(A Chosen People – Series in I Peter)
Westgate Chapel 10/29/00 I Peter 1:17-2:3
PROPOSITION: That we are redeemed into new birth for the purpose that we fulfill the obligations of being God’s family; living as strangers in this world, loving as brothers, and growing up in our salvation.
- I WAS 17 years old, standing on the deck of a freighter, the SS Louise Lykes…getting ready to come to the United States to go to Bible School.
- AND the last words out of my Dad’s mouth were, “Remember, you are a Rowlands.”
- I DON’T know how that strikes you, but as a teenager in the 1960’s my parents drilled into me that we had a rich family heritage.
* My grandparents on both sides of our family were Pentecostal pastors and missionaries.
* I had uncles who gave their lives for great works amongst the Indian and Zulu peoples….with hundreds of churches flourishing today from their ministries.
* On both sides of our family we were surrounded by men and women of God who had character, tenacity, and integrity.
* I meet people in India who were saved under my uncle Jack Rowlands’ ministry.
* Jacob flew to India in his last trip next to a Hindu insurance executive from South Africa who knew about my family.
- SO when I was growing up we were around these people, and my Dad and Mom would speak highly of their lives, their values, their passion for the things of the Lord.
- I GREW up with a great respect for these people, now all deceased.
- IT was a privilege to be a Rowlands.
- IT opened doors for me as a young person, starting out in ministry in South Africa.
- IT got me admitted to Bible School on a missions scholarship.
- TO this day I am honored when people I don’t know talk to me about what my grandfather, or uncle, or father meant to them.
- SO when I left for the United States in 1966 to go to college, the first Rowlands to come to this land, it meant something for my Dad to say, “Remember, you are a Rowlands.”
- BEING part of the Rowlands family was a privilege that came with an obligation.
- MY father charged me with the obligation of living in such a way that reflected well on the Rowlands name.
- OBLIGATION! There is a word that has fallen into disfavor in our culture. It is too confining, too restrictive, too limiting.
- OBLIGATION: “something by which a person is bound to do certain things which arise out of a sense of duty.”
- IF I was simply trying to fill this church with people, I would tell you that when you come to Jesus you get salvation, forgiveness, grace, healing, blessing, and eternal life as a free gift of God (which it is)…and that there is no obligation.
- THIS may seem like a contradiction to you, but the gift of salvation is free. You cannot earn it. But the obligations of being a child of God are huge.
- I WOULD be a liar if I told you anything different.
- PAUL tells the believers in Ephesus,
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)
- PAUL tells the church in Philippi,
“Whatever happens (to me), conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:27)
- HE tells the same thing to the Christians in Rome, in Colosse, and Thessalonica.
- THIS is what Peter is telling the believers in Asia Minor to whom his epistle is being read.
- THERE are obligations to being born again.
- TURN with me to I Peter 1:17 (still page 1200 in your pew Bible…although we will be crossing over to page 1201 before the morning is done)
ii. livE as strangers
- PETER begins verse 17 with one of the most incredible benefits of being a follower of Christ.
- WE are not orphans.
- WE are not unwanted, abandoned, children.
- WE are not rejected, cast off, turned away.
- WE are not worthless, nameless, numbers in a computer to God.
- THROUGH faith in Jesus Christ we are sons and daughters of God.
- PAUL writes in Ephesians 1:5,
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (5) he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…”
- IN Romans 8:15-16 Paul writes,
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ (16) The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.”
- PETER puts it this way in I PETER 1:17a,
“Since you call on Father…”
- THAT is your privilege now.
- YOU were an orphan. Now you have received the Spirit of sonship.
- LOOK at verses 18-19! Peter goes on to tell us how we got the family name.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
- YOU were redeemed from the world’s empty way of living.
- IT is empty because it puts its highest value on those things that are passing away.
- IT is empty because it is producing no lasting eternal results.
- AND you have been redeemed from all of that.
- THAT word comes from the culture of slavery where there was a price on the slave’s head in the open market….and all the money did was change the geography of your bondage.
- REDEMPTION was the price paid to set a slave free. IT didn’t change the geography of the bondage. It broke the bondage forever.
- AND you are so valuable to God that all the silver and gold in the world would not be enough to redeem you from slavery to the empty way of life handed down to you by all those who have gone before.
- IT took a lamb!
- THE only price that would be enough to buy you out of that empty way of life….was the precious blood of Christ….the sinless life poured out to set you free.
- THAT is how you can call Him, Father!
- LOOK at verse 20,
“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”
- VERSE 21,
“Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”
- WHAT an unbelievable honor and privilege that you and I are adopted into His family!
- WHAT is our obligation for calling Him Father?
- GO back to verse 17,
“Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”
- SAINTS, that has been God’s message to us from the first sermon in Daniel over a year ago.
- LIVE your lives as strangers here!
- THAT word “strangers” means to “live alongside the world (not antagonistic) but not as one who belongs because you don’t expect to stay for long.”
- YOUR heart is set on things above, you are not in love with this world.
- YOUR mind is occupied with the things of God, your preoccupation is not this world.
- YOU speak a different language.
- YOU carry a completely different set of values.
- WHAT they think is funny actually grieves you.
- WHAT they have their trust in causes you to pity them, not emulate them.
- YOUR security is in God, not in the things of this empty world.
- YOU are salt to the decaying world around you.
- YOU are light in the darkness.
- YOU are a help to the hurting.
- ENCOURAGMENT to those in despair.
- GOOD news to those who have lost hope.
- BUT you living as one who is not expecting to stay forever….out of reverent fear of God.
- BECAUSE He is a God who “is judging” (present participle), and not on the superficial stuff, but the matters of the heart.
- YOU see, being part of God’s family cost Him so high a price that He will not shut a partial eye to how you live in this empty world.
- THERE are obligations to being God’s family….and one of them is living life as a stranger here.
- HOW do you measure up to that obligation this morning?
iii. lovE as brothers
- HERE comes the second obligation of being God’s family.
- I PETER 1:22,
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.”
- BEING a son or daughter in God’s family through Christ means that you and I are brother and sister in a way more real than your earthly family….because this family will be for eternity.
- AND the connection between being purified from sin and loving your brothers and sisters deeply and from the heart is inseparable as this verse indicates.
- BEING a Christian is not some passive intellectual assent to the Gospel, a fire insurance policy to get past hell.
- IT is not just believing the truth. It is obeying the truth (verse 22).
- BEING a Christian is active obedience, out of a heart of gratitude for being family, if it is anything.
- THE next three verses press the obligation of brotherly even deeper, connecting it to the power of God’s Word to transform.
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (24) For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, (25) but the word of the Lord stands forever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you.”
- LET me paraphrase these verses for you in the words of the Psalmist David,
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
- BUT Peter goes even further with this obligation of loving your brother and sister.
- IN I Peter 2:1 he says that you and I can’t live the Christian life with attitudes and activities that come straight from the empty way of life we used to live.
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”
- THE Greek verb here is in the imperative. It is a command, not a suggestion.
- AND it puts the responsibility on you…“rid yourselves...”
- LITERALLY the Greek here says, “stop continuing to do these things…”
- THE Word of God in you will provide the power, because it is “living and enduring.”
- BUT you have to “put off” to “rid yourself” of those things that kill sincere love for one another. Here they are:
* malice (kakia) = bent on doing harm to a brother or sister.
* deceit (dolos) = treachery, cunning, like using bait to trap someone.
* hypocrisy (hupokrisis) = outwardly play acting the part of love, but inwardly seeking your own advantage.
* envy (phthonos) = desire for someone else’s possessions, position, achievements.
* slander (katalalias) = evil speaking, running another person down, frequently out of jealousy.
- YOUR family obligation is to rid yourself of these attitudes and behaviors.
- Your family obligation is to live as a stranger in this world.
- HOW are you doing on these?
iv. GROW UP IN YOur salvation
- HERE is the last family obligation that Peter gives the believers in Asia Minor.
- IT is found in 1 Peter 2:2-3,
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, (3) now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
- THIS new life requires huge amounts of nourishment….like a brand new baby who feeds every couple of hours, 24 hours a day.
- I MEAN when we brought Vanessa and Kathryn home all they did was eat, sleep, and dirty their diapers...for the first 16 years.
- YOU could put anything near their mouths and they were going after it, thinking it was food.
- THE word, crave, is a strong word. It means to long for….the Word of God.
- IT must be the pure Word. That word means unadulterated.
- DON’T get the Word mixed up with a lot of man’s teachings and interpretations.
- DON’T get it mixed up with the fanciful notions of the New Age philosophies of our day.
- DON’T read other books more than you do God’s Word.
- AND it is not a head pack…more Bible study with no change in how we live our lives.
- THE obligation that Peter brings to his readers is that you and I….
“…grow up in our salvation.”
- GOD’S word is the means of our nourishment. We have to crave it.
- BUT the goal is that we grow up, maturing in our salvation… “now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
- YOU have been given the family name.
- IT comes with a heritage that is out of this world.
- IT comes with honor and glory….the glory that Jesus had with the Father.
- IT comes with incredible benefits to you and me:
* Forgiveness of all of our sin.
* A removal of our shameful past.
* Adoption into the family of God.
* Hope for tomorrow and eternity.
* A place that Jesus has gone to prepare for us.
* Seating with God in heavenly places.
* A place before God’s throne where we can come boldly with our petitions.
- I MEAN, you are family. You belong. All the benefits and privileges are yours in Christ Jesus.
- BUT there are obligations!
* To live as strangers here.
* To love as brothers and sisters now.
* To grow up in your salvation through the Word.
- HOW are you doing?