The Expository Files


 Hope's Imperatives

1 Peter 1:13-21

13Therefore, 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. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17And 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, 18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21who 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.

The apostle Peter wrote these words to Christians who were undergoing a severe test of their faith. They were being "grieved by various trials," (1:6). Later in this epistle Peter says they were being "reproached for the name of Christ," (4:12-17).

In those circumstances one thing they needed was hope. Much of what Peter wrote to them was to instill hope and courage.

This is relevant to us! Christians today live in a world that requires the hope of the gospel. We may not be thrown to the lions but we are tempted, stressed and under pressure.

There are fathers struggling to find their place in the workplace without compromising their faith. There are mothers thoroughly devoted to their children and they encounter dangers and threats in doing that good work. Young marriages are struggling. Aged people are coping with the effects of time on mind and body. Teenagers are trying to find their way. Grandparents are seeking appropriate involvement with the families. We live in a time of tremendous pressure and challenge.

And sometimes you may have the thought: It would be easy to just quit serving the Lord. That wouldn't help you cope with anything! If you quit serving God you will live to regret it. And if you quit and never come back to the Lord - after you die the regret is multiplied. What helps is hope; the hope Peter describes in this passage.

Hope is expecting that after the struggle, there is victory, rest and peace. Hope is what you hold onto, that things will not always be like things are now; it will be better . . . much better. Once you have a firm grip on hope, it produces the energy to tolerate adverse circumstances.

When you ask, "how do I get through this, with my faith intact?" The answer is hope. You can meet the challenges without being drained of your faith, if you have hope. Let's see how this passage can give us this kind of vitality and patience.

The Basis Of Hope

Hope is not something that just hangs out in midair; in order to be valid, it must have some basis.

Let me illustrate: When you get into a dental chair and you anticipate the discomfort and pain, what gives you the courage or endurance to stay there and get through it? It is hope - but that hope is founded on something: Your confidence in the dentist; your past experiences; your knowledge that many other patients have been able to come out of the chair and be OK.

Hope must have some basis. And Peter tells us the hope of the Christian has a solid basis in verse 21. The basis of our hope identified in verse 21 is - The resurrection of Christ! God raised Him from the dead, and gave Him glory. Then he says in the next phrase: "that your faith and hope are in God!" If God could raise Jesus from the dead, he can take care of us. He can raise us up from the dead, and give us glory. Do you believe that? "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus." (1 Thess. 4:14) It doesn't get any better than this.

Though we struggle here on earth and must endure difficulties and temptations - even though we die God says to His people: I'll take care of you, just as I brought My Son from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our hope.

The Object of our Hope

We can see that clearly in verse 13: "... the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." What do we look forward to? Jesus will come again. That future event is called, "the revelation of Jesus Christ." We may die before it happens but we believe it will happen (and dying before it happens doesn't minimize our participation in glory; see 1 Thess. 4:13-18). This keeps us going. This supplies the energy, the endurance and patience we need, to keep doing what is right!!

Whatever you are going through now that is difficult, it will not survive the second coming of Christ! When He comes, all the rough stuff people are going through will stop. When He comes, all sin will stop, and the eternal punishment will begin.

What is wrong will be made right. It will be a glorious time and if you are trying to live your life and deal with your challenges without this hope - - No wonder you are having so much trouble. Peter says, there is this grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Hope is the solid expectation that all the issues and troubles we live with today will end. This hope is based on the historical facts of who Jesus is, what He did and where He is. Respond to Him and this is the hope you can hold to.

But we must now take these facts about the basis and object of hope, and get to practice. What do we need to be doing?

Hope's Imperatives:

Be Sober. In verse 13 Peter writes this imperative to Christians: BE SOBER, OR BE SOBER MINDED. This is about the discipline of the mind. This is about your use of everything God supplies to well control your thoughts. The sending of His Son . . . The example of Christ . . . All the instruction we have in the Word . . . You can use all this to develop healthy thoughts, virtuous thoughts that will lead you into good behavior. An ole' preacher said one time: If you are having trouble with your thoughts, get more Bible in there. And he wasn't talking just about knowledge, but knowledge combined with commitment, and commitment that results in action. Between now and the time Christ comes, let's be sober minded. Let your thoughts and your emotions exist under the guidance of everything good God provides.

Be Obedient. Verse 14 says, "as obedient children." Disobedience will erode your sense of hope. You cannot expect the blessings of obedience to God if you are stuck in disobedience! So as you use the Word of God to discipline your mind and provoke the thoughts you ought to have be sure you don't miss this step: The step from knowledge into obedience. That will enrich and deepen your sense of hope that in the end, everything will be good and right.

Be Holy. Holiness may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in religious thought. We have images of people who never say anything, or who live off in secluded places. We have spent too much time letting movies and the media form these images. To be holy simply means to be reverent; to be respectful to God and separated to His purposes in life. You can get up everyday, go to the office and be holy. You can be poor and be holy. You can be rich and be holy. You can be surrounded by people and be holy. But you can't be holy if you do not have, in your heart, mature respect for who God is. "For the Lord Most High is awesome, and He is a great King over all the earth," (Psa. 47:2). If you believe that with all your heart, you can be sober and obedient and God will regard you as holy. And while you are engaged with the world around you - you will have firm in your heart, the hope of the faithful.

There are things I know we worry about and circumstances here on earth that drive us to frustration, sometimes despair. Christians can rejoice in their confession of faith that There Is Hope.

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 15.8; August 2008