For an introduction to this series, click here.
January 4, 2008
"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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 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. 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." (1:3-9)
This is an amazing passage. It gives us a lot of confidence for the future. I cannot do it justice in the limited time and space I have here. Just know that God has given us a wonderful gift in salvation. Our faith is a gift from God, and God is pleased to bring that faith to fruition in our lives. Now sometimes that can mean some difficult things in our lives, but God is always faithful.
This is a message I need right now, to be real honest with you. There are so many things that are going right in my life, and I am thankful for them, but there are always those little irritants that create such a big deal, and it is so easy to lose heart when silly little things happen.
"Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 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." (1:10-12)
Of course when Peter wrote this, the church was just starting, so they really were at the cusp of a new era, but even we can be thrilled about what God is doing, especially compared to His dealings with people in the Old Testament. The prophets are full of indications and predictions about the church age, but they did not fully comprehend what they were writing. Peter tells us here that they wanted to understand, but God kept it from them while they were on earth. We as Christians are part of that mystery hidden from the saints of old.
"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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.' 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, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 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." (1:13-21, ESV)
Here is another rich passage. First of all, notice that we are to take our privileges as Christians seriously. The New Testament is full of commands to be "sober-minded," but this one probably goes into the most detail. The phrase "preparing your minds for action" is not the best translation choice, as far as I am concerned. The word picture there, which is noted in the marginal note, is to gird up the loins of your mind. It means basically the same thing, but I don't like it when translators choose to dumb down word pictures in the text. Of course "girding up" to do with a man pulling his long robe together in a sash at his waist to get ready for strenuous work or running. When people did this, they were committing to doing something.
The aim of girding up our minds is to be holy. Holiness is both a command and a state of being. The former is mostly in view here. As we grow in the knowledge of God, we will become more like Him, and therefore more holy. If you do a study of the word "holy" in the New Testament, you will find that we as Christians are called holy because we are saved, and then we are commanded to be holy, as in this passage. I would submit that these are two types of holiness. One is reckoned to us because we are saved, and is part of justification. The other is something that God gives us as we grow in him. That is part of sanctification. It is true that God does most of the work of sanctification, but that does not mean it happens by accident. God does not force Himself on an unwilling person, but He will work in the life of the believer so that they want Him to work in their life. Holiness is never something we achieve by our own effort.
Secondly, I have always noticed a phrase in this passage that most preachers seem to overlook. Peter says we were redeemed by the blood of Christ, and not by "corruptible" things like silver and gold. I don't know about you, but I have never thought of silver and gold as being corruptible, and I can guarantee you most of Peter's readers didn't either. But compared to Christ, even things like silver and gold are worthless. That is what a wonderful gift we have.
I kind of feel like I have been out of the habit of writing this blog and am kind of skimming the surface, but hopefully I will get back into the swing of things really soon.