Part 2 of GRIT. 1 Peter 1:17.
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. October 7, 2018.
Angela Duckworth wrote a book called GRIT. She claims the secret to achievement is GRIT, which she says is a combination of passion + persistence. She writes that 1). consistency of effort, 2). focused on top-level goals, 3). over the long run is everything.
I think she's right on. Peter's message to these ancient churches was: "You're under fire, you don't feel like you belong here, but don't give up on Jesus because passion for God and persistence in faith will result in salvation when Jesus returns."
GRIT is what Eugene Peterson calls a long obedience in the same direction. It's a lifetime apprenticeship to Jesus our master.
Bunyan's classic book, The Pilgrim's Progress, is an allegory about a life of passion and persistence in faith in spite of dark days and hard times. Much of the book is focused on the many ways we might give up on Jesus: temptations, discouragements, apathy, fear, love of comfort, demonic attacks. Pilgrim makes it to the Celestial City because he refuses to give up; he stays on the road until the end. That's GRIT. Perseverance through all the storms of life.
It's so important that we develop GRIT. That's why I developed this series of teachings.
Last week, we talked about three declarations that inspire our GRIT. Today, I want us to focus on one experience that fuels our faith on life's hardest days. It's mentioned in verse17:
"Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear."
Peter links - since - our hard times - live out our time here as foreigners - and our fear of God - reverent fear.
So the powerful experience we need is reverent fear of God. Let's talk about it. First, we'll figure out why fearing God is helpful and then what fearing God is like.
FEARING GOD IS HELPFUL
FOR THOSE WHO KNOW HIM
Fearing God is helpful for those who know him because:
A. WE KNOW GOD IS HOLY.
(1 Peter 1:15-16) "Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (see Leviticus 11:44)
The holiness of God is terrifying. Isaiah experienced it. Seraphim called out:
(Isaiah 6:3-5) “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Peter "saw" his own sinfulness in the light of Jesus' holiness and he was terrified:
(Luke 5:8-9) When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
Sinners without the protection of Jesus will be devastated by God's holiness:
(Hebrews 12:28-29) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
The context is Deuteronomy 4:24 where God calls himself a consuming fire and a jealous God who destroys idolaters with fire. He burned up Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10) for inventing their own form of worship.
When we understand the holiness of God, it creates a powerful fear reaction. And that fear reaction motivates us to stand firm in our faith in Jesus because we never want to face the holiness of God apart from our safety in Jesus. He ALONE cleanses us from sin and guilt; he clothes us with his holy righteousness, making us acceptable to God.
(Isaiah 61:10) I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
B. WE KNOW GOD IS REDEEMER.
God is our Father and we can call on him. But this is only possible because he has redeemed our lives from our sin and his judgment. On the one hand, that's very good news. On the other hand, it makes me afraid because of how he redeemed us:
(1 Peter 1:18-19) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
The ransom was his Son. He slaughtered his Son for us. That's how deadly serious sin is. Our freedom cost Jesus his life. He was sacrificed on the cross for our sins like a sacrificial lamb on the altar. God's awful wrath and judgment were slammed down on Jesus in our place. What a terrible cost for our redemption.
(Isaiah 53:5) He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed.
(1 Peter 2:24) He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
(1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body
There's an old slave song, a spiritual that goes like this: "Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord? Ooh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble, tremble, tremble." And so it should. God did not spare his own Son (Romans 8:29) from his awful, terrifying, fiery, holiness and justice. He tore him to pieces.
Our fear grows the more we know about God our Redeemer. Knowing him as Savior does not make us casual about sin. It makes us run in terror from it lest it cause us to abandon our safety in Jesus for sin's deadly pleasures.
Someone might say, "I'll just sin tonight, then tomorrow I'll come back to Jesus." What if tomorrow comes and you don't want to come back? The consequences for giving up on Jesus are terrifying. Think what God will do to you if you walk away from Jesus.
C. WE KNOW GOD IS JUDGE.
In the end, God will judge everyone, even believers. The judgment of believers does not determine their eternal destiny. God already judged Jesus in our place so there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ by faith (Romans 8:1-2; 5:1-2).
I'm talking about another kind of judgment, one that is more like an assessment. God will evaluate the faithfulness of our lives:
(1 Peter 1:17) "Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear."
The evaluation is impartial; no one gets a pass. Every Jesus-follower must stand before the judgment seat of Christ:
(2 Corinthians 5:9-10) We make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us (the term refers to the totality of our lives, not each nit-picky thing) for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
(Romans 14:10-12) You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” (Isaiah 45:23) 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Church leaders: (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) If anyone builds on this foundation (the gospel of the crucified Christ) using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
(1 Corinthians 4:5) Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
Knowing God as judge makes me fear him. He knows my heart and my hidden motives. He will review everything. I won't be able to hide anything from him. His judgment - assessment - will be absolute, not curved, not swayed by my clever arguments. He has the power to burn up my life's work. I fear him because I do not want to hang my head in shame before him.
(1 John 2:28) And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
Did you see that: continue in Christ - persist, show some GRIT, cling to Jesus on dark days because you do not want to be ashamed at the judgment day.
Paul says the same thing in this way:
(Philippians 2:12-13) Therefore (in view of the return of Jesus in power when we'll bow our knees to him at the judgment seat), my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Pauls says, in view of the coming judgment, live in fear and trembling. Live like you're saved, like you follow Jesus, like you're standing firm in faith.
FEARING GOD IS LIKE THIS
FOR THOSE WHO KNOW HIM
John Piper's parable:
I picture myself climbing in the mountains, say the Himalayas. And I’m on these massive rock faces, and I see a storm coming. It is going to be a massive storm, and I feel unbelievably vulnerable on these mountain precipices. And so, I am desperately looking for a little cover in the rock where I won’t be blown off the side of the cliff to destruction.
And I find a hole in the side of the mountain, and I spin quickly, and suddenly the holiness, and justice, and power, and wrath, and judgment of God breaks over me like a hurricane, but I know I am totally safe, which means all that horrible danger is transposed into the music of majesty, and I can enjoy it rather than fearing it. And I think that is what the cross is. Jesus died for us to provide a place where we could enjoy the majesty of God with a kind of fear and trembling and reverence and awe, but not a cowering fear.