WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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FAITH THAT IS FOCUSED
(A call to holy living)
(1 Peter 1:13-25)
The “Christian Hope”, has, throughout the history of the Church, served as motivation to make life on earth conform more fully with the Word of GOD, just as it was presented to us by JESUS CHRIST during HIS lifetime here on earth.
All of the information we have about CHRIST, and Christianity, comes to us from those who actually saw HIS miracles performed, and, actually heard HIM speak. However, because they wrote to encourage believers, rather than to satisfy historical curiosity, this information often leaves more questions than it does answers, particularly in the minds of those who don’t truly believe anyway.
No one has ever been able to harmonize all of this information from GOD, into a completely satisfying chronological account. These Holy Scriptures, as we know them, were not actually assembled by “the authors of GOD” who wrote them, but rather, they were assembled much later on by second, third, and even fourth generation workers in the early Church.
It must not be forgotten, however, that the original workers of the early Church, were those hand-picked apostles of JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF. In the New Testament, two very short letters, or epistles, are accredited to the leader of that band of men that JESUS picked, and then entrusted to doing the work of building HIS Church here on earth. That man’s name was originally, Simon, however, JESUS changed his name to “Peter”, or “Cephas”, which means “Rock”. It is also widely believed by scholars (including this one) that the Gospel of Mark was dictated to him by the Apostle Peter earlier than any of the other three Gospel accounts.
The Apostle Peter is said to have written this, the first of his two known letters that are contained in the New Testament canon, while in Rome, circa A.D. 64, near the end of his life, and during the turbulent reign of the emperor Nero. It was at a time when Jewish Christians were suffering heavy persecution throughout the Roman Empire, and particularly in Asia Minor (now the land of Turkey).
In this letter, Peter sought to encourage those embattled Christians who were residing in Asia Minor, to cling to “the Christian Hope”, as their suffering was only a part of the Christian life here on earth. He also wanted to assure them that GOD would protect and reward those who endured until the end, staying focused on HIM, and maintaining their faith and trust in JESUS, through it all. The mind that stays focused on HIM will overcome the trials and tribulations by which a Christian is tested in order to strengthen their faith, just as fire is used to test and purify gold (1 Peter 1:3-12).
Here in verses 13-25, Peter calls for all Christians to “live holy”, “think clearly” (“nephontes” in the Greek, meaning “be sober minded”), and exercise “self-control” (“egratheia” in the Greek) at all times. He also urges them to “look forward in earnest expectation” (“apokaradokia” in the Greek) of CHRIST’ return. He further urges that they “not slip back” (“backslide”) into their old way of living.
The Christians must learn to obey the GOD in WHOSE “spiritual image” they are made. And just as a person “physically resembles” their earthly parents, so too must the Christian be concerned that they daily desire to resemble “the spiritual image” of their FATHER in Heaven, through their behavior.
The contrast that Peter alludes to, here in this passage (Vs.23-24), is that we don’t have to make an effort, nor change our behavior, to physically resemble our earthly parents. For that is an automatic occurrence. Our resemblance of GOD, however, can only be manifested through our behavior, which must come through a transformation of “the heart” (change our way of thinking). This resemblance can only be acquired and maintained through our learning of, and becoming accustomed to practicing, the Word of GOD (getting to know GOD spiritually and intellectually).
When we choose “the Christian Walk”, we must no longer operate as just permanent residents of this earth, but rather, we must begin to operate as citizens of Heaven, and therefore, the laws of GOD must become paramount to us. It is not until a person “falls in love with goodness”, that “wrong things” will no longer “fascinate” and “have power” over them. “Our relationship with GOD” is a Christians “greatest asset”. Contrastingly, “the person who loses his or her heart to the things of this world” is “the person who is most vulnerable to satan”.
“The end of all things is near”, to each of us, personally. For that is the resounding message, that the ancient Old Testament prophets, and, New Testament writers and thinkers, all leave us with. And that message is just as valid today as it ever was. Our only true hope lies in our ability to maintain a discipline and self-control that is fueled by our faith, obedience, and conformance to the prompting of the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO, will always compel us toward CHRIST JESUS, and away from “the gravitational pull” that is, this world.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website