The apostle Peter stated early in the first epistle bearing his name, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations” (I Pet. 1:6). While living in this present world, trials, tribulations and temptations will oppress us. That is just a statement of fact. Life itself stands witness to this. God’s word attest to the truthfulness of this fact. Paul stated, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12). Jesus once said, “For ye have the poor always with you…” (Matt. 26:11). And, Paul stated that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” (I Cor. 10:13). Yet, according to the statement of Peter, we can still rejoice. In fact, we are commanded to rejoice. Paul stated, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). How is it that we are to rejoice when living in various adversities? In the verse already cited, there is a three word phrase that means a lot in answering this question. Those three words are, “for a season”. Rest assured that those adversities will not last for eternity, for we shall not live in this physical life for eternity (James 4:14; I Pet. 1:24). Yet, let us note from the five previous verses in First Peter a progressive path to this joy while in the midst of adversity that Peter speaks of in verse six.
Start with the simple fact that Peter was writing to people scattered through a large geographical area. The point here is that no matter who you are or where you might live, God has a plan for eternal life that will include you. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). The apostle John stated, “…And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
The key to taking advantage of this plan of God is obedience to the word of God. God had pre-determined that one can be one of His elect by way of sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:2). Belief in and obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the sacrificial Lamb that shed His blood for our salvation will lead one toward being able to rejoice even in the times of adversity. He is the author of eternal salvation to all those that obey Him (Heb. 5:9). Peter said, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently; Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Pet. 1:22-23). We are washed clean by the blood of Christ. Nothing else has such cleansing power (Heb. 10:4; I Pet. 1:18-19).
Having been begotten (I Pet. 1:3), we are born again and this spiritual birth is mandatory to eternal life in heaven. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5). Paul wrote, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). Paul also pointed out that when one is baptized into Christ, he is then raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). There is then a lively or living hope based on the fact that Jesus Christ Himself was resurrected from the dead. Paul told the Romans that Jesus was “…declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). He also told the Corinthians that, “…if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins…If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead…” (I Cor. 15:17, 19-20).
As a result all this, one stands to inherit eternal life in heaven (I Pet. 1:4). This promise makes all the adversity faced in this life pale in comparison. In fact Paul stated, “For I reckon that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). Jesus had said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Paul also wrote, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:17-18).
The absolute certainty of these things being true is seen in the fact that they are kept by the power of God (I Pet. 1:5). We can have absolute confidence in the reception of the inheritance because God has promised it and God cannot lie. We can make the journey and enjoy the eternal blessings. Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13), and we can as well.
Now we can see how we can rejoice in this life, even in the midst of adversity. It is because of what we can have when this life is over. (Send any questions or comments to: [email protected])
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.