The Privilege of Our Salvation
Topic: English Passage: 1 Peter 1:10-12
Unfortunately, no recording is available for this sermon. Below is a manuscript.
Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons. The boys were Abraham’s grandchildren. The firstborn was named Esau and the younger was Jacob. And from the day they were born, there was tension between them. Once we’re told about their birth, the very next story, highlights that struggle, and it’s probably very familiar to most of you.
Jacob, who is more of a homebody, is cooking a stew while Esau comes home from the field. And he’s tired. So, like any older brother might do, Esau says, “Gimme some of that stew! I’m tired.” And sly little Jacob answers, “Sure. I’ll sell it to you—in exchange for your birthright.”
Now, our American culture doesn’t typically have this kind of thing, but for the Israelites it was a big deal. The right of the firstborn meant he would get twice as much in the inheritance as the other brothers. And, if dad was gone, the firstborn was the one in authority.
Well, in what is likely adolescent exaggeration, Esau responds, “What good is a birthright if I’m about to die.” So, Jacob makes him swear, and they form an agreement. One bowl of red stew in exchange for the birthright of the family.
And here’s the closing line of that story. It’s the last sentence of Genesis 25—"Thus Esau despised his birthright.” Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Well, in the economy of God, we know who has the right of the firstborn. It is His one and only Son Jesus Christ. He is the firstborn from the dead, and He is the firstborn of all creation. He is also, as Romans 8:29 says, the “firstborn among many brothers.”
Those of us who have repented and who continue to repent from sin have become part of Christ’s family, and He will share that inheritance with us. And it is a glorious inheritance. That’s what Peter, since the beginning of this letter, has been trying to get his readers to focus on.
Yes, there are real enemies out there in this world. Yes, life is grueling and painful. But none of that will ever undo our eternal salvation. God, in His mercy caused us to be born again to a living hope, to an eternal inheritance which can never be lost.
Unfortunately, since we live in a body weighed down by sin, and in a world that distracts us and appeals to our sinful desires, we, like Esau, will often despise that inheritance.
I don’t think Esau woke up that morning thinking, “I hate being the firstborn.” He didn’t say that. He probably bragged about it to his brother. But in that moment of want and desire, he cared more about the stuff in front of him. He cared more about how he felt in that moment than about the privilege of his future. By comparison, he despised his birthright.
And that’s what happens to us. It’s not that we hate God or hate our salvation, but there are moments when we care more about the temporary stuff in this world than about the eternal privilege we have been given by God. And in doing that, we despise our inheritance. We demean it. We denigrate it in our own minds. We take it for granted.
The old saying is “familiarity breeds contempt.” The more you grow acquainted with something, or the longer you have it, the less impressive it becomes.
God has completely pardoned us for our sin through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And now, the Spirit of Christ indwells us, enabling us to fight and defeat sin in our lives. And one day, we will be rescued entirely from sin. That’s the privilege of our salvation. But, over time, for one reason or another, we seem less impressed with that. That’s not enough to satisfy.
And maybe the worst time for that kind of discontentment to take place is when we’re facing some kind of serious trial in life. Because then, there’s no way out of it. But the trials of this life are the most important time to focus our attention on the blessing and the privilege of our salvation. Again, that’s what Peter has been doing since the beginning of the letter.
And now, as we come to verses 10-12 of 1 Peter chapter 1, he’s still doing it. Here is what he writes: 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
What in the world is Peter talking about? We’ll get to that. But first, I want us to understand his motivation. These verses are intended to help us remember the glory and the privilege of our salvation. And they do so by comparing those of us in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ with outsiders to that covenant.
If you understand how much an outsider values something you have, you are probably going to appreciate it more. One little girl might have a toy that is almost meaningless to her at the time. But once there’s a little brother who wants it, she, all of a sudden, she values that toy a little more, right? Every parent with multiple kids has seen that.
Maybe a more grownup analogy might be a husband who doesn’t appreciate his wife very much until he notices that one of her coworkers seems to be hitting on her. All of a sudden, he’s paying more attention to her. He focuses on what attracts him, more than on what might not be to his liking.
Those are just simple examples, but I think tha’ts what Peter is doing here. In order to highlight, and to help us appreciate, the glory and the privilege of our salvation, Peter makes two comparisons.
Number one, we are more privileged than the prophets. And number two, we are more privileged than the angels. ...Those are our basic lessons today. We are more privileged than the prophets, and we are more privileged than the angels. That’s what we’re going to look at a little more today, starting with the prophets.
When Peter mentions the prophets, he is talking about people in the Old Testament who received some kind of direct revelation from God. Some of them wrote parts of the Bible—like Moses, David, Solomon, and Isaiah and all the other major and minor prophets. And some of them don’t have books attributed to them—people like Abraham and Jacob and Elijah. Peter is using the term “prophets” in a broad way, speaking of someone who was given revelation from God for the people.
These “prophets,” as Peter says,” prophesied about a future grace, and that grace is now ours. That coming grace is the blessing of our salvation. More specifically, though, it includes the means by which that blessing would come, which is Jesus, the Messiah.
Ever since sin came into this world, God said He would rescue this world. He would redeem creation. Back in Genesis 3, God said it would happen through the seed of the woman. At the end of Genesis, Jacob prophesied it would be someone from the tribe of Judah. Moses indicated that another prophet like him would come one day. And then David was told it would be one of his descendants. This is the Redeemer, the Savior who would crush Satan’s head and restore glory to Israel and the nations.
That word “Messiah” is a Hebrew word that means “anointed one.” The Greek equivalent is “Christ.” So, Christ and Messiah both mean the same thing. Messiah is Hebrew and Christ is Greek.
Well, as time went on, there was more specific revelation given about this Anointed One. For example, Micah said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. On top of that there were some indications about His own life. In verse 11, Peter points out two specific components. It says that God’s spirit was pointing to the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. This Messiah was going to suffer, and yet He was going to be glorified.
In terms of the suffering, we have David, for example, who wrote about his own suffering, but realized that it was also a preview of the greater King who would also suffer. We also have a major passage like Isaiah 53, which details the Messiah’s suffering on behalf of His people.
The Old Testament prophets had a lot of pieces of the puzzle, but they didn’t exactly know how it all fit together. That’s why they kept studying. In verse 10, Peter says they searched and they made careful inquiry. They were trying to figure it all out.
Verse 11 says they wanted to know who this Messiah would be and when He was coming. They inquired about the person and the time.
Those words dealing with searching remind me about how some people would react when a trailer comes out for a new blockbuster film. For every trailer that comes out, who knows how any other videos get released where people are going through it frame-by-frame, trying to see what they can uncover. They’re looking for hints about the plot. And in all that there is an eager expectation for the movie to come out and all the questions to be resolved. That’s how the Old Testament prophets studied the Scriptures.
Well, those Old Testament saints, Hebrews 11 says, died without receiving those promises. They only saw them and greeted them from a distance.
So, think about that: for thousands of years, those who trusted in God’s promise were waiting to see its fulfilment, and they were searching for it in the Scriptures. They were longing to see and understand how God would bring His salvation, and yet, they understood that it was something they would not see in their lifetime.
Verse 12 says: It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you.
The “you” there is not only Peter’s original readers; it is the people of the New Covenant, the people on the other side of Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, and indwelling.
The blessings that the Old Testament prophets spoke and wrote about were not going to come in their own generation. They were coming to a future generation. And it was not only going to be a future generation of Israelites, but a future generation of people from every tribe and tongue and nation.
That’s the blessing the Old Testament prophets spoke about, and that’s the blessing that the New Testament saints hear when the gospel is preached. That’s the connection that the end of verse 12 is making.
The New Testament message is not detached from the Old Testament message. Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it. You might even remember the believers in Berea. Paul preached the gospel to them, and they examined the Scriptures daily to verify the message. They were reading their Old Testament.
So, again, here’s the message I think Peter is trying to send: The Old Testament prophets put so much effort into understanding the salvation that was to come, so we need to value and appreciate what we have. This is what they were pointing to and waiting for. We are more privileged than the Old Testament prophets.
The second message, if you remember, is that we are more privileged than the angels. And we find that in the very last phrase of verse 12. It says there that the blessings of our salvation are “things into which angels long to look.”
What does that mean? Well, the word used here for looking has the idea of stooping down to get a good look. And what Peter is saying is that there are components of our salvation that the angels are excluded from, but they desire to know and learn about it. The word there for longing is a strong word. Negatively, it’s translated as “lust,” but positively, it’s talking about an intense desire.
Now obviously, the fallen angels are excluded from salvation. They will be judged forever. But to some extent, even the righteous, elect angels are excluded from the fullness of redemption. They see it happening, but they don’t experience it for themselves. They’ve never sinned, so they can’ be forgiven. They can’t be redeemed.
The Bible tells us that angels are spirits that minister on behalf of God for the saints. So, they help move God’s plan along. But in some ways, they are detached from all of it. They have to watch it or experience it from the outside. And apparently, God delights to fill them in on it.
We actually have some Bible passages, besides 1 Peter 1:12, that allude to the connection of the angels to salvation and the church. For example, the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 speaks of the joy of our heavenly Father when a sinner repents. And that joy, it says, is a joy before the angels of God.
You also have 1 Corinthians 11:10, which is talking about the importance of women demonstrating their submission to their husbands in a tangible way. It says there that the women in the church should have an expression of their husband’s authority “because of the angels.”
Some people think that’s talking about human, outsiders who visited the church, since it could also be translated “messengers,” but it very well might be talking about heavenly angels, who are present in the assembly of the church, and they are worshipping and even learning about God with the congregation.
And if that sounds odd to you, then you need to look at Ephesians 3:10. Paul says, “I was given the task of preaching ‘to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ... so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.’”
That’s an incredible idea. Through the church, through the New Covenant community, God is putting His wisdom on display to the angelic beings. And they, in turn, worship Him.
So, angels are very involved in God’s plan. They are longing to know more about God. They are, we could say, stooping down from heaven, looking intently at our own lives—not because we are important, but because our lives help them understand God’s wisdom and God’s salvation blessings.
It’s very easy to be impressed with the angels. They are powerful and incredible beings. But Peter wants us to know that because of our salvation, the angels are looking to us. We are more privileged than the angels.
Let’s do what we can to make sure we’re not taking our salvation for granted. The prophets were looking to our salvation. The angels are looking to our salvation. Where are you looking? Where’s your focus?
Our salvation made us part of God’s family. Through Christ, we’re connected to Almighty God. That’s not something that grows old. It grows old when we drift away from Him. But if we are intentional about listening to God through His word, and responding to Him in prayer, and depending on Him in every area of life, that relationship deepens. And we appreciate it more and more.
Don’t minimize what it means to be an adopted child of God. And don’t allow your earthly circumstances to steal your appreciation for the blessing and the privilege of your salvation.