Saturday, March 13, 2021

Key Words - 1 Peter 1:1-2 - March 14, 2021

These are the Sermon Notes for March 14, 2021. We are meeting at the church with specific procedures and protocols that need to be followed. Read our Covid-19 plan here. You can still watch our livestream service every Sunday at 9:37 am on our facebook page or watch the livestream recordings any time.

 1 Peter 1:1-2 Key Words

Good morning! Now it’s time to dig into 1 Peter! We are going to be looking at 1 Peter 1:1-2 this morning, page 1014 in the pew Bibles.

Last week we considered the original author, his original audience, and his intent in writing. Here in these verses all three are in view and Peter’s intent of comforting and encouraging the church is very clear. There is some very deep and rich theology in these two verses and we are going to focus on the key words of this brief text and examine their meanings and implications for us as Christians in hopes that Peter’s intent will be effective and we will be comforted and encouraged.

So let’s look at the text together.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, 

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 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: 

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Let’s pray.

So last week we talked about Peter, the author of this epistle, or letter. We walked with him through the Gospel of Mark and saw his boldness and brashness, we walked with him through his many failures. There is a huge difference between the Peter in the Gospels and the Peter we see here, and that is the Holy Spirit. But there was a subtle difference in how I referred to Peter and the others throughout our study in Mark and how Peter refers to himself in the opening line of this letter.

Do you know what it is?

Throughout the study in Mark I tried hard to consistently refer to Peter and the rest of the Twelve as “the disciples,” never, “the Apostles.” The reason being is that they weren’t Apostles yet.

So what’s the difference? Thanks for asking!

A disciple is a student, a learner. An Apostle is one who is sent and speaks on behalf of the sender Jesus Christ. Peter and the remaining ten disciples were made Apostles when Jesus gave them His Great Commission, based on His authority to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that He commanded.

Peter was no longer merely a disciple, he was an Apostle.

Last week we touched briefly on the original audience of this letter, its original recipients, the elect exiles of the dispersion. 

The word, “exiles,” has also been translated as, foreigners, pilgrims, and sojourners. This referred to Jewish Christians living outside of Israel. And though we may not be children of Abraham by our own blood, we can relate to this idea because we are children of Abraham by Christ’s blood and living as foreigners here in this world. God’s eternal kingdom is our home. Here and now, in this life and this world, we are just passing through.

It’s the sticky word, “elect,” that I want to focus on first. Who are the elect in a general sense, and what does it mean to be elect? 

First, who are the elect? In the New Testament, the elect are all those people who belong, or will belong, to the purified people of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible calls these people, “the church.” The world may have other ideas about what the church is, but as far as the Word of God is concerned, the church, the elect, are all those who trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin and adoption into God’s family.

The sticky word, “elect,” is connected to the other sticky word, “foreknowledge.” 

To be elect means to be chosen, in this case, chosen by God for salvation and inclusion in the church.

JP Lange wrote, “The final cause of this election is free grace, its end salvation, and its condition penitent faith.”

This election by God has nothing to do with our own merits or our own worth, we weren’t elected because God needed what we had to offer as if He was cooking a cosmic stew. There are no conditions to our election, God chose us because He chose us, plain and simple.

This is the second of the five points of Calvinism, “unconditional election.”

And though our election is not based on what we bring to the table, it is also not random, it is according to God’s foreknowledge. Election and foreknowledge are indelibly linked.

Foreknowledge doesn’t simply mean that God knew beforehand, as our English word would imply, it means that God decided and decreed before we were created. As Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

 Jesus said in John 10:14, “I know my own and my own know me.”

Paul wrote in Romans 8:29-30,  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

God the Father has a definite plan and we, those who believe in Him, are a part of it.

And that’s another beautiful part of these key words here in these opening verses, the comfort and encouragement that comes from the work of the Trininty.

It starts with the election and foreknowledge of God our Father, His plan.

Next, the sanctification of the Spirit.

What does, “sanctification,” mean? Sanctification is consecration, dedication to God, to be made holy, set apart. This is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit to put the Father’s choice and purpose in election into effect.

Hebrews 10:10 says, “…by [God’s] will we have been sanctified [been made holy, separated for God’s use] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

John Calvin put it beautifully, “[Sanctification is] the application of the merit of the Son to the soul by the gospel.”

We grow in our knowledge of and walk with Christ, we learn to trust Him more, we grow in wisdom and strength by the power of the Holy Spirit, but when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, when we turn from our sin and put our trust in Him, we are set apart from the rest of the world, we are dragged out of the muck and mire and our feet are set upon the rock. We are not of this world and we shouldn’t live as if we are. According to the foreknowledge of God the Father we are set apart as belonging to Him by the Holy Spirit.

Why were we set apart? For obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood.

Here is the rest of the Trinity, Jesus, the eternal Son of God. 

We were chosen by God the Father according to His will and purpose, not according to our own merits, we were set apart from the world by the gracious work of the Holy Spirit and now we are led and instructed by Jesus Christ having been sprinkled by His blood.

There are two parts here for Jesus, two key words, obedience and sprinkling.

First, obedience, what does that mean? Here are the rules. Follow them. Is that it? Obedience is much richer than that, at least in this context.

Obedience consists of faith and flows from faith. Faith claims obedience as its fruit while faith itself is obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Obedience means to believe the truth and perform the duties which it imposes on us.

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…” 

In our day it is much more popular to just say you love Jesus than to prove it by following His commandments. 

But the temptation also is to hyper-interpret Jesus’ commandments and make up rules to make absolute sure no one ever sins or has anything to do with this lost and dying world forcing the church to keep the instrument of their salvation private and clean behind glass.

Obedience to Christ demands the opposite, it consists of faith and flows from faith, by faith we submit to His authority and obey His instruction.

JP Lange wrote, “It is only by the obedience of faith and our firm purpose to subject ourselves to the claims of the Divine Law, that we are made partakers of the atoning virtue of the blood of Jesus.”

And that points to “the sprinkling with His blood.”

Peter is referring here to Moses at the foot of mount Sinai in Exodus 24, and his Jewish audience would understand that. In Leviticus the Lord instructed how the Ark and the altar and the lampstands and the holy instruments in the Temple were to be sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice for purification, but only in Exodus 24 are the people themselves sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice.

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

The blood of the covenant was not sprinkled on the people until they declared that they were ready to comply with the demands of the Divine Law. And now, in the New Covenant, it’s not Moses that applies the blood but the Holy Spirit when we declare that we are ready to comply with the demands of obedience to Jesus Christ.

And finally the last words, “may grace and peace be multiplied to you.”

Grace: the free gift of God the Father, the gift of justification, of salvation, God’s unmerited favor. We didn’t earn it and we don’t deserve it. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

We are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Grace brings peace and peace testifies of grace.

Peace with God and in God.

Martin Luther wrote, “Peace is the favor of God which now begins in us but must work more and more and multiply unto death. If a man knows and believes in a gracious God, he has Him; his heart finds peace, and he fears neither the world nor the devil, for he knows that God, who controls all things, is his friend, and will deliver him from death, hell, and all calamity; therefore his confidence is full of peace and joy. This is what Peter desires for all believers; it is a right Christian salutation, with which all Christians should greet one another.”

So, to you, elect exiles in CrossRoads Church, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling with His blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.