"8Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith; the salvation of your souls."NKJV (1 Pet 1:8-9)
Christ Jesus is the heart of the Kingdom of God, His great salvation, and the New Covenant. All of these are but different aspects of our reconciliation to God. The Kingdom of God views the matter from the standpoint of its government and purpose. The great salvation is the experiential view of things-the point at which we participate. The New Covenant emphasizes the basis of our association with, and acceptance by, the Living God. Whether we are speaking of the administration of Divine intent, our personal participation in that intent, or the basis of our acceptance, Jesus Christ is the heart of the matter. We are never more pleasing to God in our thinking than when we are focused upon His Son. This text will point out how remarkable this is, for Christ Jesus has been withdrawn from this world. He can no longer be seen or touched with the natural senses. Yet, He remains the focus of the Kingdom. God gives nothing to us apart from Christ. Our access to God and the reception of His benefits are in direct proportion to our faith in an unseen Savior. At the point we become meshed with "this present evil world," the blessings of God begin to wane. Unless the situation is corrected, the individual once blessed will actually come under the curse of God, for "he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk 16:16). It is no wonder, therefore, that the Spirit moves Peter to a profound consideration of our faith in Christ Jesus and the impact it has on our lives. Tragically, I find this kind of emphasis is not harmonious with the thrust of contemporary religion. This is a most sad condition.
WHOM HAVING NOT SEEN YOU LOVE
"Whom having not seen you love . . . " NKJV There is a mentality extant in the modern church that must be cast down. It is that tangible, or corporeal, evidence is superior in the matter of validating the truth of God. This is reflected in an emphasis on signs and wonders and physical sensations purporting to attest spiritual blessing. It is also evident in an over evaluation of archeological finds, historicity, and other similar efforts to validate the Word of God. All of this may seem quite innocent, that is not at all the case.
While it is foundational, we need to reaffirm that faith is the appointed means through which the truth of God is validated to the heart and mind. Thus it is written, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb 11:1). The word "substance" signified a firm guarantee and basis for confidence. It denotes that faith is the "title-deed of things hoped for"Moulton-the thing that brings them to us. The word "evidence" means proof or conviction of the reality. Faith itself is the evidence of the reality perceived-it is the proof of its existence and relevance. The New American Bible translates Hebrews 11:1 as follows: "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." A person who believes requires no further proof than faith itself.
The Spirit points out that the scattered believers had not seen Christ. They were not present when He walked among men. They did not hear Him speak, see His miracles, or touch Him as did the Apostles. Yet, they had "obtained a faith of equal standing" RSV with that of the Apostles (2 Pet 1:1). They were as firmly convinced of the reality of Christ as were the Apostles themselves, who spent over three years with Jesus. Of course, even the Apostles did not come into a firm persuasion of the Person of Christ until He had vanished from their vision. It was only then that they took hold of Him in the fullest sense.
Faith brings a profound love for Christ to the believer. This is borne out of the realization that the Son of God "loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal 2:20). By saying we "love" the Lord Jesus, the Spirit lifts religion out of empty ritualism and lifeless routine. Under the Law, the people were motivated by the "fear of death," and thus "were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb 2:15). In loving Christ we are motivated to "keep" His commandments (John 14:15,21). You may remember that, following His resurrection, the question Jesus asked Peter was "Do you love me?"NKJV (John 21:15-17) - not , "Will you obey me?" The reason is that loving Christ compels a person to obey Him. This love is so central to the Kingdom that it is written, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha" (1 Cor 16:22). The NKJV reads, "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!"
See the effectiveness of faith! Although Jesus is not seen, yet He is loved, and energetically so. Faith brings a profound and personal acquaintance with the Lord Jesus. The familiarity it produces is greater than what can be attained through the fleshly senses, and it produces a more consistent spiritual life than visual contact with the Lord. Faith is fueled by the word of God and energized by the Holy Spirit. It provides us with such an accurate picture of the Lord Jesus that love springs from our hearts, compelling us to live for Him because we love Him.
Throughout the centuries multitudes have maintained a passionate attachment to Jesus, though they have never "seen" Him. Such are governed by their love for Jesus, even laying down their lives for Him, and submitting to the abuses of men because of that love. Hardship does not diminish it, nor do harsh afflictions and trials.
All spiritual deficiencies can be traced to a lack of love for Jesus. This love is lacking because faith has been stifled and neglected. If Christ's love for us motivated Him to lay down His life for us, what will be the impact of our love for Him? It will do no less in us than it did in Him! No requirement given by Jesus is too demanding for those loving Him.
All of this accentuates the power of faith-"Whom having not seen you love." Faith is superior to vision and yields more profound results than seeing Jesus in the flesh. How I long to see such love dominating those who wear the name of Christ.
THOUGH NOW YOU DO NOT SEE HIM
" . . . Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory . . . "NKJV The Spirit continues to accentuate the power and effectiveness of faith. Believing does not require overt evidence now. It believes the testimony of the Spirit concerning Christ's accomplishments and present ministry. It also embraces the promise that we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:1-2). Presently we are "absent from the Lord" (2 Cor 5:6). Yet, even though we long to behold Him, our spirits are not dampened, nor are we crushed by the circumstances of life. Behold again the power of faith. Not only does it enable us to love Jesus, we also "rejoice with joy"-now!
Notice what is said of joy: "you rejoice with joy." The NASB reads, "you greatly rejoice with joy." The idea is that of being "filled" with joy, as the NIV reads. Believing vaunts joy into a place of prominence in the heart, where it cannot be suppressed. Thus, this joy is also called "the joy of faith," or "joy in the faith"(Phil 1:25). This is the "fulness of joy" of which the Psalmist speaks, and it is associated with the very presence of the Lord. "In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psa 16:11).
The Spirit distinguishes this joy from fleshly excitation or exhilaration. This is not a form of fleshly hype. Nor, indeed, is it a mechanical or heartless expression. Although such things are common in the Christian community, they have no place in the Kingdom of God. Both irrational and heartless pleasures are foreign to faith, for faith has a reasoning quality about it. Faith gives the "substance" of Christ to the soul, which results in prevailing joy and gladness. Such rejoicing occurs because of what is perceived.
Notice what else is said of this joy. It is "unspeakable," "unutterable," or "inexpressible." This means the flesh is incapable of fully expressing this joy. It pervades the spirit of the individual possessing it, yet cannot be adequately expressed externally. Joy delivers more to our spirits than can be expressed by the tongue. One ancient proverb says, "He is a poor man who can count his flock." Here is a joy that does not require laughter nor words, yet can employ them both to the fullest extent possible.
There is a reason for this circumstance. Remember, "For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (1 Cor 4:20). All of the spiritual qualities produced by faith find their highest expression in something other than speech. This by no means excludes speaking, which is the sanctified means of conveying the truth of the Gospel. The Spirit is here emphasizing the impact of truth upon the human spirit. This inexpressible or unspeakable joy converts into strength, enabling the believer to triumph over the devices of the devil. It is in this sense that Nehemiah said, "the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Neh 8:10). Judge in yourself if this is not the case. When the joy of the Lord is being experienced, have you not found yourself more equal to the challenges of life. Are you not better equipped to do the will of the Lord? And, do not your enemies appear less formidable? Thus joy has not been fully uttered, but has gained for you remarkable advantages.
Yet, there is more about this joy that is noteworthy-this joy of faith. It is "full of glory." There is a twofold sense in which this is true. First, this joy brings a personal glory to the believer much like the presence of the Lord brought to the face of Moses (Ex 34:35). It has an immediate effect upon believers, imparting a sort of heavenly glow to them, like that experienced by Stephen (Acts 6:15). Second, such joy brings great honor to the Lord Jesus, drawing attention to His sufficiency and power. Those who "rejoice in the Lord," showing their delight in, and satisfaction with, Him declare that He is good and altogether lovely.
A purported joy that draws attention to the individual is not the joy of this text. This joy is "full of glory," fairly bursting with evidence that the Lord, and the Lord alone, is the source of individual uniqueness. This is not "fun," nor is it frivolous and humorous. This is "joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17). It was experienced by the mother of our Lord when she received the announcement that she would give birth to the Son of God (Lk 1:47). It always comes when, though we see Him not, yet we believe and trust in Jesus.
RECEIVING THE END OF YOUR FAITH
" . . . receiving the end of your faith; the salvation of your souls." NKJV Here again the purpose of faith is affirmed. Faith is designed to give us something-to bring Divine benefits to the soul. Faith is the appointed vehicle of blessing. Without it, nothing can be received from God. Faith is not an end of itself, but a means to an end. It is not enough simply to know what to believe. For faith to profit you, it must bring to you what God has appointed. Tragically, this is not common knowledge in the professed church.
Faith has an objective-a end, or goal. It has an appointed purpose or design, something God intends for you to realize through it. This, the Spirit declares, is the "end of your faith." Other versions read, "the outcome of your faith"NASB, and "the goal of your faith"NIV. This is the conclusion or culmination of faith-what it is intended to do. When Jesus is called the "Finisher (or Perfecter) of our faith," this is the objective He is accomplishing (Heb 12:2). Faith is given to you, but its outcome is being wrought by Christ! That outcome has been revealed, together with the Worker of it.
While the bulk of our salvation is in the future, we are not left without its benefits here and now. We are presently in the "receiving" mode-taking in from the Lord glorious samples of what is to come. Our salvation is not received all at once. We are in the process of "receiving." The word of God knows nothing of a person in fellowship with Jesus (1 Cor 1:9) who is not receiving from Him. Taking us from one degree of glory to another, the Holy Spirit is changing us by depositing more of heaven in us, and assisting us in purging from ourselves more of the flesh and its manners (2 Cor 3:18). Where this process is not taking place, faith either is absent altogether, or is waning and will soon depart. We are declared to be "receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken" (Heb 12:28). That is another way of affirming the truth of our text.
At once we see where our attention is to be placed: "the salvation of our souls." If we attempt to use our faith for lesser objectives, it will soon dissipate, for it cannot look intently upon any other goal. But why does He say "the salvation of our souls"? And why does He say we are receiving this rather than that we have received it. The "soul," in this text, stands for the whole life of the individual. It is what Jesus referred to when He said, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"NKJV (Mk 8:36-37). We are stewards of our souls, and are solemnly admonished, "By your patience possess your souls" (Lk 21:19). And how will that be accomplished? It will be through our faith-our persuasion that God "is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb 11:6). It will be realized when the eyes of our heart are firmly fixed on Jesus, "the Author and Finisher of our faith" (Heb 12:2). Faith will realize its goal if it is kept.
Notice the present tense of believing and receiving: "yet believing . . . receiving." These are two sides of the same coin. Believing is the heart toward God. Receiving is God toward the heart. Neither of them is a solitary act, nor do they describe a specific event. They are a posture of the soul-something that is continual. The person who IS believing IS receiving. Those who are NOT receiving are NOT believing. It is that really that simple.
There is a sense in which we are presently "saved" (1 Cor 15:2; Eph 2:5). But that salvation is not yet complete. We are really in Christ, our names are really written in heaven, and we have really been given the Holy Spirit. But the work goes on. Faith has not yet been brought to its intended culmination. We are being brought from "glory unto glory," "strength to strength," and "faith to faith" (2 Cor 3:18; Psa 84:7; Rom 1:17). Ever increasing measures of grace are being sent to us that only faith can receive. Faith needs these supplies to flourish, and we need faith to gain the victory.
In all of this, the Lord is bringing glory to His name. He has brought a salvation to us that depends upon Himself, the work of the Spirit, and the intercession of His Son. He intends to translate every part of our person into His presence: spirit, soul, and body. Our faith plugs us into the process, putting us in the "receiving" mode.