Friday, June 13, 2014

A Brief Survey of 1 Peter, Part 2

A Brief Survey of 1 Peter, Part 2
Theological Issues:
The main purpose of this letter is to strengthen these saints, who were weary from violent persecution.  Peter uses the certainty of the saints’ perseverance to encourage them amidst fierce opposition.  Though their earthly state was unsure, their heavenly state was guaranteed.  Peter’s line of reasoning runs: Elect,[1] Regenerated,[2] Preserved.[3]  He then gives Christ’s example of patient suffering.[4]  Nothing can encourage us like certainty.  Complete assurance of salvation is the greatest antidote against weakness and the temptation to surrender amidst trials and tribulations.  This is surely one of the great weaknesses of the Arminian scheme.  How can we appreciate the inheritance which is “reserved” for us in heaven when there is no certainty that we will even get there?

To further refute the Arminian error, Peter next argues that knowledge of our perseverance tends to holiness.  It is frequently alleged by Arminians that the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints tends to spiritual indifference, sloth and sin.  This is because they assume that if a person knows with absolute certainty that nothing he can ever do will remove him from Christ’s hand,[5] they will indulge in all manner of iniquity.  In other words, they will make grace a license for sin.  Scripture repeatedly denies such reasoning.  How can we who are dead to sin still live in it?[6]  In fact Jude tells us that those who use grace as a license for sin are “ordained[7]” to perdition (another doctrine Arminians dislike).  After reminding his readers of their spiritual privileges, Peter stirs them to holiness.  From verses 13 to 25 of Chapter 1, Peter gives us twelve exhortations to holiness.  They are:
  1. Draw up our affections from things below.[8]
  2. Keep free of the slavery of our former lusts.[9]
  3. Walk agreeably to our holy calling.[10]
  4. There is to be conformity between God and His children.[11]
  5. God is an impartial Judge.[12]
  6. We are pilgrims, sojourners on earth.[13]
  7. Our redemption was costly.[14]
  8. Christ is the eternal Mediator.[15]
  9. Christ was exalted and glorified as our Guarantor.[16]
  10. We should consider our past progress.[17]
  11. We should be mindful of our spiritual origin (incorruptible seed).[18]
  12. We must remember the excellence of our spiritual estate.[19]

In the first part of Chapter 2, Peter exhorts us to read the Scriptures.  He calls them sincere milk.  The Greek word is “guileless."[20]  The article, "the," implies that besides the well-known pure milk, the Gospel, there is no other pure, unadulterated doctrine.    To this end, Peter gives us several motives to a hearty reception and study of the sacred Scriptures.

*      It is sincere milk.
*      It is full of spiritual reason.
*      It is the principal means of all progress and growth in grace.
*      It will prove the reality of any experience of God’s graciousness.
*      We can daily settle with Christ.

All of the above considerations lead us to a doctrine rarely mentioned in evangelical circles today: mortification, by which word we mean the putting to death of the misdeeds of the old sin nature[21] – the old man.[22]  When a man is justified, he must them walk in the newness of life[23] and deny himself,[24] putting to death, little by little, the innate tendencies of the old man, because all things have become new.[25] Mortification differs from Sanctification in this point: We are sanctified by God’s Spirit as we mortify the deeds of the flesh.

It is seldom insisted upon today, nay, it is seldom even mentioned that there exists a struggle between the new and the old in every believer.  This struggle accounts for much of the Romans 7-like tension true believers feel.  Alexander Nisbet puts it quite beautifully when he says in his Scottish manner, “There remains in the children of the Lord not only after their regeneration, but even after some progress in mortification, many strong corruptions and filthy frames of spirit which are left to humble them, Rom. 7:24, and to stir them up to earnest employment of Jesus Christ, both for mercy and power to subdue them, 2 Cor. 12:8; for upon those whim the Apostle supposed to be not only born again (1:23), but to have attained to good degree of mortification (1:22), he here presses that they should lay aside malice, and guile and hypocrisy.”[26]

Assurance of our perseverance leads to mortification and sanctification, not to licentiousness.  It is slander to say that the doctrines of grace lead to sin.  

Peter goes on from these theological considerations to press how to apply these truths practically to all of our affairs: domestic, work-related, or otherwise.  And then, as if he had not been emphatic enough, in Chapter 4, he comes back to the subject of Mortification.

He finishes the letter with reminiscences of his dialogue with the risen Christ in John 21.[27]  The wording of 5:5 suggests that Peter was familiar with James’ letter.[28]  This is an extra proof that there is no conflict between the theology of James and Paul.  Peter cites James and in the same letter confirms the doctrine of Paul.

In summary, the Epistle is a very good reminder of the certainty of our salvation and that a consideration of such privilege should stir us up to holy living and patient suffering.

[1] 1:2
[2] 1:3
[3] 1:4 - 9
[4] 1:10 - 12
[5] John 10:28
[6] Romans 6:1, 2
[7] Jude 4
[8] 1:13
[9] 1:14
[10] 1:15
[11] 1:16
[12] 1:17
[13] 1:17
[14] 1:18
[15] 1:20
[16] 1:21
[17] 1:22
[18] 1:23
[19] 1:24 - 25
[20] cf. 2:1 – “Laying aside all guile…”
[21] Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5
[22] Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:9
[23] Romans 6:4
[24] Matthew 16:24
[25] 2 Corinthians 5:17
[26] Alexander Nisbet, Commentary on 1 and 2 Peter
[27] Compare 5:2 with John 21:16
[28] cf. James 4:6

No comments:

Post a Comment

Visitor Counter

Flag Counter