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Way of Grace Church

Hope Fully Set

New Life in the Same Old Place

Hope Fully Set
I Peter 1:13-21
January 25th, 2009
Way of Grace Church


I. Introduction

This morning, God has given us the opportunity, once again, to feast at the table of His word, to be guided by the light of what He's revealed. By God's grace, let's do that together as we turn back to I Peter.


II. The Passage: "Set Your Hope Fully" (1:13-21)

Let's look again together at chapter 1, this time beginning with verse 13...

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded...

Now, let's stop there for a minute. The first word here, "therefore" is a word that points us back. It's a word that forces us to review what we talked about last time. "Therefore", "because of, in light of what I just told you". And what did Peter just tell them.

Well, in the opening verses of this chapter, in verses 1-12, Peter was addressing these "elect exiles" and directing their perspective to the greatness of God's salvation. And he was doing that by reminding them of what God had done, was doing, and would do in the future.

God had caused them to be born again through Christ. He had prepared a future inheritance for them in Christ. And, as we saw in verses 10-12, God had spoken through the prophets of the Old Testament in order to declare in advance the very salvation that Peter's audience had experienced, was experiencing, and would experience fully one day. This salvation, this deliverance from sin and death, was so astounding that even angels longed to understand how God had and would accomplish it fully.


A. A Cleared-Away and Clear Mind (1:13a)

So in light of these things, Peter writes, "therefore...therefore, prepare you minds for action." Literally in the Greek language, the original language in which this letter was written, Peter writes, "gird up the loins of you mind". Now "gird" and "loins" are not two words we use much these days, but the practice Peter is referring to is found throughout the Bible and was very familiar to Peter's audience.

"To gird one's loins" was to take the loose-hanging bottom of one's robes and bind them up around you so you could work or run without getting tripped up. Peter may be thinking back to Jesus' words from Luke 12. Jesus taught his disciples...

"Stay dressed for action [lit. gird up your loins] and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes." (Luke 12:35-37)

A similar expression for us today might be something like, "roll up your sleeves". But Peter is speaking figuratively here, isn't he. He's saying, "roll up the sleeves of your mind". The next phrase compliments the first, "be sober-minded".

In light of the incredible work that God has done, is doing, and will do because of Jesus Christ, God's people, you and I, are called to clear-away whatever might mentally entangle us and to stay clear in regard to our focus on Christ.

I like Matthew Henry's comments on the beginning of verse 13:

"You have a journey to go, a race to run, a warfare to accomplish, and a great work to do; as the traveller, the racer, the warrior, and the labourer, gather in, and gird up, their long and loose garments, that they may be more ready, prompt, and expeditious in their business, so do you by your minds, your inner man, and affections seated there: gird them, gather them in, let them not hang loose and neglected about you; restrain their extravagances, and let the loins or strength and vigour of your minds be exerted in your duty; disengage yourselves from all that would hinder you, and go on resolutely in your obedience. Be sober, be vigilant against all your spiritual dangers and enemies, and be temperate and modest in eating, drinking, apparel, recreation, business, and in the whole of your behaviour. Be sober-minded also in opinion, as well as in practice, and humble in your judgment of yourselves.''

But these two instructions are only preparing us for what is to come in the rest of verse 13.


B. In the Crosshairs of Our Hope (1:13)

Look at where these instructions are leading us in the second half of verse 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.

The main verb of this sentence is the word "set". "Set your hope fully". The preparing of our minds in light of God's incomparable salvation should lead us first to hope. We roll up our sleeves in order to sink our hands into the clay of hope or pick up the shovel of hope. The action we're called to begins with hope.

But hope in what? Well Peter tells us, doesn't he? Hope that is set "on the grace that will brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ". This is just another way of talking about that "inheritance" mentioned in verse 4. The grace that God has already shown you is only an appetizer before the banquet. It is only a trickle before the flood. When Jesus comes back to this world, the grace made possible by the cross will be poured out fully on us in order that God's people and creation will be fully redeemed from the corruption of sin.

For people who were being "grieved by various trials" (v.6), Peter's audience needed to look forward in faith to what God would do. That's what hope is. Hope is faith in a favorable future.

Peter knew that these Christians were struggling. He knew they were consumed with questions about their present circumstances. He knew they needed to look fully to the future in order to live fully in the present.

Where is your hope set this morning? It's been said, "Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope"

If we're honest with ourselves, oftentimes our hope is set on a specific outcome to a challenge we're facing, a trial we are currently undergoing. We hope the test results will come back negative. We hope the job will be ours. We hope Mr. or Mrs. Right will come knocking at our door. We hope the pain in our heart will just go away. We hope our marriage can be fixed. We hope our investments will pay off. We hope our love will be requited. We hope our children will be safe. We hope our finances will be fixed. We hope that tension at work will just vanish. We hope that friend will forgive us. We hope tomorrow will be better than today.

I suspect that Peter's audience hoped that their trials would end. I suspect they hoped that things would get back to normal. And I suspect Peter suspected the same thing.

You know, it's not wrong to hope for outcomes like these. But it is wrong to set our hope fully on such outcomes. The word "fully" in the Greek is the word teleios. It's a word that means perfect or complete. Peter wants them to set their hope completely, their full hope, on a future beyond the preferred outcome of this or that situation.

Sometimes we do set our hope fully on one of these outcomes, don't we. We are consumed by thoughts about the way we want a situation to work out. But this is why Peter is begins verse 13 talking to them about their minds. "Gird up such thoughts", he tells them. "Sober up from that kind of thinking".

But if it is not wrong to hope for this or that outcome, then why does Peter want them to set their hope fully on the grace to be brought to us?

Imagine you're a soldier who has found himself alone, behind enemy lines. Everyday you are faced with different challenges. You hope your rations will last. You hope you can deal with the elements. You hope enemy patrols won't spot you. But to set your hope fully on any of these outcomes would be a mistake.

Why? Because if you do not hope in something much bigger, you will not have the right perspective on any of these difficulties. A soldier behind enemy lines has to hope fully in the reality of ultimate victory. If he does not, he might be careless in his search for food. If he does not, his spirit might be broken by the rain or snow or mud. If he does not, and he is captured, he may become a traitor. If he does not, he may forget that he is, in fact, a soldier, that he lives for a greater purpose.

Brothers and sisters, our hope, our faith in a favorable future has to be faith in God's favorable future, when ultimate victory will be ours because of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Think about it. Perfect love. Perfect peace. Perfect acceptance. Perfect fulfillment. Perfect harmony. Perfect provision.

Listen, if your hope is fully set on that grace, then your hope for this or that outcome in your life right now will be shaped by God's favorable future. You will be able to say, "I hope this will work out, but if it doesn't, everything will be alright." A hope set fully on the grace to be brought to us might cause you to say, "Why am I hoping things will turn out that way? That won't bring glory to God? That won't exalt Jesus?"

Someone once said, "If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

Where is your hope set this morning? Are you longing for the immensity of that grace that will be brought to us when Jesus returns? Peter is calling his readers and us to look forward to the certainty of God's purposes and promises.


C. Hope and Holiness Go Together (1:14-16)

But listen to where he goes in the next few verses, 14-16...

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."

I think what we see here is that there is a connection between hope and holiness. Notice the term here connected with the mind and thinking. It's the word "ignorance". Peter has just called them to prepare their minds, to be sober minded. Here he reminds them of when they had no knowledge at all.

Remember how Paul expressed this same idea in Ephesians 2:

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth...at that time you were separate from Christ...without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

Once, their lack of knowledge, their lack of hope, their lack of God, led them to live lives driven by sinful passions. Paul put it this way in Ephesians 2: All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.

But the fact that they now know God as Father, the fact that they do have hope, should lead them to live as obedient children.

The remainder of chapter 1 is all about living a different kind of life. And it's no mistake that that this section begins with Peter's encouragement to set our hope fully on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

When your hope is completely on that future gift of grace, you live in the knowledge of who God truly is, and subsequently, who you truly are. If that soldier behind enemy lines sets his hope fully on ultimate victory, he is reminded throughout all of his difficulties that he is a soldier under command, in the midst of a war, working to achieve victory. But if his hope is set fully on being able to live a comfortable life or physical safety, then he will ultimately lose his distinctiveness as a soldier.

The "Lost Division" was the name given to the American soldiers after WWII who had deserted in France and in Germany at the end of 1945. They numbered around 19,000. It's said that "many lived on farms and worked as laborers, as black market racketeers, or in safe hiding places in their new found girl friends houses. By 1948, about 9,000 had been found."

You see, when their hope was not set fully on ultimate victory, they simply fell away and blended in to the world around them. You cannot have biblical holiness without biblical hope.

And biblical hope reminds us of what the Bible tells us our identity in light of God and His identity. For example: ...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."

Holiness is not about being conformed to the world or blending in; it's about being set apart, distinct from this broken and corrupt world. What we see here is Peter quoting from the Old Testament, from Leviticus 11 to be exact. This is the first of many instances where Peter will apply Old Testament passages and injunctions directly to his readers. Here, the call is God's call to be set apart.

And one of the things that sets us apart, and distinguishes us in so many other areas is the reality of our hope. The man unjustly imprisoned will live differently because of his hope for vindication. The woman struggling through a failing marriage will live differently because of her hope for a reconciled and restored relationship. The terminally ill patient will live differently because of his hope in promising research into a cure.

But in many areas, those who profess to be followers of Jesus don't seem to be very distinct from the world: how we spend our time; how we spend our money; our divorce rate; our political discourse; our ethical justifications; even our knowledge of the Bible in many cases doesn't appear to be that distinct from the world around us.

But if holiness is linked to hope, then what does this lack of distinction say about our hope? When your hope is set fully on the grace that will be brought to us when Jesus is revealed, then your heart will be fully given to walking in His grace right now.


D. Hope through His Blood (1:17-21)

But even though holiness involves choices, hope and holiness are not simply the result of Chrisitian willpower. We don't simply flex our spiritual muscles and all this takes place. Thank God for that fact. Listen to what Peter tells his readers in the next few verses. 17-21...

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.

In verse 17 we see that Peter is confirming what he's already said in verses 14-16. Our conduct must be shaped by the reality of who God is, what God is doing, and what God will do, specifically here, the fact that all of us are accountable to God as both Father and Judge.

He also points them back to the fact that they are spiritual exiles. Even though they were born in this world, and were once of this world, they no longer belong to this world because they were, verse 18, they were ransomed from this world.

They were bought back, bought out of slavery. Specifically, they were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from their forefathers. This was the "ignorance" Peter mentioned in verse 14. The spiritual darkness of their pagan heritage was futile, useless, pointless. All of us were slaves to this kind of futility.

But Peter's audience was ransomed from that kind of life. They were bought back, not with human wealth, but, verse 19, with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

That should remind us again of Ephesians 2 where Paul confirmed this ransom:

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth...at that time you were separate from Christ...without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

How precious is the blood of Christ. How precious is His death for us. His suffering was no accident, was it? Verses 10-12 confirmed that His sufferings were predicted in advance, and verse 20 confirms that "he was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you".

Once again we should be humbled by the fact that, if we belong to Jesus Christ, if we've been bought back by His blood, then we are recipients of a grace that has been purposed and predicted from the beginning of time.

But look at verse 21. Hope and holiness are not ultimately the result of our effort, because it is through him, through Christ, that we are believers in God. In fact, God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory SO THAT our faith, your faith, my faith, would be in God.

It is the cross and the empty tomb that make is possible for us to set, and keep setting our hope on the grace that will, take note of how Peter puts it, "the grace that will BE BROUGHT to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ".

The ransom was paid, but not by us. We were spiritually bankrupt. We have been born again, but not by our power. We were spiritually dead. The fullness of grace will one day be ours when Jesus returns, but not by our efforts. It will be brought to us.

Hope and holiness happen through faith that Jesus did, is doing, and will do it all.

III. Conclusion

This morning, consider the object of your hope. What are you hoping for? What are you hoping will happen? What is it that consumes your thoughts and informs your hope?

As one who had suffered and would suffer for Jesus Christ, Peter knew the struggles his readers were experiencing. And he knew that the perspective they needed during these "various trials" was not a perspective that hoped simply for an end to their suffering. They needed to hope for end to sin. They needed to hope fully in their Savior.

Biblical hope begins with the ransom of Christ and finds its fullness in the revelation, the return of Christ. It is hope for grace fueled by the gift of grace that is already ours.

Brothers and sisters, it is this hope that must shape and support all our other hopes. It is this hope that must set us apart as God's people.

On my family's coat of arms is a Latin saying that truly belongs to all those who are a part of God's family, who together call on God as Father. It says:

Dum spiro, spero..."While I breath, I hope""

 

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