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Posts Tagged ‘1 Peter 1’

First Peter is written to Christians whom he describes as chosen aliens (1:1), outsiders who no longer fit in this world, but who have been placed exactly where they are by God the Father, set apart for holiness by the Holy Spirit, and marked by the blood of Christ as the Son brings them into his new and living covenant and marks them as his own.  For those who are in Christ, we rightly stand in awe of the Father’s generosity as we see that he has given us a living hope through Christ’s resurrection, a lavish, unfading inheritance as he gives us himself in Christ, and a lasting salvation as we are kept by God as he gives us a faith that endures to the end.  And because of this, we “rejoice greatly” (1:6).

But rejoicing happens in the face of trials.  Notice five things about these trials:

First, notice that Peter doesn’t ask us to pretend that trials don’t hurt.  “You greatly rejoice,” even though “you have been distressed by various trials.”  The word “distressed” doesn’t talk so much about physical pain and suffering (though trials could involve that).  The New King James and English Standard versions read “You have been grieved” (NKJV, ESV), and the King James captures it well: “ye are in heaviness” (KJV).  In other places, the word is translated “made sorrowful.”  It’s the mental/spiritual/emotional distress that comes with trials, the laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering how much longer this could possibly last and how you’ll ever be able to face another day with it.  So don’t be surprised if rejoicing doesn’t keep the tears from flowing.

Second, notice that trials come in all shapes and sizes (“various trials”).  Sometimes we’re inclined to look at a situation (especially someone else’s) and say, “Look, you’re not actually being martyred for the sake of Christ here—suck it up!”  We may feel guilty that the difficulties of life get to us, rather than just rolling off of us.  But the Spirit doesn’t limit the scope of trials to really big stuff, or spectacular stuff, or fatal stuff.  Trials may involve persecution and physical harm—cf. 1 Pet 2, 3, 4.  But they may also be people speaking evil of you (4:4).  Or it may be the various difficulties, pains, and disappointments of living post-Fall—there’s nothing easy this side of the Garden.  All of these trials, big or small, long-term or momentary, will in the long run serve us (more in a minute), and not one gets left out.

Third, notice that we are distressed by various trials “for a little while.”  It may feel like forever, but it really isn’t.  They may last a lifetime—but not a moment longer.  It’s why Paul calls all that he went through “momentary, light affliction” (2 Cor. 4:17), and said that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).  It’s why David said, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5, NKJV).  If you belong to Christ by faith, your suffering, as deep as it may be, has an expiration date.

Fourth, notice that we are distressed by various trials “if necessary.”  Your trials do not happen randomly, or by accident, or simply as a byproduct of the Fall, an impersonal cause-and-effect relationship from Adam’s sin.  If you are in Christ, and if you face trouble (hint: you will, Jesus promised), it is because the same Father who chose you according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (v. 2), who birthed you into living hope and gave you an inheritance in Christ and lasting salvation (v. 3-5), has deemed it necessary for you to face this particular trial.  He has seen this particular trouble as the context for blessing you and all those who love God by making you more like Christ.

That doesn’t mean “try to guess what God is up to in full detail”—we’re bad mind readers!  Within that broad category of making us like Christ and equipping us to love and serve one another better, the Father may use a given trial in any of a hundred more specific ways.  Our job is less to figure out what God is doing, and more to consider how to trust and obey in the moment.  It does mean that we can take heart that our troubles aren’t a sign that God forgot us.

Fifth, notice that these temporary, necessary trials lead to an astonishing result: “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (v. 7).  Trials become the testing ground that shows where our faith lies.  Peter says our faith is “more precious than gold which is perishable.”  Gold is shiny, durable, and long-lasting, but eventually it gets melted down and made into something else, or it gets lost, or I die and don’t care about it anymore.  Yet we still consider it valuable enough that jewelers melt it in a crucible, skim off the dross, and bring it up to a certain standard of purity, ready to make beautiful, praiseworthy works of art.

And if that’s true of temporary gold, how much more faith that God has made to last!  This testing makes it clear what saving faith is made of.  Don’t miss this: Peter isn’t commanding us to rejoice.  This passage is not in the imperative mood, telling us what to do, but the indicative—telling us what is true.  Those who are in Christ do rejoice, even as troubles keep coming.  That doesn’t mean there are no weak moments, no times when reason to rejoice gets hazy.  It does mean that, by God’s faith-giving grace, we will continue to get back up, continue to press on, and continue to rejoice in this good Lord.

Why the test?  Because not all faith is saving faith—faith is only as good as what it is placed in.  Troubles bring to light what we’re putting our trust in.  For an unbeliever, even a religious unbeliever, trials snatch away false hopes and leave a choice: see a better hope in Christ, or go down fighting for a dying hope (see Ps. 115:4-8, where those who live for pretend and worthless gods end up like them, dead and useless).  But for the Christian, trials smash idols and pull us back to Christ—the loss hurts, but it reminds us that we still really do love Christ more than what we lost.  How we react tells us what we trust.

But here’s the shocking part: notice the end result of this tested, genuine faith!  “…may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  When we see Jesus, this passage doesn’t say that we will praise, glorify, and honor him.  (We will—but that’s not what Peter says here.)  The result of this genuine, approved faith is that we receive the inheritance, the salvation promised in v. 4-5!  We will be praised by Jesus Christ: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  We will share in the glory of Jesus Christ: “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev 3:21)!  We will receive honor from Jesus Christ: “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21)!

Brother, sister, if you are currently grieved by temporarily necessary trials, rejoice that the Lord Jesus is using even these circumstances to demonstrate before the universe that your trust in Christ is genuine.  Rejoice that the result will be you standing in front of Christ, sharing in praise, glory, and honor that are rightfully His, but that He generously shares with those He calls brother and sister!

Grace and peace,

Mike Yates

The audio of a sermon on this passage, which was preached at Grace Chapel Baptist Church, Kingwood, on Sunday, October 16, 2016, may be listened to below, or it may be downloaded by right-clicking and “Save Link As” here.

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Christians are not immune from suffering and sorrow.  In fact, Jesus promised that we need not borrow trouble from tomorrow, because there will be plenty for today (Matt. 6:34).  And yet, even as Peter writes to those he calls “the Dispersion,” aliens and outcasts (1 Pet. 1:1), he says that Christians rejoice in the face of all kinds of trials because of the Father’s generosity, the Son’s anticipated appearing, and the Spirit’s kept promises.

When we read verse 6, what may stand out to us is the expectation that we will face trials—even “all kinds” of trials.  But the main idea in this sentence, the verb that tells us what’s happening, is “you greatly rejoice.”  Notice Peter doesn’t say we rejoice because of trials—he leaves that to Jesus and James and Paul (Matt. 5:11-12, James 1:2-4, Rom. 5:3-5).  But even these don’t say to rejoice because trials are such fun, or because they make up for past sin, or because they give us spiritual super-extra-bonus points in heaven.  Jesus says to “rejoice and be glad” in the face of persecution, because it shows that we are part of the same line of faithfulness as the Old Testament prophets—we’re on the right track!  James says to “count it all joy” because God uses trials to shape us and make us “perfect and complete” (that is, like Christ).  And Paul says “we…exult” because tribulations will be used by God to create Christ-like character and a Spirit-created hope that counts on the love of God to see us through trials and keep us in every circumstance.  In other words, to the extent that we rejoice in suffering, it isn’t because we like it to hurt, but because we trust God to use even the worst circumstances to make us like Christ.  And that’s where Peter goes, even more explicitly.

First, Christians rejoice in the Father’s gift of living, lasting salvation, even in the face of all kinds of trials (v. 6-7).  Peter recounts the Father’s great and undeserved mercy, giving us a living hope, accomplished through Jesus’s resurrection (v. 3).  He thinks back to the Father’s lavish gift of an unending inheritance—not only heaven, but Christ himself (v. 4).  And he recalls our attention to the Father’s gift of a lasting salvation, in which he keeps us to the end by giving us a saving, keeping, obeying faith (v. 5).

When a Christian thinks on how kind the Father has been and is, pouring out on us what David Powlison has called counter-conditional love that is the exact opposite of what rebels against God have reason to expect, that changes the way we think about trials.  If he has been so good to us, we will trust him that these troubles really are necessary for our ultimate good, even if we don’t understand their purpose just now, and the twin promises of eternal inheritance and the Father’s faithfulness in keeping us remind us of the relative brevity of even the longest of our heartaches (v. 6).  And as we learn (and as we remind each other) to cling to this reality, those trials become, not our undoing, but the demonstration of true, saving faith—the very faith promised as a gift back in verse 5!  And even though we can take no credit for God’s faithfulness in keeping us faithful, when we see Christ face to face, he will top all of his other kindnesses by rewarding us with the “praise and glory and honor” which only Jesus has earned, but which he joyfully shares with those he calls brothers and sisters (v. 7)!

And as Peter considers this Jesus Christ who will be revealed, he says, not only do we rejoice because of the Father’s gift of salvation, but more specifically, we rejoice in Christ, the one who brings salvation (v. 8-9).  Peter freely admits that so far we haven’t seen him.  But the emphasis in this verse is not on the “you have not seen.”  The focus is “you love.”  We have believed on him, and we love him, because we have heard him in the Scriptures, as we have read the eye-witness reports (1 John 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:16).

And as we believe, we rejoice—not because of our circumstances, but because of Christ.  This isn’t a half-hearted rejoicing, but “with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”  That doesn’t necessarily mean whooping and hollering.  Some get more visibly and vocally excited—that may have more to do with personality than piety.  But as we think about the hope we have in Christ and the certainty of his coming, there is a delight that sometimes we can’t find the right words for.

Again, Peter’s in the indicative here; he’s describing what is true about Christians.  There’s no command to stir up a certain emotion or put on a show.  And emotions come and go; exhaustion and physical illnesses may leave us feeling drained, and sometimes our feelings don’t match our thinking as closely as they might in an unfallen world.  But Peter’s drawing a picture of the ordinary Christian life—a joy that looks ahead, that enjoys Christ already, without waiting for our eyes to catch up.

And as we rejoice in the Father’s good gifts, as we rejoice in the Christ we trust, sight unseen, we also rejoice that all of the Spirit’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ (v. 10-12).  Peter says this salvation isn’t something that just showed up out of blue.  The Old Testament prophets spoke of this Savior who would come.  The woman’s Seed would crush the Serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15).  Abraham’s Seed would bless all the nations (Gen. 12:3).  A prophet like Moses would come—and this time the people would hear and obey (Deut. 18:15).  David’s Son would rule a never-ending kingdom (2 Sam. 7).  And the Lord himself would come into his temple (Mal 3:1-3)!

But even with every word foreshadowing, promising, raising questions that create a longing for Christ, there is much left unclear.  How does a passage like Isaiah 49:1-7 about a Mighty King who inherits nations fit with a passage like Isaiah 53, where a Suffering Servant is cut off for the sins of ungrateful, runaway sheep?  Isaiah didn’t know!

And so the prophets themselves dug down deep, trying to understand—and they found that their words would be finally fulfilled, not in their lifetimes, but centuries later, when the Son of God himself would take on flesh and fulfill every promise (v. 12).

But the details would not all be seen until Pentecost, as the same Spirit who breathed out the Scriptures came to dwell in his people and explain the Scriptures.  This side of Pentecost, you and I understand more of how the promises would play out than Moses, David, and Isaiah did!  How could we not rejoice in this?

And how astonishing—these are “things into which angels long to look” (v. 12)!  Gabriel and Michael have no experience of what it is to be saved by grace.  The seraphim shouting “Holy, holy, holy,” could biblically define God’s grace, but they’ve never received it.  The cherubim have never had a single sin forgiven—all they can do is stand in awe!

And so it’s left to us to live out this good news of undeserved grace, as we look around and see a family, a living temple, that is an ongoing picture of this living hope, this sustaining and keeping faith.  That’s why we rejoice.

The audio of this sermon, which was preached at Grace Chapel Baptist Church, Kingwood, on Sunday, October 16, 2016, may be listened to below, or it may be downloaded by right-clicking and “Save Link As” here.

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Isn’t it amazing how the same words can have such different meanings, depending on our tone?  We all know about the kind of “fine” that means “it isn’t fine, and never will be fine.”  And then there’s “Bless your heart.”  In the South, it tends to mean “You’re too dumb to know better, and now I know what I’ll be talking about for the next several weeks, always prefaced by ‘Bless his heart, but…’”  But with another tone, “bless your heart!” expresses gratitude, humble thankfulness, even awe at another’s kindness.  And as Peter writes his first letter to Christians scattered through what is now Turkey, this awe-filled gratitude is exactly the tone he has as he considers all that the Father has given His people in Christ: an awe that leads us to praise the Father whole-heartedly, and a joyful gratitude that leads us to trust and obey the Father constantly in Christ, come what may.

In the opening verses, Peter calls his readers “elect exiles” (1 Pet. 1:1, ESV)—chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”—we’re not in this strange, sometimes hostile place by accident, but by the wise, loving, all-sovereign plan of the Father, which moves us to confidence.  Christians are chosen “in the sanctification of the Spirit”—set apart for a life of service and worship, which moves us to Christ-like holiness.  And we are chosen “for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood”—brought into Christ’s new and living covenant through trusting the gospel message, marked as Christ’s by his own blood, which moves us to ongoing obedience to our King.

And as we reach the main body of the letter in verse 3, Peter calls us to think on the greatness and goodness of the God and Father of Jesus Christ, and to bless the Father who has blessed us with a living hope, a lavish inheritance, and a lasting salvation.

First, bless the Father who has blessed us with a living hope (v. 3)!  Notice that he did so “according to his great mercy.”  He didn’t rescue us out of obligation—we who were made to know and love God instead have rebelled against him, and the only things we deserve are death and hell.  If he has rescued us at the cost of his own Son, it’s not because of us, but because of the kind of Father he is.  He is full of abundant mercy, and there is none beyond his reach—if you are far from him, don’t despair, but come and trust his promises!

And he has “caused us to be born again.”  Peter reminds us how we got here—we didn’t give birth to ourselves.  As the apostle John put it, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).  If we are in Christ, he has given us life, just as surely as he first gave us breath and a heartbeat!  And that’s good news—because we can be sure he didn’t birth us only to abandon us!  As the Lord said through Isaiah, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb?  Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.  Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands!” (Isa. 49:15-16).  And so he has—with iron nails driven into olive wood!  He will not forget and abandon those whom he has bought as long as his scars remain.

He has caused us to be born again “to a living hope,” making rebels into sons and daughters forever.  Where before we had only the promise of death and judgment, we have been given life and family (Eph. 2:12-14, 19; see also 1 Pet. 2:9-10).  And he has done so “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  Is it easy to come to Christ?  In one sense, yes: “Whoever comes to Me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).  In another sense, it is impossible—“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).  We didn’t want to see!  It is only when the same Lord who spoke into physical darkness and created light speaks into our spiritually dark, God-rejecting hearts and creates light so that we see him as he is that we turn and follow him (2 Cor. 4:3-6).  And the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead makes us spiritually alive and guarantees that we are welcome in God’s presence (Eph. 1:18-2:7).  Do you know this life-giving, hope-giving Father?  Praise him!

Second, bless the Father who has blessed us with a lavish inheritance (v. 4)!  He has made us to be coheirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).  This is an imperishable inheritance—it will not rust, will not rot, will not ruin.  It is an undefiled inheritance—it is pure and holy, and he is remaking us to be pure and holy to receive it.  It is an unfading inheritance—when we see him face to face, it will not be for a short time, but forever!  This inheritance isn’t simply heaven, as good a gift as heaven is.  This eternal, pure, unending inheritance is Christ himself—his presence and his love for us forever!  Jesus says it’s safe not to worry, not because there’s nothing scary in our lives, but because the Father is a good, generous Father, who knows our needs, provides for our needs, and delights in giving us what we never knew we needed until he came to us—himself (Luke 12:22-34)!  Do you know this generous, lavish Father?  Praise him!

And it is a reserved inheritance—held onto by the Father for us, kept in heaven where none can steal or ruin it.  And that brings us to our last point: bless the Father who has blessed us with a lasting salvation (v. 5)!  Who is this inheritance reserved for?  Notice that v. 5 doesn’t describe the inheritance being kept—“who are” refers back to v. 4, “for you.”  If we belong to the Father through Christ by the work of the Spirit, we are “protected by the power of God.”  Our confidence that we will finish well doesn’t finally rest on how good and faithful we are.  And if that doesn’t strike you as astonishingly good news, might I suggest that you don’t know yourself very well?  We’re still weak, prone to stumble, prone to let our eyes drift from Christ to the dying, deadly delights of this world.  But as our brother Jude says, he is “able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 1:24)!  He will not let us fall and stay down—the indwelling Spirit will convict us of sin, but also restore us and urge us on through the Word and through brothers and sisters.

What does this keeping look like in practice?  We’re kept “through faith.”  Being kept by God looks from our side of fence like someone clinging to Christ in faith and obedience.  Saving faith (which itself is a gift of God, Eph. 2:8) is the means by which God keeps us to the end.  When you’re tempted to give up, to despair, to go back to your old life, don’t expect the Father to keep you by physically dragging you out of bed to gather with the church, by making the computer blow up at the critical moment, or by making you suddenly feel a certain way.  His keeping will be as you put one foot in front of other, as you stand firm by the power of the Spirit when you feel like running, as you obey when you don’t want to.  It will be by intentionally spending life with brothers and sisters who will remind you and be reminded by you.

And notice we are kept “for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  This is what we were made for, what we were saved for, and what we will be given!  We’re already saved from sin’s punishment, brought into the Father’s love.  But we’re still in a broken, messed up world, and we still experience reality of sin—as Romans 8 puts it, we who have firstfruits of the Spirit, who are adopted, still groan as we wait for our full adoption and redemption.  But the living hope within us reminds us that the day will come when there is no more sickness, no more sin, no more death, no more weeping, no more fear.  He will finish what he has begun.  Do you know this keeping, saving Father?  Praise him!

So what are we to do, seeing how the Father has given us life, has given us an inheritance, and is keeping us to the end?  Peter tells us—from v. 6 to the end of the book!  Seven big ideas, very briefly:

  • Rejoice in the face of all kinds of trials, knowing that the Father will use them to bring us into our inheritance when Christ appears as He has promised (v. 6-12).
  • Imitate our holy Lord, recognizing that he has given us new life and new hope (v. 13-2:3).
  • Live as monuments to the Father’s grace, living stones and priests in Christ’s temple (2:4-12).
  • Fearlessly, joyfully honor and submit to those in authority, even when they fall far short of the God they were created to reflect (2:13-3:6).
  • Fearlessly, joyfully love and be patient towards those whom Christ has put around us, even when they are difficult and wrong-headed (3:7-12).
  • Be prepared to suffer as Christ suffered, living out our living hope in hard places, ready to tell all who ask why it is we can face the unthinkable (3:13-4:19).
  • And finally, live out this good news of hope, enjoy this inheritance, together—humbly serving and being served within the body of Christ, bringing our fears and our temptations to the one who loves us and who will bring us safely home (5:1-14).

 

The audio of this sermon, which was preached at Grace Chapel Baptist Church, Kingwood, on Sunday, August 21, 2016, may be listened to below, or it may be downloaded by right-clicking and “Save Link As” here.

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Think about what it would be like to be a refugee, far from home, moving from place to place, nothing permanent.  There’s a sense of loneliness, because it’s clear to everyone else you aren’t from here.  And there’s a sense of lostness—everything’s different from back home, and even a trip to the grocery store involves a learning curve.

Now picture being a refugee, but knowing the situation is temporary.  In fact, imagine knowing your refugee status was imposed to prepare you to rule wisely as a prince or princess when you get home.  Sound like a movie?

According to Peter, that’s the truth about every follower of Jesus Christ.  In fact, if we had to sum up the first two verses of Peter’s first letter, we could say that we are chosen refugees—hand-picked outsiders—chosen ahead of time by God the Father, set apart by the Holy Spirit, and brought into obedience to Christ’s new covenant.  Peter writes “to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Pet. 1:1-2, ESV).

Notice, first, that Peter calls Christians to expect to live as elect exiles (v. 1).  When he calls his readers exiles, he speaks of resident aliens, those who live in a land that isn’t theirs.  It’s the word Abraham uses to describe himself when he had lived in Canaan for over half a century, but didn’t even have a place to bury his wife (Gen. 23:4).  Peter’s readers may have owned homes and lived in one place their whole lives, but they needed to realize “this world is not our home, we’re just a-passing through.”  They weren’t a special interest group or a political powerhouse; they were outsiders scattered to bring the gospel wherever they went.

Yet with these references to being foreigners—refugees, far from home, scattered across the globe—Peter says they are also chosen: “elect exiles.”  We are not where we are by accident, but by God’s good plan for His good purposes.  Peter tell us more about that in v. 2, and in the process tells us how to live as hand-picked refugees.  First, we live out our exile in confidence, because we are elect exiles by our Father’s knowledge and plan (v. 2a).  As Ephesians 1:4 puts it, the Father “chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world.”  He didn’t merely know about us (that’s true of all people), but He knew us intimately.  It’s the same word Peter uses when he says that Jesus “was foreknown before the foundation of the world” (1:20); the Father didn’t merely know that Jesus would come; it was His plan that He was bringing about.

So what is this plan that the Father has for us?  The Father is creating a family, causing us to be born again, giving us living hope and an unending inheritance in Christ (v. 3-5), and He will use every circumstance to accomplish this.  And remember, we didn’t jump into this plan because we understood it and wanted to sign up.  We were by nature opposed to God, aiming to live our lives for ourselves.  And if we are now living for Christ, loving Him and imitating His love for His Father and for those around us, that’s only because He has given us new hearts and new eyes that see Him for who He really is.

But now that our eyes have been opened, we will live out our exile in holiness, because we are set apart by the Spirit (v. 2b).  We usually think of sanctification as that ongoing, lifelong process of becoming more like Jesus—and Peter will get to that later in letter.  But here Peter’s focus is on what we call positional sanctification—the believer being set apart for use in worship, much as the Old Testament temple and altar were.  This is how the Father’s choosing has been carried out; He doesn’t just say, “Okay, Mike is mine, but he can do whatever he wants.”  He declares us righteous only because of Christ’s righteousness, but He also awakens and indwells us by His Spirit.  He makes us His temple, and then starts cleaning house, as our new love and gratitude toward God leads us to live more and more like Him (see 1:13-16, 2:9-11).

And as we live out our exile in confidence that the Father knows and loves us, as we live out our exile in holiness because the Spirit has sanctified us, we will live out our exile in step with King Jesus, trusting and living in His new covenant (v. 2c).  Pastor Tom Schreiner notes that obedience and sprinkling picture salvation from two angles.  First, there is obedience.  Obeying here is not so much our actions, but responding to the gospel message (see Rom. 10:16, 1 Pet. 4:17) by turning from sin to follow Jesus, trusting His promises as our king and the one who paid our ransom.  Second, the sprinkling with Christ’s blood recalls Exodus 24:1-8, as Israel entered into covenant.  The people promised to obey, a sacrifice was made, blood was sprinkled on the altar to deal with sin, and then on the people to mark them as the Lord’s.  Now we have been given a new covenant, with a better sacrifice and better promises, and we are marked as the property of Jesus.  In Exodus 25-31 God immediately told Israel to build a tabernacle and consecrate priests; in this new covenant He is gathering the church to be a living temple and a holy priesthood to show what He is like by the way we love one another (2:4-12).

We’re not home yet—but we’re heading that way.  In the meantime, Christians are elect exiles—outsiders who don’t quite belong, but outsiders who belong to a Father who knows us, a Spirit who sanctifies us, and a Son who brings us into a new covenant sealed with His blood.  That gives us every reason to live in confidence, in holiness, and in step with our King until we see Him face to face.

The audio of this sermon, which was preached at Grace Chapel Baptist Church, Kingwood, on Sunday, August 7, 2016, may be listened to below, or it may be downloaded by right-clicking and “Save Link As” here.

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Do we ever feel like we just don’t fit in?  Do we get the sense that, as the song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through”?  How do we who are in Christ live in a world that runs in a different direction, loves different things, and doesn’t always applaud when we don’t run with them?  Peter is writing to a group of Christians living in what is now Turkey, and he calls them exiles—strangers, resident aliens, those who live somewhere for a length of time, but who really belong somewhere else.  They are the Dispersion—the term used for the Jews who since Jerusalem’s destruction in 586 B.C. had been scattered all over the known world, but here used of Christians of both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds who, even if they lived in the same house their entire lives, were a tiny, unimpressive, vulnerable minority.

But these exiles aren’t there by accident, and they aren’t abandoned.  Peter says that they are chosen (1 Pet. 1:2 in the NASB, end of v. 1 in most other translations), and in the original Greek the words sit side by side (“elect exiles,” as the ESV puts it).  It’s true that they are scattered, living as refugees, but they are hand-picked refugees.  And Peter says that’s what is true for all of us who are in Christ.  How shall we live?

I.   Expect to live as elect exiles (v. 1)—don’t be surprised by the promised reality.

II. Live out our exile in confidence: we are elect exiles by our Father’s knowledge and plan (v. 2a).

III. Live out our exile in holiness, because we are set apart by the Spirit (v. 2b).

IV.  Live out our exile in step with our King, obeying Christ and living in His new covenant (v. 2c).

We’re not home yet, but we’re heading that way.  In the meantime, we’re elect exiles—outsiders that don’t quite belong, but outsiders that belong to a Father who knows us, a Spirit who sanctifies us, and a Son who brings us into a new covenant sealed with His blood.  That gives us every reason to live in confidence, in holiness, and in step with our King until we see Him face to face.

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