Faithlife Sermons

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We’re starting a new year and a new sermon series...
If you are visiting with us, it’s important that you know that we believe God wrote a book… and that book contains 66 smaller books… some of them are letters… others are history books… others contain poetry or prophecy... and each one of them has his words for living life in the world he created.
And so at Oak Hill, we love to study God’s word book by book… that’s our preferred method… we just finished the Gospel of Luke...
And today we are starting our study of the book of 1 Peter… it’s a letter really… written from the city of Rome at the end of Peter’s life to followers of Jesus spread out over a large section of the Roman Empire.
They are on an earthly journey away from their heavenly home.
They are not where they eternally belong.
I don’t know if you’ve ever journeyed away from home for any length of time...
Maybe you’ve gone away to college...
Or been deployed with the military...
Or even gone on a long vacation or a business trip...
When you are on a long journey, sometimes there is a certain infatuation with that place for a little while...
But once you stay for a long enough time… you have a longing for home.
You start to realize just how out of place you are...
You realize all of the certain conveniences of home that you miss...
I remember sending Bruce some care packages with brownie mix and stuff like that in it when he lived in Japan…
There are just things that you miss when you are displaced for a period of time…
And Peter is writing a letter to encourage people who are feeling that...
They are living on earth but longing for eternity.
And he’s teaching them how to live now in light of their hope for their future in glory with God.
For every book study, I try to have a purpose statement that keeps us focused on the main purpose of the book throughout… and so our purpose statement for 1 Peter is this:
Let the hope of eternity change your life on earth.
Our goal is not just to study a letter and know some facts… our goal is life-change in the power of the Spirit at work through his word.
You should come to church expecting that God is going to change your life.
He wants to change your attitudes… your activities… he wants to change your relationships… he wants to change every part of your life to get you ready for eternity.
So today we’re going to dig into the first two verses of this letter… which are the verses of greeting in the letter…
But they are much more than a trivial greeting...
They set the themes for Peter’s whole purpose for writing...
They are like an overture in a symphony… giving you a taste of what’s to come...
And so today, here’s our goal as we get into this book:
Big Idea: Place your hope in God for your temporary journey on earth.
Context:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
Author: Peter
Apostle… now… but quite as journey to get there...
This is the Peter who was also called Simon… aboard his fishing boat where he made a living with his brothers...
Until his brother Andrew introduced him to this guy named Jesus who started calling him Cephas or Peter…
And Jesus changed his life…
He started following Jesus… and he saw Jesus heal people and he heard Jesus teach...
One time he was out on a boat and saw Jesus walking on the water… and said, “Jesus, let me come out there to you!” but he took his eyes off Jesus… and sank...
That type of experience was common to Peter… one minute you’re walking on water… the next you are sinking...
Like the time Peter saw Jesus reveal his true glory on a mountaintop… and he saw Moses and Elijah there with him...
Another time he saw Jesus reveal his true glory on a mountaintop… and he saw Moses and Elijah there with him...
And he did what any self-respecting man would do: he offered to pitch a tent for all of them!
Only to have God the Father say, “THIS is my beloved Son, listen to HIM” and remove the glimpse into glory.
Another time Peter made this great confession of faith in response to a question by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am”
Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
And that was SOOO great… except that two seconds later he tried to act like he knew better than Jesus and correct him which resulted in Jesus calling him Satan.
And then there was the time that he told Jesus that he would follow him to death...
But as Jesus was arrested and put on trial, Peter denied him three times.
Things started looking up for Peter after Jesus was raised from the dead.
He ran to the tomb to find it empty and see the linen cloths lying there.
He then saw the risen Jesus a few times… including on the shores of Galilee… where Peter had returned to his fishing boats... and Jesus met him there and restored him from the shame of his denial.
And now… after all of that… the Holy Spirit has inspired him to write a letter to encourage the churches in the persecution he is seeing get really hot… and they are beginning to taste now as well.
Recipients: the Churches of Asia Minor
After Jesus ascended, this same Peter preached a sermon along with the other 11 apostles and 3000 people turned to Christ.
Then he was preaching boldly in the temple and was arrested, but miraculously escaped.
The same Peter who had a vision that led to the gospel being proclaimed and confirmed among the Gentiles.
This is the Peter who was imprisoned multiple times… perhaps even at the writing of this letter… but kept speaking for God and going as an apostle of Jesus Christ...
A he writes from a place he calls “Babylon” (which is probably a code word for “Rome”)...
And now… after all of that… in the year AD62 or 63, the Holy Spirit has inspired him to write a letter to encourage the churches in the persecution he is starting to see get really hot… and they are beginning to taste now as well.
Situation: Suffering general persecution
He writes from a place he calls “Babylon” in chapter 5 (which is probably a code word for “Rome”)…
And in Rome, the Emporer Nero sits on the throne.
He kills Christians for sport in the Colliseum, and in a few years he will light them on fire as what are known as “Roman Candles.”
And because of all of this, Peter wants to encourage the churches to stand firm in the faith.
He does this by reminding them that this place is not their home… they are sojourners… refugees… just passing through.
There is a hope that awaits them beyond this current crisis… a hope that Nero… or any other person or any other circumstance can’t touch.
It is a confident expectation of eternal joy that is based on the work of God in Jesus Christ.
This place is not their home… and for now they are on a journey in a foreign land…
Ultimately, Peter wants these believers to see that the suffering they experience now is not outside of God’s plan.
It’s part of God’s plan.
GOD has prepared this journey for them so that they are ready for him when Christ returns.
These first two verses of introduction to his letter are like an overture in a piece of symphony music.
These verses play on a lot of, if not all of, the main themes in the book.
And far from being insignificant, they teach us to place our hope in God’s preparations for our temporary journey on earth.
So today we want to see four ways we must do that… and the first is this:
Trust the Plan: Your journey was chosen by a loving Father
Your journey was Chosen By a Loving Heavenly Father
Your journey was Chosen By a Loving Heavenly Father
Explanation: (look at the first part of verse 2)
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father
Recipients: the Churches of Asia Minor
We’re getting to know the original audience a little bit here… that’s very important for understanding the original intent of the letter...
And Peter has a very interesting title that he uses for these believers: elect exiles of the dispersion...
The NASB translates this word “aliens”… the King James translates it… “strangers.”
Another word you could use is sojourner.
It’s someone who is temporarily living in a place that is not their true home.
They are on a journey away from home… and that journey makes them a “foreigner.”
Now the term “exile” sometimes has a connotation of somebody being banished from a certain Geographic region… like a punishment... but that’s probably not the case here.
They aren’t Jews being punished by God in exile or Christians sent away from their home by rome.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update.
(1995).
().
La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update.
(1995).
().
La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
The letter seems to indicate that the primary recipients of the letter are churches with a lot of Gentiles in them...
The letter seems to indicate that the primary recipients of the letter are churches with a lot of Gentiles in them...
(Peter talks about their former way of life as if they are Gentiles)
And there is no indication that the Gentile Christians were ever sent away from their home.
There was no government-driven large-scale persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire...
That’s a common misconception…
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