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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

28-04-24 - CHALK MARKS - 1Peter 1:13-21



This week I spent time reading some answers given by students to real test questions.  Needless to say, their answers, while different than what teachers intended, were creatively accurate. 

Q: Briefly explain what hard water is.       A: Ice  (as a teacher, how do you argue with that?) 

Q: What ended in 1896?                                     A: 1895 

Q: Name the four seasons.?                               A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

Q: What does the word "benign" mean?   A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight.

Q: How can you delay milk turning sour?       A: Keep it in the cow.

In my slate and chisel days in high school, I remember being colossally bored in a History 12 course.  The reason for my boredom was quite simple, my teacher’s idea of exciting was different than mine.  Her idea meant copying every word she wrote on the board though I admit, copying what she wrote to me seemed more exciting than lectures given.

That said, this teacher did teach me something, effectively putting me in my place, making it clear that her assessment of what I knew was quite different than my assessment.

She delivered her evaluation of me with laser like accuracy.  The assignment was an essay in which I believed I effectively had proven my point.  Whether I had or hadn’t was up for debate.  What couldn’t be debated was her challenge of a source I listed in my essay’s Bibliography, my meant to be tongue in cheek, but rather egotistical inclusion of, “My Own Vast Knowledge” by Rob Inrig.

Her response, “Check Your Faulty Reference Sources.”  Even though I don’t remember a single thing she taught, that pearl of wisdom stuck with me.  THAT ‘gotcha’ response’ I’ve never forgotten 

Life is filled with faulty reference sources that can easily put us on roads that confuse and misdirect. Financial expertise that isn’t.  Impeccable sources that aren’t.  ‘Can’t miss’ strategies that do.

Much of the time, it’s not that our references are wrong, it’s that they are incomplete which lead us to draw conclusions that sometimes take us in directions that deceive.

This morning we are looking at 1 Peter 1:13-21 where Peter gives us 3 commands to keep us on track so we won’t be deceived: 

1st SET YOUR HOPE FULLY on the Grace to brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ  :13

As Peter emphasizes, as an uprooted, displaced people, get your focus right.  While what you’ve gone through, the loss of homes, jobs, friends, gives you good reason to mourn, don’t spend undue time looking back. Mourn the loss but don’t dwell there.  Remember our value was never in those things, and our hope is Who we are that’s been changed because of Whose we are.

So as we walk through difficult times that come at us, center on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus :13.  Our North Star? - the Grace to be revealed.

How is it possible – that I am worthy of His Grace? That I am worthy of Him? In that place of seeing Him, I am able to see me, as I truly am.  


And when I see Him, I fall – having nothing to hold onto.  Nothing in me, that merits His love.  

His radiance –                              my uncovering      

His perfection -                            my sin  

His glory –                                    my shame   

His revelation –                           my unworthiness  

And yet, His love poured out to me because of His great Mercy.  His boundless Grace.

Before His greatness, in unworthiness I fall but it’s in His Mercy and Grace I stand – made worthy as His child as :17 reminds, The Maker of all is my Father.           

If there’s one distinctive we as Christians hold that stands us apart from other faiths, it is that we can know God in an intimate, life changing way.  It’s a relationship Peter and other writers of Scripture tell us we can know God as ‘Father’, and even more personally as Abba - Daddy.   Personal, close, accepting. For some listening understand, this description isn’t anything like the what you may have experienced with an earthly father.  That relationship filled with failure and  disappointment and in some cases, experiences, tragically, far worse.  Not with God. 

This relationship celebrated not by us seeking after God but God actively and lovingly seeking after us. That my friends is the amazing story of the gospel, God’s good news to us. That God wants us to know and experience His love, that He wants to lavish His grace upon us. Not based on who we are or what we do.  Not based on how we perform or measure up.  The Cross, His choice to do what we couldn’t possibly do in order to bring us into relationship with Him. 

Our emphasis on God’s searching, reaching, finding and wildly embracing Grace is critical to how we both see God and how we relate to Him. Grace is the truth God has been shouting to us since the beginning of time – reserving His loudest, life transforming shout at the Cross and empty tomb of His Son, Jesus.  That shout was God’s declaration that He loves, that He invites, that He forgives, that He restores and that He makes new.  

His shouts were marked with His love, signs left all around, inviting us to know Him in a way that is so much more than, ‘God is great, God is powerful’.  Marks left to convince us that, God wants us to know Him and to enter into relationship with Him.  

God’s love marks!  Everywhere we look: His creation telling us.  The heavens telling us.  The innocence of a newborn telling us.  The brilliance of a sunset telling us.

Me, you, washed clean, forgiven by His blood.  Made new in Jesus, purified in Him so I can love as one forgiven.  It’s because of that, we are then commanded: 


Before taking a closer look at this, first look at what we are told in :16, Be holy even as I am holy.  

As we have considered before, a view of God that only portrays God as love is incomplete, yet this view of an, ‘all accepting’, ‘God will make everything right in the end’ is a God-picture many  increasingly promote. In a 2022 survey of 3,000 Americans, 67% of respondents agreed with the statement, God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  What this affirms is that the sincerity of what we believe is more important that what we believe. 

But here’s the problem, our reference set is faulty. We get confused and more importantly deceived by individual chalk marks.  Undeniably, God IS love.  It’s a love upon which we as Christians base our hope for life present and life everlasting.  It’s a love we celebrate because of the incredible hope it gives.  But before we put too much hope in our, ‘God is love’ chalk marks, be careful. Because these chalk marks tell us part but they do not tell us all.   

Because there are more chalk marks that show us another side of God. Those chalk marks are that God is Holy which place us alongside His Glory.  His Power.  His Majesty.  Those marks speak perfection.  These marks of His Holiness tell me that nothing unholy can come into His presence.  And with that we have a problem – a problem no one here can escape.  Against these marks, we fall short. And it doesn’t matter if we fall short by 10 cm or 10 kilometres.  The fate of a swimmer who goes under 10 feet from shore has no better outcome than someone who fails 10 miles from shore.  One may make a better case for their swimming ability compared to the other but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is outcome not proficiency.  


Both views of God – God is Love / God is Holy leave us with a problem because they are incomplete.  If God is unapproachably holy as many religions depict, what hope do we have that we could ever do enough to satisfy a standard that could please Him?  How could we ever cobble together enough acts of mercy, serve enough compassionate meals or live ‘picture perfect, offense free lives’ sufficient to please Him?  And the truth is, even if we could, we don’t.  

Okay, for the sake of argument, let’s say your public life is pristine – nice acts, kind gestures but how about the places no one sees – the judging spirit, the unkind thoughts, the poisonous attitudes.  Think not?  Perhaps, but you better hope a camera wasn’t running when that driver stole your parking place.

And if we camp on the ‘God is love’ side, adopting a ‘Love conquers all, Love Wins’ view, we also have a problem.  This view, often promoted as ‘Progressive Christianity’ emphasizes God’s love, promoting values of compassion, justice, mercy and tolerance; holiness redefined as unity that downplays the authority of God’s word.  Sin given small letter emphasis, if mentioned at all.

Yet if this view is right, what was the need of the Cross?  Because if God in His goodness decided eternity was determined according to my goodness or my sincerity, He would have to deny His Holiness.  And how could God possibly be considered good if He allowed His Son to suffer and die for ultimately no purpose?  Good would be the last word that could be used for a God who allowed the torture of a Cross; it would be the last word for allowing the hammer and the nails.  

The truth is, the marks of the chalk aren’t the totality of the chalk.  They are only representative marks from a source far greater than the individual marks we see.  

These representations of God are brought together in the totality of God.  Love meeting Holiness.  His love acting to satisfy His Holiness; His Holiness being paid for by His love.  That is where the Cross of Jesus wins when nothing else could.  

Totality means that instead of being blinded and disqualified by God’s Holiness, in Jesus, God’s love draws us near, we, by faith, are forgiven by the Cross and because of that, dressed in Christ’s Holiness.  Approaching in His worthiness not ours - the blood-marks of Christ declaring us made right, in God’s sight.  And it’s God’s holiness that helps us understand the depth of God’s love – that the gulf between God and us is so vast – no amount of good works could bring us close but God gave everything, pouring the punishment of our sin on His Son so He would pay what we could not.  In Christ we draw near, wearing a righteousness that is given not earned. Coming in a righteousness God initiates, a righteousness declared not achieved. 

With that said, it’s important to understand, God’s Love does not set aside His holiness before whom we are to live.  In Jesus, the penalty for our sin was fully paid but as a forgiven people, we are commanded, with God’s enabling, to live holy lives.  Not perfect lives, but forgiven lives.  Stumbling, messing up, falling down but confessing and getting up to follow Jesus. 


Being holy isn’t advice calling us to perfection, it’s command calling us to obedience to live in accordance with who we are.

We often hear references to Catholic guilt – those things that constantly remind us of our sin.  Things from the past and yes from the present that keep sounding out to debilitate and imprison.  Yet guilt is a legal term that chronicles the offences we’ve committed. Biblically, guilt is also a medical term reminding us of our fatal disease but pointing us to its cure.  

And its cure is what we have just been told, Grace.  God’s grace is given to us in Jesus so we can live in freedom.  So that we can know the forgiveness of God’s love.  But knowing that and living in that are two different things.  Living in God’s Grace is living in a way that pleases Him.  That means bowing to Him in all things.  That means confessing our sins when we mess up and when we fail.  This is what Peter is referring to when he says, Be holy in ALL your behaviour.  

There is a difference between the sin we commit and the sin to which we are committed.  The one is an action or an event in which we fail, in which we sin, the other is an attitude underlying our actions in which, in effect, we are saying to God, We, not You, will determine how we are going to live.  We saying to God that He is excluded from interfering in: that relationship we are holding onto, in that practice we continue in, in that decision we are determined to make.  Shutting out God, declaring ourselves to be God in the things we refuse to let go of. 

And to these, Peter front-loads God’s commands, 1 SET YOUR HOPE FULLY on the revelation of Jesus and 2 BE HOLY in all our behaviour.  Knowing these:

3rd CONDUCT YOURSELVES WITH FEAR throughout the time of your exile, your stay on earth :17

So, how do we reconcile this conducting ourselves with fear with the ‘personal, close, accepting’ love of the One who we serve?  Typically we do it by reframing this idea of ‘fearing God’ to be ‘reverence or awe’.  While it’s true, those meanings are included in Phobos the word Peter uses, its most common usage is ‘fear’ just the way we typically know it , think phobia.


But the fear Peter speaks of isn’t to make us cower and draw away from God, it’s to draw us closer to Him as people on holy assignment, knowing as :18,19 tell us, We were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ.  Peter’s point? Immerse yourself in Christ’s love so you don’t run back into behaviours that imprison and destroy.

Some want to ascribe a fear of God to be an OT view but the NT also talks of this Therefore having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God 2 Co 7:1 or Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Eph 5:21 Or as Romans 14:12 reminds us, Each one of us will give an account of himself to God.  With the phrase, your exile, your stay upon earth, God reminds us that our time here is fleeting, yet our decisions made now, determine everything.    

We are given a picture of fearing God in the OT at Mt Sinai where God instructs – don’t touch the mountain or even come close or you will die when David brings back the Ark of the Covenant from the Philistines and a priest is struck dead for touching the Ark.  We see it again when Moses asks God to see His glory and God responds, You cannot see My face …  and live!  Ex 33:20  

This tells us that we make errors by treating God with casual familiarity and that there is something about a love-wrapped fear of God that enables us to better live a life that pleases Him. Because fearing God brings us face to face with who He is, and not shallow representations we make Him out to be.   

When Hugh Latimer was preaching one day in the presence of King Henry VIII, he reports that he said to himself, “Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the king is here; be careful what you say.” Then he said to himself, Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the King of kings is here; be careful what you do not say. 

Latimer understood the greatness of His God before whom he stood. That He is YHWH – I AM The Lord from whom all things exist; Elohim LORD God – the One and only God; El Elyon God Most High; El Shaddai God Almighty; YHVH O'saynu - The LORD our Maker.

It’s true, that we are given other names that reveal who He is – Provider, Healer, Shepherd, Redeemer but those identities are meaningless if God is not first and foremost, all-powerful, Supreme over all.  Because what good is a God if He has no power to deliver what He has promised?  What good is a provider if He doesn’t have the power to get provisions past enemy lines?  What good is a shepherd if He doesn’t have the power to protect His sheep?  What good is a redeemer if He doesn’t have the resources to redeem?`    

But God IS Supreme overall.  The One of whom we are told that, The angels day and night never stop saying: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,' who was, and is, and is to come.  And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the One seated on the throne who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before the One seated on the throne and they worship Him who lives forever and ever.  They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,  “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things; by Your will,u they exist, and came to be.”…   Rev 4:8-10.

In light of that, we bow.  The all-powerful One.  The Holy One. The God who is Love BUT whose love cannot act independently of His perfection.  His holiness demands judgment – a judgment God places upon His Son so in love, He would not have to place His judgment upon us.  THIS is the God before Whom we stand.  This is the God before Whom we are to conduct our lives.

In fear? Yes but knowing the power and depth of His love and resting in our assurance, There is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus  Rom 8:1.  

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