The passage of Scripture which we will consider in this essay reads as follows: “Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, being sober, and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Once more we take up our pen to write a few thoughts of an expository nature on the first epistle of Peter. In the past we have written some seven or eight articles on the foregoing verses,. You may be assured, dear reader, that it was a great joy of heart for me to write those thoughts. While I penned them I might drink deeply from the great mercies of God in Christ Jesus rejoicing in hope. I trust that this was mutual with those who read them. That makes the work a spiritual joy. Writing then is no drudgery but a good activity of the entire soul, laying hold by faith on the riches in Christ, our Lord!
The chief points that called for attention in the foregoing verses were the following:
- We took notice of the fact, that Peter addresses the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Asia, Capadocia, and Bithynia according to their new “Status Quo” in Christ Jesus. Fact is that Peter takes position in the midst of the Churches and with these Churches claims all in faith that is ours in Christ. God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord! The Church has been born anew unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
- We might read and observe how we are kept by the mighty God in an evil world against all the powers of hell and death—unto the inheritance that is ready to be revealed in the last day. Yes, if need be, we must suffer a little while, but this is not defeat, but it is the greater exhibition of the faith that God works and displays in our hearts.
- And while we suffer we are very happy. Our hearts are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory. We have never seen Jesus, and yet we love Him.
- And this is not something strange to thus love Jesus, even though we have not seen Him; rather it is the expected thing. For prophets and bards of old thus searched out the time and the manner of the time of the sufferings to come upon Jesus and of the glory to follow. It is in view of this final glory of Christ, which is ours in living hope, that we thus rejoice. Fact is, that the very angels, who always behold the face of our Father, are desirous to look into this salvation.
Such were our observations in former articles; and such is the trend of the apostles setting forth of the grand truth of the gospel in these verses.
However, the apostle has more to say about this living hope of ours. The Holy Spirit leading the apostle in all truth keeps the apostle’s feet on the ground; this letter is addressed to the churches in this world! One might ask at this juncture: why did the apostle not write “finis” when he came to verse 12 of this chapter? All is so “spontaneous” in the life of the saints in these churches. They are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ! They are full of joy unspeakable! And they are a holy nation, a royal priesthood, an elect nation, a peculiar treasure unto the Lord in all the earth, are they not? This is the undeniable assertion of the writer of I Peter! Then why did Peter not write “finis” at the end of; why did the Holy Ghost move him to write all the remainder of this letter to the churches?
For Peter has more to write. And we hasten to add that this “more” written by Peter is not something different from the foregoing!
What does he write in the remainder of this letter? He writes many exhortations of the gospel,
These exhortations, incidentally, should not be confused with, nor be presented caricaturedly as the command of the law requiring meritorious works for salvation. He, who does this, does not rightly divide the word and is a workman that will surely be put to shame; he neither saves himself nor those who hear him! The word of God must be very carefully and accurately interpreted. Hence, let it be observed that we have to do here with exhortations of the gospel to God’s people redeemed in Christ Jesus!
These exhortations are necessary. They are the admonitions and the nurture of the Lord, who has brought us forth from the land of Egypt, from sin’s house of bondage. The great presupposition of all these “exhortations” of the gospel is that we are the people of God. God says: I am the Lord, thy God! Wherefore, walk before my face in Christ Jesus and be ye perfect. It is not always thus seen, but it is surely true nevertheless, that the law of the Ten Commandments, is really the royal law of liberty in Christ. It is the law, which is written by the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It is the law in which we walk with willing feet in thankfulness.
Yet we still need this law; we still are in dire need of these exhortations. We are not yet in heaven, where no one needs to say to his neighbor: know the Lord. We are not yet in glory where the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God, even as the waters cover the bottom of the sea.
We are still in this world where the full-fledged spontaneity leaves much to be wished for; yes, where the new man in Christ must constantly receive new strength and impulses of the Holy Spirit so as to be kept in the power of God by faith! Such we are in this world as struggling saints.
This is the naked reality kept in mind by the Apostle in this letter.
The exhortation here is that we should hope perfectly for the grace to be brought unto us in the revelation of Jesus Christ. The text speaks of the great requisite also for our hope to be a truly living hope. The requisite for our living hope to be a hoping perfectly is: that we have the loins of our mind girt up, and be sober! It should not escape our notice, that to speak of the requisite is not the same as to speak of the pre-requisite. Requisite is that quality and attribute which belongs to the very nature of a thing. Thus our Heidelberg Catechism, Question 117 “What are the requisites of that prayer, which is acceptable to God, and which he will hear?” And the question is not what must there be in me before I pray, but the point is very clearly this: what must be the disposition of my heart and mind in my praying to God. And the requisites in my praying are threefold: 1. That we pray from the heart to the one true God. 2. That we rightly and thoroughly know our need. 3. That we be fully persuaded that God will hear our prayer, although we are most unworthy. Threefold requisites in the praying, in the actual exercise of the true faith as the chief part of gratitude!
Let this truth sink deep into our hearts!
But let us then fully see this reality also in our text when it speaks of the requisite of the hoping perfectly for the grace to be brought to us in the revelation of Jesus Christ.
And, again, we would warn, that we must not confuse the “exhortations” of the gospel in this text with the “requisite” of hoping perfectly. In the exhortation the requisite of perfectly hoping is held before our eyes.
Let us attempt to see the implication of our text.
In the first place let us notice the object of our perfectly hoping. The text says: the grace that is being brought unto you in the revelation of Jesus Christ. There are those who would interpret this to mean: the grace that is brought to us in the Gospel in which Christ is revealed, preached to us. Now certainly no one will wish to deny that this certainly is the truth of Scripture. It certainly is true that Christ is revealed to us in the Gospel out of faith unto faith. However, the point is whether that is the sense here in this text; whether Peter has that revelation through the gospel in mind, or whether He has in mind the revelation of Christ which will make all preaching of the gospel forever unnecessary, when we shall see Christ face to face, knowing Him even as we are known! And we are of the conviction that Peter has the latter in mind when he speaks of the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(1) Because the entire context points in the direction which necessitates our taking “revelation of Jesus Christ” to refer to the unveiling of the living and exalted Christ in all His glory in the saints, in the new heaven and earth, in the saved Kosmos, where God shall manifestly be all in all!
(2) Notice the following points. In the first place Peter spoke in verse 3 and 4 of the inheritance, which is kept in store for us in heaven. Then, too, remember that this inheritance is the salvation which is ready to be uncovered for us in the last time! We do not see Christ now, and we love Him now in hope of seeing Him presently in all His glory. (Verse 8) And the prophets looked for Christ suffering, but only in view of the glory that will follow afterwards. And this glory too is the glory of the final day of Christ in His coming. Finally, the very angels are desirous to look into this mystery; in glad strains they sing of this final glory in Bethlehem-Ephratha, and they speak of it to the Galilea Fishermen, of which Peter was one, at the occasion of Christ’s ascension on high!
In the light also of the various expressions and the general tenor of the entire epistle of Peter there can be no doubt that Peter has the final revelation of the Son of God in mind. Does he not literally speak of the fact that “the end of all things is at hand”?.
Such then is the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In this revelation a certain grace is brought to us. We shall not simply be spectators in that day, but we shall very really then be made partakers of that glory. It will be the glory of the God of all grace in the saints. Then shall the glory of God be fully shared by all the saints in Christ. We shall be perfectly conformed unto the image of God’s Son, that He may be the firstborn of all the children of God. A new body shall then be ours, a new tongue, and we shall never grow weary because of corruption of the body. Our best works shall then no longer be defiled with sin. And we shall never more fade away. Eternal youth shall be ours in the strength of the midday.
This grace is born to us.
(to be continued)