Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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We Are Receivers

September 14th, 2008 by Vic

Bible Reference:
1 Peter 1:3-16

Peter was writing his letter to people who were suffering.  It is not easy to praise God when we are hurting.  The verb ‘pascho’, (to suffer) occurs 12/42 times in Peter so many commentaries suggest ‘suffering’ as the theme of Peter.  However, the word ‘charis’, (grace) also occurs 12 times in Peter and I think God provides a grace for every suffering.  I think the majesty of God is the theme of Peter.  Peter uses the word ‘doxa’, glory 16 times and the word ‘doxadzo’, glorify 5 times.  If you are looking for a theme in Peter, look at the glory of God.

In the first couple verses Peter says we are who we are where we are because of God’s foremost knowledge.  From God’s point of view believers are his children through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We have some reasons to praise.

1:3  You are born again.  Praise God for His great mercy who made us spiritually alive.  It is the foremost knowledge and mercy, the very nature of God that allows you to know Him and have salvation.  It is His nature that impelled Him to reveal Himself to us.  He loves us because of His nature, not because we deserve it.

God, impelled by His foremost knowledge and abundant mercy, has provided salvation, a once and for all time provision.  The provision has been made and remains made.  A grammar suggests a past event with present consequences.  God has provided salvation in Jesus Christ and it does not have an expiration date.  It has no drop dead date.

Believers have a hope living because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have spiritual life.  Our perspective of what is happening in the world should now be more accurate.  We realize that we are part of God’s story.  History is His story.  It is not about me.  We do not add God to our pretend story.  The now finds reality in history and the future hope.

1:4  Peter is comparing our salvation to an inheritance.  Here is another reason to rejoice even though you are suffering.  Our inheritance is described by 3 words, each beginning with an ‘a’ prefix.  There is some literary alliteration in the Greek.  Literally Peter says our inheritance in not corruptible, not spoilable, not witherable.

Peter has used the preposition ‘unto’ 3 times, the ‘a’ prefix 3 times.  Peter calls 3 things precious in his letter.  Peter denied Christ 3 times.  Also Peter uses this word incorruptible 3 times.  For Peter there are 3 things that can never be destroyed:  our inheritance, the seed of our new birth (1:23) and the Spiritual clothing we wear (3:4).

The 2nd word to describe our inheritance is literally unstainable or unspoilable.  In contrast to some earthly treasures, no one can write graffiti on ours.  No vandals can mess it up.

The 3rd word to describe our inheritance is associated with flowers.  Unlike the flower, our inheritance will not wither and fade.  It is exempt from the curse of this world.  There is a grace and beauty of our inheritance that is indestructible.  The changes of this world cannot touch our inheritance.

So what is our inheritance?  Why is our salvation compared to our inheritance?  According to Ps. 16:5; 73:23-26, and Lam. 3:24, God himself is our inheritance.  He is our salvation.  His Spirit is the earnest money.  The greatest gift He could give us is Himself.  Rom 6:23 reminds us that our inheritance is the gift of God, Himself.

1:5  You and your inheritance are shielded by God

The result of our shielding is our salvation.  The primitive meaning for the word salvation was ‘roomy or plenty of space’.  To be without salvation was to be locked up or held captive.  To experience salvation was to have ample space in which to move about.  To be saved then meant to be delivered with the help of a third party.  So our translations use the word to mean deliverance: maybe from sin, maybe from uncleanness, but here from the limitations of this world.  God will protect us until our final deliverance from the limitations of this world.  Jesus came to set the captives free.

1:6-7  You are tested.  Verses 6&7 give us some insight into why Christians suffer.

Peter describes the trials as many-colored.  This word is used one other time in 4:10 to describe God’s grace for each of us.  We have many-colored trials and God gives us a many-colored grace.  This word does not emphasize the number of trials, but the diversity of the trials.  Whatever color trial that life throws at us, God has a grace to match.

There is a difference between testing and tempting.  God does not tempt any one.  We are tempted when we are drawn away by our own lusts and Satan tries to prove that we are not true.  God uses testing to prove that we are true.  Tempting is kind of like taking ore to the assayer’s office to see if there is really gold in it.  Testing is like taking the ore to the refinery to purify it after you know there is gold in it for sure.

He also calls 3 things precious in his letters: our faith (1:7), the blood of Jesus (1:17), and the promises of God (II Peter 1:4).  Our faith is very precious, of great value, of greater worth than any earthy gold.  I count all things but loss to gain Christ.

1:8-9  You are rejoicing with a “super great” joy.

1:10-11  The word Peter uses for the prophets searching is the same word used when Peter runs to the empty tomb of Jesus, stoops down and looks inside.  It suggests looking upon a wonderful sight.  We began this study with a burst of praise from Peter as he beheld the majesty of God and we finish with angels looking on the majesty.

1:12  The word ‘ministering’ or serving is only used 2 times by Peter, here in 12a and 4:10.  Here he says the prophets were not serving themselves, but others.  In 4:10 Peter says as Christians we receive a grace to serve others.  As the prophets served us we are to serve others.  No one has been given a grace to serve himself.  The prophets received to serve others.  We receive to serve.  No one is saved to sit.  We are saved to serve.  Contrary to popular opinion Christians should not attend church meetings to get something out of them, but to build someone else up.

1:13  Verse 13 begins “Therefore” in view of the fact of all God’s blessings, because of everything God has done, because of how great God is, the following admonition is reasonable.

Gird up for yourselves” your thought life.  Prepare your mind for service.  Another form of this same word is used of Jesus when He put a towel around His waist in preparation for washing the disciples’ feet.  And in John 21:7 Peter gird himself before he met Jesus.

Long robes are cool, but not easy to run in and they would get in the way when you were working.  So before you did some activity, you must tuck your robe up into your belt so you had more freedom of movement.  In the OT, the night before the children of Israel left Egypt, they were commanded to keep their robes ‘gird up’ during the Passover so they would be ready for deliverance.  God was making their deliverance possible, but there were some things they were expected to do.  Let’s prepare to obey our God.  This is a mature attitude that says because God loves me,  I will discipline my body in these areas.   God has made our salvation and holiness possible, but there are some things we are expected to do.

It is not physical preparation that Peter is talking about; it is mental.  He is not just talking about our minds, but the loins of our minds.  We can prepare them for active service.

The tense of this verb suggests a once and for all time act.  We prepare our minds once.  Peter treats this as a God-expected obligation on our part to get rid of everything that would impede free activity (worry, fear, jealousy, hate, unforgiveness, etc.).  At a point in time, once and for all time, you can choose to follow Jesus completely.  You can make a total commitment to God and allow Him to purify your heart and mind by faith.

What are the loins of our mind?  Loins are the normal place you put the control for long robes.  Our loins are the place of our reproductive organs.  The source of new life.

The metaphor then is the reproductive part of the mind.  Our private thoughts.  The very source of our thoughts.  We are to control the looseness of our minds.  We do not let it go with the flow, nor do we do what feels good.  Meditation and spiritual formation in the emerging church is on thin ice.  Peter says we are to control our thoughts.

Keep being self-controlled” in your spirit (13b).  Don’t let your mind become intoxicated with changing fashions or sudden enthusiasm or excess passion.  Keep a calm and collected spirit.  There are many opiates which make us drowsy and sleepy.  Keep spiritually alert.  Don’t be addicted to information, to TV, shopping, email, text messaging, digital games, music, sports, etc.

“Fasten your hope in a mature manner on the grace (gift) that is being brought to you (13c).”

Literally this begins, ‘perfectly hope’.  In verse 3 Peter had said our new birth would give us a living hope.  Now he talks about a fully developed hope.  This hope is to be centered on the standard of grace.  This grace comes to us as Jesus is revealed in our hearts.  This is the way to prevent moral cancer.  My hope is built on Jesus, the grace, the beauty of God, the glory of God.

Like the parable of the mustard seed, as we allow God to work in our lives, we see more of Him revealed and to see Him is to receive grace.  To receive grace precipitates a growing hope.

My hope is not based on me, but on Jesus.  Peter mentions grace in verses 2 & 10.  He prayed that grace would be multiplied in my life and the prophets saw that a grace would be available to me in Jesus Christ.  As we see Jesus more and more, we receive more grace and because of this gift of God I hope completely.  My hope is built from grace to grace.  This is our vaccination against moral cancer.  We stay morally healthy by fixing our eyes on Jesus and His grace.  We will not sin while our hope is fixed on Jesus.  Only Jesus is beautiful and attractive.  Don’t let your vision get cloudy.

In I Peter 5:12, Peter says that his purpose in writing this letter is to encourage the Christians and identify the true grace so they will seek and stand in true grace, not false grace.

Grace to the Greek meant outward beauty and blessing.  Apparently there were some in the church saying, “If you are a Christian, you will not suffer.”  “God will heal you if you have enough faith.”  “If you really believe, you can ask for anything and God will give it.”  “You can have a big house, 3 cars, a big boat, etc.”  Maybe you have heard this false grace proclaimed.  It looks at the visible.

Peter is just reminding us that true grace comes with Jesus, not with riches.  Your suffering may be a sign of God’s blessing.  God’s beauty is different from man’s beauty.  God’s grace is the beauty of holiness.

1:14  “As children characterized by obedience…”  We are children of the Father we obey.  John says, “We can be sure we know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, ‘I know him’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.  This is how we know we are in him.” (I John 2:3-5).

In contrast to the world, we are children characterized by obedience.  In verse 22 Peter suggests we live holy lives by obeying the Truth and we begin our holy life by obedience.

Note Peter’s logic here.  Verse 13 says because of God’s great faithfulness and plan of salvation, we should 1) gird our minds, 2) be sober, 3) hope fully.  Now in 14 he gives us a command because we are God’s children.  God has done His part, now as His children we must do our part.

Because we are obedient children, let’s look like obedient children.  (metamorphaw vs. metaskematidzw)  Don’t disguise yourself to look like the world around you.  Don’t let your outward appearance give a different image than your heart appearance.  You are a child of God.  You have been born again.  Your appearance should reflect your nature.  Your habits, mannerisms, dress, speech, expressions, and life style should reflect your new nature.  People should be able to see Jesus in you.  Don’t wear the costume of this world.

Your ignorance had you living in evil desires.  Your knowledge now of God allows you to live righteous lives.

1:15 “But” in contrast to your former lives, you can live after the pattern that God has set.  He is the standard.  “alla kata” is a strong contrasting ‘but’ followed by the standard.  But according to the standard of the one who has called you, Be holy!

God speaks to man.  He has invited us to live holy lives.  Because our Father, the one who has called us, is holy, we should be holy in all we do, in our behavior.

Peter is talking here to Christians.  In 1:1-2 he stated our salvation and sanctification from God’s point of view and later in this letter he refers to our experiences with God.  But here Peter is concerned about our life style.  We may claim to be saved and sanctified, but if our life style is no different from the world we are deceived and lost.

Many Christians believe in holiness, but one who hears and does nothing about it is like the foolish builder.  His life will be wrecked in the storm.  Let’s look at this word ‘behavior’.  It is very important to Peter.

Behavior” is also translated conversation, or manner of life.  This is a very popular word with Peter.  It is only used 13 times in the NT and Peter uses it 8 of those times.  Peter is concerned about your way of life, your behavior.  He emphasizes that every kind, every variety, all our behavior should be holy because our Father is holy.

Those who at one time were wholly controlled by their evil desires, have through salvation been born again.  Now the command is to let our way of life reflect the nature of our heart.

1:16

And it is more than just Peter’s logic that demands we should live holy lives.  It has been written in Scripture and it stands written still today.  “Be all of you holy ones because I am holy”.  God has commanded holiness.

Now try to apply this scripture to your life.  A holy man will be oppressed by sin.  The main thought is the last part of verse 15.  “Be holy in all you do, in your way of life.”  Be different from the standards of this world.  God called Abraham to raise up a holy nation.  God calls each parent and each potential parent today to raise up a holy nation.

You received salvation through the sprinkling of blood.  You continue to receive grace as you allow Jesus to work in your life.  So gird up your minds, control the source of your thoughts.  There are some things you must do to appropriate deliverance, but at the same time it is all of God.  (I Thes. 5:23-24)

We are called to be like our God.  Holy means separate, free, creative, pure, clean, without blame.  In our spirits we can be at peace with the eternal.  In our minds eye we can enjoy a taste of timelessness.

Peter connects obedience closely with holiness.  Whatever other words you want to add, the command here is plain.  We are commanded to be like our heavenly Father.  That involves a commitment to discipline our mind, our emotions, and our hopes.  It involves a daily walk of obedience.  You are like the god you serve.

A holy life will be a contrast to the world.  Christians are different.  They can be morally healthy.  The world around is dying with moral cancer.  God provided a cure.  He provided a kidney transplant.  He provided a heart/life transplant.  God created a perfect world, but all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  We are born morally sick.  We are born to die.  We are born with a terminal disease.  But we can be born again.  We can be born spiritually healthy.  We can be born to live.

God called Abraham and He is calling each one of us.  Just as you have told you children to be good according to your standard, so God is commanding all His children to be holy.

Just like Abraham God is calling you to be holy in all your behavior.  God is calling you to raise up a holy nation.

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