Faith, Hope and Love

20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 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. 22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:20-23

Believing in God requires belief in the resurrection. Jesus, who existed before the the foundation of the world– let that sink in–came to us for one purpose–to die for our sakes. This is considered an outlandish fantasy by many, and it would be for me too, if God hadn’t routed me through Jesus, who empowered me to “understand” and believe. From there emanates like a fountain faith and hope, i.e. living water, springs of life, etc. I don’t understand why he chose me to believe, but I do.

And just as he came the first time, I believe he will come again, this time not to save the world, but to rule it. Why? Because of faith and hope.

Now love is another matter. While it might be impossible to fathom the mechanism by which I was saved, love is manufactured by obedience to the truth, and that truth is the “living and enduring word of God.” So if I am all about “fervently” loving the brethren, as they say, there’s a good chance I’ve done the due diligence and obediently purified my soul with the truth. After all, who genuinely loves without a genuine relationship with Jesus? It’s an out-of-body experience, to take our eyes off ourselves with empathy and extend compassion and service.

And we can’t really be complete with just faith and hope. As Paul said, “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2

One last thought–and all the above are just thoughts–as Easter approaches, it’s good and right to celebrate the Risen Savior and the power of God who raised him, but unsuspecting and unworthy souls like myself walking around with genuine faith, hope and love are pretty impressive too! Same process by the way.

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No Wiggle Room

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:14-19

I remember the servant’s characterization of his master in Matthew 25:24, “I knew you to be a hard man,” he said, to justify his actions. I don’t think we feel the same about our master. I think we tend to think he cuts us slack. There’s a lot of reliance on his lovingkindness and grace, when we might be at the same time skipping along in sin.

I can’t find that kind of latitude in this passage. There’s no wiggle room that I can see. We need to be obedient. We can’t be conformed to former lusts, but to the one who set the standard, the holy one. This holiness is required not in some or most but in all our behavior.

What’s really scary is that our Father is an impartial judge. And that’s the point. He wants to invoke our fear.

It’s high time we leave our futile ways behind and give some credence to the precious blood that was spent to give us the power to live holy. We need to embrace this lifestyle now, as it will be ours for eternity!

Just study the life of Jesus to know how to live life holy yet winsomely. He didn’t appear to be a monk, but walked and talked with friends, asked a lot of questions, fished, attended weddings, shared meals, even with publicans, told stories, but ministered as he went. He was engaging, but he was still holy.

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Locked In

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13

To do anything with skill, with an outcome that approaches perfection, in the common vernacular, you must be locked in. To perform surgery, fly a jet, build a watch, play a concerto from memory, for example, requires tremendous skill, honed by thousands of hours of practice, and intense concentration and focus.

Similarly, to successfully and skillfully navigate the Christian life, a mind prepared by a thorough knowledge of God’s word, unencumbered by distracting sin, and focused on and driven by the imminent return of Christ, is required. So it’s not a walk in the park, but an intentional journey through life, marked by preparation, practice, sobriety, concentration, and focus.

It’s time to get locked in!

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Grace is Here and Glories will Follow!

10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. 1 Peter 1:10-12

The Bible contains the story of Jesus, cover to cover. As the prophets wrote down what the Spirit moved them to say, they could not help but wonder how all the pieces fit together.

Peter states the obvious, now that Jesus has come, that it was all about the Savior. He was the grace that would come, and by his death and resurrection, the glories to follow. Not even the angels were fully briefed on the program, but were quite intrigued by the gospel message and the church as it all unfolded.

Now, as the prophets and angels pondered the prophecies of old, we contemplate the pronouncements yet fulfilled. One thing we do know, grace is here and glories will follow!

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Flying Colors

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

The outside world can’t see our faith until we face something in our lives that requires it. Then it can shine through with flying colors. We can withstand much using the protective saving power of the resurrection (1:5), and we get more credit, if you will, when we exercise faith having not seen or touched.

In the end, we acquire endurance, and the world sees genuineness, all to the praise and glory of God. You know you’re a Christian when you can still love him through it all.

“Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:29

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Resurrection Power

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

I previously noted the ever deteriorating conditions for Christians living in America. This is nothing compared to countries like North Korea and Iran, for example, where persecution is not verbal, but physical, to the point of death.

Early Christians faced this fear, yet Peter walked into the face of it. How? Because he, like all of us, possessed a living hope, and an imperishable inheritance. The first allowed him to face each day using the same power exerted to raise Jesus. The second made the worst consequences of sharing the gospel a mere stepping stone to heaven.

Christians, whether here or there, should live each day fueled by resurrection power, knowing that the glorious outcome of our faith “is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.”

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Aliens Scattered

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. 1 Peter 1:1-2

More and more, Christians have become “aliens scattered.” The perception was different in the early 1960s, when I’d say 90% of the families on my street went off to church on Sunday morning. In the present hostile environment, a word of encouragement from Peter is welcomed more than ever. Our society has become an intolerant angry mob when it comes to all things Christian, instantly shouting down every righteous notion via the public cesspool called Twitter, most obviously evident in the vile portrayal of Billy Graham by one TV commentator at his death. I imagine Rome was no better, and all the cities to which this letter came as a cup of cool water and cold compress to the head.

We’ve been chosen for this type of ostritization, but we’ve been empowered to survive the siege. We’ve been given God’s grace and peace “in fullest measure,” and who better to encourage us than someone who dramatically experienced the sprinkled blood of Jesus, and publically underwent the “sanctifying work of the Spirit.” We need heroes like Peter as models as we choose not to huddle underground, but to act as “living stones” in a crumbling evil world. We need someone credible to remind us that we’re protected by “the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1:5)

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