‘Precious’ is not a word we see frequently. We reserve it to describe certain metals and stones. We often refer to a newborn babe as God’s precious gift and we sometimes describe memories as precious. Some fifty-five years ago certain brethren felt that an apt title for this publication would be Precious Seed. The word indicates something of great value or worth, to be held in honour or reverence, costly, a treasure to be appreciated and preserved. Our interest is stirred, therefore, when Peter makes use of the word seven times in his two letters – actually eight in all, if we refer to the NKJV and some other versions.
THE GENUINENESS OF YOUR FAITH, 1 Pet. 1. 7
’the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes’
The sufferings of the ungodly are but an awesome foretaste of the pangs that they will endure eternally, but this is not true for the believer. One of the many benefits of affliction for the child of God is the testing it provides to the genuineness of his or her faith. Gold is one of the most imperishable substances known to man, but it can perish through use, pressure and fire. True faith, however, is indestructible. Severe tests do not destroy a believer’s faith; they become food for faith to feed on, e.g. Job 13. 15. The three men in the Babylonian furnace were literally tested by fire – the fire proved their faith to be real and it also burned their ropes, thus setting them free, Dan. 3. 12-27.
The genuineness of faith can only be proved by fire. Well has it been said that ‘faith must pass through the furnace, it will not do to say that we trust in the Lord; we must prove that we do, and that when everything is against us’! Favourable conditions can make it relatively easy to be a Christian, but when public confession of faith brings persecution and suffering, then casual followers drift away and are lost in the crowd.
Trials are manifold, but tailor-made for each believer – and God is the tailor! Are you in the crucible? God wants to see His image reflected in you and He will be able to do so when the dross is removed.
While it is impossible for unbelievers to be sad and happy at the same time, it is one of the paradoxes of the Christian faith that the child of God can know joy in the midst of sorrow. In scripture, gold was intended to glorify and beautify. Few references to it derive from money, the majority derive from words that mean shining. Spiritually, the trial of faith becomes more precious as the reflection of the divine Refiner becomes more clearly seen. Genuine faith will result in praise, honour and glory at Christ’s return.
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST, 1 Pet. 1. 18-19
’redeemed … with the precious blood of Christ’
The cost of purchase is in view here and redemption means to purchase at a price. Peter is making reference to the ransom price that each man had to pay for his own soul, Exod. 30. 12-16. The rich person paid no more, and the poor one paid no less than the stipulated silver half shekel. Silver, typifying redemption, was used initially to make the silver sockets that supported the boards of the tabernacle. For redemption, we, too, cannot pay more, or less; in fact, we pay absolutely nothing! Christ Himself has paid our redemption price at an infinitely superior cost, His own precious blood, that we might become God’s own purchased possession.
J. B. Nicholson: What the Bible Teaches. Vol. 5. – 1 Peter.
CHRIST – THE LIVING STONE,1 Pet. 2. 4
‘Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious’
The coming here is not the initial act of faith, but the habitual approach of the believer. Not now to obtain food, nor to seek blessings, but to minister spiritual sacrifices to God.
There is nothing in nature like this. There are many varieties of stones, but never a living stone. Accretions that gather on the outside of a stone are not evidence of life within. The skilled sculptor may fashion life-like images, e.g. Michelangelo’s ‘David’ in Florence, but he cannot breathe life into them or fill them with pulsating blood – the stone remains stone!
Unlike the use of petros and petra in Matthew 16, v. 18, the word here is lithos, the usual word for worked stone, whether used in a building or a precious stone. The expression living stone means much more than the fact that the Lord is alive, rather He is life-giving. Paul makes the contrast between Adam and Christ in 1 Corinthians 15, v. 45; Adam received life, the Lord imparts life and that life is eternal, divine and abundant.
This living stone was despised and rejected by men; they considered Him of no value to them. There was no room for Him in the inn and people today still have no room for Him in their hearts and lives. They even preferred a murderer to Him! But He was chosen by God – and precious!
We who have been redeemed have also become living stones, v. 5. (lively is an imaginative rendering, but not textually justified!). We are part of that spiritual edifice – the church, being built upon Christ. May we be found fulfilling our dignified role as spiritual priests, offering worthy sacrifices to God both privately and publicly, in accordance with the scriptural principles that honour Him.
To be continued.