by Mike Ratliff
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.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV)
I was inundated with bad news, it seemed, all day today. The financial news is enough to drive us despair. There are predictions of another Great Depression on the horizon that could last for years. However, unlike the one in the 1930′s, which was deflationary, this one will be hyper-inflationary much like the one that plagued Germany after World War I. There are predictions that the U.S. Dollar is going to fall and be replaced with another currency that will eventually be absorbed by a one-world currency. In light of the upcoming devaluing of the Dollar, I know some who are buying caches of food that can support them and their families for a year. Their faith in the Dollar and our consumer driven economy has failed.
My wife and I discussed this and we have agreed to seek the Lord’s will. Should we borrow from our retirement funds to buy a year’s worth of food for ourselves, our son-in-law and daughter, and my parents? If the Dollar becomes worthless and our economy crashes completely then what do we do? I found it interesting that my parents would have no problem knowing what to do since they went through the Great Depression. They are products of it and that experience has colored every financial decision they have ever made. However, we are products of a consumer driven economy and have no idea what we would do if our money becomes worthless. That brings back a memory of a passage found in the book of Revelation.
And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. (Revelation 13:15-17 ESV)
Any relationship with our current financial problems and this passage is only conjecture, however, it is easy to see how a small group of people could come to this level of power if the economy is in shambles and the only way people could buy food is to bow the knee to a false god.
Christians are commanded to be as wise as serpents yet as harmless as doves. We are to observe the environment in which God has placed us and should always be observant as to the circumstances that surround us. However, we are to be in the world, but not part of it. We must not become conformed to it because God has saved us out of it. Those who have trusted in Christ are to praise God for his promised salvation and live out that salvation in their daily lives. Our trust is in Christ not in a currency system, an economy, or a charismatic world leader. No, Christians are born again to a living hope.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV)
Never forget my brethren that our salvation is due to God’s mercy, grace, and sovereignty. He gave us new life even though we were sinners dead in our trespasses and sins. Our new birth was made possible because God thought of those who believe in Christ as being united to him in His resurrection (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 1:19-20; Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 3:1). This new birth is unto a living hope. This hope is for our future resurrection. We have an unshakable hope for this future because our Lord’s resurrection is a pledge of it.
This living hope is also unto an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. This means that no circumstances or an act by our enemy or any other person can tarnish or extinguish it because it is kept in heaven for us. We are being guarded by God’s power through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. This salvation is referring to our eternal inheritance. The certainty of this salvation is protected through God’s power and sustained by this supernatural faith to the end.
In vv6-7, Peter mentions that even though the recipients of this epistle rejoiced in these truths and the certainty of their inheritance, grief was also present in them due to various trials. However, Peter tells them and us that these trials are for only a ‘little while.’ This is translated as ‘for a season’ in the KJV. It is the Greek word ὀλίγος or oligos. I like how the KJV renders this because ‘for a season’ carries with it the idea of a period of time marked by certain circumstances that is eventually going to end. Of course, this ‘little while’ is referring to the whole of ones earthly life before inheriting future salvation. The ‘if necessary’ phrase tells us that these sufferings ‘for a season’ are God’s will for them so that their faith might be purified and shown to be genuine.
Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God’s strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.
Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise Him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities. – C.H. Spurgeon
This testing of our faith may grieve us, however, it is God’ work in us to test our faith by fire. This testing is not only to reveal its genuiness, but also to bring it to completion. This faith has a great reward. When our Lord Jesus returns, and He is coming back soon, honor and praise will belong to these Christians and to Christ.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12 ESV)
The Old Testament prophets did not see clearly when their prophecies would be realized, however, they did prophecy that Jesus Christ would suffer and then be glorified. They prophesied these things through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Most Christians either do not understand or know the astounding blessings they have received and will receive. The Old Testament prophets were not serving themselves. Instead, they were serving all genuine New Testament believers. The angels long to understand the profound accomplishment of the atoning work of Christ on the Cross. This is, of course, the good news that all believers hear and surrender to as God effectually calls them unto Himself.
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. (1 Peter 1:13-21 ESV)
Instead of worrying about the economy or even who is in power, Christians should be setting their hope fully on the grace that will be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This, as we saw above, is at His return. It is then that the fullness of grace and its complete work will be fulfilled. We should long for this day. We do this by thinking rightly about reality and by living sober-minded and sensible lives in our ‘season.’ In this ‘season’, we are called to be obedient children. Yes, we still have to fight the desires of sin, however, to be obedient children we must be separated from evil in all that we do. This is our cooperating with our Lord and the Holy Spirit in mortifying the sin that so easily ensnares us. This is working out our salvation with fear and trembling. We are called to be holy as our Lord is holy. Therefore, let us conduct ourselves with fear throughout this season, our time of exile on this earth. We must never lose sight of the fact that our Lord ransomed us with the His own precious blood. This ransom purchased us from the futile ways of the flesh, which is the inheritance of all the unregenerate. All people are born into this futility. However, all Christians have been purchased from it unto eternal life. Those who belong to Christ have faith and hope in God instead of luck, fate, a secular leader, an economy, or a society.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation– if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 1:22-2:1-10 ESV)
Since Christians have been given new life by the Word of God, they are to love one another fervently. They are to long for God’s Word so that they will continue to grow in faith. They are like living stones that together build up a spiritual house, with Jesus as the cornerstone. Believers are chosen by God to be His people who have received mercy that the unregenerate do not understand or care about.
My brethren, in whom or what is your hope? The test that we are in right now and the one coming very soon upon the whole world and us are very real. I am convinced that we are in the last of the last days. This test will clarify the Church and test our faith in the fires of tribulation. Let us seek the Lord in prayer and devotion. We must confess and repent of all that He shows us. Ask for wisdom and discernment and to be kept from temptation and to be delivered from evil. Let us keep our hope on our Lord’s soon revelation when He will return in the fulfillment of His Kingdom.
Soli Deo Gloria!