Simon Peter, a man who has been an ordinary businessman in the fishing industry, has now been serving Jesus Christ and ministering in the front line of the Kingdom of God for around 60 years and he has something relevant and powerful to teach and write.
He is not a man to waste words as we read the opening words of his first letter.
He writes to these scattered persecuted disciples of Jesus Christ.
We are strangers in this world - misfits - exiles - aliens - unwanted by some folks. We are far from home - we don't fit in - we don't belong down here - but we have to remain here to serve and shine and witness and testify to Jesus Christ. Much of what he says can apply to us today and all of what he says is relevant and significant. It is the Word of God.
This letter is being written during a time of real persecution, by a man who had been so transformed by Jesus Christ - and he is saying -
1 - You have been chosen.
2 - You have been sanctified - set apart - and you are different so that you can obey.
3 - You have been sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Yes - we are very different indeed.
There are certain days in our lives which we remember very clearly, and one of these days must surely be when we are born again.
Peter is referring to that here in verse 3. And Peter is encouraging these persecuted disciples of Jesus to praise God - to worship Him.
When we are persecuted - when people have a go at us - when people launch an attack upon us because of our faith in Jesus - praise the living God.
What God has given us has been noticed - observed.
Now, we know who we are praising, and we know to whom we are praying.
A living hope - a living assurance - so that we can cope with an uncertain future. This is a wonderful weapon against uncertainty.
And yet - Peter says - we are selected by God - chosen by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit - so that we can be obedient to Jesus Christ.
We are sprinkled by or with His blood. We are marked people in more ways than one.
This is what cuts us off. This is what makes us different, and cuts us off from our sins, and sometimes cuts other people off from us.
They find it hard to cope with us at times.
We are chosen by God, and we share this with Israel.
Just as Peter a Jew now had a love for non-Jews - so we non-Jews – Gentiles – should have a love for Jews - as well as for non-Jews.
Peter was aware that there were so many things that had to be put right in his own life before he went out and to feed sheep and lambs in a cruel callous persecuting world – this is what we see him doing here in this letter.
They were going through a fiery ordeal – a painful trial – Chapter 4.
Peter seeks to produce a strong vigorous commitment in the lives of these early disciples.
You are God’s people – that was a favourite name for those who belonged to Christ Jesus.
He speaks about the origins of God’s people – how did they get their existence – where did they come from?
What is God calling us to? And – how do we grow? And how does suffering fit in to all this?
Peter is writing to God’s Elect – strangers in the world – scattered – chosen – sanctified – sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ. There is not a hint of anything human in all this.
When there are enemies and pressures, when living for Christ becomes hard, it is important to know which rock you are anchored to.
If it is to what you have done then when the first whiff of an adverse wind appears you will not be as stable as GOD wants you to be.
You might be shaken. You might capitulate and conform, but if you are anchored to the ROCK of Christ, then you will react and respond and behave differently.
God did this with Israel. I will be your GOD and you will be MY PEOPLE.
Jesus said “I chose you – you did not choose ME!” I chose you and ordained you! It is NOT our choice – but GOD’S!
For that reason I will never let you go, or give up MY PURPOSES for you.
Chosen by God - that angers many people - this whole theme of being chosen. Who do you think you are to think that you are chosen by God? That confuses some people, and infuriates others.
God the Father sets us apart from the rest of mankind - to belong to Jesus - chosen and set apart, for a life of obedience.
Then Peter explains how we have the Holy Spirit working in our lives - enabling us to be obedient to Jesus. God chooses us for obedience - this is how we can truly please Jesus - by obeying Him.
Note the order - the whole work begins with the Holy Spirit working within us. We are drawn - or we are convicted of our sin - something we are doing wrong is brought to our attention by the Holy Spirit within us – and we want rid of that thing - whatever it might be - so that we can be in a better position to obey Jesus.
Sprinkled by the blood - this is what makes us different too - distinct - and this is what makes us brothers and sisters in Christ.
Sprinkling can also mean SEALED – indicating sealed for holy service.
This is what guarantees us of heaven as our home - and this is also what makes us strangers and aliens and misfits in this present world.
Chosen by God the Father - set apart or sanctified by the Holy Spirit - and sprinkled by the blood of Jesus which cleanses us and assures us and reassures us that our sins are forgiven. Note how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are each and all involved in these opening verses.
It is God Who does all this in us.
Is not God a stranger in the world? Why should we be accepted and acceptable?
Over many years Israel has been exiled from her earthly home - we have been exiled from our heavenly home – we do not belong here.
We are not oddities – but we owe allegiance to another King.
We are not only elected by the God the Father – but we are separated – set apart – or sanctified, by the Spirit.
Who first opens our eyes – who first gives us a desire for God – who first makes us realise that we need a Saviour – but the HOLY SPIRIT? Somehow we knew there was an active God in the world, and HE has begun to lead us to seek Jesus Christ.
For obedience to Jesus Christ – obedience NOW – you sacrifice – and you are sprinkled by His blood – you are marked with the blood of Jesus Christ as the sacrifice was in the Tabernacle or the Temple.
And these disciples of Jesus Christ are strangers in this world. Do you ever feel like that?
If you find some repetition in these opening comments on I Peter – do remember what Derek Prince taught – “Recapitulation is an important part of teaching.”
Peter had never been to the rabbi’s College – he is simply an ordinary fish merchant. One day he realised what amazing privileges were his – this is why we are resident aliens.
We have experienced something supernatural – the love of the Father – the call of Jesus Christ – the wonderful working of the Holy Spirit.
“Almighty God, we thank You that You are a God Who loves and selects and chooses – we thank You for making known Your Love for us, in and through Jesus Christ. We thank You risen and living Jesus for pouring out the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. We give thanks for the various powerful and mysterious ways in which the Holy Spirit works and moves. Amen.”
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