CAD et INI                         David T. Mensing                 March 21, 2010

 

Judica

 

 

 

 

 

I Peter 1:17-21

 

(Eisenach Epistle)

 

The Price of Our Redemption Is the Motive

of Our Lives as Christians

 

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, beloved hearers of His blessed Word:

On these Sunday mornings during Lent, our study of selected Epistle texts has explored the result of the Savior’s redemptive work in us, in our lives as Christians, as we stand in the shadow of His cross.  In our text for today, the Apostle Peter exhorts or urges us to a life of Godly fear here in this world in proof of our faith.  And again, he links our Savior’s redemptive work —in particular His suffering and death— to its RESULT in us, as he shows us that

The Price of our Redemption Is the Motive for our Lives as Christians.

That price will motivate or “move” us to a life of Godly fear (I) because of its incomparable value, first of all; secondly, (II) because of its perfect sufficiency; and thirdly, (III) because of its blessed purpose.

I.

Peter begins with the exhortation itself, saying: “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.” Calling on the Father simply means praying to Him with all boldness and confidence, just as dear children here in this world can go to their loving fathers and mothers with their concerns and requests, relying upon the affectionate bond between them to produce a favorable reply.  Those who call upon God as their “Father” must do so out of faith in Jesus Christ as their very own Savior; for that is what our whole relationship with Him is based on.  That is what makes us God’s children in the first place, as the Apostle Paul writes to the Galatians chapter 3: “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” not by virtue of any relationship apart from Christ Jesus!  For it is only because of Jesus’ redemptive work in man’s place that God in heaven reconciled the whole world unto Himself, no longer charging their sins against them (II Corinthians 5:19).   And it is only by confidence of the heart in the merits of Jesus that we lay hold on, receive, and enjoy the blessings of the “adoption of sons,” the Bible tells us.


But our heavenly Father, unlike fathers here in this world, is perfectly impartial, Peter points out in our text, “without respect of persons,” playing no favorites.  For unlike earthly fathers, God isn’t taken in by “smooth talk,”  lip service, and mere outward obedience and devotion!  No, He judges “according to every man’s work.” Our lives are an “open book” to God; and He knows whether the fruits we produce, the works that we do, flow from sincere faith in the Savior or are just a pretense, a “false-front” of hypocrisy, and a show of piety which may indeed fool those around us but can never fool Him.

Consequently, Peter tells us, we should “pass the time of [our] sojourning here in fear.” If we are really the children of God by faith in His Son and not just jaw-flapping pretenders, then we should “[spend our traveling-time] here [in this world, in this strange country far from our heavenly home,] in fear —not in slavish terror of God (for faith in Jesus has eliminated that and has brought us “peace with [Him],” the Bible tells us, Romans 5 verse 1) —not in mere awe and respect, such as the creature should always have of its Creator (for that fear even the unbelievers have of God by nature!).   No, this “fear” of which the Apostle speaks is a childlike fear that even a loving son or daughter has of a loving father here in this world, the desire to avoid what displeases him, the fruit of the loving relationship that exists between them.

Indeed, our “fear” of God should make us alert to the spiritual dangers that lie in wait for us on our journey heavenward.  It should make us serious about our faith, so that we don’t play “Russian roulette” with our souls, getting just as close to sin and vice as we can, and foolishly hoping not to be attacked and overcome by them.  Our “fear” of God should make us more diligent about our spiritual growth in grace and in the knowledge of His Word.  And it should make us more “zealous of good works” pleasing to our heavenly Father, works which clearly give evidence (both to Him, who knows the hearts, and to our fellowmen, who can only judge from our outward behavior) that we are His believing children and heirs of heaven!

Now why should we bother to do all of this, when we’re saved “by [God’s] grace” and not by our works??  What should MOVE us to lead truly Christian lives??  Here the Apostle Peter shows us the motive, the Lenten motive indeed, to which every Christian MUST respond if he is truly a child of God.  That motive, my dear hearers, is the PRICE of our Redemption, the price paid by our Savior to win for us God’s favor in the first place when “we were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” “when we were [God’s] enemies,” Paul tells us in Romans 5:10.   We know what that price was, but Peter here in our text lays it out for us anew, first of all to show us its incomparable VALUE:   He says, “Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.”


Jesus “redeemed” us; He bought us back again, “from [our] vain conversation” —from our empty, useless, good-for-nothing way of life —from the spiritual darkness of sin and unbelief, of hopelessness and despair, of inability to please God in the slightest by our own works of merit, from voluntary servitude to Satan, whose evil works our unconverted souls delighted in!  That “vain conversation,” that former way of life, we had, Peter says, “received by tradition from [our] fathers;” we had inherited it like a hand-me-down; we were “born into it” as into a family heritage, and we went right along with it, as our fathers did ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God and fell into sin!  Since that time, ALL men were “stuck” or mired in this God-forsaken way of life, headed nowhere but to hell and damnation!

Jesus “redeemed” us from that way of life, “not with corruptible things, as silver and gold,” not with the things that this vain world considers to be valuable as commodities of exchange and redemption; for those things “don’t count” before God!  They are totally worthless in His sight!  (Why, even here on earth their value is fluctuates with economic pressures, Wall Street rumors, and other fickle influences!)  “None of THEM,” writes the Psalmist concerning those who “trust in their wealth and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches,” ¼“none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him; for the redemption of their soul is PRECIOUS!” No, mere money could never be a price of sufficient value to redeem us!

BUT “the precious blood of CHRIST” was a one-of-a-kind price, the blood of God’s “Anointed One,” of His only-begotten Son, “as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.” Jesus Christ, whose very name means “the Savior with Divine credentials,” was “holy, harmless, undefiled, [and] separate from sinners,” the writer to the Hebrews tells us.  He was sinless, spotless, and “without blemish” before God —just the opposite of us filthy, wretched, and putrid sinners!  And “for the transgression of my people was He stricken,” Isaiah writes in his 53rd chapter.  This spotless Lamb of God, the God-appointed sacrifice offered in the place of sinners, paid the price of our redemption with His “precious blood,” our text tells us.  What a price!!  A price beyond price!!  Think of it!

Knowing the value of that price, knowing that Christ paid it for you, knowing that your heavenly Father “invested” that kind of price to buy you back from sin, death, and the devil, is that enough to MOVE you, to MOTIVATE you, to Godfearing behavior during your sojourn here on earth??

II.


What about the sufficiency of that price?  Peter tells us that Christ “verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” to shed His holy, precious blood to redeem us!   Even before the earth was made, before Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, perfectly holy and blessed, God in His omniscience knew that man would transgress His holy Law and offend His perfect justice; He knew that, helpless to help ourselves, we wretched sinners would need a Savior; He knew what it would COST to buy us back, to redeem us, to satisfy His justice and holiness, and to reconcile us unto Himself.  And so He foreordained or decided, as it were, in eternity already, to make His only-begotten Son the “scapegoat” for sinners, the “sacrificial Lamb” who should “bear our griefs and carry our sorrows” ¼who should be “wounded for our transgressions [and be] bruised for our iniquities.” Jesus Himself, as true God, participated with the Father and the Holy Ghost in this wonderful decree of redemption and willingly became our Redeemer!

And He was “manifest in these last times for you,” Peter adds.  He was “made known,” “announced,” “proclaimed” by God already in the prophecies of the Old Testament to be His promised “Messiah,” through whom alone man would have redemption from his sins, the One in whom “all the nations of the earth [would] be blessed;” and He was specially “manifest[ed] in these last times” in the Gospel of fulfillment, Peter says, “for YOU,” to be YOUR Redeemer, YOUR Savior, whose sacrifice the Father in heaven accepted as payment in full for YOUR sins!

Knowing the sufficiency of that price, knowing that it avails before God for YOU, so that, for Jesus’ sake, God no longer charges your sins against YOU, but declares you righteous in His holy sight, is that enough to MOVE you, to MOTIVATE you, to Godfearing, obedient behavior during your sojourn here on earth??

III.


And what about the purpose of that price?  It was “manifest in these last times for you who by Him do believe in God that raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory.” God not only “foreordained” this precious Lamb of sacrifice; He not only “manifested” or made known His plan of salvation “for you,” but He created in your heart the very faith by which you believe in God,” by which you know, and accept, and place your confidence in the manifest fact that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the Word of reconciliation.” Yea, the fact that “God raised [Christ] up from the dead and gave Him glory” is the very seal of that reconciliation and the surety of your salvation.  And the faith whereby you lay hold on and make this gracious salvation your very own is itself God’s creation in your heart; for St. Paul writes to the Philippians: “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (2:13).  And what is “His good pleasure”THIS is the work of God,” Jesus Himself tells us, “that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent” (John 6:29)¼“and that believing ye might have life through His Name” (20:31).  And the blessed result is evident right now already in our lives as Christians, for “being justified [or forgiven] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:1).

Yes, that is the purpose of the price, and the purpose for which this whole plan of salvation was “manifested,” namely, ¼that your faith and hope might be in God,” Peter says.   Faith is the undeserving hand of poor unworthy beggars like you and me that simply reaches out to accept God’s free gift of salvation, earned by Jesus’ perfect fulfillment of the Law, and bought and paid for with His holy precious blood.  Hope is the wonderful result of faith, namely, the sure and certain anticipation of all those unspeakable blessings that await for Jesus’ sake  us according to our heavenly Father’s promise.   BOTH our faith and our hope are anchored “in God,” whose good and gracious will and purpose it is that “all men be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4) — the truth of salvation by grace for Christ’s sake through faith, totally apart from the works of the Law.

Knowing that the purpose of this costly plan is and was from the beginning  your eternal blessing and salvation; knowing full well that the price paid by your Savior was indeed sufficient to purchase your redemption; and knowing the incalculable, unspeakable value of the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, which “cleanseth [you] from all sin,” should that not be motive enough for you, as the fruit of your faith, to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts” and to “live soberly, righteously, and Godly in this present world,” “pass[ing] the time of your sojourning here in fear?” O, may God graciously grant it for Jesus’ sake, “so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us nor seduce us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and though we be assailed by them, that still we may finally overcome and obtain the victory” through Him that loved us!

Amen.

 

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

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