I’m currently teaching through Peter’s 1st epistle at Clear River. Researching the letter, I’ve found so many gems that are too good not to share. This is the first of four short commentaries by Bonar.
The God And Father Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, 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.”-1 Peter 1:3-5.
Let us take up here, first, the praise, and, secondly, the grounds for it.
I. The praise.-To say that it is praise to God would be to say the truth; and yet it would only be a part of the truth embodied in the words of our text. It is a peculiar kind of praise, and it is addressed to God under a peculiar name.
(1.) It is peculiar praise.-Its peculiarity is brought out by the word ‘blessed.’ It signifies ‘well spoken of.’ Here we have a definition of praise. It is a speaking well of God; and this as the effect of what we see in God. But before we can speak well of Him, we must first think well of Him; and this no man by nature does. The evil that is in us shows itself specially in thinking ill of God, in misrepresenting Him, in not doing Him justice. These evil thoughts, this bad opinion of God, must be removed before we can speak well of Him. For he who speaks well of God, while in his heart he is thinking ill of Him, is uttering an insincerity, a hypocrisy. The remover of these evil thoughts is the Holy Ghost; for it takes almightiness to do the thing. He does it by revealing the Father in Christ; by revealing the cross of Christ; by showing us the love of God; by holding out a righteous pardon through the propitiation of the cross.
(2.) There is a peculiar name employed.-It is not God or Lord; it is not our God and Lord. It is something higher and snore comprehensive than these. It is not these, and yet it includes them, along with much. It is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is this relationship that calls forth his adoration and praise. He sees Him as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; His Father and our Father, His God and our God. As with Paul (Ephesians 1:3), so here. Has this relationship to Christ ever been the theme of our praise? It is not the theme of the world’s praise. Men praise the God of nature, or the God of providence,-some great and invisible Being, they know not what. But they praise not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This aspect of His character never attracts their eye, nor elevates their thoughts, nor calls forth love or adoration.
There is large variety in the inspired utterances of praise: ‘Praise ye Jehovah;’ ‘Glory to God;’ ‘Unto Him that loved us,’ etc.; ‘Blessing, honour, praise, to Him that sitteth on the throne.’ But here there is something more, something peculiar,-something which takes in the cross; which sees the Father in the Son, and magnifies the Son in glorifying the Father. Thus faith’s eye takes in the whole character of God as our redeeming God, and strikes the highest note of praise.
II. The grounds for this praise, or well-speaking.-These are contained in the words which follow. Let us take them thus:
(1.) The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.-This resurrection is the great repository of power and treasure house of blessing; or, taking it in another aspect, it was the throwing open the gates of divine power and blessing for the benefit of the sinner. In Christ’s grave this fullness was deposited, and the resurrection brought it forth. In that event we have righteous power and righteous blessing for sinful men. Yes, the power of God is there,-power greater and more peculiar than creative,-the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead is purchased and engaged for us. It is with a risen Christ that we have to do,-a Christ in His full strength; for, though crucified through weakness, He liveth by the power of God. It is a risen Christ we preach. And if such virtue went forth from Him when on earth, before He died or rose, what must be the virtue going forth now from Him as the risen One!
(2.) The re-begetting.-This corresponds with our Lord’s affirmation regarding the new, or second, or heavenly birth; also regarding our becoming sons of God, and being born not of man’s will, but of God’s; also to James’ words, ‘Of His own will begat He us;’ and Peter’s own words at the close of this chapter. It is this divine re-begetting that is the root of all privilege and blessing,-the one true beginning of all true religion. For the beginning of religion is deeper than most imagine. Not a few earnest thoughts, or good resolves, or tears, or prayers, or terrors, far less the performance of ecclesiastical rites, but a being begotten again. What a condemnation of superficial religion! Was it thus, O man, that your religion began? And was this re-begetting in connection with Christ’s resurrection?
(3.) The abundant mercy.-It is the ‘mercy’ of God that is the eternal source of all a sinner’s blessing. And this mercy is ‘abundant,’ or, literally, ‘much,’-a simple but mighty word; for all God’s great things and words are simple. Mercy is pity, or goodwill, or love to the miserable, as grace is to the undeserving. It is to this much or large mercy that the apostle traces all that we receive. Every stream of blessing rises in this.
(4.) The lively (or living) hope.-Hope respects future blessing. It is founded on faith. It is a certainty, not a contingency or a possibility; it is sure and steadfast, and is the anchor of the soul, because it is so sure. There are dead hopes, and there are vain hopes; but this is a living one; it is life giving. It speaks of life, and it communicates life; it quickens the soul. Other hopes do nothing for us, save casting on us a few gleams of broken sunshine; this quickens and animates. It is all life and no death; a living hope, full of immortality and glory.