1 Peter 1:13-25

     13 Wherefore gird [bind] up the loins [procreative powers] of your mind, be sober [watch], and hope [have confidence] to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

The transitional word “wherefore”, explains why believers should not be discouraged, but remain serious about living out the ethics of the Christian faith with hope. Grace will be brought to those who are faithful at the revelation, or Second Advent of Christ. Dr. R. G. Lee preached a sermon over one thousand times called Pay Day, Some Day. While the main part of the message speaks to the lost, the title of the sermon applies in a positive way to the Christian. There is a pay day, some day. On that special day the believer will be able to say, “It has been worth it all.”

“Oft times the day seems long,
Our trials hard to bear;
We’re tempted to complain,
To murmur and despair.

But Christ will soon appear
To catch His bride away;
All tears forever over,
In God’s eternal day.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus;
Life’s trials will seem so small
when we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face
all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race
till we see Christ.

Esther K. Rusthoi

     14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

There are many passions in the heart, some of which move a professing Christian to act in opposition to the known will of God. The believer is instructed to mortify, or put inappropriate lust patterns to death (Col. 3:5). Those who fail to do so will soon discover how controlling inordinate passions can be as they bring secret shame, abiding guilt, and self-loathing. A life style of hypocrisy is fashioned in order to protect, and provide opportunity for, the expression of a particular lust.

     15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [life];

      16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

There are many gospel motives for holiness, not the least of which is that God Himself is holy. “Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills” (John Brown, nineteenth-century Scottish theologian).

Never to be forgotten are the memorable words written by Robert Murray McCheyne to the Rev. Dan Edwards on 2 October 1840 after his ordination as a missionary to the Jews: “I trust you will have a pleasant and profitable time in Germany. I know you will apply hard to German; but do not forget the culture of the inner man, —I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword, —His instrument, —I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”

     17 And if [since] ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

Fear is a natural feeling of terror when danger is present. Fear can be good or bad. A healthy fear tempers the soul, which is why children are to be taught to fear and respect their parents (Lev. 19:3), wives are to fear and respect their husbands (Eph 5:33), and slaves, or servants, are to respect their masters (Eph. 6:5). The foundational cause for a healthy expression of fear is rooted in reverence, awe, and respect for God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7) as well as “the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 16:16). An unhealthy and harmful fear, is that sense of terror, or dread, that immobilizes the soul, and clouds rational judgment. God dos not want His children to be burdened with this unhealthy, and harmful expression of fear. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. For this reason the commandment comes to the Christian not to fear any person, for no man can do ultimate harm to the believer” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Philippians 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

While the Christian is not to fear anyone, but to trust in God, it is interesting and instructive to learn that, from a divine understanding of the nature of the human heart, it is the wicked that fear the righteous. The wicked may boast, and swagger, and pretend to be in charge, but deep in their hearts they fear the righteous. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Prov. 28:1). “And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet” (Matt. 14:5).

Because the wicked fear the righteous, they act in a deceitful manner and make every attempt to hide their sins (2 Sam. 11; Matt. 28:4-15). The wicked have every cause to be terror strickened at the thought of a righteous God taking vengeance upon evil, for this He has promised to do. 2 Thess. 1:7 And to you [Christians] who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. While the unbeliever fears the righteous, and shall know the terror of the Lord, such fear does not often lead to gospel repentance. Rather, a greater attempt is made to hide from God (Gen. 3:8; Rev 6:15-17), or worse, to deny His existence, and His claim on a person’s life (Ps. 14:1; Rom. 1:18-28).

     18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain [empty] conversation [manner of life] received by tradition from your fathers;

There is no presumption in believing, and trusting what God has given permission to believe, and trust. There is a know so salvation. An elderly man said to Dr. H.A. Ironside, “I will not go on unless I know I’m saved, or else know it’s hopeless to seek to be sure of it. I want a definite witness, something I can’t be mistaken about!”

Ironside replied, “Suppose you had a vision of an angel who told you your sins were forgiven. Would that be enough to rest on?” “Yes, I think it would. An angel should be right.” Ironside continued, “But suppose on your deathbed Satan came and said, ‘I was that angel, transformed to deceive you.’ What would you say?” The man was speechless.

Ironside then told him that God has given us something more dependable than the voice of an angel. He has given His Son, who died for our sins, and He has testified in His own Word that if we trust Him all our sins are gone. Ironside read I John 5:13, “You may know that you have eternal life.”

Then he said, “Is that not enough to rest on? It is a letter from heaven expressly to you.” God’s Spirit used that to bring assurance to the man’s heart.

Jesus Christ came into the slave market of sin to purchase, or buy back, with His precious blood, those who are the heirs of salvation, and to give them assurance of salvation.

     19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

The price Jesus paid for our redemption was terrible indeed. When we think of the extreme suffering He endured to purchase our freedom from sin’s penalty, our hearts should overflow with love for Him. Leslie B. Flynn told a story that illustrates this truth. An orphaned boy was living with his grandmother when their house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, perished in the flames. The boy’s cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drainpipe and came back down with the boy hanging tightly to his neck. Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the town’s wealthiest citizen all gave the reasons they felt they should be chosen to give the boy a home. But as they talked, the lad’s eyes remained focused on the floor. Then a stranger walked to the front and slowly took his hands from his pockets, revealing severe scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in recognition. This was the man who had saved his life. His hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe. With a leap the boy threw his arms around the man’s neck and held on for dear life. The other men silently walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the issue. Many voices are calling for our attention. Among them is the One whose nail-pierced hands remind us that He has rescued us from sin and its deadly consequences. To Him belongs our love and devotion” (Our Daily Bread, December 26).

     20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Question. “What is the ordo salutis (Latin, the order of salvation)?”

Answer. “The ordo salutis is the theological doctrine that deals with the logical sequencing of the benefits of Salvation worked by Christ which are applied to us by the Spirit.”

Question. “Is the order of salvation important to Christian understanding?”

Answer. “It is.”

“In the degree to which the force of the original Reformation idea slackened, change came about with respect to it in the tradition emanating from [John] Calvin and from [Martin] Luther. Questions about the order of salvation (ordo salutis) came increasingly to receive attention in preference to questions about the history of salvation (historia salutis). While in [Martin] Luther and [John] Calvin all the emphasis fell on the redemptive event that took place with Christ’s death and resurrection, later, under the influence of pietism, mysticism, and moralism, the emphasis shifted to the process of individual appropriation of the salvation given in Christ, and to its mystical and moral effect in the life of the believer.”–Herman Riddderbos

Question. “Was this change in emphasis harmful?

Answer. “Yes, and for this reason. If one focuses not on Christ and His work but on personal application then the believer becomes turned in on himself instead of turned out from Himself towards Jesus Christ. This way of looking at the ordo salutis has given rise to an overly subjective spirituality. Christ is lost sight of in my efforts to analyze my own spiritual condition.” –Sinclair Ferguson

Question. “What is the order of salvation?”

Answer. “The order of salvation, foreordained before the foundation of the world is as follows.”

The death of Christ
The gospel call
The inward call
Regeneration by the Holy Spirit
Conversion (faith and repentance)

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30).

     21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

God the Father is the ultimate object of faith and hope. All that Jesus ever did and said was designed to direct the hearts of individuals to the Father. “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Luke 11:2). “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22).

An Image of God

We like to think that we develop our image of God from the Bible, and teachings of the church, not from our relationships, some of which have been painful. It is easier if our God image is simply based on learning and believing the right things. Yet, intensive clinical studies on the development of some peoples’ images of God show that it is not so simple.

Psychologist, H. Norman Wright, has found that a negative spiritual development of the God’s image is more of an emotional process than an intellectual one. This is because our negative images of God are often rooted in our emotional hurts we carry with us from our past.

Imagine a little girl of seven who has known only rejection and abuse from her father whom she loves dearly. At Sunday school she is taught that God is her heavenly Father. What is her perception of Him going to be? Based on her experience with her natural father, she will see God as an unstable, rejecting, abusing person she cannot trust. Consider just a few ways in which your image of your father possibly may have affected your perception of God, which in turn affects your self-image.

If your father was distant, impersonal, and uncaring, and he would not intervene for you, you may see God as having the same characteristics. As a result, you feel that you are unworthy of God’s intervention in your life. You find it difficult to draw close to God because you see Him as disinterested in your need and wants. If your father was a pushy man who was inconsiderate of you, or who violated and used you, you may see God in the same way. You probably feel cheap, or worthless in God’s eyes, and perhaps feel that you deserve to be taken advantage of by others. You may feel that God will force you, not ask you, to do things you do not want to do.

If your father was like a drill sergeant, demanding more and more from you with no expression of satisfaction, or burning with anger with no tolerance for mistakes, you may have cast God in his image. You likely feel that God will not accept you unless you meet His demands, which seem unattainable. This perception may have driven you to become a perfectionist.

If your father was a weakling, and you could not depend on him to help you or defend you, your image of God may be that of a weakling. You may feel that you are unworthy of God’s comfort and support, or that He is unable to help you.

If your father was overly critical, and constantly came down hard on you, or if he didn’t believe in you or your capabilities, and discouraged you from trying, you may perceive God in the same way. You don’t feel as if you’re worth God’s respect or trust. You may even see yourself as a continual failure, deserving all the criticism you receive.

In contrast to the negative perceptions many women have about God, let me give you several positive character qualities of a father. Notice how these qualities, if they existed in your father, have positively influenced your perception of God.

If your father was patient, you are more likely to see God as patient and available for you. You feel that you are worth God’s time and concern. You feel important to God and that He is personally involved in every aspect of your life.

If your father was kind, you probably see God acting kindly and graciously on your behalf. You feel that you are worth God’s help and intervention. You feel God’s love for you deeply, and you are convinced that He wants to relate to you personally.

If your father was a giving man, you may perceive God as someone who gives to you, and supports you. You feel that you are worth God’s support and encouragement. You believe that God will give you what is best for you, and you respond by giving of yourself to others.

If your father accepted you, you tend to see God accepting you regardless of what you do. God does not dump on you or reject you when you struggle, but understands and encourages you. You are able to accept yourself even when you blow it, or do not perform up to your potential.

If your father protected you, you probably perceive God as your protector in life. You feel that you are worthy of being under His care, and you rest in His security. —Always Daddy’s Girl by H. Norman Wright, 1989, Regal Books, pp. 193-195.

     22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned [sincere] love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

“The main work of a Christian lies in the right management of his heart and mind” (Matthew Henry). This work is to be done with “unfeigned love”, which means a love which is since. The characteristics of biblical love that is without hypocrisy, and is sincere, may be found in 1 Corinthians 13.

     23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.

Salvation is never based on the corruptible physical seed which implants only a sin nature and death into the soul. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Salvation is united with an incorruptible spiritual seed called the Word of God that lives and abides forever as it germinates in the soul to produce a new birth. Lives are changed by the Word of God.

When evangelist John Wesley (1703-1791) was returning home from a service one night, he was robbed. The thief, however, found his victim to have only a little money and some Christian literature. As the bandit was leaving, Wesley called out, “Stop! I have something more to give you.” The surprised robber paused. “My friend,” said Wesley, “you may live to regret this sort of life. If you ever do, here’s something to remember: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!’“ The thief hurried away, and Wesley prayed that his words might bear fruit. Years later, Wesley was greeting people after a Sunday service when he was approached by a stranger. What a surprise to learn that this visitor, now a believer in Christ as a successful businessman, was the one who had robbed him years before! “I owe it all to you,” said the transformed man. “Oh no, my friend,” Wesley exclaimed, “not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin!” (Our Daily Bread, October 1, 1994)

     24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

“So little time to say the things
You’d really like to say
Before you even find the words
The time has slipped away.

So little time to do the things
You feel you want to do
So treasure like the purest gold
The time God’s given you.

So little time to dream your dreams
For youth has passed its prime
And all too soon you realize
That there’s – so little time.”

Priscilla Murrell
July 7, 1992

     25 But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

All that God has promised, all that the Scriptures predict will come to pass. There is a sure word of prophecy, and so the Christian embraces the Bible as the wonderful book it is, even the word of the Lord.

The Anvil

“Last eve I paused before a blacksmith’s door
and heard the anvil ring
the vesper chime.

And looking in,
I saw old hammers on the floor,
Worn by the beating years of time.

“How many anvils have you had,”
said I, “To wear and batter
all these hammers so?”

“Just one,” said he,
then with a twinkle in his eyes,
“The anvil wears the hammers
out you know.”

And so I thought,
the anvil of God’s Word,
For ages skeptic blows
have beat upon.

Yet though the noise
of falling blows was heard
The anvil is unharmed
—the hammers gone!”

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