A SAVED LIFE
1 Peter 1:13-22
Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
June 30, 2013
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
-- 1 Peter 1:13-22, ESV
What does it mean to be saved? Within the realm of Christendom, it means that there was a time in the past when you were born again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It means that in the future, you will live in the heavenly fulfillment of the kingdom of God for eternity.
But what does being saved mean now, in the present, in this life? What does a saved life look like? It looks like a godly life, a life which essentially is bought and owned by God. It is a Christian life, a life of following Jesus Christ as Lord. And, it is a spiritual life, indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Simon Peter writes about this life in some detail in 1 Peter 1:13-22. In this text he says a few things with extremely choice words about a saved life. It is not a snap shot, but rather a moving picture, somewhat like filming a race. The race described here should serve to chart our own course for a saved life.
A saved life is a seriously fast race, run by grace.
“Therefore” summons to mind all the meaning of the opening verses of 1 Peter concerning salvation. Salvation, of course, is a gift of God’s sovereign grace received by faith through the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit which imputes the sacrifice and righteousness of Jesus Christ to your life. Since you are saved, the Apostle writes, live a saved life.
A saved life is a race, for this is the image of “preparing your minds for action,” which literally means gird up your loins, and ancient action performed by men and women in robes who were getting ready to run. It is a serious race, calling for training of “your minds” and tempering your morals by “being sober-minded.” It is certainly a rewarding race, for at the finish line awaits the fulness of “grace” to be poured out upon you at the final “revelation of Jesus Christ.” As John Newton famously wrote, “‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
Though the entry fee for the race was paid for us, and the same grace that saved us guarantees our salvation at the end, it is a race we enter into with every fiber of our mind, heart, and soul. We give it our all, running in a narrow lane that perfectly balances the sovereignty of God and responsibility of man. We are to run like the great, Calvinistic, Baptist, founder of the modern missionary movement William Carey, whose motto was, “Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God.” And with whatever speed or skill we run, the race will be over quickly, for even a saved life, like all human life, is but a flash in the pan (ref. James 4:14).
I have been a believer now for just over 30 years. Looking back on my race so far, it seems a blur. Should I live another 30 years to serve Christ, I believe the time will go by even faster. This is the first picture of a saved life. It is a race, a grace race, a fast race, to be run seriously and responsibly. And, it is a race to be run slightly out of step.
A saved life is a remarkably holy race, run slightly out of step.
I have attended the Olympics and I have attended the Special Olympics. The latter is far more beautiful than the former. It is because, and I mean no mockery or disrespect, in the Special Olympics all the runners run slightly out of step. To those of us with hearts, and surely to the heart of God, it truly is a beautiful thing to watch.
A saved life is lived by “obedient children” who “do not conform” to the lives of typical human beings, ignorantly doing as they please rather than trying to please God. Christians do not run like non-Christians and the non-Christians should think we Christians are a little touched because of the difference. The difference is the touch God has put upon us. The “holy” Father, Son, and Spirit has marked and made us “holy.” Recreated in His image, Christians run a race with steps that are special, different, pure, and eternally valuable.
What is remarkable about the stamp of holiness is what it produces in a saved life. To pull from the special selection of words used by Simon Peter, saved people are known by their “obedience ... fear ... faith ... [and] hope.” Interestingly enough, the Apostle uses all of these words in their noun form, speaking more about who saved people are, rather than what we do, even thought certainly who we are determines how we live. I point this out because this is precisely what makes Christianity out of step with religion and secularism. Religious and secular people think by doing something they will become someone. A saved life is a life where you become someone first, namely a child of God, which results in a way of doing things differently for eternity. It is quite different actually, decidedly out of step, totally holy, and absolutely wonderful.
As we run the saved life, we are indeed “obedient children,” not because we have to be, but because we are made to be and want to be. We tend to obey the word and will of God our Father because we have such “fear,” a healthy and reverential respect for His awesome person and power, and “faith” in who He is and what He can do. This is in conjunction with the great “love” (agape) God has put in our hearts for Him and the “brotherly love” (phileo) and sacrificial “love” (agape) we brothers and sisters have for one another. We run this way with these attributes because our confident expectation, or “hope,” is that God is with us now in this saved, abundant life and He will be with us forever in our saved, eternal life with Him in Heaven.
People who run this way with these characteristics are decidedly out of step with the rest of the world, but certainly in step with the Holy Spirit. These are the special people, the saved people, the followers of Christ. And these are the people, the people of God, who will win the race.
A saved life is a race that reaches the end by constantly remembering the beginning.
I saved the middle part of the text for the end because it is our guiding light from the beginning. In the beginning we gird up for the race and cast our eyes on the finish line of Heaven. But how did we get in the race in the first place? Do we cross the finish line and win the prize because of our running, or do we run and win because someone else has already secured the victory?
Remember we are in the race in the first place because of grace, because our entry fee has already been paid. And it was not paid for “with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” Though it sounds absurd or even grotesque to the unbelieving world, the track upon which a saved life is run is paved with blood, the blood of Christ by which “you were ransomed,” redeemed, claimed, cleansed, saved. At no point in the Christian race of a saved life should we ever forget what it took to save us. That’s why we worship with songs about the blood, sermons about the cross, and serve the sacred supper of bread and wine in remembrance of Him.
In some ways the beginning of a saved life is the point at which a person is born again. In other more profound ways, the beginning was before the beginning when God chose you before the foundations of the world were laid. But the real basis of being in the race, the place where a saved life truly begins, is the cross of Jesus Christ. And those who begin with the cross are bound for “glory” at the end of the race.
At the end of our race, in the fulness of grace, we will sing a new song to the Lord. Perhaps it will resemble in part an old song written by Isaac Watts:
“No more my God, I boast no more, of all the duties I have done,
I quit the hopes I held before, to trust the merits of Thy Son!
No more my God, I boast no more.
The best obedience of my hands dares not appear before Thy throne,
But faith can measure Thy demands, by pleading what my Lord has done!
No more my God, I boast no more.”
You see, the thing about a saved life is that you needed to be saved, and someone has saved you. When you see this, when you believe this, it is no burden at all to live a saved life.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org