Faithlife Sermons

Rejoicing in Our Unseen Recruiter (1 Peter 1:8-12)

Recruited  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:56
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Do you feel that you have a part in God's big, huge plan? Does the pain of this life rob you of the joy and living hope you have through a relationship in Jesus Christ? // To find out more about Involve Church, please visit involvechurch.com or email info@involvechurch.com.

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Introduction

Good morning - I want to welcome you today to Involve Church and let you know that we are excited to have you here in the second week of our new sermon series called Recruited: Out of our mess to make Him known. Last week Pastor Ryan did an incredible job of showing us how, as people that are recruited by Jesus, our faith is as tough as nails - not because of anything of substance in ourselves, but because of Jesus who lives in us. To a degree Peter carries on that theme in the passage we are covering today, but before we start lets go ahead and pray together.
Pray
As you’ll remember from last week, this letter was written by the Apostle Peter. This guy knew Jesus well - He was in the inner circle of Jesus. He spent a lot of time with Jesus over the course of His three-year ministry. And now, in the life of the church at the time that Peter wrote this letter, we are encountering a time period in history in which Christians are severely persecuted. If you were around for our Taboo series and heard the message on government, you’ll remember that the tyrant emperor, Nero, severely persecuted Christians and tradition holds that Peter himself was crucified in Rome, upside down, during this time of persecution.
I bring this up because I want you to understand that Peter was not unacquainted with suffering. Close friends and family were daily being persecuted for their faith. Many were dying horrible deaths. Pastor Ryan talked last week about how, while there was suffering, their faith did not waver because they understood there was a reason for their grief and suffering - to refine their faith and to bring praise and glory to Christ as they continued to stand firm in their faith. And having just talked about the faith that is refined by suffering and grief, Peter goes on to say this:
1 Peter 1:8–12 CSB
Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.
As we read these words in verses 8-12 we see this concept continue surface:
Our Recruiter is now unseen, but we still believe in Him, we love Him, and we rejoice in Him.
Let’s unpack these verses together this morning. As we look at verses 8 and 9, we will see how Peter emphasizes the fact that

I. We Believe in an Unseen Savior (vv. 8-9)

We will start by looking over verse 8, where we see that

A. We Love Jesus, our Unseen Savior (v. 8a):

“Though you have not seen him, you love him;”
At first glance this statement seems relatively simplistic, and we could gloss over it without giving it much thought. But there are a couple of concepts here to consider.
First, the way this word “love” is used implies a continual state of loving Jesus. It is ongoing, continuous, and without ceasing. It is the kind of love that marches forward regardless of the current circumstances.
Second, Peter is talking of this kind of love shown by believers for Jesus - but He’s someone they’ve never even seen. Now let me ask you something - is it very common for a person to have ongoing, never-stopping love for someone they’ve never met? The ability to love in this way is given to us by the Holy Spirit Himself, but let’s take it a step further - how often do you hear of people loving someone they’ve never even met and also suffering for someone they’ve never even met? This kind of love is unheard of - and is further refined and made possible by God. Paul talks about this in Romans 5:
Romans 5:2–5 CSB
We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
So it is the Holy Spirit who we turn to that gives us strength in suffering and affliction, and as we endure suffering and affliction it gives way to character and it builds our hope. And Peter talks about that hope, calling it a living hope that grows as God works on us and as we walk through life. The hope that we have is rooted in the love of God which has been poured into our hearts. This love He has given us is a love not only for one another, but a love for Him that will endure the most difficult of challenges that life can send our way.

B. We believe in Jesus and rejoice (v. 8b)

Not only do we love Jesus, our unseen savior, through all of life’s suffering, affliction, and hardship, but we also believe in Him. And this word “believe” doesn’t just mean something like “I mentally agree that Jesus was a person - that He lived, died, and rose again.” The bible talks about how the demons know the truth of and agree with that statement. But this word “believe” means a lot more - it means that you place your entire trust and hope in the person of Jesus. It means you’ve come to the point where you don’t put your faith in something you do, but rather in a person - and that’s the person of Jesus Christ. And a true trust and hope in Jesus isn’t without feeling - it has a result as Peter points out…he says we:
“rejoice with inexpressible glorious joy.”
This verb “to rejoice” literally means “to feel joy.” So let me ask you - when you think about Jesus - all of who he is and what he has done for you - do you feel joy? Is it more than mental agreement with what He has done? Does your heart soar at the thought of what He has done for you? And its not just any kind of joy - its a joy that is inexpressible. Have you ever been speechless? Here’s an example of speechlessness:
When Captain Darren Herring Jr. returned to New Orleans, Louisiana after serving nine months in Iraq, he knew exactly who he had to see. His 9-year-old nephew, Jayden’s reaction to seeing CPT. He walks into the school office to see Jayden for the first time - take a look at Jayden’s reaction. (Play video)
We rejoice with a joy that cannot be put into words. Peter also says that it is a glorious joy. You know - in Jesus’ time they had something called the septuagint which was simply the Old Testament translated into Greek which was the commonly spoken language at the time. So just like we now have an English version of the Old Testament so that we can read it ourselves without having to go to someone who knows Hebrew, so also they had translated it into Greek. And this same word for glorious is used in Exodus. Let’s take a quick look:
Exodus 34:29–35 CSB
As Moses descended from Mount Sinai—with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands as he descended the mountain—he did not realize that the skin of his face shone as a result of his speaking with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face shone! They were afraid to come near him. But Moses called out to them, so Aaron and all the leaders of the community returned to him, and Moses spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he commanded them to do everything the Lord had told him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil until he came out. After he came out, he would tell the Israelites what he had been commanded, and the Israelites would see that Moses’s face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil over his face again until he went to speak with the Lord.
You see - every time Moses came face-to-face with God his face was literally glory-filled. It was radiant with the glory of God. And guess what? When we believe on Jesus, we rejoice with a glorious joy. This isn’t just any glorious joy, though. It is the joy that is placed in our hearts by God Himself. Literally, we come face-to-face with our sinfulness and the realization that all is hopeless for us, but then our eyes turn to Jesus and His righteous life, His death in our place, and then His resurrection on the third day. Our eyes are opened and we realize that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life - that He is salvation and we begin to rejoice with the joy of God because He has saved us!
And that leads us to the third point we draw from verses 8 and 9:

C. Why we rejoice: Jesus, our Salvation (v. 9).

The reason that Peter gives for the Christians to rejoice in the midst of great suffering is because they are receiving the goal of their faith (or another way to translate it is the outcome of their faith), which is the salvation of their souls. What Peter is talking about here is not just liberation from sin in this lifetime. He is talking about the ultimate salvation, the day when you finally die and come face-to-face with God. He says that the reason we can rejoice even in the midst of suffering is because of the ultimate end of our salvation - the worst that could happen is that we could die…but guess what? Our souls have been saved! No one can really touch us because if we die, we end up face-to-face with our Lord and Savior Jesus.
Up to this point, we have seen that...
Our Recruiter is now unseen, but we still believe in Him, we love Him, and we rejoice in Him.
At this point, Peter begins to shift gears a little. We see some interesting contrasting of ideas as he writes regarding those that believe but haven’t seen Christ (that includes us, by the way), to others that somehow saw or continue to see Christ. And when I say “see” I don’t necessarily mean face-to-face, but that they saw or see His importance. He starts to talk about four other groups or categories of persons that have a unique role and perspective on God’s plan of salvation. And this is where we start to get a broader picture of what Peter is trying to tell the suffering Christians of his time - he’s trying to broaden their perspective as if to say - “look at God’s BIG plan, and you are a part of it.” That same message is for us today, too.

Our Recruiter as Seen by Others (1:10-12)

Let’s take a look again at what Peter says starting in verse 10:
1 Peter 1:10–12 CSB
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.

A. The Prophets saw the Day and the One (vv. 10-11).

So the first category of people that played a unique role in predicting the coming savior of the world are Old Testament prophets. And this is a good point to pause to discuss how God’s revealing of future events tends to unfold. There’s this concept called prophetic telescoping and I know it sounds strange, but listen for just a minute because its important to understand that there is quite a bit of criticism surrounding the prophecies of the Old Testament. Why? Because it appears that, while they got some fairly major events correct, it seems there are some details missing and time periods that sometimes don’t feel quite right. For example, all throughout the Old Testament you’ll have someone talking about the coming Messiah in one statement and then talking about how peace is going to rule the earth in the very next sentence.
Now, the question is this: why didn’t the prophets reveal to us that there was a large gap of time between Jesus’ ascension and when He returns to wipe away every tear from our eyes and completely do away with sorrow as it talks about in Revelation? Well, the answer is relatively simple: because God did not reveal those details. What He revealed to them is what we have recorded in Scripture. Clear as mud? Here’s a graphic to help illustrate:
Show mountaintop graphic #1
In this first graphic, you can see the valleys and the peaks because of our vantage point, right? Imagine this ridgeline is the passage of time and these peaks are prophecies we find throughout Scripture. We are able to see that there is a great distance between the peaks because we are looking back on fulfilled prophecy. Imagine this particular valley between the cross and when Jesus comes again to rule and reign is the current church age - that’s the time we are living in right now. Now imagine for a second that your vantage point were different, that you were on this side of the mountains and you were looking through a telescope at the peaks. What do you think that would look like?
Show mountaintop graphic #2
It would probably look something like this. While you can still see the peaks, or in this case the major prophetic events, you can’t necessarily see the details of the time period in between. You might ask the question: why would God reveal things in this way? Well, because that’s the way He chose to do it.
So - there you go. A crash course in prophetic telescoping. Hopefully you aren’t more confused than when you walked in.
But back to the verse - Peter talks about how these prophets knew that grace was going to come to us who would believe in the Messiah, but that they didn’t know exact times or circumstances, and so they studied what revelation God had given them and prior prophecies that had been spoken to try to determine what God was doing.
Another side note, by the way. Here, there is a unique phrase that is used that is only used in two other instances in the New Testament - this phrase “the Spirit of Christ.” This one is unique though, and I’ll tell you why. The two other instances are talking about the Spirit of Christ in relation to New Testament believers. That might not seem like a big deal because we see all over the place how the “Spirit of God” or what’s also called the “Holy Spirit” or even, in two instances, how the “Spirit of Christ” indwells believers in Jesus. However, this particular instance is not in reference to New Testament followers of Jesus. It is in reference to the Spirit that indwells prophets of the Old Testament. In fact, this is, once again, another case that Jesus is God, that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one, and that the Holy Spirit found in the Old Testament, sent by God the Father, is in fact the same Holy Spirit found in the New Testament. Pastor Ryan covered that concept of God being three persons in one essence and we see Peter again showing signs that He believed in what we call today the Holy Trinity.
So Peter tells us that the prophets testified in advance about the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. They saw the day and the one.

B. The Holy Spirit empowered people to see and speak regarding the signs of the Messiah (vv. 10b, 12b).

The other person we’ve already mentioned - the Holy Spirit. Its mentioned again in verse 12:
1 Peter 1:12 CSB
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.
It is seen throughout Scripture that God’s Spirit empowers people to speak the truth regarding His plan to redeem humanity. In verse 10, we saw how He allowed those from the Old Testament to prophesy regarding the messiah. In verse 12, we see the Holy Spirit mentioned again, except this time He is mentioned as being “sent from heaven” and enabling people to preach the Gospel. Who were those people that first preached the Gospel? They are our third group.

C. The Apostles testified about what they Had Seen (v. 12a).

The Apostles are the third group that had a unique perspective and role in helping us see Jesus. They literally walked with Jesus, talked with Him in person, learned from Him, ate with Him, traveled with Him, cried with Him, and cried for Him. They rejoiced with Him as they came to realize that death had no hold on Him. And as they were finally indwelt by the Holy Spirit as described in Acts 2, they became bold and preached the Gospel in the face of extreme opposition and persecution. They continued to testify regarding what they had seen even under threat of death. You can read about this week how Peter went from a guy that tended to rely on his own strength - who had the right answers about half the time and failed miserably the other half, to being confident in not himself but in Jesus alone. As soon as he is filled with the Holy Spirit, the first major sermon is given by Peter himself. I want to encourage you to read that about in Acts 2 this week.

D. The Angels long to continue studying, participating in, and reveling in God’s amazing redemptive plan (v. 12c).

The last group mentioned by Peter are the angels and Peter talks about how they have an intense desire to catch even just a glimpse of God’s unfolding plan of salvation.

Conclusion

So we have four persons: the Prophets, the Holy Spirit, the Apostles, and the Angels, all playing a role over the history of time in pointing to Christ. They are fascinating with Jesus - they have seen Him and they want to know more. But the question you might be asking is - great, but what does that have to do with me?
Here’s a few observations that should change our perspective:
God has a HUGE plan that involves THOUSANDS of years, and guess what? He recruited you to play a part in it.
Peter makes it clear that, although there is a lot of suffering and affliction, God’s plan is BIG. If He was able to bring the longed-for Messiah as the Prophets had foreseen, then we can know with certainty that Jesus will come again and finally put an end to sorrow, pain, and he’ll wipe away every tear and in that Day peace will rule the nations. In other words, the pain of this life won’t last forever and the pain of this world won’t go on forever.
This is not a vain hope, but a hope in the One who is Living - JESUS is our LIVING HOPE.
A couple of questions to ask yourself:
Do I rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy when I think about Jesus - my Lord and Savior?
Does my fascination rival that of the angels? Am I fascinated with this Jesus, His life, and how God saved me - to the extent that I’ll dedicate myself to intense study of the Gospel?
Am I looking for how God’s redemptive work is unfolding in the lives of those around me? In other words, do you see God softening hearts, and are you willing to step in to share the truth in love, just like the Apostles?
Peter knows that trials and suffering come. Peter himself was crucified like Jesus, upside down, because he preached the name of Christ. But knowing the persecution was happening, and knowing that very likely death was in store for him, here is what he has to say to us:
Our Recruiter is now unseen, but we still believe in Him, we love Him, and we rejoice in Him.
Let’s pray.
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