Living out our Hope: Our Response to God Part 4 (1 Pet. 1:18-21)
We have been learning what it means to live out our hope. Living hope is not living if it is not lived out. Living it out, we have been seeing 1 Peter, is a response deeply rooted in relationship. We live it out because of what God has done for us. Because Jesus died for us, we live for Him. We have discussed three responses so far based on 1 Pet. 1:13-17 so far. We respond to God’s great salvation by:
I. Completely fixing our hope in the return of Christ (v.13)
The key word here is hope. God has secured our destination, we need to set our hope there and get on the journey.
II. Continually transforming into the likeness of Christ (vv.14-16)
Then the second response is holiness. And we said God wants us whole. Remember that’s what we said holiness is. It is wholeness. He is beautifying you so you start to live as you were intended to live. It is putting yourself in an environment so God can put His hands over you and change you. So He is committed to make us like Him as we, in child-like obedience are separated from sin and set apart to God. Here was the third thing:
III. Carefully walking in the fear of God (v.17)
If you want a third key word, it would be honor. We said fear was not a panic-stricken terror, but a wholesome dread of displeasing God as our Father. Our life is short, so we want to live carefully with the choices we make, the thoughts we think and the attitudes we cultivate because we want to live to please and honor our Father. One more response as we close this section and it comes from 1 Pet. 1:18-21. We want to be:
IV. Confidently thankful for the redemption of Christ (vv.18-21)
Peter ends by focusing on the redemption of Christ. Notice he does not simply want you to behave a certain way for behavior’s sake. He is digging deeper to change your motives. Here he says if you want to walk in the fear of God, come to the cross. Have a deep gratitude of the wonder of what God has done for them in Christ. Frederick Leahy wrote, “If our meditation on the cross be meager, can our love for the Saviour be great?” He says you “know” this, but they are like us. We know it, but are always prone to forget. So Peter has several points under this. I have outlined them as three reasons why we should walk in confident thankfulness or gratitude for the redemption in Jesus Christ. First:
a) Because it purchased us from futility (v.18a)
The image he uses is “ransom” or “redeem” which means “to release or set free, with the implied analogy to the process of freeing a slave.” This is the same word used when Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). One commentator notes that, “The Greek word lytroō (“redeem”) goes back to the institution of slavery in ancient Rome. Any representative first-century church would have three kinds of members: slaves, freemen, and freed men. People became slaves in various ways—through war, bankruptcy, sale by themselves, sale by parents, or by birth. Slaves normally could look forward to freedom after a certain period of service and often after the payment of a price. Money to buy his freedom could be earned by the slave in his spare time or by doing more than his owner required. Often the price could be provided by someone else. By the payment of a price (lytron, antilytron), a person could be set free from his bondage or servitude. A freed man was a person who formerly had been a slave but was now redeemed.”
What were you set free from? He says you were set free or released from “futile ways inherited from your forefathers.” Futile means useless or vain. It can mean lacking in content, nonproductive, dead, fruitless, aimless, of no real or lasting value. Other translations say, “an empty way of life.” It means without purpose or direction. John Macarthur says, “Even the grandest accomplishments unbelievers seem to achieve are pointless from eternity’s perspective. Jesus made that clear by means of two penetrating questions to His disciples: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).” Life without Jesus Christ is an empty way of life. He says generation after generation they passed down legacy after legacy of futility. Now this may be an indication that Peter’s audience is made of up of Gentiles, because that type of language is typically for non-Jews. But in the end, it doesn’t matter who he is writing to, because it is written for us. And any way passed down from our forefathers that is not in Christ is emptiness.
What are some futile ways passed down? I would say religion is one. Religion is man’s attempt to get to God. Christianity is how God came to man. But religion says things like: Try to be a good person. Be nice. Work hard to make sure you go to Heaven. Make sure the good in your life outweighs the bad. Religion was definitely an empty way of life that was passed down to me. I went to church every Sunday, trying hard to earn God’s favor. But it was empty religion. No real relationship with God. As Jesus said, it is worshipping God with our mouths and not with our heart (Matt. 15:8-9). It is doing the motions. It is like a gerbil running around in circles in a cage. Religion is bondage; an empty way of life.
I would say materialism is another. It is not that you have money, but does money have you? John Wesley once said that as soon as he had money he would get rid of it quickly unless it found a way into his heart. Last weekend, at the end of Passion week, I was trying to make intentional efforts to meditate on the cross of Christ and the resurrection only to find that I was meditating more about the Ipad. It was sad to see that that was more of a hot topic than the greatest event in human history. Maybe Apple should call of their products Idols? Materialism and all that comes with it is also bondage. You become a slave to it and worship and fear it. Sin is slavery though people look to it to be free.
Let’s face it. Many of us are here because our parents came here for a better life. I am thankful my parents sacrificed so much, but unfortunately, before they knew Christ, they were slaves of stuff, of money and materialism. The television was my babysitter. There was no time for relationship. So many chasing this dream and that dream to find out they are all illusions, trying to buy significance and self-worth. Like I said last time, it like chasing bubbles as children. If Christ had not taken a hold of my family, I don’t where I would be! An empty way of life. What are some empty ways of life passed on to you?
If your children and future children are or could watch/watching your lifestyle, what would they see as important priorities that should be passed on to them? Would they see that Jesus and his redemption has totally turned your life upside down and inside out that they want it too? The number one thing I desire for my children is to know Jesus! I want to do whatever it takes for that to happen. So Peter wants us to think about that. Yes, I am thankful for the redemption of Jesus Christ for my soul. I don’t know how many Christians are in my family line, but I do know at least two generations of futile living was broken in Jesus Christ when He showed up in my family! Since I saw the value I am in Him, my life is no longer an empty and futile one.
Peter says you were purchased away from an empty kind of living! Praise God! Secondly, we can be confidently thankful for His redemption because:
b) It is so priceless and precious since it costs God everything (vv.18b-19)
Look at what Peter says about the redemption. We were bought by a priceless amount: “not with perishable things such as silver or gold.” Ever see the Mastercard commercial? Tickets to Paris? $500. Having a romantic dinner in front of the Eiffel tower? PRICELESS! Peter is saying nothing on earth could pay for the penalty of our sin, which was death (Rom. 6:23). It’s priceless!
Remember slaves could buy their freedom if they worked extra or if someone paid for their freedom. But how much is it going to cost for our soul? Thomas Watson wrote these words, "Great was the work of creation but greater the work of redemption. It costs more to redeem us than to make us. In the one there was but the speaking of the Word, in the other there was the shedding of blood. The creation was but the work of God's fingers, Psalm 8:3. Redemption is the work of His arm, Luke 1:51."
A slave in Roman times could be redeemed by the payment of a certain amount of silver or gold. The world valued these metals above all else. They are among the most imperishable metals. But Peter calls them “perishable things” and implies that they are cheap in comparison with “the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” It is priceless because it costs God everything to purchase it. Salvation is free, but God gave everything for it. He did not come to risk His life; He came to die!
How many of you have ever seen The Last Emperor? In this movie, the young child anointed as the last emperor of China lives a life of luxury with 1,000 servants at his command. "What happens when you do wrong?" his brother asks. "When I do wrong, someone else is punished," the boy emperor replies. To demonstrate, he breaks a jar, and one of the servants is beaten. In Christianity, Jesus reversed that ancient pattern: when the servants erred, the King was punished. Grace is free only because the giver himself has borne the cost.
The law of God said, “The soul that sins shall die” (Eze. 18:20). Peter is alluding here to the doctrine of substitution. Remember from the beginning that God had warned Adam and Eve that death would be the result of sin (Gen. 2:17). What was the essence of their sin? (and essentially the essence of all sin?)They wanted to be God. That was the first substitution and it failed. Author John Stott says that “the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, but the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man.” And when Adam and Eve sinned, they found fig leaves and covered themselves. By the way, this might be evidence that the fruit they ate was not an apple, but most likely a fig, but we are not sure. Anyway, they used fig leaves to cover themselves because sin brings shame. This is man’s way to cover sin. But what did God do? He killed an animal and used its skin to cover their sin. Also, you may remember God finding a substitute ram for Isaac (Gen. 22:13).
Furthermore, in the Old Testament, during Passover, you would have to bring a lamb without any spot (in itself) or blemish (from being in contact with others) to the Temple to be killed for your sin (Ex. 12:1-5). You would have raised this lamb, nurtured it and then bring it on Passover and watch it die in front of you. You saw the cost of your sin and a substitute paid for it. That animal and most importantly what that animal did for you, would be so precious to you. But God demonstrated His love in this that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (1 Cor. 5:7,8; Rom. 5:8). John the Baptist called Jesus “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) and we are forever praising Jesus in Heaven (almost 30x in Revelation is He called the Lamb) for being our Lamb (Rev. 5:12 for ex.).
He became our substitute. The Gospel in four words: JESUS IN MY PLACE. He not only paid for my sin, He who knew no sin, became sin (2 Cor. 5:21). He became a liar, murderer, an idolator, a rapist, a child molester, a thief, an adulterer, etc. So He is familiar with all of our sin. He became sin. JESUS IN MY PLACE. HIS LIFE FOR MINE! One commentator adds, “Only the blood of the spotless Son of God could ever be sufficient to deal with the problem of sin (Heb. 9:11–14; Rev. 5:9) and thus pay the price of redemption.”
What does Peter call Jesus’ blood? PRECIOUS. This word describes that which is “valuable, highly prized, desirable and costly.” He actually puts the word before blood (in normal Greek it would say blood precious, but to show emphasis he switched the order). Why is it precious? I can think of a few reasons. It’s precious because nothing else shows me I have value. I am worth something to God. God gave Himself up for me. It is not just that He died for me, but that He thought I was worth dying for! G.K. Chesterton said, “All men matter. You matter. I matter. It's the hardest thing in theology to believe.” Ever see guys and their cars? Especially guys who have classic cars? They are always washing it, waxing it and kissing it and doing it again the next day. It’s worth so much to them! How much more you, believer, to God? He didn’t shell out money for you, but spilled His blood, which is priceless! Do you believe that? Or do you picture God as tolerating having you around like an old clunker in the garage? His precious blood shows me how precious I am to him.
It is also precious because nothing else can redeem me. Spurgeon adds, “I may make sacrifices; I may mortify my body; I may be baptized; I may receive sacraments; I may pray until my knees grow hard with kneeling; I may read devout words until I know them by heart; I may celebrate masses; I may worship in one language or in fifty languages; but I can never be at one with God, except by blood; and that blood, "the precious blood of Christ." The Bible says without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Heb. 9:22).
It is also precious because nothing else can cleanse me (1 John 1:9). What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! There are people who would die for a way to get rid of their guilt not realizing there is a way: the blood of Christ! There are websites now where you can type out your sins to get rid of guilt. TIME magazine had set up a hotline years ago where you can call in to confess sin. Then they set up another hotline, for a fee of course, for people to call and hear other people confessing sin. Millions of people called (especially the second hotline!). Aren’t you glad you have a direct line to cleanse your sins? There is a fountain filled with blood, the old hymn writer wrote, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains! His blood will never lose its power! It cleanses me though my sins be red as scarlet, He makes them white as snow (Isa. 1:18). Sometimes we feel like the question raised in Scripture, “Can the leopard change his spots” (Jer. 13:23) in thinking about our sins. I know one place where the ingrained spots of our sin can be removed: the blood of Christ. This blood is precious believers!
No more need for religion. I can’t be good enough for God anyway. By his death on the cross and on the basis of my faith in Him, He became good enough for me! In addition, I don’t need money or stuff or career to make me feel valued or significant. His blood shows me how precious I am. His blood redeems me. His blood washes me. This redemption has purchased us away from futility and it is priceless and precious because it costs God everything. Let’s walk in confident thankfulness for this glorious redemption!
Lastly, the third reason to walk in confident thankfulness for this redemption is because:
c) It was perfectly planned before time for us (vv.20-21)
Perhaps Peter knows our tendency to take credit for everything. It reminds me of Abbie, who upon receiving our help with something screams, “I did it!” Peter ends this section by reminding them again how perfect God’s plan is.? I am indebted to Pastor Stephen Cole for outlining this section. How perfect is God’s plan?
Well first of all, God planned it before mankind sinned. Look at 1 Pet. 1:20. Jesus was “foreknown before the foundation of the world. John Macarthur says “foreknown” means, “literally ‘he having been foreknown,’ clearly indicates that God planned to send the Son as the incarnate Redeemer before the foundation of the world. The Father did not react to the Fall with a last-minute fix; before the Fall—even before the creation—He predetermined to send His Son as the Savior (Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8; cf. Isa. 42:1; Rom. 8:29–30; Eph. 1:5–11).” Jesus dying for us was not PLAN B. It was always PLAN A. The death of Christ was not simply a panicked, emergency approach. Nor was it an accident or twist of fate. It was God’s perfect plan!
Secondly, God executed the plan at the proper time. Notice in 1 Pet. 1:20: “but was made manifest in the last times..” God knew exactly when He was going to come into human history, humbling Himself as a man, becoming obedient even to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). “Manifest” here means to make real. When did God make Himself real? At Christmas. “Last times” refer to the time between the first and second coming. It was God’s perfect plan!
Thirdly, God applied the plan in our lives upon Christ’s resurrection. Look how perfect and amazing God’s plan is. You are part of it! According to 1 Pet. 1:20-21: “for your sake, 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.” Wait, how did you become a believer? THROUGH HIM. Not baptism, not because your parents did, not because you went to church or read your Bible, but because there was a time in your life you put your faith in Jesus Christ. Now you know God is real and Christ is real because He applied His plan of redemption into your life. It was no blanket policy, it was personal. Commentator Peter Davids notes, “This sense of their place in God’s plan, their privileged status, along with their sense of the impending end, should strengthen these believers in the face of their concomitant trials.”
God raised Jesus from the dead, as Peter and the apostles were witnesses. One commentator says, “The raising of Jesus by God is the special ground of our ‘believing’ because by it God declared openly His acceptance of Him as our righteous substitute.” Jesus ascended into Heaven and sits (By the way, do you know why the Bible refers to Christ is sitting? It is because He work of redemption was done and when your job is done you sit down) in triumphant glory, with His feet up. He did it to make sure you get a piece of the pie. You are in God’s perfect plan! Notice how he started this long section with hope (1 Pet. 1:13) and now ends again in hope here. And what does hope mean again? It is the confident expectation that God can and will do as he promised for us. So walk in confident thankfulness for what God has done! This confidence does not come from me, but because what God has done and will do!
Our redemption is so amazing believers! I want us to apply these truths. First, thank God for rescuing you from futility. Because that is what you would be doing if He had not stepped into your life! Futility! Think also if there are empty ways of life you are chasing now? What do you want to pass on to the next generation?
Furthermore, Paul tells us how to apply the doctrine of substitution and redemption: “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 3:19-20). How do you glorify God in your blood-bought body? You treat His blood as precious. Pastor Cole says, “For us to continue living in sin after such a price was paid would be comparable to a woman whose husband loved her dearly and gave his own life to save her from a rapist and murderer. After the funeral she sought out this vicious murderer and pursued a romance with him. Unthinkable! That is precisely Peter’s argument: Because God redeemed us at infinite cost, we dare not cavort with the sin for which Christ shed His precious blood.” One commentator says of the last few verses, “Peter appeals to the two most profound emotions our hearts can know. One is love, love that sees the price God paid to redeem us. The other is fear, the fear of despising God’s love. What judgment would we merit if we were to trample upon the blood of Christ, and treat God’s precious ransom with contempt, the contempt that mere gold and silver would deserve in comparison? Do you need cleansing today? Come to the fountain to lose all your guilty stains! Also, is your redemption in Christ the most precious thing to you? Or are there other things that take that spot? Your stuff, your career, your children, etc.?
Lastly, I close with affirming the truth that we are of utmost value of God. The doctrine of redemption and substitution declares it. Some of us do not understand this at all and I want you to hear the Lord’s voice today. His love makes us beautiful. My all-time favorite illustration regarding our value to God comes from John Ortberg from his book Love Beyond Reason. In this book, Ortberg tells about his sister’s favorite doll named Pandy: “Her name was Pandy. She had lost a great deal of her hair, one of her arms was missing, and generally speaking, she had the stuffing knocked out of her. She was my sister, Barbie’s, favorite doll.
She hadn’t always looked like this. She had been a personally selected Christmas gift by a cherished aunt who had traveled to a great department store in far away Chicago to find her. Her face and her hands were made of some kind of rubber or plastic so that she looked real, but her body was stuffed with rags to feel soft and squeezable, like a real baby. When my aunt looked at the display window at Marshall Fields and found Pandy, she knew she had found something very good.
When Pandy was young and a looker, Barbie loved her. She loved her with a love that was too strong for Pandy’s own good. When Barbie went to bed at night, Pandy lay there next to her. When Barbie had lunch, Pandy sat beside her and ate with her at the table. When Barbie could get away with it, Pandy took a bath with her. Barbie’s love for that doll was, from Pandy’s point of view, pretty nearly a fatal attraction.
By the time I knew Pandy, she was not a particularly attractive doll. In fact, to tell the truth, she was a mess. She was no longer a very valuable doll. I’m not sure we could have even given her away. But for reasons no one could ever quite figure out, in the way that kids sometimes do, my sister Barbie loved that little rag doll still. She loved her as strongly in the days of Pandy’s raggedyness as she ever had in her days of great beauty.
Oh, other dolls came and went, but Pandy was family. Love Barbie, you love her rag doll. It was a package deal. When Pandy was young, Barbie loved her. She celebrated her beauty. But when Pandy was old and ragged, Barbie still loved her. Now she did not simply love Pandy because Pandy was beautiful. She loved her with a kind of love that made Pandy beautiful.”
Aren’t you glad today there is a God who loves us in our raggedness? Even when we were not lovable, He loved us with a love that makes us beautiful. Do you know you are so valuable to the Lord? To treat yourself less that that, is to step on His precious blood. But because you are worth so much to Him, you can trust that He who started a good work in you is faithful to complete it at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:13).
Leahy, Frederick. As quoted in “Our meditation on the cross by Frederick Leahy” http://tollelege.wordpress.com/category/frederick-s-leahy/ accessed 9 April 2010.
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (487).
Blum, E. A. (1981). 1 Peter. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 12: Hebrews Through Revelation (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (224–225). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
MacArthur, J. (75).
As quoted by Macarthur, John. “The Wonder of our Redemption Part 1” http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/60-11 accessed 8 April 2010.
Stott, John (1986). The Cross of Christ (160). Downer’s Grove, Il: Intervarsity Press.
Hillyer, N. (50).
Hurt, Bruce. “1 Pet. 1:18-19 Commentary” http://www.preceptaustin.org/1_peter_118-19.htm#1:19 accessed 9 April 2010.
As quoted in The Father Brown Omnibus. Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no.13. Accessed from www.preachingtoday.com 8 April 2010.
Spurgeon, C. H. (1998). Vol. 11: Spurgeon's Sermons: Volume 11 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Spurgeon's Sermons. Albany, OR: Ages Software.
Cole, Stephen “Why Be Holy?” http://www.fcfonline.org/content/1/sermons/071992m.pdf accessed 9 April 2010.
MacArthur, J. (82).
Walls, D., & Anders, M. (14).
Davids, P. H. (75).
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (1 Pe 1:21). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Cole, Stephen. Ibid.
Clowney, E. P. (69).
Ortberg, John (1998). Love Beyond Reason (11-12). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.