Introduction: this first letter of Peter was written some 60 years since the ascension of Jesus Christ. Peter himself was living it is supposed, somewhere in Babylonia (5:12-13) where he was evidently in exile, a pilgrim, along with other Christians who were “scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”
The intended recipients included both Jewish and Gentile believers. His purpose was to encourage the expatriates forced from their businesses, homes, families and friends due to severe persecution for their faith in Christ. They were outcasts, exiles, strangers, pilgrims not knowing who would receive them or how far they would have to journey in strange lands to find safe harbor.
We know only that in the 60 years since the ascension of their they began leaving Jerusalem by number and they were now settled, carving out a new life, hoping to find peace with people of different races, language, and culture.
We gather that wherever they went, wherever their journey ended, two things were apparent: They were discouraged and they were not always welcomed. By the grace and mercy of God, and to their glorious credit they multiplied not only in number but spread the Christian faith as well; Planting churches were they settled.
Verse One: By description they were: STRANGERS SCATTERED. That is they were like seed sown in broadcast fashion and planted in various places where they took root and grew is number bearing the fruit of the Gospel to others. They carried with them their faith which they proclaimed either in overt fashion in open meetings or covertly, in secret, under cover to avoid persecution. Many churches were planted, some of which exist unto this hour, some long since having vanished for a variety of reasons.
To God the field is the world! He sees the full spectrum of humanity from its beginning to the end. He knows his own. All that God does for His people He does for His glory alone but all for the good of the people who He has foreknown!
He looks down from above and governs His Creation and sees His people and knows their suffering, howbeit in our case the suffering be light, nevertheless He cares for us.
As He looks down upon us, we look up to Him and love His appearing and look to Him for our preservation as a people in this world and the world to come.
To you and I the field is Kansas City, our Jerusalem, with a forward view to the utter most part of the world.
Verse Two: ELECT ACCORDING TO FOREKNOWLEDGE: Peter writes in the second chapter of his letter that these were God’s People, strangers” to the world but with God, well known – chosen generation-a royal priesthood, a people peculiar to the Father, scattered to proclaim forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ; holy nation, so that they should shew forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light: These who in time past were not people of God, but alien to heaven, but now they had obtained mercy through the word of God, by the grace of God, through Jesus the Son of God to the ultimate glory of God.
These were a peculiar people in that they were alone of God His Elect (chosen) according to His foreknowledge.
Foreknowledge, suggests four things: 1. They were foreknown before the creation of the world and all in it. 2. They were chosen before the foundation of the worle. 3. They were approved before the foundation of the world. 4. . They were loved before the population of the world. Foreknown, Chosen, Approved, Loved!
They were foreknown by God the Father as a result of the sanctification of the Spirit, That is to say that they were consecrated and set apart by the Holy Spirit as God’s people but not by any righteousness that they had done, but by the obedience of Jesus Christ even unto the death of the cross in their behalf and the sprinkling or cleansing by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As a result Justified by faith in His blood, pardoned, forgiven sufficiently efficacious to the saving of their souls. As a footnote Peter adds: Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied.
ELECT—Make no mistake, God knew them well, they were not strangers to Him. He had written their names in the Lamb’s book of life in eternity –they were select, Grade A Prime. They were scattered with purpose and wherever they settled it was in God’s will. They, as we were not only chosen to salvation but chosen to be witness to the glory of God.
As an elect people they were to the world, “strangers,” “aliens,” “expatriates,” “foreigners” “seeds scattered, but foreknown by God before He created the worlds and all that is in them. Their world, our world, was not and is not the home of Christian people. This was to them as this world is to us an hard and alien place. They were as we, unwelcome by the citizens of world. They brought with them more than personal belongings, they brought a personal faith, they brought the Spirit of God, they introduced the Son of God, they brought the light of Christ into dark places, they brought the word of God to dark minds, they brought hope of eternal life to a people dead in trespasses and sin.
Heb 11:16 They sought and we now seek and desire a better country , that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
The people to whom this letter was initially written suffered through great trials and temptations, as they looked for that country, that a city without foundations not made with hands but made for them by God.
We are often distressed at the worsening of evil in the world by this world’s evil system which in any form persecutes the Christian ideal, the Faith. A worsening we should expect in view of the prophecies of the Word of God.
Our persecution at the moment is light compared to what that great company of our brethren assembled now in heaven have endured. They lived in the first century of Christianity and in the two millenniums since the ascension of Jesus Christ. Many whose faith was tested by violent physical opposition often resulting in death: thrown to lions to the delight of the wicked. Tortured for their beliefs. Burned at the stake as fodder for the fire. To the world the apostles were fools because they preached nothing but Christ but to us what they preached made us wise unto salvation! To God they were Jewels, treasured sons!
One Missionary years ago, along with four other valiant men who gave up their lives for Christ’s sake in the steamy jungles of Ecuador is quoted as saying: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
When the world takes away all that one owns, even if it is one’s life, one might ask, “what then is left?” These martyred soldiers of the cross alike would exclaim –WHY CHRIST – WE WILL HAVE JESUS CHRIST – OUR ALL IN ALL! He is our inheritance in glory. It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.
A couple of years ago Christians observed the 500th. anniversary of the Reformation led by Martin Luther the monk who while remaining a Catholic opposed the indulgences and corrupt practices of the Pope and popery in general. This began an era of persecution of Christians and the Christian faith unprecedented and unknown since the time of Peter’s letter.
Here, today at least, we are tolerated, but barely. The devil like a lion, roars about seeking whom and what he may devour.
In other parts of the world, then and now, Christianity is anathema, cursed and hated, and many of the brethren today are hailed into prisons for the faith and countless others slaughtered by the workers of darkness. We know of some but we know so little of unspeakable suffering our brothers and sisters, nameless and faceless to us, are enduring even as we sit here this morning.
To the discredit and detriment of many people in our country, they have in the main adopted a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” philosophy. To Christians this proverb ought to mean we should not dwelling on evil thoughts, but think of things pure and good. I’m afraid however that the philosophy of many who call themselves Christians is “live and let live.” An attitude of non-involvement, a silent tolerance to sin. Many will stand before Jesus with blood on their hands! In Christian thought it ought to be defined as a lack of moral responsibility that refuses to acknowledge sin and feigns ignorance of it.
Segregation, is itself a form of racism because it is the persecution of any people separated from the society that happens to be in the majority, and is a sin in whatever form. It has been around since the beginning. In America slavery was on paper, abolished years ago. Segregation nevertheless still exists in our society if only in the minds of some people.
Integration: As Christians we believe that regardless of race or creed anyone ought to have equal access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In this, at least in principle of integration has succeeded. In reality though and insofar as maintaining law and order is concerned it has failed miserably.
As population numbers increase so has Racism. Crowded cities produce not only racial unrest but has given rise to a higher rate and degree of crime which is rampant in every city and among all races and cultures. Here in Kansas City we are on track to setting a record of annual homicides.
The mixing of races is in rational thinking and philosophical thought, is normally thought to be a good thing, but sinful men, even some with good intentions have forced integration on us which has produced only increased bitterness between peoples of all races of men and has in turn resulted, if not in actual literal slavery it has in minds of many fostered the desire for a return to segregation. How hypocritical and untenable a situation is this?
As Christians we all should be in agreement that fairness for all people is a human right and a good thing and that the idea of segregation is not a good thing, but…only in Christianity does integration work—In Christ, there is no difference between male or female, Jew or Gentile for all are one in Christ!
I am not saying that integration is wrong; if for the right purposes; I’m saying it will never work to anyone’s permanent and sufficient benefit or satisfaction in this evil world’s system! Never!
Still, as Christian people we must never allow racism to enter into our hearts and minds. We as Christian people, support integration of all people groups allowing equal opportunities for all; and we must obey the laws of the land unless those laws turn to our evil and not to our good. However, integration works in a Christian environment, but will not and cannot work in an ungodly society.
One day Divine segregation will be the rule… when the angel of the harvest of souls separates the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goat. The true believer from the false professor.
Our persecution in this country, as least in this generation consists mainly of political philosophical and administrative abuse. Abuse by our own government is gaining ground as more and more support by self-serving politicians and lobbyist work hand in glove to take away our civil and constitutional rights as it profits them.
This even as it regards our right of religious liberty, equal justice for all, and the freedom to pursue happiness. All it takes is for the “Supreme Court” of the land to rule against us as Christians notwithstanding other American citizens on any point of law. More and more chunks of our civil and constitutional rights to worship God as we please are chipped away by hammers held fast in the hands of ungodly men with ungodly purposes.
Philosophically, we face opposition from elements in our educational system including elementary levels where sex education is still taught in some schools to 5 and 6 year old children. High school kids are forbidden to pray anywhere on school grounds and athletic fields or face suspension. Colleges, universities, and even some Seminaries ridicule Christianity, denying the Christian faith in an attempt to destroy or denigrate the Word of God.
We should remember and pray for those few and faithful teachers whom God has placed as faithful stalwarts standing against all odds, holding on tenaciously to morality and by godly example work in such an environment to the best of their ability while at the same time facing the possibility of losing their jobs and livelihood, even their teaching certificates and credentials, while struggling against modernistic and ungodly curriculum being forced upon them to teach or else!
A few years ago, thanks to the Catholic Association of film reviews and book publishing policies, successful effort was lodged against profanity and pornography in films and books. That organization no longer exists and film makers and book publishers are given free license to produce their concept of a sub-world as one where it is become acceptable to produce film and books to portray the underworld of our society as the norm. Exponentially and eventually these things find their way into the homes of people everywhere.
Sin abounds in America, still the Grace of God for now abound more and stands as a deterrent, a bulwark, against sin and as long as there are Christians and Christian churches in the world sins are kept in check. But when The Holy Spirit is taken out of the way and God’s people are removed from this world, taken to a better place, one can only imagine the horror that will remain for the swill of the devil to imbibe the minds and hearts of sinful men, satisfying the thirst of the haters of God, criminals, crooked politicians, and philosophically corrupt elements all combine in one last effort to destroy God.
VERSE THREE—The key to the book of 1st. Peter
We happily sing: We praise thee O God! For the Son of thy love, For Jesus who died, and is now gone above…Hallelujah, thine the glory, Hallelujah! Amen; Hallelujah thing the glory, revive us again.
This hymn gives the sense of verse three: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The word blessed — eulogetos (yoo-log-ay-tos’) in this verse appears only 8 times in the New Testament and just twice in the Old Book, and always refers to God! It means adorable, that is to stress that God is to be adored! Adored for his abundant mercy, our regeneration and the raising of Christ. If any have trouble in our finding a reason to voice adoration for God, mercy is a good place to begin.
What does Peter mean by saying that because of God’s abundant mercy that we have been begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead?
Begotten again means…Born Again…with promise! This speaks of the New Birth, the Regeneration from on high. It means we are new creatures, the Workmanship of Almighty God, created again unto good works. We have been revived from the fear of death to a longing for life and heaven based upon the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
Our hope is a living hope. A living hope comes from a living faith. Unlike before when we were dead in sin and trespasses and the hope of eternal life was a dead issue buried in a dead faith, therefore any hope was itself dead. A living hope comes from a living Lord being resurrected from the dead.
Remember, Peter witnessed the Resurrection. He and other apostles ate fish on the shore of the sea with the risen Jesus. He was in the upper room when the risen Jesus appeared in bodily form. He observed his riven side and the nail prints in His wrists. He walked on water to join the risen Jesus who walked toward him. He heard the voice of the Master of the sea demand the wind be calm and the water be stilled. He was an eye witness to the risen Lord. He heard the voice of the angel as our Savior was lifted in to heaven, and Peter heard the promise of the angel reminding him and the others that this same Jesus will return one day as you have seen Him go. His heart once full of doubt and fear was bursting with joy because of this and he writes to encourage all pilgrims of every age assuring them that in spite of seasons of heaviness through manifold temptations to share in his joy and urges that each find his own joy unspeakable and full of glory (praise and adoration) in that fact.
We being modern day pilgrims scattered throughout the world, along with Peter, Paul, and all the apostles, all who chose death rather that deny the Lord that begat them, all the martyrs of the Reformation and all who have come before us who have believed in that blessed hope even unto today, so including you and me are able say in expectation according to promise eternal life and that God’s grace is sufficient… for his strength is made perfect in our weakness. Most gladly therefore will we rather glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us. 10 Therefore we may take pleasure in our infirmities, in our reproaches, in our necessities, in all persecutions, and distresses for Christ’s sake: for when we are weak, then are we strong. No one other than one who has through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ enjoy the multiplied grace and peace of God our Father.
Were it not for God’s mercy there would be no elect, none called, no pardon for sin, no cross, no justification, no resurrection from the grave, no promise of coming of the Lord, no hope of being caught up in the clouds, no heaven to call home, all would be predestinated to eternal damnation.
Let us be thankful for the mercy of God that we by The Spirit of God are consecrated, set apart for God, chosen, elect for Himself through the death and resurrection of the Son of God, we have been born again to a living hope of our own resurrection. We will see Jesus as he is and we will be as he is risen and alive for ever more.
I invite any and all who have not placed their hope in eternal life to do so today. Why leave this place without that hope? Today, may be the day of your salvation – believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved – that is the promise of God. AMEN