We have spent several weeks now going through the first twelve verses of Peter’s letter to the scattered followers of Jesus who were living under a government that opposed everything they believed and valued in life. Peter called them “exiles” back in the very first verse of his letter. They were strangers in the land where they had been scattered, but they were not forgotten by God. For twelve verses Peter detailed all of the wonderful things God had done and was continuing to do for them. Many of the followers of Jesus who had received this letter from Peter had been rejected by society, but Peter let them know they were chosen by God, “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:” (1 Peter 1:2 NIV) Many of them, because of the fiery trials they were experiencing in life, were on the verge of giving up hope, and yet Peter reminded them that God “has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV) Because of their love for Jesus many were being persecuted, some had lost earthly possessions, but God had given them an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…” (1 Peter 1:4 NIV) 

Throughout the first twelve verses of Peter’s letter he detailed all that God had done and was presently doing for them. They were not abandoned, they were chosen. They were not enduring meaningless suffering, their faith was being strengthened and purified under the watchful, sustaining, loving eyes of their Suffering Savior who was at work in every fiery trial they would encounter.

When we come to verse 13 we find a shift in Peter’s thoughts. Peter begins his sentence with one simple, yet powerful word, “Therefore.” The word “therefore” reaches back through all of verses 1-12 and calls to mind all that God has done in order to propel them forward to living in a Christlike life in a foreign land. The call to live a Christlike life would bring glory and honor to the One who has acted in such a powerful way on their behalf.  Let’s read verses 13-21 this morning. 

13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. 17 And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for 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. (1 Peter 1:13-21 CSB)

After rehearsing all that God has done, Peter now lets the followers of Jesus scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia know that it’s time for action. There is a definite order to Peter’s call to action. First, God acts on our behalf through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior. When our eyes are opened to what God has done and we become a follower of Jesus, then He gives us His Holy Spirit to begin His work within and through us. Make no mistake about it, it is only because of what God has done for us and is continuing to do in and through us that we are now able and equipped to live the life He calls us to live. Edward Clowney has written about this…

The imperatives of Christian living always begin with ‘Therefore.’ Peter does not begin to exhort Christian pilgrims until he has celebrated the wonders of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. The indicative of what God has done for us (and in us) precedes the imperative of what we are called to do for him. Without the indicative of what God does, the imperative is addressed to a helpless sinner, the victim of his illusions; it becomes a commandment that crushes or that drives to vain and presumptuous efforts. Our hope is God’s gift, an inheritance created for us by Christ’s resurrection. Because we have been given hope, we are called to live in it. (Clowney, Edward. The Message of 1 Peter. pg. 42) 

We have been given hope, new life, a new purpose, and a new understanding of all of life because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection from the dead…now live in it, walk it out, and let His light shine through you in your daily life. And how are we to do this? Take a look at verse 13 with me.

13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 CSB)

At first glance we would probably be led to believe that getting our minds ready for action and being serious is our first priority, that these come before setting our hope on the grace to come at the revelation of Jesus. In actuality, the true imperative of this verse is first to “set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Setting our hope “completely” on the grace that is coming when Jesus returns then directs our minds for action and stirs a seriousness within us about life. 

I want to take a minute to help us understand the difference between “hope” as people normally understand it and the biblical understanding of “hope.” The way most people use the word hope is nothing more than a wish, a desire for an outcome that is really outside of our control. “I hope the weather is pretty on Sunday so we can have a picnic.” “I hope my test results are good so I can quit worrying about my health.” “I hope I get the job.” The biblical definition of hope, the Greek word, “elpizo,” is nothing like the everyday use of the word by most people. The biblical understanding of our hope for the future, for those who are followers of Jesus, is not a wish, but a certainty, because it is rooted and based upon something that has already taken place in the past, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about by having us read together 1 Peter 1:3. Peter writes,

3 In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3 NIV)

God has given us a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” In verse 13, Peter tells the followers of Jesus to set their hope fully on “the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” What is this grace that is to come? What did Peter have in mind when he wrote about “the revelation of Jesus Christ?” 

After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, He promised His disciples that He would return for them and for all who have placed their faith in Him. This promise of Jesus was a constant theme of preachers and the followers of Jesus in days gone by, but in our day we have largely stopped looking for Jesus’ return and are looking more for self-help teachings from the Bible. Unbelievers mock the idea of Jesus’ return. Some of those who claim to be followers of Jesus find it almost embarrassing to talk with any confidence about Jesus’ return. Afterall, it has been almost two thousand years. Maybe we should just focus on making the most of our lives in the here and now. This type of thinking would be an option for us if, if Jesus had not talked so much and so confidently about the fact that He would return one day. Let me give you just one example of what Jesus said, which is found in Luke 21:25-28.

25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25-28 NIV)

It is our knowing what God has done for us in Jesus, in reconciling us to Himself, and our knowing that Jesus will return one day that compels us to live a life worthy of His calling in the here and now. Paul put it this way in his letter to Titus.

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope– the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14 NIV)

All throughout the New Testament we learn that because Jesus’ return is certain, we are to live a life dedicated and surrendered to God’s will. We are to tell others about His grace and mercy…and also the certainty of His return one day. I do not know when Jesus will return, but I am looking forward to that day! The fact that He has not returned yet does not discourage me even for a moment. I’m not discouraged because it seems that every time I open God’s Word, there it is–The reminder that He is coming again for His own! R.J. Lamont has written… 

It has been said that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is mentioned 318 times in the 260 chapters of the New Testament and that this teaching occupies one in every twenty-five verses from Matthew to Revelation. It was upon some such evidence as this that Dr. Alexander MacLaren declared, “The primitive church thought a great deal more about the coming of Jesus Christ than about death; thought a great deal more about His coming than about Heaven.” And why not? If we attribute any authority to the words of Jesus, if we deal sincerely with the New Testament, then we must at least agree that Jesus and those who knew him best believed in his return. (Lamont. R.J. 1964, January 17. The Biblical Certainty of Christ’s Return. Christianity Today.)

You can believe it too my friend. I know there are a growing number of those inside the Church who are skeptical, but Peter saw that day coming as well. He wrote in 2 Peter 3:3-4.

3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4 NIV)

I don’t know if we are in the “last days,” but I do know that we are closer to Jesus’ return this morning than at any time in history. And with each passing day that comes before His return, we will be closer still. Scoffers say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” Isn’t it interesting how we draw our own conclusions about matters without first considering what God has to say? They say, “He hasn’t come so He must not be coming.” In the Scripture we just read from 2 Peter about the scoffers, Peter goes on to say,

9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. (2 Peter 3:9-12 NIV)

For those who are skeptical, those who are scoffers, did you ever consider that it is possible Jesus has not returned yet because He is working in your life to draw you to Himself, to show you His love for you, and to spare you from an eternity separated from living in His presence and the glorious future He has planned for all of His people? Have you ever considered that?

When we set our hope fully on the grace that will be revealed when Jesus returns for us, this truth will dramatically change the way we see and understand all of life. Let me remind us of one example Peter has already given us, which is found in verses 6-7. Those who received this letter were going through the fiery trials of life and yet Peter writes,

6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith– of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire– may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV)

The suffering we endure in this life is open to interpretation. When we go through difficult times in life we can respond to the difficulties in a myriad of ways. We can understand them to be random: “It’s just my bad luck.” We can understand them as being our fault: “If I would have only listened then I would not be in the position I’m in.” We can understand them as targeted: “Why would God do this to me?” Or we can skip the “Why?” of what we are experiencing and simply focus on alleviating the pain and sorrow as quickly as possible. Peter lets his readers know that their trials have come and are working to purify their faith, their trust and reliance on the Lord. He tells them their tears, their gut-wrenching sorrow and pain will one day result in praise, glory, and honor. When will this total reversal of experiences take place? “When Jesus Christ is revealed.” The assurance of Jesus’ return is a game changer my friend! 

Let’s go back to verse 13 and take one more look before we wrap up our time together this morning. Peter writes,

13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 CSB)

With setting our hope on Jesus’ return as the focal point of the instruction, Peter gives them guidance about how to “set their hope.” They are to make their minds ready for action and be serious. Thomas Schreiner, in his commentary on this passage, suggests the verse should read, “Set your hope fully on the grace…by preparing your minds for action and by being sober.” How can we keep our focus on the grace that is to come when Jesus returns? By making our “minds ready for action.” 

It is important for us to know that the literal reading of this phrase is “gird up the loins of your mind,” but since that makes no sense to most modern-day followers of Jesus, the translators had to come up with something more understandable. Eugene Peterson, in The Message, translates the same phrase with these words.

13 So roll up your sleeves, get your head in the game, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. (1 Peter 1:13 The Message)

The literal translation, “gird up the loins of your mind,” does have value for us if we will only take the time to learn a little bit of history. The phrase describes what a man in biblical times would do with the long robe he was wearing if he was called into action. He would gather up the long robe and tuck it into his belt so he could move more freely. Let me give you an example from God’s Word. 

In Exodus, while God was preparing His people to leave Egypt and the slavery they had known for 400 years, He instructed them as to what they were to do. They were to prepare a lamb, the first Passover lamb, and then get ready for their exit. We read in verse 11,

11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover. (Exodus 12:11 NIV)

They were to be prepared to leave Egypt in a hurry so they had to tuck their robes in their belt. Paul used the same word in Ephesians 6 when he was telling the followers of Jesus to “put on the full armor of God.” Paul described each piece of the armor of God, then in verse 14, he writes,

14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (Ephesians 6:14 NAS)

We are to fill our minds with truth, but not just any truth, not “your truth” or “my truth” or the “truth” our society wants us to believe. We are to fill our minds with the truth of God found in Scripture. 

The second tool the Lord has given us to keep our hope fixed on the grace to come is to “be serious,” or as some translations say, “be sober.” The Greek word, “nepho,” literally means, “be sober; be self-controlled.” This verb can be used to describe the opposite of drunkenness, but in the Bible it is also used to describe the way in which we are to think, how we are to use our brain. Karen Jobes writes,

Peter wishes his readers to avoid any form of mental or spiritual intoxication that would confuse the reality that Christ has revealed and deflect them from a life steadfastly fixed on the grace of God. Self-control of the mind facilitates prayer and an awareness of the devil’s ways. (Jobes, Karen. 1 Peter. pg. 112)

I’ve thought so much this past week about the “mental and spiritual intoxication” that is going on in our society, and even in the church. This past week in our study of Colossians we were talking about the false teachers who made their way into the hearts of God’s people in Colossae. Those teachers never called people to turn away from Jesus, to walk away or deny Jesus. What they did was try and get the followers of Jesus to “add to” Jesus. 

Paul, Peter, and all of the authors of the New Testament urged the followers of Jesus to trust in Christ alone, to find their identity and sufficiency in Christ alone, and to hope in Christ alone. Yet, everywhere they went they found false teachers who were selling the equivalent of the American Dream alongside faith in Jesus. 

Five hundred years ago, in 1536, John Calvin wrote, The Institutes of Christian Religion, a massive two-volume-1800-page systematic theology that covers every aspect of Reformed theology. John Calvin divided his work into four sections: “The Knowledge of God the Creator,” “The Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Jesus Christ,” “The Way in Which We Receive the Grace of Christ,” and “The External Means or Aids by Which God Invites Us Into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein.” In his Institutes, Calvin wrote, “…man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” It was true 500 years ago and it remains true to this day. 

In 2009, Tim Keller, wrote Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and The Only Hope That Matters. In his book, Tim Keller writes about the magnetic pull of the counterfeit gods which lure us, entice us, and seek to convince us that they have what we’ve been looking for all along. Like the false teachers in biblical times, counterfeit gods don’t ask us to renounce Jesus or walk away from Jesus, they simply invite us to seek them alongside Him. Keller writes,

A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family or children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving “face” and social standing. It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in the Christian ministry. When your meaning in life is to fix someone else’s life, we may call it ‘co-dependency,’ but it is really idolatry. An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship. (Keller, Timothy. Counterfeit Gods, pp. xiv, xvii-xviii).

This is the battle you and I face every day of our life. How can we win the battle? By fixing our hope on the certainty of Jesus’ return, by preparing our minds for the battle and living a self-controlled, Holy Spirit controlled life. 

I know we’ve only made it through one verse this morning, but let me assure you, if you and I will take to heart this one verse it can change our lives. If, if we will fix our hope, our only hope on the fact of Jesus one-day return for His own, then we will know hope like we’ve never known it before and nothing will ever be able to drown out the hope He gives to us. If we will stop allowing our emotions to drag us through this life, if we will stop allowing our desires and passions for what this world tells us will make us happy, and seek our fulfillment and contentment in Jesus alone, then nothing will ever be able to steal our joy or rob us of His hope. Is He your only hope? Do you have your mind set and ready for the battle that awaits you when you walk out of this sanctuary today? Maybe I should back up and ask a more important question: Do you believe Jesus is who He claimed to be? Do you believe that God sent His Son Jesus in order that you might be reconciled, made right with God, and receive this hope we’ve been talking about this morning? If you have never confessed your need for Jesus then won’t you do that right now. Give Him your heart and He will give you His hope and the assurance of His return for you one glorious day.

Mike Hays

Britton Christian Church

March 3, 2024

Set Your Hope Fully on God’s Grace
1 Peter 1:13
Tagged on: