In this TGCW22 session, Rebecca McLaughlin teaches on how the apostle Peter offers hope to those feeling hopeless in today’s world, by reminding us of our living hope—Jesus Christ.
McLaughlin explains that hope in Christ always runs to Jesus, breeds holiness, requires ransom, and springs eternal. She emphasizes the importance of setting our hope fully on the grace that will come at the revelation of Jesus, not on earthly things like careers, marriage, or children.
By fixing our eyes on Jesus and hoping in him alone, we can live an increasingly obedient life. McLaughlin reminds us that without Jesus, all life is meaningless. In Christ, we have hope and a purpose.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterday’s have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle. Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Shakespeare put those words into the mouth of his character Macbeth 400 years ago, but they could equally be put into the mouths of millions of our contemporaries today. They find their lives to feel meaningless, pointless, hopeless, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. What do we have to say in the face of this? What hope do we have to offer to our friends and plenty for ourselves? The apostle Peter reaches out to us across 2000 years through his first recorded letter with a life rope of hope. We’re going to be looking at First Peter one, verses 13 to 25 today, so please turn there in your Bibles. At the beginning of his letter, Peter addresses his readers as elect exiles, those who have been chosen by God but a living far from their true home. In chapter one, verse three, he says that they have been born again into a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And in verses 13 to 25, Peter unpacks, that hope for us. So let’s read together. From verse 13. Therefore, preparing your minds for action and being sober minded. Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you as 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 has 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 have ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things, such as silver, and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb, without blemish, or spot. He was for name 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. 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 if imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. For our 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 stands forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you. There are so many riches that we could mine in this passage, but I’ve been asked to speak specifically on the theme of Hope There are four things that I want us to notice. Number one, hope runs to Jesus. Number two, hope breeds holiness. Number three, hope requires ransom. And number four, Hope springs eternal. But if you remember any of those points, remember number one, because all the others depend on it. Hope runs to Jesus. Let’s read verse 13. Together Again, 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. My three year old Luke loves to run. And before he races, he does this big performative build up, he goes, ready, read set, go. I think he must have misheard it at some point in the past. And he’s reinforced it again and again. So it’s always ready, read, set, go. The first thing that Peter tells us to do is to prepare our minds for action are more literally in the Greek, he says girding up the lines of your minds. Now I should really have worn a dress for this because what that was referring to was the fact that that guys used to hitch up their robes into their belts before running or engaging in vigorous activity. Getting up your loins, doing a ready, read, set, go with your minds. The second thing Peter tells us to do is to be sober minded. And that doesn’t just mean not being drunk, though it certainly includes that. It means being focused, self controlled, alert. And what does Peter say we are to do with our ready, read, set focus, self controlled minds. He says we have to set our hope fully on the grace that will be revealed to us will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Peter is asking us to set some of our leftover hope on Jesus’s return. He isn’t saying hope in many things, including this. He says set your home fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Now I don’t know about you, but I can hear those words has come to condemnation. So many days and so many times, I am hoping and other things then Jesus has returned. But in fact, when we look closely at what Peter is saying, We can’t hear his call as condemnation, because he’s telling us to set our hopefully on grace. We know that when we first repented and believed and put our trust in Jesus, we receive the free gift of God’s grace, His total forgiveness, Jesus has righteousness given to us. But Peter is saying there is more grace to come for us. He says that when Jesus is revealed as universal Lord of all, then we will experience our unity with him in a full way. That grace is what we are to set our home on now. Peter was saying, don’t set your hope on a career. Don’t set your hope on marriage. Don’t set your hope on children. Don’t set your hope on ministry success. Don’t say your hope on popularity. Don’t set your hope on your health. Don’t say your hope on your retirement. Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. For instance, has incredibly good news for us today. Many in this room will be feeling one way or another. Disappointed with our lives. Perhaps you dreamt of a fulfilling career and you’re either unemployed or your job feels like a daily chore. Perhaps you dreamt of marriage and you’re single or your marriage feels profoundly disappointing. Perhaps you dreamt of having children and they haven’t come maybe parenting is breaking you today if that is how you are feeling Jesus holds on to you in your disappointment now.
And he whispers in your ear through this verse, hold tight. I’m coming back for you. Well, my daughter, Eliza was three, it was her first year in preschool. And every day I go to pick her up. And she would sit in the preschool room, and she would fix our eyes on the door. And as soon as the door opened, she looked for me among the faces of the parents. And as soon as she saw me, she would spring up and she would run full pelt into my arms. That is the picture that Peter is painting for us of how we should feel about Jesus’s return. Ready, read, set, run into Jesus’s arms. So that’s our first point, hope runs to Jesus. A second point is that hope breeds holiness. Let’s read together verses 14 to 16. 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. Peter starts by giving us an identity, obedient children. When my daughter Eliza sprang up and ran to my arms, she wasn’t running in the hope that she would outrun the other kids and get to be my daughter. She ran because she is my daughter. And Peter is telling us that because we are children of our Heavenly Father, we should live lives in obedience to Him the kind of obedience that a child should have toward a loving parent. And then he gives us an extremely countercultural command. He says, Don’t be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. Our culture today says Follow your dreams. Listen to your heart. Anything that comes out of your on my heart naturally is good and to be followed. But Peter says, No, don’t be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. Some of us in this room today will have come to put our trust in Jesus, when we were already adults. And the contrast between our lives before as we simply follow the passions of our ignorance, and our lives now will be quite dramatic. I think of a dear friend of mine who three years ago, was engaged to her college girlfriend, and was embedded in all kinds of sinful practices. Now she has put our trust in Jesus, she has turned away from the passions of her former ignorance. And she’s trying to figure out how to relate well to her college friends, who knew her as a different person. But maybe you’re like me, and you’ve been a Christian for as long as you can remember. not conforming to the passions of your former ignorance may look less dramatic than my friend. But the pastor of the church where I was a student, used to say something that I’ve remembered ever since. He said, as you go on in the Christian life, the chances are that you will not experience the smug feeling of becoming more and more holy. More likely, you will experience the unsettling feeling and becoming more and more aware of your sin. My mother has terrible eyesight. And when she was a teenager, she got glasses for the first time. And she remembers looking around her house and noticing the patterns on the wallpaper for the first time. As our spiritual eyesight gets better, we will start to notice more and more the patterns of sin that are etched onto the walls of our minds. And we will notice ways that we need to not conform to those patterns that we may not even have noticed before. Now hope in Jesus return will breed that holiness in us. But again, as we look at what Peter says we can feel tempted toward condemnation. Listen to verses 15 and 16. Again, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy and all your conduct, since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. I was driving in the car with my kids the other day, and I was explaining to Luke my three year old that I am his auntie Rosa’s big, big, big, big sister. She’s 12 years younger than me. And he said, Mommy, you’re big, but you’re not great. So well, there’s there’s nothing like a three year old to cut you down. And then he clarified he said, You’re not great, like God is great. I said, Yes, darling, I’m not great, like God is great. And I am not holy, like God is holy. But that is what Peter is calling us to be. 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. My holiness, is like a dirty thimble full of water, compared to the ocean of God’s holiness. But if we are setting our eyes on Jesus, if we are fixing our hope on him, we will more and more be living As obedient children who recognize and repent of the passions of our former ignorance. So that’s our second point. Hope breeds holiness. Our third point is that hope requires ransom. Let’s read verses 17 to 19 again. And if you call on him as father who judges in partially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. Knowing that you are ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without spot, or blemish. Peter reminds us once more that we are calling on God as Father that we are God’s children. But then he says a strange thing he says that we are to conduct ourselves with fear in the time of our exile. All of us slightly know, either from our own experience or from that of someone we love, how terrible it is, when a child fears their father because he is angry or unpredictable. That is not the kind of picture that Peter is painting for us here. Instead, he is painting a picture of a child who has a loving father, who loves them enough to be ready to discipline them. And Peter is telling us that if we are living as children of God, we should have an appropriate fear of the Lord. I’m reading through the book of Proverbs with my kids at the moment. And you may know that in Proverbs, there’s this big theme that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And when we came to the first verse that says that in Proverbs, my daughter, Eliza said, why would we fear God, he’s such a great guy. I wouldn’t have put it quite like that. But I knew what she was trying to get at. And I explained to her that actually fearing the Lord is profoundly liberating. Because if we fear God, it means we don’t have to fear anybody else. We don’t have to fear our friends, we don’t have to fear our family. We don’t have to fear our colleagues or our bosses, or our parents, we don’t have to fear anyone else’s opinion of us if we are fearing the Lord. And then Peter makes a very interesting argument. It’s tempting for us to think that because of the grace of the gospel, because of the free forgiveness that we have received, because of the righteousness that Jesus gives to us, that our holiness doesn’t really matter to God. And Peter is explaining that that’s not right at all. But actually, our call to holiness depends on the ransom that Jesus has paid for us. So if you think about it, if it were not for Jesus’s death in our place, if it were not for the ransom that he has paid. We wouldn’t be looking forward to a second coming with hope. We’d be looking forward to it with utter dread.
We’d be like the people in Revelation six He describes calling on the mountains, the fall on them and, and the rocks to cover them from the face of the one on the throne and from the land because the dreadful day of their rotters come and who can stand where it not for Jesus as ransom paid for us, we would have a completely different fear of the Lord. And Peter is arguing that our hope requires Jesus’s ransom. I love how he describes it. He says, that we are ransomed, not with perishable things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. Now when I think of perishable things, I think of raspberries. When I buy raspberries, I put them in the fridge and moments later they’ve gone off. But Peter gives examples of perishable things as silver and gold. Two of the most valuable and long lasting metals that his readers would ever have heard of. He says, compared to the precious blood of Christ, they’re perishable, they’re worthless. The classic film Titanic. Raise your hand if you’ve seen Titanic, it was kind of a while ago. Okay, good. You guys are gonna try with me. Just to recap the story a little bit for those who haven’t had had that pleasure. At the beginning of the film, a young woman named Rose is engaged to an extraordinarily wealthy young man and cow. And cow has given rose, very expensive diamond necklace as an engagement gift instead of his mark of ownership over her. But in the course of the film, Rose falls in love with a young man named Jack and the de Newmar. The film when this supposedly unsinkable ship, the Titanic has in fact sunk. Jack gives his life for Rose. And then we see rose as an old woman, taking the extremely valuable diamond necklace that Calvin’s gave her and throwing it into the sea. That necklace is worthless to her, compared with the gift that Jack gave the gift of his life in her place. Friends, Jesus is jack to us. He loves us so much, that he was willing to ransom us. not with perishable things like silver and gold, but with his own precious blood. Hope requires that ransom. That brings us to our last point, which is that hope, springs eternal. Let’s read verses 20 to 25 again. He was for known 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. 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 have perishable seed, but if 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 with us and the flower falls. But the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you. When Jack gave his life for Rose, it was a spontaneous decision driven by circumstances. But according to Peter in this passage, the plan for Jesus to give his life as a ransom for you and for me, was hatched before the foundation of the world. Our hope springs from eternity past and carry phases into eternity future. It is a hope that depends on Jesus’s precious blood shed for us and on His resurrection from the dead, which Peter points us to in verse 21. It is because of Jesus’s resurrection, that our faith and our hope can be in God. And then Peter makes an argument which is also a little countercultural. With me again, verses 22 and 23. 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 a perishable seed, but imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. Many in our culture, and many, even in a broader Christian culture would say that the more that we care about the truth of the Scriptures, the less loving we will be. Peter says that’s completely wrong. In fact, believing in the truth of the scriptures is what drives our love for one another. It’s what pushes us toward sincere, brotherly and sisterly love. What enables us to love one another earnestly from the heart, is our belief in the truth of the message of the gospel, and are the teachings of the scriptures. But at its very best, our love for one another is secondhand. It springs from Jesus’s love for us. Our hope springs eternal, and our love Springs Eternal to it is a love that is grounded on the love that the Father, the Son and the Spirit had for us before the foundation of the world. And that was made manifest in Jesus’s death in our place, and in his glorious resurrection. This is the hope that springs eternal. This is the wellspring of our love for one another. You see, there’s a sense in which Peter agrees with Macbeth. Macbeth says that life is like a candle that will go out very soon. Peter says that our life is grass like here today and gone tomorrow. The grass withers and a flower falls. But Peter says the word of the Lord stands forever. You see, our short and otherwise loveless and meaningless lives are tethered to the eternal life of Jesus if we put our trust in him. Oh hope springs eternal from Jesus, our love, Springs Eternal, our life springs eternal because of him. If Jesus is not real and true, then the millions in our culture who are despairing of life because it is pointless, meaningless, hopeless, or correct. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury Signifying absolutely nothing. But if Jesus is the one who will finally be revealed as universal Lord of all, if he is the one who was for name before the foundation of the world, if he is the one who died for you, and for me, and whose blood is more precious than silver or gold or diamonds, that our hope truly can spring eternal.
I had lunch last week with a friend of mine who’s dying of cancer. Her husband died about a decade ago. And she loved him very much. And she was telling me she’d been talking with her daughter and her daughter have been asking questions about heaven. And I’d also had said to my friends, I think of heaven as the place where we’ll see popper again. My friend said, I think we’re setting our sights too low. She misses her husband very much. But he’s not the one she’s looking forward to. When she has died and gone to be with the Lord. She’s looking forward to meeting Jesus face to face
Oh, hope runs to Jesus I hope breeds holiness, or hope requires Jesus’s ransom and our hope springs eternal. Friends, let’s look forward to the day when we will literally do a ready, read, set run into Jesus’s arms. And let’s live today as if our tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will be filled with hope and joy and love in him. And that when we come to the last syllable of recorded time we’ll throw ourselves into his arms let’s pray together
No, Jesus, who are we that you would love us that much? Who are we that you would give your life for us? Who are we that knowing every inch of us every sin pattern that is etched onto the walls of our minds, that you would still call us Your Beloved. Without you we have no hope without you our lives are pointless without you they are meaningless. Not I pray for every one of us this morning that we would fix our hope on you. And seasons of disappointment that we would look forward all the more to the day when you will bring heaven and earth back together. As you are revealed in all your glory as the king of all the world. And moments of joy and love and connection. Would we remember that we’re setting our sights too low if we only focus on those things here and now. We long for the day when you will come again and we will run into your arms. Help us to prepare our minds for action and be sober minded and love one another purely from the heart as we wait for you to come and take us home. Amen