First Epistle of Peter 1: 10-16 (NIV)
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
To understand any grouping of verses from this first letter of Peter, we need to refer back to preceding verses and also to read forward.
Peter’s verse 13 imperative begins, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action”. “Therefore” demands that we discover the reason why it was used. We refer to verses 5-9 which, in essence, tell the reader:
- Through faith you are shielded by God’s power until the coming of salvation to be revealed in the last time;
- In this you rejoice, even though for a while you must suffer grief through trials;
- These trials have come so that your faith may be proved genuine and thereby result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus is revealed on his return.
- You may not have seen him but you love him and believe in him – and this fills you with inexpressible joy;
- You are receiving the goal of faith even now which is the salvation of your souls.
“Therefore” is followed by a series of imperatives: “be self-controlled, set hopes fully on the grace to be given” and so they go on. But first consider again verse 10: “Concerning this salvation …”.
Peter has referred to the salvation of our souls, the goal of our faith. This is not the only end result; we’ll read more of that below. The salvation of which Peter wrote had already been spoken of by the prophets. They did not know precisely the time when Messiah would come, would suffer and would rise and ascend in glory. But with the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus an historical event, the Gospel was being preached to God’s elect of the dispersion (verse 1b) – people who had not met Jesus but had heard about him through such as Paul and Barnabas as well as by Peter.
The hope that Peter’s readers were to hold, then and now, is for grace upon grace – the grace we currently know will be magnified by grace when Jesus returns, “is revealed”. This is why all who follow Jesus are called to be holy. As ambassadors of Christ and for Christ, here on earth, we are to be holy in order to attract others to the salvation we already know. The goal of our faith is the salvation of our souls but not only of our souls – of the souls also of those who encounter Jesus through our lives.
For those in Parliament, the challenge is to resist the ways of the world, of the “system”: do not conform to evil desires but be holy just as he who called us is holy.
Lord, help us to prepare our minds for action; be self-controlled; set our hope fully on the grace to be given … when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Drawn from a talk delivered 4 March 2014