Imagine with me for a minute of a hypothetical situation. Suppose you were an orphan out on the streets of Chicago scrambling for food from the dumpster outside McDonalds. You haven’t bathed for years and one day the President was in town and saw you. He was moved with compassion for you and decides to bring you to the White House. He cleans you up, puts the best clothes on your back, brings out the most exquisite food for you day after day and lavishes you with love and gives you a place to stay and says, “I want you to be my child. All I have is yours.” You are in awe of such great love that you, a nobody, has come to such great honor and privilege. What would be your response to this new status you have now received? Based on this new relationship, I hope you would certainly respond with, “How can I live in a way that shows gratitude for all that you have done for me?”
Amazingly Christian, a greater honor and privilege has come to you. The God of the Universe, which we came to know as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, gave you a new identity when He chose us and set us apart (1 Pet. 1:1), which we appropriated by faith when we believed. This Father, in a sense, birthed us and gave us new life (1 Pet. 1:3). He promises us to take us to an inheritance that no one can take from us (1 Pet. 1:4-5). While we wait for that, he disciplines us so that we can properly appreciate and live appropriately for all that we have been given (1 Pet. 1:6-9). What we have even the best servants and messengers in the Kingdom are envious and fascinated by (1 Pet. 1:10-12). Wow! okay, so what? Now what should be our response to our Father’s gift of salvation? Much is required to whom? Much is given (Luke 12:48). The greater the gift the greater the responsibility or obligation is on the recipient.
We have been learning about the greatness of our salvation. It is took us six weeks to lay that foundation. You know, some people think the Bible is bunch of rules we have to follow, but the more and more I read it, it was never meant to be read as a rule book, but as a relationship book. Every instruction we get from God’s Word is based on our relationship with God and it is never meant to be an “I got to” but a “I get to.”
It really hit me this week that Peter does the same thing here. After his great doxology or praise to God for this great salvation in 1 Pet. 1:3-12 (which is one long sentence in the Greek), he now tells us what our response should be to it. In other words, God did not save us for us to look pretty and sing some songs every Sunday. How angry would you be if you spent hours and hours in planting an apple tree only to see that it has just leaves or it is bearing oranges? I would be pretty upset. In the same way, when God saved us and brought us into this great salvation, it was so that in response to it, our lives would be radically different. In 1 Pet. 1:13-21, we have four responses to God our Father for our great salvation. We will look at one of them today and the rest, in the coming weeks, Lord willing. Then in the following verses, we will look at our response to others and ourselves in light of our great salvation. The title of the message today is “Living out our Hope: Our Response to God Part 1.” Here is what Peter says what our first response is, in 1 Pet. 1:13. We want to be:
I. Completely fixing our hope in the return of Christ (v.13)
Peter starts off with a “therefore.” Sorry for this cheesy seminary humor, but we were taught that whenever you see a “therefore,” you have to ask the question, “What is ‘therefore’ there for?” Peter is saying, “Therefore, in light of this amazing and great salvation…do these things.” This section will be the first time we will receive imperatives, or commands. So far we have been receiving all indicatives or declaratives. For the Christian, all the imperatives flow out of the indicatives. What you believe must be manifested in how you behave. What we do should be based on what Christ has done.
Never say, “I don’t like theology. Just give the practical stuff!” Theology is highly practical. We all have theology we believe in. I can go home with you and watch you for a day and I can tell you a lot about your theology that you say you don’t care about. And if all you care about is ten steps to make your life better or five steps to manage your money or twenty reasons to feel good, you have missed what the Bible is about. Most consumer Christians want that, but what we need is to think like God. Instead of the Bible giving us twenty steps to find your right mate, what if you can think like God in studying His Word and was able to receive wisdom to make the right choices in finding a mate? That would be far better! That’s why we study Scriptures exponentially or verse by verse. By the end of our study in Peter, hopefully you will start to think like God did through Peter and your life is different.
Ok end of commercial. What does it mean to completely fix our hope in the return of Jesus Christ? He gives us two ways. Before we do that, let’s look at some other observations about hope.
a) Hope’s definition
Hope is the confident expectation that God will do good to me and fulfill all of the promises He has made. If faith is trusting God in the present, hope is future faith, trusting God for what is to come. We can say a lot more about it, but let’s keep it there for now.
b) Hope’s attitude
What is your attitude toward hope? What are you supposed to do with it? Notice here Peter says “set” or fix. This is like in “military fashion to a decisive kind of action, to a hope that is an obligatory act of the will, not merely an emotional feeling.” And we are called to “fully” or “completely” set our hope, which means “unreservedly, and could also be rendered…“perfectly.” Christians are not to hope half-heartedly or indecisively, but with finality, without any equivocation or doubt concerning the promises of God.” Put all your eggs in that basket! No matter if people make fun of you or dismiss Jesus as a nice teacher or no matter how bad life gets or trials seem to be, intentionally, purposefully, choose to concentrate on hope.
c) Hope’s destination
What am I hoping for? Grace to be fully experienced. Notice again Peter’s use of grace. I like that thought. It all started with grace, every day I am sustained by grace and it will end with grace. As John Newton sang, “twas grace that brought me safe us thus far and grace will lead me home!” The Greek construction here indicates “the absolute assurance of a future event by referring to it as if it were already happening.” You are tasting some of it now already, but that is just the appetizer. Notice “will be BROUGHT to you.” Grace came to you earlier in salvation (1 Pet. 1:10) and again grace will come to you when it is all said and done. In other words, Peter is emphasizing how this grace is God’s sovereign act from beginning to end. And if you are a true believer in Christ, when you see Him, you will never say, “I walked here” but “I was carried here by grace.” Everything might not work out as I have planned it, but God’s going to do good to me. He’s going to set the crooked things straight one day. He’s going to vindicate the wrong. He’s going to reward the faithful. He’s going to punish those who did not know him. I am putting my hope there completely!
When will this happen? When will you experience grace in full? At the revelation or “unveiling” of Jesus Christ, the same words used for the last book in the Bible, which details the culmination of human history. He’s coming! Rev. 1:7 says, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” Let me ask you here, Which side will you be on? I hope you are on the side of the redeemed, those who were saved by grace, carried by grace and brought finally to grace.
Where is your hope’s destination? Unfortunately most people’s hope is in their situation, their finances, their material possessions, their friends, their family, their church, etc. everything except in the Lord. This is why thinking of the Lord’s coming is distressing to some Christians! How sad! I don’t want Jesus to come! I want to get married first! What? As my wife would say, “Really though?” You want to stay here?!
d) Hope’s cultivation
God wants our hope to flourish in the present. He does not want despair for our lives. He wants us looking forward to His return with living hope. But hope must be cultivated. Here he says,
How do we cultivate this living hope? Peter tells us in 1 Pet. 1:13. First:
1. Mental Alertness
The ESV says here, “Preparing your minds for action.” NIV and NASU say the same thing. New Living says, “think clearly.” The old KJV keeps the literal force of the phrase when it says, “gird up the loins of your mind.” You can understand why modern translators took that out. What in the world does that mean? This phrase is an allusion “the act of tucking up a long robe into a belt, allowing the legs more freedom of movement. The equivalent modern idiom might be ‘roll up your shirt sleeves’ as one prepares for intentional effort.” I totally understand this because men and women in the Indian culture wear something similar called lungis. They are primarily for comfort in hot climates. I have tried to wear this on occasion, especially when I was in India, but after a few accidents because of improper wrapping, I went back to wearing pants. I almost wore one for this sermon, but I’m sure you are grateful I decided against this.
But usually, you wear the lungi down, but when you needed to run or if you were getting ready to do something, you would generally tuck up the lungis with the bottom of the garment being pulled up and tie it back on to the waist. It frees you up to move. Now Peter may have been thinking back to the Passover time when God had told the Israelites where the Lord instructs his people to prepare for the exodus by eating their final meal in Egypt with their sandals on and their loins girded (Ex. 12:11). In other words, get ready to move! Perhaps also Peter may be remembering Jesus’ words in Luke 12:35-36: “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 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.” Roman soldiers when they were ready for battle, also would tuck in their robe because if the enemy showed up and you were not prepared, you would be in big trouble.
So what does it mean to be mentally alert? It means to take control of your thought life. How you behave comes from how you perceive yourself to be. Don’t be loose in your thinking. John Piper says, “Turn the robes of your mind into running shorts.” You are ready to move. Nothing here holds you. It means “to bring under control all loose-flowing thoughts that would impede spiritual progress.” Untangle your mind from distractions. Another commentator says, “Translating that into daily living, Peter said, ‘Pull your thoughts together. Don’t let anything hinder your mind as you put it to work for God.’” The author of Hebrews says, “…let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance, looking to Jesus…” (Heb. 12:1-2). Here Peter is not even focusing just on your intellect. He’s also talking about your moral and spiritual attitude. How many of us are defeated in the battle week after week because we do not take care of their thought life? So how do we do it? Let me suggest three ways we can cultivate mental alertness:
· Intentionally surrender our thoughts
Paul says “be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom. 12:2). Paul says also “whatever is true, honorable, just pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, think on these things (Phil. 4:8). Those verses teach me that I have a choice. It requires action and intentionality. I cannot be passive about my thought life. Most of us never think about what we actually think about. Oswald Chambers says, “As long as the devil can keep us terrified of thinking, he will always limit the work of God in our souls.”
Do you know that 90-95% of all that we think about is negative and repetitive? What kinds of thoughts fill your mind during the week? Is it worry? Is it lust? Is it covetousness? Is it jealousy or envy? John Calvin said, “The human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual factory of idols.” These are all the loose ends that entangle our thoughts, consume our lives and keep us unprepared, tied down and robbing us of hope. We are creating an idol factory in our minds and we don’t even recognize it! A good habit we need to cultivate is to be intentionally surrendering thoughts that are not of the Lord to the Lord as they come.
· Monitor the entryways
We cannot control the thoughts we think, but we can make sure they do not stay there. Martin Luther said, “We cannot prevent birds from flying over our heads but we can prevent them from making a nest in our hair.” We guard the mind by monitoring the entryways into it. To be healthy in our body, we have to monitor what food comes in right? Similarly, we must monitor what “food” we are digesting in our minds. This means what we watch on television and internet, what we read and listen to. Failure to do so is to reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7-8). In other words, these planted thoughts will become words which become actions which become habits which become character, which become destiny.
· Replace with Scripture and things of God
This is one reason why we are in the Word. We want to think as God thinks. We want the mind of the Master to the master of our mind. Every Christian wants God’s wisdom (how can I get through this problem God? How can I be a better husband or father? How can I stay pure? How can I be a good manager of my finances?), but they don’t want to get it God’s way, which is meditating on God’s Word. It’s not going to happen if we are sitting around watching television or getting to the next level of Call of Duty. Likewise, take advantage of so many podcasts, online material out there for us to grow from. I try to listen to a couple of sermons a week to feed from for my own walk. Listen to it on your commute or during lunch breaks. Make the choice. Secondly Paul says,
2. A well-disciplined life
Look at the words “sober-minded.” NIV says “self-controlled.” The best way to understand this is to look at the antonym or the opposite of sober, which is drunkenness. When a person is intoxicated, an outside substance is imbibed and influences or a better word is controls, the person from the inside. Peter will say this again in 1 Pet. 4:7 where he does use this word with self-control. So Peter is saying here not to let the world intoxicate and control you. Be in charge of your priorities. Don’t let circumstances dictate your obedience. Be clear in your thinking. So together with the first phrase, perhaps this could be translated tie down your mind and live a disciplined life.
Look at the world. So many people are reckless, out of control, I want to do what feels good, live the good life, live for money, live for prestige and this irresponsible self-indulgence characterizes their life. He is saying, “Don’t be like that!” Pull yourself together. Stop being lazy in your thinking. Fix your hope on God. Pull everything in and make it captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
A few weeks ago I was watching a sermon from Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Hello…I mean, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. He was talking about self-control in a wired world, the difficulty of maintaining a disciplined life and how it is often a struggle. (I am going to steal his illustration here). So I sat down and started praying about my self-control, but then I realized that I hadn’t checked my email in three whole minutes. So I checked my email and I got an email about how somebody commented on a picture of me on facebook. That must be so important right? So I went to facebook and after 30 minutes I realized I was looking through pictures of a friend’s friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s barbecue in Florida somewhere. I was wondering, “How did I ever get here?” So I was frustrated with myself and decided to get off facebook, but then I saw that I had an important request: My friends wanted me to take this really important quiz…..which transformer am I? That’s really important and I was dying to figure that out so I took it only to find that I wasn’t any transformer! Stink! Now it’s been a long time since I checked my email again, so I went back to my email again and then my phone vibrated with a text message. Wait, what was I doing before this? Oh yeah, I was praying about self-control and disciplined life. Yeah, God, I think I’m doing a good job.
Humor aside, I think the internet is a huge distraction and addiction that I think intoxicates us from hearing what God has for us. Joshua Harris closed that message with his version of Prov. 6:10-11 which says, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come upon you like a robber…” He said those verses in a 2010 context might say, “A little facebook, a little twitter, a little folding of the hands to my smart-phone and spiritual poverty will come upon you like a robber.”
I know some of you guys like to use your phone to read the Bible at church. I personally would not be able to exercise self-control if I got an email, text or something while I am in service. I trust you are not doing that! If you struggle with that, perhaps you will need to bring the written text in your hand.
I want to stop here because I think we need to do business with God in this area. I wonder how much God is grieved that instead of finding a people excited for His return, He finds instead His people intoxicated, unprepared, prayer-less, stumbling around with the entanglements of media and internet and entertainment…or as Solomon says it in Proverbs, in poverty. Peter is saying one way we know we truly appreciate salvation is to do an inventory of your thought life and see if you are sober-minded with self-control. If you look back even this week and say, “I haven’t thought about the Lord or His coming at all this week. Other things consumed me.” Do you know what God would say through Peter? “You don’t truly appreciate your salvation.” A person who truly appreciates salvation completely sets their hope on the Lord and His return. Let’s take some time now to first write down the top three thoughts that have you or had you (notice not top three thoughts you had, but thoughts that have you). Let’s surrender them to the Lord and let’s ask the Lord, “Lord, take my thought life. Think through me until my thoughts are your thoughts. I want to learn to put my hope in you. I don’t want the world to mentally intoxicate me and tie me down with so many distractions and be in spiritual poverty any longer. Clear my mind Lord and fill it with you and your Word.” Also, which entryways need to be monitored better? Is it your phone? Internet? Television? Music? Magazines? Etc.
MacArthur, J. (62).
MacArthur, J. (63)
Jobes, K. H. (111).
Piper, John. “Girding the mind to guard your hope” http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/4/855_Girding_the_Mind_to_Guard_Your_Hope/ accessed 11 March 2010.
Walls, D., & Anders, M. (11).
Chambers, Oswald in If Thou Wilt Be Perfect. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 17 from www.preachingtoday.com accessed 12 March 2010.
Rohr, Richard as cited by Seth Barnes in “Taking control of your thought life” http://www.sethbarnes.com/index.asp?filename=take-control-of-your-thought-life accessed 11 March 2010.
Water, M. (1058).
Find it here: http://baptistbiblehour.org/2010/01/26/self-control- in-a-wired-world/