1 Peter Message #3 Ed Miller The Liberated Peter Feb. 16, 2022

Listen to audio above while following along with the transcript below (which is also available for download in Word at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)

Welcome all.  We’re happy you’re here, and we’re holding up those that can’t be here, for a lot of reasons, and the Lord is faithful.  As we get ready to look in the Word, let me share a little verse in Psalm 119:54, “Your statutes are the songs in the house of My pilgrimage.”  If you remember Psalm 137, the heathen asked the Christians to sing the songs of the Lord, and they said, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a strange land?”  Well, there’s a way.  His statutes are our songs in the house of our pilgrimage.  So, let’s raise our hearts in that music.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word, and thank You for the measure of light You’ve given us to see the Lord Jesus.  We’re so thankful and we appreciate Your indwelling Holy Spirit who teaches us and points us to the Lord Jesus.  Deliver us from cold academics and enable us to behold the Lord Jesus this morning in a fresh and living way.  Be that living hope in us.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

We welcome you again to our meditation of the Lord Jesus in the study of 1 Peter in the New Testament.  In our recent introduction lessons, I’ve prayerfully attempted to give you what I think is the message, the theme, of the book of 1 Peter, the heart of it, if we can get a sense of what God is trying to reveal, the prevailing revelation of the Lord Jesus in that particular book.  The theme of the letter of 1 Peter revolves around a recurring emphasis.  You’ve heard me state it, and I’ll repeat it again.  1 Peter has an emphasis on the pilgrim life.  It’s addressed in 1 Peter 1, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia..”  They are scattered, and that Greek word is “sown”.  They are scattered like seed is scattered.  It’s redemptive, and the persecution is redemptive.  1 Peter 2:11, “I urge you as aliens and strangers, abstain from fleshly lust which war against the soul.”  He calls them aliens, strangers.  KJV uses the word “pilgrims”, as pilgrims abstain.

We don’t live in this world.  We used to.  I remember before the Lord saved me, when I used to live in this world.  We were born here, and we once were settlers here, and we once had roots here, but by the grace of the Lord we’ve been redeemed from this world and set free from this world, delivered.  Now we’ve become pilgrims, strangers, aliens to the world which we once lived. Later we’ll show how that word “pilgrim” is tied closely to the word “ambassador”.  We are strangers, pilgrims, ambassadors here. 

As I pointed out, that first verse not only calls us “strangers, aliens, pilgrims, this world is not my own, I’m just passing through,” but it also says, “to those who reside, strangers scattered who reside in this world.  This world is not my home, but I live here.”  This world is not your home, but you live here.  We are still here for a different reason now.  So, we’re residing pilgrims, residing aliens, residing sojourners, residing strangers.  There’s a great emphasis, as I said, in 1 Peter on the pilgrim experience, but Peter changes our focus, and he turns our eyes to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who is the real pilgrim, the true pilgrim, the ideal pilgrim, the pilgrim after God’s heart?  It’s not me and it’s not you and it’s not us.  We say, “I’m a pilgrim here.”  No, you’re a pilgrim channel.  The real Pilgrim lives in you and through you, but you aren’t qualified to be a pilgrim, not according to God’s heart.  The true pilgrim in the epistle of 1 Peter is our Lord Jesus Christ.  He’s the One that came from another land.  He’s the One that came to be a Pilgrim here, a redemptive Pilgrim.

My only hope, and yours, for living a pilgrim experience is that the Pilgrim who has come to abide in your heart, to reside in you is pleased to live out through you His Pilgrim life all over again.  1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  He’s given us a hope that lives because of the resurrection.  It lives because He lives.  It’s His Life.  So, His Life in me has now become my life.  He IS the living hope. 

In our discussion last time, I tried to focus on the four characteristics in 1 Peter of the ideal pilgrim.  Peter comes out and says, “Jesus is the real Pilgrim, and here are the four things you need to be in order to be a pilgrim.”  The first is a supernatural birth.  And you know enough about our Lord Jesus to know He’s qualified for a supernatural birth.  The second principle, the ideal pilgrim must be holy as God is holy.  So, you see immediately why you are disqualified.  You can’t be holy as God is holy.  We’re not perfect; we’re sinners.  1 Peter 2:22, “Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.”  We can’t be perfect, and to be an ideal pilgrim, you not only have to have a supernatural birth, but you’ve got to be perfect.

The third characteristic, the one who is going to be a pilgrim after God’s heart must have total trust on the One who indwells Him.  1 Peter 2:23, talking about Jesus, “While being reviled, He did not revile in return.  While suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”  Everything Jesus went through, He kept trusting the Father who lived in Him.  He testified all through His ministry of that.  John 10:38, “If I do them,” and He’s talking about the mighty works, “though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father.”  That’s how He lived, because the Father lived in Him, and He didn’t trust Himself.  He never initiated anything.  John 8:28, “Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, you’ll know that I am He; I do nothing on my own initiative.  I speak the things as the Father taught me, and He who sent Me is with Me.  He has not left Me alone.  I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”  Once again, I’m disqualified.  I trust the One who lives in me, now and then, but I don’t trust Him every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year all the days of my life.  Jesus did; He’s the true Pilgrim, supernaturally born.  He’s the true Pilgrim, 100% holy.  He’s the true Pilgrim, totally trusting in His indwelling Father every moment of His life.

The fourth characteristic and we sort of got cut off a little here.  I said I was going to develop it more.  I’ll mention it now, and then develop it as we go through 1 Peter.  The last characteristic is that every moment of the life of the Lord Jesus, everything He experienced, was redemptive, and led to redemption.  In His incarnate body, the body that was given to Him by the Lord through the Virgin Mary, He lived sinlessly in a world that hated Him and rejected Him, trusting all the time on His Father.  Why?  It was to bring redemption to the world.  That’s why He came.  All of that was to win sinners, to bring people to Himself, to reconcile man and God.  1 Peter 2:24, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By His wounds you were healed.”  1 Peter 3:18, “Christ died for sin once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.”  What a Word!  He came to live as a Pilgrim, to bring you to God, to bring me to God, to bring salvation to a world of sinners.  That’s the One who now lives in your heart.  That’s why you had a supernatural birth.  You’re a pilgrim, not a perfect pilgrim, but a pilgrim.  That’s why He’s sanctifying you, because a pilgrim needs to be holy.  That’s why He’s inviting you to trust Him who lives inside you, the same way He trusted the One who lived inside of Him.  That’s why everything that happens in your life and mine, if you are trusting the Lord, is redemptive, it’s for others, and Jesus lives again.

I’ve said it before, and I’ve often pointed out that it’s the same Jesus, but He has a new body now.  It’s not His incarnate body.  That’s glorified at the right hand of God the Father, but now He has a new body.  It’s His people, His church, His temple.  It’s you, it’s me, it’s us individually and corporately, and now He wants to live again His redemptive life.  His work is not done.  He still beats hot for sinners.  He wants people saved and want people to come to the Lord, and He wants your permission to let Him be the ideal Pilgrim, and in you He wants to go to the cross again, in order to redeem.  Everything in our life is redemptive. 

I’ll clarify again, Jesus is the real Pilgrim.  When Peter says that he’s not ruling you out.  We are, also, with a little “p” pilgrims; we’re passing through this world, but we are not the Pilgrim. We’re imperfect pilgrims, as I said, more like pilgrim channels, to let the Lord live through us.  We, too, have a supernatural birth, and we, too, are called to be holy, and we, too must trust the One who lives inside of us, and we, also, are redemptive.  Everything in our life is redemptive.

With the eyes of our heart, not these eyes, but the eyes of our heart we know who the true Pilgrim is.  If you ever tried to live the Pilgrim life, you know what a failure you are.  If I’ve ever tried to live it, I know what a failure I am.  The world can’t see through you.  They can’t see who lives inside of you.  Christ lives inside of you.  The only pilgrim they can see is you, and we become Christ to them.  So, to the degree we manifest Christ, submit and trust Him and let Him live through us, to that degree they are going to see that we’re true pilgrims.  1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  That’s the purpose of our life on earth, to proclaim the excellencies of Him who delivered us. 

Redemptive living is not easy.  It’s impossible.  You and I need to know that.  Listen to this verse that’s so interesting to me.  1 Peter 4:19, “Therefore, those who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”  Try to get that in your mind and in your heart.  He’s talking about suffering.  He’s talking about a righteous suffering, and an undeserved suffering, but he says, “When you’re going through suffering in the will of God, you should trust God as a faithful Creator.”  Creator?  That seems a little strange.  If I’m suffering, I would like to trust God as a faithful comforter.  I’d like a little comfort.  I’d like a little sympathy.  I’d like a parent, someone to hug me.  I’d need a mother, a sister, somebody who is watching over me.  I need mercy, tenderness.  I want to identify with someone who can help me as I’m going through suffering, and I need to be consoled. 

When I suffer according to the will of God, it’s redemptive, and it’s not about me; it’s about them and reaching them.  It’s about drawing them.  They’re watching me suffer.  How do I respond and how do I react to that?  Why do I need to trust God as a Creator?  The answer is this; when you are suffering, you don’t have what it takes, but you have the One who can create what it takes.  That’s why we need to trust Him when we’re going through suffering in the will of God, as a faithful Creator, because it’s not in us.  He lives to create that triumph and that victory in my heart.  Through Him everything is redemptive.  1 Peter 1:6&7, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you’ve been distressed by various trials,” the next words are, “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold…”  Proof?  To who?  Is he proving it to you?  Is he proving it to God?  He’s proving it to those who are watching.  He’s proving it to the world.  When we suffer in the will of God and trust the One who can create what it takes, they’re watching us.  Though we don’t see Him, we love Him.  Though we don’t see Him, we still trust Him, and they watch that and they see that, and that becomes proof to them. 

1 Peter 2:12, “Keep your behavior excellent among the gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evil doers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”  What is the day of visitation?  It’s the day when the Pilgrim who lives in your heart visits some sinner.  That’s the day of visitation.  You are to live a testimony, so that in that day they will see that it’s the Lord. 

So, the message of the pilgrim life is not how to survive as a pilgrim; it’s how to minister as a pilgrim.  Our lives are redemptive.  The more God burns that message into my heart and into your heart, I think the more we’ll learn how to pray for suffering Christians.  It’s not only us who are called to suffer, but all Christians are called to suffer.  When you see someone suffering in the will of God, may God help you not to pity them, not if they are trusting the Lord.  He hasn’t called us to pity them.  If they are pilgrims trusting the Lord, God is using them.  That’s a great privilege that they have.  I’m not suggesting that we don’t respond in sympathetic love; we’ve got to weep with those that weep, and fell with those that are going through something, but not pity for others.  Pity for others is really pity for yourself.  How so?  It’s because you’re putting yourself in their shoes, and you’re saying, “This is what I would like if I got in this situation.”

At this point I was going to make an additional point, but I felt like before the Lord it would make mores sense to bring this up in a future lesson when we go chapter by chapter, and it would tie in more.  The reason I’m telling you that now is, if you turn the page of page one of your notes, from 1 Peter 2:2 which is the fourth verse on the second side of page one, all the way down to 1 Peter 4:13&14, at this point we’re going to skip all of those verses.  I’ll tie that in when we come to our chapter by chapter.  Having true compassion, sympathy and love, and identifying with those who suffer in the will of God, we need to be able not only to sympathize, but to praise God, and thank God that they have the privilege of living redemptively.  It’s a marvelous thing for them.  I can’t pity suffering Christians, but when I hear a testimony….  Some of you were at Family Ministries this week, and we heard the testimony of Judy Jenkins, how can I pity her for what she went through, when she gave a glorious testimony of how the Lord revealed Himself.  And other Christians, our sister Hope, and other Christians who have gone through things, and like the three Hebrews in the furnace, there’s not a smell of smoke on their testimony.  It’s a pure testimony, it’s a marvelous thing, and it’s necessary for those looking in.

My natural heart believes the opposite.  This is only from the Lord that you can be thankful when somebody is going through something.  You’re going to look like a jerk to many if you say, “Oh, I’m rejoicing,” when they’re going through it.  I wouldn’t express it that way, but if I can’t praise God for their privilege, I want to be able to thank God for my own when He calls me to go through something like that.  So, this message of the pilgrim life is so wonderful.

I told you in our introduction that I wanted to give you the background, the political and religious background, but I also said that I wanted to give you the biographical background.  In other words, Peter is an old man now, and ready to die, and he has a testimony.  He ends the epistle saying, “God has called me to write this to exhort and testify.  So, I want to see his testimony.  What I’d like to do, and this will get us ready to really dive into the book, the Peter of the gospels is qualitatively different than the Peter of the Epistle.  In fact, you can see a progress in the gospel, Acts and in the epistle.  God’s grace has liberated the Peter of the gospels to what we’re going to see how he has become in the epistle.  It seems like everyone knows the Peter of the gospels, but we’re going to introduce him as the Peter of the epistles.

We look at Peter, and he’s active, he’s impetuous, and sometimes he spoke before he thought, and he always spoke what was in his mind.  I read one commentator that said, “He was a leader.  Every time he said eggs, people scrambled.”  Anyway, the Peter of the gospels, he was self-confident and self-sufficient.  On the other side, he was also a lover.  He was also a friend, in the flesh.  You’d want a friend like Peter.  The Peter of the gospels is quite absorbed with Peter.  I’m going to give several illustrations of the transformation that I see in the Peter of the gospels and the Peter of the epistles, but first I want to emphasize this important principle.  Peter is still Peter.  The Peter of the gospel is still the Peter of the epistle.  His personality has not changed.  It’s been liberated, but he’s not changed.  He is still Peter.  His temperament has been set free, but he’s still Peter with the same temperament.  God created Peter to be Peter.  His personality was given to him by the Lord.

As a new Christian, well, my whole life up until then, but as a new Christian I hated who I was.  I hated it.  I was a nerd.  I grew up backwards.  I grew up in the woods.  It was a terrible background that I had.  I couldn’t make friends.  The more I tried, the more people ran away the other way, because I was an oddball.  When I became a Christian at age 16, I tried to be like everybody else.  I wanted to be accepted and wanted to be liked and approved and have some friends.  The man who led me to the Lord, his name is David.  I tried to be like David.  My firstborn son is named David, after the man who led me to the Lord.  He was the valedictorian in our high school.  I was on the other end.  He was captain of the football team.  He took an interest in me, a spiritual interest.  Do you know in back of the yearbook you can write your little thing, “What do you want to be when you grow up?  What’s your dream?”  David Kraft said, “I’m going to be a medical missionary in Africa.”  If you got my yearbook and looked up Ed Miller, it would say, “Medical missionary in Korea.”  Can you believe that?  Me a medical missionary.  I don’t know anything about that.  But, anyhow, I tried to be like him. 

When I got saved, and some of you know this testimony, maybe some day I’ll spill it out, I don’t know, but I stole a man’s testimony.  I lied, and I lived seven years pretending that I was somebody else.  When I started studying, I read about godly men in books.  I wanted to be like D.L. Moody.  I wanted to be like F.B. Meyer.  I wanted to be like Spurgeon. I wanted to be like George Mueller.  God used them, and maybe he could use me like that, if I would copy them.  When I went to Bible school, teachers that I respected; I wanted to be like Dr. Dickerson, because I respected Him.  I wanted to be like Buck Hatch.  I wanted to be like Bron Carlisle.  I wanted to be like Ray Shephard.  I wanted to be like, especially, a man named Frank Sells.  I was married, and I asked Frank Sells if I could move in and live with him, and I would just follow him around, and I wouldn’t bother him.  That whole idea.  It’s terrible to see a Christian who is dissatisfied with the person that God made them, with their own temperament and their personality, to see Christians struggle as I did to be someone else.  I was like Jacob, trying to be like some brother in order to get a blessing from God, and the exact opposite happened. 

I see it all the time, especially with young Christians.  They see their coaches or their teachers or their elders or some outstanding Christian, or even their parents, and they try to fill those shoes.  I’m not talking about character.  I’m talking about personality and temperament.  It’s one thing to be blessed by somebody that has a different temperament than you.  The Lord will make that a blessing to you in terms of who you are, in terms of your personality and your temperament.

Before I continue, I’m going to get to Peter, but just let me ask you this.  Have you thankfully accepted the personality that God has given you?  You are going to heaven with that personality, with that temperament.  You’re not going to change.  He’ll set you free, because there are other people with a personality just like yours, and they need to see what Jesus can do through a personality like that.  He’ll set you free.  Have you accepted who you are?  Are you thankful for who you are?  Don’t try to change who you are.  Let God set you free, but don’t try to change it.

And then the other question that I asked is, “Are you thankful for the personality that God gave other people, even if it clashes with yours?”  You might pray, “Don’t change me, change them; they need it.”  Let’s not quench the Spirit of God by desiring to be somebody that we’re not, and desiring God to make them someone that they’re not.  The Peter of the epistles is the Peter of the gospels, but he has been set free. 

What I’d like to do now is just illustrate.  My first illustration is this.  The Peter of the gospel was one who just jumped right in.  He just didn’t think.  He just stepped out of the boat and started walking on the water.  Do you notice how 1 Peter begins?  You’re only two verses deep, and you’ve already seen the pilgrim experience, election, the foreknowledge of God, the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and the work that each one of them does in the first two verses.  Do you know why?  That’s Peter.  There’s no introduction.  He jumps right and he just says what is on his heart. 

That’s different than the Apostle Paul.  The Apostle Paul would give you whole chapter on introduction, “Thank God for this person and that person, praying for you, I’m glad we got together,” and all that kind of stuff.  But the kind of personality Peter had was to jump right in.  He doesn’t change.  Mary was contemplative.  That was her.  Martha was practical.  Thomas was skeptical.  Phillip was inquisitive.  Peter didn’t try to be Paul.  Paul didn’t try to be Peter.  That was a big problem in the New Testament church.  1 Corinthians 3:4, “When one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another. ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?  What then is Apollos, and what is Paul?  Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.” 

I probably have fifty commentaries on 1 Peter in my library, and I’ve gone through those commentaries, and they’re all different when they try to outline the book.  Do you know why you can’t outline 1 Peter?  It’s because Peter wrote it!  That’s who he is!  Peter has a thought, and he writes it down.  As you go through, it’s almost, maybe a little more elaborate, it’s almost like reading Proverbs and you’re changing subjects.  And I’m saying, “Come on, Peter..” and I’m trying outline this book, and they all try to outline it and everybody is different, and it’s because he hasn’t changed.   He’s been set free.

Let me give these illustrations.  The biggest illustration of all, it takes a little more time, and I’m going to develop it more, Lord willing, next week, and that is the stone, “On this rock I’ll build My church.”  Matthew 16:16-19.  Because he has a stone section in 1 Peter 2:4-8, and that shows the great contrast, but I’ll leave that for the beginning of next week.  Let me begin with Luke 22:31, this is our Lord Jesus, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  That prayer was wonderfully over-answered by the Lord Jesus, and that over-answer is 1 Peter.  If it weren’t for that prayer, you’d never have 1 Peter, and you’d never have 2 Peter. 

Peter’s faith didn’t fail; Christ is the Author and Finisher of faith.  His flesh failed.  It had to fail, but not his faith.  Jesus delivered Peter from Satan’s grip, and after his recovery Jesus said, “I want you to do two things.  I want you to encourage the brothers, because you are going to be a shepherd, but you’re still going to be a fisherman, a fisher of men.  So, Peter now becomes, that’s his ministry, a fisher of men and an under shepherd.  I don’t want to say a shepherd, an under shepherd.  Wuest translates this, when you’re converted, “stabilize the brethren.”  1 Peter 5:12, he says, “I’ve written this in order to exhort and to testify,” and he is stabilizing them. 

Jesus’ prayer for Peter in the gospels is evidenced by the letter of 1 Peter.  I wonder if you’ve ever realized why you’re here this morning, why you are at this Bible study at Janet and Pat’s house this morning.  Let me give you God’s reason.  You’re here because Jesus prayed for you.  That’s why you are here; Jesus prayed for you.  Don’t think you are here because you grew up in a Christian home, or that somebody invited you here, or you found a good church, or had a background, or Bible training, that you applied some spiritual gift, or some spiritual discipline.  That might be true, but you who you are and what God has called you to is the answer to his prayer.  Jesus prayed that Peter might have a ministry of encouraging, and that’s 1 Peter.  Jesus prays for you, and He ever lives to make intercession for you.  Many times, people ask me, “Will you pray for me?”  Very often I will remind them that their High Priest is praying for them.  I’ll pray, but I’ll tell you, Jesus is praying for you.  I hope the Lord thrills your heart with that.  You are who you are, and you will be set free to minister where He has called you in answer to His prayer.  That’s why you’re here, and that’s why you’ve come this far, and that will continue until you go to heaven.

Let me give another contrast between the Peter of the gospels and of the epistle.  In the gospels, even when Jesus spoke in plain words, Jesus told him that He was going to be rejected and He was going to be mistreated and He’s going to be crucified, Peter responds, Matthew 16:22, “Peter took Him aside, and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord!  This shall never happen to You.”  That’s the Peter of the gospels, “You will never shed Your blood.  Are You kidding me?  Not while I live; I’ll defend You and protect You.  You’ll never shed Your blood.”  There was a day when Peter’s will went against God’s will. 

1 Peter 1:18, listen to Him now about the blood of Christ, “Knowing you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life, inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.  For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory…”  He once tried to prevent the shedding of that blood, and now he can’t stop praising God for the shedding of that blood.  “For sin that made my Savior bleed, I hang my head in shame.  Yet, for the cleansing that I need, that precious blood I claim.” (The ”Forgive” song lyrics)  Peter was liberated. 

1 Peter 3:18, “Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…”  He understands now that it was necessary, it was redemptive, to bring us to God.  He understands how foolish he was when he tried to prevent…  He said, “before the foundation of the world,” Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world.  Peter is trying to prevent what had already taken place in the mind and in the purpose of God.  It had already been done.  It had to be worked out in history, but it was already accomplished.  Imagine trying to prevent what had already happened!  That’s exactly what Peter did, but not anymore. The world does the same thing. Psalm 2 gives an illustration.  The nations are in an uproar, and the people devise a vain thing, and kings and rulers take counsel against the Lord and His Christ, and the Bible says that the One who sits in the heavens laughs.  I heard someone say, “When God laughs it’s not funny.”  Exactly right!  Why does He laugh?  Listen to Psalm 2:6, “As for me, I’ve installed My King on Zion, My holy mountain.”  He’s talking about the millennium.  That’s down the road, but it’s already done.  It’s, “I have installed,” and not, “I will.”  I have installed, and the nations are rising, trying to prevent what’s already done. 

In this connection I would just encourage you in your prayer life, this idea of trying to prevent what’s already done, don’t ask God for what He’s already given you.  Sometimes our pleases need to be turned into thank-You’s.  For example, if you ask Him, and I’ve heard many Christians, “Lord, please be with me.”  That could be unbelief, because He has promised that He is with you, and you should just say, “Thank You,” for something like that.

Anyway, in the gospels Peter was the burden of Christ’s prayer, and in the epistle he’s the answer to Christ’s prayer.  In the gospel Peter had his own will, going against the will of the Lord.  Now, in the epistle he’s not trying to prevent what God does, and he just surrenders to His will.  Peter hadn’t changed.  God opened his eyes.  Why can I have a successful ministry? It’s because the Pilgrim who lives in my heart is praying.  That’s why.  It’s a glorious truth.  And why can I not resist the will of God.  The answer is that the One who lives in my heart is doing the will of God.

Let me give another illustration.  In the gospel Peter loved Peter, and you can see his desire to survive.  He ran away to survive, he lied to survive, he denied his best friend in order to survive.  Suffering and dying was not a pleasant thought to Peter.  Remember what Jesus said in John 21:18 to Peter?  “’Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’  This He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.”  In the gospels he strives to survive, and now Jesus told him, “You are going to die a martyr’s death, a violent death.”  Peter knows he’s going to die a violent death.  When you read 1 Peter it’s almost shocking.  It’s full of joy and rejoicing, and he knows he’s going to die a violent death.  In the gospel he’s trying to save his skin, but in the epistle he’s just praising God. 

Here’s an amazing thing.  I don’t know if Peter is the only one.  There’s a lot in 1 Peter about the appearing of the Lord.  Some of it is principle, but some it is the second coming, that Jesus is going to return.  Do you know that Peter was probably the only individual that knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus could not return in his lifetime?  Everybody else lived in the expectancy that Jesus can come at any moment, but Peter knew that Jesus could not return in his lifetime because Jesus prophesied that he would die a martyr’s death. Yet, in 1 Peter he doesn’t seem to be bothered by that.  He’s not running away.  He’s not lying and he’s not denying the Lord.  He’s not in a survival mode. 

1 Peter 1:8, “Though you’ve not seen Him, you love Him.  Though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him.  You greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible, full of glory.”  That’s Peter now.  1 Peter 3:14, “Even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.  Do not fear their intimidation.  Do not be troubled.”  Peter is blessed.  He’s happy.  1 Peter 4:13, “To the degree that you share the suffering of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”  1 Peter 5:1, he calls himself, “a partaker of the glory that will be revealed.”  He once trembled at the thought of suffering and dying.  He’s not afraid anymore.  That’s the Peter that’s been set free, and now he sees it as a wonderful privilege.  He doesn’t struggle with his own will anymore.  He knows he’s going to have a successful ministry as a shepherd and as a fisher of men, because Christ is praying for him.

The reason he wasn’t disappointed that he might not be alive at the second coming is because Jesus kept coming to him every day.  He was living in the foretaste.  He kept saying, “At the revelation of Christ, you’re going through it now, but He’s going to reveal Himself, and I’m partaking now of that revelation.”  That’s what kept Peter going.  The thing that changed was not Peter.  It was His vision of Peter.  When you see the Pilgrim in your heart praying for you, you are going to be set free.  And when you see the Pilgrim in your heart doing the will of God, you are going to be set free.  And when you see the Pilgrim in your heart providing joy and contentment by a continual revelation of Himself, you are going to be the pilgrim He wants you to be.

Luke 22:38, another illustration.  Remember when Jesus asked just before Gethsemane, “Do you have a sword?”  Now, Jesus had a spiritual sword in mind, but Peter answers, “’Look, Lord, there are two swords.’  And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’”  Now, this is not in your Bible, but it’s only in mine.  When Jesus said that it was enough, he did this, “It’s enough,” (Ed smacks his forehead).  In other words, He said, “You don’t get it.  You are dull and dense.  You don’t understand.”  And so, He said, “It’s enough.”

When things got tense, you remember in the Garden when the Romans came and the violent Jewish leaders came and Judas came, they turned to Jesus and said, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” and before He could answer, Luke 22:50, “One of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear.”  Do you remember who that was?  It was Peter, and Jesus answered in Luke 22:51, “Stop, no more of this,” and Matthew adds, “Put that thing away, or you’ll die from it.  They that take the sword perish from the sword.”  That’s the Peter of the gospel, “I’ll defend you, Lord.  I’ve got a sword, a weapon of flesh and blood.”  1 Peter 4:1, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourself,” that’s a sword, “with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”  Now all of a sudden, he has new armament.  He has learned that the battle is the Lord’s and it’s not the sword of steel, but it’s the spiritual non-resistance, the submission, the surrender.  1 Peter 5:9, “Resist him,” this is Satan, “firm in your faith.”  It’s a spiritual warfare and a spiritual battle.

So, you look at the Peter of the epistles and say, “What a difference,” the lively hope in Him.  Now he sees Jesus praying for him and now he sees Jesus inside doing the will of God and now he sees Jesus showing up and giving the provision and grace and strength he needs.  Now he’s learned that Christ in him is the One who does the battle, and it’s not him.  It looks like Peter has changed, but it’s still Peter.  His vision changed.  He’s now seeing a deeper, a fuller Christ.  He’s been delivered from his own strength, from his own will, from his own desire to survive, from fighting his own battles.  That’s what he’s been delivered from.

Remember how Peter resisted in the gospel when Jesus wanted to wash his feet?  John 13:8, “Peter said, ‘Never shall You wash my feet.’”  The Greek is, “never until the ages of eternity.”  He was pretty determined, “Never will You wash my feet.”  Peter was embarrassed for Christ; He’s too great to bow down and wash my feet.  Listen to Peter in 1 Peter 5:5, “Clothe yourself,” that’s gird yourself, the same word that was used in John 13, “with humility one toward another.  God is opposed to the proud and gives grace to the humble.”  And now he sees Christ in his heart wearing the slave’s apron, and he submits to Him.  Peter looks like he’s changing, but it’s the same Peter.  His vision of Christ is changing. 

In the gospels he asked, “How many times should I forgive a sinner?”  He thought he was being pretty good by saying, “seven times more,” not three or four.  Add that together, seven times.  You remember what Jesus said.  But now listen to him.  1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another.   Love covers a multitude of sin.”  Forgiveness of others is no longer an issue with him.  The One who loves sinners and who forgives, now lives in his heart.  The living Christ is kindling all these new things in Peter.  Peter has been accused of being more legalistic.  The last words of his epistle are 5:12, “This is the true grace of God; stand in it!”  It’s not legalism anymore.  He was inclined a little bit to legalism, but now things have changed.

Do you see how he was transformed?  His message is not, “You’re a pilgrim, work hard at it, be faithful, you need to be a good Christian, be a good pilgrim.”  No, he’s saying, “You can’t be a pilgrim, but you have one living in your heart, and that One in your heart is praying for you, and that One in your heart is doing the will of God for you, and that One in your heart keeps showing up for you, and that One in your heart wears a slave apron so that you can serve others, and that One in your heart loves sinners and forgives sinners.  He’s living in your heart; look to the One who lives in your heart.

Let me give one final illustration and then we’ll wrap this up.  I want you to see that it’s not Peter; it’s our Lord Jesus, the true Pilgrim living in his heart.  I want to close with a record that I think summarizes 1 Peter, and I’m referring to Matthew 14:22-33, the story of the stormy sea, when Peter walked on water.  You remember the story.  The background is verse 24, “The boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves, for the wind was contrary.”  Scholars tell us that they were about halfway there, so they’re in the middle.  And they’re rowing and they’ve been rowing for nine hours, by the way, against a contrary wind. If there’s any word picture in the gospels that can picture 1 Peter, I think it’s this story, because the Christians are being persecuted, they’re in the middle of the sea on a dark night, rowing against large waves and against a contrary wind in the middle of the night.  The gospel record puts light on Peter, so I want to show you that.

You remember what he did in that situation.  It was in the fourth watch of the night, sometime between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. in the morning, and Jesus came walking on the water.  Those who study this have both praise and blame for Peter.  They praise him because he said in verse 28, “’If it’s You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come.’”  Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  So, for a time, let’s give Peter credit.  He had faith.  Those who criticize Peter, of course they never walked on water, only Peter walked on the water, but they also give him blame because they say that he took his eyes off of Jesus, and when you take your eyes off of Jesus you are going to fail.  Actually, they give him praise twice, because when he cried, “Help, Lord,” that was also faith.  He didn’t really cry, “Help, Lord.”  He cried, “Save me, Lord.”  Three words, the shortest pray in the Bible?  No, it’s Psalm 12:1 is the shortest verse, which is, “Help, Lord.”  But it’s the same idea.

Anyway, the point is that the Peter of the gospels, walking on water is a great illustration of 1 Peter, but I don’t think that many Christians understand the error that Peter made.  You might be shocked to hear me say, “He did not take his eyes off Jesus.”  That whole idea is not true.  There’s no evidence that he took his eyes off of Jesus.  There’s evidence that Jesus could not be seen, but that’s different.  Peter didn’t take his eyes off the Lord.  You better believe that he was focused on Christ, but something came between his vision and Jesus, and that was that huge wave.  He didn’t turn aside, like, “I’m turning away from the Lord to worldliness,” or something like that.  That didn’t happen to Peter, but something came between his vision and the Lord.  That’s not the same thing as taking your eyes off the Lord.  His error was, and now here’s the principle, he was looking to Jesus by sight and not by faith.

 Let me illustrate.   His error was looking at but not through.  He looked at what came in between, and he didn’t look through.  Jesus was right there through it.  In the epistle, the storm is great.  They’re being battered by waves, the night is dark, Jesus seems to be far away, the wind is contrary, but now Peter has learned not to look at, but to look through.  It doesn’t matter anymore if a cloud comes in front of Jesus, because he can look right through that and see the Lord Jesus.  The sun doesn’t go away just because a cloud gets in front of it.  The sun is still there, and the storm is under His feet, no matter how many waves or billows come in front. 

As we get ready to close, I just want to encourage you, don’t beat yourself up if a sudden wave comes in between you and Jesus.  Don’t say, “Oh, I can’t trust, I’m not trusting the Lord because I’m anxious, and I’m feeling bad about this; some unexpected expense I didn’t expect, a doctor’s report that looks so terrible and I didn’t expect that, an unforeseen duty or responsibility I’ve got to take care of, I’ve got to take care of mom, a disappointment, some anxiety, sudden loss, sudden death.”  You haven’t taken your eyes off of Jesus.  You love Him, you trust Him, you’re His.  Look through it and see Him.  That’s what you need to do, and behind that situation, that circumstance, you’re going to find the Lord Jesus.  This is the liberated Peter of the epistle.  He’s learned to live by faith and not by sight.  He learned to look through everything that would dare come up between him and Jesus, and he looks right through it.

I’ll close with 1 Peter 5:6&7, “Therefore, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you.”  Isn’t that precious?  So, the Pilgrim that lives in your heart enables you to be a pilgrim.  Jesus lives in there to pray for you.  Jesus lives in there to do the will of God, because you can’t do the will of God.  Jesus lives in there to support you and give you joy in the midst of your situation.  Jesus lives in there with the slave apron on.  Jesus lives in there loving the sinner and forgiving the sinner.  Jesus lives in you, and no matter what comes in front of you, may God give you grace to look through it, and not at it.

Heavenly Father, thank You for this marvelous epistle.  We pray, Lord, that as we see You more and more as the ideal Pilgrim living out Your Pilgrim life redemptively through us, that we might be more and more conformed to You.  Work these things in us, we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.