Investigators of Salvation

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by Mary C. Findley

Crucifix on Stucco Wall
Even the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours, carefully researched and investigated this salvation. They tried to find out what era or specific time the Spirit of the Messiah in them kept referring to when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you in regard to the things that have now been announced to you by those who brought you the good news through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. These are things that even the angels desire to look into.
(1 Peter 1: 10-12 ISV)

This is an interesting version of events in the ISV translation. Here it is in the New American Standard Version

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

Picture, then, the prophets in a slightly different way. We think of them as getting revelation straight from God – astounding visions, messages for kings, warnings to repent for everyone, and even angels to explain to them what it all meant. But God didn’t always tell them the whole story. Sometimes, as in the case of the promise of the Messiah, they had to do research to try to learn when He would come. Angels, these verses say, couldn’t even explain things to them, though it seems to have been a subject they were greatly interested in.

Consider, as modern-day Christians, the number of verses we have been told are prophesies of the Messiah. They begin all the way back in Genesis 3:15, which is called the Protoevangelium, or first mention of Christ’s future atonement.

“I’ll place hostility between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring. He’ll strike you on the head, and you’ll strike him on the heel.” (ISV)

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (NASB)

You can see Adam and Eve didn’t have much to go on there. Some people say that when Cain was born and Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord”, she thought her firstborn son was the Messiah. They quickly learned they were wrong about that.

So, through the ages, God inspired His Word to include clues to the Messiah – His nature, His purpose, and also when and even where He would come into the world. By the time Herod inquired as to where the King of the Jews would be born, the scholars had an answer all ready – “In Bethlehem of Judea”. Everybody, however, seems to have been thrown off by the timing. They were not clear on when the Messiah would come. There was confusion about many aspects of His life. A majority of the Jewish leadership concluded Jesus did not fit their understanding of the prophesies.

Back to the Old Testament prophets, though. The passage says these men researched and investigated to try to pin down the facts about the Messiah and salvation that weren’t all clear in the Scriptures or the prophesies they uttered.

These men were not like the Jewish Synagogue and temple leadership at the time of Jesus. They were not selfish or trying to preserve their own power. We see big hints that they understood the sacrificial system was not the answer. “The blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin”. “All we like sheep have gone astray … The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all … ”

The biggest thing that stands out to me about these verses, though, is the point that the prophets “carefully researched and investigated this salvation.” Even while understanding this: “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you.” The prophets would never see the Messiah. They would not see the fulfillment of the things they tried to make clear. They were sacrificing for future generations. They did it for those who lived in Peter’s time, and also for us.

We have the same responsibility as these prophets. How so?. The Messiah has already come. The atonement has already taken place. The mystery the prophets of long ago were trying to solve is no longer a mystery. Jesus is the answer.

Then why are there so many people who still haven’t heard or understood “the things that have now been announced to you by those who brought you the good news through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven”? Peter is saying that there is still work for faithful men to do, which the Holy Spirit was sent to accomplish. Remember that the Holy Spirit came after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. So it’s clear that we as believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit in order to keep investigating the Scriptures. We have to make salvation clear to those who still haven’t heard or understood. We have it. We understand it. But investigators don’t keep knowledge to themselves. Now it’s time to serve others to see to it that they receive and understand.

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