Does anyone know who Liang Sheng-yueh is?
He’s the Taiwanese man who was missing on a mountain in Nepal for 47 days and he was just discovered.
How would you feel if you were him? His girlfriend had just died three days earlier and it must have been looking pretty hopeless. What would you do once you were rescued?
How would your life change?
Many survivors of disasters, serious diseases etc describe them as life changing experiences.
It makes you rethink your life.
That’s exactly what Peter is talking about here. It is also the reason he urges us to live holy lives — lives completely shaped by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
One of the ways we can begin to understand a Bible passage is to look at the things the author repeats regularly and to ask ourselves why?
The first thing that stands out in Peter’s letter is the theme of HOPE. Last week we read about the living hope we now have:
By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Peter 1:3
And Peter is building on theme of hope again this week:
Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13
And he continues…
Through him [Jesus] you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
1 Peter 1:21
What do these verses tell us?
- One, that the our Christian hope rests on what God has already done in Jesus Christ.
- Two, our hope is set on the future revelation of Christ because of the past resurrection of Christ.
And how did we get this hope?
You know that you were ransomed… not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…
1 Peter 1:18–19
Over time every experience fades a little, as it will even for Liang Sheng-yueh. Our experience of being converted to Christ or having the first taste of our faith really coming alive can fade a little. But Peter reminds us that it is the reality of that experience that counts.
We’ve been saved.
Just like Liang Sheng-yueh is alive because he was rescued from Nepal, we’ve got a future in God because we were ransomed by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Just because you don’t wake up every morning on a high doesn’t mean your lives haven’t been changed. Jesus has secured OUR future in God.
That leads us to the second repeated theme that stands out our hope is imperishable.
he [God] has given us a new birth… into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you
1 Peter 1:3–4
…you were ransomed… not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ,
1 Peter 1:18–19
You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:23
The result of Jesus death and resurrection is a new birth from God — eternal life.
Our human birth – as miraculous as it is – results only in a mortal life that will perish, like the green grass of spring that withers and dies. But our new birth comes from God —
You have been born anew… through the living and enduring word of God…
That word is the good news that was announced to you.
1 Peter 1:23, 25
Living and and enduring!
The last sermon that Martin Luther King made before he was assassinated is called “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” In it, he prophetically described his own death in terms of the Good Samaritan.
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now… But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!
And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!”
Martin Luther King Jr
6PM the next day he was shot dead, MLK understood — once saved nothing can take that away from you…
So we’ve got this wonderful hope, this imperishable promise of eternal life but what about today?
The third theme is holiness. Peter reminds those early Christians and us of our responsibility as people who have been ransomed by Christ.
Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15
So where does that leave us? Be Holy as I am Holy!
Are you without sin? I know I’m not…
God calls us to stand before him, and this hope we’ve just been reading about brings accountability as well as triumph. Can that accountability change our hope to dread? What can anyone hope for on the day of judgment?
Knowing that God will judge each person’s work must surely inspire reverent fear, but does it not inspire much more—consuming terror?
Who can stand before the throne of God? But we are saved by grace:
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
As Paul says in his letter top the Romans:
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?
It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?
Christ Jesus is the one who died
—more than that, who was raised—
who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
So what is Peter saying?
Peter, doesn’t call us to soul-destroying dread, he calls us to faith, to trust in the Word that gave us new life!
The Judge is our Father, and we are his children and he gives us a sure hope as heirs of his blessing. What Peter does call us to reverent fear.
Our Father is the living God. He is holy: holy in the high mystery of his deity, holy in the perfection of his righteousness. Because he is holy, we too must be holy, for we are his people.
Coming to God as our holy Father means leaving the old ways handed down from our Adam, yes we are all chips off that sinful block but:
do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance.
1 Peter 1:14
And there is no excuse for ignorance — “I didn’t know” — won’t cut it!
Look to Jesus, God himself becomes the model for the reshaping of our lives. We are to be imitators of God as beloved children; holy as he is holy, perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Be holy in all you do (v15).
The pattern of holy living cannot be reduced to a limited number of ‘holy’ actions. You can’t just pray more, do the rosary, fast or go on pilgrimages…
God’s righteous deeds flow from his holy nature; holiness patterned on his Son must express transformed hearts. I think what Peter is saying is, let the Holy Spirit in, you can’t do it yourself! Trust in God, believe in his promises.
Paul says it this way:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
As we approach the parish meeting thing about those words — with one another in the unity of the spirit. We need to pray for these fruits of the spirit…
I’d like to finish with (and I normally hate this) a section from the Message Bible…
Your new life is not like your old life.
Your old birth came from mortal sperm;
your new birth comes from God’s living Word.
Just think: a life conceived by God himself!
That’s why the prophet said,
The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
God’s Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.
Well let’s say amen to that Word, that has given us new life!