1 Peter 1:13 ~ 20081012~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
1/12 1 Peter 1:13 fixing hope on future grace
1: 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
3 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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 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. 8 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 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.
13 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.
1:13 dio anazwsamenoi tav osfuav thv dianoiav umwn nhfontev teleiwv elpisate epi thn feromenhn umin carin en apokaluqei ihsou cristou
We saw in the last verses how God's glory is put on display before the whole universe - prophets, evangelists, even angels; and you -you who are the recipients of this great salvation.
Verses 1-12 lay the theological foundation for everything that follows. Peter has packed into these twelve verses massive truth about God's work of redemption in our lives as a ground for joy and worship. Now, in verse thirteen, he gives the first imperative command to his readers. And the command is connected inextricably with everything that went before. Verse thirteen is the hinge on which the whole letter turns. If you have a door with a hinge and the hinge isn't anchored securely in the door frame, when you try to open the door, the door will fall on you. Peter is going to begin to give instructions to his readers, but he has spent twelve verses making sure their action is anchored securely in the truth. Because of the joy that you have in Jesus, because the Triune God is at work securing your salvation, because God by his power is ensuring that you make it to receive the inheritance that he is keeping for you, therefore you do this; therefore live like this. It is essential to see the connection here. If we rip these following verses out of their grammatical connection with what precedes, we rip the door off its hinges and we run the disastrous risk of turning this into a way for us to impress God by our own performance and win his favor, rather than seeing our holiness as a result of God's grace and power, as a response to God's love in Christ. In the bible what God has done for us is always the basis for how we should live our lives; the way we conduct ourselves is the outworking of what God has initiated. The word 'therefore' may be the most important word in the whole letter to keep us from twisting what Peter said and using it for something that he never meant.
Now we need to look for a minute at the basic sentence structure so that we can fit the parts together and see what Peter is telling us. There is one imperative, one command in this verse; it is 'hope!' We are commanded to hope. And we are given the object of hope; it is 'grace'. And this is a specific kind of grace; it is a future grace - a grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. There are two participial clauses that precede the main command that tell us how to hope; you hope in future grace by 'preparing your minds for action' and by 'being sober-minded'.
So we will start by looking at what it is we are commanded to do, then we will look at what it is we are hoping in, and we will finish up by looking at Peter's practical instructions on how we are to go about obeying the command.
First, the command - hope! Thou shalt hope. A definition might be helpful here. Merriam-Webster defines hope: 1. to cherish a desire with anticipation; to desire with expectation of obtainment; and lists synonyms trust, expect or look to. Biblical hope has nothing to do with wishing about something that is highly unlikely. Biblical hope is banking on the promises of a faithful God. Biblical hope ties together the concepts of belief and joy. In order to hope, you must have something to ignite that hope within you. That's what I hope the first twelve verses have done in us. We were going along, minding our own business, and we heard God's word, God speaking, and God's promises ignited hope in our hearts. If God is trustworthy and keeps his promises, then these things that I read are not only the truth, but they will prove true in my life! This is cause for great joy! If it is true that I am chosen by God, if it is true that God loves me intimately, that the Holy Spirit is at work in me to set me apart for his use, if even the suffering that I am faced with is God at work refining and purifying my faith, if I believe and embrace this truth, I cannot do it with an Eeyore attitude: 'oh bother, I suppose it's true, God has picked me to be on his team, he is using his awesome power to preserve me and he has an inheritance waiting for me beyond my wildest dreams. Has anyone seen my tail?' You can't do that! Hope not only embraces the facts as true, but there is a response of joyful expectation and eager longing. Hope is belief in the truth mixed with joyful expectation. Hope is more than merely waiting for something. Hope would not be the best word to choose if you are waiting for your root canal. Dread might be a more appropriate word for that situation - you have embraced the fact that your tooth is rotten and the drill is ready, but you are not looking forward to the procedure. Hope is looking forward to something. Hope is believing with joyful expectation. The bible uses hope almost interchangeably with believing or saving faith.
What is it we are commanded to place our hope in? 'Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.' The focus of our hope is to be God's future grace. This is what Peter has already spoken of. In verse 3 God caused us to be born again to a living hope. In verse 4, we have an inheritance kept in heaven for us. In verse 5, we are being guarded by God's power for our salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In verses 6 and 7, we see that our trials will result in God giving us praise and honor and glory in the end because our faith will have proved genuine. In verse 8 our love for Jesus and joy in Jesus is evidence of our genuine faith, and in verse 9, we will obtain the outcome of our faith and that will be the final salvation of our souls. Here, he sums up all that and calls it 'the grace that will be brought to you'. I can't take credit for my new birth, because God caused me to be born again. I can't take credit for my genuine faith, because it is a gift of God and God is proving it genuine. I can't take credit for my persevering to the end, because God in his power is at work in me enabling me to persevere to the end. And the outcome of my faith will be my final salvation and yet I cannot take any credit - it is all grace - God brought it about. So here's what we are commanded to do: we are commanded to put our hope fully in God's grace. We are to lean hard into what God is going to do, put our full weight on God's future grace that is coming to us. What you are commanded to do is to depend completely on God doing the work to bring you to salvation in the end.
Isn't it funny, that the first command in Peter's letter is to hope? Thou shalt hope. I would expect something hard, like thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, or thou shalt love your enemies, or thou shalt not want what somebody else has. Peter is telling us the most natural thing in the world to for us to do in light of what he's said, and he is commanding us to do it. When I see the amazing promises of God to me, and I read what God is doing in me, and I hear of the purpose he has for me, that he will not forsake me but will be faithful to bring me to completion, hope is automatically ignited in my heart - isn't it in yours? So why does Peter feel he has to command us to hope in grace? I may have to command my kids to eat their Brussels sprouts, but I don't think I will ever have to say 'you're not getting up from the table until you've finished all your ice cream.' Why command what we are now inclined to do? I think we see a few reasons implied right here in the text. The first one is in the description he gives of how we are to hope - he says hope fully or hope perfectly. Our hope is naturally flawed and fickle and divided. I am hoping in God and in the government. I am trusting in Jesus and in my 401K. I am delighting in God's promises and in my new toy. I am looking forward to heaven and to our next vacation. My affections are divided. It takes effort to re-calibrate your hope. We are used to having our hope set on things and people and money and security and events, we hope in our job and our family and our strength and abilities, we hope in our retirement and in the natural goodness of people and the capability of mankind and medicine and technological advances; and it takes conscious effort to move our hope off of those things and set it fully on grace. We are to fix our hope completely - not partially; not 50% or 80% or 95% but fully, perfectly on grace.
Peter's focus here is a specific kind or aspect of grace. Paul in Ephesians 2 tells us that it is 'by grace you have been saved'. That is past tense grace for past tense salvation. In Romans 5 he says 'since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God'. Peter is looking toward the 'grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ' God's grace toward us in justification is awesome! God's grace in pardoning sinners through the cross of Christ is unimaginably great! But that's not all! There's more to come! God has not exhausted his gracious purposes toward us!
There is grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ! Let me read a description of the revelation of Jesus Christ:
We will stand before this Jesus in the presence of all the angels in heaven and he will acknowledge us before the Father; he will say:
That's grace worth hoping for!
So we've looked at the main command of this verse: hope! And we've looked at the object of this hope - God's future grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Now we're going to look at the two participial phrases that give us the how of hoping. This gives us more insight into why Peter thought it was necessary to command us to hope. 'Preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded'. 'Preparing your minds for action' could be literally translated 'girding up the loins of your mind'. It's an Old Testament metaphor that anyone in that culture would readily connect with. The standard clothing would be a long undershirt with a long robe flowing down to the ground. This is great for lounging around discussing philosophy and looking good, but it's not so great if you need to dig a ditch or run a race. In preparation for those kind of activities, they would 'gird up their loins' - this meant taking all the loose tails of their robe and tucking them up into their belt so that their legs would be bare and unencumbered for vigorous action.;
This would be the equivalent of 'roll up your sleeves and tighten your belt' – get ready for God to show up and be prepared to respond with instant obedience.
Peter applies this metaphor to their thinking. You have to cut off vague loosely flowing thoughts and speculations that lead nowhere and only trip you up and hinder your obedience. Bare the muscles of your mind and get ready to engage all your thinking capacity. 'Hope will not become a reality without disciplined thinking... Thinking in a new way does not happen automatically; it requires effort, concentration, and intentionality' (Schreiner, p.78). Fixing hope on future grace requires focused mental exertion.
And he says 'being sober-minded'. In order to fix your hope on future grace, your mind cannot be inebriated. You will need all your mental faculties. This of course would include not being drunk with alcohol, but would also extend to anything that distorts your thinking and shifts your hope. 'There is a way of living that becomes dull to the reality of God, that is anesthetized by the attractions of this world. When people are lulled into such drowsiness, they lose sight of Christ's future revelation of himself and concentrate only on fulfilling their earthly desires' (Schreiner, p.79). We must gird up the loins of our mind, and we must keep from becoming inebriated by the attractions of the world so that we can fix our hope fully on God's future grace.
Maybe we can better understand how to fix our hope on future grace by seeing an illustration of it in the bible. Let's look at Paul's attitude toward the Corinthian church. The church at Corinth was a train wreck. There was blatant sexual immorality of the most perverse kind accepted by the church. They were a lawsuit-happy church; there were divisions in the church. They were a church that embraced false doctrine. They had turned against Paul and his ministry. They abused the Lord's Supper and misused the gifts of the Spirit. Their meetings did more harm than good. They were a church completely out of control that needed strong rebuke and correction. Listen to the way Paul addresses them:
It is amazing that Paul can find anything good to say about the Corinthians. He starts by giving thanks for past grace, and then he expresses his confidence in God's future grace for them:
This is a church that is guilty guilty guilty! And Paul looks forward to the grace that will be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ, and says that God will sustain them guiltless. Paul is expressing his confident expectation, not in the character of the Corinthian people, but in the faithfulness of God who called them. Paul's faith is fixed completely on God's future grace.