Whom having not seen, ye love - Those to whom the apostle wrote had never seen Christ in the flesh; and yet, such is the realizing nature of faith, they loved him as strongly as any of his disciples could, to whom he was personally known. For faith in the Lord Jesus brings him into the heart; and by his indwelling all his virtues are proved, and an excellence discovered beyond even that which his disciples beheld, when conversant with him upon earth. In short, there is an equality between believers in the present time, and those who lived in the time of the incarnation; for Christ, to a believing soul, is the same to-day that he was yesterday and will be for ever.
Ye rejoice with joy unspeakable - Ye have unutterable happiness through believing; and ye have the fullest, clearest, strongest evidence of eternal glory. Though they did not see him on earth, and men could not see him in glory, yet by that faith which is the evidence of things not seen, and the subsistence of things hoped for, they had the very highest persuasion of their acceptance with God, their relation to him as their Father, and their sonship with Christ Jesus.
Whom having not seen, ye love - This Epistle was addressed to those who were “strangers scattered abroad,” (See the notes at 1 Peter 1:1) and it is evident that they had not personally seen the Lord Jesus. Yet they had heard of his character, his preaching, his sacrifice for sin, and his resurrection and ascension, and they had learned to love him:
(1) It is possible to love one whom we have not seen. Thus, we may love God, whom no “eye hath seen,” (compare 1 John 4:20) and thus we may love a benefactor, from whom we have received important benefits, whom we have never beheld.
(2) we may love the character of one whom we have never seen, and from whom we may never have received any particular favors. We may love his uprightness, his patriotism, his benignity, as represented to us. We might love him the more if we should become personally acquainted with him, and if we should receive important favors from him; but it is possible to feel a sense of strong admiration for such a character in itself.
(3) that may be a very pure love which we have for one whom we have never seen. It may be based on simple excellence of character; and in such a case there is the least chance for any intermingling of selfishness, or any improper emotion of any kind.
(4) we may love a friend as really and as strongly when he is absent, as when he is with us. The wide ocean that rolls between us and a child, does not diminish the ardour of our affection for him; and the Christian friend that has gone to heaven, we may love no less than when he sat with us at the fireside.
(5) Millions, even hundreds of millions, have been led to love the Saviour, who have never seen him. They have seen - not with the physical eye, but with the eye of faith - the inimitable beauty of his character, and have been brought to love him with an ardor of affection which they never had for any other one.
(6) there is every reason why we should love him:
(a)His character is infinitely lovely.
(b)He has done more for us than any other one who ever lived among men.
He died for us, to redeem our souls. He rose, and brought life and immortality to light. He ever lives to intercede for us in heaven. He is employed in preparing mansions of rest for us in the skies, and he will come and take us to himself, that we may be with him forever. Such a Saviour ought to be loved, is loved, and will be loved. The strongest attachments which have ever existed on earth have been for this unseen Saviour. There has been a love for him stronger than that for a father, or mother, or wife, or sister, or home, or country. It has been so strong, that thousands have been willing, on account of it, to bear the torture of the rack or the stake. It has been so strong, that thousands of youth of the finest minds, and the most flattering prospects of distinction, have been willing to leave the comforts of a civilized land, and to go among the benighted pagans, to tell them the story of a Saviour‘s life and death. It has been so strong, that unnumbered multitudes have longed, more than they have for all other things, that they might see him, and be with him, and abide with him forever and ever. Compare the notes at Philemon 1:23.
In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing - He is now in heaven, and to mortal eyes now invisible, like his Father. Faith in him is the source and fountain of our joy. It makes invisible things real, and enables us to feel and act, in view of them, with the same degree of certainty as if we saw them. Indeed, the conviction to the mind of a true believer that there is a Saviour, is as certain and as strong as if he saw him; and the same may be said of his conviction of the existence of heaven, and of eternal realities. If it should be said that faith may deceive us, we may reply:
(1) May not our physical senses also deceive us? Does the eye never deceive? Are there no optical illusions? Does the ear never deceive? Are there no sounds which are mistaken? Do the taste and the smell never deceive? Are we never mistaken in the report which they bring to us? And does the sense of feeling never deceive? Are we never mistaken in the size, the hardness, the figure of objects which we handle? But,
(2) for all the practical purposes of life, the senses are correct guides, and do not in general lead us astray. So,
(3) there are objects of faith about which we are never deceived, and where we do act and must act with the same confidence as if we had personally seen them. Are we deceived about the existence of London, or Paris, or Canton, though we may never have seen either? May not a merchant embark with perfect propriety in a commercial enterprise, on the supposition that there is such a place as London or Canton, though he has never seen them? Would he not be reputed mad, if he should refuse to do it on this ground? And so, may not a man, in believing that there is a heaven, and in forming his plans for it, though he has not yet seen it, act as rationally and as wisely as he who forms his plans on the supposition that there is such a place as Canton?
Ye rejoice - Ye do rejoice; not merely ye ought to rejoice. It may be said of Christians that they do in fact rejoice; they are happy. The people of the world often suppose that religion makes its professors sad and melancholy. That there are those who have not great comfort in their religion, no one indeed can doubt; but this arises from several causes entirely independent of their religion. Some have melancholy temperaments, and are not happy in anything. Some have little evidence that they are Christians, and their sadness arises not from religion, but from the want of it. But that true religion does make its possessors happy, anyone may easily satisfy himself by asking any number of sincere Christians, of any denomination, whom he may meet. With one accord they will say to him that they have a happiness which they never found before; that however much they may have possessed of the wealth, the honors, and the pleasures of the world - and they who are now Christians have not all of them been strangers to these things - they never knew solid and substantial peace until they found it in religion And why should they not be believed? The world would believe them in other things; why will they not when they declare that religion does not make them gloomy, but happy?
With joy unspeakable - A very strong expression, and yet verified in thousands of cases among young converts, and among those in the maturer days of piety. There are thousands who can say that their happiness when they first had evidence that their sins were forgiven, that the burden of guilt was rolled away, and that they were the children of God, was unspeakable. They had no words to express it, it was so full and so new:
“Tongue can never express.
The sweet comfort and peace
Of a soul in its earliest love.”
And so there have been thousands of mature Christians who can adopt the same language, and who could find no words to express the peace and joy which they have found in the love of Christ, and the hope of heaven. And why are not all Christians enabled to say constantly that they “rejoice with joy unspeakable?” Is it not a privilege which they might possess? Is there anything in the nature of religion which forbids it? Why should not one be filled with constant joy who has the hope of dwelling in a world of glory forever? Compare John 14:27; John 16:22.
And full of glory -
(1)Of anticipated glory - of the prospect of enjoying the glory of heaven.
(2)of present glory - with a joy even now which is of the same nature as that in heaven; a happiness the same in kind, though not in degree, as that which will be ours in a brighter world.
The saints on earth partake of the same kind of joy which they will have in heaven; for the happiness of heaven will be but an expansion, a prolongation, and a purifying of that which they have here. Compare the notes at Ephesians 1:14.
In the later years of his ministry, Peter was inspired to write to the believers “scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” His letters were the means of reviving the courage and strengthening the faith of those who were enduring trial and affliction, and of renewing to good works those who through manifold temptations were in danger of losing their hold upon God. These letters bear the impress of having been written by one in whom the sufferings of Christ and also His consolation had been made to abound; one whose entire being had been transformed by grace, and whose hope of eternal life was sure and steadfast. AA 517.1
At the very beginning of his first letter the aged servant of God ascribed to his Lord a tribute of praise and thanksgiving. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he exclaimed, “which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” AA 517.2
In this hope of a sure inheritance in the earth made new, the early Christians rejoiced, even in times of severe trial and affliction. “Ye greatly rejoice,” Peter wrote, “though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, ... ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” AA 517.3Read in context »
In the religious life of every soul who is finally victorious there will be scenes of terrible perplexity and trial; but his knowledge of the Scriptures will enable him to bring to mind the encouraging promises of God, which will comfort his heart and strengthen his faith in the power of the Mighty One. He reads: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward;” “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” The trial of faith is more precious than gold. All should learn that this is a part of the discipline in the school of Christ, which is essential to purify and refine them from the dross of earthliness. They must endure with fortitude the taunts and attacks of enemies, and overcome all obstacles that Satan may place in their path to hedge up the way. He will try to lead them to neglect prayer and to discourage them in the study of the Scriptures, and he will throw his hateful shadow athwart their path to hide Christ and the heavenly attractions from their view. 5T 578.1
None should go along shrinking and trembling, under continual doubt, sowing their path with complainings; but all should look up to God and see His goodness and rejoice in His love. Summon all your powers to look up, not down at your difficulties; then you will never faint by the way. You will soon see Jesus behind the cloud, reaching out His hand to help you; and all you have to do is to give Him your hand in simple faith and let Him lead you. As you become trustful you will, through faith in Jesus, become hopeful. The light shining from the cross of Calvary will reveal to you God's estimate of the soul, and, appreciating that estimate, you will seek to reflect the light to the world. A great name among men is as letters traced in sand, but a spotless character will endure to all eternity. God gives you intelligence and a reasoning mind, whereby you may grasp His promises; and Jesus is ready to help you in forming a strong, symmetrical character. Those who possess such a character need never become discouraged because they have not success in worldly affairs. They “are the light of the world.” Satan cannot destroy or make of none effect the light that shines forth from them. 5T 578.2
God has a work for each to do. It is no part of His plan that souls shall be sustained in the battle of life by human sympathy and praise; but He means that they shall go without the camp, bearing the reproach, fighting the good fight of faith, and standing in His strength under every difficulty. God has opened to us all the treasures of heaven through the precious gift of His Son, who is fully able to uplift, ennoble, and fit us, through His perfection of character, for usefulness in this life and for a holy heaven. He came to our world and lived as He requires His followers to live. His was a life of self-denial and constant self-sacrifice. If we encourage selfishness and ease and the gratification of inclination, and do not put forth our best efforts to co-operate with God in the wonderful work of elevating, ennobling, and purifying us, that we may become sons and daughters of God, then we do not meet His requirements; we sustain a continual loss in this life, and we shall eventually lose the future, immortal life. God wants you to work, not with self-disparagement nor in discouragement, but with the strongest faith and hope, with cheerfulness and joy, representing Christ to the world. The religion of Jesus is joy, peace, and happiness. As we search the Scriptures, and see the infinite condescension of the Father in giving Jesus to the world that all who believe in Him may have everlasting life, every power of our being should be called into activity, to give praise and honor and glory to Him for His unspeakable love to the children of men. 5T 579.1Read in context »
You feel that had it not been for this great loss you would be a comparatively happy man. But it may be that the very loss of your child here will be to you, and not to you only but to many in Switzerland, for the saving of souls. Light will come out of this darkness which to you at times seems incomprehensible. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Let this be the language of your heart. The cloud of mercy is hovering over you and will break over your head even in the darkest hour. God's benefits to us are as numerous as the drops of rain falling from the clouds upon the parched earth, to water and refresh it. The mercy of God is over you.... TDG 348.3Read in context »
Comforting, Powerful Preaching—You should have a clear apprehension of the gospel. The religious life is not one of gloom and of sadness but of peace and joy coupled with Christlike dignity and holy solemnity. We are not encouraged by our Saviour to cherish doubts and fears and distressing forebodings; these bring no relief to the soul and should be rebuked rather than praised. We may have joy unspeakable and full of glory. Let us put away our indolence and study God's Word more constantly. If we ever needed the Holy Ghost to be with us, if we ever needed to preach in the demonstration of the Spirit, it is at this very time.—Manuscript 6, 1888. Ev 180.1
A Cheerful Present-Truth Message—Now, just now, we are to proclaim present truth, with assurance and with power. Do not strike one dolorous note; do not sing funeral hymns.—Letter 311, 1905. Ev 180.2
How to Preach on Calamities—Uplift those who are cast down. Treat of calamities as disguised blessings, of woes as mercies. Work in a way that will cause hope to spring up in the place of despair.—Testimonies For The Church 7:272 (1902). Ev 180.3Read in context »