“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 Peter 1:1-2
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound….” Everyone knows this song, most of us can sing it by heart. Can we sing it from the heart?
Why did John Newton write that the sound of grace was sweet? Answer: Because it saved a wretch like me! It is the grace of God that takes a person who is living life according to their own desires, blind to the consequences of their sin, and gives them the ability to see the truth of the gospel and to repent. In order to sing Amazing Grace from my heart I need to believe that His grace is amazing because it saved a wretch like me.
You may have heard that John Newton was the captain of a slave trading ship in the mid-1700’s when he came to a knowledge of the gospel and was converted. He was in his early 20’s at that time and he lived in the service of the Lord until he died at the age of 82. Pastor John Piper shared this quote from John Newton and said of him: “Even at the end of his life he is still marveling that he was saved and called to preach the gospel of grace.”
“I commit my soul to my gracious God and Savior, who mercifully spared and preserved me, when I was an apostate, a blasphemer, and an infidel, and delivered me from the state of misery on the coast of Africa into which my obstinate wickedness had plunged me; and who has been pleased to admit me (though most unworthy) to preach his glorious gospel.” ~ John Newton
The apostle Peter closes his greeting in 1 Peter 1:2 with this same message, that grace is our only reason for being present and accounted for in the courts and in the family of God.
It can’t be avoided. The word “predestined” is in the Bible and it is used by God when He talks about His people. It means to destine in advance; foreordain; predetermine. There is sometimes fear associated with this word for some people, and I think there are many reasons for that, but if you look at how Paul uses it in Romans 8:29 and how it is used here in 1 Peter 1:2 hopefully the glory of it will overshadow any cause of apprehension you may have had about it.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
(Romans 8:29 ESV)
This verse erases any confusion or argument that God only knows what is going to happen and who will come to Him. It says that if he foreknows you then he also predestined you……. Not scary.. AMAZING!! His affection was set on you from BEFORE he said, “Let there be light.”
It goes hand in hand then with 1 Peter 1:2 (which is modifying the Christian’s title of “elect exile” in vs. 1) when Peter frankly states that those who are “elect exiles” are so according to, or because of, the foreknowledge of God the Father. This understanding strips us of any claim we might try to hold on to of making the right choice. And it’s good to be stripped of our pride so that we can hold on to God’s GRACE instead.
Celebrate God’s grace in that you belong to Him because He foreknew and predestined you!
Growing in Holiness
The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers is to make us holy, and often it is a painful process. In the sanctification of the Spirit we are faced with our sins like a muddy child is faced with a bath and a scrub brush.
Upon conversion the Holy Spirit sets us apart from darkness to light, from the realm of unrighteousness to righteousness, and we are made “clean” as far as our record of sin being wiped out by the blood of Jesus. However, there is also a growing in holiness that takes place as we grow in God.
We were once guilty criminals awaiting our death sentence and being watched over by the warden of the Law. The Father stepped in and elected us for freedom, based on no good deed or act of our own doing. We were set free in a moment! A clean slate. Then the Holy Spirit was handed a scrub brush named sanctify and He began His work.
Our sanctification will last our whole lifetime. J.C. Ryle said this, “In justification the word to be addressed to man is believe — only believe; in sanctification the word must be ‘watch, pray, and fight.'” We can praise God that He does not leave us how He found us, but that He puts His Spirit inside of us to cleanse and sanctify us.Celebrate God’s grace in making you holy as He is holy!
Obey the Savior
Peter is writing a careful and well thought out greeting to the recipients of his letter. After giving them the title of elect exiles (which I blogged on in my previous post) he explains how they came to be called such a name, and the credit is given entirely to the work of the Trinity.
Elect exiles… by the will and plan of the Father.
Elect exiles… being cleaned and purified by the Holy Spirit.
Elect exiles… for the purpose of obedience to Jesus and by his blood.
We have been chosen by the Father, transformed by the Holy Spirit, and redeemed by the Son, all for the great design of obedience unto him which glorifies God. To obey Jesus is to die to yourself.
The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death… we give over our lives to death. Since this happens at the beginning of the Christian life, the cross can never be merely a tragic ending to an otherwise happy religious life. When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time… death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at His call. That is why the rich young man was so loath to follow Jesus, for the cost of his following was the death of his will. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and His call are necessarily our death and our life.
Celebrate God’s grace in shedding His own blood so that yours would not have to be!
Preparing the Way,