Sermon Notes & References

The Prophets, Our Servants

1 Peter 1:10-12

February 17, 2019

A. 10 The prophets, who proclaimed the grace coming to you, sought and searched out diligently concerning this salvation 11 attempting to answer the ‘Who? When?’ of what the Spirit of Christ in them was showing, testifying beforehand the sufferings unto Christ (Messiah) and the glories after these sufferings. 12 To them it was revealed that they were ministering, not to themselves but to you, these things which now are announced to you through those bringing the good news to you by the heaven-sent Holy Spirit – into which things angels desire to bend down to look. (RGH)

 

B. Introduction

    1. Peter’s Audience

    2. The Trial of the Faithful

 

C. The Prophet’s Diligent Enquiries – verse 10

    1. Salvation by Grace

    2. Earnestly Seeking

 

D. Foreseeing the Coming Glory – verse 11

    1. Their Questioning

    2. Messiah’s Suffering and Glories

 

E. Their Ministry Was to Us Christians – verse 12a

    1. Not Serving Themselves

    2. But a Gospel Witness to Us

 

F. The Gospel Confirms the Prophets’ Work – verse 12b

    1. Proclaimed by Men

    2. Powered by the Spirit

 

G. The Angels Fascinated, Too – verse 12c

 

H. Conclusion


Endnote  1 Peter 1:10-12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Prophets, Our Servants

 

A. Introduction

    1. Peter’s Audience

        a. as to whom Peter was writing this letter we can consider in two ways

            (A)    first, historically, it was to those churches named in verse 1, which were scattered through the cities in Asia Minor

            (B)    second, in after years right up until the present day, it was to those believers scattered across the face of the earth

        b. though we are separated in time from those first readers, we have many the same things to share

            (A)    we, as they, are but sojourners or pilgrims in this world

            (B)    we live as aliens, citizens of heaven, though located here for now

            (C)   and, in this life, we shall have trials even as did they

            (D)   so we are reminded in verse 3, that we are looking ahead “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,”

 

    2. The Trial of the Faithful

        a. is the subject of verses 6 to 9, which we have been considering over the past two Sundays

            (A)    with perhaps the surprising lesson that Christians can rejoice in the midst of trials

            (B)    trials: real, distressing, of many kinds and approaching from many directions

                 (1)    this world is antagonistic to the one true God

                 (2)    hatred so as to imprison those calling Christ their Saviour

                 (3)    witnesses to the gospel of Christ are being put to death

                 (4)    persecution of the Christian church today is very real

            (C)   though we, in this time and place, may be spared for the moment from these things

                 (1)    there is no guarantee that it will always be so

                 (2)    we need the spiritual preparation, that we ‘may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.’ (Ephesians 6:13)

        b. so, in those verses, Peter gave some truths to enable us to overcome these and other such distressing trials

            (A)    the assurance of our heavenly home being one

            (B)    but another being the fact that trials prove our faith, v 7

                 (1)    faith being more precious than gold – and gold needs testing

                 (2)    tested faith causes us to cling ever more closely to our Lord

            (C)    there are rewards to those who overcome – even as are related in Revelation 2-3, in Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor

                 (1)    ‘To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life …’

                 (2)    ‘He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death’

                 (3)    and so on ... look through them yourselves

            (D)   trials of faith strengthen our love relationship with our Lord, v 8

            (E)    ‘The outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls’, v 9

                 (1)    redemption from the penalty of sin – justification

                 (2)    deliverance from the power of sin – sanctification

                 (3)    rapture from the presence of sin – glorification

        c. but, in our human weakness, these things seem far away

            (A)    we may sometimes doubt: ‘is it really worth it?’

            (B)    so, to show that our salvation is worth it all, Peter turns to the attitudes of two groups – prophets and angels – who are servants to us in this matter of our salvation.

 

B. The Prophets’ Diligent Enquiries – Verse 10

    1. “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry,”

 

    2. Salvation by Grace

        a. that grace was shown at His coming to this earth

            (A)    the incarnation itself was a work of God’s grace:

            (B)    “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

            (C)   And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

        b. grace not an emphasis in the OT, but rather the covenantal Law; in the NT, however, it is a different story …

            (A)    “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

            (B)    “20 And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20-21)

            (C)   yet the prophets spoke of a coming time of God’s favour or grace

                 (1)    these we tend to interpret, (depending upon our background) to be speaking of either the church age or the millennial age

                 (2)    but Christ’s return will make all clear & differences forgotten

            (D)   the prophets, foreseeing these things led them to seek answers

 

    3. Earnestly Seeking

        a. the idea of seeking is repeated in this verse

            (A)    it uses two different words and both are intensive

            (B)    the prophets were really searching, examining, picking apart – as it were – the truths that the Holy Spirit was revealing to them

            (C)   because the truths went so far beyond the familiar Law they knew

        b. the Greek word beginning verse 10 is translated variously by “as to, concerning, or of”, but it is a word you know as a prefix: peri, as e.g., in the word ‘perimeter’ – that which goes all around

            (A)    here is a picture for you

            (B)    every so often we move one or more of our bird feeders, making them less accessible, or putting them behind a new baffle

            (C)   then we can watch the squirrels deal with the situation

            (D)   intently circling under, over, all around – searching, seeking some way to get to the seed and obtain their share, or more

        c. that is the intensity shown by the prophets of these truths – how valuable, then, were these truths to these OT saints! & should be to us

 

C. Their Foresight of the Coming Glory – Verse 11

    1. “seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”

 

    2. Their Questions

        a. the word ‘prophets’ in this verse doesn’t have the definite article, ‘the’, in front of it; as such it is talking about the prophets as a whole – that section of the OT Scripture, known as Nebi’im – Prophets

            (A)    for it is readily apparent that these men were not only directly inspired by the Spirit of God speaking to and through them

            (B)    but that they also read or listened to the words of other prophets – and that includes those that are written in the Psalms

            (C)   for example, Jeremiah quotes and builds upon the words of Isaiah

            (D)   and Daniel read Jeremiah’s prophecy (Daniel 9:2)

            (E)    this was all part of their ‘seeking to know’

        b. what they foretold often left them perplexed

            (A)    take Daniel as a notable example

                 (1)    He was renowned for having divine wisdom in him,(Daniel 5:11-12)

                 (2)    yet, after seeing a vision, we read this in Daniel 8:27, “Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business; but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it.”

                 (3)    and after another vision, in Daniel 12:8-9, “8 As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?” 9 And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.”

                 (4)    (but to Daniel was made known the period of 490 years until the destruction of Messiah’s temple, his body)

        c. so, they had many questions arising from the visions they saw and the messages that were given to them

 

    3. Messiah’s Sufferings & Glories

        a. this twin revelation to them gave much difficulty

            (A)    that Messiah in coming should suffer, but,

            (B)    on the other hand that His coming would be followed by glory

        b. this was why earlier we read from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah

            (A)    there, Messiah’s sufferings are clearly drawn out

            (B)    but also the glorious result, the forgiveness of men’s sins

            (C)   that out of ‘the travail of His soul’ there should be born the church

            (D)   yet how could this conflicting paradox be resolved?

        c. to the OT prophets it never was, but to the NT prophets it has been

            (A)    there is the obvious resolution in the second coming of Christ

            (B)    but there is also an answer in the church

                 (1)    that in Jesus Christ all of God’s promises are fulfilled, are ‘yes’ (‘yea and amen’, 2 Corinthians 1:20, AV)

                 (2)    so that those who are ‘in Christ’ are the people of God

                 (3)    this mystery, hidden through the ages, has been gloriously made known through the cross

            (C)   which was the execution and culmination of God salvation plan

        d. and that is very much what is meant by ‘the glories to follow’

            (A)    the purpose of Christ’s suffering was to bring these glories

            (B)    so, is it worthwhile to suffer in the light of those glories?

            (C)   very much so, because they are not only future, but here and now

            (D)   so, as He suffered for this cause, so we also should be ready to do

 

D. Their Ministry Was to Us Christians – Verse 12a

    1. “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you …”

 

    2. A Feast for Others

        a. the Messianic hope that the prophets announced

            (A)    had no direct bearing in the messages that the prophets proclaimed to the nation of Israel

                 (1)    those messages to the nation are mainly calls for repentance

                 (2)    this was a people, chosen by God, redeemed from slavery in Egypt, swearing to the covenant at Sinai

                 (3)    but from which they had repeatedly departed

                     (a)    seven times alone in the book of Judges

                     (b)    incessantly, first in the Northern, and then in the Southern, kingdoms as they worshipped idols, rather than Yahweh

                 (4)    so the prophets’ messages were calls to return to the covenant

            (B)    so the prophets were often messengers of coming judgement

            (C)   but with the Messianic hope was that one day God’s Holy Spirit would transform men’s hardened hearts to serve the Lord

        b. this message of spiritual salvation was not to be realised in the OT times

            (A)    except to comfort the remnant of the true Israel within the nation

            (B)    for as Peter says, they were not serving themselves, but us

 

    3. Setting the Table for Christians

        a. the message they had was for the instruction and nurture of those who would one day hear the gospel and believe

            (A)    it was for our benefit; prophecy gives assurance to our faith

            (B)    so that men like Stephen, Paul, Apollos, ... John Urquhart, Bernard Ramm, Josh McDowell, Joe Boot and others, have a weapon to defend our faith

            (C)   so that we can take comfort that God indeed was working all things together to make His great salvation known

        b. they laboured and suffered – listen “35 … others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11:35b-38)

        c. so that the way for the coming of Messiah and the proclamation of the gospel they opened up on our behalf through suffering

        d. so this is a salvation which is worthy of our suffering

 

E. The Gospel Confirms the Prophets’ Work – Verse 12b

    1. “… in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven …”

        a. in the Gospel is contained a clear confirmation of prophetic doctrine, but also a much fuller and plainer explanation

        b. salvation formerly proclaimed, as it were, at a distance by the prophets, is now revealed openly to us, as it were, before our very eyes.

 

    2. Proclaimed by Men

        a. to those of Peter’s day, perhaps, as also to us

            (A)    the OT prophets were men of gigantic proportions – enabled by God in some miraculous way to carry out their task & suffer

            (B)    but we pale in comparison to them; how can we suffer so?

        b. well, Peter brings them and us up to the present

            (A)    those who first proclaimed the gospel were the 11 disciples who had followed the Lord Jesus in His itinerant ministry for 3½ years

            (B)    they were from various, but quite common, walks of life

            (C)   still, they turned the world upside-down on account of the force of the message of salvation they carried

        c. how could such ordinary men do these things?

 

    3. Powered by the Spirit

        a. is the answer

            (A)    the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost signalled a dramatic change from the way of His working in the OT

            (B)    in Jesus’ words, dwelling no longer with, but now in believers

        b. that same Spirit of Christ who

            (A)    was inspiring the prophets

            (B)    was filling the disciples

            (C)   is bringing salvation

        c. is resident in every single believer

            (A)    and what was a complexity and paradoxical to the prophets

            (B)    – and even for a long time to the disciples –

            (C)   has now been made clear by that Holy Spirit

        d. to enable us to stand firm in our trials and ‘to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.’ (Jude 1:3)

 

F. The Angels Are Fascinated Too – Verse 12c

    1. “… – things into which angels long to look.”

        a. Calvin: “it hence appears evident how wonderful is the glory of that salvation promised to us in the Gospel, because even angels, though they enjoy God's presence in heaven, yet burn with the desire of seeing it.”

 

G. Conclusion

    1. God Raised up the OT Prophets

        a. “Rising up and sending” them over hundreds of years

        b. not simply for the people of their own time

        c. but those in the millennia which have followed Pentecost

        d. shows the greatness with which God considers His salvation in Christ

        e. that should enable us to overcome all the obstacles of this world

        f.  for what greater, blessed truth can anyone ever experience?