Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Call to Holiness

“Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.” ~1 Peter 1:13 (NRSV).

The ultimate quest of faith surrounds the final revelation of God in the Lord Jesus Christ’s coming again. Underpinned by the living faith expressed in the grace-led life, this end-times hope comprises the real character of our hope.

In simple terms, the expression of our faith now is but part of our overall hope. But that overall hope is both far off yet near. Strangely, this hope is an eternal hope. As we wait for the end to come—willing it, but not stopped by hoping for it—we live holy lives.

Two Aspects of Grace

John Newton’s famed hymn, Amazing Grace, captures, in terms of grace, the favour of God for both now and to come: “’Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

These two aspects of grace anoint each present moment—no matter how estranged to hope we may feel we are—and the destined reality for the saved person. Our experience of grace is the down-payment on the promise, and that promise is incomprehensible in its splendour.

The Power in Grace – Power for Obedience

Grace is the reason we can endure anything. Even when we cannot go on, God’s grace holds us aloft.

This holy quality that has been poured into us by the Holy Spirit is one and the same quality taking us all the way to the final revelation of Christ in Glory. A key theme of Peter’s—of thanksgiving—acknowledges grace and promulgates response: we feel compelled to comply through obedience.

Obedience for Holiness

Peter’s call to holiness is, hence, encouragement to live the full Christian life, unabashed, and humbly confident in the ability to struggle well.

We cannot indwell the concept of holiness without an unconditional commitment to obey the Lord. This is when the Christian walk gets tough, whilst at the same time straightforward.

We either struggle well or we struggle poorly; though we might feel we are struggling poorly, but in reality it’s a relatively solid obedience. The Lord knows our heart.

Peter’s point is that the facts of grace—the present and future hope—afford within us thankfulness that compels obedience. Simply, we obey because we want to.

Power to Endure unto Hope in Eternity

The mightiest reality of the grace-powered, gospel-driven, and thankfully-obedient life, notwithstanding the vehicle of faith and the promise of Glory, is the empathy of God in the moment of our suffering. Only in God do we have the power to endure.

Endurance always seems beyond us when we most need it. Still, we have, somehow, the Spirit of Endurance in living the holy life. This same Spirit has blessed us with not just capacity, but true hope—we will know God in the heavens.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

General Reference: David L. Bartlett, The First Letter Of Peter: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections – The New Interpreters Bible Volume XII (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1998), pp. 249-58.

No comments: