Longing for Salvation
1 Peter 1:10-12
October 4, 2014 | Brian Bill
I remember my most recent time going to an NFL game. Even though my experience was incredible it pales in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ. No stadium can compete with salvation. Victory over a team is nothing like victory over sin. Friend, whatever you think is the ultimate experience it cannot compare or compete with your conversion. And whatever trial or challenge or struggle you are going through right now, there’s nothing that your salvation can’t get you through.
Last week we learned that trials are meant to fortify our faith if we remember that they are temporary, timely, terrible and transforming. Peter starts his letter with a reminder that we are strangers on the earth and then he establishes what is ours in heaven and then talks about trials and now he’s back to the theme of salvation.
It’s easy to lose perspective when going through problems so Peter gets our eyes back on eternal matters in 1 Peter 1:10-12. Salvation was predicted by the prophets, proclaimed by the apostles and prized by angels. Let’s stand and read this passage together: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 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. 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.”
1. Predicted by the prophets.
We see at least five things that the prophets are given props for.
- They diligently studied salvation. Look at verse 10: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully…” Drop down to the first part of verse 11: “searching.” These words imply intensity and were used of a miner digging for gold or of a dog sniffing out something with his nose. The prophets pondered and diligently explored, investigating carefully in order to understand everything they and other prophets predicted. Probably the clearest example of this is in Daniel 9:2 when Daniel studied what Jeremiah had written to determine how long the exile would last: “I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
If the prophets studied salvation, then so should we. Hebrews 11:6 says: “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
- Their prophecies dealt with coming grace. Look at the last part of verse 10: “Who prophesied of the grace that would come to you.” The prophets knew that there was no profit in rule-keeping or trying to earn one’s way to heaven. Salvation is by grace, not works. It comes from God’s mercy, not our merit. By the way, the word “grace” is found some 10 times in 1 Peter.
- They tried to figure out who the Christ was and when He would come. The prophets, from Moses to Malachi, knew that God was going to send the Savior, but they didn’t know who He would be and when He would be coming. Check out verse 11: “Searching what or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating…”
Numbers 24:17 shows that the prophecies spoke of a coming person in the future but they didn’t contain a specific timeline: “I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel.”
Are you aware that there are over 300 specific predictions about the coming of Christ in the Old Testament? Here’s a short list of 10.
That he would be born of a virgin—Isaiah 7:14
That he would be born in Bethlehem—Micah 5:2
That he would enter Jerusalem on a donkey—Zechariah 9:9
That he would be sold for 30 pieces of silver—Zechariah 11:12
That he would be wounded and bruised—Isaiah 53:5
That his hands and feet would be pierced—Psalm 22:16
That he would be crucified with thieves—Isaiah 53:12
That his garments would be torn apart and lots cast for them—Psalm 22:18
That his side would be pierced—Zechariah 12:10
That he would rise from the dead—Psalm 16:10
It’s fascinating to me that in just Romans 9-11, Paul quotes more than 20 Old Testament texts from at least 9 Old Testament books.
- They knew that Christ would suffer first and glory would follow. Somehow these messengers of God learned from the Spirit of Christ that suffering would be involved before victory would come in verse 11: “When He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” They didn’t understand everything but they somehow saw in the distance two mountain peaks – one was Mount Calvary where Jesus would suffer (Isaiah 53:5) and the other was the Mount of Olives where He will return in glory (Zechariah 14:4). What they didn’t know was that there would be a long valley of time between the two peaks.
We will need to go through some garbage before we get to glory.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus ended up having a post-resurrection Bible study with Jesus himself when He brought these two themes of suffering and glory together in Luke 24:25-26: “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’” Friends, if Jesus had to go through suffering before entering glory, so too we will need to go through some garbage before we get to glory.
- They knew that their prophecies were for future generations. We see this in verse 12: “To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering.” They didn’t receive what they had given their lives to (see Hebrews 11:39) but somehow knew that what they were doing was for future generations. Likewise, we need to live in light of our legacy, don’t we? As we get older, it’s important to think about what we can pass along to the next generation. We’re called to gather, grow, give and go. Proverbs 13:22 says that “a good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren” but there’s a sense where we also need to be thinking about what we can leave for the next generation here at church as well. This helps us when we think about new ministry initiatives or building campaigns. We give what we’ve been given, knowing that we might not ever see the fruit of what we give.
Salvation was predicted by the prophets and secondly, salvation was proclaimed by the apostles.
2. Proclaimed by the apostles.
We see this in the next part of verse 12: “The things which now have been reported to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.” We see two things that they did – they preached the gospel and they did so in the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter knew all about that because that’s what happened when he preached on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, resulting in 3,000 souls being saved! The church then spread across the Roman Empire and ultimately to the ends of the earth.
When the gospel is preached and the Holy Spirit empowers, incredible things happen. 1 Thessalonians 1:5: “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit…” We see this also in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
That’s why we do what we do, right? A.W. Tozer once said, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” I wonder if we would notice if the Holy Spirit were not at work here at our church? Would we just continue with all our programs and activities?
Salvation was predicted by the prophets, and it was preached by the apostles. There’s one more stunning aspect – salvation is prized by the angels.
3. Prized by angels.
Our culture is fascinated with angels but did you know that they are fascinated with us? We see this in the very last phrase of verse 12: “Things which angels desire to look into.” The word “desire” is very strong. It means, “to long after, to have a passionate or intense desire.” Jesus used this word in Luke 22:15: “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
“To look into” refers to standing on tiptoe to see someone famous and was also used of someone stooping down in order to take a look at something. Figuratively it means to inspect curiously in order to see something exactly. This is the same word used when John stooped into the tomb to get a better view in John 20:5: “And he, stooping down and looking in.” Mary did the same thing in John 20:11. This word is in the present tense, meaning that the angels are continuously watching and inspecting.
Permit me to go back to the football game (I’m going to do it anyway so I guess I don’t need your permission). It was pretty exciting when the team came out of the tunnel onto the field. Fireworks went off. The band played. Everyone was cheering. And I was leaning forward, standing on my tiptoes to see if I could find the quarterback, I looked up at the Jumbotron and saw that he was over in the crowd, high-fiving kids with cancer. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen when I saw that.
Angels are on the edge of their seats so they don’t miss anything. They see what salvation does to selfish and sinful people like us and they stand on tiptoe to get a better view. When they want to see even more, then they stoop down and bend over, as if peering over heaven to see the unfolding plan of salvation.
I went to the Creation Meuseum with my daughter a couple years ago and loved it. I highly recommend it. The museum is organized around the letter “C” to show the salvation narrative that weaves throughout Scripture. This no doubt is what causes the angels to lean in and look carefully: Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consummation. I would add two more C’s: Chosen people and the Church.
Here are four angelic episodes when angels long to look into God’s unfolding plan.
- The angels sang at creation. When God created the world, we know from Job 38:7 that the angels rejoiced: “As the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.”
- Angels announce the birth of Jesus to shepherds. The skies filled with these angelic messengers as they leaned in and delivered the divine birth announcement in Luke 2:13-14: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’”
- The angels bust out into praise around the throne. Revelation 5:11-12: “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’”
- The angels throw a party when someone becomes a new creation. Luke 15:10: “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
What About You?
So, here’s a question. Since the prophets predicted and the apostles proclaimed and the angels prize salvation, how can we be bored by it? I wonder what the angels think when we live half-hearted, spiritually sleepy lives? What must they think when people ignore salvation? Angels must ache when they see us filled with bitterness and sitting on the sidelines.
lock into your salvation
Friends, when you’re suffering, lock into your salvation. The problem is that many times we just forget. That’s one reason why we talk about the first “G” of our vision – Gather. We gather with God’s people so we don’t forget what salvation is all about. And today, we have the incomprehensible privilege of gathering together to remember the Lord’s Supper. Here are three things to take care of before we commune together for Communion.
1. Make sure you’re saved.
You could take care of that right now.
2. Confess any spiritual boredom.
One apologist has said, “When man is bored with God, even heaven does not have a better alternative.” In Luke 10:24 Jesus wanted to shake up religious people who were all up in ritual, so they would be in awe of what was right in front of them: “For I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” Friend, if you know Jesus, you now know what the prophets never knew and you know what the angels wish they knew.
3. Ask God to restore to you the joy of your salvation.
David wrote these words in Psalm 51:12: “Restore to me the joy of my salvation.”
I want to bring up one more thing about that football game. As great as it was, the next day was even more special. Do you know why? Because it was my 35th spiritual birthday. One of my college friends put it in perspective when he texted this: “Happy rebirthday, bro! 35 years ago the angels were rejoicing and I’m rejoicing with you today.”
The prophets were predicting and the apostles were preaching and the angels are prizing. This all comes together at the Lord’s Table.
During the Renaissance a painter named Tintoretto created a stunning version of the Last Supper in which he depicted the scene from above looking down on Jesus and the disciples. It appears that Jesus has just said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood.” The disciples have looks on their faces like they’re trying to figure everything out. Above the table angels are watching what’s happening, their faces showing curiosity and interest, as they marvel at what Jesus is about to do.
As we prepare for communion, let’s be stunned by what the Savior did for us as found in 1 Corinthians 11:23-28: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’”
- Ponder the Past. “We proclaim his death…” (v. 26a)
- Focus on the Future. “…Until He comes.” (v. 26b)
- Reflect on the Present. “Let a man examine himself.” (v. 28)
Just as Jesus had a fervent desire to share His last supper with his follower, so too, let’s prepare ourselves and ask Him to give us a fervent desire to meet with Him right now.