Summary: Sermon 4 in a study in 1 & 2 Peter
”Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 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.”
I am aware that we preachers love to make a big deal of these words when we come to them at the beginning of a chapter or a subsection of a chapter and I am aware that it may be getting a little ‘old hat’ to those of you who have to hear it.
But it really is important, if the student of the Bible is to discern the flow and the progression of thought the Spirit intended in His inspiration of it, to stop occasionally and consider what the ‘therefore’ is there for.
Nowhere is that more true than right here in 1 Peter 1:13.
So important is this word at this juncture in Peter’s address, that of all the themes I could have plucked from this portion of his letter I felt that tracing this one word, first backward and then forward had to be the best way to open the treasures contained herein.
I’ll remind you that Peter was writing to a church that was being persecuted. It had begun in Jerusalem with the stoning of Stephen.
Acts 8:2 tells us that following Stephen’s death many believers were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
It may be that many of them from other towns and regions who had come for Passover and stayed for Pentecost and had been saved, had stayed in Jerusalem for the comfort of the fellowship of other believers there. Then when the great persecution that Acts 8:2 talks about began many left for the relative safety of their remote homes.
Acts 8 mentions Judea and Samaria for whatever Luke’s purposes were, but it stands to reason that many of them were also from farther away and also continued on to their homes in the regions that Peter lists at the beginning of this letter.
Well, by the time Peter wrote, some 25-30 years had passed since those events in Jerusalem and persecution had long since followed where Christians had gone.
In addition, the Holy Spirit who inspired Peter’s letters was aware of the even greater persecution that was soon to start under the evil hand of Nero, the Emperor responsible for the burning of large sections of Rome and blaming it on the Christians.
Now that you are reminded of these things, as we go on to look more closely at our text for today keep refocusing and taking note of the great need there was for encouragement and a call for endurance and renewal of hope.
THE LETTER THUS FAR
A brief overview of what has been said to this point, backing up, if you will, and looking at the wide angle, shows us that Peter’s focus has been on the surety of their salvation.
Now I don’t know if this question has risen in your own thinking over the past few weeks. It did in mine although I have not addressed it until now.
Have you wondered why the Apostle would begin a letter identifying himself, then identifying those his letter is intended for, and then jump with both feet into the doctrine of the foreknowledge of God and the predestination of those who are His?
Let me point out here that he has not left that topic behind. He alludes to it again in verse 3 when he says the Father ‘caused us’ to be born again and everything he says after that pertaining to our security in Him and our sure future with Him is based on it.
Then after making these matter-of-fact statements establishing the sovereignty of God in setting the believers aside to Himself through obedience to Jesus Christ he goes on to talk about the ‘living hope’ that we have been given and an imperishable inheritance protected for us in heaven.