Midweek Reflection – 1 Peter 1:17-21
As Christians we have been made new people by God. That is why we are strangers in the world. As we thought last week, our minds have been transformed and we cannot live like the world does. Those who have not been given a new relationship with God live in ignorance of God and His purposes. Amazingly we do not! We know Him as the glorious Father who loves us particularly as His very own children. It is because we know Him like this that we live differently – in right fear / appropriate reverence of Him and His rule. Now, if we are honest, not only is our knowing God less than it should be, but our living falls far short of even our feeble knowing. We easily forget how the purposes our Father has saved us for are so much greater than anything this world promises. In the remainder of these verses we see 4 things that encourage – spur us on to reverence God our Father in the way that we should. As we consider them briefly note how they all centre around the amazing redemption that God has pursued and provided to make us His children. In a world of many religions and ‘versions’ of Christianity, it is a good reminder that true reverence of God is only known and reflected by those who have been redeemed by Him through Christ alone.
1) Our redemption was from an empty way of life that we had ‘inherited’ (v18). Before any of us became children of God we naturally lived as worshippers of an idol / idols. Apart from God’s special revelation in the Gospel no one knows God in a saving way – they only know Him as the Creator and Ruler they want to rebel against. As sinners we typically seek to exchange the true God who is worthy of our honour and service, with our own creations who suit our corrupt desires. This is not freedom – this is futile slavery (Romans 1:18..). What is striking in Romans 1-3 is how Paul makes clear that it is not simply the pagan Gentiles who have shown their ignorance of God but also religious Jews. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel typically showed that apart from God’s saving grace producing genuine faith, they too pursued idolatry.This why Jesus, for example in John’s Gospel, does not simply say to the Jews that they simply needed some moderate correction. Instead in one climax of the Gospel, e.g ch 8, Jesus states that God is not their Father otherwise they would love Him. In this first letter, Peter is writing to both Jews and Gentile Christians and like them, whatever our background was, we needed to be brought out of our natural slavery to sin which Biblically stems right back to Adam (Romans 5:12-21).
2) Our redemption was purchased by the greatest cost to God (v19). Just as no gold or silver from Egypt could be pointed to as the provider of the Exodus (though the people tried to honour it via the golden calf!); and just as no treasure of Rome could buy freedom before God (though it could buy slaves their earthly freedom); so there was only one price necessary and sufficient for our salvation. Yet, what a price! As a father it is inconceivable for me to contemplate giving up my son to die for someone else, however good. However, the supreme and holy God purposefully sent His perfect Son to pay the ransom that would secure our redemption from slavery to sin and death. This was nothing less than the price of satisfying His perfect justice against our sin. We cannot measure this because we cannot measure the difference between the Holy Creator and rebellious creatures, let alone the punishment that really fits our cosmic crime. When we read the Gospels we need to read them realising how perfectly faithful and good is Jesus in all that He does and says. We need to contemplate how loved and precious – how pleasing He was to His Father. This will help us see more clearly and wonder more deeply at the awesome wonder of His death in our place. When we read the Old Testament we need to read and take in the extent and repetition of the sacrifices demanded in the law so as to then more fully comprehend how precious is the blood of Jesus. All the sacrifices were completely insufficient to deal with the enormity of what was required to deal with our sin and make us holy unto God – they prepared and pointed to Jesus (1 Peter 1:14-15; Hebrews).
3) Our redemption was planned in eternity but has now been made known (v20). Sometimes people wonder… If God was not ‘taken by surprise’ with Adam and Eve’s rebellion and all its consequences, why did he plan it that way at all? Perhaps a better question would be, Why did He plan to send His precious Son to die to redeem us from this rebellion? One must finally rest content in the fact that God’s plan is His prerogative. However, it is clear from the Bible that God planned our salvation as His people from ‘eternity’ and it was always a plan to save us ‘in Christ’. We see this for example in Ephesians 1:3-14 where it is particularly emphasised that this was all for God’s glory – especially the glory of His grace. Indeed, in chapter 2:1-10, the oft overlooked verse 7 is something to really spend time reflecting on. It reminds us that one of the central things we will be doing in God’s kingdom is eternally being shown / trying to fathom, the enormity of God’s grace. God redemption of us was always part of His eternal plan for His creation. He planned to save us in view of the reality of our sinfulness. Christ, prior to Creation was prepared as Saviour – ‘for our sakes’. When you become a Christian, God has already started to show you how you fit into this – His redemption plan, and thus how perfect a Saviour Jesus Christ is.
4) Our redemption was through our perfect representative. It is only through Jesus Christ that we have a right relationship with God. It is only because He accomplished everything necessary to satisfy the Father’s justice against our sin that we are fully acceptable and the eternally blessed children of God. He alone could and did represent us rebels before the Holy God. Christ’s perfect work shown in His life and death was ‘proven’ through His resurrection and resulting glorification – exaltation to the right hand of the Father. This is why when we rightly emphasise the significance of the resurrection – and our Risen Lord Jesus Christ we are affirming everything He has accomplished through His death as the perfectly obedient Son. Again, as the book of Hebrews emphasises, Jesus Christ is our perfect High priest. He alone having offered Himself in His death has done everything to qualify us to belong to God.
All this means, as Peter concludes in v21, that our salvation in Christ is perfectly secure and dependable… ‘our faith and hope are in God’. The one we have naturally ignored, offended and dishonoured has Himself ensured supernaturally that we are free from slavery to sin and just sentence – death / judgment. God has rescued us at His infinite expense to not only be pardoned but to be blessed as heirs in His family forever. God is our reason for assurance.
- How have these verses helped you appreciate the enormity of your salvation?
- In readiness to reply to someone who asked you, ‘Why are you a Christian?’ or a similar opportunity, How could you utilise the truth of these verses to give a reason for your hope? (1 Peter 3:15..).
- Spend some time praising God for His grace and praying that as a Church together we might always be magnifying the glory of His grace in the motivation and manner of our gatherings and ministries.