Summary: God wants us to be hopeful, holy and wholehearted.
Rev. Brian Bill
October 11-12, 2014
After listening to a long and drawn-out sermon, a boy walked out of the service with a big frown on his face. He had a rough morning because his dad had corrected him several times to keep him from fidgeting. Seeing his long face, one of the members came up and asked, “What’s the matter, Johnny? You look so sad.” The frustrated boy responded quickly, “I am sad. It’s hard to be happy and holy at the same time.”
Johnny speaks for many of us, doesn’t he? It’s hard to be holy and happy. Some of us think that to be holy means that one will never be happy. Others think that they have to be unholy to be happy. Actually, the way to happiness is through holiness. Or, to be more accurate, the pathway to joy is strewn with trials and struggles but the only way to get to where you want to go is through holiness.
I like what C.S. Lewis said, “How little people know who thank that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing…it is irresistible. If even ten percent of the world’s population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before a year’s end?”
Last week we discovered that since the prophets predicted salvation, the apostles proclaimed it, and the angels prize it, how can we be bored by it? Peter is helping us to see that when we suffer we must lock into our salvation. As we come to 1 Peter 1:13 the mood of the letter changes as it goes from the indicative (what is true) to the imperative (what we need to do). We see this in the very first word: “Therefore…” After establishing what it is that we believe, now we’re challenged to behave accordingly by living it out before a lost world. We could say it like this: When going through problems, remember your position in Christ and then practice what you have in Christ.
Listen. Our behavior results from what we believe about who God is and what He’s done for us. We do what we do because of who we are. We do who we are.
Since the section we’re studying is longer than in previous weeks, I want to first draw out the three main imperatives, or commands.
1. Be hopeful. We see this in verse 13: “…rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
2. Be holy. Drop down to verse 15: “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”
3. Be wholehearted. This is spelled out in the last part of verse 17: “…conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.”
We’re going to look at each of these commands and then study the supporting Scripture surrounding the imperatives. Peter doesn’t just tell us to be hopeful, holy and wholehearted; he tells us how to do so.
The first thing we’re called to do is to be hopeful in verse 13. That’s not easy to do when our society seems to be imploding and many Christians are caving in to culture. We’re called to consider the second coming of Christ when we’re being clobbered by news reports and when we’re going through personal struggles and trials: “And rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” To “rest your hope fully” means to set your hope completely, totally and utterly. Hope refers to the absolute certainty of future good. It’s the idea of eager expectation.
Someone put it like this: “Other men see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope.” Things are bad now but hang on because the best is coming. Romans 4:18 holds up the example of Abraham to help us have hope even when it seems hopeless: “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed.”
Do you see what we’re to set our hope on? We’re to focus on the grace that is coming when Jesus returns. Sometimes we get so caught up in fear about what’s happening in our world today that we forget that Jesus is coming again and when He does, He’s bringing undeserved blessings with Him…for those who are born again. I like how John Ortberg puts it: “God sees with utter clarity who we are. He is undeceived as to our warts and wickedness. But when God looks at us that is not all He sees. He also sees who we are intended to be, who we will one day become.”
Friends, I fear that many followers of Christ have lost their longing for His return. Events are lining up for the imminent rapture of believers and we should be looking for it every day. Titus 2:13 says, “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”