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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

1 Peter 1:17-21

10/26 1 Peter 1:17-21 Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Peter has spent the first 12 verses celebrating what God has done to make us his forever. He chose us and caused us to be born again. He is guarding us by his power for our salvation through our faith. He is testing our faith by the fire of trials so that it is proved genuine. He points to our joy in Jesus as evidence of our genuine belief. He encourages us that prophets and angels and evangelists, through the Holy Spirit were all working together to bring us salvation. Then in verse 13 he inserts a critical ‘therefore’ to give us commands; because of what God has done to make you his forever, this is how you should respond. And he gives three commands. Set your hope on future grace, be holy (wholly devoted to God), and live in fear.

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

We will take up this third command today. Because of what God has done for you to secure your eternal inheritance, set your hope completely on God’s grace that will be brought to you in the future. Don’t act like you’re still stupid but be holy like God is holy – have your value system transformed by what is most valuable: God. Be wholly devoted to God. Be hopeful, be holy, and be afraid. Be very afraid. So today’s message is on how to be afraid in a way that honors God. There is a way to be afraid that disbelieves God’s promises and dishonors God and there is a way to fear that promotes your holiness and your hope and brings honor to God. I hope today we can see the difference and fear in a way that brings glory to God and brings progress in our sanctification.

Jesus commanded us to fear and not to fear. There is appropriate and inappropriate fear for the believer. Jesus was telling us to have our fear in the right place. And what Jesus tells us runs contrary to everything we naturally think and feel. Do not fear those who can kill you. That would put your fear in the wrong place. Do not fear evil men with machine guns and machetes. Do not fear the earthquake and the tsunami. Do not fear the firing squad and the electric chair. Do not fear the terrorist threats. That would be fearing the wrong thing and demonstrate your lack of faith in God. Listen to the words of Jesus:

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Jesus doesn’t tell us to stop being afraid. He tells us to get our fear gland trained to respond to the right stimulus. Do not fear the bullet; fear the one you will stand before a millisecond after the bullet goes through your brain.

But doesn’t the bible says that we should not be afraid because perfect love casts out fear? Yes – in 1 John 4 it says

1 John 4:17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

So if you have been perfected in love you can go home right now – the rest of this message does not apply to you. This same John that wrote these words was the one at the Revelation of Jesus Christ was terrified.

Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, …

Jesus commanded us to fear God; John was terrified when he saw Jesus. In Acts 9:31 it says:

Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Fear of God is a characteristic of a healthy church. 2 Corinthians 7:1 tells us:

2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

We are told in the proverbs:

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

And in the Psalms:

Psalms 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

The fear of the Lord is something we can practice. In Psalm 147, fear of the Lord and hope in his steadfast love are not incompatible but parallel ideas:

Psalms 147:11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

God’s holy presence elicits a response of terror. Last week we saw the holiness of God on display as we saw Isaiah’s vision of the throne of God. Remember his response? ‘woe to me for I am undone’.

Isaiah 6: 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Isaiah was terrified in the presence of holy God. He pronounced a curse on himself. Peter had this same experience when he was in the boat with Jesus after the catch of fish:

Luke 5:8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

Fear of God is commended to us and modeled for us in throughout scripture. So let’s look at what Peter has to tell us about fearing God.

17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

The main command is ‘conduct yourselves with fear’. He starts by pointing them to their relationship with God. You call on him who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds. The one you call on is the Judge of the living and the dead, the one before whom everyone will stand and give an account. And this judge is impartial – he plays no favorites. Absolute justice will be done. Peter began to understand this when he was called by God to go to a Gentile’s house and proclaim the good news:

Acts 10:34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,

In this letter, Peter tells us that God’s judgment will start with believers:

I Peter 4:17-18 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

James 5:9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

And this is the one you call on as ‘Father’. You call on him as Father because he caused you to be born again. God stands as just judge over every man. But you have a unique relationship with him because you have been born into his family. God is judge of every man; he is judge and father to believers. But he is still your judge and he is just.

Ezekiel 33:18-20 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. 19 And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by them. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

If we say ‘yes, I committed the crime, but I’m not worried – I know the judge’, that would indicate either we are naive or the judge is unjust. A just judge doesn’t let crime go unpunished because he has a relationship with the defendant. That would not be impartial. No, if your dad is the judge and if he cares about justice and righteousness, you’re going to get it in the courtroom and you’re going to get it at home. If you call the judge ‘Father’ then live in fear. Fear messing up and being called into his courtroom. Fear displeasing and disappointing him. Don’t think you can live like hell and get away with it because your father is the judge and he will let it slide. If you call on the judge of the universe as your father, conduct yourselves in fear.

And he reminds them of their sojourner status. This is the time of exile. This is not your permanent position. You don’t belong. Expect to be treated badly by those around you who don’t know Jesus – but don’t fear them. Fear your father who is your judge.

In verses 18-21, Peter gives the reasons why we should fear God. Fear, knowing; because you know, conduct yourselves in fear. Something you know about God fuels your fearful attitude toward him. What is it?

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

If we compress this sentence down, it reads ‘fear God knowing you were ransomed with the precious blood of Christ’. How is knowing you were ransomed by Christ a grounds for fear? Isn’t that a reason to rest and rejoice? I would expect the opposite: ‘you no longer have reason to fear God because you have been ransomed with the precious blood of Christ’. Instead Peter gives it as a reason for fearing. How can this be? I think he means ‘because you have been redeemed with something so precious, fear living in a way that indicates Jesus’ blood is not precious to you’. Because of the infinite value of the gift, beware of treating it with contempt and offending the giver. The sentence builds, giving first what we were ransomed from, then what was inadequate to ransom us, then a picture of the ransom, and finally climaxes with who ransomed us.

‘You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers’.

We are naturally proud of our heritage. I am a criminal and I come from a long line of criminals. We’ve spent generations perfecting crime. We are good at what we do, and I am proud to carry on the family tradition. Heritage is a powerful thing. Peter calls it worthless. In fact it is so bad, it was holding you hostage – you needed to be ransomed from the worthless heritage that your ancestors passed on to you. You were enslaved by your forefathers and you needed to be set free. This picture begins in Egypt. Joseph brought the nation of Israel down to Egypt. 400 years later, they were in bondage and needed to be rescued. God paid the ransom price. Sometimes you pay a large sum and satisfy the demands of the kidnapper. Other times you track down the kidnapper and take his firstborn son and take back what is yours. That’s what God did. He flexed his strong right arm and displayed his power and destroyed Egypt while he set his captives free. The ransom price paid for you was not something of fading value like silver or gold. Peter again points out that in his frame of reference, silver and gold are perishable. It was not perishable gold but precious blood. The price paid for us was innocent life. The blood came from an innocent victim – like a lamb. In the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, they would choose a perfect lamb – one with no defects, and they would observe it to be sure that it was in perfect health. The lamb had done nothing wrong. You would place your hands on the head of the lamb and confess your sins and transfer your guilt to that innocent animal. Then they would slit the throat of the unsuspecting animal and its blood would pour out. The lamb had done nothing to deserve punishment – it was innocent. So the blood that is the cost of our ransom is that of an innocent victim – he has neither blemish nor spot. There is no defect in your ransom price. It was the precious blood, as a lamb without blemish or spot – Christ. Christ comes climactically as the very last word of the verse.

Peter picks up the name of Christ, and gives us a list of things that make Christ abundantly precious.

20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

First, he was foreknow before the foundation of the word. This is the same word Peter used in verse 2 of our elect status which is according to the foreknowledge of God. This is staggering if we pause for a moment to consider what it means. Jesus, the lamb of God who was to take away the sins of the world was foreknown before Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. He was foreknown before there was even a garden or lambs or a world. God had purposed to give Jesus’ blood as a ransom for sinners before God even made people with a capacity for sinning. Before sin entered into the world, God had a plan in place to ransom sinful people. The fall was not an unexpected event in the history of earth. Your ransom with the precious blood of Jesus was God’s original plan – before there was a ‘you’. Christ was made manifest in the last times for your sake. Jesus was made known in the last times for us. The plan was always in place, but the plan has now been unfurled before our very eyes! How precious is this? Christ was manifest for our sake. And we are believers in God through Christ.

This is what Jesus told us:

John 14:1,6 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me… Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Peter said in:

Acts 3:16 And his name––by faith in his name––has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

God raised Christ from the dead. We fear death, but there’s more to death than being dead. God raised Jesus from the dead! Death is not the final end. What God did for Jesus, he can do for us. And God gave Christ glory. This is what Jesus prayed

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

And the last phrase brings it full circle back to the beginning again; so that your faith and hope are in God. God knew and chose his Son; he sent his Son; he put his Son to death; he raised his Son from the dead; he gave his Son glory; all for your sake – so that you would hope in God. So that you would believe in God. So that you would believe what God says about sin and that you will be more satisfied in pursuit of a life of holiness; that you will live with a healthy fear of treating God’s gift as if it were not precious. Fear putting your hope in other things. Hope in God for God alone is precious and God alone can satisfy. Hope in God’s future grace! Be holy! Be afraid! Hope in God!

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October 26, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 1:14-16

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20081019_1peter1_14-16.mp3

1/19 1 Peter 1:14-16 be holy; don’t act like you’re still stupid!

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith––more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire––may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1:14 wv tekna upakohv mh suschmatizomenoi taiv proteron en th agnoia umwn epiyumiaiv 15 alla kata ton kalesanta umav agion kai autoi agioi en pash anastrofh genhyhte 16 dioti gegraptai [oti] agioi esesye oti egw agiov

We are looking today at the second command that Peter gives us in his letter. And here Peter gets to one of the main points of his letter. But he had to lay the foundation first so that it would be properly understood. So today, we will look at the demand for us to be holy, we will look at the importance of holiness in the life of every believer, we will ask what it means, we will see the high standard and foundation of holiness and the way to pursue it. Then we will see why this command comes second and not first in this letter.

The command is for holiness. We are to be holy. We desperately need to know what this means and understand how essential this command is. We tend to feel that holiness is a nice extra for a few highly advanced Christians. It is certainly not for all of us. We can all think of someone with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, and we don’t feel we could (or would even want to) rise (or stoop) to their level of spirituality. What often comes to mind is a puritanical hyper-legalistic life that is defined by what you don’t do. (By the way, the puritans were deeply concerned about holiness, but they were not the legalistic prudes that they have been caricatured as; dictionary.com defines puritanical as ‘very strict in moral or religious matters, often excessively so; rigidly austere’ – I would encourage you to pick up their writings and discover a gold mine of spiritual depth and richness of Christian joy.) So we need to put holiness in the biblical perspective. What does the bible say about holiness, what does Jesus say about holiness? What’s so important about being holy?

Maybe we should start with a definition. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines holiness as follows:

‘The state of being holy; purity or integrity of moral character; freedom from sin; sanctity. Applied to the Supreme Being, holiness denotes perfect purity or integrity of moral character, one of his essential attributes.

1. Applied to human beings, holiness is purity of heart or dispositions; sanctified affections; piety; moral goodness, but not perfect.

2. Sacredness; the state of any thing hallowed, or consecrated to God or to his worship; applied to churches or temples.

3. That which is separated to the service of God.’

Holiness is purity of heart or dispositions; sanctified affections; being separated or set apart to the service of God. God told his people in:

Leviticus 11:44 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. …45 For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

Leviticus 19:2 … You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

Leviticus 20:7 Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 20:26 You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.

But is holiness only an Old Testament demand on the people of Israel that doesn’t apply to us today? We are under grace, right? That’s why Jesus died -because we couldn’t live up to the standard. The answer is ‘yes, we are under grace’ and ‘yes, Jesus died because we couldn’t live up to God’s holy standard’ and the answer is ‘yes, God saved us by grace through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus from sin so that we could live holy lives.’

2 Timothy 1:9 [God] who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

It is by the gift of God’s grace and not by our works that we are saved, but we are saved from sin and for our holy calling. He goes on to say:

2 Timothy 2:21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

So we must cleanse ourselves from what is dishonorable – not in order to obtain God’s grace and favor, but because of God’s grace and favor already demonstrated in our holy calling. But how serious is this call to holiness? Here’s what the author of Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

If you do not pursue holiness in your life you will not see Jesus. That’s huge and heavy. Can that really be what this means? Paul elaborates:

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

But praise God, he goes on:

11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Jesus came to seek and to save lost sinners. But did Jesus have anything to say about the necessity of our holiness?

Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus says you have to get passionate about your holiness and fight violently against the sin in your life or you will go to hell. It doesn’t get much clearer than that. The stakes are high. We are not talking about an optional extra in the Christian life. If you don’t pursue your holiness with a vengeance, you don’t see Jesus; you go to hell. Your holiness is not a suggestion or a recommendation; it is imperative.

How do we respond to sin in our lives? Do we tend to justify and defend it; even pride ourselves in being free in Jesus? Are we oblivious to the sin in our lives? Do we compare ourselves with others and begin to think that we’re really not so bad? If we do that, the bible says we are not wise. Are we grieved? Acutely and painfully aware of the deep roots of sin in our lives? Are we broken before God crying out ‘who will rescue me from this body of death?’ Do we long for holiness? Are we willing to aggressively attack the secret sins of our heart, dragging them out into the light and butchering them like the wicked traitors they are?Do

How do we go about this thing called holiness? Let’s go back to 1 Peter and see what he has to say about our holiness, and then we’ll put it in the context of the passage and see how it all fits together.

1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

We again have one imperative in the sentence; it is ‘be holy’. It is preceded by a participial phrase that describes what it’s not, and a phrase that describes the foundation for personal holiness. Then he follows the command with his textual basis – a quote out of Leviticus. Let’s work backward through the text and then put it all together.

The substantiation for the demand for holiness is the character of God. God said over and over in Leviticus ‘you be holy because I am holy’. And Peter tells us ‘you be holy like God is holy; God’s holiness is the pattern for your holiness’.

So let’s look for a minute at God’s holiness. In the bible we are given many descriptions of God’s character and nature:

Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God

Deuteronomy 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords…

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your dwelling place,

2 Chronicles 30:9 … the LORD your God is gracious and merciful …

Job 36:5 “Behold, God is mighty…

Job 36:22 Behold, God is exalted in his power…

Psalms 7:11 God is a righteous judge,

Psalms 47:7 For God is the King of all the earth;

Psalms 68:19 … God is our salvation.

Isaiah 26:4 … the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

John 3:33 … God is true.

John 4:24 God is spirit…

Romans 3:30 …God is one…

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful…

1 John 1:5 … God is light…

1 John 4:8 …God is love.

But there is only one attribute of God that is tripled in scripture. In Isaiah 6 and in Revelation 4 the seraphs cry out ‘holy holy holy is the Lord’. They don’t cry out ‘love, love love’ or ‘merciful, merciful, merciful’. Jesus, when he taught said ‘truly truly I say to you’; doubled as a way of emphasizing the authority and accuracy of what he taught. But no other characteristic of God is tripled like his holiness is tripled. We even find ‘the Holy One’ used as a title for God about 50 times.

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

God’s holiness is made completely emphatic. He is holy to the third power. God is completely other, wholly set apart, totally distinct. He is the creator and we are created. He is infinite and we are finite. Our power is limited and his power is limitless. We had a beginning, he had no beginning. We are sinners, he is perfect in his moral integrity. He is in a class by himself. That is part of the definition – set apart from. But part of the definition of holiness is set apart for or set apart to. The vessels used in the temple in the Old Testament were holy – they were to be used for nothing else but the service of God. The clothes that the priests wore were not common clothes; they were to be worn for nothing else than approaching God in worship and prayer. The priests themselves were set apart to the service of God. They didn’t have other employment – their lives were completely dedicated or devoted to God. Is there anything that God is set apart for or completely dedicated and devoted to? I think the only answer that we can give is that God is completely devoted to himself. There is nothing higher for him to be devoted to. Devotion to any higher principle or purpose would be idolatry. Just as it is idolatry for us to set anything higher in our hearts than God, it would be idolatry for God to be devoted to anything outside of himself. God is passionate about his own glory. There is nothing higher or more beautiful or more worthy of praise than himself. We can join God in his holiness by being entirely devoted to God. this is the same thing as keeping the first and greatest commandment;

Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

So holiness is not so much a negative command of what you don’t do, but a positive affirmation of what is highest in your affections. Be holy – be passionate about who God is. Be consumed with delight in God. Let God meet all your needs and satisfy all your longings. You be passionate about God because God is passionate about God. Value God more than anything else in your life because God is more valuable than anything else. And we are instructed to demonstrate our passion for God in every area of our lives. As it says in

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

This of course has some negative implications. That’s why Peter describes holiness by what it’s not:

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,

Being set apart for God could be described as not conforming to your former passions. You have a new passion; a new desire, a new lust. Your former lust was stupid. That’s what Peter says: ‘the passions of your former ignorance’. You had an appetite for things that could never satisfy. But you had an excuse then; you didn’t know any better. Now you know that when you immerse yourself in the pleasures the world has to offer you come up with a mouth full of sawdust. Be holy! Develop a hunger for God; develop a taste for what truly satisfies. Have a holy lust for intimacy with Jesus. You are different now – you have a new driving passion in your life. Your spiritual taste buds have been awakened by the truth. Don’t act like you’re still stupid. ‘Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance’.

He tells us to be holy as obedient children; literally ‘as children of obedience’. Notice he doesn’t tell us to be holy in order to become children; the assumption is that we are already children of the Father. We are not commanded to become something we are not; we are commanded to be who we are. As children characterized by obedience, be like your father – be holy in all your conduct. Peter has established in verse 3 that God caused us to be born again – so we are his children by new birth; and in verse 4 that entitles us to the inheritance that is being kept for us. Back in verses 1 and 2 he tells us that we were chosen for obedience – obedience to Jesus Christ. We have a new nature – a nature of obedient children on account of our new birth. The phrase ‘as he who called you is holy’ points back to God as the origin of their new nature – God called you into a relationship with himself. God called you for obedience, so be who he called you to be – be holy!

Now that we understand the gravity of the demand – holiness is essential, not optional if you want to see Jesus; now that we understand what holiness means – that we are to find our delight in God and in all that he is for us in Jesus, that we are to live for the glory of God in every area of our lives, now let’s put this in the context of the passage and see where it fits in the argument. Peter has spent twelve verses telling us how God is at work in us securing our salvation, preparing our inheritance and preserving us so that we make it. His first command in verse 13 hangs on all this like a hinge and says ‘therefore – because of all this’ put your hope fully in God’s future grace. God is going to continue to pour out his grace in your life. You can put your full weight on his promise – it will be there. As John Newton sang ’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home. The Lord has promis’d good to me, His word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.’

You can bank on the fact that God’s grace will be there to sustain you tomorrow. In light of God’s work initiating your new birth; in light of God’s work preparing you for your inheritance, in light of the fact that your present trials are serving to prove your faith genuine; in light of the fact that your salvation is the focal point that angels and prophets and evangelist longed to see and the Holy Spirit brought about; in the confidence of God’s future grace you can be holy. God called you to be holy and is at work in you to make you holy. His Holy Spirit lives in you. He is bringing trials to purify your faith; he has adopted you as his child and he wants you to be like him, so be who you are. Don’t act like you’re still stupid. With all your effort and passion and will, strive to be holy. Work hard, passionately and violently pursue your personal holiness because you know that God’s grace will be sufficient to see you through.

Paul describes it this way:

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

October 20, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 1:13

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20081012_1peter_1_13.mp3

1/12 1 Peter 1:13 fixing hope on future grace

1: 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith––more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire––may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1:13 dio anazwsamenoi tav osfuav thv dianoiav umwn nhfontev teleiwv elpisate epi thn feromenhn umin carin en apokaluqei ihsou cristou

We saw in the last verses how God’s glory is put on display before the whole universe – prophets, evangelists, even angels; and you -you who are the recipients of this great salvation.

Verses 1-12 lay the theological foundation for everything that follows. Peter has packed into these twelve verses massive truth about God’s work of redemption in our lives as a ground for joy and worship. Now, in verse thirteen, he gives the first imperative command to his readers. And the command is connected inextricably with everything that went before. Verse thirteen is the hinge on which the whole letter turns. If you have a door with a hinge and the hinge isn’t anchored securely in the door frame, when you try to open the door, the door will fall on you. Peter is going to begin to give instructions to his readers, but he has spent twelve verses making sure their action is anchored securely in the truth. Because of the joy that you have in Jesus, because the Triune God is at work securing your salvation, because God by his power is ensuring that you make it to receive the inheritance that he is keeping for you, therefore you do this; therefore live like this. It is essential to see the connection here. If we rip these following verses out of their grammatical connection with what precedes, we rip the door off its hinges and we run the disastrous risk of turning this into a way for us to impress God by our own performance and win his favor, rather than seeing our holiness as a result of God’s grace and power, as a response to God’s love in Christ. In the bible what God has done for us is always the basis for how we should live our lives; the way we conduct ourselves is the outworking of what God has initiated. The word ‘therefore’ may be the most important word in the whole letter to keep us from twisting what Peter said and using it for something that he never meant.

Now we need to look for a minute at the basic sentence structure so that we can fit the parts together and see what Peter is telling us. There is one imperative, one command in this verse; it is ‘hope!’ We are commanded to hope. And we are given the object of hope; it is ‘grace’. And this is a specific kind of grace; it is a future grace – a grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. There are two participial clauses that precede the main command that tell us how to hope; you hope in future grace by ‘preparing your minds for action’ and by ‘being sober-minded’.

So we will start by looking at what it is we are commanded to do, then we will look at what it is we are hoping in, and we will finish up by looking at Peter’s practical instructions on how we are to go about obeying the command.

First, the command – hope! Thou shalt hope. A definition might be helpful here. Merriam-Webster defines hope: 1. to cherish a desire with anticipation; to desire with expectation of obtainment; and lists synonyms trust, expect or look to. Biblical hope has nothing to do with wishing about something that is highly unlikely. Biblical hope is banking on the promises of a faithful God. Biblical hope ties together the concepts of belief and joy. In order to hope, you must have something to ignite that hope within you. That’s what I hope the first twelve verses have done in us. We were going along, minding our own business, and we heard God’s word, God speaking, and God’s promises ignited hope in our hearts. If God is trustworthy and keeps his promises, then these things that I read are not only the truth, but they will prove true in my life! This is cause for great joy! If it is true that I am chosen by God, if it is true that God loves me intimately, that the Holy Spirit is at work in me to set me apart for his use, if even the suffering that I am faced with is God at work refining and purifying my faith, if I believe and embrace this truth, I cannot do it with an Eeyore attitude: ‘oh bother, I suppose it’s true, God has picked me to be on his team, he is using his awesome power to preserve me and he has an inheritance waiting for me beyond my wildest dreams. Has anyone seen my tail?’ You can’t do that! Hope not only embraces the facts as true, but there is a response of joyful expectation and eager longing. Hope is belief in the truth mixed with joyful expectation. Hope is more than merely waiting for something. Hope would not be the best word to choose if you are waiting for your root canal. Dread might be a more appropriate word for that situation – you have embraced the fact that your tooth is rotten and the drill is ready, but you are not looking forward to the procedure. Hope is looking forward to something. Hope is believing with joyful expectation. The bible uses hope almost interchangeably with believing or saving faith.

Psalms 147:11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Matthew 12:21 (of Jesus) and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Ephesians 1:12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

What is it we are commanded to place our hope in? ‘Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ The focus of our hope is to be God’s future grace. This is what Peter has already spoken of. In verse 3 God caused us to be born again to a living hope. In verse 4, we have an inheritance kept in heaven for us. In verse 5, we are being guarded by God’s power for our salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In verses 6 and 7, we see that our trials will result in God giving us praise and honor and glory in the end because our faith will have proved genuine. In verse 8 our love for Jesus and joy in Jesus is evidence of our genuine faith, and in verse 9, we will obtain the outcome of our faith and that will be the final salvation of our souls. Here, he sums up all that and calls it ‘the grace that will be brought to you’. I can’t take credit for my new birth, because God caused me to be born again. I can’t take credit for my genuine faith, because it is a gift of God and God is proving it genuine. I can’t take credit for my persevering to the end, because God in his power is at work in me enabling me to persevere to the end. And the outcome of my faith will be my final salvation and yet I cannot take any credit – it is all grace – God brought it about. So here’s what we are commanded to do: we are commanded to put our hope fully in God’s grace. We are to lean hard into what God is going to do, put our full weight on God’s future grace that is coming to us. What you are commanded to do is to depend completely on God doing the work to bring you to salvation in the end.

Isn’t it funny, that the first command in Peter’s letter is to hope? Thou shalt hope. I would expect something hard, like thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, or thou shalt love your enemies, or thou shalt not want what somebody else has. Peter is telling us the most natural thing in the world to for us to do in light of what he’s said, and he is commanding us to do it. When I see the amazing promises of God to me, and I read what God is doing in me, and I hear of the purpose he has for me, that he will not forsake me but will be faithful to bring me to completion, hope is automatically ignited in my heart – isn’t it in yours? So why does Peter feel he has to command us to hope in grace? I may have to command my kids to eat their Brussels sprouts, but I don’t think I will ever have to say ‘you’re not getting up from the table until you’ve finished all your ice cream.’ Why command what we are now inclined to do? I think we see a few reasons implied right here in the text. The first one is in the description he gives of how we are to hope – he says hope fully or hope perfectly. Our hope is naturally flawed and fickle and divided. I am hoping in God and in the government. I am trusting in Jesus and in my 401K. I am delighting in God’s promises and in my new toy. I am looking forward to heaven and to our next vacation. My affections are divided. It takes effort to re-calibrate your hope. We are used to having our hope set on things and people and money and security and events, we hope in our job and our family and our strength and abilities, we hope in our retirement and in the natural goodness of people and the capability of mankind and medicine and technological advances; and it takes conscious effort to move our hope off of those things and set it fully on grace. We are to fix our hope completely – not partially; not 50% or 80% or 95% but fully, perfectly on grace.

Peter’s focus here is a specific kind or aspect of grace. Paul in Ephesians 2 tells us that it is ‘by grace you have been saved’. That is past tense grace for past tense salvation. In Romans 5 he says ‘since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God’. Peter is looking toward the ‘grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ’ God’s grace toward us in justification is awesome! God’s grace in pardoning sinners through the cross of Christ is unimaginably great! But that’s not all! There’s more to come! God has not exhausted his gracious purposes toward us!

Ephesians 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

There is grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ! Let me read a description of the revelation of Jesus Christ:

Revelation 1:13-17 …one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two–edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

We will stand before this Jesus in the presence of all the angels in heaven and he will acknowledge us before the Father; he will say:

Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. … Enter into the joy of your master.’

That’s grace worth hoping for!

So we’ve looked at the main command of this verse: hope! And we’ve looked at the object of this hope – God’s future grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Now we’re going to look at the two participial phrases that give us the how of hoping. This gives us more insight into why Peter thought it was necessary to command us to hope. ‘Preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded’. ‘Preparing your minds for action’ could be literally translated ‘girding up the loins of your mind’. It’s an Old Testament metaphor that anyone in that culture would readily connect with. The standard clothing would be a long undershirt with a long robe flowing down to the ground. This is great for lounging around discussing philosophy and looking good, but it’s not so great if you need to dig a ditch or run a race. In preparation for those kind of activities, they would ‘gird up their loins’ – this meant taking all the loose tails of their robe and tucking them up into their belt so that their legs would be bare and unencumbered for vigorous action.;

Exodus 12:11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.

Job 38:3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. (also Job 40:7; Jeremiah 1:17)

Luke 12:35-36 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.

This would be the equivalent of ‘roll up your sleeves and tighten your belt’ – get ready for God to show up and be prepared to respond with instant obedience.

Peter applies this metaphor to their thinking. You have to cut off vague loosely flowing thoughts and speculations that lead nowhere and only trip you up and hinder your obedience. Bare the muscles of your mind and get ready to engage all your thinking capacity. ‘Hope will not become a reality without disciplined thinking… Thinking in a new way does not happen automatically; it requires effort, concentration, and intentionality’ (Schreiner, p.78). Fixing hope on future grace requires focused mental exertion.

And he says ‘being sober-minded’. In order to fix your hope on future grace, your mind cannot be inebriated. You will need all your mental faculties. This of course would include not being drunk with alcohol, but would also extend to anything that distorts your thinking and shifts your hope. ‘There is a way of living that becomes dull to the reality of God, that is anesthetized by the attractions of this world. When people are lulled into such drowsiness, they lose sight of Christ’s future revelation of himself and concentrate only on fulfilling their earthly desires’ (Schreiner, p.79). We must gird up the loins of our mind, and we must keep from becoming inebriated by the attractions of the world so that we can fix our hope fully on God’s future grace.

Maybe we can better understand how to fix our hope on future grace by seeing an illustration of it in the bible. Let’s look at Paul’s attitude toward the Corinthian church. The church at Corinth was a train wreck. There was blatant sexual immorality of the most perverse kind accepted by the church. They were a lawsuit-happy church; there were divisions in the church. They were a church that embraced false doctrine. They had turned against Paul and his ministry. They abused the Lord’s Supper and misused the gifts of the Spirit. Their meetings did more harm than good. They were a church completely out of control that needed strong rebuke and correction. Listen to the way Paul addresses them:

1 Corinthians 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

It is amazing that Paul can find anything good to say about the Corinthians. He starts by giving thanks for past grace, and then he expresses his confidence in God’s future grace for them:

…as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is a church that is guilty guilty guilty! And Paul looks forward to the grace that will be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ, and says that God will sustain them guiltless. Paul is expressing his confident expectation, not in the character of the Corinthian people, but in the faithfulness of God who called them. Paul’s faith is fixed completely on God’s future grace.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

October 12, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment