The Best is Yet to Come
Copyright © 2016, Dr. John W. (Jack) Carter.
All rights reserved.
www.biblicaltheology.com Scripture quotes from KJV
Most of us have had the opportunity to travel in an airplane to a distant location and return. When we do this, we find that air is not as solid a surface to travel on as is the interstate. The wings of the plane are shaped so that the air pressure passing under it is much greater than that passing over it, providing enough lift that it appears that the plane is being held in the air on a solid surface. However, the amount of lift is determined by the very dynamic variables of air speed, humidity, and density. When the plane encounters a sudden headwind or denser air, the additional lift causes the plane to quickly rise, giving us the impression of a bump. When the plane encounters a sudden tailwind or less dense air, the decreased lift causes the plane to quickly drop, giving us the impression of a hole. Swirling winds can make the plane jump around as though it is traveling on a bumpy road, and the ride can be quite uncomfortable, and for some, the turbulent ride can be frightening.
We may occasionally encounter a flight without turbulence. However, most flights will at some point become bumpy, and the pilot will request that everyone remain in their seats and buckle their seatbelts. The pilot may ask the travelers to raise their seats to its upright position, raise their tray tables, and stow any gear if the turbulence is expected to be particularly rough.
The ride that we experience here on the ground seems to have its own share of turbulence as we navigate the eventful bumps and potholes of our lives. The Apostle Peter knew first-hand the many and varied experiences of life that make for a bumpy ride. He experienced the mountaintops of miracles and the valleys of betrayal, rejection, and persecution. Just as the pilot warns us of upcoming turbulence, Peter gives us a similar warning that life is full of bumps and potholes. It is time to buckle our seat belts because there is turbulence ahead, but only for a short while.
After all, God’s ultimate purpose for us is not that our life be characterized by chronic turbulence:
Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (NASB)
God’s purpose for us is to ride out the turbulence with Him so that we can learn and be strengthened in Him as he gives us an ever-increasing strength with which to meet the future, a future that we can look forward to with confident hope. However, to receive the blessings that God has planned for us, we find that we must submit our hearts and minds to the LORD as we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us.
Certainly Peter knew the mountains and valleys of this dynamic life and experienced the dramatic power of the Holy Spirit to change his life, giving him hope for a new and enriched future, both in this life, and in eternity. Peter gives us encouraging, paraenetic, instruction on how to position ourselves to receive the blessings that God plans for us.
POSITION YOURSELF FOR GOD’S BLESSING
Strengthen your Mind-set.
1 Peter 1:13. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Note the first word, "therefore/wherefore." Peter has just given a synopsis of the gospel. Consequently, these words are Peter’s advice for all of us upon receiving the blessing of the gospel message into our hearts. His message is appropriate both for those whose faith is new, and for those who have been in the fellowship of believers for many years as all Christians seek the fullness of blessing that God promises to those who place their faith and trust in him. Turning to the LORD in faith does not remove all of the bumps and potholes from our journey, but faith does position us to receive strength, direction and purpose when turbulent times come.
His first advice refers to establishing a mental attitude. To gird one’s loins is to take action to prepare for a coming task. The words are from an Aramaic idiom that refers to tucking the rear hem of one’s robe into the front of the belt, turning the robe into a pair of short pants, allowing one to run.
To gird up the loins of your mind, immediately suggests the Passover state of being prepared to move at once and in great haste. The words are reminiscent of Exodus 12:11, "In this manner you shall eat: your loins girded, sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand . . ."At the same time, though, they also recall the words of the Lord to His disciples in Luke 12:35: "Stand with your loins girded and your lamps alight."
We often give away control when presented with an immediate crisis for which we are not prepared, like a driver giving away control in an automobile prior to a crash. We are advised to prepare for action. How do we do this?
First, Peter refers to a mindset that is sober. We are not to be T.U.I., or thinking under the influence. Our responses, thoughts and intentions are to be under the influence only of the wisdom that comes from sensitivity to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We are to be proactive rather than reactive, that is, we are to be motivated out of godly purpose rather than selfish reaction.
As we find ourselves responding to the issues of life, we have a resource from the gospel that is impossible to truly attain anywhere else: hope. As we journey this road of bumps and potholes, we have the hope of knowing that God plans the best for us, so we know the best is yet to come.
As we prepare ourselves for what God has in store for us, Peter reminds us that this preparation involves more than just our mindset. It also involves a preparation that is evident in our life style.
Straighten Out Your Life-Style.
1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.
If we are bringing our mindset under the influence of the Holy Spirit, then it is necessary that we bring our behavior under that influence also. Our behavior is the primary expression of our thoughts and attitudes. If we submit our behavior to the power of the Holy Spirit, there will be a transformation as the call to Christian life summons each believer to a new freedom. The Holy Spirit sets one free from the destructive desires and lusts for this world. Those things of the world that were so important prior to submission to the LORD become simply a vague memory as those old desires are replaced by a far higher desire and calling, a calling that we were not even aware of until God touched our hearts. Paul describes this new freedom when he writes,
Romans 12:2. Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
When we contrast a life of disobedience to God with one of obedience we can easily envision the character of both. A disobedient life will be filled with strife and chaos as one steps out of God’s hand of protection and brings all manner of ungodly events into an uncontrolled life. By choosing obedience, we reject the power of the lusts of the former life and choose to reside securely in God’s hand of protection, as His Spirit guides us away from destructive behaviors to those that bring true peace and joy into our lives.
1 Peter 1:15-16. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16for it is written: Because it is written, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
How do we live a life of obedience that rejects the lusts of the old life and embraces the future of blessing that God promises? Peter immediately answers that question by defining the nature of the redeemed life: holiness. Prior to your decision for faith, you were without holiness. Your attitudes and behaviors were centered around your own purposes and desires and you were united with the spirit of this world. However, upon turning to God in faith, God calls upon us to be holy. Unlike any other in God’s creation, man was made in His image as a spiritual being, and has the unique capacity for holiness. Holiness literally refers to one’s choosing to be separated from this godless world, and dedicated or consecrated wholly to God’s service.
What that means is that Christians must become holy, as God is holy. Not "holier than thou," in the sense of a kind of moral superiority over their benighted neighbors, still locked in their pagan darkness. But "holy" in the sense that God is holy, separated from all evil and injustice. Such holiness is to penetrate into every corner of their lives. No room here for compromise with an oppressive popular culture—every activity of the Christians' lives is to reflect that holiness, every activity is to be different from their former lives when they shared the ignorance of God characteristic of their non-Christian contemporaries.
Holiness is not a piety that is demonstrated by false humility or adherence to iconic religious rites. Holiness is demonstrated in a sincere submission of one’s heart and mind entirely to the service of God. When one is demonstrating holiness one brings every property of this life under God’s authority, including our possessions, our work, our relationships, and our very life. If any good work or godly behavior comes from a life of the faithful believer, it is a fruit of that faith, not of holiness.
Peter quotes from Leviticus 11:45, God’s statement to the people of ancient Israel as God gave them instruction in obedience. This statement is not a suggestion or an idea: it is an imperative. It is a command. God has the authority and right to define holiness, and He also has the right to demand it. Why does God demand our holiness?
We are called to be his children, and we reflect Him to others. What kind of a reflection are we when we demonstrate unholiness?
We are called to be learners, and must submit to His will and His word in order to be teachable.
We are called to be disciples, recognizing by the very concept of discipleship that we are to mature in Him so that we can improve the quantity and quality of service to him.
Some may argue that we, because we are originally "children of the flesh" and are all unable to fully shed our sinful attitudes and actions, will never be able to achieve a state of "holiness." However, this position simply is not true because God demands holiness. God has commanded us, as His obedient children, to dedicate ourselves completely to Him and maintain our focus on His will for our lives. He has demanded that we willfully separate ourselves from the secular, pagan, evil and base culture of this world and join Him as His children in His kingdom. God does not require us to do or accomplish anything that we cannot do when we are submitted to Him. Consequently, with a desire for obedience to the LORD that inspires holiness we may find some guidance from Peter on how we can do this.
Live in Awe.
1 Peter 1:17. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
How do we find empowerment to become holy? Peter instructs us first to call upon the Father. Note that we are to relate to God in this context as His children. God is our Father; a father who judges and has the authority to carry out his judgment. Our Father has the authority to judge us and to hold us responsible for our actions and attitudes. This One to whom we submit our heart and mind is the same One who created this universe. He is not our “buddy” nor our “co-pilot.” He is our LORD.
Peter also reminds us that we are simply sojourning here. We are on a journey that is taking us from birth, through rebirth in Him, through death, to the glory of His eternal presence. If we truly recognize God for who He is, we will travel this bumpy road with great awe of who He truly is. We understand that God receives us as we are, and that truth alone should be enough to sober us. Consequently, as we journey through this life we should understand the glory of God and approach Him with an attitude of overwhelming appreciation, humility, awe, and reverence.
RECEIVE HIS BLESSING WITH CONFIDENCE
You were redeemed by Christ.
1 Peter 1:18-19. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Peter urges us to remember how we got to where we are in our Christian faith. Prior to coming to the LORD in faith, we were under the authority of this world, The word “ransom/redeemed” used here comes specifically from the slave markets as the price paid to redeem a slave, making him a free man. From what have we been set free? Peter refers to our bondage to the futile ways inherited from our fathers, a bondage that immerses us all in a state of sin. The Greek word for “futile” is quite graphic. It refers to a "fumbling, groping life which makes no effective contact with reality and whose mournful verdict at the end must ever be in vanity."
Furthermore, Peter reminds us that the price paid for our redemption was far more valuable than silver or gold. Buying and selling humans for money is degrading. How much money are you worth? As much as we may think that gold and silver are of great value, you are worth more to God than the sum of all worldly possessions of this world. God paid for your redemption from slavery to sin’s authority with the very death of Christ himself. It was a tradition even in the pagan religions that when one was ransomed, a sacrifice would be paid. John referred to Christ as the Lamb of God, the paschal lamb, the lamb of sacrifice that was to be without blemish or flaw.
God's Purpose is Eternal.
1 Peter 1:20. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
Does it not almost seem arrogant to think that the eternal Creator of this entire universe, who established the purpose for the universe before He created it, would reveal Himself in this way to our insignificant population on this insignificant planet? The error of that thinking is simply a rejection of the importance that God places in His plan and purpose for His people. We are not insignificant because God considers us the "crown of His creation," and did so even before He formed the universe. Obviously Peter considered the first generation of Christians to be recipients of the best good news that people had ever received. This good news is a part of God’s eternal plan, a purpose that transcends anything that this temporal world has to offer.
Your Faith and Hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:21. Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
What do people who do not know God truly hope for? All that is available to those who have rejected God is that which is left when we take God out of the universe: the things of this world. Before we knew God, we had no hope beyond what this world could give us. We had no value beyond that which we could accumulate in this world. The ultimate futility and vanity of a worldly hope is obvious. This is why God came and touched our lives: so that through Him we would have a hope that is beyond the things of this world: a hope in Him for a blessed eternal life.
SHARE HIS BLESSING IN LOVE
Love is to be shared.
1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Having been renewed of mind, and redeemed of spirit, Peter now gives us our marching orders. We are to declare who we are by our uncompromised obedience to the truth. The word for purify, hagnizo, refers to making thoroughly clean something that was once soiled. Its grammatical verb tense refers to an action that has already taken place. The faithful have been purified by the blood of Christ, forgiven of their sin, and accepted before God. Objects are purified for a purpose, and once purified we strive for obedience to Him; we seek to maintain that purity. That purpose is to be holy:
be separated from this world,
love each other unconditionally,
love God, and
live an holy lifestyle without compromise.
In this process of purification we are set free from the worldly vanity and self-centeredness that burdens us, weighs us down, and holds us back.
In Him we can love each other with an “unfeigned love.” How does Peter describe that love? The word for “unfeigned” is anhypocritos, or “without hypocrisy.” The word for love is phileo, that strong brotherly love that we naturally share with friends and family. Consequently, that love is to be expressed without any form of hypocrisy. Peter’s second statement about love uses the word, agape, the unconditional love that comes only from God. This love is to be willfully and deliberately expressed with sincerity, with fervor, and is absolutely unconditional. Agape is not a passive love, but one that deliberately acts upon circumstances with care and compassion even when those circumstances would tend inspire us to do otherwise.
We are not only to love one another (which is often expressed in phileo): we are to be "friends to the friendless and helpers to the helpless” because of the unconditional nature of true agape love. If there is any condition that causes you to fail to express sincere love for another, that love is not agape, but rather a worldly phileo love that you choose to dispense to others based upon your own preferences and prejudices. Paul referred to the priorities in the trilogy of faith, hope and love. Peter reiterates the same thesis in these verses.
Love is from God’s word.
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Here Peter refers to the description of salvation used by Jesus, quoted in John 3:3 and 3:7. This is yet another way our identity as the children of God is fully affirmed. Peter clearly believes in the initial, new-birth experience of redemption. He sees it as a life-changing experience that continues to inform and positively influence the believer's whole life as the years unfold. Note, also the metaphor used here as to the source of our inheritance. God is literally our Father, as we are from His seed. If this is true, our inheritance is literally imperishable because God is imperishable. We are each an eternal child of God, either obedient or disobedient.
Peter holds that the power of our salvation stands upon the foundation of the Word of God.
Love is Eternal
1 Peter 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
Man considers himself and his self-importance or self-authority to be significant, yet he is weak, spiritually powerless, and temporal when contrasted to that which is of God and eternal. Our greatest worldly accomplishments can at best gain little more than a footnote in a history book. In what ways is mankind's insignificance often displayed? All people, including the greatest and most respected and most powerful men (and women) all die, and are then forgotten. The quote is from Isaiah 40:6-9.
1 Peter 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
God's eternal word that Isaiah wrote about is the same good news of Christ. This truth purifies the souls of believers and sets them free from the condemnation for sin and from selfishness so that they truly may love one another and receive the blessings that God intends. This verse speaks to the eternity of God's word, or God's true authority. In the words of Martin Luther,
"Let good and kindred go. This
mortal life also.
The body they may kill. God's truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever."
In order to survive and carry on a redemptive ministry, Christians still need a firm mind-set. As in the first century, our time calls for deep thought and direct action in demonstrating a genuine Christian lifestyle. The true and uncompromised expression of Christian faith should help us to work through what is sometimes called an identity crisis that many contemporary people experience. God has a plan for us that is well-worth considering:
Jeremiah 29:11. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
So, the obligations grace brings with it are themselves an expression of that grace, since they indicate God's desire that Christians be involved in the new kind of world that He will bring into existence with the return of Christ, a world that God is in fact already bringing into reality with the global influence of an obedient Christian community. Christians are not to be mere bystanders, passive observers of the world around them. They are to participate actively, to be partners, active partners with their Holy God, in realizing the gracious covenant God has already established through Jesus Christ.
We may experience a great deal turbulence in this life as a result of our sin and the impact upon us that the sin of others can have. However, when we place our trust and our life in the hands of God, seeking His plan and purpose for our lives we find that God intends for each day to be better than the day before it as we grow closer to Him and leave further behind the ungodly attitudes and desires that have for so long vexed us. We are reminded by Peter that we have an opportunity to position ourselves for God’s blessing by bringing our mind and heart under His authority as we set ourselves apart for His purposes. Only until we do this will we realize the fullest measure of His blessing that we are then to share one with another. The journey may be bumpy now, but the best is yet to come. This is a message that is more than worth considering. This is a message that demands our all.
 For those who do not fly, simply consider a springtime drive across the roads of Pennsylvania! Apologies to the PADOT.
 Dryden, J de Waal. Refined by fire: paraenetic literary strategies in 1 Peter. Tyndale Bulletin, 55 no 2 2004, p 317-320.
 Scharlemann, Martin Henry. Exodus Ethics: Part One--1 Peter 1:13-16. Concordia Journal, 2 no 4 Jul 1976, p 166.
 Achtemeier, Paul J. 1 Peter 1:13-21. Interpretation, 60 no 3 Jul 2006, p 307.
 Archibald M. Hunter.
 John 1:29.
 John 1:14.
 Psalm 8:1.
 Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1.
 See Romans 12:9.
 See 1 Corinthians 13:13.
 “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Martin Luther, 1528.
 Achtemeier, Paul J. 1 Peter 1:13-21. Interpretation, 60 no 3 Jul 2006, p 308.