Tag Archives: Dependence

The Lord is Patient Toward You

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”(2 Peter 3:8–10 ESV)

This is a very controversial passage of scripture around which many arguments have erupted.  This seems to be one of the primary passages that we gravitate towards when we want to place our own freewill at the pinnacle of the bible.  But, before we can come to any conclusions regarding this passage, we need to understand the context of it and what the Apostle was attempting to communicate to His readers.  Far too often, we grab a verse that sounds nice and begin to apply it without ever having a good understanding of the context and the author’s intent.

The first question we need to answer is who the letter is addressed to?  Peter writes this letter from prison in Rome and knows that he will soon be executed for his faith (2 Peter 1:14-15).  The letter was written to Christians (2 Peter 1:1).  In the opening verses of this epistle, Peter affirms that there are no tiers in Christianity. He is an apostle – He walked with Jesus, personally – but, their faith is equal to his (1:1).  There is no varsity squad &  junior varsity squad in Christianity.  Their faith is equal to our faith. Our faith is obtained by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  This faith was obtained – we did not possess it on our own. It is a gift that was earned by the righteousness of Christ.  Peter calls Jesus God here which is one of the strongest New Testament arguments for the divinity of Jesus.

Why did Peter write this letter?  Peter is in Rome nearing his imminent execution (1:12-15) so what He covers in this letter is of utmost importance in his mind.  He covers such sweeping themes as God’s grace toward us and it’s centrality in our ongoing sanctification, the pursuit of holiness, the Lord’s patience towards us and He combats false teachers & scoffers who had managed to work their way into the church and were doubting God’s presence & faithfulness.

We want to gravitate towards the part of this passage that says that God “is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (3:9b).  What is truly unbelievable is the preceding part of this verse that says that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you” (3:9a).  That is spectacular!  Don’t run past it!  What we perceive as slowness is really God’s patient mercy.  If I were God, I would have ended it all at Genesis 3 or 6:5-6, so the fact that we have air, gravity, water, a planet to inhabit and enjoy is nothing but His benevolent grace towards His creatures that want nothing to do with Him; we want His blessings & gifts, but don’t really want Him.  All of us – believer & nonbeliever alike – are recipients of His common grace.  If this part does not wow you and cause you to worship the Almighty then you are missing one of Peter’s main points!

The broader context of this verse helps us because it is eschatological in nature. It is titled, “The Day of the Lord Will Surely Come (3:1–13).”  What Peter is combatting is what the scoffers have been saying in the church – that God is distant, disconnected & slow in acting (3:1-7).  There is much connection between Peter’s Jewish eschatological beliefs (see Habakuk 2:3) and the point that He is making here.  The Word Biblical Commentary is quite helpful in interpreting this section of the passage.  It says, “God desires all, without exception, to repent and escape damnation. But (“all”) is clearly limited by (“you”). There is no thought here of the Christian mission”  The author remains close to his Jewish source, for in Jewish thought it was usually for the sake of the repentance of his own people that God delayed judgment. Here it is for the sake of the repentance of 2 Peter’s Christian readers. No doubt repentance from those sins into which some of them have been enticed by the false teachers (2:14, 18; 3:17) is especially in mind.  We need not suppose that the author put the false teachers themselves entirely beyond possibility of repentance and salvation, but here he addresses his readers, who are distinguished from the false teachers (3:5, 8, 17).”

God takes not delight in the destruction of anyone that bears His image – even the most wicked.  He is connected to them and derives no pleasure in their destruction.  Though we have seen that the “all” in this passage is limited by the “you,” some will still use this passage to argue that it is the will of God that all people on planet earth be saved.  All people are clearly not saved so one of these must be true:
1) God is not able to save all people,
2) Some will not turn to God because their free will prohibits them,
3) Peter (and Paul) are lying, or
4) God has another purpose.

It is interesting that God seems to desire something that does not come to pass. He certainly has the power, so why not fulfill His every desire?  He desired that Adam & Eve would not have sinned and He desires that we walk faithfully to His revealed will.  We rarely walk faithfully, so God does not always fulfill His wants.  Some would say it is because He is is a gentlemen and will not force Himself upon anyone. This sounds nice to my flesh, but is contrary to the overall teaching of the scriptures. God has many desires that are not met (yet) because they all come under his ultimate desire – that He be glorified.  Some would disagree with this and teach that God’s greatest desire is for human free will.  If I’m honest, I like this because it appeals to my sense of control over my destiny, to my ability to choose, to my autonomy and control over my life (kind of sounds like the original sin, doesn’t it!).  But, if I’m intellectually honest – my free will has never been my friend, it has always been my enemy.  I always chose (apart from God’s regenerating my heart) what I saw as best and most beautiful – which was always me, my sin and my way and NEVER GOD.

One of the overarching themes of the scriptures is God’s electing love. God chooses people to shower His affection on – not because they are worthy of it or because they sought it. God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He chose Joseph over his brothers, He chose, David, the prophets, and Moses.  Men did not chose Him, they did not seek Him. God’s glory is most shown by redeeming a rebellious people. He is most glorified when He takes the heart of a dead man and makes it new, when He showers him with His saving love and that man comes alive. He is most glorified when He takes a dead heart of stone and makes it a soft, sensitive heart of flesh.  This is the power for us to love even when the love of others is not reciprocal.

Paul helps us with this in Romans 9:  “though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”” (Romans 9:11–26 ESV).

God gets no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32 & 33:11) – indeed there is a sense of sorrow & remorse at the destruction of that which was created in His image.  The problem is that we lack the ability to come to God, apart from Him calling us. God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Some will say, “yes, no one can come unless God calls” (Jesus said so over and over in the gospels, especially in John) so God calls some (or all, depending on one’s belief) and those who respond of their own free will are saved.  The problem with this theology is what the rest of the bible teaches; this is man centered, intellectually lazy & theologically shallow.  There are challenges with the sovereignty of God in election and salvation, but by far and away the continuous theme in the scriptures is one of God’s effectual, electing love.  We would rather stop short and avoid asking all of the questions. There are mysteries, for sure, but there are not nearly as many as we’d like to lazily believe.  When we face these mysteries, we must ask Who & what is ultimate?  God’s glory or ours?  If we are the ultimate determining factor in salvation then we are most glorified.

All of history is in the hands of the Lord and it is moving to the climax of Jesus’ return and restoration of all things.  Verse 9 is in response to the scoffer’s accusations in the immediately preceding verses saying that God is absent, disconnected, aloof and slow to act.  Peter says, “no He is delaying because He is patient with you – He is providing an opportunity for more people to respond to the Gospel by faith.”  God is indeed slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Exodus 34:6).  God’s patience is a central theme in the Old Testament and indeed it is a central theme in our own lives.  It is beyond me how the perfect holiness of God tolerates the continual rebellion and perversion of His creatures.  This is the definition patience.  Though He is long suffering, He will not tolerate it forever – His wrath will be spilled – and rightfully so!  He is patient, but His patience with sinners will eventually expire and all that there will be is His just wrath and judgement.  In the meantime, His patience are meant to lead you to repentance.  Will you repent & believe?

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God Takes No Delight in the Destruction of The Wicked

“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?”
(Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11 ESV)

God derives no pleasure from the destruction of wicked image bearers.  But, because He is perfectly holy and just, He must punish sin.  It is amazing that the Creator of the universe feels sorrow over the destruction of those who have been made in His image – that is not how things were created to be.  Image bearers are to reflect the essence of God in physical form – that is what we were created for.  Like a shattered mirror or a really low resolution icon on your computer, we do not reflect Him well.  The good news is that the Holy Spirit regenerates the hearts of the believer, deposits believing faith and empowers us to better reflect God & His glory.  Instead of being glory thieves, like the wicked (which we once were), we now live for His glory.  This is not something that we manufacture on our own through our own hard fought discipline, but through an ongoing life of surrender and dependance.

God’s Grace is the Foundation of the Christian Life

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”  (2 Peter 1:2–4 ESV)

The grace that Peter introduces in these verses serves as the foundation upon which the entire epistle is written.  As Peter nears the end of his life, the grace of God in Christ Jesus is what he desperately clings to.  So should we.  We never move beyond or past the grace of God, like a building whose entire structure rests on its footings, so does our Christian life.  Our faith is built 100% upon the footing of God’s grace.

His divine power has been granted to us.  This infinite power accomplished our salvation and gives us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness.  What?  This infinite power saves us and empowers us to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, let us put Him on, let us wear Him (Romans 13:14).  This power is recognized by the knowledge that He called us to His own glory and excellence.  The knowledge that He has called us is the power that fuels our sanctification – it is grace fueled sanctification.  It is God who has copiously provided the infinite resources of His power to us because we could never do it ourselves.  John Calvin summarizes this section like this, “He refers to the infinite goodness of God which they had already experienced, that they might more fully understand it for the future. For he continues the course of his benevolence perpetually to the end, except when we ourselves break it off by our unbelief; for he possesses exhaustless power and an equal will to do good.”

More than just granting us His divine power, He has granted to us His precious and great promises.  He has promised to provide all things through Christ.  These are gospel promises.  The promise of forgiveness, of imputing to us Christ’s perfect obedience (making us positionally holy – as if we never sinned), of adopting us as children, of giving us Himself through the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our future inheritance.  These are spectacular promises!  And these promises are what make us partakers (partners or sharers) of the divine nature.  As His image bearers we are already more like God than anything else in all of creation, though fractured by the fall.  As we grow in actual holiness by the power of His Holy Spirit, we become more like God – that is more accurate reflectors of Him.  We are to pursue holiness, not mere morality.

The Christian has been delivered from the corruption of the world that finds its roots in sinful desire.  These roots have been severed, though their shoots may still be growing in us.  Thus the call of scripture to put to death (Colossians 3:5) that which is sinful with in us.  The Holy Spirit indwells the life of a believer of Christ so that we are truly partakers of the divine nature.  Let us marvel at the unmerited favor of a perfectly holy God to a completely rebellious people.  When we were at our worst, He saved us.  When we didn’t want Him, He made us new.  When we were dead, He made us alive.  When we were His enemies, He made us His children.  When we were cold and apathetic, He gave us new hearts to desire Him.  When we were objects of His just wrath, He made us His friends.  The more you marvel at these great truths, the more you find yourself transformed in to His Image.

Entrust your soul to a faithful Creator

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:19 ESV)

When the Christian suffers (not for his own ignorance), he should entrust himself to the sovereign Ruler of the universe who allows nothing to happen that has not first been filtered through His fingers.  The sovereignty of God provides absolute reassurance to the suffering servant.  God will vindicate those who are His.  Your identity is in Christ and your inheritance is in heaven.

Our identity is in Christ and our inheritance is in glory

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:1–5 ESV)

Since Jesus suffered, so too should we expect to suffer.  We should “arm ourselves with this way of thinking.”  We should expect suffering – we should not go looking for it, but when it comes our way we should not be surprised.  When suffering comes, we must remember that our identity is in Christ and our inheritance is in glory.  We must remember that this world is broken and that one day God is going to make all things right; He is going to make all things new (Revelation 21:5)

Peter says, “for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,” which represents either Jesus as our sacrificial sin offering, our new “dead to sin” nature that Paul discusses in Romans 6:1-11 or the fact that suffering has a way of killing sin at its root.  All of these are true and regardless of how this is interpreted, Peter points us to abandon our fleshly, human passions and embrace the will of the Lord – which for this audience was suffering.  If God is really sovereign, as Peter emphatically says in 3:22, then suffering must be part of His grander plan.  Though we rarely see the reason during trials, and often times don’t after the trial (remember Job?), we must trust in His goodness & sovereignty and set our hearts toward heaven.  We are exiles, sojourners, aliens & strangers – this is not our home.  Our home and inheritance is in glory.

The believer that finds his identity in Christ & inheritance in heaven will readily abandon fleshly acts of debauchery.  This will surprise those around them who participate in these acts and they will likely malign believers for not participating.  This world is all that they have so they need to get everything that they can!  All people will have to give an account for what they have said and done.  All sin will be paid for – either at the cross of Jesus Christ or by the sinner himself.  Justice will be served.  This enables the saint to persevere when he suffers injustices.  So set your eyes upon Christ, trust in His sovereign goodness and know that you have an inheritance waiting that is grander than you could ever imagine.

Being like Jesus involves believing like Jesus

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:13–25 ESV)

If the gospel has transformed us internally then it will necessarily transform our social interactions.  We are to submit to governmental authorities which promote order & justice.  It is interesting that Peter is telling a group of dispersed (and likely persecuted) people this.  For as we submit (in attitude in action), God is glorified and the accusations of others become increasingly baseless.  We are free people and should live that way – not as a license to sin, but rather as an expression of good for God’s glory.  We don’t have the need to make ourselves into something in this world because God has already made us His chosen children; therefore, we are free to trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty.  The fuel for living free is tied back to our identity as sojourners in this world.

We are to honor, revere, glorify and respect everyone, even those who persecute us.  This honor is to be extended even by slaves to their masters – whether good or harsh.    It is a gracious thing to endure suffering while being mindful of God.  Enduring harsh treatment is viewed as a credit to the account – a credit that will be redeemed in the life that is to come.  God’s grace (which includes His favor and blessing) are what enables & empowers us to suffer graciously.  Jesus is the greatest example of suffering – unjust suffering at that!  We normally don’t suffer unjustly because we often times bring on our suffering by our own sinfulness.  Regardless of the cause of our suffering, Jesus is our example.  Jesus endured to redeem us, so too should we endure.  When Jesus was reviled & suffered, He did not retaliate.  Instead He entrusted that God was a just Judge, who is able to bring about ultimate justice.

With Jesus as our example of how to suffer graciously, it seems that our ability to suffer graciously is not tied to our own steady resolve or strong willed effort.  It seems that it is directly connected to what we believe about God.  Our endurance is connected to whether we really believe that God is capitol “S” sovereign and capitol “G” good.  Is He able to bring sense to our suffering, Is He able to deliver?  Only those who say “absolutely”, with no hesitation, will find true endurance to suffer well.  We should be like Jesus, but the way to be like Jesus is to believe like Jesus.

God will justly judge all sinfulness so let us leave vengeance to Him.  All people will have to give an account for what they have said and done.  All sin will be paid for – either at the cross of Jesus Christ or by the sinner himself.  Justice will be served.  This enables the saint to persevere when he suffers injustices.  Jesus takes our sins and gives us His righteousness.  It is by His wounds that we are healed.  We die to sin and live to righteousness.  We were straying sheep and now we have returned to the Shepherd & Overseer of our souls.  Let us rest in our identity in Christ and our inheritance in glory.  This life is brief and glory is forever.

Remember

“So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”

and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:7–10 ESV)

Glory & honor is for those who are built upon the Cornerstone; it is not for those who reject the Cornerstone.  Jesus is a stumbling stone and a rock of offense to unbelievers & especially to the Jews:  “And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 8:14 ESV).  But, God is an obstacle that people cannot overcome!  They stumble because they disobey – as they were destined to do.  Unless God regenerates the heart, we all walk in disobedience and blindness.  Peter sounds like Paul here in Ephesians 1:11 (“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,”).  God works all things according to the counsel of His will.  The disobedience of unbelievers is due to their own disbelief & it is their responsibility.  This is not intended to foster fatalism, but to encourage the heart of true believers. Nothing catches God off guard; God has never said, “I didn’t see that one coming, what should I do now.”  So those who were persecuting Peter’s readers and pressing against them unjustly – those who were the source of their suffering will one day see ultimate justice.  One day, all sin will be justly paid for – either by the blood of Christ or by the sinner himself; justice will be served.

We don’t stumble about like blind men; we see the Cornerstone for who He is.  We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession.  This is not because we chose God, but because He chose us.  He called us out of darkness and into His glorious light.  He’s the One that calls; He’s the One that saves, not us!  And why does He redeem us?  He saves us to glorify Him (proclaiming the excellency of Him who has called us).  We were nobody’s and now we are somebody because we are His children.  We had no mercy, now we have profound mercy.  Praise God!  Hosea speaks this way regarding Israel (Hosea 1:6, 9, 10; 2:23), but the church is the fulfillment of these prophecies – we are now a people – according to His sovereign grace.

Regardless of the situation that is currently staring you in the face, regardless of the persecution and injustice that you are facing, there is cause for rejoicing.  Don’t ignore the difficulty and pain and pretend that it does not exist; Christianity is not about producing cold, emotionless Stoics!  But remember that this is not your true home – you are a sojourner, an exile.  Remember that you have an inheritance that is far greater than anything that the world has ever seen.  Remember that you are a beloved, chosen child.  Remember that this life is short and momentary.  Remember that God’s approval and affection for you has nothing to do with how faithful that you are, but rather how Faithful Jesus was.  Remember…

Putting off involves fostering a new affection

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:1–3 ESV)

Because our souls have been transformed and our hearts regenerated, we should experience a growing love for those in the community of faith.  This is now further manifested by a “putting away” of old attitudes & behaviors like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy (jealousy) & slander (unkind speech).  It is interesting that Peter lists these instead of sins like murder, stealing or adultery.  These are relationally intensive sins that destroy community.  When we deceive or conceal the truth we are protecting ourselves or desiring to paint someone else in a bad light.  We think we are better than others, have our own standards, believe that we are superior to others and yet we don’t live up to that which we profess to believe.  We envy someone else’s family, relationships, power, possessions or place in life.  These are destructive things for our own souls and for the community of faith that need to be put off.  This involves intentionality, accountability and reminding that we have been cleansed from such things as these.  As we further understand & experience our adopted nature, we experience a growing supernatural power to put off these things.

Peter encourages not just a putting off, but to crave (instead of other things which produces the attitudes & actions previously listed) pure spiritual milk.  This is how we put off – we foster a new desire, a new want, a new appetite, a new affection.  Peter’s reference to milk does not necessarily indicate that they are immature, but rather that they are to long for, yearn for & lust after God’s word which is the primary way that we come to know God more deeply.  This is so we can grow up into our salvation – we nurture a craving for God.  This craving & longing for God’s word will be present in those who are truly His (ie tasted that the Lord is good [Psalm 34:8]; it started at salvation & continues throughout our lives.

Craving only comes when we have tasted something and find it desirable.  The same is true with God.  If you have never personally tasted the goodness of God then this craving will be impossible to develop.  If you have been satisfied to sit on the periphery and participate in spiritual things on the surface only, then this will be a foreign concept.  You cannot put off envy, jealousy & other relational sins on your own – they must be replaced with something else.  We must crave pure & spiritual milk which changes our behavior.  We must aggressively root out those things (even morally neutral or good things) which produce competing affections for Jesus in our heart.  He is to be uttermost in our affections, when He is not then the fruit of our idolatry presents itself.  The way to kill this fruit is to right our worship which takes intentionality on our part.  Often times we say we are working hard at it, but what we really want is freedom from sin’s entanglements – we don’t really want Jesus alone.

Faithfulness’s Fuel

“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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 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, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 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.” (1 Peter 1:13–21 ESV)

This section starts with “therefore” which causes us to first reflect on Peter’s previous train of thought which was because God has saved you & is ensuring an inheritance that is spectacular – let us set our hope FULLY on the grace of Jesus Christ!  We are to do this by dwelling on, mulling over & meditating upon true & transcendent things – things which we easily forget.  We have to get outside of ourselves and our worlds and the difficulties that we face and think on ultimate realities.  Realities like this world is transient and is coming to an end, a perfect and never ending kingdom is coming in which we will dwell as sons of God.  God’s undeserved approval has been showered upon us, not because of what we have done or can do, but solely upon His sovereign goodness & grace.

Peter calls us not to be conformed to the “passions of our former ignorance.”  Passions are our inner drives and desires, deep down things, not merely behavioral things.  Peter’s exhortation to his readers is to be like Dad.  Our holiness & sanctification is tied to our identity as His children.  If you read this as a list of what you must do and how you must behave without marrying it to your identity in Jesus Christ then you have departed from the gospel of grace and have embraced a works based righteousness theological system.  The entire book of Galatians is a treatise on how they had departed from the gospel and embraced works based righteousness.  Paul deploys strong words in his epistle to the Galatians like bewitched (3:1), emasculate (5:12) and accursed (1:8) to communicate the danger of departing from grace and embracing works based righteousness.  Gospel oriented sanctification, or grace driven effort, is rooted in what God has done for us and our identity as His children.  It seeks to root out idols of the heart by identifying the false beliefs that drive our external behaviors.  It is root focuses, not fruit focused.  Works based righteousness places the responsibility for change primarily upon our shoulders – it is up to us to manage our sin.  It is primarily focused on our behavior and never asks the deeper question of what is driving our sinful behavior.  It is fruit focused, not root focused.

Our God is our Father and Judge.  We will be called to account for how we stewarded our lives in this world which should strike sobriety in our souls.  We should have a reverent fear and awe of God as we live our lives.  God is still a consuming fire Who is too glorious for man to see; He’s not our buddy, He’s the Almighty Creator who breathes galaxies into place.  Because of our identity as His children, we should walk in ways that are in keeping with our identity – this is not by focusing upon external behavior modification.  The external things that we do that are sinful should be ferociously attacked on the surface to hold them at bay, but the deeper question of what is driving them needs to be answered.  When their source is identified, God can remove the roots that are causing the sin.  We should walk in holy, reverent awe of God as our time as exiles in this world knowing that a perfect place in the presence of God is our future inheritance (a new Eden).

We are to walk in reverent awe (fear) because we were rescued at great cost – the cost was the blood of God Himself.  God died for our sins.  What sacrifice?  He tasted death, wrath & separation; the God who was never created and is perfectly holy was dipped in the disgust of sin, was separated from all goodness and bore His own wrath for me.  I was indeed bought with a price.  We were delivered from a life of meaningless futility where we are constantly chasing after the wind to one of profound significance; He breaks our bondage to generational sins and frees us.

The cross was the plan before time began.  It is not plan “B” because plan “A” did not work out.  Before anything was formed or put into motion, Jesus knew He would die to atone for the sins of His chosen people.  But, this complete revelation was not made known until recently (2000 years ago) for our sake.  Jesus was raised so our hope is firmly planted on the One that death could not hold.  What profound encouragement & glory.  Understanding and embracing that God has bought us with a profound price and that our inheritance is glorious provides fuel for us to walk faithfully.

Joy mingled grief

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3–9 ESV)

Peter is writing to the elect exiles of the dispersion (v1).  We are exiles in a foreign land that long for our true home.  Our hearts cry out with all of creation for the day when all things will be made new; redemption has happened – restoration is sure.  Just as Israel was God’s chosen people, now, Christians are God’s chosen people – His elect inheritance according to His sovereign choosing.

It is because of God’s great mercy that we have been born again (see also Ephesians 2:4-5).  He is the one that has caused this in us.  We now have a living hope, one that will not fail us!  We have been raised from death to life!  This living hope is our inheritance.  What we will one day inherit will not spoil or be spent.  Our inheritance will not be exhausted and it is guarded by the Creator Himself!  This inheritance language conjures up in one’s mind the OT saint’s inheritance of the Promised Land (Num. 32:19; Deut. 2:12; 12:9; 25:19; 26:1; Josh. 11:23; Ps. 105:11) which is really a picture of our return to Eden – the new heaven & new earth.

Our inheritance is secure, nothing can destroy it – quite different than our lives today!  We toil at making life secure, safe & comfortable, only to have things tarnish & break.  Our hope is that one day, all sad things will be made untrue – all things will be made new.  It is God’s power that guards not just our inheritance, but our faith as well.  God is guarding our faith and salvation.  What a relief that it once again does not depend upon me and my faithfulness, but upon God’s.  God will guard us by His sovereign power; He will sustain our faith until the end of time.

We rejoice in God’s mercy towards us.  We rejoice that there is a living hope – our inheritance.  We rejoice, despite the trying difficulties of the trials that we are facing.  These are real & pressing, but when they are COMPARED with the glory that is to come, they become light & momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17).  This is joy mingled with grief.  Real, difficult, toil, but hopeful joy that one day this will all be made new and that He is bringing us in to the true Promised Land.

Our suffering is “necessary.”  Regardless of the flavor of the trials that you face, it has been filtered through the loving, sovereign hands of the Almighty and He deems them “necessary.”  Even though we can’t always see the purpose of our suffering (Job’s reason for his trials were never revealed to Him), we have to trust our good & sovereign Father!  They are necessary to develop our faith, which will not fail us at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Trials & suffering produce an enduring faith in us.  Father, help us to see your glory and set our minds on the things that are to come so that we can see our current sufferings as “light & momentary.”