Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Peter 1:20 - 1:21

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Peter 1:20 - 1:21

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1Pe_1:20-21. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

THE salvation of man is with great propriety ascribed to Christ, because he laid down his own life a ransom for us. But we shall have very imperfect views of this mystery, if we do not trace it up to God the Father, and see him concurring with Christ in every part, and performing, as it were, an appropriate office in the economy of redemption. Indeed a distinct knowledge of the Father’s work is highly conducive to our progress in the divine life. This being intimated in the text, we shall endeavour to shew,

I.       What part the Father bore in the work of redemption—

He ordained his Son to his mediatorial office from all eternity—

[As the prophets frequently speak of the Messiah as sent and qualified for his office by the Father [Note: Isa_42:1.], so our Lord himself constantly acknowledged that he received his commission from him [Note: Joh_8:28; Joh_8:42.]. Nor was he first appointed when he became incarnate: he was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world. The time of his incarnation, the manner of his death, together with every the minutest circumstance relating to him, were fixed in the Divine counsels [Note: Act_2:23; Act_4:28.]. Hence he is called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world [Note: Rev_13:8.].]

In due season he manifested his Son to the world—

[The Father prepared him a body in the Virgin’s womb; and by a preternatural star conducted the Magi to him as soon as he was born. He afterwards bore testimony to him repeatedly by an audible voice from heaven, and by causing the Holy Ghost to light visibly upon him with the hovering motion of a dove. In all the miracles which he wrought, the Father bore witness of him [Note: Joh_5:36.]—even in the hour of his dissolution, when most of all his divine mission might seem doubtful, even then did the Father so testify of him, as to make the Centurion, who superintended the execution, exclaim, Truly this was the Son of God [Note: Mat_27:54.]!]

After suffering him to be put to death, he raised him up again from the dead—

[Jesus was able to raise himself, and is often said to have risen by his own power [Note: Joh_2:19; Joh_10:18.]. But we are expressly told here, and in many other places, that the Father also raised him [Note: Act_2:32; Act_4:10; Act_5:30.]. Indeed, as the Father, to whose justice he paid the debt, gave, as it were, the commission, by virtue of which he was imprisoned in the grave, it was necessary that he should also give him his discharge, when the demands of justice were fully satisfied. Accordingly, his restoration to life is spoken of as the strongest evidence of his Messiahship, and of his having finished that work which the Father had given him to do [Note: Rom_1:4.].]

Lastly he exalted him to heaven, and invested him with all the glory thereof—

[Jesus, in his obedience, had looked to “the joy that was set before him;” and when that obedience was fulfilled, his Father gave him the promised reward. He placed that very person, who was crucified, at his own right hand. He seated him upon his own eternal throne, and committed the government of the universe into his hands [Note: Php_2:9-11.]. He has commanded all to honour him even as himself; and to all eternity shall that adorable Lamb of God be the medium of his people’s happiness, as he has been the Author and Procurer of it.]

That this is not a matter of mere speculation will appear, if we inquire,

II.      What effect the consideration of it is intended to produce upon us?

The ultimate end, for which the Father has thus interposed on our behalf, is, to glorify himself in the salvation of man. But there are other and more immediate ends, which the knowledge of his interference is intended to accomplish:

1.       It should confirm our faith—

[We are called particularly to believe that Christ was the true Messiah; that he performed every thing that was necessary for our salvation; and that the Father is willing to be reconciled to all who come to him by Jesus. Now it is not possible to entertain a doubt of any one of these points, if we duly consider what the Father has done for us. Would God have so frequently, and in such a wonderful manner, borne witness to Jesus if he had been an impostor? — — — Would he have liberated him from the prison of the grave, and have exalted him to glory, if the work assigned him had been left unfinished — — — Would he have sent him into the world to redeem us, and have so gloriously rewarded his services, if, after all, he were not willing to accept returning prodigals? — — — Can we suppose that God has done all these things only to mock, and to deceive us? Far be it from us to entertain the thought one moment. Let us rather conclude, that, as “it is impossible for God to lie,” so it is most injurious to him to question one jot or tittle of the record which he has given us of his Son.]

2.       It should enliven our hope—

[Many are the grounds upon which we are apt to indulge fear and despondency: but there is not one, which a due consideration of what God has done would not instantly remove. Do we suppose ourselves to have been overlooked by God? He gave his Son to be “a propitiation, not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world;” and has asserted with an oath, that he is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and live.” Do we imagine ourselves to be too vile? “It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that he sent his Son to save sinners, even the chief.” Do we fear lest, notwithstanding we do believe, we should by some means or other be left to perish? Behold he has exalted his Son as our Head, our Representative, our Forerunner, in whom we are already accepted, and with whom we shall assuredly be glorified in due season: yea, “he has made his Son to be Head over all things to his Church,” in order that HE may put all his enemies under his feet, and secure the purchase of his own blood. Let us then yield no more to gloomy apprehensions, but ask of God the gift of his blessed Spirit, through whose powerful influence we shall both abound and rejoice in hope [Note: Rom_15:13.].]

In conclusion let me tell you—

1.       Who they are that are especially interested in this great mystery—

[It was manifested for “those who by Christ do believe in God:” these are the persons interested in it, these universally, and these alone. Shew me a poor self-condemning sinner, one who under a sense of his utter guilt and helplessness comes to God through Christ, renouncing all dependence on himself, and hoping for acceptance solely through the merits and mediation of the Lord Jesus, he is the person for whom God sent his only-begotten Son; he is the person for whose benefit God raised up and glorified his Son, and for whose complete salvation he has invested his Son with all power in heaven and in earth. A man who feels not his own guilt and danger has no interest in all this; nor has the man who relies in any measure on his own righteousness or strength for his acceptance with God. It is the penitent believer, and he alone, that can derive any comfort from this stupendous mystery. Dear brethren, let this sink deep into your hearts; you must come to God through Christ, and “believe in God in and by Christ.” I pray you, do not forget this: for, till you come to God in this way, you have no saving faith, no scriptural hope. But, if once you be brought to this state of affiance in the Lord Jesus, whatever you may have been, or whatever you may have done, in times past, God’s promises are made to you, and shall be fulfilled in you; for “they are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus.” “All things are yours, if ye are Christ’s; and, as Christ is God’s,” so shall ye be to all eternity.]

2.       What more particularly this mystery speaks to them

[God’s design in all was, “that your faith and hope might be in God.” This then it says to you; Believe in God, and hope in God. Did God fail in any thing which he had promised to his dear Son? Neither then will he fail you, if only you believe in him. Look at the Lord Jesus: see his discouragements: see him in the manger at Bethlehem: what can that infant ever do? see him in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross, and in the grave: what can be hoped for from him? But behold him rising from the grave, ascending to heaven, seated on his throne, and invested with all power in heaven and in earth; and then you will see what God can and will do for you in your most desperate condition. The power exercised for Christ is the same that is engaged for you: yea, and the work wrought in and for Christ, is the very pattern and pledge of what shall be wrought for you. Do I speak too strongly here? Consult the Apostle Paul: it is the very thing which he himself speaks by inspiration of God: he declares, that “the exceeding greatness of God’s power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him up from the dead, and set him at his own right hand above all the principalities and powers of earth and hell, is that which he will exercise towards every believing soul [Note: Eph_1:19-21.]” — — — Look then to God and “believe in him:” yea look at Christ Jesus, and “hope,” that, for his sake, all that has been done in and for him, shall be done in and for you. Think of nothing less: expect nothing less: be satisfied with nothing less: and, if at any time a doubting thought arise, chide your drooping spirit, as David did, and say, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God [Note: Psa_42:11.].”]