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Secure: When Life Hits Hard

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The Book of 1 Peter was written to a particular people at a particular time and a particular place. This is important to remember because it helps us to understand the book and its recipients. Peter is writing to Jews who were dispersed from Jerusalem by the persecution of Saul and other Jews following the death of Stephen in AD 34. These people, fleeing for their lives from the persecution of the Jews now find themselves living their lives in a strange place, dominated by pagans. Now, 30 years after their dispersion from their homeland, these same Jewish Christians were being persecuted by the Romans.
On the night of July 19, 64 A.D., a fire broke out among the shops lining the Circus Maximus, Rome’s mammoth chariot stadium. In a city of two million, there was nothing unusual about such a fire — the sweltering summer heat kindled conflagrations around Rome on a regular basis, particularly in the slums that covered much of the city. Knowing this, Nero himself was miles away in the cooler coastal resort of Antium. Yet this was no ordinary fire. The flames raged for six days before coming under control; then the fire reignited and burned for another three. When the smoke cleared, 10 of Rome’s 14 districts were in ruin. The 800-year-old Temple of Jupiter Stator and the Atrium Vestae, the hearth of the Vestal Virgins, were gone. Two thirds of Rome had been destroyed. According to both the Roman historian Tacitus and later Christian tradition, (Annals 15.44) that Nero was rumored to have ordered the fire himself to destroy the Romans slums himself to build his palace the Domus Aurea, and in order to dispel the accusations, accused and savagely punished the already-detested Christians.
Their lives were literally turned upside down
This persecution would ultimately lead to the crucifixion of Peter between AD 64 and 68, and the beheading of Paul in AD 67.
This is the maelstrom into which Peter is writing. So when we enter the world of these early Christians, we enter a world of persecution and suffering.
This is the point of Peter’s letter, to encourage suffering Christians to look to God in the midst of persecution and trial. I think this is a very appropriate letter for us, for while we don’t have a mad emperor terrorizing us, we do live in a world with its own trials, temptations and suffering that can destroy our faith. Since September 11, 2001, America has lived under a cloud of concern. Rising crime also creates an atmosphere of anxiety. Christians have an additional challenge—hostility by a culture increasingly opposed to our faith. Peter’s letter shows how we can live securely through our relationship with Jesus.
Rising crime also creates an atmosphere of anxiety. Christians have an additional challenge—hostility by a culture increasingly opposed to our faith. Peter’s letter shows how we can live securely through our relationship with Jesus.
So what does Peter say to these believers to encourage them

The Gospel Gives Us Endurance (v. 1-2)

The first thing we see in this letter is Peter’s introduction to these early Christians. In this introduction Paul uses some particular statements about who these were in Christ and why that should give them endurance to face trials.

We are chosen by God

The word “foreknowledge” (prognōsis) could simply mean that God foresaw whom would be his elect or chosen.

First Peter calls them “elect exiles…according tot he foreknowledge of God the Father”. The truth of scripture both in the Old and New Testement is that God has chosen to create a particular people for himself. The word “foreknowledge” could simply mean that God foresaw whom would be his elect or chosen. But the idea given has a much deeper meaning. Did God foreknow those who would be his elect people, yes, but its much deeper than that.
Wayne Grudem notes:
1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary 1. Salutation: Peter the Apostle to Sojourners in God’s Eternal Care (1:1–2)

their status as sojourners, their privileges as God’s chosen people, even their hostile environment in Pontus, Galatia, etc., were all known by God before the world began, all came about in accordance with his foreknowledge, and thus (we may conclude) all were in accordance with his fatherly love for his own people. Such foreknowledge is laden with comfort for Peter’s readers.

The fact that you and I are known, loved by, cared for, and sovereignly overseen by our heavenly Father is incredibly comforting. “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father” your salvation, your life, your struggles, your family, your situation, all of these were foreknown by your heavenly Father. You father, elect exiles, and yes, you and I are elect sojourners, seperated from our heavenly homes, loves you has known you since the dawn of creation and he loves you.

We are Sanctified by the Spirit

Not only are we known by God, but we are being sanctified by his Holy Spirit. Not only are we known by God, but we are being sanctified by his Holy Spirit.
Not only does God the Father foreknow whom the elect will be, but the Spirit is the source of their sanctification. The word “sanctification” refers to the progressive growth of holiness in the lives of Christians.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 ESV
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
2 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
Not only does God the Father foreknow whom the elect will be, but the Spirit is the source of their sanctification.26 The term “sanctification” often refers to the progressive growth of holiness in the lives of ChristiansApart for Obedience
Not only does God the Father foreknow whom the elect will be, but the Spirit is the source of their sanctification. The word “sanctification” refers to the progressive growth of holiness in the lives of Christians (cf. ).

We are Set Apart for Obedience

26 The word “Spirit” is a subjective genitive (Selwyn, First Peter, 119; Michaels, 1 Peter, 11; Goppelt, I Peter, 73). Even though Peter thought of conversion here, Goppelt wrongly focuses on baptism (I Peter, 74). Baptism is part of the conversion process, of course, but there is no evidence that it was specially in Peter’s mind.
26 The word “Spirit” is a subjective genitive (Selwyn, First Peter, 119; Michaels, 1 Peter, 11; Goppelt, I Peter, 73). Even though Peter thought of conversion here, Goppelt wrongly focuses on baptism (I Peter, 74). Baptism is part of the conversion process, of course, but there is no evidence that it was specially in Peter’s mind.
Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 54.We are Set Apart for Obedience
Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 54.We are Set Apart for Obedience
The electing work of God and the sanctifying action of the Spirit results in human obedience and the sprinkling of Christ’s blood.
The electing work of God and the sanctifying action of the Spirit results in human obedience and the sprinkling of Christ’s blood. As believers, God’s grace in us should result in the ongoing obedience of the Christian life.

The foreknowing work of God and the sanctifying action of the Spirit result in human obedience and the sprinkling of Christ’s blood

As Thomas Shreiner notes:

Conversion is not merely an intellectual acceptance of the gospel, nor is it faith with a blank slate. Conversion involves obedience and submission to the gospel, what Paul called the “obedience of faith” (Rom 1:5; 16:26).

Not only does God the Father foreknow whom the elect will be, but the Spirit is the source of their sanctification. The word “sanctification” refers to the progressive growth of holiness in the lives of Christians (cf. ).

The Gospel Gives us Hope (v. 3-5)

Hope from our New Life

The new life in Christ is described as adoption in the book of Romans and elsewhere in scripture.
Romans 8:15–17 ESV
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
This adoption comes with an inheritance, one that we cannot deserve. It is:
This adoption comes with an inheritance, one that we cannot deserve. It is:
Imperishable
The first truth of our adoption is that our inheritance in Christ is imperishable. It is eternal in its past and eternal in its future. When we are adopted into God’s family, that inheritance cannot be destroyed. It does not die.
John 10:
John 10:28 ESV
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
2 Timothy 4:8 ESV
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Undefiled
It’s also undefiled. This means that God’s promised inheritance cannot be corrupted.
Ephesians 1:18 ESV
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Unfading
Not only is it imperishable and undefiled, but it is unfading. This means it doesn’t lose its luster. It doesn’t become less glorious.
2 Timothy 4:8 ESV
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Hope from God’s continual care.

We also have the hope of God’s continual watch care and comfort.
1 Peter 1:5 ESV
who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The Gospel Gives us Joy (v. 6-9)

Joy Despite Suffering (v. 6)

Peter was well aware of their suffering, and Peter understood the reality of suffering. He himself suffered greatly for the gospel, but despite this he called them to be joyful. how?

Joy Because of Suffering’s Work

1 Peter 1:7 ESV
so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Our joy is not in suffering but in the perserverance that suffering builds.

The Gospel Gives us Grace (v. 10-12)

Ultimately, in the midst of suffering, we find the grace of God is the greatest gift of God. Suffering is a reality of life, but by God’s grace we receive our eternal inheritance!
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