(A Chosen People – Sermon from I Peter)
Westgate Chapel 7/16/06 I Peter 1:1-2
PROPOSITION: You have God’s vote, selected out of this world to be His people, strangers, scattered and chosen for grace and peace in abundance.
- “PETER, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:1a)
- SITTING in Rome, most Bible scholars believe, this great apostle of Jesus Christ picks up his pen and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit begins to write.
- HE has seen the signs of persecution against Christians all around him.
- IT is not widespread in the Roman Empire yet, but reports are coming in to the apostle of believers laying down their lives for their faith.
- NERO has come to power in Rome, and the open immorality and social decay of the empire is a sure sign that a showdown is inevitable between darkness and light.
- JUST eighteen months after Peter writes his epistles to the church of Jesus in Asia Minor, Nero makes the persecution of Christians official policy of the empire and Peter is one of the first to be hung on a cross for his faith.
- NOT long after that, Nero is infamous for tying Christians to stakes around his palace gardens and setting them on fire to light the palace festivities.
- WITH the signs of this crisis all around, the apostle Peter writes to Christians, Jews and Gentiles, in churches all through Asia Minor.
- THEY are…
* …separated from family
* …a long way from home
* …very much in the minority
* …cut off some from the mainstream of their culture
* …not considered the “in crowd” by those around them
* …unsettled about the future
* …disquieted about what they had been hearing from Rome
ii. god’s elect
- AND the apostle writes to these relatively new believers who have no Bibles, no KCMS or KGNW, no Focus on the Family, no conservative voice in Washington.
- AND he writes,
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God's elect…” (I Peter 1:1a)
- GOD’S elect.
- THAT word, elect, comes from the Greek word, eklektos, which is a verb that means “to specially select, to choose, by means of casting a vote.”
- AND Peter says that the believers to whom he is writing are “God’s elect…” which means that God has selected them by casting His vote for them.
- IT is not through any of our merit that you or I are God’s elect.
- WHEN Israel was chosen as God’s elect people, it wasn’t because there was something intrinsically special about them.
- GOD just case His vote for them….because of His love and grace.
- THE same is true today with God’s people called the Church.
- IT is a vote that originates in the heart of God and is issued from throne room…carried by the Holy Spirit into your heart and mine.
- GOD is for you!
- LISTEN to the Psalmist,
“From my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place. 6 The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? 7 The Lord is for me among those who help me; therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.” (Psalm 118:5-7)
- PSALM 56:8-9,
“You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? 9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me.” (Psalm 56:8-9)
- IF you are a born again child of God today in this building, you are God’s elect.
- O PASTOR, you don’t know how bad my life is.
- NO, but we know quite a bit about Peter’s life….and God cast His vote for Peter…called him right off the fishing boat to follow Him.
- THEN, the apostle Peter continues in the early verses of this epistle to describe God’s elect.
- PETER calls us strangers.
- “STRANGERS in the world…” writes the apostle.
- THAT word stranger comes from a Greek word that means “a resident alien, living temporarily in a strange place with a deep attachment and higher allegiance to his homeland.”
- THE Jewish Christians in Peter’s audience would know exactly what that word meant on many levels.
- AS soon as they heard it read to them their minds would race back to Daniel and the people of God living in exile in Babylon as strangers.
- THAT word was part of the Jewish vocabulary and self understanding.
- GOD’S elect, living in Seattle…
* …but as if it were only temporary
* …as if it were a foreign place with strange values and customs.
* …but with a deep attachment and higher allegiance to home.
- WHERE is home?
- THE writer of Hebrews tells us that men and women of faith like Abraham, Sarah, Moses and Daniel were (Hebrews 11:10)…
“…looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God…..15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country-- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:10-16 NIV)
- THIS is a city with foundations…not the shifting sands of our world.
- IT is a city whose architect and builder is God….not the gods of this world.
- REVELATION 16:19 says that the cities of this world will eventually all come down under the judgments of God, just like Sodom and Gomorrah.
- NO, we are longing for a better city, a better country….a heavenly one.
- AND because of our orientation and preference to be strangers in this world….God is not ashamed to be called our God.
- LET’S move on in Peter’s description of the people to whom he is writing this epistle.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,…” (I Peter 1:1)
- GOD’S elect….scattered.
- IF you look at the maps in your Bible it is interesting that most of the geographical area that Peter mentions are churches in eastern Asia Minor (present day Turkey)…up on or near the Black Sea.
- THEY are the areas that the Holy Spirit would not allow Paul to travel to in Acts 16. Obviously God was planning on using Peter in this region.
- BUT the operative word for me here is scattered….as opposed to huddled in Jerusalem attending one more seminar on how to have the life I always wanted.
- IF salt is going to be a preservative it can’t stay in the salt shaker…it has to be scattered.
- IF light is going to dispel darkness it can’t be hidden under a bucket…the rays of light have to be scattered.
- IN fact, God was so committed to the church being scattered in a world where it could grow and be effective that He used the first severe persecution in Jerusalem in Acts 8 to do just that…scatter First Church of Jerusalem all over the world.
- LET’S move on to verse 2,
“To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, (2) who have been chosen…”
- IT is like the word, elect…only much more meaningful to the Jewish Christians in those churches.
- THEY would remember that Genesis 18:19, says God chose Abraham….
…to direct his household in the ways of the Lord and do what was right and just.
- THEY would be familiar with Genesis 24:14, where God chose a wife of promise for Isaac.
…Her name was Rebekah.
- THEY would remember Exodus 31:2, where God chose Bezalel…
…and anointed him to build the tabernacle.
- NUMBERS 17:5, where God chose Aaron and his family…
…as priests unto the Lord.
- I SAMUEL 16:1, where, out of all of his brothers, God who sees the heart and isn’t fooled by the outside, chose David…
…to be king from tending sheep pen to lead Israel.
- PETER’S audience would know all about God choosing kings and priests and nations….but what about them?
- IN the New Testament, in John 15:19, Jesus said,
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
- IN 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul writes,
“God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”
- IN Ephesians 1:4 Paul writes that,
“…He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.”
- THEN Peter adds three qualifying statements about the nature of our calling.
1. It is… “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”
• The only way to properly understand the subject of calling and election by God is in the gracious context of His foreknowledge.
• Romans 8:29 says,
“For those God foreknew He also predestined…”…and then in the next verse Paul gets to call.
• God’s great offers of salvation to the “whosoevers” of the Gospels leaves no one out….but in His foreknowledge He knows who will respond.
• And it is those who He calls.
2. It is… “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit.”
• Sanctification simply means being set apart for God’s pleasure and use.
• It is the person of the Holy Spirit who does that, convincing us of sin and of righteousness (John 16:8)
3. It is… “for obedience to Jesus Christ…and sprinkled by His blood.”
• When Abraham was called in Genesis 18:19 it was “so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just.”
• It is the same in this verse in I Peter. God had called those believers in Asia Minor for the purpose of obedience to Jesus Christ.
- SO there it is!
- PETER’S identity, by the grace of God, was…
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…”
- PETER’S audience had an identity, then and now. It was…
“God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:”
- AND the message in this opening greeting from the apostle is…
“Grace and peace be yours in abundance.”
- HERE is my question for you this morning: Are you in the apostle’s description?
* Are you God’s elect?
* Are you strangers in this world?
* Are you scattered like salt and light in the world?
* Are you chosen…for obedience?
- YOUR answers have eternal consequences.