1 Peter

1 Peter 1:13 – 2:3 – “So What Difference Does Salvation Make Anyway?”

“So What Difference Does Salvation Make Anyway?”

 

1 Peter 1:13 – 2:3.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUS.: BBC Radio 4 – this past Wednesday [3/6/98] introducing “The Moral Maze” – The economies of East Asia are on the verge of collapse; Two Asian nations are on the brink of nuclear war: The Russian economy is only a heart beat away from collapse – Yeltsin’s heartbeat at that; over 3000 killed in another earthquake in Afgahnistan —- And we are living in Britian at a time when this nation is richer and more educated than at any other time in its history YET the two stories that have dominated the press this week have been Ginger Spice and Gazza – a minor, with not a lot of talent, who is the product of a massive marketing drive and a has-been footballer who stays up all night eating kebabs and drinking lager but can’t last 90 minute on the pitch!!

 

What has become of our society – are we driven by the tabloid press??

I missed the programme but have listened to them in the past – — a panel of “experts” – usually a university professor, a newspaper columnist, a religious leader, a politician etc…  — seldom is there ever agreement among the panelists  and hardly ever are there definitive answers.

 

Talk shows on radio and TV are many — Kilroy, Vanessa, Esther, Jerry Springer, Orprah, and on & on…. GMTV with its “experts” on relationships, health, and any others subject you can think of ,

 

The subject range from vandalism and victims (Kilroy this week) to Toy boys (Vanessa this week) to “I hate my mother” (Jerry Springer) … gay and lesbian issues, cohabitation vs. marriage, confronting your boss, the topics are endless.

 

Invariably they deal with some ethical/moral issue — what is interesting is how they get from the moral dilemma to a fixed view/stance without giving any foundation as to how they arrived at such a position.

You will often hear the line “If it doesn’t hurt anyone …”  or “It seems to be doing the community good…”

If anyone makes an appeal to some authority like the Qur’an or the Bible the cameras quickly move away or an accusation of fundementalism is suggested!!

 

They are trying to find answers to some of life’s most complex problems and to satisfy the sense of right and wrong in themselves and their audience BUT provide no foundation on which to secure such answers…

 

It seemsatdeep in the heart of the media is a belief in the essential goodness of people – “If we try hard enough we will find we are capable of making our world better!”  If we have enough money, enough education, enough good housing etc then we will succeed. BUT such views are shatterd by a Dunblane, or a teenager on a shooting rampage in a US highschool, or a motorist killing another motorist because he was driving too slowly ….  AND the theroy about humans being inherently good becomes about as believeable as the Easter bunny.

So where do these Talk Show Hosts get their moral values – remember that they are but representatives of society.

Answer: — It is based on the consensus of what makes sense to most rational people!!  — There is no suggestion that there might be any moral absolutes.

Q> “Whose consensus?”

You can have a whole room full of ‘rational’ people yet they will disagree on issues like abortion, criminal justice system, foreign policy, education, healthcare,  etc, etc…

 

ILLUS.: there was agreement that Dunblane was wrong BUT no agreement about the sale of handguns –

We can agree that smoking is bad for your health BUT who will ban it? — that would break down a person’s freedom of choice!!

 

I have little faith in the ability of human rationality to come up with moral boundaries that are both morally sensible and respect human freedom!!

 

The idea that popular consensus is enough to develop a moral code is fatally flawed –because we know that people don’t agree. How then can we arrive at a moral and ethical code that is binding on ALL.

 

EITHER we remain awash in the sea of Relativity —

to quote Dominic Crossan  (From the book “Truth is stranger than it used to be” by Middleton and Walsh) “There is no lighthouse keeper. There is no light house. There is no dry land. There are only people living on rafts made from their own imaginations. And there is sea.”

Does this not link with Peter’s observation about the …

1 Peter 1:18 18 ………….. the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, (NIV)

 

OR — we are driven  towards a revealing God.

 

When it comes to ethical and moral foundation we live in a society that has no anchor – everyone hasa view / an opinion BUT there is no one to say who is right — indeed is there such a thing as Right??

 

Unlike the opinion makers of our day Peter [ and the Bible in general] does not start with a belief in the essential goodness of humans — exactly the opposite

 

VERY GOOD PAL – KEEP GOING!!!!!!!!!

 

Peter says that we needs to be redeemed from these empty traditions [1v18] – that we need new life and a living hope [1v3-5] that we need to be morally and ethically purufied.

 

The human condition is in need of deliverence from hopelessness and from a moral and ethical vacuum!!

 

The ground for morality and ethics is NOT in alleged human goodness BUT in the gift of new life in Christ —

the foundation on which we need to build our behavioural beliefs and practice is on the belief in the goodness and justice of God, the sinfulness of humans, the need for divine revelatn and salvation.

To quote C S Lewis … “What is the use of telling ships how to steer so as to avoid collision if in fact they are such crazy old tubs that they can not be steered at all?” … “You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society. That is why we must go on to think of the second thing: of morality inside the individual.”

 

Peter tells us therefore that if we want to be able to make correct ethical and moral decision they MUST be based on the nature of God and the Word of God.

 

1v3-12 Peter has painted a wonderful picture of salvation then in v13 “therefore…” —— becuase of your salvation you ought to be different in how you live!!

 

What comes in these following verses is what we are called to be and do in the light of the salvation received…

 

WE ARE CALLED TO…

1. HOPE … because of God’s future. [1v13]

 

Because we have been given hope we are called to live in it.

1 Peter 1:13      ……..; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

… is the main verb – a command  – has more than future implications.

 

This hope is not just for the future when Jesus returns BUT has present ramifications – . . prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled;

When a person becomes a Christian the way he/she perceives life changes or should. Christians should be at the forefront of thinking about life and its problems —

The image is of someone tucking in their loose garment to enable them to work — “roll up the sleeves of your mind” and get stuck in. Too often Christians are unwilling to grapple with the issues of life — we must be ready to do mental work so we can understand God’s thinking.

AND we need to be self-controlled – remember it is a fruit of the Spirit- if we are hope-filled christians we can not live mindless lives seeking self-indulgence and pleasure.

Christians must be ready to do mental work and be totally focussed [self-controlled inlife’s desires] on God’s plans.

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

2. HOLINESS …because of God’s character. [1v14-16]

Peter’s call is first negative – turning away from the lifestyle we had prior to salvation. Now as a Christian you must think and act in a way that is in keeping with the character of God

Peter clearly has in mind here the relationship between parents and children – as a rule children grow up to have the chararcteristics of the parents – for better or worse. So God’s children should reflect the character of God as their father.

The mark of a Child of God is obedience…

The idea of obedience is not a popular one in a society like ourselves where respect for authority is not as highly valued as it once was.

This is reflected in the church as well where doing what makes me feel good and meets my needs takes precedence over obedience and my Christian duty!!

Yet when we look at the life of Jesus we see that for him obedience to his father was paramount. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me!”  We tend to equate  the power of the gospel with the specatular. Yet in the life of Jesus who was able to perform the spectaular — his many miracles — we see his greatest demonstration of power in his willingness to obey his Father “Not my will but your be done!”

 

If we desire to be like God – holy – his children then obedience is the key!!

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

3. FEAR OF GOD … because of God’s judgement. [1v17-21]

1 Peter 1:17-21 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (NIV)

 

God as judge of all people — a fair and impartial judge who can’t be hoodwinked because ALL the FACTS and MOTIVES are know to him should have a profound effect on our behaviour.

We are redeemed not only from a hopeless future but also from a defficient and defective past. We may think that that is not true of us because we have a christian heritage unlike Peter’s reader who had a clearly pagen past ….. to a dgree it is true our heritage is influence by Christianity BUT we must appreciate that it has also been tainted by human philosophies that are contrary to the gospel.

EG – the Period of the enlighment in Europe — human reason is enough to have an ethical moral society. Which has resulted with many in the west saying a Christian is a loving and good person THEREFORE a loving and good person is a Christian.

BUT God will judge us not on the basis of our human reason BUT rather on the basis of his holy character and his revelation in Scripture and in Christ!!

Therefore for the Christian since we know that we have been redeem NOT with perishable things like silver and gold but with the blood of Christ we shouldbe grateful to God for our new family and live in fear and holiness before him.

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

4. LOVE ONE ANOTHER … because of God’s love [1v22-25]

 

This call to love one another is also based on the foundation of the salvation received —

NB how it is still linked so directly to holiness [purify] and obedience — The result of obeying the truth — the truth is ultimately Christ — by responding to his offer of salvation and then obeying his teaching  ushers us into the realm of brotherly love.

 

1 Peter 1:22

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (NIV)

 

God’s love is not phony / sentimentality but it is genuine, sincere love.

deeply, from the heart – speaks of love that requires effort.  — used in 1 Peter 4:8 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (NIV)

It is a word that is often used to refer to the characteristics of prayer —Luke 22:44 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly [deeply], and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (NIV)

Acts 12:5 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly [deeply] praying to God for him.

 

so a love that requires fervency, constancy and effort —

Peter expects the Church to be filled with people who try to understand each other, who give the other the benefit of the doubt, and who reach out to other in the same love…

******* How do we practically do this? {ASK FOR RESPONSE!!!}

******* What is the main ingredient required in order to love like this – [need to be Christians and have the love of God internally] – BUT what is needed at a practical level?  —– TIME with each other!!!!!

*** Requires intimacy, understanding, practical tasks, etc BUT all require TIME!!

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

5. DESIRE THE WORD … because it’s God’s Truth [2v1-3]

1 Peter 2:1-3     1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (NIV)

 

The desire for the Word is an essential ingredient if we are going to life moral/ethical lives in this world… it is God’s word that will give us the direction we need to live godly.

What Peter is emphasizing here is not so much the activity of studying the Bible — e.g. home groups, Sunday services, personal study, college courses, all of which are helpful — BUT what is being stressed is the desire for such study.

He doesn’t want Christains to simply go through the mechanics of study but to have a deep desire / a spiritual craving for the Word of God.

He is not addressing baby Christian but using a bay’s craving for its mother’s milk as an example of how strongly as Christians we should desire the Word of God.

For a feeding infant the mother’s milk is not a fringe benefit it is an absolute necessity. So for the Christian the Word of God is essential for our spiritual health.

AND it must not be a wishy-washy, watered down version of the truth but the PURE milk of the word – unadulterated — get rid of envy, hypocrisy, deceit and so on …… The gospel is unique in its richness and simplicity — and the milk that Peter recommends is the whole will of God.

 

CONCLUSION.

Peter is urging us to work our salvation by building our behaviour and attitudes [ethics/morality] based on the holy and loving Character of God who gave us salvation.

Our behaviour [ethics] is not therefore something added to what we believe if we so desire BUT is part and parcel of what we believe [ our theology].

If our ethical and moral decisions and actions and attitudes are not grounded in Christian theology then they are simply more opinions blown about on the winds of pluralism.

 

Maybe you are still confused — how do these five have practical outworking in the present life of a Christian — let us take  HOPE in the future as an example.

It assures us that their will be vengence and justice and so when we don’t see it or experience it now we don’t get bitter and twisted because we know it will come.

Because we know that God’s is the final judge and we live in hope of final salvation — this shoul have an effect on all our behaviour.. Because every step we take and every move we make should be in the light of what God thinks of what we are doing.

The motivation should be a desire to please and obey God –

 

This hope in the future should shape our attitude towards materialism – we live in a society of unprecendented wealth when compared to places in Africa etc…   This does not mean that we have to live in a cardboard box BUT don’t we need special grace from God to be able to see beyond the material and pleasure seeking world to the glorious future hope and maybe tone down our purchases and rearrange our schedules so that first things are first — from God perspective!!

 

When we stop to think that we serve a Holy God who requires absolute obedience to his Word, which he commands us to desire, …that we are to love each other deeply and that one day we will all stand before this holy, impartial all-knowing judge who will require that we give account for what we said and thought and did or didn’t do.

This should cause us to carefully consider how we think — behaviour — so that our belief and our morality is firmly based on our salvation — “So what difference does salvation make ahyway?” — it should make a huge difference to our attitudes and actions!!

 

 

“SO  WHAT  DIFFERENCE  DOES SALVATION  MAKE  ANYWAY?”

 

1 Peter 1:13 – 2:3.

 

SALVATION:-    {a new birth

      (1:3-12)           {a living hope

                           {an assured inheritance

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

       HOPE

            … because of God’s future. [1v13]

 

       HOLINESS

            …because of God’s character. [1v14-16]

 

       FEAR OF GOD

            … because of God’s judgement. [1v17-21]

 

       LOVE ONE ANOTHER

            … because of God’s love. [1v22-25]

 

       DESIRE THE WORD

            … because it’s God’s Truth. [2v1-3]

 

 

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