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The Four Rewards of Faith- 1 Peter 1.5-9

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The Four Rewards of Faith

1 Peter 1:5-9

5/18/03

 

Introduction:

On the field of battle, there are a number of medals that can be earned for exceptional and brave service. 

            -The Distinguished Service Cross

            -The Silver Star

            -Legion of Merit

            -The Distinguished Flying Cross

            -The Bronze Star

And there are others. 

Imagine how proud you would be, or maybe are, if one of your relatives, say your father has earned one of these awards. 

But one thing you’ll notice, is that often these awards are given long after the battle has been fought. 

            -often times they are given posthumously. . . after the person has died. 

That’s what happened in the case of Will James. 

-he was one of 18 members of a reconnaissance platoon who, on December 16, 1944 held off a German battalion in Belgium. 

-Few history books take note of the fact that their bravery gave Allied forces the time it took to mount the defense that finally won the Battle of the Bulge. 

-Just 18 men, in the face of overwhelming odds. 

-After the war, Will James slipped into oblivion for almost 40 years. 

-He underwent numerous painful surgeries as a result of wounds he’d received in the war. 

-It wasn’t until 1981, after he had died, that he was finally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism. 

I often wonder how many soldiers heroically gave their lives in battle, in some lonely place of Europe, who will never receive a reward. 

Now. . . what I want you to see from this is the fact that if you are a soldier of the cross, you will never go unrewarded. 

I want to direct your attention this morning to 1 Peter 1:5-9  (read it) 

This passage is all about the rewards of genuine faith. 

There are four rewards of genuine faith listed here. 

Big idea:  The rewards of faith are present realities. 

You’ll notice that these rewards begin in the present, and extend all the way into eternity. 

The benefits of faith don’t just begin posthumously. . .after we die. . . they begin in this life. 

And there is not a person here this morning who doesn’t desperately need these four rewards of faith. 

When we say faith, we’re simply saying that you believe that the Bible is true, and that what it says about Christ is true:

            -that He’s the only way salvation

            -that He is preparing a place for us in heaven

            -that this life is not all there is

Faith has the ability and the strength to see past all the pain and suffering in this life, and to hold onto eternity. 

Faith reaches from the present, into the future and brings the realities of eternity into our temporal existence. 

Without faith, the Christian life appears highly irrelevant, totally insane, and entirely worthless. 

But with faith, you can see the unseen. 

So this morning, let’s look at the four rewards of faith. 

I.  Faith provides the channel for God’s protective power.  (vs. 5) 

Not long ago, during the war with Iraq, one of the embedded journalists was reporting about an incident that had taken place. 

Might have been David Bloom before he died. 

He had been flying in a helicopter on a certain mission, when for some reason, the helicopter had to land unexpectedly. 

They were in a very vulnerable situation, and the Iraqis could’ve easily attacked them. 

But before they could do that, a group of American tanks came in and formed a perimeter around the downed helicopter.

The journalist at that point said, “you’ll never know just how comforting it is at a time like this to be guarded in this way.” 

Well that is precisely the meaning of verse 5. 

Here we as Christians are. . . in hostile territory, under attack from Satan and the world, and what does God do for us. 

A.     God keeps us by His “power.” 

1.  the word “kept” in verse 5 is a very interesting word. 

                        -meant to mount a military guard

                        -to set a sentinel to keep watch

                        -and I live that it’s in the present. . . it’s an ongoing guard being posted. 

We are always under the “watchful care” of God.  (Wuest) 

            -His sleepless eyes are always on you. 

            -And there is never a changing of the guard. 

2.    Look at what protects us. . . “the power of God.” 

Is there any power greater than God’s power on this earth? 

Think for a second of the powers on this earth that we sometimes feel we’re at the mercy of:

-nature-  weather, tornadoes. . . that’s power. . . if you’ve been down to Lima this last week, you know that power. 

          -tombstones broken over

          -huge beams thrown around like tooth picks

          -the top of the water tower blown away to who knows where

          -roofs taken off

          -buildings flattened

                   But doesn’t Christ have greater power than a tornado?

                                      -if He had said, “peace be still” to that tornado would’ve stopped immediately! 

                                      -that same power is the power that guards your soul

-people feel they’re at the mercy of governments. . . but we forget that Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

-we sometimes feel we’re at the mercy of accidents, other people, the economy, other nations, OPEC turning off the valves for oil.

But I’m here to tell you that you’re not at anyone’s mercies but God’s mercies. 

These other forces only have power because God allows them to have power. 

                   -and that’s the power that guards you. 

1 Peter 2:25 calls God the Shepherd and Guardian of your soul. 

3.    Well what exactly does God guard in our lives? 

-verse 5 tells us that He guards us unto salvation. 

-in other words, He guards those who’ve trusted Christ as Savior, to be sure that nothing keeps them from receiving salvation

-so it’s a present reward with future realities. 

John 10 states that once you are in the Father’s hand, no one can ever could ever take you out of it. 

There are many things that can touch you in this life:

                   -sorrow, difficulty, hunger, loss, physical pain

-most of us, when going through these kinds of problems, at least at the outset feel that God is abandoning us. 

-We kind of feel cheated by God. 

-and it takes a while for faith to do its work. . . and bring us around to remember that God hasn’t abandoned us. . . He’s still on guard. . .

-to remind us that while some things can touch us and our families. . . nothing can touch our eternal destiny. . . because your soul is guarded by God. 

                   -He is your sentinel. 

That’s one of the rewards of faith. 

Look again at verse 5:

B.     the channel of God’s protective power in your life is faith. 

-when your faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior

-when you’re trusting in Him alone, God rewards that faith with His protective power. 

-those who have never come to the point in their lives where they’ve trusted Christ as their Savior don’t know this type of protection. 

-they might have some semblance of faith. . but they don’t have saving faith. 

That’s the first reward of faith. 

             Genuine faith provides the channel for God’s protective power. 

             You are protected by God, Who will walk you straight into eternity with Him. 

The second reward: 

II.  Genuine faith proves its own worth through trials.  (1:6, 7) 

It’s through trials that what we really believe about God comes rising to the surface. 

And for most of us, we don’t like what we see. 

             -in trials we usually find that we have a little bit of faith with a lot of impurities. 

            

             -we find more worry than faith, more bitterness than trust, more despair than hope.

-but let the trials and the Lord, and the faith He has placed within us do their good work, and eventually, we come out shining. 

A.     Trials are temporary.  (vs. 6) 

They last a “season” 

You say, “well my trials have lasted my entire life!  What’s more, as I look to the future, I don’t see a way out!”

But the point of the passage is that trials for the Christian cannot and will not last forever!

B.     They come in all shapes and sizes  (vs. 6) 

-“manifold” 

-the idea is that trials come in all colors and all varieties. 

             -today you might have a trial with your health

-tomorrow it might be a trial with your checkbook. 

They come in all shapes and sizes. 

C.     They come for a reason  (vs. 7) 

The one primary reason for problems in your life is to put your faith under the microscope and see if it’s genuine. 

      -not only that. . . but if it is genuine to make it even more genuine!!

To work out the things that are mixed with it. 

The passage talks about gold being tried with fire. 

The imagery here is well known. 

It’s idea of a goldsmith taking some gold ore and putting it into intense heat to melt it. 

As the gold is melted, impurities work their way to the surface. . . and the goldsmith skims them off the top. 

The more the impurities come to the top and are skimmed off, the purer the gold becomes. 

When the goldsmith can finally see the reflection of his face, he knows he has pure gold. 

What the furnace is to gold, trials are to faith. 

Our faith is put into the furnace of trials, and melted down. 

-as the impurities rise to the surface, our Lord skims them off. . . He deals with us to get rid of them. 

-One commentator has picked up on the idea that when Christ’s reflection can finally be seen in our faith and in our lives, He knows we have a pure faith.  (Wuest) 

What’s the ultimate outcome of a pure faith? 

D.     It will result in praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 

It will shine to the praise of Christ. . . but I also believe we will receive commendation from the Lord for it. 

It’s shocking to me the difficult lengths to which we will go for a little praise. 

You’re aware of the Tour de France as one of the most difficult of all bicycle races. 

-the race can cover a couple thousand miles of the most difficult mountainous terrain in France. 

-riders have to eat and drink on the go

-they suffer the extremes of heat and cold. 

One rider said that train for the event he had ridden his bicycle 22,000 miles a year. 

Why would people endure such hardship and pain? 

A few million dollars maybe? 

No. . .because they want to wear the winner’s jersey. 

One rider summed up what motivated him:

“to sweep through the Arc of Triomphe on the last day.  To be able to say you finished the Tour de France.” 

If a specially colored jersey will motivate people to do all that. . .why shouldn’t we be motivated by a crown. . . and a special commendation from Almighty God? 

I think the problem of motivation in the Christian life comes from our not really being able to picture that final day in God’s presence. 

But faith can help us to keep going through trials so that praise and honor and glory may result in the final day. 

The glory for our faith goes to Christ. . . but we can receive a commendation. 

Genuine faith:

1.      Provides the channel for God’s protective power

2.      Proves its own worth through trials. 

The third reward of faith: 

III.  Promotes genuine love for the Savior. 

Very often through trials and hard times, our love for the Savior is conspicuous because of its absence. 

      -we become bitter and angry

That’s why I believe the story behind the writing of the song, “More Love to Thee,” is so important to know. 

It was written by Elizabeth Prentiss. 

She was in great physical pain for a lot of her life. 

At a certain point in her life, she and her husband lost two children within a relatively short period of time. 

      -She wrote that instead of having children running around, she had two graves. 

      -She calls those two graves God’s gift to her. 

      -She told God that her broken and bleeding heart was her gift to Him. 

And she penned the words to the song, “More Love to Thee.” 

             More love to Thee Oh Christ, more love to Thee

             Hear Thou this prayer I make on bended knee

             This is my earnest plea, more love Oh Christ to Thee

             More love to Thee, more love to Thee. 

On another occasion she wrote:

To love Christ more is the deepest need, the constant cry of my soul. . . when I am happy and busy, and when I am sad and idle, the whisper keeps going up for more love, more live, more love!      (101 More Hymn Stories, Osbeck) 

Is that your desire. . . “more love Oh Christ to Thee?”

Genuine faith promotes that kind of love. 

It’s a reward of faith. 

A.     Verse 8-  They had never seen Christ in the past. 

-most of his readers hadn’t had the benefit of seeing Christ firsthand.

-the idea here is that they hadn’t even caught a glimpse of Jesus. . . but they loved Him! 

-how could that be? 

-they saw Jesus through the eyes of faith. 

             -do you? 

B.     They didn’t see Christ in the present, yet they had joy unspeakable. 

-so genuine faith promotes joy that cannot be expressed by words

-it also promotes deep love for Christ. 

Let me ask you this morning. . . do you have joy unspeakable? 

Do you love an unseen Savior? 

You do if you’re clinging to Christ through faith. 

Turn over to 1 Peter 4:13

      -we can have joy now knowing we’ll see Christ then.

That’s the third reward of faith:

      -it enables you to sincerely love a Savior you haven’t seen.

      -without faith, it would not be possible to love Christ.

If you have a weak love for Christ. . . maybe it’s because you have a weak faith in Christ. 

Fourth reward of faith:

IV.  Genuine faith promises the salvation of your soul (vs. 9) 

Read verses nine. 

What’s our goal for faith these days:

      -we say, “well, my faith should make me feel good!” 

      -“my faith should make me look good!” 

      -“my faith should make me live good!” 

But you know what the primary goal of faith really is? 

      -to be the channel of God’s saving power in your life. 

Verse 9 says that the end (or goal) of your faith is the salvation of your soul. 

God could have chosen to accept a lot of things to grant you eternal life:

      -He could’ve said, “okay, everyone who wants to have eternal life has to give Me $100!”

             -that’d be a bargain wouldn’t it?

-He could’ve said, “whoever wants to have eternal life has to die on a battle field for a noble cause!” 

      -even that would’ve been a bargain!

-He could’ve made any demands He wanted. 

      -but He chose to make the payment for sins Himself on the cross

-and now He simply says, “empty yourself of any thought of your own goodness, or ability to buy eternal life, and reach out by faith and receive Jesus as your own Savior.”

That’s the outcome of genuine faith. . . .the salvation of your soul!!

-those who come to God with nothing to offer, but trust Jesus to save them are given everything. 

-verse 4-  they’re given an inheritance that won’t die or fade away. 

-it’s reserved in heaven for them. 

Have you made your reservations in heaven yet? 

      -have you received the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior? 

Are you enjoying the rewards of a solid faith?

      Enjoying God’s protective power

      Is it proving it’s own worth through trials. . . or is it giving up

      Does it promote sincere love of Christ?

      -Genuine faith promises the salvation of your soul. 

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