Summary: Foreigners in a Foreign Land Fearing God our Father Without Being Afraid of Him
Foreigners in a Foreign Land
Fearing God our Father Without Being Afraid of Him
We are in the midst of the first of three mini series in 1 Peter. The first, “Foreigners in a Foreign Land” (1.1-2.10) we have been looking at what Peter says about our identity, our salvation, our hope, and holy living. At the end of the month we will begin a series called “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land” (2.11-4.11) and then finish in the fall with, “The Church in a Foreign Land” (4.12-5.14). Today we look at “Fearing God Without Being Afraid of Him.”
Big idea – Father God demands we live as obedient children in fear of unbelief, not not true faith, apostasy.
So far Peter has described what God has done in our lives through his sovereign grace - we are chosen by God for obedience to Christ; he has caused us to be born again to a living hope, and we are being guarded by God's power through faith. Then he gives us three commands - set our hope fully on him (13); live holy as obedient children (14) and today, conduct our lives with fear (17).
Living Life with God As Father
Have you ever wondered why you call on God as Father today or will do so tomorrow? Why are you are his child today and why you will be his child tomorrow? It is because God is sustaining us and that is the determining and decisive factor in your calling on him. To help you see this clearly, remember what he has said about the work of grace – God has set his affection on us in eternity past by choosing us for life (2); then gave he us new birth by calling us to himself through the gospel, overcoming our resistance, our ignorance, and our hard hearts (3); and he is presently keeping us, sustaining us, overcoming our weak and wayward hearts (5). As his children, he calls us obedient children but we are also commanded to be obedient.
Living Life as Obedient Children
'Conduct yourselves, live out your life with fear.' He gives two reasons for this command. First, God is not only our Father but also our judge. See the connection? “If you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds then conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” The first reason we are to live out our lives with fear is because all of us will be judged by our deeds, our works. The second reason to live out our lives with fear is because we have been ransomed from our former futile ways inherited by of our forefathers. He rescued us from slavery to sinful ways of life that we inherited from family, form culture, and from friends. This ransom was not with perishable things like gold or silver because they can never rescue us from our sin. We were rescued from our fatal and hopeless condition by the precious blood of Christ. It is precious because it is Gods own Son; it is imperishable because it is of infinite value.
Peter tells us if we call on God as Father then live in way that demonstrates or proves that God is our Father. That is, living by faith in the work of Christ has done for us – that he has caused to be born again, are dead people whom he made spiritually alive, with new desires, new delights, new treasures that produce a new and growing and transforming obedience to God. Genuine faith produces a life that is transformed away from the passions of our former ignorance (14) and shows that we have been ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers (18). We are not saved by works but works point to our hearts. Does your life display a transformed heart? Do you have a heart that is being transformed, sometimes frustratingly slow, into the character of Christ? So we are to conduct our lives with fear because God, our Father, will judge you, just as he judges all people. So live out your life with fear because you are not excluded from God's judgement and you have been delivered from your former sinful life. Warnings are one of the means or ways of God guarding us.
Living in Fear of God
What does it means live with fear? Is it reverence, awe? That is the way the NIV the Greek word but I think that clouds it's meaning because that is not the common way we use fear. Fear is a negative emotion from a perceived threat that causes us to move away from that threat. It is being so afraid of something you want to avoid it at all costs because of the threat it is to you. So I think Peter is telling us to see something as threatening our safety and run away from the threat and run to safety. What is that threat? Remember the two reasons he tells us to live in fear? First, God will judge us all impartially and second, we have been ransomed from our former futile way of life. So if we look at the two reasons Peter gives us to fear, I think he means this – live in fear that we will ignore God's judgement and live in fear that you are living in a way that shows you re not really ransomed or delivered from your former way of life. In other words, fear that you are living like an unbeliever and will face God's judgement as an unbeliever. We will talk more about this next week but here is the gist of it. If you call on God as Father then live in a way that is consistent with the radical nature of the new birth.