Elect Exiles?: A Living Hope (Part 2)

In the anticipation of the “yet-to-come” it’s nice to know that God has got your back. The apostle Peter writes to a church enduring suffering and reminds them that they posses a “living hope,” a hope that goes far beyond the immediate circumstances of their trial. It is a hope that all Christians posses and one that not only affects our expectation of the future, but our life in the present too.

Peter writes: 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 (1 Peter 1:13). Verse 13 begins with the word “Therefore.” The old cliché reminds us to ask what it’s there for. Peter wants to use our future inheritance (v. 4) as an incentive to present holiness. The transitional conjunction directs us from doctrine to application.In light of this hope, Peter says, we are now to live. The instruction Peter gives here is essentially meant to guard the believer from conforming to the world’s way of life. The guarding begins with proper thought.

He urges them first and foremost to “prepare their minds for action.” Literally it says, “gird up the loins of your mind.” It’s the language often used to talk about a man in ancient times who would pick up his robe and tuck it into his belt so that he could move more quickly and freely. The idea, applied to the mind, is essentially one of disciplining your thoughts. If your thoughts are loose and flowing all over the place you will trip up, but a man who “girds the loins of his mind” controls what he thinks about and guards his mind for action.

Peter explains it again using a different picture, “sober-mindedness”. Here the picture is of one who is free from drunkenness. A man intoxicated stumbles, falls, and gives little thought to what he does or says. A man who is spiritually drunk is a man who gives no regard to spiritual truth and obedience. He is out of control. Peter urges them to be of a sober-mind, in proper control of their spirituality.

The whole verse is building towards the main verb, “fix” or “set.” He wants the believers enduring persecution to put all their hope on “the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” It’s a command to hope fully on God’s undeserved gifts to be given when Jesus comes again. It is not about hoping for a new situation, but hoping in the return of Jesus and all that that event means for us who are in Christ.

Life is a spiritual war and Peter would have us remember that. The way we fight, however, is not withs words and guns, but with hope. Hope is our weapon! John MacArthur writes:

Peter exhorts believers in a military act of the will, not merely an emotional feeling. They are commanded to live expectantly, anticipating with a “living hope” their “inheritance…reserved in heaven…to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter, 62).

This is not just wishful thinking about the future. It is rooted in the reality of who God is and all that he has done. That’s key to understanding the transitional word at the start of verse 13. “Therefore,” in light of all that God has done, Peter says, hope fully in God! John Piper writes, “This word makes Peter’s first command dependent on all the grace that he has spent 12 verses exulting in.” So what “grace” is Peter referring us back to? Piper sums it up:

  • verse 1: since God has chosen you,
  • verse 3: since God has caused you to be born again to a living hope,
  • verse 4: since God is keeping an inheritance for you imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
  • verse 5: since God is protecting you through faith so that you won’t lose that inheritance,
  • verses 6–7: since God is refining your faith by fire so that it will receive praise and glory and honor,
  • verse 8: since you are swimming with the strokes of love and faith and joy in Christ,
  • verses 10–13: since prophets and angels are on tiptoe to see all that God’s grace is going to do in your life (“Girding the Mind to Guard Your Hope”).

We have every reason to put our hope in God and not in our circumstances. This is what it means to have a “living hope,” a hope that goes beyond what I see and feel right now. Hope is our spiritual weapon! We must understand it rightly and we must wield it confidently if we are to be succesful in living for Jesus through difficulty.

As the holiday season is upon us I am reminded of so many who struggle through this season. While many of us are off celebrating with our families, sharing in wonderful meals and memories, presents and parties, there are some who are hurting. The holidays remind them of what they have lost, of what they wish was different. Holidays can bring depression for some, and while the rest of us celebrate and sing, we must not forget those who weep. It is in this season too that we must remind each other to “set our hope fully” in God.

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