peter tells the wives that their gospel living may even bring an unbelieving husband into belief “without a word.”
Of course, the humble submission of wives is complemented by the exhortation to husbands to exercise humble and gentle leading. A husband’s leading of his wife is meant to be a picture of Jesus’ sacrificial Lordship over us, driven by selfless love, full of grace, and aimed squarely at another’s benefit and joy. Jesus Himself, the eternal Lord of the universe, is “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Christian husbands are called to this same heart.
The good life includes the sometimes hard life of trusting Jesus. In the gospel we have been promised an unfathomable inheritance, all because of the grace of God. This is “the hope that is in [us]”, through which we can quietly endure all things. We await an eternal glory that will make the hardships of this life, though genuinely painful, ultimately have the significance of a scratch on the penny of a millionaire (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:16–18).
Verse 18 is one of the richest, clearest, and briefest New Testament summaries of the work of Jesus. Theologians describe the heart of the gospel as penal substitutionary atonement. Jesus paid the penalty for sins (penal) as a substitute in our place (substitutionary) to undo the effects of our sin and restore us to God (atonement, literally “at-one-ment”). Christ “suffered once for sins [penal], the righteous for the unrighteous [substitutionary], that he might bring us to God [atonement].”
As beautiful as are these gospel truths, the work of Jesus accomplished even more. For example, the Devil and his demons are once and for all disarmed. The caring and righteous work of Jesus is also an example for us to follow, as Peter himself asserts. But penal substitution is the fundamental heart of the gospel. The other benefits of Jesus’ finished work all flow from this.
Because of the work of Jesus proclaimed in the gospel of grace, we are restored to God.
It is not the physical cleansing of water on the body in baptism that “saves,” but the appeal in faith to God for the cleansing of conscience. We are saved by grace received through faith; our salvation is not the result of works (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Baptism is a tangible sign of the grace that brings us through the spiritual perils of this life, just as Noah’s family was brought through water to be saved by God’s mercy. God delights to give this sign to those in His church who put their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus as the means of washing away sins and purifying Believers for God.
For the Believers in Peter’s time, the significance of this pledge was the knowledge that they were made eternally secure by Jesus’ work on their behalf. Faith linked them to the powerful working of Jesus at God’s right hand, regardless of the trials and difficulties they faced in the world. These same assurances secured by faith are indicated by our baptisms today.
How does this chapter help you understand the work of the cross better?
1 Peter 4 – To suffer for belief in God’s will is to follow in the footsteps of the sufferings of Jesus. Peter wants believers to “arm” themselves with this reality, as they focus on “the will of God” rather than on “human passions.”
Note that Peter speaks not simply of making better decisions but of living for something (v. 2). Only in the gospel of grace are we given the power to surrender all our rights and live for “the will of God.” Peter also reminds those who suffer that to die having lived a life of holiness is no waste.
The fulfillment of the law for the Believer is simply this: love (Romans 13:8–10). Yet love is sometimes hard. How do we love others? And how do we do so “earnestly”? Only the gospel generates such inside-out affection and service of others, for Jesus has loved us earnestly. As our hearts are armed by the love of Jesus, we are changed. We delight to love others (Ephesians 4:32–5:2).
To “obey the gospel of God” is to set one’s mind and heart on the truth of the finished work of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We are spurred on to worship God in holy living not by human-centered motivations but in grateful response to the good news that was given to us and that is sanctifying us. For this reason, Paul writes in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Our knowledge of our identity in Jesus drives the way we live.
Sadly, those who do not have this identity face God’s judgment without the grace of Jesus’ righteousness to cover them; it is a destiny that Believers avoid since their judgment was carried out on Jesus at the cross. This destiny is worked out practically today, as Peter says, by doing God’s will and entrusting our souls to our faithful Creator.
How is the Gospel living out God’s will in your life?
1 Peter 5 – identifies himself as a witness of Jesus’ sufferings. Of course, Peter notoriously botched his witness to Jesus’ sufferings (Matthew ). Yet he connects this sullied witness with the affirmation of his being a “fellow elder” and one who will partake in heavenly glory with other elders. His witness to Jesus gives him credentials of authority to instruct others but, at the same moment, does not separate him from the humanity of other church leaders that require the crucifixion Peter witnessed. Thus, right with this authoritative exhortation to live for the gospel is Peter’s acknowledgment that he needs it. The gospel is for sinners like Peter. Peter makes no admonition without acknowledging his own vulnerabilities.
Peter connects every command to a gospel promise. “Humble yourselves” because God will exalt you. “[Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” “Be sober-minded” and “watchful,” because you have an Enemy who is out to get you (which presupposes that we are on the Lord’s side). “Resist” the Devil and stand “firm,” because you are not alone: your Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world share that struggle with you. Thus, the gospel becomes the motivation and compulsion for faithful living.
We are not left to wonder about the logic of gospel holiness. God is near to us, by His own initiative of grace. We live in light of this glorious reality. Peter thus concludes with a promise that Jesus will “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish” us. What a comfort to know we do not have an absentee Father, a distant Savior, or a “hands off” Spirit! The Lord who has eternal dominion over all things has restored us and secured us to Himself. We endure suffering and confidently live for His glory because He has provided such overwhelming, sustaining, eternal, and compelling grace for us.
How does it help to see that every command is based in a gospel promise of God?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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