Preached by Pastor Benjamin Vrbicek
Last week, Jason began our 9-week study through the letter of 1 Peter, a series we’re calling “Hope in the Midst of Hostility.” Before we put our passage on the screen and read it, let me explain one phrase.
Peter writes in v. 13, “preparing your minds for action.” The King James Version keeps closer to the original with, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind.” What does that mean?
It’s a particular idiom, a particular culture metaphor, that’s lost on us. Back in the day you might have worn a long, flowing robe and if you had some work to do, if you needed to get after it, than you would pull up your robe and tuck it into your belt. That’s what it meant to gird up your loins.
Peter means it as a metaphor. He says, take the bathrobe of your mind, and make it into running shorts. Make your mind not flabby and hindered but lean, agile, ready to run.
We might just say, put on your thinking caps. But how ever we say it, Peter was not kidding. I’ve never had a more difficult time outlining the flow of thought through a passaging of Scripture, not because it wasn’t clear, but because it was so rich and so layered. But if you I and will do this, if we’ll grind up our loins, it’s going to be good.
If you have a Bible, please follow along with me as I read 1 Peter 1:13-25 (page 1162).
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. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the 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.
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
This is God’s Word. Pray with me that he would be our teacher. Dear Heavenly Father, …
What if you were about to sell your home and you had thought it was worth about $50k (let’s just say). But when you had your home apprised, you learned, “O, it’s not worth $50k but $500k.”
Wow, that’s different. And if you’re sitting in your living room when you get that phone call, at that point, no cash has changed hands. Your house has not been sold. But something did change. You understand the true worth of this thing you’re living in. All of a sudden, your mood is different. Happy isn’t the right word.
But this change in your understanding of the value home, doesn’t just change your mood. It’s going to change actions. “Hey kids, stop coloring on the walls, this is a 500k house. Let’s treat it this way.” “Hey, sweetie, I’m gonna mow the yard and use that little edger thing-y I’ve never used before.” You learn the value and actions change.
That’s what’s going on in this passage!
As Christians, sometimes we don’t have the proper appraisal of the cost of our redemption. Sometimes we don’t know how rich we are in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And therefore, we lack in joy. Therefore, we lack in obedience. Peter doesn’t want that. God doesn’t want that.
Jason preached a wonderful message last week about the hope that Christians have in the gospel. He pointed out that the first 12 verses of 1 Peter could be summed up like this: If you are a Christian, then on a journey… a journey home… a journey to an nbelievable home…
That was last week. The first word of this week’s passage is “therefore.”
It’s as though Peter is saying, the home appraiser just called and you got a mansion not a shack. Therefore, treat it that way.
When rightly understood all Christian living—all obedience to Jesus Christ—can be summed up in one word: therefore.
But how shall we best see this in the passage? Well, I said at the start, this passage is layered and rich and hard to outline, at least it was for me. But I think the best way to show what I’m talking about it so come at this in two points. First point: This is true of you… And then I’ll show four things. Second point: Therefore… and then I’ll four things. This is true… therefore.
1. This is true
But a better way to say this might be: Peter’s got your appraisal, Christian. Let’s let him walk us through four rooms to show how rich we are in the gospel.
First room. This is true of you, Christian: Your redemption is not boring. It’s exciting. It should make us curious to know more. To show this point I want to dip back into Jason’s passage from last week. Let me read vv. 3b-5, and 10-12.
3 …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.
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.
Your salvation wasn’t boring to prophets or angels. Prophets longed to understand it better. Angles longed to see it better. If what Jesus has done for you is boring, then you haven’t seen it or understood it.
Let’s go to another room in this gospel house.
This is true of you: you no longer have to live in futility, especially the futility inherited from your parents and their parents and their parents.
Let’s put up v. 18.
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,
Look at this gospel room. Do you see what it says? “Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers.” What does that mean?
It means that if your father was a drunk—just as his father was a drunk—it means you don’t have to be. In the gospel, there is power to change.
And it means that if your father was a womanizer, you don’t have to be.
And if you come from a line of raciest, bigots, the gospel gives you the power to change.
And it means that if you grew up in a home where your parents fought and fought and fought, and “I hate you,” and “I’m getting a divorce,” and “I wish you were dead.” That type of home. It means the gospel can ransom you from the futile ways you’ve inherited.
And it means that if you grew up with a mother that thought the only way to be beautiful was to look like the cover of Cosmo, a slave to outward appearance, just like her mother and her mother—and now that pressure is killing you—it means, in the gospel, you don’t have die this way. In the gospel, God loves you as you are. He made you. He loves.
And being ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers means most certainly (especially in Peter’s context) that you don’t have to be a mere “church goer.” You know what I mean, right? You don’t have to be another church going legalist who’s boring and lame and has no passion, no joy, and no salvation. Rather, in the gospel, you can be a part of true Christianity, the only religion that has life and salivation.
I could keep going. But let’s look at another room in the house.
This is true of you: your redemption is not cheap. Let’s up vv. 18-19.
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Verse 18 has the word “ransom.” Some of you will have in your versions “redemption” instead. Same idea. The idea is that for you to be saved, you had to be purchased. You were a sinner enslaved to sin and God’s wrath was upon you, but now God has bought you. He ransomed; he redeemed.
And it wasn’t cheap. It was precious. It cost the Son of God his life. He was like a lamb lead to the slaughter on the cross and when he died, he spilled his blood; and each drop of his blood was worth more than all of the gold and silver in the world.
Speaking of gold and silver, did you notice what he said about silver and gold? Peter called them “perishable.” He did the same thing in v. 7. We don’t often think of metal this way, as something with a shelf-life, something that expires (cf. the half-life of uranium). I think of cheese this way. I think of a block of pepper jack cheese sitting in the sun on a summer day as something perishable. If you find a block of opened cheese in your drive way in July, throw it away. It’s perishable. If you take the long view, silver and gold are like that, Peter says. Silver is like moldy cheese. But the blood of Christ is not. It’s precious. And in v. 20 he writes that it’s for you.
Let’s keep going. One more room.
This is true of you: the Word of God that is planted in you when you become a Christian is not grass. What God did in you is not here to day and gone tomorrow. It’s a forever-thing. Let me read vv. 23-25 where Peter quotes the prophet Isaiah (40:6, 8):
23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
Christian, your salvation is not going to wither or fall. The gospel says that though you and this earthy body are like grass and you will wither, know this: the word of God that is planted in you and that saves you, is eternal. In the gospel, your salvation will never perish. It’s imperishable. You don’t have to fear when your body is failing and your career didn’t become what you thought it would be and your children aren’t famous. No, your best days are yet to come. You’re on a journey to an unbelievable home.
Well, I said at the start, that I wanted to show you what Peter says is true of you; I wanted to give you a proper appraisal of this gospel-house. It’s not boring, not futile, not cheap, and not grass. But Peter does not stop here. There is another word: therefore.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and Christian during World War II. He’s famous for a number of things. Bonhoeffer was famous because was not in Germany at the time things began to escalate in Germany, but he chose to back because he believed that if he was to have a part in healing the country after the war, he needed to be there during it. That’s bold.
And Bonhoeffer’s famous because he lost his life because he opposed Hitler, even becoming involved in an assignation attempt against Hitler.
And he’s famous for coining the term “cheap grace.” Have you heard of this? The idea is that if we received all these good things from God but if they do not change us, and if they do not require us to live any differently, then that grace is cheap. It’s not real. Real grace, Bonhoeffer would say, requires a change; it requires the cost of discipleship. Real grace, has—in the words of our passage—a therefore. In other words, if you really believed your house when from 50k to 500k, then there must be a change; there must be a therefore.
In this passage, I see four changes, four therefore, that must be produced in us. Let’s look at them.
The first is in v. 13.
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.
Here, we are supposed to hope. We are to hope fully—not half hope or quarter hope, but hope fully and competently—in what? What does it say? Hope fully in “the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Do you do that? Do you have as your greatest and most awesome hope the hope of being with Jesus when he returns? Or have you received a salvation into which angels long to look and you, we’ll you’re not really all that excited about it.
I feel this sting. I feel the difficulty of this first “therefore”; it’s at odds with the American Dream. And people and companies spend billions of dollars to get us to believe that this life is all that we have to hope for and so we should make the most of now. Don’t buy it.
The next therefore, is the call to holiness. Let me read vv. 14-16.
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Peter is quoting from several passages in the Old Testament book of Leviticus (11:44, 45; 19:2, 20:7; 20:26). People often laugh at the book of Leviticus. Don’t laugh at Leviticus. Peter didn’t.
What point is he making? The point he’s making is that God is the standard. He defines holiness. He determines what is right and what is wrong.
Notice the phrase, “be holy in all of your conduct” in v. 15. This is comprehensive language. If we were talking about a house, we might say, Don’t be holy just in the living room. Don’t be holy just in the places that others can see you. Be holy in every room of your house.
You’ve seen the show on HGTV called Love It or List It, right? Some of you. Well, on that show, Hillary only works on 30% of the house. Invariably, she’ll say to the home owners, “O, that room? We didn’t have time/money/interest to fix that part.” Translation: the “therefore” doesn’t extend to that room.
Not so with Christ. He wants all rooms rehabbed.
What rooms are you not letting God in? If he followed you for a week, where would you ask him to wait in a chair while you took care of “business”?
Therefore, we must fear appropriately. What do I mean by this? Let’s read the verse first.
17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
What does it mean to fear appropriately? Some of your versions will have the word reverence. I think that’s helpful. The way we fear God is by revering him. We should be in awe of God.
In the Bible, whenever someone came in contact with an angel, they were appropriately afraid. This summer, as we looked at Judges 13, Jason pointed out that this is exactly what happened to Samson’s parents. We are not talking about an angel. We’re talking about standing before God.
This verse speaks of a future judgment. That’s a weighty thing. It’s not light and whimsical. It’s a heavy reality. Now, in Christ, we are safe from that, but that doesn’t mean walking with God becomes light and chipper and flimsy. Peter is saying there should be gravity to the way we conceive of God.
Back in the day, I had a short career designing fire protections systems for buildings. In the course of the job, I would often have to test fire pumps, the things that pumped water to the tops of high-rise buildings. I won’t go into the specifics, but when you tested the older models, it required reaching into the guts of the electrical components. (Picture opening a bookcase full of wiring.) I hated this. There was a danger to it. Now, we wore special gloves for protection and I knew I was safe, but there was a weight to the process, a healthy fear. It was a good thing. I think Peter is saying something like this.
There’s probably more to be said, but I’ll just ask you if you have lost your fear, your awe, your wonder, your perception of the holiness of God? If so, ask God to give it back.
Finally, the last “therefore” is love earnestly. Let me read vv. 22-23.
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
Do you see how this command to love earnestly is sandwiched between two statements about what is true. Peter says, “this is true” / “therefore” / “this is true.”
That’s the way to do Christian teaching. And the therefore here is that Jew and Gentiles must love each other. It was a big deal in the early church, and it was hard for Peter to understand when he first became a Christian (cf. Gal. 2; Acts 10-11).
In our context, we’re not so much worried about Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians loving each other. We have other big categories. But let’s just leave the “big things” for a moment and talk about can we even do the small things.
I used to work with a pastor that would say that the way to measure the health of a church was how long people stayed after church. If they left quickly, not healthy. I don’t care when you leave today. One Sunday doesn’t matter. But what if you took the radical approach to say, Yeah, I know church starts at such-and-such a time and ends at such-and-such a time, but I’m going to plan to come consistently 15 min before that and stay 15 min after that for the sole purpose of loving earnestly.
We want to talk about big things like racial harmony—and I want that! I want to be more diverse!—but can we even just stay after church to chat with someone who wasn’t born in the same decade as us?
And can we risk asking someone, “Hi, are you new?” when they might say, “I’m not new; I’ve been here for 10 months, just at a different service.” Can we risk that?
So there’s the sermon. I hope you had your loins grided that whole time. Let me close with a story. Years ago, my wife and I sold our home when we were moving. I thought it was worth X (and so did our realtor), so we tried to sell it for X.
However, this just after the market crash a few years ago. And in reality, we found out the hard way (and way too late!) that our house was not worth X, but rather half-of-X.
That hurt. When I found out, I remember not being able to think or breathe, like someone had used a vacuum to suck the air out of my body.
If you’re not a Christian and you spent your life living for yourself, that’s what it will be like for you when you stand before God. Your silver will look like moldy cheese.
However, if you are a Christian, it will be the exact opposite. Peter writes to you to say that you think your house with worth X, but really, it’s worth so, so, so much more.
You are on a journey home… a journey to an unbelievable home… a home that’s not boring, not futile, not cheap, not grass. Therefore, Christians, set you hope fully on this. And rejoice. You have a bright future.