1st Peter 1:7-19


"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold  that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:  whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:  receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.  Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:  searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.  Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.  Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:  but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [conduct]; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.  And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:  forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [conduct] received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot:"


"Ah, 1st Peter, writing to those that are scattered, foreigners in this world, no doubt many of the Diaspora, the Jews that were scattered out of Jerusalem [during the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar from 606-585 BC] on his mind, but no doubt believers [whom Paul had evangelized out of this group of Diaspora Jews] of every background.  Ah, 'encouraging them in the fact that they're chosen, that we have a living hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and that is unto an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, ready to be revealed in the last times, wherein we greatly rejoice, even though if for now there's a season of testing and our faith is tried as gold is tried by the fire.  But still we love Christ, whom we've not seen, yet we love, and though we haven't seen him, it's with joy unspeakable, full of glory,' he says, verse 9, 'receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls, that believing,' he says, 'is receiving.'  That believing in Christ is receiving, the salvation of our souls, is believing in Jesus.  That's how we're saved, believing.  And you know, not walking forward to an altar call.  And that's a great thing, because you get to stand publicly and by doing that you're saying "Hey, I'm ready, I want to know Christ," and the Lord does say "If we confess before men, he'll confess us before the Father and all the angels."  But believing is something that takes place internally, that we take our entire life and we lean it upon the claims of Christ.  That he says if we will repent, turn from our sin and turn to him, we can be assured that we have eternal life, and that when we believe that, we confess with our mouth, we believe in our heart, that then there's a receiving, he says, that takes place, "even the salvation of your souls."


The Prophets Wanted To Know What Their Prophecies Meant


That brings us to verse 10, where he says, "Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:"  Now Peter didn't have a New Testament in his chariot, or in his living room or in the Lost & Found in church, all he had was the Old Testament.  And certainly he's appealing to any of his Jewish readers, and to any of those who had come to faith, that is really what they understood at this point in time to a great degree.  "Of which salvation the prophets" plural, "have enquired and searched diligently," and by the way, there's no article there in the Greek, it's just "Of which salvation prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:  searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." (verses 10-11)  He says, the Old Testament prophets, the salvation you've received by believing, is that salvation that was borne witness to by the Old Testament prophets, and though God used them to speak these things, they themselves, he said, spent time searching, trying to understand what, or what manner of time, and the implication is, what karos, time or what particular season that marked off periods of time, what would be happening to mark that time, when this salvation would come, he says, that the Spirit of Christ that was in them was testifying of.  Now, in 2nd Peter he says 'Prophecy came of old time, not by the will of man, but holy men of old were moved when they spoke through the power of the Holy Ghost,' so he clearly tells us that the Spirit of Christ is the Holy Ghost, in the 2nd book of Peter, that moved the prophets, that was the very Spirit of Christ that was in them, testifying that these things would take place.  He said they didn't know, they didn't understand, they were looking to understand exactly what it was in regards to the message they were delivering.  They knew that it had to do with the Messiah.  They were trying to understand, 'but when, what time, what will mark off the exact time when all of this takes place?'  and they didn't understand, because he said 'They were testifying of the suffering of Christ, and of the glory that should follow,' so there was a difficulty there in their message.  It's often been said that it's like coming up to a mountain range.  If you've been out West, driving through Nebraska, coming into Colorado, and you come up to the Rocky Mountains, from a distance you just see a silhouette of that mountain range, and it just comes up out of the ground there, and it looks like one set of mountains.  When you get up close you realize that they go on, that there's great distances actually between those mountain peaks.  There's a great distance between Calvary [Golgotha] and the Mount of Olives where Christ returns, there's a great distance between his suffering on a mountain, and his return to a mountain, and the prophets couldn't, didn't understand the distance [in seasons, epochs of time, thousands of years] between those.  They saw that silhouette, they spoke of it, but they didn't understand the time-frame, that there would be 2,000 years between when he would suffer, and when he would return in glory.  Because they were testifying both of his suffering and of his glory [at his return], and it says they, from the Old Testament, didn't understand how that fit together.  Now, we know that John the Baptist, remember, and Jesus says the Old Testament prophets prophecied until John. So he tells us clearly that John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets.  And John the Baptist talked about Christ's coming, his winnowing fork being in his hand, that he's going to thoroughly clean his threshing-floor, that he's going to gather in the grain, and burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.  He saw Christ coming in judgment, but then at the Baptism [of Christ], the Spirit descends from heaven like a dove upon Christ, and John the Baptist says 'I would not have known him, except the one who sent me to baptize said, 'The one upon whom you see the Spirit descending and abiding upon, that's the one that will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.'  John the Baptist himself, no doubt expecting Messiah to come with power, and with glory.  And when God told him, 'The one you see the Holy Spirit descending on,' he may have thought 'The heavens are going to open up, and he's going to come in power and glory and everybody's going see it,' and at the Baptism of John, he himself was taken aback, because he said 'I would not have known him.'  [i.e. "lowly, riding upon an ass, and the colt, the foal of an ass" instead of the all-powerful conquering Messiah of Zechariah 14:1-15 and Revelation 19:11-16, for instance.]  He was just another face in the crowd, he looked like everybody else.  And of course, deliberately, because God didn't want any of us to be intimidated, he wanted us to see his Son, touching the leper, caring for those that are hungry, raising Jairus' daughter, pouring out his heart on the Mount of Beatitudes, he wanted his Son to be approachable, so that any of us, and as it happened, in our sins, come to him, we're not afraid to approach him.  But even John the Baptist, the last of those Old Testament prophets, didn't understand, and when he was thrown in prison, and he heard that Christ departed out of that area and went to Galilee, then he sent word and said, 'Are you the One that's supposed to come, or do we look for another?'  He didn't understand, as he testified of the suffering of Christ, because he finally would point his finger and say 'Behold, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.'  So he would testify of the suffering, but he also testified of the glory, and he didn't understand the distance between them.  And he sent his disciples to say [to Christ] 'Are you the One, or should we look for another?'  So, Peter's telling us the Old Testament bore witness to Christ, he didn't want any confusion amongst the Jewish believers or the new-believers in the Church.  And the Old Testament bore witness to the fact that he would come and be crucified and die, but that the glory would be after that. 


God Reveals Knowledge On A 'Need-To-Know' Basis, Step By Step


And he's reaffirming the faith of this new Church and saying 'Even the Old Testament prophets were on a need-to-know basis with God the Father, God gave them what they needed to know and he didn't give them any more than that.'  [Comment:  This reminds me of a children's sermon I heard when I was very young, given by Pastor Elmer Young of the first church I attended, an Episcopal church.  He told us in that short 15-minute sermon that the Christian life was like a man walking down a path on a very dark night with a lantern.  The lantern shone out in all directions for about three feet.  When you took a step, it revealed a foot or two more of the path in front of you, and no more, it only revealed enough ground in front of you for your next step.  I have never forgotten that short children's sermon, because it is so true.  The Lantern, the Lord God through his Word, and the Lord directly through his Holy Spirit, only reveals what we need to know for the very next step in our lives.]  Because after they prophesied, they read their own writings, they scratched their own heads, and said 'When, how?'  They knew it was in regards to the Messiah, but God didn't give them any more information than they needed.  So for you and I, sometimes we get in a circumstance, and we almost get offended at the Lord if we feel like he's not giving us all the info we want.  'I want to know why, I want to know why you did this, I want to know why you did that, and if I'd have done this would you have done that, and why did you do this? and if I had done that would you have done this? and what will happen in two years, what will happen in, I want the five-year plan, the twenty-year plan, I want long-range goals and short-range goals, I want the blue-print, I want the whole, you know.'  We get offended and you know the Lord gives us one step at a time.  If we'll be obedient today, tomorrow he will reveal to us the next step.  Because if he gives us the whole plan, we're accountable for the whole plan, then we're in trouble for way much more, where if he just gives us what we need to do this evening, that's all we can mess up.  And even the prophets were on a need-to-know basis.  And he says they searched, they wanted to know, 'How does this work?  When will this happen for this one we're bearing testimony to?  When will he come?  How will it happen?'  


What The Prophets Wrote Ministers To Us, What God Does Through Us Ministers To Those Who Will Come After Us


And it says "Unto whom" what God did reveal, in verse 12 is this, look it says, "Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."  As they searched, diligently, as they tried to figure out, you know, a grid to put their own prophecy through, it says 'what God did finally say to them, what he revealed to them, 'Hey, this is not written for you, you don't need to understand it.'  [Comment:  God said the same thing to Daniel, in Daniel 12, when Daniel was wondering what all the prophecies God had given to him meant, Daniel 12:8-10,13, "And I heard, but I understood not:  then I said, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?  And he said, Go thy way, Daniel:  for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.  Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly:  and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand...But go thou thy way till the end be:  for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of days."]  'Well what do you mean, Lord, I wrote it?  Well I don't care, I wrote it through you, you didn't write it.  And you don't need to understand it all, because you're not writing for yourself, you're writing for another generation that will come.'  The things that were written, it was finally revealed to them, they were writing for the heirs of salvation, there's the day coming when these things will be pulled into the light, and they will understand.  The Church was a mystery, hidden in ages past it says.  'There are those who will be the recipients of the things that you're writing, and it's not you.'  "but unto us..." the things that the Old Testament prophets wrote they wrote unto us.  Now no doubt, Israel, in the not too distant future, is going to take many of those things to heart.  [Comment:  The Messianic Jews that God has called to him within the Israeli nation, right now are bearing witness of these things, the things of God, about their Messiah Yeshua haMeshiach right at this very moment, just as the prophets of old bore witness to the nations of Israel and Judah in the Old Testament.] 


Why Prophecy Is Important


'But they wrote unto us,' the Old Testament prophets wrote about things that were coming.  And Jesus held the Sadducees and Pharisees responsible to know prophecy.  'Pharisees, scribes, hypocrites,' he said, 'you can discern the signs of the sky, and you say red sky in the morning, sailor take warning, red sky at night, sailor's delight,' you can do that, and you can discern the signs of the sky, but you can't discern the signs of the times.'  And Jesus held them responsible, the generation to whom it was written, so that they would understand the things that the prophets said.  In fact, remember, when he came into Jerusalem, he wept and said 'If you'd only known the things that belong to this thy day,' the very specific day that Daniel had prophesied of, the day the Messiah would come into Jerusalem, Jesus held them responsible to know that.  Now I say that because there's a lot of people today that pooh-pooh prophecy.  'Oh you Fundamentalists, oh you Dispensationalists, you're always talking about prophecy...' Well first of all, one out of every ten verses in the New Testament speaks about the 2nd Coming of Christ.  There's only about ten places that speak specifically of regeneration and new-birth, there's about seventy and eighty places that speak of baptisms, water, Spirit, so that's an important subject, but there's over three hundred places in the New Testament that talk about the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ.  And the reason is, is because he loved us, he gave himself for us, he died for us, he purchased us, and it's the same reason if I was going away, I would communicate with my bride and my children and say 'This is when I'm coming back.'  'Things may look bleak, things may look difficult, I don't want you to worry, I want you to lift up your heads, I want you to look, I'm coming again.  And when I come you're going to be delivered, there's going to be no more difficulty, no more suffering.'  I think it's important for us to realize that, he had more to say about his coming for us than anything else.  And if it mattered what the Old Testament prophets had to say to Christ's generation, how much more then should it matter to our generation that will see the coming of Christ?  And instead of making fun of prophecy and saying 'Oh, no, the important things for us to understand, eternal security, total depravity, these are the things, we need to get a foundation in believer's lives,' look, Paul it says, he was in Thessalonica for three weeks, and then he was driven out after three Sabbaths [so these early churches were keeping the Sabbath].  Brand new believers, three weeks old in the Lord, when he wrote to them in 1st and 2nd Thessalonians he said 'You know when I was there I spoke to you about the antichrist, about the 2nd coming, about the Rapture of the Church, I told you these things when I was with you.'  Paul thought that the blessed hope of the Church was an important foundational truth to have in the life of every new believer.  And Peter is saying to us here, 'The Old Testament prophets wrote to us,' Genesis to Malachi, there's things in there to speak to us about the days that we live in, about our salvation, about the coming of Christ, the first coming and the second coming (see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm and for all the rest, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/Prophets_Prophecy.html).  The problem with the Old Testament prophets is they couldn't see the difference between the first coming and the 2nd coming [and that is because when God gave them these prophecies, he blended the 1st coming prophecies into the 2nd coming prophecies, with no clear-cut demarcation between the two.  This has always confused the Jews.]  But they spoke about his suffering and his glory, his return.  And those things are written for us.  I'm glad as I look at the world, and I look at what's going on around us, that I know that he's coming.  And he's not just coming, he's coming for me, imagine that!  And then you say 'we do imagine that, that is really something Pastor Joe, come to think of it.'  No, I could feel the same thing about you sometimes, no, look, he's coming for us, he's coming for us.  I know there's a lot of people that think we're out of our minds for believing that.  [My whole family, real and adoptive, think I'm out of my mind.  They don't say it to my face, they're at least polite about keeping their feelings to themselves, but I know what they're thinking.]  It was in my Bible class the other day, we were talking about 'Do you witness to your friends?  When you witness to your friends, do you tell them about the end of the world and the coming of Christ and the Rapture of the Church?'  'Ya, sometimes I tell them, some of them think I'm really nuts.'  Isn't it interesting, they think we're crazy for thinking that Christ is going to come, and we're going to disappear and be caught up to meet him in the clouds and forever be with the Lord, that we're nuts for believing that?  They do experiments, the Philadelphia experiment, they do something on teleportation, they do something at M.I.T. about transferring mass, they're a genius and we're idiots.  Again, if we say 'hey, we believe in angels and the spiritual realm' we're morons, we're sheep being led by a seducer like me, Bible-thumpers.  But of course again we could say this room we're sitting in tonight is filled with voices, if you had a radio receiver here you could turn it on, AM radio, and you could pick out which ones you wanted to listen to.  This room we're sitting in is filled with images.  If you understand audio-visual transmission and reception, this room is filled with images, people talking, and you could just tune them in.  And of course that's not nuts because we understand transmission and reception, but for you and I to say that this room is filled with angelic beings, we believe that Christ moves in our midst, we believe there's a spiritual realm, we're idiots.  If you study parapsychology at Stanford you're a genius.  If you chase poltergeist with your meters you're really something.  If you believe what the Prophets have said you're a moron.  I don't know, it doesn't seem right to me.  It seems like a double-standard.  And I think we should tell everybody, you know Peter's going to say in his 2nd Epistle, we shouldn't be ashamed to give an answer to every man in regards to the hope that we have.  What hope do they have?  'Koffie Anan is going to save us, we'd better not hope that anymore. Koffie Anan Jr., better not hope that anymore.  Should we hope in this guy?  No we'd better not hope in that guy anymore.'  Where's their hope?  I don't think we should be afraid to share the hope that we have.  These men, the Prophets, it says were writing to us about the suffering of Christ, which we've come to believe in and received our salvation, and about the glory that's still to be revealed, the 2nd coming of Christ.  And I think it touches lives.  Again, Harris is here, I'll have him stand up, we got saved together, and again, we got saved out of LSD, so [and out of being drafted for Vietnam], and when we got saved most of our old friends listened to us talk about this stuff, because they thought whatever we had was better than what they were on, and we didn't know anything, we were just on fire [for the Lord], we just got saved, we just drove everybody crazy.  And we were going to a Catholic charismatic prayer meeting in New Jersey, and this woman said, that an angel told her there was going to be an earthquake in Philadelphia in February.  And we're brand-new believers, we said 'Wow, man, that's heavy.  Earthquake, Philadelphia,' we didn't know you were supposed to test every spirit, we didn't know about that, 'Oh man, that's really heavy, man, earthquake's coming to Philadelphia,' and we were playing in this Rock band, and we moved up into the mountains, and we thought 'Wow, man, God moved us up into the mountains, because we thought God was going to level Philadelphia.' [loud laughter]  Not only that, we were driving in the car up there and have these Solid Rock magazines back then, and we brought hundreds of them, giving them out to, we picked up this hitchhiker, and we start talking to him, and he said 'You guys know about the earthquake?' [laughter] "ah, you guys know too?'  'Yea, yea, there's an earthquake coming to Philadelphia in February,' well the bummer was in December we ran out of money and we had to move back to the city.  [laughter]  So then, then we got a job in the Bulletin building downtown, remember there used to be the Bulletin and the Philadelphia Enquirer in the city.  And we were working in the Bulletin building downstairs in these assembly lines stuffing newspapers.  Well when February came we had to tell our boss, 'Look, [laughter] we don't want to be under 30 stories of concrete because there's an earthquake coming, an angel told us, and we don't want to die under all this concrete, so we're going to take February off, we'll come back in March,' was kind of the end of our job there.  [laughter]  But we had told all of our friends, and on February 23rd 1973 there was an earthquake.  Now I don't know if it was really coming, the Lord might have said, 'You know, these guys have told so many people, that I'll just reach down and shake things up a little,' but I remember it was like 2 or 3 in the morning and the bedroom starting going 'Rumble, rumble, rumble' and I jump up thinking 'Do I run out in my pajamas, running down the street, or the house is going to fall down,' I was frozen, my heart was going baboom, baboom, baboom, and I heard my parents saying 'What in the world was that? I heard my dad, you know, and I said "I told ya, I told ya!, that was an earthquake!"  "Nah, that was an explosion, it wasn't an earthquake," so the next day, it was an earthquake.  Well the great thing was Harris and I, within two weeks had a Bible study with 20 people in it. [laughter]  Now you have to understand that this is what our Bible study was back then, we would go sit in his basement where we had previously taken drugs all the time, so now we were Christians, so we'd go sit down, we didn't know anything, we still had incense, we still had candles, we didn't know what we were doing, we would light some incense, light some candles, and we'd sit there, we'd have 20, 25 people with us, and then we'd read something crazy, like from Zephaniah, Isaiah, something that sounded really far out, just kind of read through that.  Then we'd close the Bible, and we'd blow out the candles, and sit in the dark and confess our sins, 'Oh Lord forgive me, I'm such a...' and all of these people were like 'Oh, Lord forgive me, I'm a...' all these people that got saved, we're sitting in the dark with incense going, confessing our sins, we had no idea what we were doing.  But I'll tell you this, God used the fact that we told them that something was coming.  Now we had no Biblical basis for that.  We were just nuts.  [laughter]  But again, today in Bible class, Revelation chapter 7, there's a multitude of people that come out of the Great Tribulation that are saved, that no man can number.  How many of them are your friends and relatives that you're telling now about what's coming?  'You may think I'm nuts, you have a key to my house, when we disappear, this is where my Bible is, this is where the tapes are,' you know, somebody in the old church put this thing together it used to say, "In case of Rapture, break glass" and it was a little glass frame with a hammer beside it, and inside were tracts about the Rapture and about the 2nd coming of Christ.  And, you know, I think it's important to share, not just in regards to the sufferings of Christ, but in regards to the glory, because Christ is coming.  [Why?  Because people God is drawing to himself cut their spiritual teeth on prophecies about their immediate future, what's happening and going to happen in the world, that's their immediate concern, before they start growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  That comes later.  But their first baby steps into the Word of God most often are related to 2nd coming prophecies, about their immediate future should all this stuff start happening.  That's their doorway into the Word of God and a relationship with Jesus Christ.]  And I saw the powerful, it was a microcosm, I saw the powerful effect that it had, and we were just bumbling idiots.  Now we're walking idiots, we were bumbling idiots then.  Don't be afraid to give testimony.  The Old Testament prophets spoke, and they themselves were not privy to that information the way you and I are.  [Comment:  Just look at the shear wealth of historic/prophetic information contained within all the writings of the Prophets, that have ended up in some very good commentaries.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/Prophets_Prophecy.html to read about all of that incredible information we're now privy to.]  Jesus said that John was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, 'There has arisen no greater than John, of those born among women there has not arisen a greater, not David, not Elijah, not Ezekiel, not Isaiah,'  But then Jesus said, 'He who is least in the Kingdom is greater than John,' because you and I know clearly, we're not saying 'Are you the one whose to come, or is there another?'  We don't have that confusion, because we've received our salvation, and the Holy Ghost that was in the Old Testament prophets, preaching of the suffering and then the glory that would be revealed, dwells in us now, and has brought all of those things to light. 


Angels Have Desired To Understand God's Plan Of Salvation


And it says not only that, it says the message that was for us, delivered by the Holy Ghost, which was sent down from heaven, sent down from heaven in our lives tonight, filled with God's Spirit, "which things the angels desire to look into." (verse 12c)  Ephesians 3:10, there's other places that talk about this, that the angels desire to look into the things concerning the heirs of salvation, because they have no saviour, the angels.  They were all created on a given day.  Satan led a number of them in rebellion against God [an estimated one third, cf. Revelation 12:3-4].  But you and I were not there when the human race fell, when Adam sinned.  And because of generation after generation after generation of procreation there's a plan of salvation for us.  It was not my fault, I was not there.  I did not eat the apple, I know the chapter.  If I was there I wouldn't have fallen for it.  We were born in sin, conceived in iniquity, not our fault.  And it says because sin and death came to the whole race, Paul says in Romans, through one man, then salvation and eternal life, because God is just, also comes to the whole race through one man.  'Oh, don't give me that, that's too narrow.'  Now it ain't too narrow for me.  It's the doorway that leads to eternal life, I don't know what you want to hurdle over, what you want to do to get there, but I'm willing to walk through the narrow door to receive eternal life.  And the amazing thing is, in that there's only one way, the amazing thing is that there is a way, there is a way for human beings to be saved.  The angels know nothing of that.  They have no saviour, they all made their choice.  And when it says they desire, it means they lust, they long to look into, it's kata, to stoop down, that they bend down, trying to figure out, because the Word of God, 'in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, all things were made by him,' he's [the pre-incarnate Christ] he's the Creator, he made the angels, he's their Lord and their Sovereign.  And instead of rebelling with Satan, the holy angels of God stayed with the Almighty, Omnipotent God.  And yet they stoop over and they see God in human flesh being spit upon, being beaten, his beard being ripped out of his face, and are appalled, they don't understand.  They look at us, 'He's doing this for them?  I don't understand, there's nothing logical about this, I wouldn't do that for them, he's doing this for them?'  Jesus said 'I could just speak one word now and twelve legions of angels would come.'  [And it took only one angel to kill 185,000 battle-hardened Assyrian soldiers in one night.  Imagine what 12 legions could do.]  They were just saying 'Give us the word, we'll stop this whole thing.'  And they looked down and they stooped down in mystery, they're mystified that God in Christ, is reconciling the world to himself.  What kind of love is that?  There is no love like that for angels.  What kind of love is that?  That's a love for humans, for those who were created in his image and likeness.  It says [in Hebrews 2 and Psalm 8] that we have been made a little lower than the angels for a season, in Psalm chapter 8, 'it doth not appear what we shall be, but when we see him, we'll be like him, we'll see him as he is,' that we haven't realized yet what we are, in all of our potential, what man was before the fall.  But it says the angels 'stoop down, desiring to understand what you and I do.'  And what do we do?  We fight with each other, we argue, 'I'm from this denomination, I'm from that denomination,' you know, the devils [demons] tremble, God's invested in us the life-changing power of truth, the disciples come back when Jesus sends them out, and they said 'Lord, even the demons were subject to us, this was great!  You should see the stuff we did.'  And the Lord said, 'Don't rejoice in the fact that the demons were subject to you, rejoice that your names are written in heaven.  Demons are nothing.  Rejoice that your names are written in heaven,' and it says Jesus looks up to the Father, and he laughs, and he says 'Father, so it seemed good in your sight, that you've hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and you've revealed them unto babes,' with the apostles standing around, 'you've revealed them unto babes.'  Satan can never stop this program, because we don't understand it.   Lightfoot said by the end of the 1st century there were already episcopal forms of government in the Church, presbyterian forms of government in the Church and congregational forms of government in the Church, these are the guys who heard right from the apostles, they didn't know what they were supposed to look like, what shape they were supposed to be in.  And the Church [Body of Christ] has bumbled along for 2,000 years with the message of Christ, and the reason Satan can't stop it is because he can't track it.  If we were all one denomination, he'd have stamped us out, he can't figure us out.  [now I kind of disagree with Pastor Joe's logic about Satan being able to stamp us out.  He said in the last sermon that God has placed a guard, military guard over believers, Satan can't touch us unless he is allowed to.  So this argument doesn't quite hold water.  We could all be united and Satan still couldn't touch us, because our Dad is bigger and more powerful than the world's dad, Satan, and our Dad can whup Satan anytime, and throw him into the abyss (cf. Revelation 20:1-3).  Jesus did indicate that he wants the Body of Christ to be united in the end-times, before the tribulation strikes.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophets/Zephaniah/Zephaniah1.htm]  But these things are written, we are privy to these, it's on a need-to-know basis, and you and I needed to know.  And God made sure that we did, he made sure that we did.  I think of all the things I thought I knew, before I was saved.  And when you're taking LSD you're thinking of a lot of things that you really don't know, and you're not sure of what you know, you're not sure of who you are.  I wasn't sure of who you are, and I wasn't sure of who I was.  But it was on a need-to-know basis, and here we are tonight, isn't it remarkable?  You know, 30 years ago, if somebody would have said to me, 'You're gonna be a pastor,' I might have slugged him.  Now I sing Christmas chorals and get tears in my eyes, because I know what they mean.  You know, you sing Christmas chorals for years, you think, 'I sang those for years, not knowing, I knew the words, but I didn't know the words,'  I knew them perfectly well, but I didn't know them at all.  Now we know, it says, it's been revealed to us.  God looked at us and revealed those things to us, things that the angels desire to look into.


In The World We Live In, It's No Time For Sloppy Thinking


Verse 13, he says this, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;"  Wherefore, because of all this, because presently we might have to endure trials.  But because he's begotten us again to a living hope, that when we believed, we received our salvation, we already have eternity in our hearts [via the Holy Spirit that dwells there].  And God has revealed to us the very things that the prophets of old longed to understand, and searched diligently, and all they were told is that those things were for you and I, things that angels desire to look into.  'Wherefore, because we have these things at hand,' he says, "gird up the loins of your minds"  Now, in the culture they would have understood perfectly because they wore robes.  And if you were going to work in a field, or if you were going to run, you had to take your robe and pull it up and tuck it into your sash, so that you were free to run and you were free to work.  And what he's saying is, 'Look, in a time of trial, in a time when your faith is being tried, in this world, we're waiting for that inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fades not away, but he says but now for a season, if need be, you're in these trials, God has revealed some tremendous things to you,' so he says, 'it isn't time for sloppy thinking, it's no time for sloppy thinking.'  Let me tell you something, we look around the world today, for you and I it is no time for sloppy thinking.  I was at the basketball game last night, we were walking in and somebody's talking on the phone, and I said 'ah, I hate to interrupt you, but could you tell me where the gymnasium is,' and he said, 'Oh, yea, yea, it's over there,' and I said 'Thanks a lot, sorry to interrupt,' and as we're walking away he gets back on the phone and says 'Yea, I'm here, here at the Christmas program, oh yea, we're not allowed to call it the Christmas program anymore, I'm here at the Winter program.'  And I'm thinking, 'What a crazy world we live in, what a crazy world we live in.'  We can't understand what's right and wrong anymore.  The world around us has lost track.  Isaiah said that when it comes to a point where a nation calls right wrong and wrong right, and good evil and evil good, then it has completely lost its way.  And Peter says 'you and I, knowing the end, we know the hope we have, we should gird up, we should gather in our thoughts, it's no time for sloppy thinking in the world we live in.'  'OK, I can still be a Christian and live in sexual sin, I can still be a Christian and still mess with pornography, I can still be a Christian and still get a half a load on, as long as I don't get a full load on and get completely drunk, I only drink until I get a buzz, you know the Holy Spirit gives me the alcohol test, and as long as my alcohol is below .0 whatever,' that's all sloppy stuff.  It says 'to gird up, to pull in our thoughts, to gather them together.'  Because God has revealed to us some remarkable things, 'and there's a great challenge to you and I to gird up, to gather in our thoughts,' he says, 'to constantly be sober,' now that's not constantly sober from alcohol, but you should be constantly sober, that's another place in the Bible.  It's not constantly be a bummer, you know, 'Hey, Pastor Joe, how are you?'  'I'm sober.  Don't try to get me to smile, I'm sober.'  You know there's some Christians like that.  What a fun bunch they are to be around.  The idea is, that we're to be serious about the days that we live in.  You know, I enjoy laughing, I enjoy fun, God gave us the capacity to do that.  I think there are some funny things in the Gospels.  I look at the two guys on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus walks up, and they don't recognize who he is, and he says 'What are you guys so bummed out about?'  And they say to him, 'Are you the only guy in Jerusalem that doesn't know what happened in the last couple days?'  Jesus says, 'Well I don't know, why don't you fill me in.'  'Jesus of Nazareth, a man mighty in deed, we had hoped he'd have been the One, but you know our own leaders took him and crucified him,' and Jesus said, 'Man, that sounds like quite a guy, was really something, huh?'  Now to me there's some Divine humour in that scene.  But if you don't agree with me, that Divine humour is there, look around the room.  [laughter]  It's not sober in that sense, it's 'We're supposed to be sober in the sense of knowing the days that we live in, vigilant, it says in another place, 'watchful.'  That we should constantly be sober, girding up the loins of our mind, "and hope" not in the things that worldly people hope for, "hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;" notice, "as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:" (verse 14) we're supposed to have our Father's nature.  He's taken us into the family of God, "as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:"  "not fashioning yourselves according to" is the same thing that Paul says in Romans chapter 12 when he says 'Don't be conformed, fashioning yourselves, to this world.  But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.'  It means that we're not supposed to order ourselves, schematizo, there's a word in there that speaks of 'you're not supposed to order yourselves according to the schematic of this world.'  You know, if you study any piece of technology, any radio, television [electronics] there's a schematic.  If you would look at the schematic of our culture today, it would look like finger-painting.  We've lost order, we're not supposed to order our lives according to the schematic of this present world, "not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance:"  what did we desire, what were our former lusts?  You know, when I think of before I was saved, it was almost a different life, it's almost like I'm looking at somebody else.  And I think of what I wanted then, I thought 'If I have this it will make me happy, if I have two of these it will make me happy, if I could have some of this it will make me happy, if I could smoke some of that, if I could do this, if I could do that.'  And I think of all the desires that I had then, former lusts.  Now look, you come to Christ, you've experienced a new birth, the old nature is still there, we're told not to let the old nature reign.  It's by faith we're to reckon it dead.  It doesn't mean as Christians, we never in the realm of the mind have to wrestle with lust or anger or selfishness, no that's foolishness.  John says, 'If we say,' and he's a 90-year-old apostle, includes himself, personal pronoun, 'If we say we have not sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.'  He, he struggled, even then.  Once in a while he got a bad attitude, that old 'son's of thunder, boagernies,' and I'm sure at 90-years-old he thought, 'Maybe you could send fire down and burn up this town,' you know, that was John.  God had changed him into the apostle of love.  It isn't that we don't wrestle, we do wrestle, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God's Word, the things he's revealed to us, the new birth, it says that we should be obedient, we should be pulling up our thoughts, girding up our minds, not fashioning ourselves according to the former lusts, the things that we were involved in before we came to Christ.  You know, he told the woman at the well, 'If you drink of this water that I give you to drink of, you'll never thirst again.'  Something changes within us when we partake of Christ.  We get ruined for this world.  "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;" "conversation" is "lifestyle," in your living, "because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (verses 15-16) and he quotes Leviticus.  So he tells us that we should live lives that are holy, because God our Father is holy.  It doesn't say you should be as holy as God, it says, but God says you should be holy because I'm holy.  None of us in this life are going to be as holy as God, but we're to be holy.  Holiness to me is a direction.  Which direction is your life headed in?  The word "holy" means "to be separate," it means "to be set apart for something."  It doesn't mean that you float, you don't leave footprints in the sand, you don't glow in the dark.  That's not holiness.  It doesn't mean they make a statue of you after you die [and put it on the dashboard], it's a direction.  Are you headed towards the Lord with your life or away from him?  He's holy, separate, distinct.  All that exists is that which is God and that which is not God.  That's all that exists, Creator and creation, nothing else.  That's what makes him holy, because he's distinct from his creation.  He's distinct from all that is.  He is God, everything else is not.  Everyone else in this room is not, by the way.  He's holy, his love is holy, his power is holy, his redemption is holy.  If our lives are headed towards him and we're being conformed into his image and likeness, that's a holy life, by its direction.  If we compromise, and we turn back to sin, we've turned away from that very thing, that very work he's begun in us that he wants to bring to completion.  Holiness is not looking down our nose at someone else whose struggling.  Jesus was holy and he sat with tax gatherers and sinners.  He loved those that were lost, laid down his life for them.  It doesn't mean we're better than somebody else, it doesn't mean we're judgmental or Pharisaic.  It means in the confines of your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it means there we're saying 'Lord, come quickly, Lord, I'm tired of wrestling in this world, Lord save my mother this...I don't know if I can live with her another year, save her this season, Lord.  Lord, my friends,' it's pouring out our heart and our life before him.  Saying 'Lord, I'm yours, Lord, I'm struggling, but you're giving me victory, you're leading me, what is the direction?'  "Be ye holy" God says, "for I am holy."  And let me tell you the secret of that.  The secret of that is separation unto, and it isn't separation from.  People who live a Christianity that is a "separation from" are miserable, 'We can't drink anymore, can't take drugs anymore, can't have sex anymore, can't get AIDS, can't get hepatitis, I'm miserable, how am I supposed to have any fun?'  That's what you're separated from.  When you get engaged to somebody, you fall in love with somebody, and your old friends are telling you, 'aah, you're in love, we don't see you anymore, aah, you're too good to hang around with us,' there's no preconceived plan, you've got your eyes on this person, that's all you can think about.  That's separated unto, that's not separated from.  You're not walking around thinking 'oh, I'm separate from,' all you can think about is that person you love.  You're not thinking 'Oh I used to be able to drink a six-pack, I can only drink two cans now,' and you're bummed out, you're trying to be as worldly as you can without falling off the edge and going to hell, that's not separation at all.  What true separation is, it's not being able to take your eyes off Jesus.  It's knowing he's the best thing that's ever happened to you.  And some of us are hardheads, aren't we.  All the husbands and wives are looking at each other [laughter].  Don McClure, I mean, tells the story about when his son just took off, got in trouble, drugs, the world, and he said "we had to put him out of the house, and it destroyed us, broke our hearts.  But we couldn't finance his insanity.  And he said as he was leaving, he said I grabbed him and said, 'You owe me one thing.  We changed your diapers, we fed you, we brought you into this world, you owe me one thing.'  And he said, 'What!?'  and he said, 'If you find anything better than Jesus out there, you come and tell us.'  Of course, nine months later he came back looking like something the cat drug in, all beat up and miserable, Don wasn't' there, Jean answered the door, he said, 'Mom, tell dad there's nothing better than Jesus out here.'  [applause]  And if you for some reason went out there for round two, or round three, or round four, you know it.  You may be a real bonehead out there for round 15, but you are not gonna win.  There isn't anything better than Jesus out there.  He says we should be holy, it's written, it is written, it is the Word of God, 'be ye holy, for I am holy.' 


God's Judgment Of Us Is Not Like His Judgment Of The World---So Order Your Life Accordingly


"And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:" (verse 17)  There's no partiality.  If we are looking to God Almighty, the Father, who is not partial, who doesn't see the distinctions between human beings that we see, he's without respect of persons, and he judges according to every man's work, now look, he's speaking to believers.  The "judges" there is "to look to find something to approve."  He judges according to every man's work, then if you know that, God is impartial, that he's not grading on a curve, that he's not saying to you, 'you know, you're a rascal but compared to those rascals you're ain't such a bad rascal.'  No, there's no partiality, he's not grading on a curve.  If we know that, and we're not talking about salvation, salvation is a free gift, we're not judged there.  But according to our works there are rewards.  The unbeliever stands at the Great White Throne of Christ, we're told [cf. Revelation 20:11-13, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm for the various beliefs about this], the believer stands at the Bemis throne of Christ to receive rewards for what we've done in the flesh.  Some of us who have served wrongly, sloppily, selfishly, will find there's a difference between those who have served genuinely.  It says some of us our works will endure the fire, as gold, silver, precious stones.  Some of us, our works will be burned up, like wood, hay and stubble, but the soul itself will be saved (cf. 1st Corinthians 3:11-15).  He says if we believe these things, and we believe he's coming, that we should serve him a certain way.  And that's with genuineness, that's with separateness, we should gird up the loins of our minds.  We shouldn't be conformed to this world and still be driven by our former desires and our former lusts, we should walk with him, and we should "pass the time of your sojourning here with fear:  forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [lifestyle] received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot..." (verses 18-19)  He says this, 'Knowing this, that we should pass the time of our sojourning, we're not settlers, we're pilgrims, we're passing through,' he reminds us, our life in this world is temporary [we're vapour-man, vapour-woman, remember what James said?].  You just got here, and you ain't staying long.  'But I'm drinking carrot juice.  I'm taking co-enzyme 2-10, I take the new combination of aceto-carotine, and aphopa-something-acid.  I'm regenerating my cells...and I'm off vitamins and I'm taking whole food supplements now, which took me way down the line,'  you just got here, and you ain't staying long.  You may look great when you die, but we're passing through, we're passing through.  You know, let me tell you something too, I appreciate you guys, I am so happy I'm passing through with you guys.  You know, it's been a privilege [applause], it's been a privilege, to watch your families, it's been a privilege to do some of your weddings, watch your kids grow up, been a privilege to do some of the funerals, to weep with those who weep, to rejoice with those who rejoice, to know that whatever comes down between now and when the Lord comes, we get to do this together.  I only had one sister when I grew up, my family was just the two of us, I have lots of sisters now.  I got a whole lot of brothers I never had when I was growing up.  And only Jesus can do that.  And we're passing through, sojourning, and we should do that with fear.  Well what does fear mean?  There should be a soberness about it, we should realize, this is temporary, the stakes are high here, the stakes are high, you don't, we don't believe in reincarnation, you don't come back as cow or donkey, you're not doing this a second time.  This is not karma.  And I hear Christians do that sometimes, 'God's getting me, because I did,' no he's not getting you, he got his Son on the cross so he don't have to get you.  We don't believe in karma [bad or good], we believe in grace, and the grace that's been revealed, the grace that the prophets spoke of.  You have every opportunity in the world, 'But I blew it,' so, you confess your sins, he's faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, you can have a clean bill of health tomorrow morning, tonight, all of your sins gone.  Even as a Christian that's in compromise, if you genuinely return to him and you ask forgiveness, you can start all over.  And it doesn't matter what Christians think, my mom's gonna say 'oh, you repented again, hey, you do this like every week and a half, how do I know we can trust...' no, no, all that matters is what the Scriptures say and what the Lord thinks.  It matters what Jesus thinks.  And if you're genuine, you can start over.  And it doesn't matter what you've done.  It's under the blood.  The stakes are high, we're sojourning through here, we're passing through, we should do it with a certain attitude, because the price of our redemption, you know, you weren't redeemed, redemption was the act of taking someone out of the slave market.  60 million slaves in Rome, 60 million.  He's redeemed us.  He's bought us out of the slave market, because we were slaves to all kinds of things, drugs, pleasure, money, career.  'I never did anything wrong, I never went to prison,' we were incarcerated by all kinds of things.  Because you're not behind bars doesn't mean you're not incarcerated.  We were incarcerate by all kinds of things.  He's bought us and set us free.  And it wasn't with corruptible things like silver and gold, from your empty lifestyle, that's what it was, that you received by tradition, "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."  Peter, and I'm sure when he wrote this, I wonder, with the Holy Spirit moving on his heart, "with the precious blood of Christ," 'drop your nets and follow me.'  Just think of his memories, the house of Jairus, the transfiguration, 'Peter, before the cock crows twice, you're going to deny me three times, let not your heart be troubled, if you believe in God believe also in me, in my Father's house are many mansions,' Jesus appearing to him after the resurrection, saying 'Shalom, Peter, peace.'  We were bought, Peter writes, with the precious blood of my friend and my Saviour, "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:  who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world," 


Closing Remarks


We'll have to pick up there, foreordained won't fit in now.  The precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, think of the price that was paid for us.  Look around the world we live in, understand this, understand it.  We understand things this evening that Isaiah didn't understand, that Jeremiah didn't understand, that Elijah didn't understand, about the books they wrote [Elijah didn't write a book, by the way, but he did help restore a huge part of the ten-tribed northern nation of Israel to God's true Mosaic religion].  We understand more about Isaiah 53 than Isaiah did.  We understand more about the things that Jeremiah wrote than he did. We understand more about these things than the prophets did.  They were written for us upon whom the ends of the world are come.  And God has brought us into the light, he's revealed his grace to us, things that angels wish they could understand the way we do.  And we get bombarded every day on the horizontal by the world, by the media, by opinions, by all of this stuff around us, 'This is cool, that's cool, this is cool, if you do this you'll be considered cool, if you buy one of these you'll be cool, and...and we spend all of our life trying to be accepted and trying to fit in, and God's saying, 'No, you're holy, you're separate.'  'I'm separate, I'm trying to fit in,'  'no, no, no, wrong plan.  This is not a fit-in plan, this is a be-separate plan.'  Because what you know, and what's happened inside of you, and the price that's been paid for you has set you aside once and for all, forever from this lost world.  And the things that God has for you, he says, above and beyond, all that we could ask for or think.  That by great and precious promises, he's going to say, we've been able to be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions of the world through lust.  Peter's going to say some remarkable things to us.  Those of you who believe, I encourage you, gird up the loins of your mind.  It's no time for sloppy thinking, only time for Biblical thinking in the days that we live in...[transcript of a connective expository sermon given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]


related links:


The very Old Testament Prophets didn't understand what God was writing through them, but we can understand.  See,


http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm and for the whole kit-and-caboodle, see