“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and fill of glory:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
Whom having not seen, ye love!
And that “whom” refers, of course, to Christ Jesus, of Whom the apostle had spoken in the last part of the preceding verses, to which we called attention in our last Meditation.
Wonderful, and humanly inexplicable fact!
We have never seen Him, yet we love Him! Though we now do not see Him, yet we believe, and we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Even the apostle must have marveled that his readers had never seen Him, and yet from the heart loved Him. He had seen Him. He was of those who were privileged to be near Him when He dwelled in the flesh and upon the earth. He even belonged to that triumvirate which was closest to Him in those important moments in the life of the Saviour when He was transfigured before them on the holy mountain, and when He in the garden crawled in the dust. as a worm and no man. He, of all men least expected, had denied Him in His darkest hour; but was restored to His love most wonderfully after His resurrection. That he should love Him Whom he had seen, that, too, was a miracle of grace; but that those should love Him Whom they had not seen—this, indeed, was even a greater wonder, if wonders may be compared. Yet so it was, and so it is still—Whom having never seen, ye love; and in whom ye believe with joy unspeakable.
For it is a love, and a faith, that is rooted in Christ Jesus in Whom is all our salvation!
When the apostle speaks of the salvation of the soul, he does not mean to neglect the salvation of the body. Rather, he is calling attention to that part of us which first experiences the salvation of the Lord. Surely, he was mindful of the salvation of the body in the glorious resurrection of the last day. He understood that the whole man must be saved. When God created man in the beginning, He made him of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. The whole man, therefore, is a living soul. When man fell, however, he died. He died, first of all, spiritually; then physically. And he is saved precisely in the same way he is lost. Salvation comes first of all to the inner man, and then to the whole man. And the good work which God begins in us He finishes it unto the end, until the whole man is saved, soul and body, and in that order.
All that salvation is in Christ Jesus!
Never apart from Him are we saved!
He is the fountain out of which we must drink. He is the heavenly manna which we must eat. He is the Saviour Who must save His people from their sins. He is both the sacrifice for our sins, and the Priest Who brings the atoning sacrifice. He is the one Who is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” so that if we are to glory, we can glory only in the Lord. In Him was all the grace, spoken of by the prophets of old, that should come unto us. As all those who were in Adam died, so all who are in Christ are made alive, and become partakers of that salvation He has prepared for them.
And as wonderful as that salvation objectively is which He has obtained for us, just as wonderful is the subjective experience of that salvation which He imparts to us. It is especially this aspect of the wonderwork of grace that the apostle emphasizes in the text.
Wonderful is the believing and receiving of that salvation! Though now we see Him not, yet we love Him; and though we do not see Him, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of joy. Receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls. Now, according the capacity of our faith, which is His grace of salvation in us, we rejoice with joy unspeakable. How great that joy shall be when the end of our faith shall be realized, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ! When we shall see Him Whom our soul loveth! How unspeakably great shall that salvation appear when we shall experience it both in soul and body in the day of His coming!
Most desirable salvation!
Concerning it the prophets have enquired and searched diligently. They searched out and exhaustively enquired, and then prophesied of the grace that should come unto us.
Which thing even the angels desire to look into! Those ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who are the heirs of salvation! They also have a sincere interest in that salvation which God had prepared in His counsel, and was to realize in time for all His elect. These are the elect angels, who remained standing when in the dawn of history Satan and many others with him, through the schism wrought by his fall in the angel world, brought disruption in the order of heaven. Eagerly they peered into the work of God all through the ages to realize His saving work when the Son of man was made a little lower than the angels but crowned with glory and honour, far above all principality and power, when He would bring reconciliation and peace not only on earth, but also in heaven. And being appointed servants of all the elect that must come to final and heavenly glory, they are vitally interested in all the divine workings of saving grace.
What the apostle says about the prophets of old and the angels of heaven is meant to inspire us.
What the Spirit of Christ, which was in the prophets, revealed to them concerning the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow, was with a view to us. This cannot mean that the revelation they received had no significance for them and for those to whom they uttered their prophesies. For their hope of salvation was also tied in with the sufferings of the Christ and the glory which followed. But it is also true that they without us could not be made perfect. Nor could they be saved without us. It is in this sense, undoubtedly, that the apostle says, “of which salvation . . . that should come unto you;” and again, “unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you,” etc.
If they who were vitally connected to the revelation of the plan of salvation, and the working out of that plan were interested, how much more this should be true of us in whom the plan is to be completed and finished in its final glory!
What is your interest, beloved reader, in that salvation?
The original readers of this epistle were undoubtedly greatly interested. How else could you explain the fact that they loved Him Whom they had not seen, and believing in Him rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory? Surely, all this is true only of those who have experienced that salvation with the tasting knowledge of faith.
A glorious experience!
Which is to be found under the preaching of the gospel in the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven!
In the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ!
That is, in the sphere where the Holy Ghost dwells is the experience of salvation only possible.
That Spirit was operative in the prophets, for the text clearly states that the Spirit of Christ in them testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. That Spirit came also on the church in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, and therefore on the apostles who had to preach the gospel of salvation. That Spirit continues to dwell in the church, and accompanies the preaching of the gospel also now. Without that Spirit there is no preaching, no faith, no salvation—nothing. In the sphere of that Spirit of Christ as He dwells in the church of the new dispensation, the gospel of our salvation is preached unto us. What the prophets sought after and enquired into and testified beforehand concerning the salvation that was to come, the preaching of the gospel now declares is yours through faith.
Thus believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Now we rejoice in hope!
Only by faith we rejoice, and only by faith do we have the hope of that final joy that shall be revealed to us in the day of Christ, when He shall be manifested.
Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe!
The apostle evidently ties in the word which he is privileged to declare in the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven with that personal experience he had when eight days after the Lord’s resurrection He was in conference with Thomas who would not believe until he had seen in His hands the print of the nails, and put his finger into the print of the nails, and thrust his hand into His side. He heard the Lord say unto Thomas (who having now seen Him declared: “My Lord and my God”), “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
That blessed gospel Peter is now privileged to declare unto his contemporaries, and unto us.
Blessed gospel which is preached unto us!
Blessed Holy Spirit which has come down from heaven to give us those eyes of faith which enable us to see the unseen, and to believe in Him Whom we do not see!