Justin L. Fulton
“But the God of all grace who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”—1 Peter 5:10.
Writing as a pastor to pastors (elders) Peter concludes this section of his letter with this benediction. It is a reminder that when the preacher has finished his exhortation, he is only half done. The other half of his ministry is to pray for those to whom he has addressed the message. It is a prayerful benediction which reveals the goal of the message to God’s people. Prayer must go before to prepare the heart of the messenger and in dependence upon God to prepare the hearts of the hearers. Our Lord’s benediction to his disciples proclaimed, “Blessed are your ears for they hear.” We sometimes pray that God will bless the message, but if it is the word of God, he has already blessed it. God must now bless the hearers or they will not hear with spiritual understanding. Peter says, “The God of all grace…” The preacher who believes in the grace of God, that all grace come from God, and all grace is necessary to effect the message to the hearers cannot depend upon the merits of his preaching or the character and intellectual merits of the hearers to grasp, embrace, and respond to the message of God.
Now the items that are desired from heaven in this inspired benediction are perfection, establishment, strength, and settling.
Note the high goal of God for his people, perfection. This is not justification for we are already perfectly justified in Christ having his perfect righteousness imputed to us, so this is sanctification, “that we might be partakers of his holiness.” (Heb. 12:10) If your faith has been tried through trials this last year, take heart and rejoice in it. God is perfecting, purifying your faith. It is a mark of your being his son. If the lost have picked at your faults, criticized your faith or the walk that results from your faith, rejoice in suffering, that God is correcting you and not leaving you to your sins or weakness of faith, as he does the lost. Remember also that God has given pastor for the perfection of the saints (Eph. 4:12) so avail yourself.
Another petition, establishment is also a gift of the ministry by Christ to his church. Christ, by God’s design has provided means for this also, because he would have his saints “be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”.
Accordingly, the need to be strengthened indicates our natural weakness which all of God’s people have in varying degrees. Certainly, any dependence upon the flesh, our carnal minds, and natural abilities is inherently weak. We need to increase in strength of faith and increase in ability to resist the corruptions and temptations of sin. Spiritual strength is dependence upon God, trusting him more as we lean less upon our own understanding.
Finally, settled is desperately needed in our day of spiritual instability, Christians running from place to place, one religious center to another with no doctrinal anchor. The word means founded and is used of three areas of the Christians spiritual life. In Matt. 7:25 Jesus is talking about hearing these sayings of mine and doing them, evidencing the character of Christ’s kingdom. Eph. 3:17 is Christ dwelling as a ruling king upon our heart in order to be increasingly grounded in the love of God. Col. 1:23 speaks of being grounded in the faith and not moved away from the truth of the gospel.