Introduction: The first three words of verse 17 are referencing what we would consider prayer – specifically, prayer in time of crisis or need. The words “call on” mean to call upon for aid. Considering what the trials these believers were going to endure, Peter is acknowledging the fact that they would most assuredly call on their heavenly Father in time of crisis, just like a child calls on their earthly father in time of crisis.
There is much in this passage that is meant to be an encouragement to the believers, but there is also instruction given here that ought to help each of us today, as believers, in understanding a little more about prayer and what God expects from us as His children when we come to Him for aid.
This isn’t an all-inclusive teaching on prayer, but it does give us some insight on what is needed in our lives when we “call on the Father” in time of need. One point to remember in all of this is that our lives need to be lived as right with God as possible at all times – good and bad – if we are going to know when and how to pray. We can’t wait until the crisis is upon us and then try and put it all right in hopes God will hear us – it doesn’t work that way. It’s the attitude of the heart that is most critical, and what’s on the inside comes out eventually.
So, what is required when we “call on the Father?”
I. Holiness – vs. 17a
A. These verses are part of the same paragraph as the previous 4 – the last two of which deal with holiness
B. The first word of vs. 17 – “and” – point to those two verses
C. Holiness, right living, on the part of the believer is absolutely vital to prayers being answered
D. The middle part of vs. 17 references this as well
It mentions that the Father judges our works without respect to who we may be or what we have done Deu 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: 2Ch 19:7 Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts. Rom 2:10-11 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. Col 3:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
Our works are judged according to His holiness and His Word – and nothing else
We need to be careful we don’t use a person or a person’s teaching as a test of our holiness and our works – they are to be based on the Word of God
II. Fear – vs. 17b
A. Because of the aspect of holiness, and the need we have to be holy because He is holy, and because holiness of life is part of the requirement for answered prayer in time of crisis, we are to make sure our time here on earth is “passed” in the fear of God
“Pass the time” – live our life in such a way as to make sure it points to our heavenly Father
“Of our sojourning here” – we are just passing through this world, we are not a part of it as a believer – and it’s how we pass through it that matters Php 3:20-21 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Heb 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
B. It isn’t fear of the unknown or fear of the crisis spoken of here but a fear of God and His holiness and His judgment of our works that we are to fear
C. If we, as believers, actually feared the judgment of God both here on earth in respect to conviction of sin and the penalty for sin, as well as the Judgment Seat of Christ in heaven, it is far more likely that we would live a holy, separated, Godly life
2Co 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2Co 7:11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Php 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Heb 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
Heb 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
III. Faith – vs. 18-21a
A. It is our faith in Christ and His redeeming work on the cross that will help us live a holy life and fear God as we should
B. Vs. 18 begins with the phrase “forasmuch as ye know”
The word “forasmuch” points to the previous verses and deals with holiness and fear
It is because of the believer’s holiness and fear of God that they can have faith
C. These verses are some of the most precious in the Bible to show what Jesus did for us, and what the Father did in providing our redemption through the blood of Christ
D. Vs. 18 points to the truth that our redemption didn’t come from any power of our own – could not be bought with money and couldn’t be had by keeping any set of rules – it could only come through the blood of Christ – vs. 19
E. Vs. 20 points to the fact that God planned for man’s redemption before He created the world – the plan didn’t have to be put into action if Adam hadn’t sinned but it was there in the event he did
F. The first part of vs. 21 shows that it is “by Him” (Christ) that we can believe in God – not just for our salvation but we can believe in God for everything else, including, and especially, during times of crisis
G. It is this “faith” that is referred to – not just saving faith (although that is the first part) but the faith to believe God in everything else of this life as well
IV. Hope – vs. 21b
A. The aspect of hope runs through this entire epistle
B. In order for the believer to call on the Father in times of crisis and need there has to be the Biblical hope that God will answer – that hope comes from faith in the Word of God
C. Without holiness, fear and faith there will be no hope
Conclusion: Do you struggle with answered prayer? Do you wonder why it is God doesn’t seem to answer? The believers in Peter’s day would suffer greatly for their faith, and would pay with their lives at times. These verses were given to them so they would understand that they would need to call on the Father and that they would need to have things set in their lives in order for the Father to be able to respond in a way that they would understand. We can be sure they prayed for healing, or for rescue but God had other plans – it is knowing those plans that will be the deciding factor in our peace during times of crisis. God will hear and He will answer – but we need to be holy, fear Him, have faith and hope in order to make it through the trial.