April is L-Plate month, where I’ve turned over this website to my students. They are studying an introductory preaching subject this semester, and writing for this website is part of their assessment, as well as a learning exercise for them. I’m hoping you’ll interact with them a bit via the comments function at the bottom of each post, offering some feedback. (Particularly, feedback that’s constructive or affirming – they’ve got me to deliver the negative stuff! Remember, some of them will never have preached before, and some have English as their second language.) They will then incorporate this feedback in a sermon they present in class at the end of semester.
We continue today in 1 Peter.
1 Peter 1:13-21 | Diplave Pokhrel
Diplave is from Nepal, and is presently studying with us here in Australia. When he talks about persecution in this post, be reminded that this is a little closer to home for him and his culture of origin, than with most of us who are reading it!
Hi to everyone reading Coffee with the King, and welcome to 1 Peter 1:13-21 today…1:13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Like the excitement of completing an impossible task of finding hidden treasure in the Antarctic ice, the joy of finding that impossible treasure is at hand! Sometimes in our everyday reading we may fail to see the treasure of this passage. Let us take the journey of finding the Antarctic treasure, which could be missed easily. We may have this treasure in our account or could have if anyone wants it.
The passage starts with word “therefore” shows us a new section – a change of the mood – so we have to read back to understand. In the previous passage we see the writer is congratulating to those who possess the “Antarctic treasure”, the “living hope of salvation in Christ Jesus” (v3) . In the living hope of salvation the church is greatly rejoicing even in times of suffering.
Their faith is being more refined and proven genuine, because of what they have believed; and they hold the “living hope of salvation in Christ Jesus”, which was foretold through the prophets, and even the angels are very much interested in watching the work of God in salvation, and long for it.
Therefore, verse 13 tells us not to be unprepared but always be ready to live with obedience in Christ Jesus, by being self-controlled; not to live in disobedience, living life in ignorance of God, but rather called to be holy. This is because the Lord who gives this “living hope” is himself Holy. As Barth Campbell writes, in verses 13-16 Peter has suggested a three-step plan of action:
- Set all your hope on grace
- Prepare your minds for action
- Discipline yourselves
It seems to me it is very applicable for us today: we who hold the living hope of salvation in Christ Jesus are also called to live a life of holiness in obedience to God because the Lord who calls us is holy!
Without a doubt for the first readers of this message it was very much guiding and encouraging in times of hardship – when Rome demanded worship be given to its emperor and opposed Christians worshiping the resurrected Christ. Even if the persecution they faced was not official Roman persecution, they would also have experienced rejection because they did not live by the social norms of the day. In the same way for us today, we might not face the direct persecution from our government – although there still is in many parts of the world, where many brother and sisters are in persecution and are killed simply because they worship the God who is unseen in the resurrected Christ.
In these situations, we are called to be encouraged, and hold on to this “living hope.” This living hope does not die even though the body dies. Christians are called not to hold revenge in times of hardships or persecutions but are called to live their lives as foreigners in the land, by honouring God and hating evil as they hold the hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus. And this will not fade away.
This living hope granted to them is not by any human efforts of good works – like digging many iceblocks with research or equipment in the huge Antarctic ice – or by random acts of kindness, but simply in the promised perfect plan of God in Christ Jesus. This plan existed even before the world did – and its treasure is simply revealed for those who seek.
Peter reminds the readers that it’s through Jesus they believe in God. It seems to me the readers were reminded that “you” are the person who believes in God. The identity of the person is the one who believes in God – God, who is all powerful, who is the Judge and His Judgment is fair with no favouritism, who can do all things – even raise Jesus from the dead.
Humanly speaking it is hard to believe that a person who died came back to life? We haven’t ever met anyone like that! But in Jesus’ case, Peter proclaims indeed God has raised Jesus from the dead. The treasure (Jesus was raised by God) was revealed as it was promised by God to grant the living hope.
The writer reminds the reader: “you” are the one who holds the treasure; “you” are the one who believes God, not the world (which is anti-God); “you” are the one who has hope and faith in God, not in active self-effort.
As they were encouraged by this living hope, so too are we called to live our life in this living hope, as a traveller in this world, trusting God and being encourage that the treasure we hold is imperishable.