At the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ
July 10th, 1960 @ 7:30 PM
1 Peter 1:3-13
AT THE APOCALYPSE OF JESUS CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Peter 1:3-13
7-10-60 7:30 p.m.
Now let us read the Book together, 1 Peter 1, at the third verse through the thirteenth. I have changed the sermon tonight because the sermon announced, Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, is down here in the eighteenth verse, and I could not get to it in preparing the message. So the sermon tonight is on the thirteenth verse, The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, the unveiling, the revelation of our Lord, the coming again of our Lord. Now all of us read together 1 Peter 1:3-13. First Peter 1, the third verse through the thirteenth verse, now together:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
[1 Peter 1:3-13]
And that is the text: "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the apokalupsis, at the revelation, at the appearing, at the second advent, at the coming of Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 1:13].
When you read this passage, you cannot but be impressed with the saturation of mind by which these holy apostles meditated upon, thought upon, the message and meaning of Christ. In every word, in every syllable, in every sentence there is a reference to our blessed and holy Lord. Another thing, you cannot but be impressed when you read the words of these holy and godly apostles. You cannot but be impressed with the ardor and the earnestness by which they look forward to the return of our Savior.
It was constantly in the heart and thought of the apostle Paul. In the Book of Philippians, he refers to it in almost every chapter. In 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians, he closes every chapter with a reference to the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. And Simon Peter is no less the same here in writing this passage. In the short little pericope that you have read, there are no less than four different references to the apocalypse, the unveiling, the revealing, the appearing of Jesus Christ. Nor did they look upon it with dread, with foreboding, with terror. To them it was a day of consummate gladness and everlasting, indescribable joy. It was the great triumph toward which all Christian faith and hope did move. And they spake of it as though all creation was preparing for that marvelous opening of the heaven when He shall descend with ten thousands of His saints and with thousands upon thousands of His hosts in glory [Jude 1:14]. Though the elements shall melt with fervent heat [2 Peter 3:10], and though all creation shall be on fire, yet to them they were kept and preserved in the elective purpose of God for that holy and final day [1 Peter 1:5]. And as the apostle Paul [Ephesians 4:30], so Simon Peter uses that great revelation, not as a matter of speculation, of argument, but as a matter of undergirding every Christian doctrine of the holy faith and as an illimitable heavenly comfort in every trial and in every sorrow [1 Peter 4:19].
So he begins in this passage of our text tonight, "Wherefore, wherefore" [1 Peter 1:13], he begins with a reason, he begins with an argument; for of all things our faith is reasonable and commends itself to a man of sobriety and of judgment. In fact, the Christian faith is the use of our rational faculties raised to their highest proportions and set to heavenly and celestial music. We may not understand it all, but God in His infinite wisdom hath chosen it all and hath laid it before us as an open door of wonder and amazement and eternal glory. "Wherefore, wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the apocalypse of Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 1:13]. That "wherefore" refers to all that he said before. How many times in reading the apostle Paul, in his epistles, do you find "wherefore, therefore, because of, seeing that"? So it is with Simon Peter. I’ll not turn a page as I read here from his book, in my text, "Wherefore." Look again in the eighteenth verse, "Forasmuch" [1 Peter 1:18]. Look again in the twenty-second verse, "Seeing then" [1 Peter 1:22]. Look in the second chapter and the first verse, "Wherefore" [2 Peter 1:1]. Look again in the sixth verse of the second chapter, "Wherefore" [2 Peter 2:6]. Look again in the seventh verse of the second chapter, "Unto you therefore" [2 Peter 2:7]. This is a rational presentation when a man stands up to preach the gospel of the Son of God. So his "therefore," his "wherefore," refers to all that he has said heretofore in the writing. It refers to his statement, "We are elect according to the foreknowledge of God [1 Peter 1:2], we are washed in the blood of the Lamb, we are sanctified with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of heaven, we are elect to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, reserved, kept in heaven for you" [1 Peter 1:2-4]; to us the golden harp; to us the starry crown; to us the eternal victory; to us the vision beatific, the King in His glory and in His beauty.
"We who are kept by the power of God" [1 Peter 1:5]; around every one of God’s children there is a wall of fire to keep and protect us, to guard and to garrison us forever. Until omnipotence can be vanquished, until immutability can be changed, until the purposes of God can be overwhelmed, until the Almighty immortal can die, every soul chosen and elect of God shall never be lost – "kept" unto that, and until that inheritance eternal and undefiled, and that never passes away. We, who though now we may be "tried by fire" [1 Peter 1:7]; all of God’s saints are tried. Abraham was greatly tried. Jesus was greatly tried. All of God’s saints have gone through the fire, all of them. Through peril, toil, and pain, they climb the steep ascent of heaven. And we are going to be tried by fire. But, we have our Lord Jesus with us now, with us forever, "Whom having not seen, we love; in whom, though seeing Him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" [1 Peter 1:8]. We have two heavens with Him: one here and one in the world that is to come. Where Jesus is, is heaven; and He is in our hearts [Colossians 1:27]. And we’ll see more of Him in the world that is yet to come [Revelation 22:3-5], and that’s just more heaven and more glory. May be in trial now, may be in sorrow now, may have a hard way now, may fall into all kinds of slews and desponds now, just tried by the fire; but Jesus is with us.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; we are persecuted, but not forsaken; we are cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal bodies,For which cause we faint not; for though this outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is renewed day by day,While we look not of the things that are seen, but on the things that are not seen; for the things that are seen, these present temporalities, are passing, but the things that are not seen are eternal,For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
[2 Corinthians 4:6-18; Romans 8:18]
Tried by fire, that’s right. First the sufferings and then he says, "the glory that shall follow" [1 Peter 1:11]. That "wherefore" referred to all that [1 Peter 1:13].
"Wherefore, seeing these things, therefore gird up the loins of your mind"; and here is a threefold, a triple exhortation: "Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end" [1 Peter 1:13]. Gird up the loins of your mind; gather around you those great promises and doctrines of the faith that hold us and keep us forever. So much of this modern theology and so much of modern religion hangs loosely on the people, like garments that don’t fit, like clothes that are about to fall off. And modern religion reminds one of quicksilver, of mercury that is dissolving constantly, that runs to fractions everywhere, "driven about with every wind of doctrine" [Ephesians 4:14].
"Gird up," Simon Peter says, "the loins of your mind," a steadfast dedication, a spiritual determination. Here I stand, so help me God; I can do none other. "Gird up the loins of your mind" [1 Peter 1:13]. I think that would be a reference, from what I can find in the Scriptures, maybe to a mannerism of Simon Peter; he had a habit of pulling his clothes together, of girding himself, tighten his belt. Oh, you’d guess that from things like this. For example it says when John said to Simon Peter, "Simon, that is the Lord," it says in the Bible that Simon Peter "girt his fisher’s coat unto him, and did cast himself into the sea" [John 21:7]. And another time Jesus said to him, "Simon, when you were young, you girded yourself, and walked whither thou wouldest: but when you are old you will stretch forth your hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee wither thou wouldest not" [John 21:18]. Everybody has an idiosyncrasy, a mannerism that makes him, him. Simon Peter apparently had a mannerism of girding himself up, of taking a hitch at his clothes. Every once in a while a fellow will do that just as a mannerism. That doesn’t mean his pants are about to fall off, that just means he’s got the habit of doing that. Simon Peter seems to have had the habit.
Another thing in the metaphor: it might refer also to these Hebrew Christians to whom he was writing. He says, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the sojourners of the Diaspora" [1 Peter 1:1]. Now these Hebrew Christians, every year they observe the celebration of the Passover. And when they ate it, they ate it, according to the Bible, with the staff in their hands and with their loins girded [Exodus 12:11]. Or the metaphor might refer to the joy after trial of meeting the Lord in His coming and in His glory. Like Elijah, the Bible says, girded up his loins and said to Ahab, "There is the sound of an abundance of rain" [1 Kings 18:41], and he ran with his loins girded up before the chariot of Ahab, clear down to Jezreel from Mt. Carmel [1 Kings 18:46]. Of course ultimately, the metaphor refers to the Eastern habit of dress. Their garments were loose and free flowing and had to have a girdle around them to bring the garments close to them. And when a man ran and when a man was sent on a mission, he girded up his garments that they might not entangle his feet in the swift runner. So here he says to us, "Gird up the loins of your mind" [1 Peter 1:13]. We’d say, "Roll up your sleeves, and with a great commitment and determination, give yourself to the work of the Lord."
John Bunyan described our journey to the heaven in the figure, in the metaphor of a staircase. And on top of the palace were God’s saints singing, "Come in, come in, eternal glory thou shalt win." But down there below, many people who thought to enter in were dissuaded there from because every step of the way was guarded by warriors with drawn swords. And when one attempted to enter in, they were wounded, and some of them were slain. By and by there came along a man with a determined face. He walked up to the man standing with the inkhorn at his side, and said, "Sir, write down my name." And when his name was recorded, he drew out his sword, and he made a sally upon those who guarded those steps, and who contested the way, with a determination as though he meant to conquer; and he did. And he hewed him a way up to the top of the palace and entered in and sang with those in the glory of heaven, "Come in, come in, eternal glory thou shalt win." That’s an allegory of course, but it’s a true one. The Christian life is a battle, it’s a commitment, it’s a determination, it’s a, "Here I stand, so help me God"; girding up the loins of your mind.
"Be sober" [1 Peter 1:13], that means not carried away with every wind of doctrine, but calm judgment and decision, "Here I am Lord, and here I come."
"And hope to the end" [1 Peter 1:13]. Don’t ever despair no matter how, when, or what. When Abraham raised that knife to slay his boy [Genesis 22:10], the lad in whom God said, "In his name shalt thy seed be called, and one born out of thy loins shall be the heir in thine house" [Genesis 15:3-5], when he raised his knife to slay his only son, Abraham, so the Book says, believed that God would raise him from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19]. Don’t ever despair; "hope to the end," God has some better, finer, more glorious thing for us [1 Corinthians 2:9; Hebrews 11:40].
"Hope for the grace that is," you have it translated, "that is to be brought;" better word, "Hope for the grace that is being brought, that is on the way, coming to you now, at the apocalypse of Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 1:13]. God never deals with us on the basis of merit or of worth. God deals with us His children on the basis of grace and of mercy and of sympathy. And whatever grace we have has always come through Jesus Christ. He brought it to us, the grace we now have, at His first advent [2 Timothy 1:10]. And the grace that we yet need He shall bring it still and further at the glorious apocalypse of the Son of God [1 Peter 1:13]. Listen, you can hear the chariot wheels of the coming of our Lord even now, laden down with joy, and eternal delight, and happiness, and gladness, and glory. "The grace that is being brought to you even now on the way, at the coming, at the revelation, at the apocalypse of Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 1:13].
"Oh," you say, "but it’s so long, it’s so long." No. In God’s time and on God’s clock a whole age is a second, it’s a moment, it’s a day [2 Peter 3:8]. He comes quickly, and His reward is with Him to give to every one of His servants [Revelation 22:12], as his devotion and love and commitment shall be: "For the grace that is being brought unto you at the apocalypse, at the revelation of Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 1:13].
What is that grace that He is bringing to us? Is it our atonement from sin? No, that was given to us when He died on the cross [1 Corinthians 15:3; Romans 5:11; Hebrews 2:17]. Is it our justification? No, that was given to us in His resurrection from the dead [Romans 4:25]. What is that grace that He is bringing to us? Is it sanctification? No, that is bestowed upon us in opening our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit of God [1 Corinthians 6:11]. Then what is it, this grace that is being brought unto us at the soon coming, the apocalypse, the appearing, the unveiling of Jesus Christ? [1 Peter 1:13]. Well, he writes it here; he’s referred to it before. It is first our perfected salvation: "Unto us who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed, ready at the apokalupsis," it says, "apokalupto, at the unveiling, at the appearing of Jesus Christ in the last time," that salvation, ready to be given to us at the unveiling, at the apocalypse of Jesus Christ, in that last, and ultimate, and consummating, and final moment [1 Peter 1:5]. That is our souls then are going to be perfected, and our bodies are going to be immortalized. Immortality never refers to the soul; immortality refers to the body. Your soul never dies; it’s your body that is made immortal at the resurrection when Jesus appears in glory [1 Corinthians 15:42].
Some of us shall be alive when He comes. Oh, that it might be we, that it could be you, that I could stand by your side and look up when the heavens open, and the Lord returns, and we all are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, no dread, and no sorrow, no crying and no death, in a moment immortalized in the glorious image of God. But if we die, if this body perishes, it is no matter. If it turns to corruption and the worms eat it and it turns to dust, it is no matter. "It is buried in corruption, it is raised in incorruption [1 Corinthians 15:42]. It is laid to rest in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is planted in weakness; it is raised in power [1 Corinthians 15:43]. It is laid in the earth a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body" [1 Corinthians 15:44]. It doesn’t matter. If we live until He comes, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall all be changed" [1 Corinthians 15:52]. If we die before He comes, it is no matter; we shall be raised in triumph from the dead [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17]. That’s what he meant: the grace that is coming unto us, the perfection of our souls, and the resurrection, the immortality given to our bodies [1 Peter 1:13].
And he says our faith will be vindicated when He comes [1 Peter 1:7]. In the trial of our faith now, it is as though we were in the fire. People mock us, and scorn us, and belittle us, and say we have no hope and no Lord; He is gone and we never see Him again. When He comes back, Peter says, our faith will be vindicated before angels and before men: "These are they who trusted in the promise of the Lamb, who gave themselves to the Word of God; and now they enter in company with our glorious Lord . . . Whom having not seen, we love; in whom believing we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" [1 Peter 1:8-9]. First the sufferings, and then, Peter says, the glory. "Wherefore, wherefore," then he uses the doctrine, he uses the great revelation, not as a matter of speculation or argument, but he uses it that we might be true and faithful in the work of our Lord until we see His blessed face: "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, hope to the end [1 Peter 1:13], obedient children, holy, even as God says, I am holy" [1 Peter 1:16]. That’s always the way it is in the Book: the glorious revelation and the promise of the coming of our Lord is for His children, that they might be steadfast, and courageous and committed unto death [1 Corinthians 16:13]; at their tasks, however God shall choose and elect and place us, until we see Him in His beauty and in His coming [Matthew 24:46].
I think of old Colonel Davenport, who belonged to the legislature in New Hampshire. And a long time ago, at noonday, New England turned dark, dark. And the barnyard fowls went to roost at twelve o’clock in the daytime. And it grew worse, and the people in their New England homes said, "It is the judgment day, the end is come," and they trembled in fear. The New Hampshire legislature was meeting at the time, and one of the houses adjourned, saying, "The end has come, the judgment day is here." And the lower house to which Colonel Davenport belonged, the lower house had a motion: "The judgment day is here, let us adjourn." And the old colonel arose, and addressed the Speaker of the House, and said, "Your Honor, the judgment day is either coming, or it’s not coming. It’s either here, or it’s not here. If it’s not here, we have work to do. If it is here, I want my Lord to find me at my task and at my post. I make a motion, Your Honor, that candles be brought, and we proceed with our work."
That’s the way, that’s the way. He may come tonight. He may come at noonday. He may come at tomorrow’s twilight. Doesn’t matter, that’s our victory, that’s our consummation. And until that moment, may He find us at our task and in our work. Like the old farmer plowing, and the fellow by his side said, "If you knew Jesus was coming this minute, what would you do?" He said, "I’d finish plowing this furrow to the end of the row." At your task, in your place, courageous in heart, our minds girded up, hoping to the end, sober in our judgment, obedient children [1 Peter 1:14], pleasing unto God, and holy, even as He is holy! [1 Peter 1:16]. It’s a great faith; it’s a great message; it’s a great hope; it’s an incomparable commitment. And we invite you to make it tonight, by our side, working until Jesus comes. In this blessed and precious and beloved congregation, to lift up your voices and your faces with us, hailing the day of His incomparably glorious appearing, and until that consummating moment, to work with us, to pray with us, to pilgrimage with us, to give your heart with us in the love and face and grace and mercy of Jesus, will you do it tonight? Tonight?
In this balcony round, coming down one of these stairways, plenty of time for you to come; out of your seat, down one of these stairways and to the front, on this lower floor into the aisle and down to the front, "Pastor, I give you my hand; my heart have I given to God," coming into the fellowship of this church, one somebody you; a family you; a couple you; a child you; a youth. As God shall say the word, shall open the door, shall lead in the way, would you make it tonight? "Here I am, preacher, and here I come. So help me God, I give my heart and life in faith and trust to Him. I do it now." While we stand and while we sing.
AT THE APOCALYPSE OF JESUS CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Peter 1:13
A. How full of the Lord the minds of these holy writers
B. How ardently they expected the coming of the Lord Jesus(Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Peter 1:7, 13-14, 2 Peter 1:16; 3, Jude 14)
II. "Wherefore" – conclusion of an argument
A. True religion is rational and reasonable
B. Refers back to all he has said before in this chapter
1. We are elect, washed in blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:2, Revelation 1:5)
2. We have an inheritance incorruptible(1 Peter 1:4)
3. We are kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5)
4. We are tried with fire to the praise and glory of Christ (1 Peter 1:7)
5. We have Jesus, joy, glory(1 Peter 1:8, 11)
a. Heaven here and in world to come(2 Corinthians 4:6-18, Romans 8:18)
III. The triple exhortation
A. "Gird up the loins of your mind"(Ephesians 4:14)
1. Areference to his own mannerism of pulling his garments together?(John 21:7, 18)
2. A reference to the Passover – staff in hand, loins girded(1 Peter 1:1)
3. A reference to joy after trial(1 Kings 18:41, 46)
4. Habit of eastern life apparent in use of metaphor
a. Steep ascent to heaven requires effort(Matthew 11:12)
i. John Bunyan’s description of the entrance into heaven
B. "Be sober" – have calm, clear minds; confident, quietly assured
C. "Hope to the end"(Genesis 17:18-21, 22:2-10, 26:4, Hebrews 11:17-19)
A. The grace that is to be brought to us(1 Peter 1:9-10)
1. God never deals with us on basis of merit(Isaiah 64:6, Romans 4:3)
B. The grace the Lord shall bring to us at His coming
1. Ultimate and final, completed and full salvation (1 Peter 1:5, 7-9, 1 Corinthians 15:19, 42-44, 52)
2. Vindication of your faith(1 Peter 1:8-9)
3. The sufferings, then the glory(1 Peter 1:11, Colossians 1:27)
C. Practical doctrine of the coming of the Lord – obedient children, at their tasks, committed unto death, until we see Him in His coming(1 Peter 1:13)