We want to begin this time with the reading of the two introductory sections of the Apostle Peter’s Letters. We will begin with 1 Peter 1:1-12, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls. 10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things which angels desire to look into.”
Now we want to turn over and read 2 Peter 1:1-11, “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Now, the reason we have set our minds on these two introductions is to help us as with our lesson today which is entitled: Six “Precious Things” In Peter's Epistles
If you have ever taken the time to read through the epistles written by the apostle Peter you know that the Holy Spirit inspired him to write numerous things that benefit those readers. But often times, as is the case with many Bible readers, they miss the mark when reading. Most of the time we read to just read without really picking up on the wonderful material that is within. For today's search of the Scriptures we will be taking a close look at Peter's epistles seeking to find six “precious things” that He identifies. As important as it was for the Holy Spirit to inspire the apostle Peter to write these things, it is even more so important that we examine them and apply the learning to our lives! This means we must hide these things in our hearts that they may continually guide us in our walk with Jesus Christ as we strive to return home to Heaven when this life is over.
As the Epistles of Peter begin he is writing to scattered strangers, this means that he is writing to those the world over that he has never met, but have a common faith in Jesus Christ. Look at what Peter writes in his salutation in 1 Peter 1:1-2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” Do you see the attitude that is found in this introduction in this letter? It is one of kindness, love, and a desire to remind those that have been sanctified through baptism, coming in contact with the blood of Christ, of whom they serve and have given their lives to. It is to provide another measure of encouragement and exhortation to instill a desire of faithfulness so that they may receive that crown of life promised by Jesus in Revelation 2:10, “...be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
Let's search the scriptures in 1 Peter 2 and see one of the precious things Peter discusses in his epistle. In 1 Peter 2:7 we read, “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.” Peter here is referring to the Precious Jesus Christ. Why is He precious? Well, there are numerous reasons. However, one sticks out above all and that is the world is filled with men, but there is only one Savior, and that Is Jesus Christ, sent by God to save mankind. Joseph, Mary’s husband, was told in Matthew 1:20-21, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus Christ is so precious that men will live and die for him. We can read of countless disciples of Christ that have given their lives for the cause of Christ. All of his apostles overcame challenge after challenge in service of the precious Jesus Christ. Stephen, one of the Seven Spirit-filled men appointed in Acts 6 was stoned for the cause of Christ as we read in Acts 7:59-60, “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Of the apostles we read of James the brother of John being killed with the sword in Acts 12:2 for the cause of the precious Jesus Christ, “Then Herod killed James the brother of John with the sword.” We can read of the apostle Paul and the numerous struggles he faced yet he always sought to do the will of the precious Jesus Christ, not caring for his own life in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, “Are they ministers of Christ? --I speak as a fool--I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness-- 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”
Another of the six precious things spoken of by the apostle Peter in his epistles is the of the precious blood of Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 1:18-19 we read, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” As we have searched the Scriptures in times past we have seen the reason why Christ's precious blood was necessary for salvation. The Hebrews writer explains in Hebrews 10:4, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” We know from the apostle Paul's epistle to the Ephesians that redemption is only possible through the precious blood of Christ as he explains in Ephesians 1:7, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”
As we read in 1 Peter 2:4 we read of a Precious stone, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” You see from Isaiah 28:16, we read, “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Jesus is fulfillment of the prophecy of the precious corner stone. In 1 Peter 2:4-5, we learn the Christ is a living stone, and His followers, Christians, are lively stones built upon Him. Let's read these two verses, 1 Peter 2:4-5, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Without the precious stone of Christ no other foundation can be laid. This is the only foundation strong enough to stand! In 1 Corinthians 3:11 the apostle Paul explains, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
The first three precious things we have discussed deal with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the Messiah the Jews had longed for. The seed promise that was given to Abraham by God. The Seed that would deliver a crushing blow to Satan's head as we read about in Genesis 3. The next two we will search the scriptures for deal with our relationship with Jesus Christ.
In 2 Peter 1:1 the apostle Peter begins his second epistle with this attitude, “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” You see Peter points out the precious faith. This faith is precious because it is essential to salvation as is pointed out in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” You see we must believe the God is, and that He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ and those that diligently seek him through that precious faith will be rewarded. The apostle Paul explains in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is by the Word of God that we obtain this precious faith.
When one has this precious faith it must be recognized that this faith will be tested. The apostle Peter presents this as a precious trial of your faith in 1 Peter 1:7 please take note of how he expresses the preciousness of this trial, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” You see how he places a price tag on this? Its price is much more than that of gold that perishes! We see this thought of the precious trial of faith in James 1:3 as well, but from James we see a result of this trial, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” From this verse we see a growth of patience. This means we can endure the trial and the challenges. We can overcome them. This helps us to verify our faith as James explains in James 2:18, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” We can recognize that our faith is sound and strong if we endure the persecution as we do those good works commanded of us from Jesus Christ.
Lastly, the sixth precious thing found in Peter's epistles is that which is promised by Christ, which are precious promises found in 2 Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Notice what Peter says about the Precious promises, he states that they are “exceeding Great”! Just take a moment and think about how many of these exceeding great promises we enjoy! Remember what we learn from 2 Peter 3:9 concerning these precious promises, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The Hebrew writer explains in Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”.
From these six precious things found in Peter's epistles we can increase our faith. We can fully rely on Jesus Christ and the precious promises that he has made to us. We can build our confidence knowing that our precious faith will be tried by the devil and his angels. From the Preciousness of Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, and His Precious Blood, knowing that He is the precious corner stone from which the foundation of His church is built, we have a lively hope, a Living Savior, who has risen from the dead, preparing for us a place in Heaven, awaiting the day that He will be sent to gather His church and present His bride to God. It is from these words of Peter and the words of all the other inspired writers of the Bible that we know that not only these six precious things but the Precious words found in the Bible bring Hope to the sinner. In John 6:63 Jesus says, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” There is a song that we sing that brings these Precious words to our minds listen to the Words of this song written by Mrs. Loula K. Rodgers, “Precious Forever! Oh, wonderful words, Teach me the pathway of duty; Lead me beside the still waters of life, Flowing thru valleys of beauty. Freely He offers their promise to all, “Come unto me whosoever,” Sinners oppressed with a burden of woe, Drink of the bountiful river. Wouldst thou refuse the sweet solace He gives, In the midnight of Thy sorrow? Wouldst thou go on in the darkness of sin, Longing for no bright tomorrow?” The Chorus says this, “Precious forever to you and to me, Words that our Savior has spoken, Bearing salvation far over the sea, Healing the hearts that are broken!” You see all of these precious things we have discussed and the precious Words of the Bible will go on into eternity, when this world is gone.
Let each one of us make the choice to obey Christ as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”