What is the Meaning of 1 Peter 1

Gospel Motivates Godly Living

1 Peter 1

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INTRO: Turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter 1.

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As you heard a little bit on Wednesday night, I’m called of God to plant a church in Athabasca, Alberta, which is about 1:45 north of Edmonton. And, by God’s grace, my wife Ruth and my children Haddie, Hudson, and Rosie have all agreed to come too!

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The people are a dedicated people. We knew to start the church because 3 and sometimes 4 families have been traveling the 1:45 minutes each Sunday to come to the church in Edmonton, Meadowlands Baptist Church. The church is a church planting church and since my source of income is mobile and I have the theological training, they have called me and my family to plant the church.

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And we are very excited! Why would we leave our first house after owning it for less than a year and leave everything we know? Because of the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

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As we begin the sermon this morning, let me ask you a question…

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What motivates you to go to bed at night without crying? I suppose it’s different for everybody… ;O)

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For my 2 year old boy and 4 year old girl, it’s been jelly beans. We haven’t done this since being in Souris, but after they do a good job getting ready for bed at night, they pick out 2 jelly beans and then in the morning they get to eat those 2 jelly beans if they obey while falling asleep. Ingeniously, we call it ‘jelly bean time.’

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…And no, you can’t come sleep at my house tonight…

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In this instance, my children are motivated by something simple, something tangible: taste.

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The Lord as well is not shy when it comes to motivating His children. Similar to my kids, the Bible does actually motivate us by the promise of reward. E.g.,

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2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV) 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

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A motivation to perseverance. Is a crown of righteousness motivating? That’s a motivation by reward!

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However, the authors of our NT also motivate us along a different line. Often, to motivate us to live godly or to live the way Christ lived, the Holy Spirit directed the writers to something different, something more profound. What will motivate you to live a godly life? What I want us to discover this morning is that the gospel itself motivates godly living.

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What we’ll do is briefly address Peter’s first letter in order to make a single point: that the gospel motivates godliness. Along the way, we will be meditating on the gospel and because of what Peter says and because of divine example, I will be able to preach to you with ferocity that you ought to live godly because of what God has done for you in the gospel.

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In fact, unless the Lord directs otherwise, for 3 Sundays, today and the next 2 weeks, I will be saying the same thing from different portions of Scripture: the gospel motivates godliness.

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So are you struggling in a particular area of your life or with a particular sin? What motivation can you give to yourself, what can you feed yourself, what can you preach to yourself, that will help you live according to the Bible’s standards? The gospel motivates godly living.

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Christians need the gospel more than anything else…we sang it on Wednesday night… “I love to tell the story for those who know it best seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.” What seems true to the hymn writer here, is Peter’s certain burden and, as well see next week, Paul’s as well.

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Pastor Bart has out on the bulletin board a chart on the discipleship process. What’s going to motivate you to progress down that path, so that you become a more effective servant? The Bible answer? It’s the gospel! And 1 Peter 1 proves that to us.

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So, first, what we’ll do is read through 1 Peter 1 with some comments. After that, we’ll meditate further on the glories of the gospel and then finally we’ll use these glories to motivate us to progress in godliness.

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So as we go through 1 Peter 1, let your heart grow in thankfulness for what God has done for you in the gospel.

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We’ll begin in verse 3. 1 Peter 1 verse 3 but before we read it, let me summarize what Peter has here. Peter writes to persecuted believers concerning God’s inheritance reserved for them and that therefore, because of this inheritance is waiting for them, they should be holy. Because of the inheritance they have, they should be holy.

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What we’ll do is slowly read down through verse 21 and I’ll explain and interject at points. You’ll feel like you have your eyes stuck on the passage and so you’ll have to make a special effort to follow me. If you get lost, that’s ok, just pick right back up and keep going, but try not to blank out on me! First Peter 1 verse 3.

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1 Peter 1:3-21 (KJV) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again [That is, He has caused us to be born again. And what about right now? And now, keep reading…we’re in this] lively [or living] hope [and now Peter explains how we came into this living hope… Keep reading…our entrance came about] by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 [this living hope, which is a confident expectation, is further defined for us now in v.4… Tell me more about this living, confident expectation Peter. It is…] an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, [what, Peter? It’s unbelievable Peter, it sounds too good to be true…I mean, maybe for someone else…no no… this incorruptible inheritance is…keep reading end of v. 4], reserved in heaven for you [for me? no, surely not, I mean, I sin, I don’t do enough…no no, it’s not about what you can do on your own…you are… v5] 5 who are kept by the power of God [see it’s not your power…you are kept by the power of God] through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [see, it’s going to happen, it’s just waiting to be revealed! Guaranteed! Just waiting to happen! And so v.6…] 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice [well I should hope so!], though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [or trials and these trials are not random acts of divine displeasure. No way, v.7, trials have a purpose…it’s so….]7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

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Peter, you sound like this is a for-sure thing, like it’s in the bag, like I can take it to the bank. Is it really? How can I know for sure? It sounds way out there!

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The personal benefits of the Gospel are real! Heaven is actually real! A recent graduate of a Bible college once said to me, “You know, heaven is actually real!” There was something that just hit them to further convince them of the reality of the glories to come, even though they may be able to delineate the nuances of eschatology.

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So I’m convinced there are some of us out here this morning who have failed as of yet to see death as merely the gateway to receiving your eternal inheritance! Have you failed to be able to say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. … I am hard pressed between the two [that is death and life], having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

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Paul’s convinced of the reality of the personal benefit of the gospel.

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And Peter is sympathetic with your failure up to this point in your life to be convinced of the glories of the gospel. After v. 9 and before v. 10, it’s as if Peter slumps back in his chair and thinks, “Christians need to be convinced of the reality of this salvation!” So, he attempts to persuade Christians of the reality of their faith! So, how does Peter do this? He says this, in effect, “When I wrote this letter,” Peter says, “this great salvation was predicted to arrive on earth hundreds of years previous!” Verse 10!

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10 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, [these prophets] prophesied of the grace that should come unto you [to me?], 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify when He testified beforehand [i.e., the Spirit of Christ through the prophets predicted what…they predicted keep reading…] the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 Unto whom [i.e., to the prophets] it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us [to us?] they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you [to me?…God revealed these things to the prophets long ago which have now been reported to us…how did they hear about it? Keep reading…v.12…the readers first heard] by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

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“Oh wow!” you say, “It was predicted hundreds of years previous to Christ? [Yes, and I could take you through how, for example, Daniel 9 predicts, to the very year, Messiah’s death! {**2 hands, right side, moving 1 over to show time progression**}Daniel 9:24-26 predict that someone would command that Jerusalem be rebuilt and that it would be 483 years after that command that the Messiah would die. Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled when King Artaxerxes in Nehemiah chapter 2 made that very command exactly 483 years before the death of Jesus.]

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Is not this salvation that was predicted to this precision motivating? When you stop and consider that this is for certain not from a merely human source, but God speaking these things to you…to me? Yes, to you…doesn’t that make you want to live in light of it? You are going to heaven, my friend. What would you not do for Jesus?

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The gospel motivates godliness! This is exactly what Peter has purposed it to do! Peter will now apply this for certain salvation! Since this great salvation was (1) predicted with precision and (2) since it has awesome forever personal benefits , like a divine inheritance…since those 2 things are the case, Peter now argues that you must respond correctly, right now…v.13…respond with godliness…

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13 Wherefore [b/c this great salvation is for-sure and is a living hope, an awesome divine inheritance, and b/c it’s for you!] gird up the loins of your mind [i.e., prepare your minds for action. What action? This action…], be sober [i.e., self controlled], and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; ;[what would that look like? How would you know if you are truly waiting in faithful confidence for this end times grace? It would look like…v.14…]14 As obedient children [who have good jelly bean time], not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: [i.e., not going back to your former sins];15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. [you can see the proper response then is godliness, all throughout vv. 13-16. Now some more motivation to this concerning the end times…] 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, [yikes, that’s a fearful thing. …right? If being judged by the Father through Christ is fearful then …keep reading…] pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 [Again, do you, a citizen of heaven, need some help living properly as a foreigner in this world? How you live this way is found in v. 18, you have to ‘know’ something, know that ] 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; 19 But [this is meant to really impact you and motivate you… you were redeemed] with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, [for me?]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.

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And the implication there in v.21 is that if God raised Jesus from the dead; he’ll raise you from the dead too!

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Is that motivating enough?

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The Bible is telling you of the great promises of God and how they were prophesied hundreds of years previous to their fulfillment during the time of Christ on earth. And because of that we can be certain of our salvation and therefore because of that we should be careful to incarnate the very holiness of God in our earthly bodies.

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So stand amazed at the gospel! Let yourself be overwhelmed with the goodness of God and his glory; his love, mercy and grace that it might transform you and overwhelm you to the point that you could by no means sin against this grace.

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Then Preach The Benefits of the Gospel

Do you realize what God has done for you in the gospel? He has shown you his love mercy and grace by purposing in eternity past [**right hand out gesture**] your ultimate conformity to the image of Christ your resurrection and ultimate inheritance [**left hand out gesture**]. He has elected you and chose you before the foundation of the world; he has known you before you were born and had a plan for you before time began. He then sent his son the Lord Jesus to make an atonement on the cross, to extinguish God’s wrath and your guilt before him. Christ substituted himself he was separated from God that you and God might be reconciled together.

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This is the gospel! And the gospel concerns God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is both fully man and fully God and this gospel reveals God’s power for salvation to all the ones who believe. God’s work in the gospel demonstrates that Jesus Christ alone is the solution for overcoming sin and its condemnation. He gave himself for our sins on the cross and he was actually, literally, bodily raised from the dead the third day, for real!

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And Jesus Christ perfectly obeyed the Father in all of the Old Testament’s requirements and because of that the ones who believe in Him are saved by his life; we have His obedience credited to our account.

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God had all of this in mind and planned out before you were even born, before the world began!

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And by God’s grace he has invited you [me?] to participate in this great salvation! He presented you, of all the billions of people on the planet…He singled you out to have faith in this glorious gospel.

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And the Father illuminated your mind and persuaded you; he drew you to salvation and you received the gospel.

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When you received it, He delivered you from the power and the penalty of sin and he restored you to fellowship with God. He cleansed you from your sin and redeemed you from destruction, he washed you thoroughly from the stain of your sin and gave you freedom from the law and from sin’s power while forgiving you and dismissing all of your sin and throwing it behind his back, removing it from you as far as the east is from the west.

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When you trusted in Christ, he credited to your account righteousness that was not your own and declared you to be righteous; his eternal, fire-y wrath is no longer upon you and your guilt is all gone. My guilt is all gone!

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He has adopted you, reconciled you to the Father; you have peace, sanctification, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells you and is your down payment of the promised future resurrection. He has sealed you for that coming day and now you’re regenerated. He has given you the assurance of glorification and future resurrection when you will be conformed to the magnificent image of Christ in both body and spirit. God pleads with you then, because of these awesome mercies, live godly in Christ Jesus! Serve him, love him, grow!

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Then Apply…

And so with all of these benefits of the gospel, will you be spiritually lazy? You will…yes you will…really? Yes, but how could you? Here’s how… you will fail and be spiritually lazy if also fail at meditating, as my 2 year old would put it, if you fail to meditate ‘all long day’ on the truths and benefits of the gospel. The application? Purposefully meditate on the glories of the gospel. You need the gospel as much as or more than the unbeliever does.

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Conclusion

Sometimes it takes an earthly story to help us grasp what it means to be motivated by unspeakable generosity and grace. In honour of Canada Day today, I have a Canada war story to tell you.

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John Robert Osborn was a Canadian Company Sergeant Major during WWII. He was the recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for valor in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was part of the “A” Company…and let’s imagine for sake if illustration, you are too. This is a true story, but I’ve modified the details to make the point of illustration and you are included in it.

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You are stationed in Hong Kong on the morning of 19th December 1941. The “A” Company becomes divided during an attack on Mount Butler, a hill rising steeply above sea level {hand gesture of hill}. The group that gets separated from the main group includes you and Osborn, and a small company. You, Osborne and the small company capture the hill after an intense gun fight and hold it for three hours. However, because enemy opposition is so strong and because fire is coming from an unprotected flank, holding the hill has now become impossible. You must fall back and reposition with the main group. You must retreat and attempt to rejoin the main company.

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Osborn and you along with the small group, cover the retreat. Each soldier, one by one, falls back to the main group. Now, it’s your turn. In order to cover you, Osborn single-handedly engages the enemy. You look back over your shoulder and see Osborn running the gauntlet of heavy rifle and machine gun fire….for you…for me? With no consideration for his own safety he continues assisting and directing you back to the main Company position all the while exposing himself to intense enemy fire to cover your tail.

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Soon, however, you and Osborn are completely surrounded by the enemy. They approach within grenade-throwing distance. The enemy throws several grenades which Osborn alone picks up and throws back. Then, as you look to the east, you see the enemy throw a grenade that landed too far away; it is impossible to pick it up and return in time! He shouts to you, “Get down!” and while hitting the deck, you peer up from your safely covered face and see this valiant and courageous Osborn throwing himself on the grenade which explodes killing him instantly. He saved your life. He did that for you…yes, you!

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That could have been someone’s story that day. Now, for the sake of illustration, let’s say Osborn actually lived through it. And you visit him in the hospital on the day he’s permitted to leave.

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You arrive at the hospital, whole and well. You take the elevator to the 3rd floor and walk down the hallway to his sanctified hospital bed with fear and trepidation because of his awesome, courageous act, all the while thinking to yourself… “What on earth am I going to say?” And then ….you behold….the man. After exchanging courteous greetings, you say, “John…thank you…What could I ever do to repay you?” He replies simply, “Soldier, just get me my wheelchair.”

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Be overwhelmed, marvel…at the valor and love of Christ in the gospel. And….

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Behold the Man upon the cross, [throwing himself down, shielding you from the wrath of God]

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,

Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life…AND THEREFORE…b/c of the gospel…

I will not boast in anything

No gifts, no power, no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ

His death and resurrection

And another hymn…

(1) His robes for mine: {gesture: hand shifting} [WHAT?] O wonderful exchange!

Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.

Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified,

In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

AND because of that!!!!…..

I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:

Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.

Bought by such love, my life is not my own:

My praisemyall shall be for Christ alone.

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Let’s bow for prayer. If Osborn would have asked you to do anything, would you have had the audacity to deny him? Would you have actually denied him his wheelchair? He saved your temporal life.

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Christ asks you to give your body a living sacrifice for him, will you deny him? He saved your immortal life. Christ is asking for everything you are and have, all your energies, time, money, and relationships…that’s it! And just for this life, that’s all. If you lose your life for His sake, you’ll find your life! Die to self, soldier! Overspend your time and labor for his name! Do not practice your former sins which were yours in your ignorance.

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Father, you have loved us with everlasting love you have not spared your own son for us but you gave him up for us and we know and have confidence that you will graciously give us all things. No one can bring any charge of guilt against us because you have justified us. No one can condemn us because Christ has died for us and is now raised at your right hand interceding for us. And nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ. And we know that we are more than conquerors through Christ because of his great love and nothing, not even the power of death and Satan can separate us from your love. Help us we pray therefore, to live life in light of the gospel and to be motivated by it that others might see our good works and glorify you alone. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Go to 1 Peter Main Page

Go To New Testament Books

Go To BibleTrove Home Page

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