Sermon: Christians, Take Comfort 1 Peter 1:1-2

Christians, Take Comfort

1 Peter 1:1-2

Truth Taught – To encourage Christians who were suffering, Peter highlights their election and reminds them that this sinful world is not their home.

Introduction

The Apostle Peter writes his first epistle around the middle of the 60s A.D. This time period is a time of great persecution in and around Rome and the Roman Empire.

Emperor Nero was the perpetrator of this intense persecution.

In the summer of 64, Rome suffered a terrible fire that burned for six days and seven nights consuming almost three quarters of the city. The people accused the Emperor Nero for the devastation claiming he set the fire for his own amusement. In order to deflect these accusations and placate the people, Nero laid blame for the fire on the Christians[1]

Nero’s persecution against the Christians was extremely vicious. He murdered many through torture and threw them to the lions in the arena for sport.

So, what were the Christians to think about all this? How were they supposed to live in the midst of such intense persecution?

Those who escaped such intense suffering were being lied about and slandered. Their family relationships were being greatly affected. Their employment opportunities were becoming less and less all the time.

Peter’s focus in this letter is to encourage the Christians to live boldly and obediently while suffering for Christ and the Gospel.

John 21:15–19 (ESV)

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

The Apostle Peter spent his entire life feeding and caring for the Lord’s sheep. This epistle is food for all the Lord’s sheep . . . the sheep in the first century and Jesus’ sheep today.

How do you encourage Christian obedience and continued commitment to Christ during times of suffering?

Prayer

1 Peter 1:1–2 (ESV)

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

  1. Christian Take Comfort—You Are Elect

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

As we begin this Book just like any letter, there are the intended recipients. Those Peter were writing to are named, literally all of God’s elect. The recipients are the true Church, the ecclesia, the called-out ones. This is very important to understand because it is a vital aid in properly interpreting the Book.

Here’s an example:

I’ve had many people ask questions about God calling and/or choosing or electing people and they often take me to 2 Peter 3:

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Then they proceed to explain that it’s God’s will that all come to repent. Then I say all doesn’t mean all, and then they get a weird look on their face of disbelief. Then they say what do you mean all doesn’t mean all? Are you twisting the meaning to fit your belief? Then I say, no, you are.


So, to understand this verse accurately you must go back to the beginning and see who Peter is writing to. Is he writing to the entire world? Who is he writing to?

2 Peter 1:1–10 (ESV)

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

So, the you in 2 Peter 3:9 refers to those who are elect, those who share the same faith as Peter. The all in 2 Peter 3:9 refers to all the elect and all who share the same faith as Peter. So, all means all within the group Peter is writing to.

I might say, everyone, don’t forget the fellowship today. Does everyone mean everyone in the world? No, it means everyone in this building right now. There’s a quick lesson in biblical interpretation and the importance of understanding who the recipients are.

When we enter into suffering, take comfort in the fact that, as a Christian, you are God’s elect. This is the biblical way of looking at the doctrine of election. It is always used to encourage believers to remain steadfast. In the Letter of 1 Thessalonians the Apostle Paul uses the doctrine of election to comfort those Christians as well. These very young Christians were suffering at the hands of false teachers who were telling them that they were not really Christians and that the Lord had already returned, and they missed it. How does Paul bring them peace? He reminds them of their election, doesn’t he?

1 Thessalonians 1:4–8 (ESV)

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

Beloved, the things Peter prescribes to bring us peace in this life only work for those who belong to God through Jesus Christ. When the world suffers there is no peace for them. They cannot apply these truths and receive the same results because they only work for those who are God’s people. All the world can do is take a pill and numb itself to life.

Beloved, take comfort you are elect, and you belong to God.

  1. Christian Take Comfort—This Isn’t Your Home

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Peter calls God’s elect people, exiles here. Some versions use the word foreigners and while “foreigners” is not a bad translation, exiles really captures what Peter is getting at. The Greek word perepidemos means someone who does not hold citizenship in the place they are living. This lack of citizenship means that Christians should not hold the values and world view of this place we live because it is not our home. We cannot expect the privileges of citizenship in this world. As a people belonging to another culture there should understandably be a sense of being out of place in this world. When we live by our homeland’s values we are viewed as odd. So, in this sense the word foreigner is appropriate.

Hebrews 11:13–16 (ESV)

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

  1. Christian, While You May Be Exiles in This World You Are At Home With God

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

We may be exiles, foreigners, out of place here, but as Christians we are at home with God. He loves us from eternity past and through eternity future. No matter where we are in this life or in this world, if we are chosen by God, we will always be home.

  1. according to the foreknowledge of God the Father

This word foreknowledge means that God did have previous knowledge of us before we were created. It’s meaning goes further than that. It means that God had a love for us, had chosen us, and had a plan that included extending His grace to us. Here in this text we see that the object of God’s foreknowledge is His elect people. Then in verse 20 we can see the means He used to secure our salvation . . .

1 Peter 1:18–21 (ESV)

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

  1. in the sanctification of the Spirit

We were foreknown by the Father. Here Peter explains that the operative Agent that applied this salvation to us is God’s Holy Spirit. Salvation is completely by faith. It is this saving faith that is sparked and fanned into flame by the Holy Spirit.

When Martin Luther was teaching on the line in the Apostle’s Creed, namely, I believe in the Holy Spirit, he writes, I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him.

The ability to believe is a word of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that first stirs the heart and brings us to life so we can believe.

  1. for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

The goal of God’s foreknowledge and the Spirit’s sanctification is so that God’s people, the elect exiles, are obedient citizens of His kingdom.

Now, this last prepositional phrase is very important. This brings us back to why exile is probably the most accurate. There is even a deeper meaning that Peter hints at as he chooses some special words that were used when God’s people were coming out of exile in the Book of Exodus.

Now in Exodus 24 there was the covenant ceremony with Moses and the Israelites.

Twice the people exclaimed:

Exodus 24:3 (ESV)

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

Exodus 24:7–8 (ESV)

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

These Israelites had a desire to obey all God commanded, however, they were unable to obey. They were unable to obey because their hearts were unchanged. Their desire was futile because God’s Law was unattainable through works. Notice what Moses did to ratify the first covenant with the Israelites . . . He took the blood of the sacrifice and threw it on them after they said, “all the Lord commands we will do and we will be obedient.”

Beloved, we are not sprinkled with the blood of bulls and goats, are we? We are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ. We do have the ability to obey because we have been foreknown by God, sanctified by the Spirit, and symbolically sprinkled with His blood, the blood of the New Covenant. We will be fully obedient one day.

  1. Christian, Take Comfort—God Extends His Grace and Peace to You

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

No matter what we might go through in this life we have been given God’s grace through Christ and that grace results in peace, doesn’t it? Beloved, that’s why the lost world has no peace. Even if everything goes their way; if they have wealth; if they have fame; if they have all they desire, they still do not have peace. The reason is that true peace only comes when we have peace with God. If we have peace with God, then all around us can be pain and suffering and we can still have peace because . . .

We are chosen by God. We have another home. We are foreknown, sanctified, sprinkled with the blood of Christ and have forever God’s grace and God’s peace.

 

*Resources Used:

Teaching 1 Peter by Angus MaCleay

1 Peter by Karen Jobes

1 Peter by David Helm

1 Peter by John MacArthur

1 Peter by Peter Davids

1 Peter by Wayne Grudem

1 Peter by Edmond Clowney

[1] “Nero Persecutes The Christians, 64 A.D.,” EyeWitness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000).

 

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