To those in China, Iran, India, and Africa; who believe and have not seen; “REJOICE WITH JOY.”
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”(1Pet. 1:8-9)
The Spirit of God is moving in great ways to bring the Gospel to places on the earth where the church has not had much success. These are places where persecution against Christians is very high. The believers in these places come to faith at a high cost, such as beatings, torture, and death. Christ is calling the lost in China, Iran, India, and Africa. Christians in Western countries do not suffer the consequences that the Christians in these persecuted countries do. Far too many of us neglect to acknowledge and support these brave Christians. I wish to acknowledge my brother and sister Christians in these lands and to let them know how I and other Christians in the U.S. admire your courage. We also admire the fact that your faith must be deep and strong in order to maintain your belief under persecution. We are witness to many who have a shallow faith because they are motivated by things other than belief in Christ. There are many of us who are involved in missions and ministries to provide aid and support to those in persecuted areas. We pray for your safety and for the Holy Spirit to continue His work in your countries. Let me provide you some comfort by reminding you of the blessed joy in which to rejoice because of your faith.
The Apostle Peter preached the gospel message in Asia Minor, (present day Turkey), several decades after the death and resurrection of Christ. His audience was a generation removed from Christ’s earthly ministry. In his first letter, Peter writes to the churches throughout Asia Minor to give them encouragement and commend them for their faith. The believers that he is addressing had never seen Jesus or were witness to His preaching and miracles. Their only knowledge of Christ was through the preaching of Peter and the teaching of other church leaders. This was enough for them to believe the gospel message, to accept Christ, and to trust Him as their Lord and Savior. For this, Peter praises them for their faith in verses 1:8-9. Peter draws on the words of Christ recorded in the Gospel of John to tell them that even though they had not seen Christ, they believed.
“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”(John 20:29)
They also loved Him though they did not see him, and rejoiced with great joy knowing that they had received salvation as the result of their faith. These converts had never seen Christ but they were able to receive an accurate image of Him through the hearing of the Gospel message and the power of the Holy Spirit, who helped to bring the image of Christ into their minds. Peter writes that they should rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory because they are obtaining God’s gift of salvation as the result of their faith. In the above verse, (John 20:29), Jesus had just shown Thomas the nail wounds on His hands and the spear wound in His side from His crucifixion so that He would believe that He was the risen Christ. Jesus then told Thomas that he believed because he had seen Him, then He said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
This is the blessing and words of encouragement for those believers in China, Iran, India, Africa, and every other region where Christians are persecuted. Just as the converts in Asia Minor were to be commended for their faith even though they had not seen Christ, you too are to be commended for your faith. The Holy Spirit has placed the image of the living Christ in your hearts and in your minds, so that you have that great joy knowing that your salvation is sure. Take heart my brothers and sisters, because you have received the greatest gift of all!