1 Peter 1:6-9
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
(Psalm 119:41): — I shall aim at commending the salvation of God to those of you who possess it, that you may be the more grateful for your choice inheritance; and still more shall I labour to commend it to those who possess it not, that having some idea of the greatness of its value they may be stirred up to seek it for themselves.
I. I shall try to COMMEND THE SALVATION OR GOD by opening up what Peter has said in the verses before us.
1. Let me urge you to give earnest heed to the salvation of God, because it is a salvation of grace (ver. 10). The Lord proposes to save you because you are miserable and He is merciful; because you are necessitous and He is bountiful.
2. Again, your closest attention may well be asked to the salvation of God when you are told in the text that it is by faith. "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." "All that believe are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." "He that believeth in Him is not condemned." "He that believeth on Him hath everlasting life."
3. The gospel of salvation ought to be regarded by you, for it has engrossed the thoughts of prophets. "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you." If men that had the Holy Ghost, and were called "seers," nevertheless searched into the meaning of the Word which they themselves spoke, what ought such poor things as we are to do in order to understand the gospel? It should be our delight to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the doctrines of grace. Furthermore, when prophecy had ceased, the Holy Spirit came upon another set of men of whom our text speaks. Peter says of these things, that they "are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven."
4. The apostles followed the prophets in testifying to this salvation, and with the apostles there was an honourable fellowship of earnest evangelists and preachers. These noble bearers of glad tidings continued to report this salvation till they had finished their missions and their lives, and therefore I feel that for us in these times to trifle with God's Word, and give a deaf ear to the invitations of the gospel, is an insult to their honoured memories. You martyr them a second time by contemptuously neglecting what they died to hand to you. From the dead they bear witness against you, and when they rise again they will sit with their Lord to judge you.
5. Nor have we merely prophets and apostles looking on with wonder, but our text says, "Which things the angels desire to look into." They take such an interest in us, their fellow creatures, that they have an intense wish to know all the mysteries of our salvation. We have already gone a long way with this text, rising step by step. We now behold another wonder: we rise to the angels' Master.
6. Christ is the substance of this salvation. For what saith the text? The prophets spake "beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." Ah, there is the point. To save men Jesus suffered. One other step remains. It cannot be higher; it is on the same level. It is this.
7. The Holy Ghost is the witness to all this. It was the Holy Ghost that spake in the prophets; it was the Holy Ghost who was with those who reported the gospel at the first; it is the same Holy Spirit who every day bears witness to Christ.
II. So far have I commended my Lord's salvation, and now I would desire you, with all this in your own minds, to turn to the prayer in the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm: "Let Thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even Thy salvation according to Thy word." Use the prayer with this intent: Lord, I have been hearing what prophets and apostles and angels think of Thy salvation, what Thy Son and what Thy Spirit think of it; now let me humbly say what! think of it: Oh, that it were mine! Oh, that it would come to me!
II. Thus, then, I would RECOMMEND THE PRAYER OF THE PSALMIST.
1. I will say about it, that it is in itself a very gracious prayer, for it is offered on right grounds.
(1) There is no mention of merit or desert. His entreaty is for mercy only.
(2) It is a gracious prayer, because it asks for the right thing: "even Thy salvation," not a salvation of my own invention. God's salvation is one in which His Divine sovereignty is revealed, and that sovereignty must be accepted and adored.
(3) You see that the prayer is put in the right form, for it is added, "Even Thy salvation according to Thy Word." He wishes to be saved in the manner which the Lord has appointed. Lord, if Thy Word says I must repent, give me Thy salvation, and cause me to repent; if Thy Word says that I must confess my sin, give me Thy salvation in the confession of sin; if Thou sayest I must trust to Christ, Lord, help me now to trust Him; only grant me Thy salvation according to Thy Word.
(4) Observe that the whole prayer is conceived and uttered in a humble spirit. It is, "Let Thy salvation come also unto me." He owns his helplessness. He cannot get at the mercy, he wants it to come to him. He is so wounded and so sick that he cannot put on the plaister nor reach the medicine, and therefore he asks the Lord to bring it to him.
2. In the second place this prayer may be supported by gracious arguments. I will suppose some poor heart painfully longing to use this prayer. Here are arguments for you. Pray like this. Say, "Lord, let Thy mercy come to me, for I need mercy." Next plead this; "Lord, Thou knowest, and Thou hast made me to know somewhat of what will become of me if Thy mercy does not come to me: I must perish, I must perish miserably." Then plead, "If Thy mercy shall come to me it will be a great wonder, Lord. I have not the confidence to do more than faintly hope it may come; but, oh, if Thou dost ever blot out my sin I will tell the world of it; through eternity I will sing Thy praises, and claim to be of all the saved ones the most remarkable instance of what Thy sovereign grace can do." Then you can put this to the good Saviour. Tell Him if He will give you His salvation, He will not be impoverished by the gift. "Lord, I am a thirsty soul; but Thou art such a river that if I drink from Thee there will be no fear of my exhausting Thy boundless supply." There is another plea implied in the prayer, and a very sweet argument it is — "Let Thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord." It means: "It has come to so many before, therefore let it come also unto me. Lord, if I were the only one, and Thou hadst never saved a sinner before, yet would I venture upon Thy word and promise. Especially I would come and trust the blood of Jesus: but, Lord, I am not the first by many millions. I beseech Thee, then, of Thy great love, let Thy salvation come unto me."
3. I will close by assuring you that this blessedly gracious prayer, which I have helped to back up with arguments, will be answered by our gracious God.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: