Peter opens this section with a reminder to these scattered Christians that we are never disconnected from the work of God in the Old Testament. Our God spoke through the prophets, and now through His Son; and both are important! Those prophets “prophesied of the grace that would come.”
The OT is Full of Grace
They prophesied of the grace! Have you heard it? Sensed it? While reading the Old Testament, did you hear the whispers of His grace? Did you notice His unchanging love in word and deed, working towards the time of reformation, when Christ would come? When the “grace of God would appear” according to Titus 2?
So many years of promise, and waiting. How many years? How long, O LORD? Have you learned of His patience? His faithfulness? As you ponder the Old Testament prophesies, try to!
They made “careful searches and inquiries.” Those who were inspired to prophecy, to write, they also made careful searches. Beloved, do you tremble at His word, and search, and inquire? Do you choose the good portion, sitting humbly at His feet ready to learn? Ready to be enraptured with the delights of true knowledge?
They Preached, by the Holy Spirit
“These things that have now been announced to you,” when the Gospel was proclaimed, announced, it came in power, the power of the Holy Spirit. Men preached, but it was the Spirit at work, the Spirit ‘sent from heaven.’ Peter is reminding us to think about Jesus’ teaching on the sending of the Spirit (John 14-16), things Paul also reminded many of in his own epistles (see Galatians 3:14ff for example). The Spirit communicates to us today through the Word, the Scriptures, the Gospel preached. He will not be updating His methods to suit our generation. His living and enduring Word is timeless, and timely, and perfect.
Yet, they were serving the Church! This dovetails so beautifully with Paul’s writings to the Corinthians and the Romans: that what happened was for our example–to see how Christ was active in the lives of the Israelites and how we ought to respond (see 1 Corinthians 10); and that The God of hope will fill us with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit aw we heed “whatever was written in earlier times [which] was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4-13)
May we learn, and follow!
In light of all they desired to know, it was not for them–it was for the Church age to know. So because Jesus came, and made God known; because He died and rose again and truly is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; because He ascended into heaven and has sent His Spirit to dwell in us…
“Let us prepare our minds for actions!” What action. Mainly standing firm; but also being holy in all our conduct. This is not legalism, beloved. This call to prepare, and to set our hope on the grace He will bring (rather than on our own efforts, abilities, or even your new age enneagram designations) and then to be holy as He is–this is not legalism. Legalism requires you walk away from grace, from gospel, from Union with Christ. Peter is affirming that because of His grace, and within that vital union, you be like Him.
Before God freed us from the domain of darkness, from slavery to sin and death, from an insurmountable debt, from fear of death; before–we were enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, we were disobedient and deceived, we were hopeless, alienated from God and from our true human nature.
So Peter reminds these scattered believers that since they are now obedient children, they ought not be conformed to their former lusts. Our old self. In ignorance, not out of true knowledge, we delighted in all the wrong things–and those desires led us astray; and we were enslaved to them. They were our masters, very poor masters.
But now…! In Christ, not prior to our union with Him, we are called to holiness. Christ came to save sinners. And those He has saved (remember verses 2-4?), He then calls to be like Himself, holy. “You shall be…” Who begun this work? Who continues this work? Who enables us to heartily join in, finding great joy in obedience?
If you address as Father, and so you should. Jesus not only taught His disciples to pray in this manner, but after He rose from the dead, He sent Mary back to the disciples with a message, that He was going to “My Father, and your Father, My God and your God.” We must address our Father, with the faith of a child, with the confidence Christ gives us. Yet, with fear. Reverence. Awe. Knowing how precious our redemption was.
We inherited nothing good from our forefathers–it was a futile way of life we were born into, and nurtured into… This is Peter’s way of reminding them of their sin nature. In Adam, we all die; we all sin; we all deserve death; we all put on fig leaves. Some of us even murder siblings (Cain and Abel) or demand respect and trumped up justice (Lamech, the next murderer).
While we are not responsible for the sins of our parents, their way of life impacted ours, and we struggle. Only in Christ do we find redemption.
He redeems us, and we become “believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that [our] faith and hope are in God.” Not in our self-effort, not in our version of justice/revenge, not in our fig leaves or hiddenness. We have faith, and hope; received in Christ!
So many therefores!
Since you have purified your souls; wait, how did we do that? “By the sanctifying work of the Spirit” according to verse 2. Titus 3 explains it by being regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Peter knows it is God who purifies us, and our faith is continually being purified by the trials we endure, the tribulations we persevere through, the testing by fire.
Peter uses this to remind us of the obedience that is ours in Christ. The God-Man, the Word of God made flesh, the Son of God Incarnate, the perfect Mediator, has made us fully human-capable of desiring and walking in obedience, though not fully yet as we still put off the old man and put on the new. We await our the “outcome” of the work He is doing, but we not work with Him rather than against Him.
Therefore, our love can finally resemble His. Before, it could only be a misty, foggy, shadow of love; tainted by selfishness and sinful desires. Now that we are purified in Christ, our love can be fervent, from the heart, flowing from the living and enduring Source, Love Himself.
Your True Self
Peter ends this call to obedience with a reminder of who they are. Be holy, remember the truth of your salvation, and love one another fervently, because…
Because you have been born again! You are fully alive!
Seed–when God created every living thing, (read Genesis 1) ‘seed’ was an important word. Everything was created according to its kind, with seed after its kind. Even human beings, man, had seed of mankind.
The seed we are born of is not merely the physical seed of our parents; we were born again of the living and enduring word of God. Of seed which is imperishable, and was preached to us. Let no one ever convince you that could ever “preach the gospel, and use words when necessary.”
Rubbish. Preach, teach, speak, converse, share, write, declare His excellencies with all your heart, soul and might! And voice. And pen. And keyboard. The Word became flesh, but never ceased revealing Himself in speech. He spoke long ages ago in various ways, and now He sends out His people with the word of reconciliation (see 2 Cor. 5). He upholds the universe by the word of His power.
We must not shrink back from sharing His words, abiding in His words, continuing and remaining and dwelling in His words (John 8, 13-17).
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash