The God of All Grace
Topic: Gospel Living Passage: 1 Peter 5:10–5:14
At the beginning of this letter, Peter identifies his audience - elect exiles (1:1). It is so important we maintain this identity – otherwise much of the book will seem foreign to us. Then Peter weaves two themes throughout the book:
- The expectation of suffering
- The eternal hope we have in Christ. Eternal joy!
Peter wants to give us massive assurance here at the end of this letter. He wants our roots to be sunk deep in the soil of God’s grace so that no matter what storms passes over, we will not be taken down.
Here's the big idea Peter wants to close this book with: The God of all grace uses temporary trials and suffering as tools to prepare us for his eternal glory.
So how these verses show us this. Peter relativizes suffering; he magnifies or absolutizes God and what is in store for us for eternity. Then we see how the God of all grace uses these temporary sufferings to prepare us for glory.
Suffering in this world is relativized
Verse 10 starts with the words,
And after you have suffered a little while... (1 Peter 5:10)
Notice first, Peter assumes Christians will experience some hardship in this fallen world. Peter would agree with Eliphaz in Job 5:7 when he said, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” When I say Peter relativizes suffering, don’t hear me say… and don’t hear Peter say that your suffering is unimportant or that it isn’t truly painful. Peter is a realist!
Relativized suffering doesn’t mean we throw up our hands and say, “Que, sera, sera… what will be will be.” No. Last week we saw the devil is behind much of our suffering and we are told to “Resist him!” Here’s the deal though. All your suffering is temporary. It is “a little while”. Peter is purposely vague. He is writing to some who will experience reprieve shortly from their suffering. He is writing to some who will suffer a short time longer and be killed for their faith. He is also writing to some who will live for a considerable time before experiencing relief.
But Peter wants his readers back then and today to know suffering in this life, relative to eternity is for just a “little while”. James, emphasizing the shortness of life says,
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14)
The writer of Hebrews writing to those suffering wants to press the shortness of time till Christ comes, says,
Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous shall live by faith and if he shrinks back, my soul finds no pleasure in him. (Hebrews 10:37)
And Paul. Perhaps nobody suffered as much as Paul. Yet in 2 Corinthians 4:17 he says the most remarkable thing when he calls his suffering, “light and momentary.” This sounds outrageous.
But the chorus of New Testament writers press upon us and leave this indelible mark on our souls: your trials are temporary; they will end. Peter says, they are for "a little while".
The God of All Grace
Peter turns our attention from our suffering which, he says, will last a “little while” and turns our attention to God. He relativizes suffering and magnifies God. Because he describes God as, “the God of grace” and actually that’s not quite right… I am missing a word. Yes, Peter wants us to have our attention taken up with the God of “all” grace! Because he is not the God of one grace or of two graces or of most grace, but he is the God of ALL grace. He doesn’t have merely a spoonful of grace or a bag full of grace or even a truck load of grace. He has an endless storehouse of grace. He is the inexhaustible fountain and source of grace. It flows through Christ who was crucified, buried, and raised for us!
And isn’t this what we need in suffering – we wonder, “Where is God?” or the devil whispers in our ear, “are you even a Christian?” When the rejection is raw and the pain is searing and the loss is unexplainable, we are tempted to think that he isn’t for us. And so what comfort, what a boost to our souls that God is the God of all grace. God wants us to know in the midst of hardship and pain that his flow of grace toward us in Christ has not been backed up. His river of eternal grace in Christ has not been dammed up so that it cannot reach us any longer. No! He is the God of all grace. And I cannot help but think of Ephesians 1:3-14 which describes this God of all grace:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
For the next several verses Paul continues to describe what “every spiritual blessing” which he has provided for us to the praise of his grace.
Then Peter turns our attention, not away from the God of all grace, but to the activity of the God of all grace. Peter reminds us of the action of the God of all grace toward us.
Called to His Eternal Glory in Christ
What is this action of the God of all grace toward us? Well, verse 10 continues,
Who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ... (1 Peter 5:10)
If you are a Christian, this is saying, the God of all grace called you. What does that mean? Well, the bible talks about God’s call in two ways. One is the general call of the gospel. When I go down to Bethel Mission, I preach the gospel every time. And finish by calling men to repent of their sins and believe in Christ and be saved. That is the general call of the gospel: “Repent and believe”. This call Peter is talking about is different. It is what theologians call “effectual calling”. What’s that? Well, it is hard to find a better definition than what is given to us in the Westminster Shorter Confession:
What is effectual calling? Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.
You may remember when you believed in Jesus and were saved. Well, effectual calling means that God was drawing you to Christ, overcoming your hardness and making you willing to come. The Seventeenth Century Puritan Pastor Thomas Watson puts it this way,
God so calls as he allures us. He does not force, but draw. The freedom of the will is not taken away, but the stubbornness of it is conquered.
And aren’t you glad that it was? If not, you would still be unwilling to come to Christ. Peter uses this word several times in this book. He says, we were called “to be holy” (1 Peter 1:15), “called out of darkness into his marvelous light” (2:9), and “called to obtain a blessing” (3:9). So this calling is the Holy Spirit drawing us to salvation in Christ and calling us to all that salvation entails. So here Peter says, “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ.”
This is astounding! You were called – Holy Spirit led you by the hand to Christ – and are now called to “eternal glory”. This is the consummation of our salvation when Jesus makes all things new. Peter wants us to compare suffering “for a little while” with eternal glory. Suffering for a little while, glory forever. This is exactly what Paul says in Romans 8:18:
The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed.
Next Peter directs our attention to the personal attention and care of the God of all grace toward those who are suffering.
The God of All Grace Himself Will
I love how Peter uses the reflexive pronoun or emphatic pronoun “himself” to emphasize or reflect back on the object which is “the God of all grace.” If I say, “Sabrina, if you need me, call and I myself will come,” I emphatically want her to know I will not send someone else, but will come myself. God takes your suffering and trials personally. The God of all grace will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Will restore you. He will mend what is broken. He will repair you. The God of all grace himself will do it.
Will confirm you. He will make your wobbly legs firm and strong. The God of all grace himself will do it.
Will strengthen you. He will give you a brave and courageous heart! The God of all grace himself will do it.
Will establish you. He will sink your roots deep in his grace. The God of all grace himself will do it.
When? After you have suffered a little while. Not before, but after. Apparently, this is part of God’s program. I take this, along with verse 11, to mean that the trials are the tools God of all grace, who has as verse 11 says, eternal dominion, uses to restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us to fit us for eternal glory.
Richard Sibbes, who lived 400 years ago said,
The winter prepares the earth for the Spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.
Remember, this is a theme Peter has been on from the beginning of this letter:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon on the same verses we are looking at today said in a way only he can,
It is of no use our hoping that we shall be well-rooted if no March winds have passed over us. The young oak cannot be expected to strike its roots so deep as the old one. Those old gnarlings on the roots, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of many storms that have swept over the aged tree. But they are also indicators of the depths into which the roots have dived; and they tell the woodman that he might as soon expect to rend up a mountain as to tear up that oak by the roots. We must suffer a while, then shall we be established.
This is the true grace of God (1 Peter 5:12) - and the way to eternal glory. John Piper said, "Suffering is temporary. Pleasure in Jesus is eternal." And God will see to it that each of his children experience pleasures forevermore which he has stored up for us in Christ.
How can we end this sermon... this book of 1 Peter? It seems fitting to end it with verse 11:
To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:11)
To the God of all grace be dominion forever and ever. Amen.