1 Peter 1:20-21
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 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. (ESV)
This morning we will be considering verses 17-19 of 1 Peter chapter 1. I suspect that this passage will be challenging. We are going to have to think deeply about God and His very great salvation, but that is why we do this. That is why we go to God’s Word again and again. We need God to refine, adjust, and correct our thinking. We need God to renew our minds. We need to have our unbiblical assumptions challenged and replaced with biblical ones. We want to be people more and more conformed to the mind of Christ and so we must come humbly to God’s Word asking that He would open the eyes of our heart to see, understand, and submit to His Word so that we would stand in awe of His glory, hope in His grace, and be holy in all our conduct.
This morning we are going to focus in on verse 17 and the command to conduct ourselves with fear throughout the time of our exile. But for context let’s read…
1 Peter 1:13-21
Therefore, 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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And 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, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 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.
Show us that glory and value of Christ and the fruitfulness which is ours in Him.
Called to Fear
Last message we began wrestling with the command in verse 17 to conduct ourselves with fear throughout the time we remain on this earth waiting for our Lord Jesus to appear. If you were not here for that, we tried to work out just what Peter meant by the command to fear because so much of God’s Word calls us not to fear.
Last time I said,
The Scriptures again and again tell us that as we cling to the gospel of Christ as the sufficiency for our souls, it is that love from God, which creates in us love for God and casts out fear …The true Christian motivation for godliness is not fear of punishment, it is love for God. Perfect love casts out all fear…But what remains to be seen is whether you will prove in this life to be in Christ.
Peter is not calling us to question God’s trustworthiness or Christ’s power and sufficiency to secure our salvation. But he is calling us to examine the genuineness of our faith in Christ. Are you setting your hope fully on the grace of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ? If you are, there will be evidence in your life in this time before Christ appears. Fear a life lived in this world that gives no evidence that you are truly a child of God.
Called to Hope
Last time I mentioned very briefly that verses 18 and 19 show us that this fear is not incompatible with setting our full hope and confidence in Christ and upon grace. We are to fear, verse 18 says, knowing that we were ransomed by the precious blood of Christ. The aim of this larger section, starting in verse 13, is to call God’s people to set their hope fully upon Christ and Him alone.
Today we are going to look at verse 18 and 19 more closely along with verse 20 and 21. And what Peter is doing here is raising up the breathtaking value of Christ for our consideration so that we will not be tempted to turn away from the true grace of God in Christ Jesus to other things (Peter wants us to fear that), and instead cling to Him and Him alone as the infinite and satisfying value that He is.
Trampling Infinite Grace
Now, before we move forward, there is something here that Peter seems to be doing which is worth mentioning. I’m pretty sure that this is in Peter’s mind as he pens this section, and so I would like to offer it to you for your consideration.
You may recall that Hebrews 10:29 reveals that there is a way to trample underfoot the Son of God and profane the blood of the covenant and outrage the Spirit of grace. Peter may have this kind of thing in mind as He writes this section. So, if this is what Peter has in mind, verses 18 and following are not simply compatible with conducting ourselves with fear, but they actually serve to give a reason for why we should conduct ourselves with fear. Peter says,
“…conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, (18) knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
So it appears that Peter is reminding us of the precious blood of Christ and the ransom it purchased because it gives us a reason to conduct ourselves with fear. That reason being that your conduct will demonstrate, either, that you recognize the value of Christ’s blood or that you despise Christ’s blood and are trampling the Son of God underfoot.
This is John Piper’s view of what Peter is doing here and he says,
…the more precious the price paid to rescue you from a life of sin, the more horrible and fearful it is to take that price and make it a permission for sinning. It would be like a girl who is kidnapped from her wealthy father. The kidnappers demand a huge ransom and the father liquidates all his assets, selling his house and his possessions right down to his wife’s wedding ring. He brings all that he has to the appointed place and sets the ransom down in a field and walks away. Soon the daughter walks out and gets the ransom and takes it back to the kidnappers. Then she puts her arm around one of them and as she walks away looks over her shoulder to her father laughing and hollers, “Sucker!” We would all say that the girl committed a fearful and treacherous act.
As Peter holds up the infinite value of Christ for our consideration we need to recognize that if we say we are trusting in Christ and yet we continue living in and loving the futile ways inherited from our forefathers, (the very thing Christ died to ransom us from!) we are spurning the blood of Christ Jesus and outraging the Spirit of grace. It seems that this is in Peter’s mind.
Reasons for Hope
And so Peter has called us to fear. But Peter’s aim in this section is not to shackle us with doubt and confusion. His aim is to call us to a sober-minded hope in the true grace of God provided in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. So Peter in verse 18-21 gives us reasons to hope in God and at the same time reasons to fear hoping in anything else. I see 5 reasons to hope in God in these verses and each of these reasons has to do with the value of Christ Jesus.
We hope because Christ is without blemish or spot – His perfection (vs18-19)
Why do we have reason to hope in God? The first reason Peter gives here is the perfection of Christ. He is like a lamb without blemish or spot. I wonder how often we think on and adore Christ for His perfect life of righteousness lived before the Father. Never did He sin. Never did He fail. He lived in perfect submission to the Father. He fulfilled the righteous requirement of the Law to love the Lord His God with all his heart and soul and mind and strength and to love His neighbor as Himself. He is perfect.
And these verses show us why that is such a precious thing. Because He is perfect and pure, like a lamb with out blemish or spot, the shedding of His blood provided an infinitely valuable and perfectly sufficient offering for sin — the offering required in order to ransom us from sin.
Because of who Christ is in His perfection and therefore the value of His offering, our sinful souls can be purchased out of the futile ways of sin. Without this perfect ransom we would have no hope.
I do want to spend just a moment to consider what this precious ransom accomplishes. Verse 18 says that we were ransomed from or out of the futile ways inherited from our forefathers, or as verse 14 says the passions of our former ignorance. This means that Christ offered up His precious blood to deliver us from sin. Yes, from the penalty of sin. Yes, from the power of sin to define and condemn us. But also to deliver us from the practice of sin. You have been ransomed out of the sinful way of life, out of the kingdom of rebellion, and placed into a new way of life, into the kingdom of righteousness.
So, we have hope, not because we have merited God’s favor or cleaned up our act. We have hope not because God has ignored our sin and swept our failure under the rug. We have hope because of Christ’s perfection and the precious blood He paid to ransom us from sin and death.
When you are tempted to look at your record of failures and your ongoing weaknesses think on the perfection of Christ and His precious blood and rest in Him, not in you.
We hope because Christ was foreknown (v 20)
Here Peter is drawing our minds to consider the value of Christ’s relationship to God the Father and the centrality of Christ’s Person and work to God’s plan. You may recall that we came across this word “foreknown” in verse 2 of this same chapter. At that time we noticed that this foreknowledge is more than simply knowing information about something or someone beforehand. It is a loving and a choosing beforehand.
The One who is perfect and who offered His own precious blood to deliver us from sin and death was not an ordinary descendent of Adam who somehow happened to accomplish what no other person was ever able to accomplish. No, this Jesus is the eternal Son of God, who has existed in relationship with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity. It is this perfect One whom the Father foreknew, that is, He loved and chose Him before the foundation of the world to be the lamb without blemish or spot.
And so we have hope because Christ, the Son of God, has been God’s chosen and beloved vessel to accomplish our salvation since before time began. When you are tempted to abandon Him and to look to your own record of righteousness consider that God chose His glorious Son to do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
And when you are tempted to set your hope for life and joy on the passing pleasures of sin, think about stunning fact that God sent the eternal Son of God for the very purpose of delivering you out of those small, temporary pleasures which will not satisfy and which, if you embrace, will destroy and ruin and condemn. But sin need not rule over you anymore. Christ has come! – the precious chosen Lamb! Cling to Him and forsake and fight and flee those foolish passions.
We hope because Christ was made manifest (v 20)
Not only was Christ Jesus foreknown before the foundation of the world but he was made manifest in the last times. Christ has appeared and actually now, in time and space, accomplished that perfect ransom. God the Son has now taken on flesh and dwelt among us. He has now accomplished all righteousness and obeyed to the end. He has now offered Himself once for all time. It is finished.
Unlike the saints of old, we live in these last times when the perfect Savior actually has appeared. They looked forward and trusted God for what He would do based on the pictures and shadows and promises of God. We look forward and trust God for what He will do based on the substance and reality and fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ. We hope because Christ has appeared and accomplished redemption once for all time.
When you are discouraged by the difficulties of life and tempted to throw away your confidence in God think about God’s promises of old. Think about the kindness God promised from long ago and then remember that He has kept His promises in Christ Jesus. It is finished. Yes, we wait for the consummation but the work of redemption is complete. He delays now simply because He is full of grace and is now gathering many sons from the nations through the witness of His people.
So your difficult life is no indication that God is against you! Remember what you Lord has done and hope in God. Christ has appeared!
We hope because Christ was made manifest for our sake (v 20)
Oh how precious these words are. Do you think about the fact that the perfect, sinless, eternal Son of God, who has ever existed in perfect relationship with the Father and the Spirit, came and fulfilled the office of Messiah and Savior by offering up His own life – for your sake!
Children of God are supposed to think on this. It was for me that He left His Father’s side. It was from me He poured out His life to death. It was for me that He endured the cross.
He loved me and gave Himself up for me, that I might be recovered and received into the heavenly dwelling. He crossed the infinite distance between God and sinful man to rescue me and bring me to eternal joys and peace and righteousness.
And these are not things wholly in the future. Peter’s point in the previous verses has been that this incredible work of Christ for you has present effects and present benefits. God sent His Son so that you would not live in the futile ways of the sin, in the passions of your former ignorance – starting here and now!
We have hope because He has done all this for our good, for our sake. He has come that we might have life and have it abundantly.
We hope because Christ was raised from the dead and given glory by God (v 21)
This is so important. The perfect lamb, loved and chosen from before the foundation of the world, sent into space time history, who lived and died for our sake did not stay dead. We know that His life and cross work was exactly what God required and that God was satisfied with it because He was raised from the dead, never to taste death again. It is the resurrection that displays for all the world to see that Christ died, not for Himself, as if He deserved it, but for us. It was a substitution, a sacrifice offered to God, an offering to atone for sin – my sin. The resurrection proclaims that Christ’s death fully satisfied divine justice for all who will come to the Father through Him.
And notice that verse 21 says that God gave Him glory. Christ was not simply raised from the dead like Lazarus who died again. He was raised to glory. He was given immortality. And because He has been raised to glory all who are trusting in Him will also be raised in like manner.
When relationships are crumbling and when darkness and difficulties linger and all around you seems broken and sin-stained and futile – remember that Christ was raised and given glory and so shall we. This time will not last forever. Soon and very soon we are going to see the King and we shall be like Him.
We do not know how much more life we have to live here in this time before Christ appears. For a Christian it is truly a sacrifice to remain in this sin-stained world and these sin-stained bodies. It is a time of being a stranger and an exile. Our home is with Christ. Our hope is in Christ. He is perfect. His blood the precious and sufficient ransom. He was chosen by God for His work. He was sent into the world and accomplished that work – for your sake. And God has testified that His work fully satisfied all that was required to ransom our souls by raising Him from the dead and giving Him glory.
Fear Belittling Such a Ransom
And so we have hope. But what a horror and a fearful thing if we prove in this life that we are not truly His. What an unthinkable betrayal it would be to draw near to Him with our mouths and honor Him with our lips while our hearts are far from Him. If in our lives the fruit of repentance and faith and love and holiness is not produced we have not truly set our hope on Him. Peter has called God’s people to think soberly as we conduct ourselves in this world.
Do our lives in this world demonstrate that we are running to God… and are thankful for the incredibly costly ransom paid four our joy and good? Or do they demonstrate that we are walking arm in arm with sin and away from God, spurning the Son of God and despising His precious blood?
- We should fear if our lives give evidence that we have rejected the perfection of Christ’s life and death.
- We should fear conduct that betrays a heart clinging to sin rather than clinging to Jesus.
- We should fear if we do not care to be taken out of the passions of our former ignorance.
- If we think Christ’s precious blood is a license to serve the passions of the flesh you are gravely mistaken.
- We should fear conduct that betrays a heart looking for an excuse to sin.
- We should fear a life that evidences that we don’t care that God Almighty planned from before the world was to send the perfect Savior.
- We should fear continuing carelessly in the deeds that required the Son of God to suffer.
- We should fear living in and embracing the very thing Christ poured his blood out to save you from.
- We should fear a life that proclaims that your hope is not in the resurrection, but in this present mortality.
- Fear a life that says you are not looking for Christ to appear and the glory He will give, but that says you are looking to all the money and fame and sex and pleasure and glory you can get right here right now.
Turn from that life and practice and hope in Christ for life and joy and forgiveness.
We can say that because of the breathtaking value of who Christ is and what He has done, because of God’s stunning provision and ransom, we should tremble about what it would mean to spurn such a gift of grace. And instead of rejecting such a gift, we should receive it by faith and live every moment until Christ appears in light of that gift and pursue the life of holiness and love which that ransom purchased.
Our Faith and Hope are in God
So, what is the evidence of your life? What are you hoping in today? Are you looking for your souls satisfaction in passing passions or are you looking for your reward by means of your pleasing performance? Sin will not satisfy and all the righteousness you can muster will not be enough. Set your hope for life and joy and forgiveness on Christ. Only He will satisfy.