Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20th - Holiness

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Austin with the Flu
Fall Festival
Jeff Duckett City Council
Bethany's Cousin

Text - 1 Peter 1:13-16

Peter is proving to be a very good writer, the more I read and prepare, the more impressed I am by his structure and ability to drive home a point. I really hope this is coming across in my teaching. At the end of the letter, I'd like to read the whole thing to you, or if one of you wants to maybe memorize it and recite it, that would be awesome. The more I prepare for this letter, the more important it comes across to me that it should be read and comprehended all at once.

Barring that, because it is totally worthwhile to dig into it, let's do a quick review.

Overall, who is this letter to? All Christians, everyone whose citizenship is Heaven but are aliens on earth.

Who is the one that did the saving and regenerating of our souls? God.

How did he do it? Through the death of Jesus Christ who paid for our sins and has given us hope through his resurrection. Pay attention to that hope, it's an important part of the introduction.

Our faith is worth more than what? Everything in this world! But namely gold.

Three groups long to look into the works of Christ, the glorious grace he has bestowed upon us, the Word which he has given to us, and the Holy Spirit by which he gave that Word; who are they? First is the prophets who wrote down the Old Testament before Christ, next are the preachers who interpret the Old Testament to see how it revealed Christ, and last are the angels, who have no need for the gospel other than to see God glorified.

So that is Peter's introduction, and it is beautiful. It's way different writing than Paul, in Romans he takes eleven chapters to get to the point Peter has gotten to in twelve verses. In First Thessalonians, it took Paul three chapters to get to the point that Peter has gotten to in the first chapter. On the other end of the spectrum, James doesn't really give an introduction at all but dives right in. Paul isn't wrong by any means, but it is just so much easier to follow Peter. Paul splits two things up, orthodoxy, and orthopraxy, which mean right believing, and right living. Paul explains the orthodoxy first, then explains how to put it into orthopraxy. Peter isn't going to do that, he intermingles the two. It's awesome, but it's a whole different mindset from Paul. I think this is super-neat in the Holy Spirit writing the Bible, that he has given us absolute truth without imposing himself on the style of the writers.

So we're through the introduction, and now Peter is going to give us four and a half chapters of applicable theology, both what to believe and what to do with it. I want to take a brief moment to teach you some public speaking that so many people today miss. A good sermon or speech should always start out with an introduction and a thesis. Your thesis tells your audience what your main point is, pretty much, "If you only get one thing out of this, I want you to get..." Next is the body of the text, this is where you support your thesis. It is great to make major points, there is no requirement on how many to give, sometimes there is only a few, sometimes there are several. Then make a few points to back up your main points. Remember Paul's list in 1 Thessalonians 5, there were like fifteen supporting points on how to live at peace within the church. You HAVE to give application too, John Calvin put it perfectly, "We come not to the preaching to learn what we do not know, but to be incited to do our duty." Each of your points may have an application like Peter, or if they are all pointing to the same application, then save it towards the end like Paul. Finally, give a conclusion that should bring it all together. Restate your main points and how they support your thesis; exhort your hearers to apply what they've learned. If you follow this model, you'll be a better preacher/speaker than 90% of Christians in America today.

Moving on, every major good translation of 1 Peter 1:13-16 begins this section with "therefore", which means that Peter is going to now unpack his introduction and tell you what to do with it. The thesis of this lesson is that because of the greatness of our salvation, we should now live for Christ, not to earn your salvation, but because he is worth it.

1 Peter 1:13-16 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."
The ESV Bible captures something neat in its translation that most translations miss, this is not hugely doctrinally important, but it's neat and I'm glad they caught it. We are to be preparing our minds for action and being sober minded, but our hope is to be set. That is, our minds will never be perfect and we will never be perfectly self controlled this side of Heaven, but we can set our hope fully on Christ. That is, we don't put a little hope on us, and a little hope on Christ, but all of our hope in Christ and no hope on us.

I'm not sitting here full of joy and expectation for Christ's return because of my readiness to go or my goodness, because if it were up to me to be good enough, I wouldn't be going. But, because my hope is totally on Christ and his work, I know that in his revelation I will see the fullness of his grace.

If you're trusting at all in yourself, or in a prayer you prayed, or a time in your life that you asked Jesus into your heart, you're not putting your hope totally in Christ, but in your faith. One of the biggest failings of the church in the last century was to put their hope in their profession of faith, when we need to put our hope in Jesus Christ. You've heard me share in the past, and something I'll share many more times, is that the best way for me to know you were born is not to see your birth certificate, but to see you living. The same with being born-again, the best way to know you were is not that you can tell me there was a time in your life that you trusted Jesus Christ to save you, but that you're trusting him, and him alone, today.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Are you saved by grace, or faith? We're saved by grace through faith. But many people think we're saved by faith. You're saved by Jesus Christ, not your faith.

Something neat I heard about the relationship between our sanctification and perfect hope that made it make more sense for me is that grace is glory begun, that is, we have received grace to be forgiven, but we are not yet perfect, but in glory, we will be perfect. So grace is glory begun, and glory is grace completed.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Peter talks about our mind, and while we have a physical brain, he is talking more about our intellect and logic and that we need to be preparing for action. What are some ways to prepare for action? Study, Sunday School, regular school...but here is something we usually don't think about it, it's also putting it into action. I know lots of people who have huge amounts of theoretical knowledge, they know all sorts of things, but they never put it into action, and so their knowledge is useless. We need to be putting our minds to action.

On the other hand, hope has no physical equivalent, we don't have a hope organ. I really want you to get this point, that there is no mystical stuff that is hope or faith. I can't give you a pound of hope, neither does God build things out of faith. This may sound like common sense, but there are cults out there that think God needs your faith to do things, because they think faith and hope are physical things. You can quickly identify them because they talk about "speaking things into existence" and "speaking faith to it." This is setting men up as gods, because God is the only one that can speak things into existence. Do you remember how he created angels? He commanded them to be, and they were.

v. 14-15 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...
The language of this verse in the modern day would make most people cringe. People don't want to be obedient, because when we're obedient, it means we're willingly giving up our interests for the interests of someone else. I recently heard a story that puts this into better perspective.

In 1849, a young Englishman traveled to California in search of gold. After several months of prospecting, he struck it rich. On his way home he stopped in New Orleans. Not long into his visit, he came upon a crowd of people all looking in the same direction. Approaching the crowd, he realized that they had gathered for a slave auction, one of the last remaining slave auctions in the United States. Slavery had been outlawed in England for years, so this young man's curiosity drew him to watch as a person became someone else's property. He heard "sold" just as he joined the crowd. A middle-aged black man was taken away.

Next a beautiful young black girl was pushed up on the platform and made to walk around so everyone could see her. The bidding began. Soon the bids surpassed what most slaveholders would pay. As the bidding continued higher and higher, it was apparent that two men wanted her. The miner stood as silent anger welled up inside of him. Finally, one man bid a price that was beyond the reach of the other. The girl looked down. The auctioneer called out, "Going once, going twice..."

Just before the final call, the miner called out a price that was exactly twice the previous bid. An amount that exceeded the worth of any man. The crowd laughed, thinking the miner was only joking. The auctioneer motioned to the miner to come forward and show his money. The miner opened up his satchel of money. The auctioneer shook his head in disbelief as waved the girl over to him.

The girl walked down the steps of the platform until she was eye to eye with the miner. She spat straight in his face and said through clenched teeth, "I hate you!" The miner, without a word, wiped his face, paid the auctioneer, took the girl by the hand, and walked away from the still laughing crowd.

He took her to a lawyer and while she waited he had papers drawn up and both him and the lawyer signed, followed by the transfer of more money. The young girl looked away as the miner came out the door. Stretching out his hand, he said to the girl, "Here are your manumission papers. You are free."

The girl didn't look up.

He tried again. "Here. These are papers that say you are free. Take them."

"I hate you!" the girl said, refusing to look up. "Why do you make fun of me?"

"No, listen," he pleaded. "These are your freedom papers. You are a free

The girl looked at the papers, then looked at him, and looked at the papers again. "You just bought me...and now you're setting me free?"

"That's why I bought you. I bought you to set you free."

The beautiful girl fell to her knees in front of the miner, tears streaming down her face. "You bought me to set me free! You bought me to set me free!" she said over and over again.

The miner said nothing.

Clutching his muddy boots, the girl looked up at the miner and said, "All I want to do is serve you--because you bought me to set me free." (Taken from Wayne Rice's Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks: 100 Attention Getting Stories, Parables, & Anecdotes, the story predates him though, as Leonard Ravenhill has preached it on occasion)

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

1 Corinthians 7:22-23 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Horace Greely said "It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom."

So all this to say, be obedient to Christ not out of compulsion, but out of gratitude. Honor him because he is right, not just because he is bigger than you. Train your minds for action, practice self control, and set your hope perfectly on Christ.

v.16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

This is quoting Numbers 11:44, 11:45, 19:2, 20:7, and 21:8. Holy refers to clean, set-apart, not defiled, high and lifted up. A verse that really puts a damper on the whole working your way to Heaven thing is

Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

So how are we going to be holy?

Deuteronomy 7:6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

God makes you holy, this is pretty much the definition of sanctification. So we strive for holiness, desiring to obey our Father in Heaven, knowing that our only source of holiness and salvation comes through Jesus Christ, whom we have set our hope on completely, and that we are being obedient not to earn salvation, but to honor Christ.