1 Peter 1:20-25 Free Online Sermon Notes

Introduction – Two men had an argument. To settle the matter, they went to a Sufi judge for arbitration. The plaintiff made his case. He was very eloquent and persuasive in his reasoning. When he finished, the judge nodded in approval and said, “That’s right, that’s right.”

On hearing this, the defendant jumped up and said, “Wait a second, judge, you haven’t even heard my side of the case yet.” So the judge told the defendant to state his case. And he, too, was very persuasive and eloquent. When he finished, the judge said, “That’s right, that’s right.”

When the clerk of court heard this, he jumped up and said, “Judge, they both can’t be right.” The judge looked at the clerk of court and said, “That’s right, that’s right.” Many people act the same way as this judge. They think that truth is relative. They tend to believe whatever is new and popular. They are easily swayed by cultural fads. But truth does not change. Today we will see that God’s Word is truth. He is right and because He is right His plans and His teachings never change. His Word is truth. His Word transforms us. His Word is eternal.

1 Peter 1:20-25 – He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word that was preached to you.

II.The Plans of God do not Change (20-21)

1.He was foreknown before the foundation of the world – In my years of sharing the gospel, many people ask, “Why did God create the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Did He know what Adam and Eve would do? Was this a mistake?” God did know. You see, God has only ever had plan A. There is no plan B. This verse tells us that Jesus was foreknown before the beginning of the world.

Verse 19 calls Him “Christ,” which means Messiah. Messiah is like a deliverer. You don’t need a deliverer unless someone needs to be delivered. You don’t need a Savior unless someone needs to be saved. Verse 19 also mentions that He was the lamb without blemish. This denotes the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. He made this sacrifice for sinners. Thus we see that Jesus and by implication all of God’s entire salvation plan for the world was foreknown before Genesis 1:1. We also see this plan hinted at very early on in Genesis 3:16.

1.Proginosko – This word in Greek is rather simple and it means what you would expect from the English. It means to know beforehand. See 2 Peter 3:17. In this verse Peter uses the same word. He is telling them many things ahead of time so that when they face temptations and trials they will already know how to respond. He is giving them knowledge ahead of time. In a similar way God knew ahead of time that He would send Jesus to the world to save sinners. He knew Adam and Eve would sin. He knew the human race would need saving.

This in no way means that God caused or forced Adam and Eve to sin in any way. It is very clear that He commanded them not to and warned them not to. Their sin was their own responsibility. From this we see that God uses even the sinful choices of fallen humans to bring about His plan for the universe. I have spent a lot of time trying to understand this. I can understand how God can use loyal followers to bring about His plan. I cannot understand how God can use even the sinful choices of fallen humans to bring about His plan.

My conclusion is simple: He is God. That is WHY I cannot understand it. It is one aspect of His sovereignty that is incomprehensible. But was God’s plan for Jesus and salvation only foreknown (meaning He merely knew it ahead of time), or was it also predestined (meaning He planned it ahead of time?) The answer is BOTH. See Acts 4:27-28 and 1 Corinthians 2:6-7. God’s foreknowledge demonstrates one very important aspect of His character, His omniscience. His predestination demonstrates another very important aspect of His character, His omnipotence. These concepts are extremely closely linked and often are impossible to separate as we see in Jeremiah 1:5-6. God both knew and appointed Jeremiah ahead of time.

2.Nothing in history did or could happen which could change God’s plan. History is His Story. Although God’s plan of salvation was established before even Creation, He was remarkably patient to implement His plan. At least 4000 years likely passed between creation and Jesus’ birth in these last times (in which we are still in). Why did He wait so long? We don’t know the exact answer, only that it was God’s plan. He did it when the “fullness of time” had come. In other words, He did it at just the right time.

From this we see that God not only plans what will happen, but when it will happen. He has a perfect timing for everything. This is very important for us.

Application – Are you waiting for something? Do you wonder why God doesn’t let it happen now? Did He forget? God knows how many hairs are on your head. He knows what you are waiting for. If it is good for you, He will give it to you at exactly the right time. Are you waiting for marriage? Be patient. If you aren’t married yet, that means that the right time hasn’t come yet. Are you waiting for a promotion? Be patient. If you haven’t been promoted the right time hasn’t come yet. Are you in a hurry to graduate? Be patient. What do you think I will say? It isn’t time yet! Don’t waste your life wishing for something to come in the future! Instead get ready so that you will be prepared when God says it is the right time. The Israelites were mostly not prepared when Jesus came. In Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins, half were also not prepared for His second coming. Are you ready?

3.His plan is for our good – In this verse we also see that he came in these last times for the “sake of you.” When God makes us wait, He has a reason. If Jesus came immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, people would not have realized just how terrible sin is and how hopeless we are. Sometimes an older brother may tease his younger sibling. He has a toy the younger sibling wants. He dangles it in front of him and just as the little kid is about to get it pulls it away and laughs. Then does it again. Some people have a twisted view of God like this. But God is not motivated out of same strange sense of humor. His plans (all of them) are for our good. 

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Application: This gives us confidence in God. It also reminds us that the things happening to and around us are from Him. This knowledge should affect how we live. One example is that we should not complain.

4. God reveals His plan step by step. His plan does change, but He does not reveal it to us all once. Galatians 4:4 (At the fullness of time, He sent forth His son.)

He tells people what they need to know when they need to know it. In 1 Peter 1:10, we see that the prophets and angels studied this to learn everything they could about when the Messiah would come. But they were not told. He was only revealed in these last days. See Ephesians 3:9. Many aspects of God’s plan of salvation were a mystery. He kept it hidden. Why? Sometimes a general tells his troops that the details of a mission are only given out on a “need to know” basis. God acts the same way. He tells us everything we need to know, but He doesn’t tell us what we don’t need to know. There are still many things we don’t know. One example is that we don’t very much about what heaven is like and what we will be doing there. But we don’t need to know that now. See Psalm 119:105. God’s Word shines a light on our feet. That means that each step He shows us what we should do. You know everything you need to know. Ignorance should not be an excuse for us. Will you follow God the next step?

5. His plan brings glory to Himself – God’s plan is for our good. At the same time, His plan is for bringing glory to Himself. See for example Isaiah 42:8. God actively seeks out His own glory. Illustration: Someone steals my book and takes credit for it. Our own purpose in life is to give God the glory He deserves. In Colossians 1:16, we learn that we are created for Him. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. God’s glory and the good of His believers generally go hand in hand. We see that in this text as verse 20 says He appeared in these last times for the the sake of you and verse 21 says and gave Him glory.

Biblical example – God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt. This was good for them. At the same time we learn in Exodus 9:16 that God did it to glorify Himself among the nations. I cannot emphasize enough: these two concepts cannot be separated. We were created to glorify God. When we do what we were designed for, we will be the most joyful and God will bless us. When we seek our own glory, we will end up miserable and we will be humbled by God because He does not share His glory with others. See Habakkuk 2:14.

We know that one day God’s glory will cover the whole earth. Wow! That will be an exciting time. I for one hope to help make this happen by spreading the light of Christ wherever I go. But we should also look at our own lives and consider if this is happening now. Does the glory of God fill your home? Is God glorified by you in your workplace? Do you glorify God in the deep hidden corners of your own mind?

III.The Truth of God is Transforming (22-23a)

1.God provides the means of purification. Without Christ’s death on the cross, we would have no way to be purified. At the same time, here we see very clearly that we have a responsibility in this. See Acts 21:24-26. In this passage we see that people had a responsibility to purify themselves. It was a process that required several days. In James 4:8, we see that believers also have a responsibility to purify themselves spiritually. God has prepared for us the “bath.” We have to hate the dirt and therefore step into the bath to be clean. So how exactly do we purify ourselves? We see in verse 22 that obedience to the truth of God purifies us. Here are a few examples of how obeying God can purify you:

  • If you are bitter against a brother in Christ – God’s Word tells us to forgive as He has forgiven us. If you forgive, you will be purified of this bitterness.
  • If you have a problem with saying dirty or rude words – God’s Word tells us to speak only words which are good for edifying others. If you obey, your mouth will be cleansed.
  • If you have a habit of complaining – God’s Word tells us to “give thanks in everything.” If you obey, your mind will be cleansed from complaining

2. Obedience will transform your life! – Obeying God will ultimately lead to loving others. In 1 Corinthians 13 we learn about the paramount importance of love in the Christian faith. Of all of the qualities a believer should have, love is the greatest. Here we see that the faith and hope mentioned in verse 21 are not just theoretical. Our Christian faith is not just a theology which we memorize and recite. The world tells us “Believe in God. Just don’t be extreme. Don’t let it affect how you live.” That is impossible! If you believe, you must obey. If you obey, you will change! Has your life been transformed? Are you loving others with this sincere love from your heart? If I walked in to your office, your classroom, or your home and asked the people there how loving you are, what would they say?

You are to love one another “earnestly,” or “fervently.” This is not a half-hearted love. You are not to show love only when you feel like it, only when you are happy or things are going well. We should love like Jesus. Even when He was about to die He was thinking of others. Even when He was hanging on the cross in excruciating pain, He was still thinking of others. One thing He did might be especially hard for some of us, especially some of the guys (not to mention any names.) Jesus skipped meals because He was busy serving others. Do you know that of all the reasons His family could have said He was crazy, it was skipping meals that made them finally say He was out of His mind (Mark 3:20-21.) Kind of shows how important food is to a lot of people.

3.What is transformation? – It is being born again. Emerging from your mother’s womb into the world is the most transforming physical experience any of us have had. The term “born again” is a very radical term for a a complete spiritual transformation. The truth of God transforms us to the extent that we should be a completely different person than we were prior to trusting in Christ as our Savior.

4. Application: Love others earnestly from a pure heart. Discussion question: How can improve in loving others earnestly from a pure heart?

IV.The Word of God is Eternal

1.This radical transformation that we are talking about is not just a passing fad. It is not like an alcoholic who stops drinking for a week and then goes right back to his sin. It is imperishable. Another word for that is eternal. This transformation which changes our lives lasts forever. Doctors describe some medical procedures as being “irreversible.” Our spiritual re-birth is irreversible.

2.The Word of God is also living/abiding – Spend 1-2 two minutes telling about why God’s Word is living and not dead. The most famous verse which touches on the living aspect of God’s Word is Hebrews 4:12. God’s Word is living because it is written from God to people. People are basically the same as they were 2000 years ago. God’s Word is living because it changes lives.

1. Application: We should not study the Bible with the same mentality as we study other books or subjects. It is not just academics. Many people study in order to memorize facts for a test. English, history, geography, etc. are studied this way. These facts are easily forgotten after the test. The knowledge gained is often never used. I meet some people who studied English for ten years, but cannot speak at all. Many people in the US keep advancing up grades who cannot even read. They are going to school. They are studying. But their lives are not changing. It is dead knowledge. It is useless knowledge.

We must not study the Bible like this. The goal is not to increase our head knowledge. The goal is not to memorize obscure Bible trivia. The goal is not even to be able to correctly describe or even defend many complex doctrines. The goal should be life change. Jesus told the Jews that the wise person listened to His words and does them (Matthew 7:24-27.) Do you treat God’s Word as if it is alive? Do you enthusiastically look for ways to apply it? Do you meditate on it during the day? If you understand that God’s Word is living you will.

3.Illustration: I have observed a gentleman practicing writing long texts in calligraphy on the ground with water. It looks great…for a moment. Then it fades away and you can’t tell it ever existed. But God’s Words do not fade. Jesus said that heaven and earth will pass away, but His words would endure forever. Here we are almost 2000 years later and we can still read exactly what Jesus said. And it just as applicable as it was then. Forces of nature will not render God’s Word obsolete. Cultural changes or modern inventions will not take away the impact of God’s Word. Attacks on the teachings of the Bible will not prevail or make those teachings any less true. Scientific discoveries (contrary to what some may say) have not and will not disprove anything in the Bible. Many have attacked God and His Words in history. They have faded away and are forgotten while God’s Word is even more accessible than ever before.

4.Some illustrations:

1.Cereus Flower – Blooms for 8-10 hours.
2.Elephants – 70 years.
3.Bowhead Whales – 200 years.
4.Ocean Quahog – Highest reported age 507 years.
5.Methusaleh the person – 969 years.
6.Methusaleh the tree – 4,845 years.

5.Some more illustrations (here are some things some people pursue and how long they may last):

1.Travel – A few days or weeks.
2.Electronics – 2-3 years.
3.Earthly achievement – Will soon be forgotten.
4.A car – 5-10 years
5.A house 20-40 years
6.A baby – Grow up and leave in 20 years.
7.A spouse – May last longer than many things on the list. Husband’s beauty and wife’s strength fades over time. Finally one or the other will die. James 4:14
8.Your soul – Forever
9.Your neighbor’s soul – Forever
10.The things done for Christ – Forever. Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. – By CT Studd.

6. The Word of the Lord endures forever – The things of God last forever. His Words are always true. His truth never changes. Put another way, obeying His Words is the one thing in life that has eternal value. Sharing the gospel has eternal value. Being a good testimony to your neighbors has eternal value. Teaching your children the things of God has eternal value. Discipling others has eternal value. Praising God has eternal value. But you know what? It is not only seemingly “huge” things done for God that have eternal value. Even small things done in obedience to God and with a good attitude have eternal value. Saying a kind word. Happily volunteering to help with housework. Changing a dirty diaper. Cooking for your family. If we do these things out of a desire to please God and give Him glory in all we do, they are worthwhile. They are worthwhile because God is pleased with us. He Himself is eternal and He will never forget what we have done. Let me say that again. Everything we do in obedience to God has eternal value because He is eternal and He never forgets.

V.Conclusion:

Matthew 7:24-27 – Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

We have a choice in front of us today. Every single one of us has heard Jesus’ words. You have the choice to be a fool or to be wise. The foolish person will not pay attention to God’s words. He will walk away today perhaps with good intentions, but never put the principles he has learned into practice. He will continue pursuing empty a short-sighted earthly pursuits. He will put his time into earthly pleasures and his career. He will trust in the security of finances. He will attach his heart to materials like Iphones, cars, electronics. The foolish person may even build for himself a life that looks very attractive, even beautiful like a flower. But one day (maybe tomorrow or maybe decades from now) that life will fade away. What will be left? Only God’s words, “FOOL!”.

Or you can decide to be wise. The wise person will hear these words and act. The wise person will walk out from here today resolved to pursue God above all else. He will be resolved to making God the priority. He will be resolved to study the Bible eagerly. He will be resolved to not waste his life, but instead to use his life for things which have eternal value. Most importantly, the wise person will not just resolve himself about these things, but he will go away and he will do them. The wise person will build his life on the rock of God’s eternal word. Then no storm will prevail against him. So what will you choose today? Will you be a fool or will you be wise?

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