“This Changes Everything”
1 Peter 1:3-21
April 16, 2006
The resurrection promises redeemed attitudes and redeemed behavior to redeemed people.
I. Redeemed attitudes - 1 Peter 1:3-9
II. Redeemed behavior - 1 Peter 1:13-17
III. Redeemed people - 1 Peter 1:18-21
MessageThis changes everything. Im sure youve heard that phrase. I found it on-line in places from a book on fatherhood to a NASCAR commentary. Possibly the first and most well known use was in an ad campaign by Chrysler for the 1993 Dodge Intrepid. It was a memorable tagline for a forgettable product. I did a pop culture survey around the office when I thought of this theme, and nobody could remember who the ads were by, though somebody did say a car company and someone else said Chevrolet. The Dodge Intrepid itself was apparently a really forgettable car. One user forum comment said This car was a mess from the beginning. I remember the ads when I bought mine. "This changes everything." They were right. My family had been buying nothing but Dodge for 30 years. We don't buy them anymore. Id be willing to bet most of the assertions on the web and in print that this changes everything are equally unsupportable media hype.
But the event were celebrating today is not media hype. The resurrection of Jesus changed everything for the world, everything for eternity and everything for individuals lost in sin. And this is perhaps the only historical event that changes everything not only in the flow of history, but in us: in our basic attitudes and behaviors. The resurrection is the final act in the drama of redemption, played out on the stage of history but intended to change the individual lives of redeemed people. For the next few minutes were going to look at 1st Peter 1 and see that the resurrection promises redeemed attitudes and redeemed behavior. The resurrection promises redeemed attitudes and redeemed behavior to redeemed people.
I. Redeemed attitudes - 1 Peter 1:3-9
1st Peter 1, verses 3 to 9 captures the attitudes of those whose lives have been forever changed by the resurrection. 1 Peter 1:3-21 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Today is a day to celebrate. These verses show the attitudes and emotions of those who celebrate resurrection and redemption; my prayer is that these things are yours in abundance this morning. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter starts with a common phrase from the Old Testament vocabulary of praise: blessed be the Lord, or blessed be the name of the Lord. The word blessed is like the word glorified: it wishes upon God something he already has, recognizing and commending him. O Lord you are blessed. And he is blessed as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter knew the Trinity, and the relationship of Jesus to the Father. In fact in verses 1 and 2, which we didnt read, each of the persons of the Trinity and their roles have already been mentioned.
So God is to be blessed as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is to be praised because in his great mercy he has given us new birth. This Greek word for mercy was one of the words most commonly used to translate the Hebrew chesed, Gods loving kindness, his unconditional love. Through Gods love towards undeserving sinners he has given us new birth. What a tremendous concept: sinners can be born again, given a second chance, a new life, a clean slate, a do-over. When my girls were little I read them a version of the book of Jonah in which Jonah is a little mouse called to go to Cat City and tell them how wicked they are. After he runs away and gets swallowed by the fish and prays and gets spat up on the seashore, the author paraphrases Jonah 3:1 with the words and God gave Jonah a second chance. Thats not far from my theology in a nutshell: God gave Bob a second chance
Praise be to the God and Father who has given us new birth into a living hope. Again a great phrase: a living hope - hope that is active in your life, hope that makes a difference. This is the first of the great attitude words in this passage. We are born again into a living hope, Peter says, through the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The resurrection literally changes everything. There is no reason for hope without it. Even secular psychologists will tell you that the presence of hope is a key indicator of success in coping with the stresses of life. But the people around us who dont know Jesus can have only false hope, or often no hope, and no meaning to life and no reason to live well. But in the empty tomb, the resurrection and the transformed body and life of Jesus our Lord we have been given hope.
Weve been born again into that hope, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. That inheritance is what God has prepared for those who love him. It is eternity in his presence, it is his well done for faithful service, it is no more tears or mourning or crying or pain, it is freedom from the temptations and trials of this life, it is to reign with Christ, to receive all his promises. By our new birth - when we trusted Christ - we were given this inheritance, though we have not yet fully received it. It is, in Peters words, kept in heaven for you, and it can never perish, spoil or fade. All earthly possessions will eventually be destroyed or decayed or lose their appeal:the hope we have through the resurrection of Christ never will.
Furthermore, Peter says that just as the inheritance is being kept safe for us, so we are being kept safe for it, shielded by Gods power. The word shielded is military: we are guarded, carefully watched, kept from attack and kept from escaping. And the further implication is that he guards us by strengthening our faith. Hes not saying that as we generate the faith God generates the protection, like a matching gift. No, the faith is a gift of God, and yet it is also a certainty that grows out of the resurrection. Just as the resurrection gives us grounds for hope, so too it gives us grounds for faith - if God can raise Jesus from death certainly he can keep all his other promises. Look for a moment at the end of our passage and youll see these two again. Verse 21: Through him - Jesus - you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. The resurrection is the ground for these most basic of Christian attitudes.
But there are more. In this hope, in this faith, you greatly rejoice. Greatly rejoice is agalliao which in the New Testament signifies a deep spiritual joy, a rejoicing in God or in what he has done. Mary uses it in the Magnificat: my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. In the same way the Philippian jailer rejoiced at his salvation and that of his household. The resurrection causes us to rejoice because it is the victory of Christ over sin and death. And this rejoicing is in spite of suffering: though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. Joy is often Gods answer to our grief; the joy of resurrection, the joy of salvation, the joy of our hope are a counterpoint to the griefs of our lives. Its Easter morning, and it would be nice to say that for everyone in this room the resurrection comes at a time of no grief. But it wouldnt be true. I know of griefs in this room, griefs that come from all kinds of trials. This isnt limited to persecution, this isnt limited to loss of loved ones, or financial difficulties or relational difficulties or family trials. Its any of those and more. Can you still rejoice greatly in this resurrection, in this celebration? I think you can: how else will you deal with the sadness that this world brings?
Peter explains that the trials come to refine your faith. Verse 7: These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. The key word here is the one translated proved genuine. Your faith is tested, as precious metal is tested and refined in a furnace. The result of such testing is a purified and genuine faith. Even gold perishes - if the fire is hot enough it burns. But faith that has been refined is of greater value than gold and endures for eternity. The result is praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. He gets the praise - we give it and others give it who see our faith. In the same way he gets the glory and honor because of the precious faith he has given us. Its almost like he is making of us a crown and when the crown is fully formed and refined it graces his head, not ours.
So weve seen several attitudes brought about by the resurrection: hope, faith, and rejoicing. Verse 8 adds one more big one. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. The redeemed love Jesus. Doesnt this make sense? After all, he loved you so much that he died for you? Doesnt it make sense that you would love him in return for this love lavished on you, this love shown by the cross and by the resurrection victory? Its true that you dont see him now. Ever since his ascension believers have walked by faith, not by sight. Jesus himself commended such belief when he said to Thomas Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. And part of the blessing he gives is to enable us to love him with an active serving rejoicing kind of love.
Peter describes it: though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. The word translated inexpressible occurs only here in the New Testament and describes a joy so profound as to be beyond the power of words. Does the thought of a risen savior, an empty tomb, a living loved one give you that joy, something that wells up in you too bright for words? Is it a glorious joy? Grudem writes the sense of this word could be given more fully by paraphrasing joy that has been infused with heavenly glory and that still possesses the radiance of that glory. It is thus joy that results from being in the presence of God himself and joy that even now partakes of the character of heaven. It is the joy of heaven before heaven, experienced now in fellowship with Christ.
II. Redeemed behavior - 1 Peter 1:13-17
So weve seen that the resurrection changes everything in the area of attitudes. In yourself, I dont believe youd find the hope, faith, joy or love for Christ described here. It is only in him and through the power of his resurrection and the redemption he gives that these things are found. The resurrection changes everything. Of course that means it should also change our behavior. Im going to skip verses 10 to 12, not because they arent important, but because they are a bit of a parentheses. So lets read 13 to 17: Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 17Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.
The therefore in verse 13 refers back to all weve already said: through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead God has given us new birth into a living hope, into a faith that can never spoil or fade, into love for Jesus and into inexpressible joy. Changed attitudes: we could barely taste these things as unbelievers, now our souls are flooded with them. But so what? Are we to go through life with just changed attitudes? With no change in behavior? I dont think so.
Because of the resurrection, because of our redemption in Jesus, our behavior should be changed. Therefore - prepare your minds for action. The NIV translates it as an imperative, a command: in the Greek its not, its a participle, literally having girded up the loins of your mind. The image Peter is using is of someone getting ready to run. It was hard to run in those long Middle Eastern robes, so the custom was to tuck them into your belt. Peter says do that to your mind - make it ready. Next, be completely sober. Again this is a participle having prepared your minds for action and being completely sober or self-controlled. The word can imply not being drunk, but it also addresses your mental state: you are thinking clearly and carefully, not clouded by Satans diversions. Ive often said that sin makes you stupid - more precisely temptation makes you stupid. I am far more vulnerable to sin when I am not mentally alert; I fall into it when I am unthinking. Changed behavior depends on girding the loins of your mind and being sober.
But these conditions are only preparation for the main command which is to set your hope fully on the grace that is coming to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Notice Peter hasnt quite gotten to behavior yet. This is a command - the first real imperative in this letter - but it is an attitude command: hope fully. Peter knows you cannot expect changed behavior if you havent experienced this changed attitude: havent put your hope fully on the grace of God, especially the grace he continues to pour out on you and that will be fully yours when Jesus returns. We are saved by grace, redeemed by grace, sanctified by grace and in the end we will be glorified by that same grace. There is nothing of works in the past, present or future.
But we do have responsibility for right behavior. Verse 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. Notice that Peter addresses us as Gods children, and calls us to be obedient children. Has the resurrection changed this for you? Where once you had no desire to obey, are you now motivated by gratitude and love toward the one who has saved you? As obedient children we are not to conform to the evil desires we had in our ignorance. The word conform is the one used in Romans 12:2, do not be conformed to this world or as Phillips paraphrases it do not let the world press you into its mold. Dont allow yourself to conform to those evil desires you used to have when you lived in ignorance. The implication is that we still have the same evil desires; we may still have the habit of conforming to them, but whereas temptation used to make us stupid about those desires and their consequences, now Peter expects us to recognize them and deal with them, so we do not give in and conform to the evil of the world.
Weve talked a lot this spring in Corinthians about the desires of the flesh, the ways of the sinful nature, specific sins that try to trip us up and keep us from being holy. Take the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:19: Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
Or maybe you struggle with some of the items from Galatians 5: discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition. Or maybe its something from 2 Timothy 3: People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving and unforgiving. As you think about these kinds of lists, you can probably identify some specific problem you need to deal with right now, to repent of specific sin and seek Gods forgiveness and strength and help in temptation. Dont be ignorant of these things.
Verse 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." This is the positive side: dont follow sinful desires, do pursue holiness. Notice that our holiness is grounded in the holiness of God, his entire separation from sin; his moral excellence and purity. God is totally good, entirely without evil, and only that which is pure and undefiled by sin can remain in his presence. Fallen human beings are not, which is why Isaiah 59:2 says Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you. But redeemed people - those who have trusted Christ - are cleansed and made holy so they have intimacy with God. Paul teaches that God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Yet even after we are declared holy, we embark on a process of becoming what we are: growing toward holiness of life. We incorporate holiness not only by ridding ourselves of sin and impurity but by consciously imitating Gods goodness and excellence and love. J. I. Packer says that holiness for the believer is living a life of service to God and becoming like the God one serves. It means taking Gods moral law as our rule and Gods resurrected son as our model. Holiness is not just a list of donts, sins we avoid. It is what we substitute for sin: holiness in our words; holiness in our actions; in our service, and in our relationships. It is the quality of our daily Christian lives that shows we are becoming like God.
The bottom line of this redeemed behavior, for Peter, is verse 17: Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. We are to live our lives as if we were on assignment in a foreign country, ambassadors on duty, reporting to a father who impartially judges our work. So we need to fear. The fear of the Lord, a key Old Testament concept is also key in the New Testament. 2 Cor. 7:1 says: Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. This fear is only partially reverence or awe for God which is what the translators of the New International Version imply. There is more to it: it includes, for example, dread of his disapproval. Paul teaches that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad, and adds Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.
So the fear of the Lord is reverence, dread of Gods disapproval, and an intense desire to put God first and protect his honor, name and reputation in your own life - by your obedience. This is the dominant idea here: we are to live our lives in fear; we are to represent God well, and avoid everything that would dishonor his name.
III. Redeemed people - 1 Peter 1:18-21
So what gives us the strength we need to make these behavior changes? On the one hand it is the resurrection itself. The victory of Jesus over death gives us hope in Gods promises and faith in Gods faithfulness and love for Gods savior and joy in the journey. With hope, faith, love, and joy, we can begin to do what he has called us to do - to turn away from sin and to walk in increasing holiness. Redeemed attitudes lead to redeemed behavior, and because the attitudes are based on the resurrection, so is the behavior. But there is more to it than that, isnt there? The resurrection changes everything because in the resurrection we find not only redeemed attitudes, not only redeemed behavior, but redemption itself. We become redeemed people. Verses 18 to 21: 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, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
The behaviors we are called to exhibit are fear of the Lord, turning away from sin and striving toward holiness. The reason for these behaviors, and even more so for the attitudes that precede them is that we have been redeemed; we have been purchased at a great price. Look at verse 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, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. God says - you are tremendously valuable, not because of any merit of your own, but because of the price that I paid for you.
Redeemed means bought back - ransomed - to purchase somebodys freedom by paying a price. It had its Greek origin in the idea of buying back a prisoner of war. Like you: a prisoner of sin whose captivity was the empty way of life, handed down to you from your forefathers. But even though the life you lived was worthless, God bought you at great price. He paid with the precious blood of a lamb - the blood of Christ. To buy his children back from captivity, back from sin, required not gold nor silver, but sacrifice. God had set up the sacrificial system to teach that where there is sin, there is death if not the death of the sinner, then the death of a substitute. Romans 3:23 for the wages of sin is death. But in Jesus, God provided a substitute, a sacrifice lamb who could die in the place of sinners, This Lamb was pure, without blemish or defect, as was required of sacrificial animals in the Old Testament. Jesus was completely and utterly free from sin and thus his blood was a worthy sacrifice for the sins of men.
Verse 20: He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. This sacrificial death, this unlimited expression of love, was in the eternal plan of God. From before the creation of the world, God had planned to pay this unthinkable price to buy you back from sin. The Christian message is that God valued you so much that he sent his Son to die for you. This is the basis of your worth: I am valuable because God counted me valuable: Not because my culture tells me Im valuable; not because my parents instilled in me self esteem; not because Im beautiful or intelligent or competent; important, well paid or in charge But because Christ died for me. I dont know how many times there have been in life when Ive felt useless, worthless and valueless, and Ive had to remind myself God valued me enough that he sent his precious son to die in my place.
So he is the basis of our worth, and we are simply called to trust him. Verse 21: Through Jesus Christ you believe in God who raised him from the dead and glorified him and so your faith and hope are in God. Believing - trusting - putting your faith and hope in God; thats the key to salvation But because of the resurrection, it is not an act of blind faith. Peter says - you believe in God who raised him from the dead. The resurrection stands as the eternal signpost of the victory of Gods saving love! The resurrection changes everything; an unbelievable promise becomes wondrously believable; an unthinkable sacrifice becomes an unparalled victory; undeniable guilt becomes an overwhelming forgiveness and an unending captivity becomes a glorious redemption. The resurrection changes everything. No wonder we have hope; no wonder we have faith; no wonder we love him; no wonder we feel this glorious and inexpressible joy; no wonder we live for him. The resurrection changes everything. Praise God.