Let’s define the word grace, or at least how it’s used in Scripture.
Grace does not mean that we can do whatever we want.
“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1).
“For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Yeshua the Messiah our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 1:4).
Peter tells us that the prophets spoke of the grace that was coming to all the world (1 Peter 1:10), and he urges us to set our hope fully on that grace (1 Peter 1:13). So it is urgent that we know what this grace is!
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Messiah in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed at his coming” (1 Peter 1:10-13).
The Grace of God That Brings Salvation
Peter wasn’t the only one to write about about the grace of God. We see it as a theme throughout the entire 66 books of Scripture. Paul probably speaks most eloquently of it, and his theme is continuously this:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men…” (Titus 2:11).
All men. Can you wrap your mind around the incredible scope of this grace? All men. Not just the Jews. Not just Israel. Not just the seed of Abraham. Rather, both Jew and Gentile could receive the mercy and forgiveness offered by God and be grafted into His body.
Both Peter and Paul — and indeed, these verses say, even the prophets — trembled at the magnitude of God’s grace:
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Messiah Yeshua for the sake of you Gentiles — Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Messiah, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Messiah Yeshua” (Ephesians 3:1-6).
“If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
“Again I ask: Did [Israel] stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring! I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’ As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all” (Romans 11:11-12, 25-32).
“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness — the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Messiah in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:25-27).
The Prophets Spoke of That Grace
Peter says the same thing Paul does, that the Old Testament prophets spoke of the grace that was to come (1 Peter 1:10). There are many places throughout the prophets where we read that His own people, Israel, turned away from God’s law in rebellion. God warned them — repeatedly! (See Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.) And then He scattered them.
“Then YHWH will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other” (Deuteronomy 28:64).
“Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which YHWH has afflicted it… All the nations will ask: ‘Why has YHWH done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?’ And the answer will be: ‘It is because this people abandoned the covenant of YHWH, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt… Therefore YHWH’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. In furious anger and in great wrath YHWH uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now” (Deuteronomy 29:22, 24-28).
But oh, the grace of our God!
“When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever YHWH your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to YHWH your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then YHWH your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there YHWH your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. YHWH your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” (Deuteronomy 30:1-6).
We know that God loves His covenant people Israel. But God so loves the world as well. While His own people were scattered throughout the world, He would use that time of punishment and sorrow to bring the message of salvation to the entire world.
YHWH had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you‘” (Genesis 12:1-3).
“Many nations will be joined with YHWH in that day and will become my people” (Zechariah 2:11).
The prophets foretold this, but they searched “intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances” in which all these things would happen (1 Peter 1:10). They knew that a Messiah would come, and they could see that He would do two things (1 Peter 1:11):
- He would suffer.
- Glories would follow.
“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness — so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand” (Isaiah 52:13-15).
But how? When? Even though the prophets searched, they did not see the magnitude of God’s grace and how it would extend to the uttermost parts of the earth.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).
“On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations” (Mark 13:9-10).
“The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).
“Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Yeshua the Messiah, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him” (Romans 16:25-26).
“The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you'” (Galatians 3:8).
The Recipients of That Grace
So Peter is writing a letter “to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:1).
Oh, what good news that grace is!
“Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ (Isaiah 52:6-7)
As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” (Romans 10:11-15).
When you started out in life, you probably felt very self sufficient, able to come to God on your own terms. However, did you ever have a day when you came to the end of yourself, when you realized that even your best righteousness fell short of the standard of a righteous God?
If you came in repentance to Him, calling on His name to be saved from your sinfulness, the Spirit of God breathed new life into your heart, and your eyes were opened to His mercy and goodness. You read Scripture with the eyes of a child, seeing things that you never saw before.
It is God’s grace that called your name from before time began. It is His grace that included you in His covenant, His promises, His family, and His blessings.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Master Yeshua the Messiah, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Messiah. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Yeshua the Messiah, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” (Ephesians 1:3-6).
The Grace to Set Your Hope On
Because of His grace, Peter says, “Therefore…”
(I was always told to watch out for the word therefore in Scripture — and to always ask what it was there for!)
Because He has offered salvation to all the world, and because His grace extended even to those of us who live in the “uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8), therefore:
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed” (1 Peter 1:13).
First, we are to prepare our minds for action. The King James Version gives us a word picture when it says to “gird up the loins of your mind,” or to tuck our skirts up around our waists so that we can run. We are to get ready to move! However, we aren’t preparing our literal legs for action. Rather, we are preparing our minds for action.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).
We prepare our minds by changing our thought patterns. Instead of thinking like a Gentile, we learn to think like a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. We do this by filling our minds with truth.
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6:14, KJV).
This truth comes as we fill our minds with Scripture.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law [torah, teaching] of YHWH, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).
Secondly, we are to be self-controlled or “sober” (KJV).
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head [“be sober“] in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5).
Peter is going to go into much more detail on how to have this self control, so we’ll come back to this in the weeks ahead.
Finally, we are to set our hope fully on the grace to be given to us when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed. You see, He already came once as a suffering Messiah. His people Israel have been scattered, and the gospel has gone out to most of the nations of the world. We were given His grace — and now He remains to come back, in power and in glory, to call all of His people back from the nations.
Peter wrote these words in the first century, and from every indication, the apostles thought that Yeshua’s return would be soon, maybe even in their lifetimes. Yet Peter knew that believers would face a time of “tribulation” in the meantime, as trials came upon them for their witness and faith in Yeshua.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Peter is going to start to get practical, showing his readers how to turn from their former thought patterns and to show actions that proved they were set apart and walking according to grace. We’ll pick up there next week.
But just knowing that my Master, the One who loved me so much that He died for me, is coming back again, does indeed make me want to live for Him. As I set my hope fully on that grace, it changes everything about me.
Grace does not mean that we can do whatever we want. Grace means that now it’s time for us to get prepared for action. Things are moving and shaking in our world. Our Messiah will return someday. Now is the time to prepare, by girding up our minds with the truth of His Scriptures, renewing our minds and walking soberly, with self control.