As I have been studying my way through 1 Peter, it has been a great blessing to consider the context of this letter. Peter wrote to Christians who were struggling in their faith because of the great difficulties of life in the Roman Empire in the 1st Century. Those difficulties are far more than most Christians, living in the U.S. today, can comprehend. There are plenty of Christians in the world who know, first hand, what persecution looks like. As we try to identify with that level of suffering, we begin to understand what Peter is saying. The truths in this letter are designed to buttress our faith and strengthen us when life stinks! We can relate to this message today, because persecution is not the only trial that Christians face. These truths are applicable to other trials, like illness, broken relationships, the death of loved ones, etc. But, they are not only for those times. We need to grasp these ideas, these TRUTHS when things are not so bad because it is through them that we begin to live our lives as His people, citizens of heaven, a sanctified race that God has created from every people group on the planet.
Begotten Again – SERMON AUDIO
1 Peter 1:1-3 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
As we begin to focus on these truths that strengthen and encourage us in times of difficulty, one of the most profound of these truths is found in these opening verses. It’s kind of tough to separate these truths too much because of their strong relationship to one another. If we divide them into individual concepts, divorced from one another, we lose too much of their meaning and therefore the strength that comes from knowing what God has done for His people. I covered the broader perspective on this last time, in the sermon / blog post, When Life is Hard.
This time, I want to examine the above verses and the truths that they communicate to the People of God.
Verse 1 says that we are “pilgrims.” That means that this world is not our home. We are, as the Apostle Paul tells the Philippians, Citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). We need to live like we are what we are. I mentioned, last time, that this idea of “Pilgrims of the Dispersion” is a phrase that describes the Old Testament Saints and is a part of describing our covenant relationship to God. Judah went through this kind of living, as displaced citizens of another Kingdom. They are an example to us, the Church, as to how we should live in a world that is not our true place of citizenship.
Jeremiah 29:4-7 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters–that you may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.
Paul give the same kind of instruction to Pastor Timothy as he instructs him on proper conduct as a member of God’s household (1 Timothy 3:15)
1 Timothy 2:1-3 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
But, the question arises, how does one become a “citizen of heaven?”
1 Peter 1:2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
First, God has chosen whom He will give citizenship to. He has purposed to set His love upon His people. Then He goes about the means of procuring them by separating them from the rest of humanity by giving them His Spirit and causing them to walk in obedience to His statutes. This is the New Covenant that God had promised in the time of Israel’s captivity;
Ezekiel 36:24-27 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
What makes this possible is the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. God is a God who makes covenants. Covenants in the Old Testament, often involved the sacrifice of an animal and as the two parties agreed upon the terms, the implied agreement was, that should one party break the terms, then it should be done to them as it had been to the animal. God certainly kept His part of the covenant with His people, but they did not. Yet, in His mercy, God took on the form of a man (the guilty party) and suffered in our place. At Mount Sinai, Moses sprinkled the Tabernacle, the vessels of ministry and even the people with the blood of a sacrifice, signifying their entry into the covenant that God made with His people in that day. In order to be set apart from the world, made citizens of heaven and receive the inheritance that God gives to His people, we too must be sprinkled with the Blood of the Covenant. (N0t the Mosaic Covenant as Israel was, but the New Covenant which is the completion of the Abrahamic Covenant. SEE GALATIANS 3) This is done by the Holy Spirit, when God sends Him to give us life (beget us again) and make us citizens of His kingdom.
All of this was accomplished, By God, through Christ and His death and resurrection and then applied to us by His Spirit.
What should our response be?
Romans 8:31-33 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
I hope that you can see how the doctrines (or teachings) of the Apostle Peter give strength to the struggling Christian. What an amazing God who would do that for a rebel and a traitor like me! I encourage you to listen to the sermon and be encouraged in your faith, as you struggle through life’s difficulties.
Begotten Again – SERMON AUDIO